I had my first game of Lion Rampant at last night's Friday Night Fire Fight Club and thought I'd share some thoughts.
As the cover suggests, the game system is designed for medieval wargaming. Over the past couple of years, I've found that my interest in historical wargaming has followed the early history of the peoples occupying the British Isles. Hail Caesar (Ancient British Celts), Dux Bellorum (Arthurian) and SAGA (Anglo Saxons) all provide rulesets for this period. Lion Rampant now allows me to expand on my existing warbands and explore the period after the Norman invasion.
The book is a relatively inexpensive slim paperback - available for less than £10 at many outlets. The rules are skirmish based rather than full blown Hail Caesar like battles. Individual warbands are typically 24 points. Since a unit of foot Serjeants consists of 12 models for 4 points, while better armed men-at-arms units are each composed of just 6 models for the same points, retinues don't require masses of painted figures. In last night's game I put together a retinue of Islemen (Norse Gael types), using figures from my painted SAGA Norse Gael and Anglo Dane warbands. It won't take much extra painting to have two or three full retinues ready for battle. Six point SAGA warbands can easily be upgraded with a few extra figures into Welsh, Irish, Scottish or Border Raiders etc. There are also sample retinues provided in the rulebook for forces from Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Middle-East.
This is supposed to be a quick post so I won't go into detail about the game mechanics, other than to say they are simple (and I mean that in a complimentary way) and allow for a very fluid game. Different troop types have their own strengths and weaknesses and whilst there is still a degree of luck involved due to dice throwing, it's still important to develop appropriate tactics for your retinue.
There are 12 different scenarios provided that offer very entertaining encounters. In last night's game my Islemen had to attack Paul's retinue (Swiss - I know!) whilst they collected the taxes. Six tokens were placed randomly across the table with values hidden beneath. Since I was learning the game I decided to forget about the taxes and just attack the Swiss! Turns out crossbowmen can shoot 18 inches and pikemen are tasty in defence... Needless to say the Swiss went home richer... But without their leader or their confounded crossbows!
The last observation I'll make is about Boasts. Before battle commences each leader can make boasts about what he will achieve during the battle. These have varrying degrees of outrageousness and if achieved provide Glory Points that are added to any points earnt for achieving scenario objectives. These add real spice to the game and there's plenty of scope for making up your own boasts. If nothing else they should wind up your opponant!
Lots of fun and highly recommended.