It’s rare that I’ve fallen utterly in love with a set of rules. Maybe only one other time. About twenty years ago I played the original Fire and Fury Rules for American Civil War and I continue to believe they were the most influential rules set in my life.
But, for the moment, at least, I am consumed by Daniel Mersey’s Lion Rampant, published by Osprey. In my previous post I mentioned my idea for a game involving a raid on a small town, a castle and too many troops. Yesterday, with the help of many friends we tried it out. It was sort of like buying an awesome car-maybe one of the new Chevy Camaros. It looks cool. It sure drives nice between Tacoma and Seattle, but you really need to get it over the pass on a trip to the Gorge to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to air it out and see what you’ve got. Yesterday was our trip to the Gorge.
First of all the basics:
- This was a scenario based game-cooperative in the sense the three French players and three English players had to decide on a plan.
- The table was 5′ X 14′. That was the table mix available at Game Matrix so I went with it.
- There were three retinues for each side. None of the retinues were the same. I have no idea of the total retinue points or quite how even they were. There was one additional retinue composed of four serf units.whose primary mission was to stay alive. All in all, there were 12 French units, 14 English units and the 4 Serf units for a total of 30 units on the table.
- The game was played “out of the box” with one exception I’ll get to shortly. I did add some rules to the scenario. The rules were chiefly added to allow the English to sack the settled areas on the table. These included rules for looting and burning. There was also a rule that allowed peasants to panic and flee toward the castle, violating the 3″ ZOC around French units.
- Each side earned victory points-the English chiefly for destroying/looting/killing, the French for saving property and killing English. The French also received points for killing Englishmen, of course, the peasants, scored separately, won points for stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive, ah, ah, ah ah, stayin’ aliiiiiiive. (sorry couldn’t help myself.)
The game was large and pretty elaborate. I made sure to get to the shop as early as I could and allow about an hour’s set up. I used two buildings for each of two. I put the castle on a hill near the three building town.
The English forces, who had a pretty complex bunch of tasks to choose from, were allowed to set up 6″ from each of the three settled areas. The French were allowed to set up 18″ on to the table. The challenge for the English was to make a plan from a variety of point scoring options, and fight off the French.
Though there was complexity in the scenario, the game devolved mostly into retinue on retinue combat, though the English were also burdened with devoting time and resources to looting and burning. On the English left, things went badly, mostly through bad die rolls. The French attacked with their cavalry, eventually destroying the English unit of mounted knights and killing the leader. The English couldn’t activate their archers, and failed key courage tests. Though they were able to burn one of two structures, they couldn’t make key die rolls when needed.
In the center, the English burned all three buildings in the town, driving the serfs into the castle. However they suffered from crossbow fire from the castle walls losing a vulnerable unit of bidowers. They also drove off a counterattack from the mounted sergeants coming from the French left.
On the English left, they easily burned the farmstead and held off the French advance. The French were content to stay away from the English bowmen and siphon some of their mounted troops to the center of the board to support the castle.
We played for about two and a half hours. All but one of the players had played at least one game of Lion Rampant, but I don’t think anyone had played more than one game. We carefully walked through the first turn, and pretty much after that, players ran on their own, with occasional questions.
We did struggle a bit to keep everyone on the same game turn. Multi-player games are a bit of a mystery and aren’t covered much in the rules. I set up the game so the English retinues went first, then the serfs, then the French. There was a little more thumb twiddling than I’d like as folks from one end of the table who weren’t involved with combat waited for those who were.
All agreed the rules were fun, the scenario was enjoyable and easy to figure out. The serfs, based on the victory points I’d set up won easily, with the French edging out the English for second. I made some mistakes in the rules that were quickly brought to my attention (gotta work on that.) This is a scenario I’d really like to run again, and possibly at Enfilade.
A couple of quick changes I’d make:
- Adjustments in the victory points. Not a big deal, that’s why you play test is to make adjustments.
- Would like a shorter table. 5′ X 14′ was too long, 5′ X 12′ would probably be optimal. 5′ X 10′ would probably be crowded.
For myself, I never looked forward to running a game as much as this one. I had my troops perfectly organized to pull out of boxes. There was plenty of terrain-Barbs Bunker vineyards and fields, Pegasus and Miniature Building Authority buildings including a castle with a breached wall. I wrote over two thousand words worth of retinue charts and scenario notes. I painted 24 figures worth of foot sergeants in four days. I came home exhausted, but extremely satisfied. Thanks to all the players-Dean, Bill, Ron, Scott, James, Lawrence and Gene. They were great to work with and were willing to take the time to debrief the game with me. Ron pointed out the rules errors I was making-thank you. It was just a great day.
So, we got that Camaro out of the garage and let it rip. We drove like mad from North Bend to George, and though the WSP was out in force we didn’t get caught speeding. Petty was awesome and I can’t wait to do it again.