Saturday 28 October 2023

The King's Bed

  ‘Ah, there you are Ferdinand.’

‘Oh. Isabella, my sweet. I wasn’t expecting you.’

‘So I understand. I have sent those young ladies home.’

‘Young ladies? What young ladies?’

‘The ones not wearing sufficient clothes who were waiting in the corridor for you to be free.’

‘Oh, those young ladies. Um. They are all excellent singers, my dear, its just that they find modern fashions rather restricting.’

‘As do you, Ferdinand. Anyway, you won’t need to worry about getting undressed unless you do something.’

‘Yes, dear. You have to undo all these knots that hold your trousers up. That can be quite time-consuming.’

‘No Ferdinand. That is not what I mean. I have news of great import to us.’

‘Oh? What news?’

‘Granada is poised to capture our bed.’

‘Our bed?’

‘The new one, that you enjoyed testing so much.’

‘How dare they!’

‘It was on an ox cart and I have a report from the escort that they have been forced to stop on a hill by a pursuing enemy force. You must go and relieve them, or no more bed.’

‘At once, my dear. I depart at once!’


Recently I was reading a little bit about the conquest of Peru. The Estimable Mrs P, having endured my confusion as to what was going on – there were about 17 years of civil war after the conquest, after all – suggested that a wargame involving the Reconquista might be interesting. She might have meant the conquistadors, but it reminded me about Ferdinand and Isabella and their quest to conquer Granada.

Anyway, a perusal of some resources came up with Scenario 4 in One Hour Wargames, in which an isolated force holds a hill and waits for reinforcements. The isolated force is one-third of the whole army, and the rest appears from a corner. Needing some sort of reason for an isolated force to be holding a hill, I decided that Ferdinand and Isabella’s new portable bed, for use on campaign, was in danger of being captured. This, as the above might have shown, motivated Ferdinand to saddle up and ride to the rescue.

Those of you with long memories will recall that Ferdinand's forces were downgraded by the loss of two bases of gendarmes, which were the main strike force as they tended to win battles on their own. He therefore has only one gendarme base and more jinites than he is used to. The advanced force, holding the hill and the bed, consists of two bases of shot and two jinites. They need to hold out until the rest of the army arrives.

The picture shows the initial position with the bed wagon in the centre, the holding force on a hill just to the right of it, and the might of the army of Granada on the far right. Ferdinand will arrive top left at the end of turn two.

The picture shows a few moves in. The Castilians on the hill are under pressure from the Granardan infantry and some jinites, while they are also being flanked both left and right. The arrival of Ferdinand means that the Granardan cavalry has been diverted from surrounding the hill to delaying Ferdinand’s advance.

A few moves later and it is nearly all over for the Castilians on the hill, the infantry attack having gone in, overrun them and captured the wagon with the King’s bed on it.

The wagon has been temporarily moved to permit the infantry to fight. In the background, Ferdinand has carefully lined his gendarmes up to charge the Granadine cavalry. They refused. Three times.

‘Why are we charging, sire?’

‘To rescue my bed!’

‘Your bed?’

‘Yes. Charge.’

‘Are we talking a bed, like a thing to sleep on?’

‘Yes, man. My bed, and the Queen’s bed.’

‘We are about to risk life and limb for your bed, sire?’

‘Well, that and Christendom.’

‘Oh, Christendom as well as your marital relations, sire?’

‘Um. Christendom first, man, of course. We are crusaders.’

Eventually, Ferdinand persuaded them to charge home and they did defeat the Granardian cavalry, but Ferdinand had spent his personal tempo on persuading them to do so for some time and the rest of the army was either un-deployed or defeated.

The photograph shows the end of the game. Ferdinand’s cavalry charge has taken him to the right-hand edge of the board, where they are being harassed by some jinites. The wagon, of course, should be on the other side of the hill. The rest of the Castilian army has still not deployed and their morale is a bit low. At this point, I, as Ferdinand, decided to use my second-best bed instead and withdraw.

I think that this scenario depends quite heavily on movement rates. For my rules, the hill could have done to have been a little further from the Granadan table edge. As it was the Castilians on the hill edged backwards as much as they could, but eventually were caught. Ferdinand did suffer from a bit of a tempo drought at times during the game, but his endless attempts to get the gendarmes to charge could have been better spent. I think I got the Granardan command right, for once. Their infantry was too powerful for the detachment on the hill and the jinites did their job quite nicely, better than their counterparts.


‘Ah, Ferdinand. How did you get on? Where is my bed?’

‘My dear, in warfare you cannot always achieve the results you desire.’

‘I see. Without the bed, you will not achieve the results you desire. You know that.’

‘We do have alternative beds, Isabella.’

‘If you think I am going to share a bed with you that creaks every time I turn over while living in a tent, you have another think coming. I don’t want the servants to know what we are up to.’

‘We do have some children, my dear. I dare say they know what we’ve been up to.’

‘You had better start working out how you are going to intercept the carriage of that bed before they get it back to Granada, or it will be no result for you, my friend.’

‘Yes, Isabella.’


  1. I like the way the 'OHW' scenarios get used in all sorts of different settings - I thought that looked familiar, realised I used it myself for a 7YW game a couple of months ago. I agree it does rather depend on the relief force being able to get into play in good time. Hmm, Ferdinand was perhaps not sufficiently motivated by the need to save the bed, given his access to all those other 'singers' and such like ?

    1. Well, I thought Ferdinand was attempting to be a hero by breaking the enemy, sort of a Spartan thing, but 'Return with your bed or on it' doesn't quite have the right ring about it.
      The OHW scenarios are useful, even if the move distances are quite big, I find. They give ideas, even if they need modifying for different rule sets.