Friday, May 19, 2023

The Sword Brethren of the Livonian Knights Versus Nevsky's Rus in Lion Rampant 2

The era of the Baltic Crusades has become an era of  interest to me. My friend has painted up Mongols for the period and I have Livonian Knights and Nevsky period Russians.

Doing the Baltic tribes and Danes\Swedes for the period are on the agenda as well.

The figures in this game are all Zvezda and Strelets in 1\72 plastic, painted in a toy soldier retro fashion

This is my first attempt to play the Five Battle Campaign from Lion Rampant 2. I'm playing solo. After I set up the five armies per side I made a rough system how to fight out the battles.

The first game was with these forces. 

Livonian Knight (LK OB)

2 Units of Elite Cavalry

2 Units of Heavy Cavalry

2 Units of split Light Infantry 

30 points

Russians (Rus OB)

2 Units of Dvor Elite Cavalry (one unit is motivated)

2 Units of Druzina Heavy Cavalry

1 Unit of Cuman Light Cavalry

1 Unit of dismounted Druzina Heavy Infantry

1 Unit of split Light Infantry

1 Unit of Skirmish Infantry

36 points

Victory Condition

The Russians are on their way to reinforce another Russian force. To do this they had to run a diagonal gauntlet across the board between two Livonian Knight forces trying to intercept them.

Terrain placement was diced for and there is quite a lot. The way it turned out there are a number of bottle necks. The stream and hedges are all obstacles. The terrain favored the Russians because of the obstacles but favored the Livonian Knights given the bottlenecks that the Russians had to pass through.

The Russians are supposed exit the board to reinforce another army. The knights are supposed to stop them.

The Livonian Knights also know as Sword Brethren were split into two equal wings each of one Knights (Elite Cavalry), one of Sergeants (Hv. Cavalry) and one split Light Infantry (1\2 crossbow, one half spearmen). Each wing had a leader in the Knight unit

The Russians were divided into foot and horse contingents. The foot contingent was ordered to take the village and control the bottleneck thus protecting the flank of the horse contingent.

The horse contingent was ordered to run the gauntlet along the stream to eventually exit the board. To win 18 points had to exited. A failed activation for the Russians did not end their turn. That turned out to be critical. It was offset a little by assigning a leader to each of the Livonian Knight wings.

The Game

This shows the LK left flank wing at the outset. The Rus horse can be seen in the background.

The LK right wing. Their orders are to avoid the hedged fields and get to the village before the Rus.

The Rus infantry is ordered to get to the village and contest it if necessary to protect the flank of the Rus horse.

The Rus horse has a tough job. They have to get around the hedged field and advance along the stream with the LK to their flank. They are led by mercenary Cuman Light Cavalry. The Druzina are in front in the two Dvor units.

Birds eye view of the start setup.

The LK left makes it way to the stream edge. The snooty Knight unit refuses. The stream is an obstacle. Given the wild charge rules I had to use common sense as to how to apply.

The Rus skirmishers and  split Light Infantry make their way to the hedged field bordering the village. The dismounted Druzina refuse to advance.

One unit of Druzina advances to contest the stream while the Cumans provide some covering fire. For solo play I created some mandatory AI rules such as the Cumans must always skirmish and split Light Infantry must always shoot in preference to melee.None of the Druzina or Dvor were double armed but if they were I would have created a scenario rule that mandated preferred combat.

The LK right avoids the hedged fields and rushes to get to the village. The Knights like their brother unit on the left refuse to advance at first. 

The Russian Infantry approach the village from the opposite side. It looked to me that the bottle neck between the village and stream would be a bloody area and it would be.

On the LK left the Light Infantry try to subdue the Cumans as the Cumans context with the LK Sergeant unit with bow fire. The Sergeants are stuck in the stream and Knights finally get arrive!

This is where I had to apply some common sense as the Druzina charged and the Sergeants counter charged. The battle occurred in mid-stream and both sides had the penalty. The Knights could not wild charge since they had to spend a turn before the obstacle.

Meanwhile the Lk Sergeants and Light Infantry on the right get through the slot. It appears they will block the Rus horse.

The right flank LK Knights take a detour past the hedged field and will try to block the area around the pond. In retrospect the entire LK right should have ignored the village and moved to the pond area but they had their initial orders.  I stuck with the AI's poor decision ;-)

There is a gap in the pictures and what happened previously is that the LK Sergeants on the left were destroyed by the Cumans and the Druzina unit in the picture. The LK Knights ended up with a wild charge and the Druzina ended with a counter charge. Another battle in mid-stream.

The LK Knights get a measure of revenge on the Druzina killing three and losing none. The Druzina hold!

I rather thought the Druzina would die but they survived the game.

Meanwhile the Russian Infantry get inside the village.

The Cumans allow another unit of Druzina to pass by while the Dvor are still in reserve.

The first Druzina unit gets way while a Dvor unit smashes into the LK Knights.

The dice went agains the LK Knights as they lost three to the Dvor one. The Cumans would pick off another Knight and the unit would be removed in my rules. This left the LK split Light Infantry alone on the LK left separated from the Rus by the stream which was fine with them!

The Lk Sergeants from the right flank advance to close the slot while the Light Infantry engage in a missile duel with their Rus counterpart.

The right flank LK Knights advance up the slot but are delayed by inaction.

The Rus skirmishers arrive in a small wooded area behind the LK Light Infantry!

The LK Knight unit would be destroyed by the Cumans. Meanwhile the Sergeants contact the other Druzina unit. They do well and destroy it.

This is LK high tide but the Light Infantry on the right already have two casualties. They are not doing well against their counterparts and it's about to get worse.

The Sergeants get disordered from the Cumans and block the other Knight unit. Things do not look good for the LK.

The Rus skirmishers are behind the LK Light Infantry and the Light Infantry get down to 1\2 strength through missile fire. Although it's "just" skirmishers the LK units are surrounded with one down to 1\2 strength and the Sergeants disordered.

The Sergeants fail to rally and are down to 1\2 strength. I determined that the LK cannot destroy 18 points and thus call the game. The Rus gain 5 victory points for the campaign.

The Rus would survive with 24 points and the LK with 9 points, a rather lop sided victory. I made an effort as a solo player to role play the leaders of both sides. The LK left flank was badly handled in that it would have been wiser to not try and cross the stream until the two LK wings could support one another. However, my initial orders were to disrupt the Rus horse even if destroyed in order to give the right wing the opportunity to close the slot. The fiasco that followed will cause me to think through battle plan options in the future and dice for which is selected.

The Rus plan was sound given the circumstances. The Rus also had the advantage of more points and their turn did not end with a failed activation. 

The Five Battle Campaign system has a lot of potential and I think Lion Rampant less itself well to solo play.

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