With most of my armies packed away, and having had a very busy week, there hadn’t been much time to plan what we were going to play. I fancied something a little bit different, so we decided to try a new rule system. Though we haven’t played it before, Lion Rampant has a lot of similarities to both Dragon Rampant and Xenos Rampant, which we have played. So it wasn’t too difficult to grab a couple of boxes of figures in order to turn up and play.
With no time to design armies before hand, it meant we were selecting two 24 points war bands as we started the game. I used my Anglo Saxons, and my opponent went for Vikings – very similar to what we’d used last week in Saga, though I had more mounted troops this time around. Fortunately, we also had a great deal of luck in drawing the attention of someone else at Farnborough Wargmes who had a lot more experience with the game than us. With his help, the game went a lot more smoothly than it probably would have without him.
Lion Rampant is much more of a generic system than Saga. In Saga, you have set factions which define the troops in your army. In Lion Rampant, there are no such restrictions. You pick a type of troop (Light Infantry, Heavy Cavalry etc), and then modify them with options which raise or lower the units point costs. This gives more flexibility, though does also mean how armies differ from each other is entirely up to the players. There’s less uniqueness in how a particular army works.
Each unit consists of 6 or 12 figures. One unit is designated as having a leader, though it doesn’t make much difference to the unit itself.
We decided to play a simple battle of trying to wipe out the other side. I originally decided to set up my archers on a hill, to cover a large part of the battlefield, but the Vikings ended up being more sneaky so they didn’t get to take advantage of their position.
The Vikings kept to the woods, or hid behind a hill, so I was forced to send out my light bow equipped cavalry to try and harass them directly.
As with the other Rampant games, you need to roll to see whether a unit activates. As soon as you fail an activation, your turn ends. We did have a couple of very short turns, where someone failed an activation for their first unit, and then their turn was over. It doesn’t happen that often though.
One thing that caused tactical problems when we played Xenos Rampant was the wild charge feature of some units. These units have to check to see if they charge a unit if any enemy units are within range. This turned out to be a real problem for me. My leader unit had wild charge, which meant if it came within 10″ of anything it would have to charge. I wasn’t too concerned with this, since it’s a unit of elite cavalry, so this is what it should be doing. However, the Vikings were sneaking around in the woods, and cavalry is seriously penalised in woods. It turned out, I’d have to charge units even if they were in woods. With the Vikings sneaking their units up to the edges of woods, it may it very difficult to move around without being dragged into woodland fights.
This resulted in my leader getting caught up in a fight with some light warriors which I couldn’t get away from. My armour was halved in woods (meaning I was taking twice as many casualties), and my combat abilities were reduced. Over the period of several turns, my leader’s unit got whittled down as they kept on being pulled into fights that they couldn’t win. Eventually, I lost my leader.
Meanwhile, the Viking leader was staying hidden, so I decided to try and flush them out. I moved my archers close to the hill, and sent a unit of heavy infantry around the side. I then sent some cavalry up onto the hill as bait. The Vikings could ignore them, allowing me to shoot every turn, or come up and fight. They chose to fight.
I managed to get some good rolls as the Viking heavy infantry and my Saxon heavy infantry clashed to the side of the hill. The Vikings were driven back, allowing me to control the flank.
Then, the Viking leader charged my horse, which turned tail and fled, evading the charge. This left the Viking leader unit up on the hill. In my next turn, my archers started raining arrows down upon them. They charged my infantry, and lost more figures, eventually leaving only their leader. The Viking leader failed their courage test, and fled the field of battle.
That left both of our armies without leaders. At this point, the Vikings decided to turn and run (a player decision), leaving the Anglo-Saxons victorious.
It had been an interesting game. The wild charge feature had been incredibly annoying for me, and I think it’s definitely worth paying a point to get rid of it for a unit. This is something I decided in previous games as well. Out of our three attempts at the Rampant games, this was probably the most successful. It was a relatively close game, which could have gone either way if the Vikings hadn’t decided to fall back.
Even with having to design the armies at the start of the game, our battle was over, and we’d finished packing up, before the Saga game on the table next to us had finished. This is still my problem with the Rampant series – games are over too quickly, and I’m not fond of playing multiple games in an evening. The emotional high of having either won or lost by the end of a game, drains my desire to start a new game. It may be worth trying larger games with either more than 24 points, or with more players.
After this game, I could be persuaded to try it a game. Though putting a bit more thought into the units would be a desire before next time. Fortunately, the figures needed are very similar to Saga (which has units of 4, 8 or 12 figures, as opposed to the 6 or 12 of Lion Rampant), so I can mostly re-use my armies. I still prefer Saga as a system, but I’ve warmed a little bit to Rampant.
We also might try Xenos Rampant again. Converting my Ground Zero Games 25mm armies to Xenos Rampant shouldn’t be that hard, and this would give us a number of armies to use. There’s also some nice looking 28mm modern figures from Wargames Foundry (from their Street Violence range) which I have my eye on, which would be good for either Stargrunt or Xenos Rampant.