Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Games Workshop's Lost Games: Chivalry rediscovered!


From time to time, we have the opportunity to glimpse something that could have been. Unreleased models, artwork and occassionally whole games themselves. Some of these games survive as mere mentions, ghosts on the page, such as Richard Halliwell's Lustria campaign or Blood for the Blood God supplement for Warhammer. Others have lain lanquished and forgotten, only to be rediscovered and enjoyed once more, as with the Bolt Thrower or Bust game I blogged about last year. 

Chivalry was one of those lost games, only one that existed as a simple card game published in White Dwarf 130 in October 1990. There were always rumours and suspicions of more, especially when the enthusiast reads back through the original article, and I quote: "As some of you will know, we have been working on a new Warhammer game called Chivalry. It is quite a departure for us because, rather than being set in our own game universe of the Warhammer World, it takes place in the wholly historical setting of the fourteenth century, complete with knights, retainers, peasants and all the bloody trappings of medieval warfare." 

Flicking through copies of White Dwarf from this era, it is obvious that something was certainly afoot. The Perry's produced a stunning range of medieval miniatures (labelled Bretonians, though clearly purely historical models) which saw considerable coverage in the magazine, with painting and iconography guides being published. Several works of art appeared baring a discernibly historical tone and a couple of beautiful Pery dioramas captured our imaginations with their gritty realism and bright, intricate heraldry. As David Frost used to say on 'Through the Key Hole' - "the clues are there!" 

Over the years, former Games Workshop illuminati have also briefly mentioned Chivalry and shared what they could remember of the project. 

Graeme Davis: I remember the Chivalry card game, though nothing really beyond the fact of its existence. I also remember that someone (the Perrys, I think) was working on a jousting game at some point between 1986 and 1989, but nothing beyond that. I don't think the game got any further than Bob Naismith's Tower of Screaming Death. I'm pretty sure that was Nigel Stillman's Bretonnia book, so Bretonnia wasn't really on the radar at the Design Studio at that time. 
Quoted from comment made on RoC80s in November 2014

Rick Priestley: The Chivalry game was actually written up and developed by Nigel Stillman - based on an idea from Bryan Ansell - and utilising a range of models developed by the Perrys. So, yes Alan and Michael were involved - and did contribute to the game - but it was Nigel who worked up the game and Bryan had the 'vision' for it. In fact it was many games interlocked - with an overarching dynasty building game behind it - as I remember. There was a jousting system I think - and a man to man combat game that was based on cards - which I think I had a hand in. I remember playing it with the Perrys on the train down to Salute! 

Just one of the very many things that were worked on and adandoned back in the day. 
Taken from a Facebook conversation about the game 'Chivalry'. March 2015

The card game is well known, and I have blogged about its several times. I too, have pleasant memories of playing the game on long journeys (to and from school) and incorporating it into a WFRP campaign, complete with the PCs mimmicking the poses with plastic swords everytime a combat was played out. Very entertaining I can tell you! Over the years, I have met many an enthusiast who has fond memories of the game, with most of them recalling the more amusing 'distract' and 'boot' cards with oblivious relish. In 2013 some Oldhammer chaps utilised the card system in a Robin Hood inspired game and the Grognard's Grognard, Harry Howells, shared his thoughts about their implications. 

Harry Howells: Everytime any two characters got into a fight we used the cards to resolve it. It played pretty well, although sometimes it could drag on a bit waiting for someone to get the upper hand. But a perfect bit of fun to add to a narrative game. We didn't worry about the weapons they were actually using. I always thought it looked good... it took me all these years to make any use of it, but I was really glad I gave it a go. It made the character fights between Robin and Guy more 'cinematic' as the advantage passed backwards and forwards and there were lots of opportunities for Errol Flynn style banter... "Not so fast, Guy!" and "Take that you saxon scum!" 

This would have otherwise have been lost in a simple roll of a dice. I would certainly use it again. 

Now, if you have got to this point in this article and you are thinking - what on earth are these Chivalry cards everyone keeps banging on about? Let me illuminate you with a couple of photographs. If you are looking for some scans of the cards themselves, then look here for some slightly blurry examples that are fairly straightforwards to print out, trim and get into the action with. 



What we have covered so far is all that was published for the Chivalry game, and for some 'was' the Chivalry game, but for years I'd been fascinated by what the rest of the game would have been like. Last month, I was chatting to Bryan Ansell and Tony Ackland at the fifth Oldhammer Weekend when out of the corner of my eye I saw a battered, plastic boxfile wedged under several pieces of original GW artwork. It was unremarkable and unassuming really, just another piece of stationary save for the word 'CHIVALRY' scrawled in permanent pen across the front. 

You can imagine my excitement was palpable when I asked them about it! I was even more jibilant when Bryan told me it was all that was left of the Chivalry project and that I was free to borrow it for further study! By now you have probably realised that the image I began this artcile with is a conceit. I crafted it on my computer but it is funny how that old 'Bretonian' painting that appeared in White Dwarf seems to make the perfect frontispiece for a rulebook - it makes me wonder if this image was indeed intended to grace the cover of Chivalry. 

Obviously, the game was never published and Bryan's manuscript is very much a manuscript, complete with scrawled and slightly illegible annotations in blue pencil. 

Here's the front page.


The historical background to the fourteenth sets the perfect stage for everything from small scale raids and skirmishes, to pitched battles as well as the proving grounds of the melee and joust. The overview to Chivalry explains Feudal obligation and uses as a context to hang a campaign on, including the role of the king attempting to prevent any single baron becoming too powerful. There are a huge number of different ideas here, far too many to cover in a single post like this, and some of the content is fragmentary at best. As Bryan explained; 'we never finished it'. But a great deal of material has survived, including detailed rules for tournaments and baronial conflict. 


Though art is mentioned in the manuscript, much of it is obviously missing - with some of it no doubt making it into the pages of White Dwarf. On other pages are some wonderful illustrations of mounted knights, though whether any of these were intended for publication I do not yet know. However, it is clear that the campaign game was a card based affair and that 'Chivalry' can be best described as a series of games within a game, miniature wargaming being just a part, just as Rick Priestley recalled. 


The campaign seems to have had a strong RPG flavour with a number of components indicating that the baronial characters would have experienced positive and negative events in life, including marriage - which I guess can go either way! Flicking through the pages that survive gives me the impression that character progression would have been a considerable part of the game and can well imagine the fun you would have leading a lowly knight from the tournaments to wielding considerable power along the way. With a multiplayer campaign, there would have been plenty of scope for skullduggery and deception too. 


Some of the cards were printed to become test pieces, like these campaign maps that appear similar in style to Mighty Empires. If you look closely you will notice a few admendments made in tipex or some other white out material - a relic of the time before desktop publishing was a breeze. The cards are interchangable and can be used to make inumerable combinations for play. 

A question now needs to be asked. What can be done with a 'used' unpublished game? I am lucky enough to be custodian of the document for a while, and will return it to the Ansell family archive in October when I take part in Night of the Living Lead. Between then and now I intend to scan the entire document in high definition for posterity but I am really tempted to do more... 

Perhaps, even have a go at finishing the game and trying it out at next year's Oldhammer Weekend! Looking at what survives in the document, I can imagine a project like this would consist of three phases:

1) Tweaking the Chivalry card game rules to develop a narrative based tournement ruleset for battling knights, including some additional campaign rules - think Chaos Warbands aka Slaves to Darkness only for knights. 

2) Complete the Chivalry card game rules for jousting, which are sadly mostly missing. This could eventually be incorporated into the Melee game in phase 1. 

3) Edit and play the full campaign game in a series of events to simulate baronial conflict circa AD 1300, recruiting some suitably bloodthirsty Oldhammerers to slug it out to victory. This would include a Mighty Empires style map, cards and small and large scale battles. 

Expect to see more about this discovery in the coming weeks, and some of my progress on Phase 1 of this project. I just need to get hold of a couple of suitable knights, real and miniature. 

Orlygg

38 comments:

  1. I vaguely remember this from back in the day - however, do remember picking up a similar game in the remainder bookshop in town (now The Works), which was about medieval tournaments.

    There was a rule book, a fold out tourney arena with a pop-up royal viewing tent, a sheet of mounted & foot figures (knights, men-at-arms & a couple of crossbowmen) with clip in bases (like the early Blood Bowl ones) and a cardboard sheet of things to be punched out, like a jousting rail.

    There were rules formounted jousting and a free-for-all melee, which used those attack and defence cards.

    Not sure if this was a rip-off, but it wasn't affiliated to Citadel / GW as far as I can remember.

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    1. This one? https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3026/book-medieval-wargames

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    2. That's the bunny. Might still have it in my parents' loft somewhere.

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    3. I can positively smell that musty, dusty odour that old games and books acquire emanating from this venerable game. Oh, the hours of fun I had with cardstock models as a kid. (:

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  2. I remember reading this in the WD myself as a 15 year old boy, playing around with the ideas in my head and rather liking it.

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    1. I too remember it being the hot topic of conversation after its publication that month, well until the next shiny thing came along. Still, it has held my fascination ever since - quite why I cannot say. I just LOVE the cards and the game to this day.

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  3. I remember the Chivalry articles in WD very well. I still have those pages of the cardgame somewhere in my archives, planning to use them one day. All the photographs of the Bretonnians in WD actually pushed me towards historicals. IIRC, it was around the time WFB4 was published, which made me drift away from WFB for good.

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    1. I can recall the feeling. The Bretonnians were outstanding models and captured the imagination because they seemed so real. They are clearly still well sought after judging by the high prices they seem to sell for.

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    2. Can you post pages the Emperor's section in Realm of Chaos - The lost and the damned page 173 to 183 ? Including picture of him with Marines and fighting against Horus.

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    3. And the pages 184 and 185 as well if its alright.

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  4. There was the full tilt jousting game that Nigel Stillman wrote and appeared in White Dwarf 215 complete with cards, tokens and scenery. I wonder if the missing Joust rules were adapted and published in this way?

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    1. Good point - I was thinking the same as I got to the end of this post. I havent played either game so am unsure whether they could work together or not

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    2. It's quite good, it's like a mini tournament. There's some images here - http://givemlead.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/a-quest-for-stillmania-full-tilt.html?m=1

      I still have the cards and tokens somewhere but the information for jousting ploy cards are included in the written rules.

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    3. I too, have long speculated this. Having just compared the two briefly, I suspect that Full Tilt is a much stream-lined (some might say simplified) version of the joust than was intended in Chivalry. We will have to wait and see what else can be unearthed.

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  5. BTW, One of my projects-that-never-seem-to-materialize (and for which the initial ideas go back indeed to that famous WD with Chivalry cards) is indeed run a jousting campaign. At one point, I even had players painting up a mounted knight and knight on foot in the heraldry they designed themselves, but the game never happened.

    One of my ideas was indeed do a sort of campaign game. Players could challenge each other, and you would get additional stats or skills for each joust. A simple joust would play out for 5 or 10 minutes, and other players could place bets if they wanted. The problem I always encountered is that a single joust (two knights charging each other) is not much of game, and you quickly get a rock-papers-scissors kind of game.

    Another idea for a campaign I had was to combine an old Robin Hood game (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1695/legend-robin-hood) with the card-based individual combat. The boardgame would serve as the campaign setting, with Robin Hood and the Sherrif of Nottingham running around the countryside, fulfilling several quests.

    Another good angle would be to play the melee-part of a toornament, with various knights that can be controlled by any player, and players having placed bets on knights. This is a multi-player game, and described in an article in Miniature Wargames 363, and written by Dan Mersey (author of the Osprey medieval Lion Rampant rules).

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    1. "The problem I always encountered is that a single joust (two knights charging each other) is not much of game, and you quickly get a rock-papers-scissors kind of game." This is indeed the problem of such a game, there isn't really much to it is there? I regularly attend real life jousting just down the road to me and their is far more to the event than charging an opponent with lance. It would be sensible to incorporate some of the other trials and activities in with the events in some way. To make a melee or joust meaningful, I feel they need to be part of the character creation process rather than the 'main event' so to speak.

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  7. BTW, there's also a Warhammer scenario pack "Perilous Quest" that had some tournament rules. https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/28504/warhammer-perilous-quest

    And in WD 215 there were the Full Tilt rules: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/11649/full-tilt

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    1. Thanks for that Phil, I had forgotten about the Perilous Quest scenario pack. (:

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  8. Cool! I had that WD with the card game but never tried it out. Now that you mention it I still have it somewhere...

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    1. Everyone remembers it as soon as they see the attack and defence cards! Better hunt out that magazine, Mike!

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  9. I did a lot of work developing ideas like this a few years ago. Would be happy to work with you one this. Had lots of fun with it ... but no more fun than I had with the Bretonnian retinues game that the U.S. on-line Black Dwarf team came up with ....
    http://web.archive.org/web/20071221075359/us.games-workshop.com/games/warhammer/bretonnians/gaming/warbands/default.htm

    Some of the links no longer work but most of it is still there.

    I eventually developed this as the basis for fun 'gang based' campaigning ... and the tournament ideas I was playing with were just one scenario ... thrown in as a nights gaming for a change of pace rather than the whole game.

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    1. Great news Harry! Many hands make light work and all that. I was thinking about how to approach the project and I think it wouldn't be appropriate to ignore the fact that it was originally intended to be a purely historical game, but at the same time it would be a dis-service to ingnore the fact that fantasy is a big part of many Oldhammerers' spare time. Creating a 'hard' historical version and a 'lighter' Warhammer friendly version is one of my main goals.

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    2. I am all up for keeping it Historical ... but fantasy Historical ... like the stuff I did for the Robin Hood game is actually much more fun. You need to aim for Hollywood historical rather than actual historical.

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    3. Agreed, fun and friendly first before getting bogged down in historical detail.

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    4. Harry,

      Can we find any info about that Robin Hood game online?

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    5. There is a bit about it and some pictures ... on page 12 of one of my threads on the oldhammer forum .... http://forum.oldhammer.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=551&start=110 Hope that works.

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  10. There are a number of non-GW_related wargaming rulesets that deal with jousting ... a google search turns up at least a few (some of which are free).

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    1. Thanks for the tip Phil - having looked more closely at the manuscript it seems they were indended to have a jousting system based on cards, presumably like the melee ones. Hopefully, in time we can develop a workable system that will allow varied, exciting jousts without the need for no many arbituary rules and dice rolling.

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    2. I bought a set named "Crossed Lances" a few years ago, but never played it. IIRC they also had an expansion for archery tournaments etc.

      If you want to delve into historical miniature wargaming magazines and see what has been published before, you can always look here: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.be/p/wargames-magazine-database.html and search for Medieval/Tournament

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    3. Thanks again Phil, now that you remember it, I can remember seeing a jousting style game at Salute a few years ago - not that long at all. Adverts for it used to appear in Wargames Illustrated too but I cannot recall the name. ):

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  11. For those who want to see some more oldhammer Bretonnian figures, I'll include a shameless plug to my own website :-)
    http://snv-ttm.blogspot.be/search/label/Bretonnia

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    1. There is no such thing as a shameless plug! Thanks for the link, Phil. (:

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  12. Reminds me of Cry Havoc / Siege games
    http://cryhavocgames.net/AssortedCHStuff/SiegeCounters.jpg

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    1. I don't recall seeing these before! Thanks for the link J.B. (:

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  13. What an absolutely stunning discovery. I remember marveling at those action cards back from the White Dwarf, and then sort of forgetting about Chivalry, I guess like almost everyone else. I wonder whether it sputtered out because it arose at the time when GW was beginning to focus on Warhammer (fantasy and 40K) to the exclusion of other properties.
    In any case, the ideas behind it look amazing. I hope you do indeed develop it! Who knows where this could lead you!

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    1. Hopefully it will lead us to a cracking good game at next year's Oldhammer Weekend, oh and the chance to paint up some lovely Perry Bretonnians and a bit of medieval scenery. That is as high as my ambitions will reach, as I will no doubt be distracted by others things! (:

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  14. Wow thats a great find!. I too remember the cards but never did much with them back in the day. A game abit like relm of chaos goes medieval with retinues, jousts and quests would be very cool indeed ( squires could be an excuse to roll up some fun charicters!). For some reason im drawn to some George RR Martin flavoured action.... But maybe thats the heratic in me!.

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