One of the best features of the Lion Rampant rules set from Osprey publishing are the various troop types that you can form your retinue from. They are fairly generic when it comes to historical periods. Yet each type has its own special rules which can give it a unique flavor regardless of what models you use. This is why among other reasons there won’t be any pictures with this post.
In this post, and the one following it, I will take a look at the various types of units available. How they would fit in to your retinue and what upgrades will make them even more effective. I will also be drawing on the newly released Dragon rampant fantasy rules also from Osprey, for more upgrades as the two rule sets are completely compatible. I’ll start with the mounted units.
Mounted Men at Arms
Whether they were called Cataphracts, Gendarmes, or Knights, these were the heavyweight bad boys of the battlefield. Often writing large horses and fighting with Lance and sword, these riders were usually the hammer blow that cracked open enemy lines. In LR they are a six man, six point unit.
They are easy(5+) to get to attack and they hit with a three or better on a D6 and considering that you are rolling 12 dice on the average your going to get a lot of hits. Against more lightly armored targets (1-2) you are basically going to shred them.
Defensively, they have an armor rating of four which is the best in the game. In other words it takes four hits to cause one casualty. This is mitigated by the fact that the unit only has six figures in it. The MMA however are not that good on defense as they counterstrike and hit on a four or five.
On the downside, the MMA have two flaws which can make it difficult to direct them on the battlefield. The first is an activation score of 7+ to get them to move. They have an annoying tendency to just kind of sit there which is why it is probably best to leave them as the last unit you try to activate. That way if they fail their activation well your entire retinue doesn’t freeze in place.
The second flaw can be just as aggravating. There is a special rule for the MMA called Wild Charge. This means that if the MMA are in range(10″) of an enemy unit they must test to attack. Since this is a score of 5+ on two D6 there’s a very good chance that these fellows will go charging across the field hell-bent for leather to attack the nearest enemy unit. If the enemy unit in question happens to be a group of Scouts/Bidowers in rough terrain then it can get really bad for your gallant horseman.
There are a couple of upgrades however that while adding to the initial cost of the unit can also improve its performance on the battlefield. The first upgrade is called Drilled and costs one point extra. It eliminates the Wild Charge but you still need to roll a 7+ to activate the MMA to move. Well, at least they won’t go charging off into the tall and uncut chasing some lowlife churls who were cheeky enough to shoot arrows or other kinds of projectiles at them.
The second upgrade is basically an improvement on Drilled. It is called Level Headed and is found in the Dragon Rampant rules set.. It costs two points but not only does it eliminate the Wild Charge it also brings the unit activation score down to 5+ to move. This makes the MMA unit much more mobile and responsive.
Finally there is also an upgrade called Mounted Bows. This removes the Counter Charge ability and replaces it with a shooting ability. The unit’s shooting activation score is 6+ with a range of 12 inches. The shooting attack hits on a 5+. There is no penalty to the melee attack value which is still 3+.
I would suggest a cap of 10 points to be spent on this or any other unit for that matter. For the 10 points however you get a mounted unit that is highly disciplined and can lay down a deadly volley of arrows as well. Historically, these would be Eastern style heavy horsemen. This unit would could represent either Mongol heavy cavalry or Byzantine heavy cataphracts. I would also recommend a limit of one such unit per retinue or if you’re playing with more than 24 points perhaps one such unit for every 24 points you have.
Mounted Sergeants. are the “… warriors for the working day”to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare. They represent the lesser nobility and well-to-do commoners who could afford a horse and some decent armor. They have a move activation score of 5+ as well as an attack score of the same value. They have a slightly lower armor rating (3) as well as an attack value of 4+.
Mounted Sergeants. are probably my favorite cavalry type. They are pretty reliable when it comes to activations they pack a pretty good mounted punch without any upgrades and they are only four points for a six-figure unit which makes them a pretty good deal in my estimation. They are a good overall mounted troop type. For my dark ages war bands, I actually preferred them to the heavier mounted men at arms.
They have the counter charge trait and for an extra point you can armed them with bows. You can also make them into mounted crossbow men for free although this does cut down on their attack ability it does give them arranged punch and you’re much more likely to find them among Western European types than straight up horse archers. For the cost of one MMA unit that’s well disciplined and armed with bows you can get two mounted Sgt. units armed with bows for the same price. I think they are a better value overall.
Mounted Yeomen represent lightly armored or unarmored missile armed horsemen. They are organized in 6 figure units just like the other cavalry units. They have a 12″ move which makes them great for harassing your enemy’s flanks.
What really makes this troop type useful are their two special abilities of Skirmish and Evade . The first ability, Skirmish, requires an activation roll of 7+. It allows the unit to make a 6″ half move and shoot at either before or after the move with a -1 modifier to the Shooting value which will bring it down to a 6. While this won’t necessarily cause massive casualties amongst the enemy it will at least provide a distraction.
Should your opponent get a little more than distracted, the Evade ability comes in very handy. Once your opponent declares an attack against your Mounted Yeomen, you roll two dice and pray for a score of 7 or higher. If you succeed, then you get to make a Skirmish attack and then run like Hell. If you fail…you get to stand there and do nothing while your opponent smashes into you. Oh and did I mention that your Armor rating is reduced to 1. Not a pretty sight I can assure you…from tabletop experience.
The only upgrade that is available is the Expert trait. For 2 points more, you can eliminate the -1 modifier to your Shoot value when you make a Skirmish attack. Instead of hitting on a 6 you hit on a 5 or a 6. That effectively doubles the average number of hits on the 12 dice attack roll from 1 – 2 to 3-4. Well worth the extra 2 points in my opinion.
As you can see, I prefer the Mounted Sergeants and Mounted Yeomen to the standard Mounted Men at Arms for the above reasons.
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