If you’re thinking about trying out these rules, whether you have stuff or not, I hope, with this post, to offer some guidance to you.
First, a bit about my decision to go with this game rather than another. I am the owner of some 500 singly mounted Hundred Years War figures. I have more than a hundred painted longbowmen. I have more than a hundred painted dismounted men-at-arms. I can field seven units of foot sergeants and multiples of most other units from this conflict. I am also a devoted student of the period. My interest in these rules was only natural. All I needed was to try them out to see if they met some simple requirements
- Were they easy to play? Could I easily run them at a convention with folks who didn’t know them at all? The answer was a simple yes. I’ve played with at least a dozen of my gaming friends. Of those only one has had a less than enthusiastic response.
- Were they suitable for making well thought out scenarios? I didn’t want a game that was really designed for head to head games. Again, I’ve tried several multi-player games and have reported on the Agen scenario. I’ll likely run that one at Enfilade, together with a second scenario based on the 1340 raid on the Boulogne docks.
I find Lion Rampant to be a great set of rules. Of course, I feel fully prepared to play them with figures, high interest and research material galore. What if I wasn’t? How could I get started?
First, some basic parameters. If you’re interested in refighting Agincourt, or Bannockburn, or Mortgarten, these are not the rules you want. These are small unit actions. No archers behind stakes, no Flemings defending ditches, no massive schiltrons of Scots spearmen driving foolish English knights into swamps. Those troop types might be available to you, but they won’t quite function the way they would in large formations. I confess I haven’t quite found the right set of rules for fighting big battles in the late middle ages, but Lion Rampant won’t do the trick either.
I always worry about the cost of rules sets. Rules books that cost forty or fifty bucks really annoy me. They better come with their own electronic service like Siri to answer my questions, a useful painting guide, complete army lists and an introduction by Anne Curry. Worse than rule books that cost forty or fifty bucks are rule books that cost forty or fifty bucks and will require the forty or fifty dollar expansion or two. I don’t care what the logic is, it’s ridiculous and inexcusable.
If you’re worried about the cost of Lion Rampant, you can buy it at your local game store for $17.95. You can order it at Amazon for $13.62. You can order it for your Kindle or Kindle ap for $10.49. I bought two.
What do you get for your dough? A complete set of mechanically simple, grammatically clean set of rules. There are some quirks to the game, but nothing that is unreasonable or unfathomable. There are a plethora of handy color plates and game photos. There are eleven troop types and 40 sample retinues to muster them into. Finally there are twelve sample scenarios. That’s a lot for less than twenty bucks.
This is a highly adaptable rules set. Though the sample retinues cover England all the way to Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Thomas Mallory Arthurian legend, there is definitely room for more. I see these rules as something to experiment with, as many did with The Sword and the Flame. A friend has been playing Korea and Japan. I plan to build something around the Spanish conquest of Mexico. It should work for any region up through the early gunpowder age. Not only that, but author Daniel Mersey is highly accessible, regularly answering questions on a Lion Rampant forum on BoardGameGeek.
So what is the cost to get in on Lion Rampant? Units are either six figures or twelve figures. I’d suggest starting out with a retinue which is usually 4-6 units. If your army is infantry-heavy, like the Swiss you’ll need more figures, say 60 figures. If you have expensive troops, like the English you’d have fewer, say 42. Armies with cavalry like the French Hundred Years War army, the Normans or the Ottoman Turks makes an army more costly in real dollars. Be sure what you buy fits in with your friends, and is an army you are really interested in.
There are lots of great figure manufacturers for the Hundred Years War. Here are a few of my favorites:
Old Glory Miniatures–They have a huge range for this period. They are relatively inexpensive per figure, especially if you are an Old Glory Army member. They are also quite nice and draw a distinction between the early period of this war (say until 1380) and later. The drawback is that you have to buy the figures in pretty large quantities.
Front Rank Miniatures–A very nice range of miniatures for the Hundred Years WAr and the Wars of the Roses. The range is older, so not tons of variety between figures of the same type, but a huge range of troop and armor types. The mounted figures are really awesome. They also have some great accessories and wagons. The downside is their size. They are huge. They don’t mix well with other manufacturers in the same unit.
Crusader Miniatures–Some great figures, but not tons of different troop types. Sized well, all the major troop types are covered. Some very nice command figures too.
Perry Miniatures–The Agincourt to Orleans range is geared strictly for about 50 years of the conflict. Absolutely stunning miniatures, but a little spendy. The Perrys have a number of plastic boxed sets that are super reasonable covering the Wars of the Roses. They plan to release an English boxed set for Agincourt to Orleans before Christmas (hark, I hear sleigh bells.)
Before I close, I’d simply add that no I am not an Osprey employee, nor do I hang out with Dan Mersey. I do believe this is a great set of rules. Not perfect, and with limitations that are clearly stated. If you believe you’d enjoy a skirmish set of rules for the late middle ages, these may work for you. They definitely work for me and my interest in the Hundred Years War.
Great review of the rules, Kevin. As far as larger games, I have found that Hail Caesar (modified to taste) works well for the period. As far as number of figures – one could get away with a 24 point, 24 figure retinue. 2 mounted MAA and 2 foot MAA units. This would still be within the rules’ caveat of no more than four units of any one type and not exceeding 12 points. Oh, and I would have to include Black Tree Design or some nice HYW (both early and late) figures too. For a bit earlier than HYW, Fireforge wouldn’t be a bad choice either.
I concur with your thoughts on the adaptability of the rules – with a tweak or three they will work for Aztecs…