Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Lion Rampant Hexified

Update 25/12/2015: Pictures in this blogpost.

As I have stated various times on this blog before, I am a fan of using hexes for miniature wargaming. Some might say this is not proper wargaming, since you do not use a ruler, but let's not start that discussion here.

When I read a new ruleset, I often wonder whether it can be hexified without losing the flavour and finesse of the original ruleset. The latest ruleset which caught my attention is Lion Rampant, and hence, this post is about how we use hexes in our Lion Rampant games.

The easy and somewhat naïve way of hexifying a ruleset is dividing all distances by 3 or 4. The assumption is that a hex equals 3 or 4 inches, and so, by transforming all measurements in inches to measurements in hex-units, the job is done. However, this is rather simplistic, since distances in wargame rules might mean different things in different situations. E.g. a movement distance usually signifies the total distance moved by figures, while a shooting or charging distance typically indicates the distance between units. The difference is the physical footprint of the unit, as illustrated in the diagram below:
If the footprint of a unit is relatively small compared to the distances involved, this doesn't matter too much. However, when a unit does occupy a significant area in relation to movement and shooting distances, this discrepancy needs to be taken into account.

The reason is that distances are counted slightly differently on a gridded surface. Typically, a unit occupies a single grid-cell (in our case, a grid cell is a hex, but the same applies to square grid cells). Movement distances expressed as a number of hexes are typically counted as the total number of hexes travelled, including the hex the unit occupies in the end. But shooting distances are counted on a grid in the same manner as well. We do not count the distance between the units (as we would do in a continuous system), but we do include the hex the target unit occupies. This subtle difference should be accounted for when hexifying a ruleset - at least when you want to maintain relative ratios between movement and shooting distances.
 When going into close combat, the situation depends whether we resolve melee when units occupy the same hex (count charge distance, including the hex the target unit occupies), or whether units fight when in adjacent hexes (count hexes between units).

Now, does all this matter?

I think it does. Movement distances in a set of wargaming rules are always in relation to shooting distances. I usually make the following exercise: if an attacking unit wants to charge a defending unit equipped with ranged weapons, and if the chargers start just outside the firing range, how many turns would it take for them to reach the target? Or in other words, how many times can the defenders fire before they are engaged in melee?

The most simple example in Lion Rampant is a foot unit that moves 6". Suppose it wants to charge a unit armed with javelins (range 6"), and melee happens is when both units make contact. If you measure correctly, the defending unit should always be able to get a shot before contact is made. It is therefore not possible for the attackers to start outside range, and charge without getting javelins thrown at them. The same applies to larger distances. In Lion Rampant, archers shoot 18". So, a charging unit that moves 6" each turn, will be shot at 3 times before contact is made.

When converting measurements to hexes, the same ratio should apply. Suppose we simply divide all distances by 3, to get our ranges in hexes. A unit moving 6" would be able to move 2 hexes, and the range of a javelin unit would also be 2 hexes. Can the javelins be thrown before contact is made? Two cases are now possible:
  1. Melee is fought when two units are occupying the same hex.
    In this case, both movement and javelin range can be kept at 2 hexes. The defenders can throw their javelins one time before contact is made.
  2. Melee is fought when units occupy adjacent hexes.
    Now, the distances do not add up. If the attackers start 3 hexes away, the defenders cannot hit them. The attackers only need to move two hexes to be adjacent, and thus, melee is possible before the defenders had a chance to fire. The solution is to increase firing ranges by 1 hex. Thus, the firing range for javelins should be 3 hexes - not 2.
The question now is, whether we want to go for option 1 or 2? I use Kallistra hexes, which measure 10 cm across (4"). Lion Rampant has 12 figure units, which fit into one hex. However, trying to cram two units in the same hex is somewhat impossible, so I decided to go for option 2: melee is fought in adjacent hexes. This means firing distance should be increased by 1 hex when converting inches to hex-units.

12 25mm figures, or 6 25mm cavalry do not neatly in a hex, especially not when you want to maintain the feel of a spread-out formation.  Another rule stipulation in Lion Rampant comes to our rescue. There should always be a distance of 3" between units, except for close combat.
This means we let units occupy a single hex and declare the adjacent hexes as a no-go zone for other units (3" distance between units). Thus, figures can spill over the hex boundaries, as long as it is clear what hex they are occupying. There will never be an adjacent unit, unless in melee. This corresponds nicely with our decision to resolve melee between adjacent units.

The only thing we still haven't talked about is the footprint of a unit. Lion Rampant says figures should be within 3"of a central figure. This means a unit can occupy a circle 6"in diameter at most. When translating this to 10cm (4") hexes, this would imply units can occupy multiple hexes. However, I decided against implementing this. Multi-hex units are just too cumbersome. So, a single unit occupies a single hex (4"diameter), and the distance between units is also a single hex (3"in the rules). The combination of both is a nice compromise.

All this suggests we should divide distances by 3 or 4. Movement distances in Lion Rampant are 6, 8, 10 and 12". Dividing by 3 would give us 2, 3 (lumping 8"and 10" together), and 4 hexes. I think these are good distances for a typical table. The alternative would either be reducing infantry to a movement of 1 hex (not enough flexibility), or increasing distances to e.g. 3, 4, 5 and 6 hexes, which is also possible. In the end, it depends on the size your table ...

Summary, Lion Rampant hexified:
  1. A single unit occupies a single hex.
  2. Movement 6", 8", 10", 12" => 2, 3, 3, 4 hexes.
  3. Firing ranges 6", 12", 18" => 3, 5, 7 hexes (note the +1 in hex distance!). Shooting at 6 or 7 hexes is at -1.
  4. Units must maintain 1 hex between at all times, except for melee (and some rare situations during retreats).
  5. Melee happens when units are adjacent.
  6. Leaders give +1 to courage when within 4 hexes of unit.
 Yesterday we had our first playtest. Pictures can be seen in this blogpost.


  1. Interesting concept and good analysis. Thanks, Jim

  2. Hi, I am Stefan. Just stumbled over your blog coming from a search in the DR forum.
    Actually, we are playing a very old ( probably one of the first if not THE first ) Fantasy Tabletops which was played in the 60ies through 80ies on 18mm Hexfields. It was called ARMAGEDDON, the eternal game. We used 1/72 Atlantic Miniatures back then.
    Today , after an almost 30 yr. Break, some old friends an mes started all over again. But of course using the new technologies Inet has to offer, 28mm Minis and the Kallistra Hexfields ( superb products btw ).

    Now the old ARMA Rules were quite simple and in essence.. you had 4 types of warriors : axemen, spears, sword and bows. An Army was ten warriors of your choice + a champion and a hero. But you also had different types of Horses, Elefants, Ships, siege equipment and what not. As it was a fantasy game, you also had one Battle-Wizard with about 15 different spells ( the same for all players ).

    Back in the 80ies, we built a 3D Model of the World "Magira" where the game took place. Each player hat a set of starting cities ( 1 Capitol, 2 cities or 1 city and 2 markets ) these were used as reinforcement points as they generated warriors and building-credits which you could use for building fortresses ( towers and walls ), siege equipment, ships, horses ( heavy, light, Quadriga ) , Elephants / name it.

    Depending on the type of gamesize you wanted to play, you started out with 30 warriors of your choice, 3 champs and 3 heroes... all on foot. If you want them being cavallery, you had to spend some building credits in order to "purchase the desired horses, or you go out an conquer some from another player...hehe. Same with siege equipment, ships etc. You can built or conquer or destroy...what ever you think is good for you and your realm.

    Now back to the Lion Rampant rules.
    Fighting in ARMAGEDDON is really very simple. Each warrior counts as a single unit and fights another single unit, champ, heroe. Champs and heroes had some bonus points ( 3 + 6 ) which you added to your 3 W6 dice result.
    Also, among the warriors, you ha a simple system : Axe was good against spear, so +1 BP, Spear was good against sword so + 1 BP and sword was good against axe = 1 BP.
    Other then that, you had the have a 12 with 3 W6 + your Bonus.
    Also every warrior got BP for being the attacker.
    The result of all BP and the W6 had to be higher then the opponents 3xW6 result..then the opponents warrior was killed. If the defender's results was better and he had also a 12 on 3xW6, then your warrior died. Other then that, it was a draw.
    There were also some BP if fighting on Horseback , riding an Elephant etc...all in all really fast system, but also quite...simple... if not to say too simple nowadays for us.

    Also, the original game was played with up to 8 or 10 parties but all armies were practically humans. Different cultures thou7gh with different equipment.

    Today we have Orcs, Skaven, Dark and High elves, Warriors of Chaos, Barbarians, Undead and Skeletons, Ogers and Dwarfs, Vampires and Lizardmen...practically the whole standard fantasy population, in our new game.
    And we are developping special rules for these in order to create a little bit of WHF feeling...not too much though and certainly not to the degree of 8.Edition WHFB.

    However, we want the battles themselves stay on skirmish scale of max up to 30 - 50 minis per side. And we want to preserve the old Hexfield feeling.

    Hence we are looking for alternative battle rules which are a bit more "demanding" but still not as complicated as i.e. Warhammer Fantasy Battles. And we found Lion Rampant / Dragon Rampant. And now it seems, we also found someone who already did the combination of these rules with our hexfield ideas...perfect.

    I will certainly follow your development of the rules and we will playtest them as well if you agree.
    Let us exchange our experiences.

    Best regards
    Stefan ( Erkrath, Germany )

    1. Hi Stefan,

      Thank you for showing an interest in my hexified version of Dragon Rampant. Bear in mind though, that in DR, a single unit in a single hex is considered to be a unit of multiple warriors, and has multiple hit points - unlike the instant-kill system you describe for ARMAGEDDON.

      I was aware of ARMAGEDDON through the book "Playing at the World" by Jon Peterson. It is a very extensive book describing the history of fantasy (war)games, and how different games influenced each other (but focuses mostly on Dungeons and Dragons). He also describes that ARMAGEDDON inspired the MIDGARD games in England and America.

      I think he might be interested in your stories w.r.t. ARMAGEDDON. You can find him at his blog:

      A blogpost from him that mentions ARMAGEDDON:

  3. Hallo Phil, thank you for your fast feedback and the links which I will check.
    Multiple hitpoints: yes something we need to consider indeed. Most TT games feature battles
    Of units against units and we would have to adapt the fighting style somewhat to ARMA
    where a warrior fights a warrior...but that should be feasable.

    Best regards