Monday, 4 January 2016

“Landwasters and Raven Feeders”: Official rules for Lion Rampant in the Dark Ages

Back in issue 331 (May 2015) of the superb Wargames Illustrated magazine, I looked at how to raise a Warband (which seems a more suitable title for this period than the medieval ‘Retinue’; your Leader is restyled as your Warlord) for your preferred Dark Ages nation, and added a list of Boasts more suited to the Dark Ages.

As that issue now seems almost impossible to find, according to some eager correspondents who have been in touch, here I present an abridged version of the article so that the Dark Ages Lion Rampant love can be shared! 

I’ve removed a certain amount of background info, some of the sample warbands, and of course you see none of the lovely photos that accompanied the article – but this blog entry does give you everything you need to play ‘Landwasters and Raven Feeders’.

But if you do find a copy of issue 331, snap it up!

Troop Types and Points Values

The upgrades available in this period are more limited than for medieval Retinues, and the appropriate ones may also be found in the conversion table.


Medieval Troop Type
Dark Ages Troop Type
Allowable upgrades
Mounted Men-at-Arms
Mounted bows
This troop type should only be used to represented fully armoured cataphracts on fully armoured horses.
Mounted Serjeants
Mounted Companions
Mounted bows
The Warlord’s bodyguard and his best fighters; sometimes they would fight on foot, sometimes mounted.
Mounted Yeomen
The majority of horsemen in the Dark Ages fall into this category: unarmoured, and using either javelins or bows.
Foot Men-at-Arms
Foot Companions

The Warlord’s bodyguard and his best fighters; sometimes they would fight on foot, sometimes mounted.
Foot Serjeants
Upper Class Spearmen
Armoured spearmen, equipped with body armour as well as a shield.
Schiltron renamed Shieldwall.
Fierce Foot

Impetuous warriors fighting in a much looser formation than spearmen.

Foot Yeomen
Lower Class Spearmen
Mixed Weapons
Unarmoured spearmen, equipped with only a shield.
Schiltron renamed Shieldwall.
Note that they cannot be upgraded to Expert!

Should be rare: only usable if defending against aiders, etc.
Slingers (-1 point, range 12”)
Units of bowmen would be fairly rare, Bidowers/Skirmishers and Foot Yeomen with Mixed Weapons being better representations of missile fire for many Warbands. Note that they cannot be upgraded to Expert!

Only usable by a very limited number of armies in this period.

Sometimes specifically trained, sometimes skilled hunters or woodsmen.

New Upgrade: Holy Men & Banners

‘Holy Men & Banners’ special characters
  • Available to: Any unit except for Skirmishers or Villagers; units containing your Leader may not take this upgrade.
  • Cost: 1 point per unit.
  • Maximum of 1 special character per unit.
  • Special characters may not transfer between units.
  • Replace one ordinary model in the unit with a special character. This special character moves, fights, and acts in all ways like any other model in the unit.
  • Units with a special character gain +1 to all Courage tests (in the same way as, and in addition to, being within 12” of their Leader – see page 11 of the rulebook).
  • Test for the death of special characters in the same way as Leader Lucky Blows.
  • A player killing an opposing unit’s special character gains +1 Glory.

New Boasts


  • “I have prayed to the Gods and they have listened!”: For the duration of the battle, you may never have more than one Battered unit on the table. If you last until the end of the scenario with this being the case, you get your glory; your units may be destroyed, just not visibly losing faith in the face of their enemies.
  • “Your shields are as strong as the walls of my mead hall”: None of your units may be the ‘loser’ in a melee in this game.
  • “They will cower before me”: At least three enemy units on the table must be Battered at any one time.


  • “Burn their homes”: If the table has at least one building on it, and you’re not playing a scenario where your objective is to burn these (or one where you are defending them!), you may Boast that you will burn at least of the buildings down. See the rules in Scenario F for how to do this.
  • “They will tremble before me”: At least two enemy units on the table must be Battered at any one time.
  • “And I shall drink my mead while my wolves ruin their sheep”: Confident in victor, you decide to go drinking rather than be present at the battle – your warriors are capable enough to win without your help. Your Leader’s unit may not move or take any action all game. If you are required to roll any dice for this unit or move it in any way, your Boast fails.
  • “We shall avenge them”: Secretly choose one enemy unit; you must destroy or rout it during the battle to avenge the dreadful deeds it has previously inflicted on your people.


  • “Plunder their dead”: On a turn following their enemy being wiped out or routed, one of you units must stand in place and take no action in the game (they are looting the bodies). If disturbed by having to move or fight, the opportunity (and Glory) is lost. This Boast may be taken up to three times, and used/scored on that many occasions in a scenario.
  •  “Drive them back into the sea”: You must make at least one enemy unit Retreat off the table during the game.
  • “Their arrows shall be lost like tears in rain”: None of your units may be ultimately routed or destroyed by missile fire (they may take missile casualties, but this cannot be the cause of their removal from play).

Playing with Smaller Numbers of Models

If you’re playing using a Saga warband – for example – you might find that you don’t have enough models to field a full sized force for Lion Rampant. Two choices have been popular with players using smaller numbers of models:

  • Field Warbands consisting of only 12 or 18 points rather than the standard 24 points. Ignore the Courage test trigger ‘Retinue has had half or more of its total points value of units removed from play.’
  • Field half-sized units (3 or 6 models); use the rules exactly as written, and remember that numbers are rounded down in the rules … meaning that a 3 model unit counts as under half strength when reduced to 2 models! Courage tests are less likely to be failed and casualties will mount up quickly, meaning you’ll have faster, bloodier battles.

Sample Warbands

As with the rulebook, these lists are not hard and fast lists that players must abide by; rather, they are suggestions to base your own Warband on.


·      2 Foot Companions* @ 12 points
·      1 Upper Class Spearmen @ 4 points
·      2 Lower Class Spearmen @ 6 points
·      1 Skirmishers @ 2 points

Arthurian British

·      3 Mounted Companions* @ 12 points
·      2 Riders with Javelins @ 6 points
·      2 Lower Class Spearmen @ 6 points

Pictish and Scottish

·      2 Riders with Javelins* @ 6 points
·      3 Lower Class Spearmen with Javelins @ 12 points
·      3 Skirmishers @ 6 points


·      2 Foot Companions* @ 12 points
·      2 Upper Class Spearmen @ 8 points
·      1 Warriors @ 4 points