As I mentioned in my last post, I picked up a copy of Lion Rampant by Osprey Publishing. I’m always looking for interesting rules sets for the late middle ages. I have 500 or so miniatures for the Hundred Years Wars and another 500 or so unpainted figures for the period. When I heard these were coming out, I pre-ordered them from Amazon for $13.40, knowing they were unlikely to have expensive add-ons and expansions.
The rules are mechanically simple, and easy to follow, but the proof is in the pudding. Today I met Dave Schueler and David Sullivan at Meeples Games in West Seattle to give them a try. I put together a simple retinue more or less out of the book for the French and the English and let the two Daves have at it. I was not disappointed.
Here are some things you should know about Lion Rampant
Scale-small scale. The rules say 1:1, though I could see them being scaled at 1:5 and still working.
Points based system. But there are no firm army lists. There are a number of different unit types for mounted troops, foot melee types, and missile troops. Units are composed of six or 12 figures. A retinue or command comprises 24 points which is typically equal to four or five units.
Mechanics are simple, but fun. There are some required actions that must be taken-wild charges by undisciplined knight types, rallying “battered” units, or challenging enemy leaders to single combat. The rest of the actions a unit may take-movement, shooting, attacking-all require a die roll against a unit’s ratings. No big charts with long lists of modifiers. Roll 2 D6 and you’re in or you’re out. Each unit that isn’t rallying is entitled to an action die roll until you miss one and then you’re done. A unit that suffers casualties immediately suffers a “courage” die roll and applies the results. It’s simple
David ran the French with an abundance of mounted figures, against Daveshoe with the requisite bowmen, some Welsh spearmen and Breton bidowers. They fought over some hedge lined fields. The English bowmen shot away the French crossbowmen and foot sergeants, but the English leader lost a single combat, before the mounted English knights were ridden down by their French counterparts. Both sides were looking beaten up by the end of the game, which lasted no more than an hour.
The three of us expressed considerable delight with the rules. They have the virtue of being clearly written, mechanically simple, and of course they are very inexpensive. With an eye toward gaming one of my core periods, these rules nicely allow the game host to recreate actions from the endless campaigns in Gascony throughout the Hundred Years War, or the decades long civil war that was fought in Brittany. These are intended to fight small actions and not large battles.
But just to show me wrong, Daveshoe suggested we line up some figure a la Agincourt. So we piled out eight or so units of French foot men-at-arms and a few crossbowmen and had them attacking a mixed force of archers behind stakes and English foot men-at-arms. It was interesting. I was very fortunate with activation die rolls for my bow units and shot the snot out of loads of Frenchmen. But eventually my activation rolls began to fail and the foot knights began to cross my stake lines and slaughter the bowmen. Again, the rules were easy and fun and I am planning a larger game in a couple of weeks. I could not be more pleased with the rules.
I’d also like to get in a word for Meeples. Meeples Games is one of growing number of games in the Puget Sound areas that sells mostly board games, a few miniatures for Warhammer 40K and Warmachine, but combines it with a dining experience. It has excellent table space for board games, and I was able to find a table easily large enough for our Lion Rampant game. It’s a friendly place. The food is simple and inexpensive fare. Probably not the equal of Cafe Mox in Ballard, but much cheaper than AFK Elixers in Renton. They also have beer and wine on tap. The only negative I have is that it isn’t in my backyard. If you like supporting local businesses, it’s definitely a place worth a visit.