Xenos Rampant: the Battle for Central Len-Ton

Having played a couple of games with other people’s figures, it was time to get my Xenos Rampant space poilus into their first scrap. We’ve started a campaign at the club fighting over the planet Len-Ton and its multitudinous moons. 

The first mission for my Vingtième République would be a race against Je-Rem-Ee’s Orks to capture the governor of Central Len-Ton . Fortunately for both sides, the governor had become stranded in the jungle without his bodyguards. 

Capitaine Renaud Duscard and his Poilus (Light Infantry with Heavy Weapons) prepare to head into the jungles of Central Len-Ton. You can see more about this force and the minis used in my previous blog post here
The governor of Leo-Ton Central waiting for a ride. I think this is a very old Metal Magic casting.

Using Scenario Juliet: VIP Extraction from the XR rules, we set up a 4 x 4’ table using some jungle terrain (plastic aquarium plants with a respray – elephant grass from my Death in the Dark Continent games and bamboo from the WW2 Crete project of 2018). Following the advice of other XR players, we used a lot of terrain to block line of sight, counting it as soft cover and blocking sight 6” in.  

Mon Dieu! Too much elephant grass

The Orks won the initiative roll and got moving.  I have to say that I very much prefer the XR activation system to previous variants; The Men Who Would Be Kings introduced the free activation mechanic, and this is taken further in XR with all troop types having a free activation (i.e. not having to pass an activation test to perform some actions).  While the friction of the original Lion/ Dragon Rampant can be entertaining (dicing for every single activation), it can also be very frustrating when you fail a string of activations with poor dice rolls. The TMWWBK/ XR model means that you can prioritise more effectively and get some units activating w before you get onto the more risky activations that might not come off.  It’s also a better model for scaling up to a bigger battle as you’ll be able to control a few more units without the game grinding to a halt. 

Turn 1: the French advance from the left – the Orks (out of shot) are waiting to pounce.

Anyway, Pete’s Orks sprung into action, most notably the Gretchin.  These little chaps had received a movement upgrade which meant that they could move 12” and be unaffected by rough terrain.  With the bulk of the table covered by elephant grass, this unassuming unit turned out to be a game winner.  

Not the escort he was hoping for! Pete’s gretchin (GW minis)
The baguette handler encourages his charge into action. This was the best unit I had for the scenario (Greater Xenomorph with Open Order rule – 10″ move and no penalty in rough terrain)

The French tried to respond, putting units forward as fast as they could go.  The Greater Xenomorph and his baguette handler were the designated rough terrain troops (10” move with no penalties), but naturally they got distracted with the Wild Charge rule and ended up in a bloody close combat with Je-Rem-Ee’s personal guard. 

Smash n’ grab: gretchin sweep up the governor, with Shoota Boyz in support

The Gretchin zipped through the undergrowth all the way to the governor, scooped him up and scarpered. Faced with this, there wasn’t a lot we Frenchies could do apart from advance and open fire, although actually this started to make an impression on the Orks who had pushed forward towards the river.  

The gretchin have ‘rescued’ the lucky governor (centre, next to hut) and proceed to make their escape. Je-Rem-Ee’s Orks march up in support from the right.
Aerial view: the French Light Infantry at the top are trying to cut off the gretchin, but will get into a firefight with the blue Shoota Boyz

The shooting mechanisms for Xenos Rampant will be very familiar to anyone who’s played the other Rampant variants, though in this case, it’s rolling ten dice at full strength and five at half or below.  Cover increases Armour value, as does shooting beyond effective range.  The latter is a major change to the Rampant canon but works well, though it does mean that blocking terrain around the centre of a battlefield becomes a necessity to avoid a shoot out with little movement. 

The French Light Infantry with Heavy Weapons seek their targets

I was impressed by the thought that has gone into the latest incarnation of the Courage test: you need to take one whenever you are hit by shooting (even if no damage is done) but the modifier is only the number of strength points damage taken, rather than counting back unit loss from the whole game, as it is in Lion/ Dragon Rampant.  This felt much more appropriate for a shooting game and was also quicker to play. 

Ork Shoota Boyz (Light Infantry with increased squad size) suffer as they get caught in the open by French fire

Sticking with Courage tests, units in cover get a +1 bonus, and, if failed, will retreat into cover if possible. Both nice touches for a set of rules based around ranged weaponry. 

The Orks on the right stay in cover and gain a nice Armour bonus against shooting

My Greater Xenomorph was well-suited to the terrain and was able to push forwards on my right flank, although he lost a couple of Strength Points (halberdiers, in this case) to fire from Je-Rem-Ee’s unit (Elite Infantry) and the Ork Dreadnought (Fighting Vehicle, Walker). Eventually, though, he was able to Wild Charge the Ork commander. A ding-dong scrap ensued over the next couple of turns, which eventually left the Xenomorph destroyed and the Ork Commander’s unit badly mauled.

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, it’s probably a bunch of Orks attempting to sneak up
Je-Rem-Ee’s personal guard get involved in a losing battle with the French Xenomorph. Confusingly, Pete’s Orks are modelled fighting Space Marines, hence the appearance of a three-way battle! (All Orks by GW)

This allowed me to target Je-Rem-Ee with the advancing French Commander’s unit (Light Infantry with Heavy Weapons), which stuck enough hits on Je-Rem-Ee to render him inoperable. A neat touch in the campaign rules is a simple table to roll on for commanders being taken out – Je-Rem-Ee rolled a 2 – severely wounded and had to miss the next game.

This late surge for the French continued as my Light Infantry on the left flank engaged the Shoota Boyz who had pushed up to protect the retreating gretchin. Although both units were evenly matched, the French got the better of the dice rolling and forced the Orks to fail a Courage test, thereby suppressing the unit. A bayonet charge followed and the Orks were defeated!

French Light Infantry take out the suppressed Shoota Boyz with a bayonet charge

At this point, Pete’s gretchin and the governor left the table, thereby claiming the win. It was something of a pyrrhic victory, but Pete had actually sportingly kept the VIP on for longer than needed to prolong the game. If we play the scenario again, we might modify it so that the VIP slows down the escort as they leave the table (maybe reducing move to 6″ or introducing a random element to make the move more unpredictable, e.g. an ordered activation).

Game over, man: the Orks beat a winning retreat
The French walker (Fighting Vehicle, Walker, Mechanoid) is sadly not fast enough to get forwards and join the fight

Anyway, XR has had a resounding thumbs up from our group. I’m impressed with the developments in the Rampant mechanisms, and it is unquestionably versatile. It plays quickly and doesn’t get bogged down in layers upon layers of internal detail – although having the specific special rules for your force written on your force roster is pretty much essential for speedy play. Looking forward to the next campaign game!

5 thoughts on “Xenos Rampant: the Battle for Central Len-Ton

  1. A very enjoyable game and a natty ruleset. Getting the balance of the companent units right so that the detatchment can handle a range of scenarios is going to take some doing I think, however I am enjoying the campaign. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

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