Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lion Rampant

One of my Christmas presents was a copy of Dan Mersey's Lion Rampant rules.  While these are designed for medieval warfare they will work just fine for any sword and board type of troops.  They are a skirmish level game, with units of twelve, or sometimes six models.  Much is simplified in the name of game play but they work very nicely and are very quick to pick up.  This, however, is not a review of the rules.

Cirion leads his men against Isengard raiders.

Over Christmas Owyn, my youngest, discovered the joys of Lord of the Rings.  He got himself into a cycle where he would watch one of the movies, then he would play the Lego PS3 game, then he would play with some LotR Legos.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  When I offered him a chance to wargame LotR he jumped at it.  Rhys already wanted to play so this was an easy sell.

Owyn, marshaling his dirty orc raiders, and loving it.  
The boys looked through my painted armies and each chose one.  Owyn had just finished the Two Towers so he had Isengard on the brain, and I wouldn't let him take Rohan because of all the horses.

The Isengard raiders, preparing for an attack in the White Mountains.
Most units in the game are twelve strong, and you'll have six to eight of them, depending on how you build your army.  Since both boys are still learning, and since my gaming table is too tall for them I brought up one of the modular tiles 2 foot square.  Because of the size of the play area we went with just three units of only six.

Rhys, thrilled to be getting LotR on the table, FINALLY!
Rhys is currently torn between Aragorn and Boromir as his favorite hero.  In either case, Gondor was the obvious choice.  Mine are not painted like the movie.  I painted this army before I divorced from GW, and since I'd always wanted an EIR army and Gondor is sort of like Rome, that's how I painted them.  I foresee them getting re-painted at some point, now that I have Romans.

Cirion leads a force of Warriors of Minas Tirith and Rangers of Ithilien.
The two forces were mirror images, bar the ranged.  Owyn had crossbows (hit harder, harder to activate).  Rhys had archers (Easier to activate, harder to hit with).

Initial Deployment
I wasn't too worried about the niceties of deployment since it was their first mini game ever.  They took it in turns to deploy the terrain, then did the same with their units, ending up mirroring each other.  They both placed their troops in cover with no prompting from me.  You can see that the troops are deployed in rough blobs.  They also have to stay three inches away from all other units unless they are charging.

Foot Sergeants flanked by archers.
There is only one rule I have discovered so far that I don't like.  Each army has a single leader who is part of a unit.  When those two units fight you can, instead, declare a duel.  The two heroes are moved together, the units don't move.  Each player rolls three dice.  4's are hits and whoever has the most wins.  The loser is dead.

This is a duel.  The two units stand by and watch their champions fight to the death.
The whole thing is just too random for my liking.  That is part of the rules that I will just leave out unless I can figure out a way to make it more interesting.  As I said though, that's the only thing I don't like about these rules.

After a second duel the Uruks have been pushed back, leaderless.
The boys duelled and drew, the attackers fell back.  The next turn, Owyn's, he declared a duel and Cirion promptly chopped the Uruk captain into dog food.  This made Owyn sad.  Big tears.  One of the primary things I'm working on in these games is sportsmanship.  Not getting angry or sad. Talking trash but not being mean.  Skills so many folks at the shop never seemed to have learned. Most importantly, the game is supposed to be fun for both of you.

Owyn working on his trash talking.  He's explaining how he's going to eat the Gondor soldiers after he wins.
After the melt down we re-convened and finished the game with no more drama.  The boys had the mechanics down and everything rolled along nicely.

These guys right here are going Down, Daddy.
You've fallen right into my trap.  They don't set traps but they sure do love to say that.
The combats started to roll Rhys' way.  The game doesn't seem to have dramatic swings the way LotR can sometimes.  You are just going to have to get in there and grind down your enemy.  It feels very correct in that way.

Rolls like this may explain Rhys' ascendancy.
Rhys won the first game so the next day his brother challenged him to a re-match.

Game two.
This game was Owyn's.  He won the duel; cue a meltdown by Rhys.  After a couple of hours to think about it they re-convened and duked it out.  Owyn wore his brother down and finished it with a knockout.  Rhys figured out how and when to form his foot sergeants into a shiltron, increasing their armor.

There is a lot of tactical maneuvering going on here. 
Rhys and I currently have a game half way through.

Lion Rampant is a great, fast skirmish set for medieval gaming.  The rules are really easy to port to other eras, I think they'd work out of the box for dark ages, for instance.  They are also simple enough that my boys were able to pick them up quickly but with full 24 point armies will not be boring or too simple for adults.


  1. Fantastic stuff mate - I like the way you kept it small and uncluttered but still interesting and exciting for the lads
    You are a Gamer dad indeed! Your boys are indeed lucky

    1. Thanks Paul. I'm using some of your ideas here. It's been great fun for all of us, tears and all.

  2. Congratulations to you both for getting your boys active in miniatures and for maintaining the peace during the heat of battle.

    1. Thank you Jonathan. It's a work in progress but our hobby is so obviously awesome that they just can't resist. I expect a few good years of gaming with them before they discover girls.

  3. Nice approach :)
    Packing thousands of figures and terrain on a huge table and fighting complex rules doesn't equal accessibility in our hobby.
    What you've done here looks very appealing...

    1. Thanks Mike. It seems to be working.

  4. Good idea and a nice approach for the yung 'uns. A simple enough rule set to get them into it. (I agree about the random thing though).

    1. Thanks Hendrid. The good news is that since that's the only thing I don't like it's easy enough to leave it out.

  5. I like your version of Gondorians better than Jackson's. I wish I had you to teach me new games, so I didn't have to read the rules.

    1. Thanks Mr. Bacon. I like reading rules. I always feel too much pressure to get them right when I'm playing someone else. I don't have that problem with the boys. They don't care if it's "right". They just care if they have.


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