I’ve popped back to NZ for a few weeks for a holiday, to recover
from a bit of dengue fever and to catch up with my family. At the weekend I
headed up to Christchurch to catch up with my mate Ian and we managed to sneak
in a game of Dragon Rampant.
We grabbed Ian’s Lord of the Rings Family and made a couple
Ian ran a force from Rohan:
Elite riders (Gen)
2x Light foot
2x Light missiles
I ran some Misty Mountain
1x Cave troll general (who needs intelligence to
lead a rabble?)
2x Warg Warg Riders (light riders)
1x Goblins (light infantry)
2x Goblin bowmen (Light Missiles)
Below are few pictures from the game using Ian's awesome terrain boards. I won't go into details except to say that my cunning plan failed, my inspired general ("Lucky" the troll- the stupidist person on the field of battle therefore prime candidate for Generalship in my view) was first to die, cut down by King Theoden himself!
The pictures are of the first half of the game before it all went horrible wrong for the goblins. HOWEVER, they did account from themselves quite well and it was a close battle, in the end though far to many failed command tests and Ian's ability to rally his troops from being battered proved decisive, still it was a fun game and I really enjoyed the ruleset.
Yes, I know I am late to the party and the Dragon/Lion Rampant have been out for a number of years, what can I say? Not much except I haven'y got my gaming in of late- something about being stuck on a small island in the middle of the Pacific for the best part of the year so far- and for the rest of it as well:)
A few pictures of our game using Ian's LoTR figures.
The Goblin right flank
The forces of Rohan
We'd been meaning to play Dragon Rampant for some time, so what did I think of the rules? I really liked them, simple fast and yet gave a satisfying game.
: I really liked the command mechanic whereby different types of troops need a different target number to pass a command test and so act. My goblin light infantry for example needed a 6+ on two dice to attack but only a 5+ to move. The command roll will be familiar to anyone who has played Warmaster, Black Powder etc, roll two dice and beat (in this case- high is good) the units command number, failure means the end of your turn.
It does however mean that rolling low early in a turn is really, really bad and so several times my army failed to act at all- partly due to Lucky the Troll being dead but still...
I need a few more games under my belt but can see allowing either:
- first activation is free per turn, or else
- allowing the general to reroll a single command roll each turn for a unit within 12"
I think either of those would mitigate the randomness somewhat.
Still it made for a fun, and slightly random battle as troops failed to follow Lucky's very cunning plan and threw away a couple of opportunities to decisively win the game due to inability to roll suitable command dice.
Attack and defence
: The unit profiles also have different attack and defence profiles so it is quite easy to differentiate troop types. My aforementioned goblins for instance had an attack value of 6 (meaning the unit needed to roll 5s to score a hit when attacking, so weren't much good going forward) but only needed a 4+ to hit when defending so are better at defence than attack, which makes sense- simple yet elegant.
(Hit Points): Each unit has either 6 or 12 strength points at the start of the game. A unit of 12 figures loses one figure each time it loses a strength point. Each unit rolls 12 dice attack but once a unit is reduced to half strength it fights with only six dice. Nice simple mechanic- might annoy some people but I'm all or keeping things as simple as possible.
Example unit: Goblin light Foot:
Attack Value: 5+
Defence Value 4+
Strength points: 12
Speical: Wall of spears
Attack Value and Defence Value
: Again a nice simple mechanic. As you can see my goblins on attack need to roll 5+s on their 12 combat dice to score a hit, but only a 4+ when defending. They also have a special ability when they can crate a wall of spears which increases their armour but measn that they can't move.
: Another mechanic I like. The armour rating is how many hits a figure can take before it is destroyed, so light troops tend to have an armour of 2, medium troops 3 and tough troops like trolls and elite cavalry need 4 hits to cause a single wound (strength point loss). So if my goblins were fighting vs a unit of human light infantry and were attacking they roll 12 dice and each 5+ would score a hit- for every 2 hits that they score they inflict one wound on the other light infantry, if they rolled 5x 5s or 6s then they would score 2 wounds (strength points lost) to the other unit, odd dice are ignored- thus it is easier to wound lightly armoured units, harder for tougher units like cavalry or elite units. So if the goblins had attacked some heavy cavalry (what were they thinking?) then they'd score one wound (strength point loss) per 3 hits inflicted.
Again a simple mechanic which gets rid of all that I hit, you roll to save, I then roll to kill (as per some systems), differentiates differnt troop types and also speeds up play.
: Units also have a courage rating which is the dice roll needed to "keep calm and carry on", courage is modified by the number of lost strength points, if you better your courage score you keep going, if you fail but your score is above 0 you are battered, a score of zero or below and your unit is destroyed.
: This is the area where we didn't quite do things right but if a unit becomes battered it can't do much except try to pass a courage check. Failure to rally means another strength point lost and the unit retreats- so being battered is bad.
And that's pretty much it, it made for a fun, chaotic, and also frustrating (for the troll general) game and one which I am keen to play again.
Things I didn't like? Well, I am not really a fan of skirmish (single) basing in general but easy enough to use "properly based" units instead and easy enough to and unit facings etc as you want. I simply don';t see the point in moving 6 or 12x individual figures each time the unit moves, I'd rather move a "proper" base/unit and so will simply use based units myself.
It is a nice and elegant/streamlined system, not too complex. the different unit ratings give a nice nuance to the units and takes away lot of the typical modifiers of other systems (eg +1 for charging) as they are factored into the attack values, defence values, armour ratings etc.
We didn't really play any fantasy elements but those rules too look simple and playable and so who knows next time we may add more fantasy to the game but it certainly made for an entertaining low fantasy style of games.
Right, time to sort out my own goblin army...