I had an abbreviated attendance at Fall In this year, but did have a chance to run a Fall of the Roman Empire game using a slightly modified version of the Lion Rampant Rules.
The game was set in, of course, the Roman province of Ruritania, somewhere between the Battle of Adrianople and the 410 AD Sack of Rome by the Visigoths.
Just a word about the conditions at the site of the convention, the Lancaster Host Resort (sic), which has been undergoing a seemingly perpetual refurbishment. The main room usually used for gaming, the Distelfink ballroom, had been cut in half with the back end lit only by a string of work lights slung precariously from some nails and plugged into the overstuffed extension cord pictured above. I joked that it was lucky I was running a Dark Ages game since the lighting was so appropriate - I think torches would have given better lighting. Despite these challenges, my eight players were very engaged and seemed to have a good time and the game went by fairly smoothly with plenty of dramatic actions.
I had forces representing two factions of Goths, a group of Gepids, Huns, and Slavs. The Goths and Gepids, above, began on the northern bank of the River Ister and had to find a way across.
The Slavs led by their incredibly distinguished warlord. This was a figure of myself that I got from Minuteman Miniatures.
There were three Roman players: the limitanei given the thankless task of defending the riverine border from the barbarian hordes; the comitatenses "field army" that was ensconced in the provincial capital of Strelsona; and the army of a pretender to the Imperial throne who invaded the province on his way to the imperial capital at Ravenna. The pretender and the field army commander were opponents to each other and went after each other, often to the exclusion of defending the province.
There were also a tribe of mercurial Sarmatian foederati, the Ruritanii from whom the province had received its name. There mercurial nature was shown by a die roll at the beginning of each turn to determine which player controlled them for that turn. There were also "random encounters" on the board that could help or hinder the players once one of their units touched them.
I used the Lion Rampant rules for the game. Given the large size of the table, I doubled the movement rates of units and increased missile ranges by 50%. This seemed to give the game a good dynamic. I also did not have a failed unit activation roll end a players turn, they just would not use that unit that turn. I based the army lists, in part, on the excellent Crepusculum Imperii lists found of the I Live with Cats blog.
Victory was determined by the number of coins each player had at the end of the game. Each player received a few coins at the start of the game. The barbarian players then received a certain number of coins for pillaging various locations on the table. The Romans received coins for locations that remained unpillaged at the end of the game. The barbarians also received coins for eliminating other players' units or leaders, including those of other barbarian players. The Roman pretender and Roman field army commander received substantial coin rewards for eliminating each other's commander.
The final result was that most of the province was devastated with only the city, on villa, and an imperial granary remained intact. The field army commander had been killed by the pretender forces, gruesomely skewered by a lucky ballista shot, giving the pretender control of the remaining field army forces.
The game was marked by the incredible stand of the limitanei troops. Despite being outnumbered with fairly mediocre troops, they held off the three German tribes for most of the game, inflicting heavy losses on the barbarians.
In the end, all that was left of the valiant border troops was the commander himself and a half-strength light cavalry unit. With the barbarians having moved on the loot the province, he sent his light cavalry across the river into the barbaricum, capturing the baggage trains of the two Goth players!
I may be running this game again, with some tweaks, at Cold Wars in March.
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