A recently discovered and translated lost excerpt from The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles”…
“In the year 843 the Danes came into the land of Wessex and ravaged all about them. They were led by Jarl Ivar “The Legless”, a great warrior besotted with mead and gold. The heathen men came seeking the golden hoard lost to their number last Summer. Eorl Wulfstan “the Red” went out with all the men of his household and lands seeking to bring the Danes to battle and seize the treasure for himself. Wulfstan’s host met in battle with the heathen men outside the ruined old city, even as the Danes found and took the hoard for themselves.
As the two hosts met, Wulfstan challenged Ivar to single combat and then Ivar slew Wulfstan with three mighty blows. The Saxons did not falter at the loss of their lord but set upon Ivar and his huscarls. Spears were shattered, shields broken and helmets cleft as the loyal thegns battled the Danes. Three times they attacked the Danes and three times they were thrown back. Then another force of Danes came upon Wulfstan’s loyal hearth men and slew them. The Danes, having the power of the field, then drew off taking with them the gold. The Saxons mourned the loss of their lord as the ravens feasted upon the fallen.”
I played my first game of “Lion Rampant” New Year’s Day when John came over with his large army of beautifully painted Saxons. My own force was made up of un-refurbished second hand Vikings. The game was based on a treasure hunt scenario, with both sides attempting to discover the hidden treasure and then exit off their table edge with it. The armies were worth twenty four points each. The Saxon army comprised three units of upper class spears and two units of foot companions, while the Viking army consisted of four units of foot companions.
The first few turns saw both armies advance towards the terrain features designated as potential hiding places for the lost treasure. The Saxons reached the wood at the left of battlefield but their search (a die roll) failed to discover the treasure. The Vikings searched the hill opposite the woods but also failed to find anything. Wulfstan’s unit then reached the hill near the centre of battlefield but the treasure wasn’t there either. Ivar’s unit searched the orchard but found no treasure and then failed their activation for turn four leaving the Vikings unable to move. This gave the Saxons time to move into striking distance of them.
In turn five the Vikings reached the triumphal arch and made a successful die roll and discovered the hidden treasure hoard. With the Saxons now in striking distance, Wulfstan issued a challenge to Ivar to meet in single combat. Ivar killed Wulfstan in single combat forcing the Saxons to take a courage (morale) test. Only one unit of Saxon spears failed and were forced to retreat a short distance before rallying the following turn.
The Vikings failed their activation in turn six and Ivar’s personal guard were immediately attacked by the nearest unit of Saxon spears. These were driven off with both sides taking a single casualty each. Turn seven saw Wulfstan’s own guard attack Ivar’s unit but they were were also driven back after taking a casualty. The Saxon spears then attacked again and were repulsed again, taking yet another casualty. Ivar’s own companions also took another casualty.
In turn eight a Viking flanking force of foot companions, having gone around the orchard, launched an attack on Wulfstan’s body guards and slew one of them. Ivar and the remaining companions were able to begin their withdrawal, taking the treasure with them. A third Viking unit quickly occupied Ivar’s previous position to act as covering force. In turn nine the Saxon spears were now threatened by the fresh Viking unit and formed a shield wall in response. Wulfstan’s companions were then broken by a renewed attack from the Viking flanking force.
Over the remaining few turns Ivar and his companions were able to leave the field of battle with the treasure hoard. The Viking force enjoyed the spoils of victory while the Saxons could only mourn their dead.
Lion Rampant rules provide an entertaining game that moves fairly fast and comes to a definite conclusion. They allowed two armies of differing sizes and compositions to do battle on an even footing. Lion Rampant successfully imparts a sense of warfare in the early medieval period in an enjoyable way and I look forward to playing them again.