lunedì 20 marzo 2017

About Lion Rampant Army Size

I was talking with some friends and the topic of the conversation fell upon Lion Rampant. One of my friends was concerned about the size of the battles recreated with this rulset. He argued there are too few models for a "real" battle. Here I'll try to adress his concern and draft an answer.

First, you must assess what "real" means. If you mean realistic, well, it's a game, so it's all in the eyes of the players. For sure small clash between opponent retinue happened, and this was even more common during Middle Ages. I know that Lion Rampant, for the author self admission, isn't aimed to provide an academic simulation of medieval warfare. Again, it's a game: it's meant to be fun giving you the feeling of being a medieval (small) battle. Otherwise you should just play an aspecific boardgame, without any historical setting, if you care only about the mechanics.

I think LR truly succed in give us the "medieval flavour". I see the flow and ebb I expected after reading about rash knights and sturdy communal spearmen trying to resist them behind their pavises, Vikings berserk blindy charging whirling their axes and Arab mounted archers evading the crusaders heavy knights.

(In addiction, of course, playing a boardgame wouldn't allow us to field a table of beautifully painted minis)

Ok, enough for general consideration. I just want to dig a little about the Medieval warfare, to show you why Lion Rampant number of minis is perfectly reasonable.

I recently read "La Castellana, appunti di un viaggio nel tempo", by Flavio Trentin, a local historician. The book is about the history of the area around Castelfranco Veneto, a town in Northern Italy, in Veneto (the region of Venice). It was founded in the 1195AD by the city of Treviso as a fortress to defend the western borders of its territory. Of course the town was fortified (as the name itself assesses: Castelfranco means Free Castle, free from the taxation to provide a better defence), and the castle walls are without doubt main feature in the landscape of the town still today. Similar fortified towns were founded in Veneto Region during those centuries, as Cittadella, about 30 kilometers away, by rival Cities (the Comuni), warring each others until Venice conquered all those lands, ending the wars between differend Cities.

Castelfranco Veneto walls nowaday

After this long introduction I want to quote some figures, the author gives about the strenght of the garrisons of the main military outposts in the area.

Treviso army, during peace time, was constituted by 50 knights, when during wars all the population between 16 and 60 could be called to fight and should be able to provide for themselves some kind of body armour o reinforced jacket, a sword, a shield and a spear.
Consuls (military administrators) should provide crossbows and the villagers a bow, every 160 "fuochi" (i.e. hearth, a fiscal unit of measure for populatio, see). Since a hearth is averaged to 5 people, about 800 people are needed to provide an archer and/or crossbowmen. Also very interesting the distinction between villagers and towners/citiziens.

Then, the most interesting parts: the garrisons. The author lists for 1315:

Mestre (2 captains and 20 guards)
Castelfranco (2 consuls and 11 guards)
Asolo (2 captains and 8 guards)
Conegliano (1 podestà and 12 guards) (Podestà is the higher civilian autority)
...and some others, all of diminishing numbers.

Then you must add the some minor garrison at rivers and roads crossing wards.

So we see, a small amount of knight (50) and some dozen of professional garrison soldiers, the people levy and of course mercenaries, could represent an hypothetical army for a medium sized Comune (Treviso). Of course, no one would risk the entire army in a single battle and for the scale of the battle Lion Rampant seems to adress, i.e. small clashes between retinues, the figures are entirely justified. I would like to hear your thoughts about this topic either here and on Lion Rampant facebook group!

  • Flavio Trentin, La Castellana. Appunti di un viaggio nel tempo. 1994, Edizioni Scolastiche Castelfranco

4 commenti:

  1. As you say, the key fact is that it is a game.
    If you are playing an actual battle the best you can do is a simulation and not a blow by blow account of what went on in every section section of the field.
    I do believe some folk take their miniatures much too seriously :)

  2. Of course there are some ruleset dedicated to hard simulation. But I find that, since we know very little about how medieval battle were actually fight, it makes little sense. For best documented period could make sense.

  3. Very interesting post, thanks for sharing the info.

  4. I am a fan of the smaller battles (even with more traditional "wargame" rules.