Saturday, 1 June 2013

Lion Rampant: Doncaster 2, Cambridge 4

Doncaster is on the left, with an axe
 Now that the rules are stable and I’ve received plenty of feedback from my gallant band of testers, I’ll post the occasional report of my own Lion Rampant games. Chum Simon B and I played a small game using 18 point hosts: partly to see how well the game plays with smaller forces than the recommended 24 points, and partly because we only had access to a 3x3 table for the game. Scenery was also limited for this game as it was a quick pick-up game for which we’d not pulled out the terrain box (it's not an easy thing to cart around on public transport).

Cambridge is at the front, sword aloft
 Lion Rampant is scenario driven. Players choose their forces (their 'host', in LR terms) in advance of knowing the scenario, which means a knight-heavy host will be very handy in those rare stand-up fights, but a mixed host (or even one with plenty of light troops) comes in handy just as often.

We chose two similar forces, named for the Leader's heraldry matching certain football teams:

Battered Yeomen on the right, Foot Serjeants at the bottom
Cambridge (me)
1 Foot Retinue
1 Foot Serjeants
1 Crossbowmen
1 Archers

Doncaster (Simon)
1 Foot Retinue
1 Foot Serjeants
1 Crossbowmen
1 Foot Yeomen + javelins

Foot Retinue have six models per unit, everyone else has 12 models. The scenario required both hosts to pass by one another and exit from their opponent’s deployment zone. On a small table, this meant we both expected to have to carve a path through each other rather than edging around the enemy picking off weak units.

The rubbish crossbowmen confuse themselves
Units roll to activate each turn, so both hosts stuttered forward to begin with rather than maintaining tight lines. We’d both placed our Retinue in our centre, backed up with Foot Serjeants, with lighter units on the flanks. Great minds think alike. As do dull ones.

Crossbow and bow shooting did a little damage at long range early on, with Doncaster’s Foot Yeomen starting to take casualties from the Cambridge crossbowmen. Crossbows are less likely to shoot than Archers, but are more deadly when they do. As you’d expect, the Armour rating for unarmoured troops is lower than that for better armoured units, so it takes less hits to cause casualties to Yeomen than either Serjeants or Retinue.

Cambridge’s Retinue started to edge around the right flank of the Doncaster host. They moved across the front of a crossbow unit that failed to shoot at them (busy reloading or otherwise distracted?). At the same time, the Doncaster Foot Yeomen headed straight for the opposing crossbowmen that stood between them and a quick exit from the board … and all important Glory points for exiting a unit. The Doncaster Yeomen took steady casualties and failed a Courage test to become Battered, crucially forcing them backwards and temporarily unable to act. They did eventually contact the crossbowmen but were repelled once again and finally routed.

Doncaster’s Retinue moved straight into the waiting enemy Foot Serjeants, taking light casualties from archery. Some stunningly poor rolls saw the Retinue pushed back and Battered. Several times, they pushed back into combat against the Serjeants, always harassed by the archers; this combat ground on for several turns before the Serjeants routed and the Retinue fell back Battered. The remaining Doncaster Retinue - all one of them - were shot full of crossbow bolts at close range. Doncaster was dead, and Cambridge was sneakily exiting the opposite side of the board after routing some foolish crossbowmen who allowed Cambridge’s Retinue to get too close. The Doncaster crossbowmen suffered from impressively bad dice all evening: they barely got a volley of bolts off; when they eventually did, the dice were poor; in combat they were hopeless; and their Courage failed them far too soon. I like that sort of opposition.

The Doncaster Foot Serjeants had been behind their Retinue for much of the game, sheltered from missile attack. When the Doncaster Retinue and Cambridge Serjeants routed, the Doncaster Serjeants advanced over the carnage and slapped a strong unit of enemy archers hard enough to make them retreat from the game and open a route for the Serjeants to march off triumphantly off the board.

The game ended with Cambridge’s Retinue and Crossbowmen exiting the board successfully, and Doncaster’s Retinue doing the same. Victory went to Cambridge, running out 4-2 winners on Glory points. The game took about an hour and a half to play through with pauses in between, and highlighted a couple more minor tweaks and clarifications I need to make. Simon has declared he’ll play again, so I count that as a successful outing of the rules.

The manuscript is due to be delivered to the publisher in November 2013, so plenty of time for further action.