Friday, 6 May 2016

The 2nd Swedish Crusade - A Lion Rampant Campaign

A few weeks ago Dave and I were able to resume our weekly wargames get-together after an enforce absence. As we had nothing planned I put on a game of Lion Rampant. Luckily Dave had the rules but hadn't played any games. We managed to get a couple of simple games in over the course of the evening and had great fun. As a result I offered to come up with some background fluff for a narrative campaign, one in which Dave could use his Mongols.

I had been wanting to game the Baltic Crusades for some time, having been oringinally inspired by Michael Leck's excellent games. So after some research and input from Michael, I came up with the following broad background to the campaign:

  • The setting is the Gulf of Finland, circa 1242, on land contested between the Republic of Novgorod and the Kingdom of Sweden.
  • In 1240 Sweden launched the 2nd Crusade, headed by Birger Jarl and the Swedish Bishop of Turku. The initial clash between the Swedish and Novgorod forces at the river Neva was indecisive, despite Novgorod claiming it as a victory.
  • As a result of the establishment of Swedish settlements close to Novgorod territory, Prince Alexander Nevskii has been forced to call upon the Turco-Mongols for assistance in trying to evict the Swedes.
  • The Russian Orthodox Church is not happy either with the prospect of the Catholic Church gaining a foothold in the area and converting their flock and other pagans.
  • The Summer has come and the land is dry enough for offensive action to be taken against the Swedish settlers and the Catholic Church.
So with the background sorted, it was time to come up with our Retinues. After much thought I chose the following, based upon the figures I had to hand, the forces I thought fitted in with the background as well as the ones I simply wanted to play with:

Retinue: Bishop of Turku
Leader Skill: Commanding
1 x Hird (Foot Men-at-Arms)
3 x Ledung (Foot Yeoman with Mixed Weapons)
1 x Skarmytslare (Bidowers)
1 x Herdar (Serfs) 

Dave didn't have time to get his Retinue sorted out in advance, so simply went with the one in the back of the rulebook:

Retinue: Turco-Mongols
Leader Skill: Sly 
1 x Mounted Men-at-Arms + Bows 
2 x Mounted Serjeants + Bows
1 x Expert Mounted Yeoman  

To kick the campaign off, I planned two linked games, with the ones to follow dependent upon the outcome of these. So to start we had:

Scenario B: Defending the Indefensible
The Swedish settlers have built a new Church upon the order of the Bishop. A small force has been left to guard this whilst the rest are patrolling the local area. Seeing this lightly gaurded, the Russian Orthodox Church has asked that it be destroyed.  

The Church has been built near one of the few roads but also close to a main waterway. The terrain is a mix of woods, rough terrain and marshy areas.
The Turco-Mongols arrive and deploy ready to attack.
Both sides advance quickly towards the Church.
The Swedish Crusaders get to the Chruch first...
... but send forth the 'Lambs of God' to halt the Heathen advance...
... but some how it doesn't look too good for the 'Lambs of God'.
The 'Lambs of God' have done their job as a speed bump...
... the Turco-Mongol archery has whittled away at the Swedes leaving the Church vulnerable to an attack.
The way is clear if the Turco-Mongols can pass their movement test...
...which they do with ease...
...and torch the Church before the Swedish Crusaders can react.

So first blood to the Republic of Novgorod and the Turco-Mongols. Next up was:

Scenario F: Sausages with Mustard
With the Church destroyed, the Turco-Mongols swiftly move onto attacking the local settlement with orders to burn it to the ground. The Swedish Crusaders, suspecting as much, move as quickly as they can to try and prevent its destruction.

A quick change to the table layout and 'Hey Presto!' we have a small settlement surround by some fields and woods.
The defenders of the village consist of a unit of Herdar and Skarmsytslare, which might not be enough to hold off the Turco-Mongols who are already confident with a victory under their belts.
Both sides advance very quickly, although the Turco-Mongol leader and his unit are reluctant to join the fray.
The settlement under threat.
However poor die rolling by the Turco-Mongols allows the Swedish Crusaders to gain a foothold in the settlement.
Deja vu?
The attackers somewhat strung out and some way back from their objective.
The Swedish Crusaders make the most of the Turco-Mongol indecision and take over the settlement.
These guys are going to be tough to shift...
Deja vu part deux?
Both side exchange volleys of arrows, with the Turco-Mongols having a unit at half-strength as a result.
The attacks going in.
Finally the Turco-Mongol leader arrives but he may be too late...
.. as the Swedes have formed a strong defensive line...
...which proves too much for the Turco-Mongols, who lose two unit in quick succession.
Game over as the Turco-Mongol leader wonders where his troops have gone.

Post Game Thoughts
Well  in two hours we managed to get in two fun and entertaining games, including changing the table layout as well as Dave knocking up his Retinue list. Now there aren't too many rulesets that you can say that about. So as always a few thoughts in no particular order:

  • In the first game I forgot the 'zone of control' rule, but this didn't alter the game too much. In the next game we broadly used it.
  • We did not use the 'Boasts' to gain (or lose) 'Glory' as Dave didn't have time to decide upon ones he wanted to use. Next time we will, all being well.
  • Normally I change the movement and shooting distances etc into centimetres. This time I simply halved them but used inches instead. So a movement of 8" became 4".  This seemed to work better as the units moved and shot a bit further which speeded the game up. I plan to use this from now on.
  • Although I really like the look Michael Leck and chums have achieved with their '3-2-1' basing system, I'm not so sure that this works as well in 10mm. I think this is mainly due to having less figure poses to play with, along side the fact that it is more awkward to move these smaller figures. When I do put together some proper forces for the Baltic Crusades, I feel I will stick with the retangular bases, purely for speed of play as well as the fact that they can be used for 'Sword & Spear', 'Hail Caesar!' etc.
  • Lion Rampant is great fun to play. Simples. 
  • Lion Rampant gives a great game and one in which you do not need to be constantly refering to a rulebook. We simply used the QRS for 95% of the game. The same is true of 'Dux Bellorum' and 'Honours of War'. I just wish you could do that with other rulesets... 
  • I really enjoyed researching the Baltic Crusades and this mini-campaign has inspired me to try and put together some small forces specifically for this period.

So next week we plan to get back to some Bloody Big Battles games, probably the 1859 2nd War of Italian Independence, but hopefully it will not be too long before we return to this campaign. I've got more ideas for other Retinues and Allies that can be added in, but as always it is a matter of finding the time...

In true school boy humour, we could not resist in coming up with some vegetable based puns as the campaign would involve Swedes. So far we have:

... If I don't win I'll be Pea'd off ...

... those Swedes were rooted to the spot ...

... the enemy plan was Leek'd to us ...

... for mash get smash ... (Dave stole this last one) 
... That'll be a Turnip for the books... 

Maybe one day we will grow up, but I hope not!!!


  1. Greate that you give the Swedish history some games ;)

    1. Well, I'm following in famous footsteps!!!

      I'm really enjoying researching this in a bit more detail, now that your excellent articles in WS&S have brought this era to a wider audience. I've just realised that I planned to do this 2 1/2 years ago, so it's about time I pulled my finger out and got started.