I have previously reviewed Lion Rampant (Daniel Mersey; Osprey Publishing #8, 2014). Finally I managed to organise a game or two at Devizes Wargames Club using my Teutonic and Baltic Pagan forces. My opponent was Ian, who was using the rules for the first time.
The first game was the ‘Bloodbath’ scenario and I commanded the Teutonic knights. The table was liberally covered with small areas of wood, marsh and rough ground. Both armies arrived on table in a rather stuttering manner due to failed activation rolls. My crossbow troops (foot and mounted) rapidly knocked out the Pagan missile troops (horse archers and bidowers), trying to fulfil my ‘Boast’ that more enemy would die by the arrow rather than the sword. One unit of Teutonic knights, supported by the foot spearmen, then advanced and engaged the enemy foot, who had not reached the areas of cover in the centre of the table. Control was lost as both sides were forced in to ‘Wild Charges’. The Pagans came out worst, losing a couple of units, and total victory appeared to be in the hands of the Teutonics. At this point the Teutonic foot badly failed a Courage test and routed, whilst the knights were gradually whittled down and eliminated. Unfortunately this was too little, too late for the Pagans. They lost their finally foot unit and their commanders Men-at-Arms were shot to pieces by my crossbowmen. One Pagan Bidower, plus the General finally retreated off the table and a Teutonic victory was achieved.
We had time for a second game, this time Ian took the Teutonics. We played the ‘Sausages with Mustard’ scenario, and my Pagans were defending the central 4 objectives. The Teutonics advanced rapidly across a broad front, whilst the Pagans advanced their horse archers to support the forward deployed, defending Pagan foot unit. In this game the Pagan horse archers saw off the opposing Teutonic mounted crossbows and did seriously damage the foot crossbows. Ian threw very poor activation dice which prevented his missile troops from effectively returning fire. The Teutonic spearmen drew out the defending Pagan foot away from the objectives. The Pagan foot were subsequently destroyed by a unit of knights, but the Teutonic spearmen had become Battered and steadfastly refused to rally, and eventually retreated off table. Ian now had a problem; although he controlled the objectives, his only units were the wild Teutonic knights! They never stayed long enough to set fire to the objectives as they constantly charged off after the second wave of advancing Pagan foot. One unit of knights became involved in a prolonged battle with some foot on the edge of woods. After a number of turns the Teutonic knights were ground down and eliminated. This gave the victory to the Pagans; no objectives burned, and the Pagan ‘Boast’ of destroying the unit of knights fulfilled.
I think we both enjoyed the games, even though Ian lost, and the fast pace enabled two games to be completed in less than 2 ½ hours. The ‘Dice Gods’ were not in a good mood, Ian managed to throw appalling dice at critical times during the afternoon. I sometimes doubt whether the laws of probability hold true in our games, because frequently one-or-other of us has awful luck. Lion Rampant works as a set of light-weight, fast, fun rules, ideal for relaxed club gaming. The commander characters and ‘Boasts’ add good variations to the scenarios. I still feel that 6 figure missile units (bidowers, horse archers and mounted crossbows) are a bit overpowered compared to dedicated foot crossbowmen. The pair of forces we used suffer from a lack of control due to ‘Wild Charges’, and I certainly feel that if they do not Charge they should be allowed to move under normal activation.
To conclude, Lion Rampant gets a ‘Thumbs Up’ and will see further outings in the future. The next planned game at Devizes will be Crusaders versus Saracens using Ian’s figures and introducing a new set of rules; ‘Swords and Spears’.