Monday, 28 March 2016

Big Battle Lion Rampant


The inspiration for this post comes from Michael Leck's article on the Condottieri in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy 81 and a more recent post on his blog. Like myself Michael is a huge fan of Lion Rampant and is also co-authoring the Pike and Shot version of the Rules Pikeman's Lament with Dan Mersey. In short he knows his stuff where Lion Rampant is concerned.

For my part I have been seeking a no-nonsense rule set for large Medieval Battles for a very long time. With few exceptions Medieval Gaming has not attracted many rule sets of its own and typically the era is tagged onto Ancient rule sets, that themselves usually cover some 3,000 years of warfare. I do not need rules for chariots, elephants, or even Hellenistic phalanxes and Roman legions; just the 15th Century and its way of warfare is enough.

Lion Rampant is a great rule set and while it lacks the complex rules of other more 'historical' sets, it does actually give you the essence of Medieval Warfare and the results you would expect, but in far fewer pages than is usual. As much as I like the game, the six and twelve figure units do not really tend to give the 'mass effect' of a medieval battle, just the skirmish game it advertises itself as.

Michael's 'no-brainer' solution was to simply replace the individual figures used in the game with multiple figure bases. So a twelve figure unit of sergeants, became twelve bases of sergeants and as he mounts his figures four to a base, that meant that the unit was now 48 figures strong; much more in line with what I was thinking of. Michael also took the lo-drag option of just removing bases as casualties too, a simple no-nonsense conversion that was astounding in its simplicity.  

Such a straightforward solution does give the visual effect I was looking for and let's face it a 'schiltron' twelve figures wide and four deep does indeed look more like massed spears than two ranks of six figures. In all I am convinced that this simple exchange of bases for figures is the way to do it. I could leave it there but I also felt that a little more could be added to improve the 'Big Battle' game.

Your own mileage may vary on some or all of these, so I have compartmentalised them, so that you can simply take the bits you want and leave the ones which do not work for you behind.

The Core Concept

The single figures used in Lion Rampant are exchanged for bases mounting multiple figures.
  • Six figure units are represented by six bases. 'Half-strength' is less than four bases.
  • Twelve figure units are represented by twelve bases. 'Half-strength' is less than seven bases.
Every mention of 'figures' in the rules transforms to 'bases' for larger battles.

It actually does not matter how many figures there are to a base if you are playing just a straight swap of figures to bases. If you have your figures in movement trays however, then you might want to come to an agreement over what each of those means in terms of bases.

I suggest four figures to 'a base', so that a 24 figure unit is 6 bases, but if your figures are in units of 12 and 24, you may want to halve that. It does not matter what you choose, but base sizes should be the same across both armies.

Missile Shooting


With the advances in terms of armour and protection in the 15th Century, I do not use the 'Longbow' bonus rules presented on the Dux Rampant Forum, just the straight shooting rules as they are. If you do then you can continue to do so, it is as simple as that.

What I do think is that missile fire in Lion Rampant is too deadly. You may disagree with this, but I challenge you to find a battle where missile fire defeated an army before it got into hand to hand combat.

For me therefore Lion Rampant's somewhat brutal missile fire needs toning down;
  • For a shooting unit that is 'over half-strength' roll six dice.
  • For a shooting unit that is 'half-strength and under' roll three dice.
  • At less than half the unit's maximum range, double the number of dice rolled (i.e. the 'normal' number of dice used in Lion Rampant). 

The Schiltron


In normal Lion Rampant this requires all figures within a unit to have their bases touching and to be in two ranks. I see no reason to change this, as presuming your bases feature figures in two or three ranks as it is, a two base deep base-to-base block is going to look pretty impressive.

The only accommodation I use for pikes is greater depth, which is of little use for a solitary pike unit, but when you have more than one ranged together, you can put more men into the fight.
  • Pikes may be three ranks deep and still count all bases as fighting.
That is the only pike rule I use and typically I do not use the 'Mobile Schiltron' rules, as it appears that most armies did not practice manoeuvring as a formation and could only maintain the cohesion necessary to benefit from the Schiltron rule by staying put.
However the Swiss and to a lesser extent Charles the Bold's mercenary pikemen (but not his levies) and the Swiss-trained Bandes Françaises, did train to manoeuvre in this way. The Swiss benefit from the 'Swiss Pikes' rule and the others from the 'Trained Pikes' rule.
  • 'Swiss Pikes' - May move full movement distance when in 'Schiltron' @ 2 points per unit.
  • 'Trained Pikes' - May move half full movement distance when in 'Schiltron' @ 1 point each.
Unlike stationary pike units, who count up the three ranks, as mentioned above, 'mobile' Schiltrons that have charged only count the first two ranks for the purposes of determining the number of dice rolled in melee. For example a unit of twelve bases in three ranks, counts as having 'eight bases', so uses the full twelve dice. If the unit has lost three bases, then it only has six bases in the front two ranks, reducing its dice to six.

Additional Leaders


Medieval armies were typically divided into three commands (Vanward, Mainward and Rearward), one of which was led by the army commander and the others by his subordinates or allies. The typical Lion Rampant game is too small to really attach these other leaders, unless you are playing a really big or multi-player game.

In effect each leader acts like he is an army commander, but his effect is limited to those units that were placed under his command at the start of the game. Only the army commander himself may influence all of the troops on-table by his presence near them.

Forces have somewhat more staying power with more leaders around, so it is recommended that players add only one additional leader to a force per 24 points, or part thereof; so 24 points and under is one leader, 25-48 points is two leaders and over 48 points is three. There is no points cost added for these extra leaders.

Artillery


One of the key features of large battles in the last quarter of the 15th Century, was the use of a fair amount of artillery. This ranged from the multi-barrel Ribaudequins, to the standard 'field gun' - the Serpentine, up to the heavy Culverines. Dan Mersey has already put up some basic artillery rules on the Dux Rampant Forum, which I have amended to suit my own needs.

Artillery crew are treated as individual bases of Bidowers if contacted or shot at, and for Courage tests. They (but not their guns) may evade on a 7+, so as not to become casualties and may subsequently return to their guns as part of their normal movement.
  • Gunners must be with their weapons at the beginning of any turn that they fire. In other words gunners returning to weapons after evading, may not shoot until they are activated in the following turn.
  • A unit in base-to-base contact with any enemy artillery that has been abandoned, may disable them if they spend one full turn in contact and undertake no other actions in that turn.
Two things are obvious here. Firstly that guns need to be kept together for mutual security. Secondly you can discomfort the gunners by threatening them with your own troops; unless your opponent has five or six guns together, his crews can only fight hand to hand as Bidowers at 'less than half strength'.

Culverins

These use the base unmodified rules suggested by Dan.
  • Use 1 artillery model plus 6 crew (Your Leader can't be part of this unit).
  • May be operated so long as there is a crew base with it.
  • Points cost: 4 points (maximum of one piece per 12 retinue points).
  • Range: Anywhere within line of sight on the tabletop (an arc of 22.5° either side of straight ahead).
  • Shoot value: 7+.
  • Damage: Roll 12 dice against the target unit, hitting on 3+. Ignore cover.
  • Reload value: 10+. After a successful Shoot action, the artillery may not be fired again until a successful Reload action has taken place. This is carried out as a normal, ordered activation.
  • May not move or turn during the game and must be deployed in the player’s deployment zone.
Serpentines

These use slightly different rules to the Culverine; they do less damage, but may alter their firing arc.
  • Use 1 artillery model plus a crew base (Your Leader can't be part of this unit).
  • May be operated so long as there is a crew base with it.
  • Points cost: 2 points (maximum of one piece per 12 retinue points).
  • Range: Anywhere within line of sight on the tabletop (an arc of 22.5° either side of straight ahead).
  • Shoot value: 7+.
  • Damage: Roll 6 dice against the target unit, hitting on 3+. Ignore cover.
  • Reload value: 7+. After a successful Shoot action, the Serpentine may not be fired again until a successful Reload action has taken place. This is carried out as a normal, ordered activation.
  • A successful Reload roll may also be combined with a change of firing direction of up to 90°.
  • May not move during the game and must be deployed in the player’s deployment zone.
Ribaudequins

These are much lighter multi-barrelled pieces with some mobility.
  • Use 1 artillery model plus a crew base (Your Leader can't be part of this unit).
  • May be operated so long as there is a crew base with it.
  • Points cost: 2 points (maximum of 1 artillery piece per 12 retinue points).
  • Range: Up to 18" with normal infantry firing arcs.
  • Shoot value: 7+.
  • Damage: Roll 6 dice against the target unit at over 9", 12 dice at less than 9", hitting on 3+. 
  • Reload value: 10+. After a successful Shoot action, the artillery may not be fired again until a successful Reload action has taken place. This is carried out as a normal, ordered activation.
  • A successful Reload action allows a move of up to 6" but may not fire that turn, or up to 3" per turn and firing with half the dice allowed. 
  • A successful Reload action may be combined with a turn up to 90° with no effect. 
Note that the number of dice rolled relate to the normal shooting rules in Lion Rampant and if using the Shooting amendment above you would halve them at over half range. The notional 'Half-Range' distance for the Serpentine and Culverine is 24".

4 comments:

  1. That's a great idea, I put together a number of war of the roses basic impetus armies a while ago but I based all the figures individualy so that I could play lion rampant when it came out. Now I can put them back on smaller bases and try this out, I've really enjoyed it as a skirmish game but I fancy trying it for battles as well.
    Best Iain

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    1. As I said,I can claim no originality for the idea, it's brilliant in its simplicity and I was humbled that I didn't think of it myself...

      I was all ready to set about writing some Pike & Shotte - Lion Rampant hybrid that would have been quite over-complex and probably far less enjoyable.

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  2. Very interesting conversion of a great set of rules....the visual aspect would be stunning. The big problem for most of us, I suspect, is finding an opponent suitably enthused to create the units.

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    1. Thank you!

      You could happily use any existing armies based for rules that use a common convention; such as Armati, DBM/A, Impetus, or whatever. It's the number of bases that matters, not the number of figures on them.

      Finding an opponent is still a problem though.

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