The Age of Chivalry, Lion Rampant, 28mm
I hadn’t played these rules for a while. Since then I’ve expanded my armies – mainly the under-strength French one – and of course a new version of the rules came out. They’re the ones we used for this game – Lion Rampant 2. To be honest there aren’t many differences, apart from a change to the naming of troop types. The biggie though, is the chance to activate again if you fail to.Before, that used to stop the game in its tracks. This is much more sensible, producing a much more fluid game. Lion Rampant is designed for 24 point forces. We had double that, and still managed to finish the game in a couple of hours. In this game, set outside the walls of Beugency near Orleans, an English and a French force were lined up facing each other, in a straightforward battle game. In this one, I reluctantly commanded the English, using the leaders John, Lord Talbot and Sir John Falstoff. I had four units of longbowmen (veteran archers) and two units each of billmen (veteran heavy infantry) and dismounted men-at-arms (elite infantry). The two Seans commanded the French, as Jean. Comte de Dunoise (“The Bastard of Orleans”) and Joan of Arc. The French had a more eclectic army, with three units of spearmen (heavy infantry), two of crossbows with pavises, two of men-at-arms (either elite infantry or cavalry – Sean 2 opted for the mounted version), and a unit of 6 handgonnes, an artillery piece and a unit of 6 mounted archers. Both were powerful little armies, but the French had the advantage of strange, quirky gunpowder weapons.The fight began with both sides approaching each other fairly cautiously. The French artillery piece was on a little rise, just in front of the church of Saint Etienne. It fired, and took out some English billmen, This was the easy bit. To reload they needed a 10 or more on 2D6, which is do-able, but not easy. The English replied with some effective longbow fire, targeting the French crossbowmen.Sean 2 on the left decided to launch his mounted knights straight at the English line. This looked great, but in hindsight they might have done better if missiles had softened up the enemy a bit more first. They pushed back the billmen led by Sir John Falsoff, but they took a lot of casualties from the longbowmen as they charged. The next turn the English counter-attacked and surrounded them.Half the English dismounted men-at-arms and the rest of their billmen closed in on the now stationary cavalry, and they went down. To add insult to injury for the French, one of the two six horse units was led by none other than Joan of Arc. She was duly captured by the English, and led away, no doubt to be barbequed in Rouen a few months later. That was something of a blow for the French…Still, as if to make up for it the crew of the French bombard managed to reload their gun, and so it fired again, taking out half a unit of archers. It turns out that stakes in the ground aren’t much of a defence against roundshot! As if that wasn’t enough, Sean managed to reload (rolling an “11” on 2D6), and it got to fire again two turns later. In fact that bloody bombard fired four times during the game!Meanwhile, over on the French right Sean 1 was moving up, close to the walls of Beaugency. His crossbow unit began trading shots very effectively with the left-hand unit of English longbowmen, and soon they were supported by a unit of 6 mounted archers. These aren’t covered in the rules, but essentially we use them as dragoons, as they have to dismount to shoot.
With the English archers driven back, the French started shooting up the dismounted men-at-arms next to them. Then, to make it even more effective, their handgonnes joined the fun. The knights were shot to bits, and John, Lord Talbot, “The English Achilles” was cut down by a handgun ball. I pulled the rest back.The only consolation was that back over on the English right, a unit of longbowmen by the stream had got within range of the bombard crew outside the Eglise d’Saint Etienne, and began shooting up the gunners. That though, is where we ended the game, as both sides were battered to hell, and there was no clear winner. So, we called the game a very bloody draw. It was all great fun though, and the real stars of the show were those pesky gunpowder guys – the handgunners and bombard crew. They’re the future!