Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Rightful Heir….

Got an email from WillB. suggesting he was surprisingly available on Saturday evening and wanted a game, preferably a Lion Rampant or of the ilk.  Sure, always up for a game.  A couple of the “Bonsor Regulars” would join us in a great game.  If you have any sense of humour, you can delight in the herky jerkey action created by the activation procedure of these rules.

During the day I received good news about the long awaited miniatures order to complete the other side of the collection but I was still faced with having only the same ‘uniformed’ troops as all my early HYW are in dark red/dark blue.  Hmm, perhaps a family 'civil war' then?  Yes, perhaps between rivals for daddy’s empty holdings.  With this premise, I came up with the scenario that indeed, the old Earl of Raineth passed away that previous month and his favourite orphaned nephew and his eldest son are contending for the earldom and both forces wear the Earl’s colours as a sign of legitimacy…..that covers the same uniform explanation!

After laying out the table in my usual random way, I thought of a way to enliven the game by adding ‘personal objectives’ for each player unknown to all which could then determine the overall winner.  I created 7 cards for us four (thus even I could not know each player’s objective) and randomly distributed as were the troop selections.  I could create four ‘retinues’ of 14 points for each of us, with two per side.
JimF's rather disciplined advance.  Knights safely in the rear!

I will not go into detail about the game as trying to describe a LR game is a very difficult thing. However I will mention that PeterM. has a notorious tendency to often fail his activations and in this game sat on his easily achieved objective for fully 4 turns, unable to activate to complete his task!  He finally gave up and tried …note the emphasis…to move toward the action. WillB opposite him did not do much better as, while he did get his pigs*, activations did not come often to him.
WillB's first unsuccessful activation to capture the pigs. I guess I missed the shot of the first of the spearmen falling flat in the mud.  Will would eventually get his objective.

For activations, I was successful every time - a first for me! - but I think that got me in more trouble than not as Jim was clever enough to evade my charges. I was eventually eliminated.  But really, hiding knights in the forest?  Not very medieval, eh?  But his response to my good-natured taunts were to say “ And what, get them killed?”  He would eventually win the game by using them to burn down the barn, his personal objective.  Arsonist bloody knights of all things!  I may have prevented it by charging them with my archers a turn earlier but I thought they were just trying to hide again! Clever boy.
My retinue fighting Jim's yeomen.

Peter's retinue still in the graveyard! His activation rolls
 are truly dreadful.....
The battle ended with me eliminated, WillB my ally,  in a quick retreat, and JimF the winner having done his burning and his ally PeterM now able to move back to the graveyard and thus to his objective…eventually….

Quote of the game: 
 Me: “I am a fool”.  PeterM: “That’s with an ‘e’ at the end, of course”

all miniatures painted by yours truly a few years ago.

*each personal objective, for example, searching the church for ancestral documents for use in legitimacy claims,  usually needed a unit to be adjacent the building for two consecutive successful ‘move’ activations to complete the task.  Other tasks such as taking the pigs or burning of the barn can be rationalized as taking advantage of the discord.
Jim's knights...hiding in the forest....


  1. I found the 'failure to activate, your turn is over' aspect of Lion Rampant to be positively infuriating. I usually like activation rolls, but 'one and done' (and they are relatively high rolls needed too) seemed to kill it for me.

    1. Yup lots of the "OK then, over to you" but we were only playing with three units per.
      However, other games I host which allow players to activate..or not...ALL their units have worked well and do not cause problems. Still bloody frustrating "Why the bleep do they not want to shoot??!" but at least all have a chance to fail!

  2. Great looking figures and game, Doug. I have to say the activations for Lion Rampant can skew game play a bit more than I like. That and the 3" between units is making me feel like returning to a modified version of Hail Caesar.

    1. Certainly it can be a bit skew-y :)
      When hosting I never insist on the 3 inch rule but do indicate that units must go around each other and found no problems with that. Never saw the need. But yes the activations can be frustrating - see above comment and reply.
      I was odd that in this game I never failed an activation. Weird but funner!

  3. Indeed a Great Game. I like the idea of separate, hidden objectives for each player. I find the activation in 'Rampant' games to be one of their more charming aspects--especially in multiplayer games. You never know whether things will go as anticipated. I sometimes find myself having passed every activation attempt so far wondering what to do with myself because I rarely get to activate everyone and I hadn't thought that far ahead.

    1. We had players throughout the game voice long debates with themselves of what to do, only to finally roll the dice and fail the activation! But an activation attempt allowed for all units generally has more of a calming effect on players than the simple '1 and out' possibility.
      It was a great game nonetheless. I have kept the scenario for future use.
      Thanks for the comments.

  4. I'll jump on, yes a great game! The hidden objectives do sound like fun.

    In the Men Who Would Be Kings, a failed activation just harpoons the failed unit but doesn't effect your other units. There may also be a smaller radius for space between friendly units but I will have to check.

    The one thing I don't enjoy with Black Powder and its derivatives is the failed activation for a whole command. I often just sit there, turn after turn, watching the Geohex grow while others game away. One solution some have used is to allow a side/command to make one activation for one unit, even if they fail their command's activation roll.

    On the other hand, we've played The Pikeman's Lament and a Napoleonic version there of with no modification to activation rolls and had a great time.

    In the end, you pays your money and takes yer chances.

    1. As with all things, the player's mind-set decides if a ruleset works or not. It is interesting that later variations have less harsh activation chances of failure as you point out.

      The hidden objectives and the point that two consecutive successful 'move' activations were required to fulfill the task, made for some interesting dynamics to the game. I will certainly keep that idea in the back-pocket!
      thanks for the comments