War Game Review: Osprey Wargames – Lion Rampant

Lion Rampant
Lion Rampant is a historical war game, set in the medieval period, written by Daniel Mersey and published by Osprey Wargames, a division of Osprey Publishing.
By Cape Rust

Learn more about Lion Rampant here
Find other Osprey Publishing posts here

Some folks ask the question “Do you want to build a snowman?” Osprey books asks “Do you want to be Richard the Lion Heart, Joan of Arc or William Wallace or even a legend like Robin Hood?” I for one will take option number 2. Lion Rampant is a Medieval Skirmish game that offers quick, exciting and varied games that take place in an exciting historical time. This game focuses on small retinues involved in small scale encounters that bring to life the raids, skirmishes and clashes common to warfare of the period.

Osprey Wargames brings their extensive corporate knowledge to this war game, creating something that is fun, cooperative and not very resource intensive. Daniel Mersey did everything in his power to adhere to the KISS method when designing this game. Yes there are rules and yes there are measurements involved, but if these things didn’t exist, the game wouldn’t be playable. As I got further into the rules, I did feel like trying to account for varied situations where Mersey and crew did throw a few additional rules in, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed or turned off by them. For me the core value of this game is cooperation. Many of the aspects of the game have to be agreed upon by both players. This is a simple but effective way to create buy-in as well as setting the tone and even the spirit of the scenario being played.

War gaming isn’t cheap. In fact, depending on how you do it, it can be down-right expensive. If you have ever built a Warhammer 40K army, you know what I’m talking about. Osprey kept this in mind and while their example pictures are high quality minis, they offer plenty of alternatives that could greatly cut down the cost of getting into this game. This is important as most war gamers are loath to invest tons of money into a game they have never played. There are few adjustments that need to be made for smaller sized minis, but those adjustments are not difficult to make.

I wouldn’t call this squad warfare; it is more like platoon warfare. Each person controls roughly 6 units, depending on how powerful each unit is. Speaking of power, each unit is worth a certain number of points. If both players agree, some modifications can be made to a unit’s capabilities that will increase or decrease its point value. Even without modifications, the units are varied and playable in their base forms. I mention this because if I was going to play Lion Rampant at a convention, I would want everyone involved to stick with the basic rules for ease and speed of play.

The battle rules for this game, for the most part, are covered in the first 27 pages of the book. Each turn has actions that can be taken and those actions allow for some flexibility. The types of actions that can be taken are important as they keep players focused and keep play moving. Basically you can shoot, move and attack. Again there are variables within those actions, but in the real world if an army can shoot, move and communicate well, they tend to win. This isn’t too far off. Each unit is treated as on entity, so when units move they all move and they move as fast as their slowest member. Leaders always die last and each unit’s capabilities are close to being historically accurate without being burdensome.

This game requires plenty of six-sided dice. Not the amount Shadowrun does, but it still requires plenty of dice. The book recommends dice of two different colors to make things fun and go just a bit quicker. Osprey doesn’t prescribe one type of minis that must be used, they just discuss the adjustments needed because of size. It was good to see I wouldn’t have to use a single source for minis to play this game. The visuals in this rule book were top shelf. The battle scenes depicted with minis were fascinating. The minis were well painted and for the most part well suited to the situations being depicted. The visuals that used the minis were augmented with stunning illustrations that Osprey brought in from other products they have already published. These illustrations made the game come to life and got me very interested in checking out some of the products they originally appeared in.

I’m not a huge war gamer, but simple flexible rules like the ones found in Lion Rampant are right down my alley. This game works best as a one shot, but there are rules for running campaigns. The thing I liked most about this book was the focus on fun and cooperation. So many of the war gaming rules sets I have read seem like they are written by grumpy old men for grumpy old men, this was not the case for Lion Rampant. If you are in the market for a game that goes beyond the squad level skirmish game, Lion Rampant is a solid bet. The rules are easy to pick up and the visuals in the rule book are worth the cost of admission. If you are dying to lead a retinue filled with men-at-arms, archers and even peasants, get this game, draw forth steel, cry havoc and unleash the dogs of…. Skirmish….

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment