I have previously reviewed and played Lion Rampant (Daniel Mersey; Osprey Publishing #8, 2014), and decided to dust them off for another game using my Teutonic forces. We played the ‘Fugitive’ scenario, with me using the Baltic Pagans and attempting to rescue the hidden fugitive. The terrain was fairly wooded, with a central hamlet located on a stream (rough going).
Both sides got off to a stuttering start, but I managed to move my small unit of Bidets forward to check the three possible locations for the fugitive that lay on my side of the table. If I had found him (>50% probability) then an easy win would have resulted because the Teutonics had hardly moved forward at this stage. But no, he must be hiding further away and I would have to cross the stream and engage the Teutonic knights who had finally managed to advance! On the right flank the Teutonic sergeants (mounted crossbows) shot at my lead unit of ferocious foot, killing 3 figures. I took the courage test (with a -3 modifier) and inevitably threw snake eyes! The first unit of Pagans took to the hills. In the centre I moved my Bidets into the hamlet gardens to check the next fugitive location, but I mis-measured and left them with reach of some Teutonic knights, who promptly charged in. Knights fighting in rough going is not good for their health; I killed 3 of the enemy but lost 4 of my bidets, who routed. Two Pagan units down and my army was now faced with the prospect of battling forward. On my left flank my horse archers were facing the second unit of Teutonic knights on the other side of the stream.
I was feeling the game to be lost at this point, but all changed, not because of my skill but instead due the Wild Charge rule. On my right flank, my second, supporting unit of ferocious foot charged the mounted crossbows and drove them back, battered. On my left flank, the second unit of Teutonic knights charged my horse archers (who failed to evade) and were defending the stream bank. The rough terrain again helped me, and I killed 2 opponents while only losing 1 figure myself, driving him back. I then shot a figure in my turn, before the knights were forced (by the Wild Charge characteristic) to try charging again. As the knights now only had 6 dice, I did not attempt to evade but instead fought back, doing further damage and forcing them back again! In the centre, my third unit of ferocious foot were sitting in a patch of marshy, rough ground and each time I diced for them to Wild Charge out against the Teutonic (requiring only 5+ on 2D6), they failed to budge. In contrast, the weak Teutonic knights (plus leader) in front of them decided (even after their bad experience versus the Bidets) to repeatedly Wild Charge into the marsh! It did not end well. They were all destroyed, including the leader, and effectively the game was lost. Only 2 Teutonic foot units remained, and I quickly located the fugitive in some woods using my victorious horse archers to escort him back to my baseline. As a sideline, it was not a 5:0 victory for the Pagans because the Teutonics did fulfil one of their ‘boasts’ by forcing my lead unit of foot to fail the first Courage test of the game.
A strange game, but enjoyable. If I had found the fugitive in the first locations, then no game would have resulted and victory would have been too easy. The real problem concerns the Wild Charge, which I commented on previously in my earlier blog posts. As a player you feel a real lack of control; I didn’t choose to repeatedly hold my foot unit in the marsh, and equally the knights didn’t choose to charge over the stream, or into the hamlet gardens, or into the marsh. All these actions were decided by the ‘dice gods’ and the events just happened; was there any need for players? I suspect the root of the problem lies in the pair of forces used; both are heavily influenced by the Wild Charge characteristic. Maybe next time I will suggest trying the game without this characteristic and see how it goes. Or maybe I will play using a house rule that mounted troops do no test to Wild Charge foot in rough terrain, whilst foot will not Wild Charge mounted troops in the open.