Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lion Rampant Game 1 - The Messenger

With my beloved out doing the Government's bidding on some covert mission (no, really!) and with our daughter watching a film in the living room, I had on Saturday evening a first chance to get the newly recruited Lion Rampant forces onto the table for a solo run-through of the rules.

The forces were my Swiss:

  • Two units of Pike (Expert Foot Serjeants)
  • One of halberds (Fierce Foot)
  • One of skirmishers (Bidowers)

... and some cobbled together Burgundians backed by Irish mercenaries:

  • One unit of mounted men at arms (what it says on the tin)
  • One unit of ordonnance archers (Expert Archers)
  • One unit of Burgundian hand gunners (Bidowers)
  • Two units of Irish kern (both Bidowers).

Both retinues total 18 points (a little smaller than the standard recommended for the game).

I randomly allocated personalities to the leaders.  The Swiss leader was sly - he could refuse a challenge from his opposite number without the risk of Courage tests by his retinue.  This seemed appropriate for the Swiss who tended to led by somewhat bourgeois committees rather than by nobles with an upbringing soaked in tales of chivalry.

The Burgundian leader was strong and should have been able to reroll one missed to hit roll each time his unit attacked.  I say "should have" because I forgot to do this on at least one occasion (not that it made much difference to the result as it turned out).

I also randomly rolled up the scenario after I'd set up the terrain:

The scenario was "The Messenger" - the Swiss, randomly chosen as attackers, had to get a messenger figure from bottom right to top left corner of the table as pictured above.  The Burgundians could enter a maximum of 6 points of units bottom left with the remainder coming on top right.

Lion Rampant has a strict 3" between units rule and this meant that the deployment zones were too small to fit the whole Swiss retinue.  One of the Pike units would have to dice to come on later.

The Burgundian main deployment area (there was just a single unit of men at arms in the other) was similarly cramped with the added inconvenience of a cabbage field (bad going) encroaching into it.

The first game turn passed in about twenty seconds as both sides failed their first activation of the turn (play passes to the opposing player in most cases where a unit fails to activate).  Eventually, though, the Swiss managed to get moving. Foreground below, in the green coat, is the messenger escorted by the Swiss halberdiers.

The Swiss even managed to bring on their fourth unit, with the retinue leader among them!

Within a  few turns the halberdiers (and the messenger) had reached the crossroad at the middle of the table.  The Burgundian commander had pushed forward his bidowers  to occupy areas of cover but his longbowmen were still slogging through the cabbage field while the men at ames hadn't moved at all despite several calls to do so!  Men at arms in Lion Rampant are reluctant to go swanning around the battlefield getting their armour dirty but put an opponent in front of them and then you'll see them motor!

Unfortunately for the Swiss, this was the moment at which the Burgundian leader seemed to wake up.  At last the men at arms began to trundle forward with the halberdiers in their sights.

The men at arms were represented by an Impetus element from my Wars of the Roses collection:

There was no cover available to help the halberdiers, just a lone tree at the crossroads.

The Swiss commander tried to interpose his lead pike unit between the knights and the halberdiers...

... but every time he tried to move them God decreed that the dice rolls were insufficient.  God's like that: He hates the Swiss.

Very shortly later the Burgundian knights slammed into the halberdiers immediately killing three of them for no loss and driving them back to cower around the crossroads tree.

At this point the folly of placing the messenger in the hands of the halberdiers became somewhat apparent.  Yes, they're fast and powerful in combat but they're also bat-shit crazy!  Faced by a unit of armoured and mounted knights preparing to return to the fray, the halberdiers hoisted their weapons, let out a mighty battle-cry and charged! The Burgundians were apparently surprised as they failed to counter-charge.

This time the factors were far more favourable to the Swiss and in the end both sides took one casualty.  Ooh, and with the Burgundian leader among the knights and the messenger in with the halberdiers we must roll for lucky blows. On snake eyes the character in question would be lost.

And look what the Burgundians rolled:

Game Over! Five points of Glory to the Burgundians!

Total casualties for the Swiss were three hand-gunners taken out by Irish javelins from behind a hedge, three halberdiers killed in the initial cavalry charge, and the unfortunate messenger.  The Burgundians lost a single, unnamed man at arms.

I very much enjoyed the game.  It looked fine, moved along at a good pace, and certainly encourages me to keep up the efforts to get to 24 point retinues for both sides. 

More Flea Market Finds

The flea market near my office continues to throw up interesting finds.  My latest purchase was these two Thomas the Tank Engine pieces for the very acceptable sum of one pound! The Andreivian Armenian T-55 is for scale purposes only.

The helicopter landing pad is too small for its advertised purpose in 20mm scale but it may find a use in some future sci-fi or pulp complex.

The hangar has a nice corrugated roof and would be fine as a modern farm building.  I'll need to weather it and change the name above the door, perhaps to that of some Andreivian agri-business?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Irish Kern

The latest unit to be dragged from the obscurity of unused storage is this clump of Irish kern.

I bought them some years ago.  Can't remember which manufacturer they are by.  They've done good service as Sartarites in games of Gloranthan Hordes of the Things and Basic Impetus Fantasy but now they will return to their historical identity as a unit of Lion Rampant Fierce Foot (or perhaps two units of Bidowers).

These guys match pretty well the sources I've seen for sixteenth century Irish troops.  I'd like to use them as Irish mercenaries in fifteenth century Europe to bulk up my Swiss and forthcoming Burgundians but I've not come across any evidence to justify this yet.  More research needed.

Swiss finished (so far)

At the weekend I finished rebasing my Swiss for Lion Rampant.

The retinue so far is 18 points (target is 24) consisting of two Expert Serjeants (Pikes, at 6pts each), one Fierce Foot (halberdiers, at 4pts) and one Bidowers (handgun-armed skirmishers, at 2pts).

The Bidowers we've seen before...

The Halberdiers have a ridiculously large flag...

First of the Pikemen...

And more Pikemen...

I'm using Michael Leck's 1-2-3 basing style but I'm running short of the three foot/one horse size bases...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Check source twice; paint once

I painted up the first of what will eventually be a dozen Burgundian ordonnance archers...

Then I checked against Embleton and Howe's The Medieval Soldier.  And of course I've got the blue and white halves of the livery jacket the wrong way round!  Repaint to follow shortly!

While I'm at it I've also decided that the grey hose need more shading so I'm going to have a go with a home-made dip (watered-down matt varnish with some brown paint).  I'll also do the next figure in brighter-than-usual colours and see if the dip tones them down acceptably.

Mounted Archer

The figure previously looking like this...

Now looks like this...

As I said before, there's an unidentified horse, a spare QT Models head, and arms and weapons from the Perry plastic Wars of the Roses Infantry box.  The rest was sculpted by me over a decade or more.  This Lion Rampant kick is getting me to complete many a long-forgotten project!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Here Come the Landlords

Although I've been concentrating this week on turning my old DBA Swiss army into a Lion Rampant retinue, I have made some progress on the force that was my original inspiration to try the rules, these Sarmatian cataphracts.

They are by Warlord and I bought them at the Penkridge Wargames Sale two years ago.  Today they were finally finished.

My plan is to back-date Lion Rampant to allow me to run a series of games set in Western Gaul in the early fifth century.  At this time the Roman Empire was giving areas of land within the Empire to Germanic tribes in exchange for military service.  These land grants would, within a few decades, become the seeds of new medieval feudal states (France, for example, in the area allocated to the Franks).

My plan is to base a series of games between the Roman/Germanic forces of law and order (well, order) on one side and the Bacaudae on the other.  These were farmers and townsmen of Gaul in particular who rebelled against the domination of initially absentee Roman landlords and later their German replacements.

Sarmatians aren't mentioned in this context in any of the sources I've read so far but I figure if legend can have Arthur's knights based on folk memory of Sarmatian auxiliaries in Britain then I can have some in Gaul.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Finished Handgunner

My first Lion Rampant unit is finished.  These handgun-armed Swiss bidowers are a mixture of ex-Steve Briddon Foundry figures and some I had lying around and hastily painted to match.

The chap in the parti-coloured helmet is the finished conversion of an RAFM handgunner reported the other day (work in progress pics here).

Since the previous pics I've applied Green Stuff crosses to his jack and painted him.

The final figure added to the unit is this chap with a lump of wood.  He's an old Citadel figure whose slotta-base tab describes his as a "thug".  He was close enough in style and size to fit nicely with Steve's original Swiss.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

One the Workbench - Medieval Miscellany

I've been having a go at resurrecting an old figure and completing a sculpt I began many years ago.

First up is this ancient (probably late 70s) RAFM hand gunner.  I bought a pack of these in Games Workshop in Sheffield back in the days (1982 or so) when they sold non-Citadel models and Pete Berry was the shop manager.  Amazingly enough you can still buy these figures from Keep Wargaming!

The figure on the left is unmodified and painted in about 1990.  The figure on the right is midway through being converted to join my new Swiss force for Lion Rampant.  His kettle-hatted head is a spare from the Perry English Wars of the Roses Infantry box.  He also has a sword (not visible here) from the same source.  I've used Green Stuff to turn his peculiar fringed epaulettes into the puffed shoulders of a jack.  Painted version shortly.

Then we have a mounted bowman.  Having recently bought the Perry plastics light cavalry box I don't actually need this figure but it surfaced from the spares box a couple of evenings ago and I just knew I had to have a go at it.

The horse is, I think, by Lamming; one of a batch I picked up dirt cheap from Games of Liverpool.  This means it's no younger than about 1985!

The body of the figure I sculpted from Fimo and Milliput some time in the late 80s or early 90s.  The head was from a QT Models archer.

To these ancient parts I've added arms and weapons from the Perry WOTR box and sculpted details from Green Stuff.  I'm looking forward to seeing how this one comes out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Light Cavalry

Transferring the Swiss onto skirmish bases is going well.  I'm taking the opportunity to repair some poorly grasped connections between hands and weapons.

It's slightly frustrating, well more than slightly actually, that in many cases figures cannot possibly hold a pike or halberd without the shaft of the weapon passing through the figure's torso.

This aside I'm getting there and I'll post some photos shortly.

In the meantime I've decided to spend some of my Christmas money on these:

The 12 figures will give me a unit of six mounted crossbowmen for the Swiss and I'll also be able to build  unit of mounted Burgundian bowmen to oppose them.  Again, pics to follow.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Project in a Box?

When I asked for a copy of Lion Rampant for Christmas, it was a with a view to building up Late Roman / Armorican Bacaudae forces and taking the rules a little further back in time than they were intended for.

When I read the rules, though, I started to think that there are plenty of other, properly medieval periods they would be good for.  I went and poked about in some of my figure storage....

Now when Sheffield wargamer Steve Briddon emigrated to the USA, he sold off a lot of wargames material and among the things I picked up was a boxed Later Swiss army for DBA.

Not being a DBA fan I've never actually used the army at all.  It's just sat in its box taking up space and occasionally demanding to know why I haven't done anything with it.

The army is made up of Foundry figures - 24 pikemen (including officers, musicians and banner bearers), 12 halberdiers, four hand gunners and a gun crew.

I could have rebased the men for Basic Impetus and indeed at some point I did convert the two handgun elements (DBA Psiloi) into a Basic Impetus Skirmisher unit but the number of figures I have is barely enough for two more Basic Impetus units.

So now I'm thinking Lion Rampant.  You don't need so many units to complete a Lion Rampant retinue.

The 12 halberdiers would make one unit and the rules already suggest Fierce Foot as the way to represent them.

Four handgunners isn't enough; you need six figures for a unit of bidowers in Lion Rampant.  That's OK, though, I think I can cobble together a couple of useful additions from my part-used box of Perry plastic Wars of the Roses infantry (or maybe some very old 25mm RAFM figures I have spare).

This just leaves us with the pikemen.  The figures I have will make two units.  But units of what type?

Foot sergeants is the obvious first choice but the rules do suggest that these are well armoured and slightly better in defence than attack.  My Swiss pikemen are mostly depicted as unarmoured and we know that the later Swiss armies were almost foolhardy in their dedication to the attack.

I could make them "Expert Foot Sergeants" but then they lose the "Schiltron" option, which seems daft for pikes.  The justification is that expert foot sergeants have poleaxes instead of spears.

Foot Yeomen is another option but these "lack the staying power of foot sergeants".

Finally there's Fierce Foot.  Is some ways this appeals but pikemen probably shouldn't get the ability to fight as normal in bad going and anyway treating them as Fierce Foot would lose the distinction (in rules terms) between them and the halberdiers.

Checking the Lion Rampant rules lists I find that the problem may have been fixed for me:

  • 2 Expert Foot Sergeants* @12pts (presumably the pikes)
  • 2 Fierce Foot @8pts  (presumably the halberdiers)
  • 1 Crossbowmen @4pts 
So that's what I'll probably try for now. I'll just have to justify the lack of Schiltron ability by saying that this a skirmish and these pikemen would only form schiltron if there were many more of them available to do it properly.

I won't initially have the two units of Fierce Foot and will probably replace the Crossbowmen with two units of Bidowers but I think I'm pretty well on the way towards my first (non-paper) Lion Rampant retinue.

The gun will stay on its current base.  It will do as an objective marker in some scenarios and will also be of use in massed battle games of Basic Impetus or To The Strongest! with my Wars of the Roses figures.

Of course then I'll need to start building Burgundians!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Holiday Gaming 3 - The Beast of Denley Moor

New Year's Eve saw the second part of what is possibly the slowest wargame campaign known to man; The Hunt for Faulkner's Balls.  This is the Pulp Alley campaign that we began exactly a year previously on New Years Eve 2015.

You will doubtless recall that last time the peace of the village of Little Pottering was disturbed by gangs of ruffians in search of the Reverend Featherstonehaugh and a mysterious journal that had come into his possession.

The outcome was that the Rev was returned to the bosom of his friends but that the journal was nowhere to be found.  In Pulp Alley rules terms, no League had control of that Plot Point at the end of the game.

My research revealed that a Miss Potts, former nanny to Gerald Faulkner, the last of the Little Pottering Faulkners, had found the discarded book and, realising its significance (it concerns an old pirate called Captain Faulkner), has posted it to her erstwhile charge.

Gerald, much to the distress of Miss Potts, is now a shell-shocked veteran of the Great War living rough on the moors above the Yorkshire village of Denley.  It were always raining on Denley Moor....

This year's game saw three Leagues (Richard S couldn't make it) converging on the moors with the aim of recovering the journal.

As the pictures show, the terrain is on two levels, sloping up to the moor tops from the road below.

The plain cloth disguises the presence of a number mounds and depressions on the top of the moor but despite this, the terrain was rather open and the game was dominated by long-range shooting.

The Brotherhood managed to find and decipher a map giving the locations of sightings of The Beast of Denley Moor (Plot Point one).

Sergeant Manson of UNIT managed to climb to the top of Mytherer's Crag, from where he could see the whole of the Moor (Plot Point two).

And the Friends of the Rev Featherstonehaugh managed to get some useful information out of gamekeeper Gordon Ollershaw (Plot Point three).  He's got a new shovel you know?

Jamie has the Initiative Hat (a new and very Pulp-y one this year)
And now Gus has the Initiative Hat.
With three Plot Points achieved the fourth, Faulkner's Camp, now appeared.  Sadly, however, none of the Leagues could manage to probe its secrets before a dense mist rolled in and made further exploration impossible.  (In game rules terms we'd reached the end of Game Turn 6 and no-one could/chose to play a card to extend the game by one or more turns.)

So where does that get us?  Well, the three Leagues who turned up will gain a point of Renown and each will have a point to spend on extra resources next time.  And I'll have to come up with another scenario as the search for the Faulkner Journal continues.