Sunday, October 1, 2017

Rampant in Gig Harbor

This Saturday we had a Lion Rampant game day at the Gig Harbor, WA public library. Pat Lowinger runs this annually. I was all set to go last year, but Grendel's sickness and death took the mickey out of me and I didn't manage to get my El Cid Spanish retinue completed. (It is, in fact, still uncompleted, which necessitated my borrowing an army for the day.)

En route

Having 58 miles to cover, and always unsure of how the traffic will be, I took my trip south in stages. I started out from home around 9:00 and stopped to have delicious Swedish pancakes for breakfast at Family Pancake House in Edmonds.

From there I headed down I-5 and when I hit Tacoma, I turned off to visit the Tacoma Book Center. It looked even more packed than before. I meant to just stroll in and browse—the game day started at 12:00 and I was making good enough time that I had time to kill. However, I didn't manage to leave until I bought four books on Medieval warfare. I seem unable to ever leave a bookstore without books in hand. C'est comme ça.

From Tacoma Book Center, the next stop was the Gig Harbor library. To get there, I had to cross the Narrows Bridge, which was made famous back in 1940 for its spectacular collapse.

The only life lost back then was Tubby, the poor cocker spaniel who was left in the car and went down with it when the bridge collapsed. An attempt to rescue him before the collapse failed when he was too frightened to get out of the car and bit one of the people trying to pull him out.

My trip across the bridge (rebuilt in 1950 and with a second span completed in 2007) was much less eventful. No lives—animal or otherwise—were lost.

Doubly stable now
I got the the library just after 11:00 and we started setting up. The venue is very nice, with room to fit six tables comfortably (and more uncomfortably). There's access to the meeting room from outside and it was a very short schlepp to bring in our toys 'n' terrain 'n' stuff.

Setting up
We set up 6 tables and had about 10 people playing. There was no tournament, just find an opponent and play. I got two enjoyable games in.

Game 1

My army for the day was borrowed from Mike Garcia. He was playing Medieval Russians and I used his Mongols. I think I gave him reason to think he ought to have loaned me the Russians and played the Mongols himself.

We played on the table I set up with all my terrain. It was nice to get my new trees on a table. We set out the units in our retinues and I won the die roll to start first.

Mongols are, I have learned, a lovely army. I made a retinue with 2 x Mounted Sergeants with bows, 3 x Mounted Yeomen, and 1 x Bidowers. The whole army is fast-moving missile troops. The Mounted Yeomen can skirmish and evade, the Bidowers can scoot through terrain, and the Mounted Sergeants provide a bit of close combat backbone.

Opening moves
In the initial sparring, I lost one of my Mounted Yeomen units when Mike got off a nice shot at it, taking out two figures, and I rolled snake-eyes for my courage test. That had me worried because that unit constituted my entire right wing. Everything else was concentrated on the center and left.

But in the center, I managed to get the advantage on Mike's two Foot Yeoman units. They suffered under the Mongol bowfire. I charged one with my Mounted Sergeants and that was that. The other one broke from an extremely failed courage test.

Running down the oiks, Mongol style
Through bowfire and combat, I managed to wipe out Mike's center. Mike's dice didn't treat him well. I think I had better than average luck. I used my reliable, venerable bakelite dice. I brought my beloved Viking bone dice, but since they're only vaguely cuboid, I figured someone may object to agents of chance that couldn't possible be truly random (though I can attest that they fail me as often as they favor).

The ending action was the combat between Mike's general's unit and mine. We were both Mounted Sergeants, though I had bows. I took it badly in the combat, being beaten twice, but my supporting units managed to put enough arrows into Mike's unit that it evaporated.

Vladimir's last stand

Game 2

For game 2 of the day, Dean Motoyama and Ron Beery challenged Mike and me to a 2:2 game. They'd played each other earlier and were looking for another game. So we added another table to the one Mike and I played on and rotated my felt mat so it perfectly covered the 6' x 8' surface. (I was worried initially that the mat I brought would be too big.)

Table set, forces deployed
I was on our right, Mike was on the left. Opposite me was Dean with his bowless English 100 Years War army. Dean was trying to bring the minimal number of figure, so he had four expensive 6-figure units: 1 x Mounted Men-at-Arms, 1 x Mounted Yeomen with bows (+ expert), 2 x Foot Men-at-Arms. It looked to me more formidable than it turned out to be. Englishmen without bows are kind of a toothless dog.

Mike's force was the one he used in our earlier game: 3 x Mounted Sergeants, 1 x Mounted Yeomen with bows, 2 x Foot Yeomen.

Ron brought the big guns. The core of his force was 2 x Crossbowmen with pavises. They were formidable. The pavises make them hard to hurt, but they inflict hurt at 18". They felt kind of like Hussites without wagons, Foot Hussites, or Hussites zu Fuß. He also had an Archer unit and 2 x Mounted Sergeants.

Dean and Ron won the coin-toss, but elected to receive on turn 1. I pushed my troopies forward against Dean, whose units were all deployed back or behind trees. I was soon able to start pouring bowfire into one of Dean's Foot Men-at-Arms. It takes a lot of 5s and 6s to remove a figure, but I slowly whittled him down.

The fight on the right
I was troubled a bit by Dean's Mounted Yeomen, but I was ultimately able to bear more weight of shot against him—though they fought bravely to the last figure.

On our left, Mike had to contend with Ron's death-dealing Hussites zu Fuß. Actually, we both did, though Mike got the brunt of it. I lost two units in the game, both withering under a hail of crossbow bolts.

Attacking the Hussites zu Fuß (to no avail)
Mike managed to attack one unit with one of his Mounted Sergeants—and push it back, though without being battered—but the attack faltered when Ron started pounding him at close range with the crossbows. That was Mike's high-water mark. He soon lost hist two Foot Yeomen to arrows and crossbow bolts (mental note: Foot Yeomen = pin cushions), and had nothing left to challenge the center. By the end of the game, he was riding around the flank with his surviving two units to see if he could worry Ron's edges without coming into range of the fearsome Hussites zu Fuß.

On my end, I had eliminated two of Dean's units, which was half his force, and was working away on the second Foot Men-at-Arms with my surviving four units.

Hunting Men-at-Arms in the woods
I eventually got it, but not before it managed to charge one of my Mounted Yeomen, which failed to evade. They tore it up, but not fatally. Dean's Mounted Men-at-Arms never got into the fray. He held them back. That was the unit his commander was with and I suppose he didn't want it tearing around the field making unwise charges against units in rough terrain.

At this point, we called the game. Dean and Mike were effectively spent at one and two units remaining respectively. I was still above half strength, but barely. Only one of my units was at full strength and one was reduced to just 2 figures. Ron was sitting pretty. He'd taken just a few losses to one of his Hussites zu Fuß units and a few to his Archer unit, but was comfortably above half strength for both. Every other unit was pristine. His retinue hardly broke a sweat and I wasn't about to tackle him.

After that, we picked up and packed up. I had a long drive home and left just after 4:00. I stopped for lunch/dinner at the Carl's Jr. just over the highway from where we played. I grew up in California where we had Carl's. It's new-ish to Washington. There are a few somewhat near to me, but out of the way. Since there was one athwart my path, I had to stop. Carl's was as delicious as I remember it, though they've added menu items and changed their fries. I loved the Carl's fries I recall from my youthful days in CA. The new fries are good, just not as good as before—or maybe my memory is faulty. I left CA 30 years ago.

It was great to have a Lion Rampant game day. I'm quite chuffed to have been able to use my new Lion Rampant version of the "Barker marker."

Lion Rampant is one of my favorite games, though I hadn't played straight-up Lion Rampant in quite a while. Everything I've been playing has been focused on variants like Quetzalcoatl Rampant and Pikeman's Lament.

I have a renewed interest in getting my El Cid retinue finished and in making progress with all the Old Glory Medievals I bought 20 years ago for the Pig Wars Late Medieval variant I did. I'm also getting eager to play Chariots Rampant, Pat Lowinger's Late Bronze Age variant that was published in Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy 82—I've already priced out a Mitanni retinue using Foundry figures...


  1. Sounds a really fun day,i enjoyed reading about it.

  2. Nice write up, I like lion rampant but I sometimes feel that crossbows are a little overpowered, but still sounds like a great day out!
    Best Iain

  3. Sounds like a great day out.