We are in the process of preparing a major house move, so don’t expect many battle reports in the next weeks. There may be one exception, however. After reading lots of great reviews, I finally caved in and ordered a copy of Lion Rampant from Annie at Bad Squiddo Games.
I’ve read it and it looks very good. Being one of the Osprey Wargames series, it has the high production values usual for the publisher. However, the rules mechanics are also very clever. I particularly like the activation sequence: Troops are more or less likely to be activated according to their profile and what you want of them. Mounted men-at-arms, for example, are easy to activate for attacking but harder for moving around, while archers are of course more willing to shoot than to enter melee. I also like the ‘Wild Charge’ special rules for mounted men-at-arms. If they are near enough to reach an enemy unit, they have to test if they will charge it, even if this is unfavourable to them. This reminds me of a great scene in The Poem of El Cid:
“‘Stay where you are, my men’ (said the Cid), ‘and let none break ranks till I give the word of command.’ But Pedro Bermúdez could hold out no longer; he held the standard and spurred on his horse […] The Cid cried, ‘Stop, in Heaven’s name!'”
This quote gives you already a hint what figures we’ll use: namely the 15mm El Cid figures. Now those are based as elements for playing mass battles, however there is no reason why Lion Rampant won’t work with elements – we will just use markers to indicate hits.
While Lion Rampant is intended to model skirmishes, I think they will also work for small battles. Some of the rule mechanics already give the feeling that a unit is more than the 12 or fewer individuals it would represent on a 1:1 scale. For example, friendly units can’t move through each other, not even when they are retreating. Or rough terrain is handled as a zone where all units are on a similar footing and have equal values for attack and defence. On the Dux Rampant forum, the rules author Dan Mersey also published some optional rules for flank and rear attacks, which we will use as they feel more appropriate for the way my figures are based.
The only other change I will make is to reduce all distances by one third. Playing with 15mm figures on a smallish table, this is something I’m used to doing and it always works well.
Lion Rampant is all over the place at the moment – no wargaming magazine is without a scenario or rules amendments. I’m looking forward to seeing for myself what all the fuss is about and having a game. I’m also very much looking forward to breaking out the Almoravids and early medieval Spanish once again and giving them a good fight!