Recently, I played a game of Dragon Rampant at a convention and was it ever fun! Waiting for us at the table were 6 armies (Lizard Men, Orcs, Goblins, Ogres, Middle Earth [Lord of the Rings] Orcs, and Wood Elves). Quickly I sat at one of my favourite fantasy armies – the Goblins.
The scenario itself was to get to the Human village in the middle of the table and capture the civilians. The two armies of Orcs set up opposite to each other in the middle of the table and had a distinct advantage in capturing the civilians. On the far side of the table, the Lizard Men set up opposite to the Ogres and my Goblins set up opposite to the Wood Elves. Alliance-wise, there are no allies. Whoever captures the most civilians wins.
This is not a specific Mission from Dragon Rampant, but rather a custom scenario designed by our Game Master to get multiple people engaged with the rules at once.
|The Gaming table from my side of the table. It is a long way for my guys to get to that village.|
At the start, I was a little overwhelmed with the army sheet when I noticed each unit had 10 stats. When the Game Master discussed the stats and what they meant, it didn’t click for me right away, but once we got playing, my understanding came very quickly. Of those 10 stats, three of them are actually activation values. These activation values were something that I had not seen before in other game systems.
On a player’s turn, the player selects unit to activate and makes an activation roll. If the roll succeeds, the unit does what the player wants. If the roll fails, the player’s turn ends. For Activation Stats, there are three different values (Attack, Move and Shoot). The lower the value, the easier it is to take that action. For example, my Light Riders had an attack of 7+, a move of 5+, and a Shoot of 6+. To take the named action, the player needs to roll two dice and get that value or higher. Right away, this adds an interesting dynamic in that there is now strategy on what to activate first and a fear of having to give the turn over to the opponent. Do you do what is easier for your models first? Or do you activate what is most important first (even though it might be a tougher roll)?
For now, I will focus on the narrative game that unfolded before us using Dragon Rampant by Osprey Publishing. This game was hosted at Council Fires 2016. At the end of the article, I will switch back to discussing the rules and my initial thoughts of them.
|Above is a picture of how I deployed my Goblin Army on the table. Archers up front, Light Cavalry on each flank and Heavy Cavalry on the middle Right (just behind those trees).|
|My Neighbour’s deployment. Look at how close they are to the first objective versus me. For them, this would be a take and hold game.|
|Immediately the Orcs capture their first civilian. My army was not so close to the centre, so I had some movement to do.|
|The Elves’ Cavalry takes lead charge towards my Goblin Hordes.|
|Meanwhile, the Middle Earth Orcs assault the settlement. The villagers stand no chance.|
|These speedy cavalry units capture the civilians with ease.|
|With the Middle Earth Orcs being so pre-occupied with the civilians, the Elves advance on my position without the fear of their neighbour.|
|To the right (behind the wall) are his Elite Riders and to the left, his Scouts. The intentions of the Elven army are clearly upon the engagement and destruction of my units.|
|The Orcs were stronger than the lizards expected, but reinforcements are close. Those Orc Riders are in for a bad day.|
|Back to my side of the table and the Elves’ Elite Riders engage one of my two units of Light Cavalry.|
|My Riders use the skirmish rule to throw spears at the Elite Riders before engaging in melee. Meanwhile, I have brought the Spider Riders (also Light Cavalry) into a position to engage the Elite Riders in a Pincer attack.|
|The Spider Riders use Skirmish to throw spears and try to disengage the Elite Elves. They don’t move far enough to evade the incoming Calvary. The battle occurs and I lose two more Spider Riders and my unit falls back.|
|Back in the middle of the village, the Ogre player sends in a Woolly Mammoth to terrorize and capture the people in the settlement. The Orcs, not wanting to lose their prize, engage.|
|To finish them off, I sent in my Heavy Calvary (Squig Riders).|
|With the Elven Elite Cavalry cut down to size, I ran my remaining Wolf Riders in to take on what was left of the Elven Force. All that the Elven Wizard had left protecting her was an injured Treeman and a unit of Scouts.|
|To back up the Wolf Riders, I also rushed up my Squig Riders, a Heavy Foot unit and what was left of my Spider Riders. Victory shall be mine on this side of the table!|
Unfortunately, this is where this game timed out.
According to the Game Master, I believe one of the Orc Armies won for captured villagers, but bragging rights were also bestowed upon the Lizard Men on the Left side of the table and Goblins on the right side for max aggression and battlefield domination.
Right off the bat, I can tell my readers that this is a game that would be best enjoyed as an engagement between two armies. There was a fair bit of downtime because there were so many players. That said, the GM did a fantastic job achieving his goal in introducing us to the basic mechanics of the game. We all caught on very quickly and were able to run much of the game on our own within a couple of turns.
Personally, I found the activation system intriguing and enjoyed the simplicity of the game. As stated earlier, each unit gets one activation a turn. When a player decides to activate a unit, they roll two dice and compare the number rolled to the related Activation Value. Back to the example of a Light Rider, those values are 7+ to attack, 5+ to Move, and 6+ to Shoot. This means that certain units have a greater propensity to activate for certain actions. This is an element that I really liked, but it is also a feature that I cursed a turn or two when I was only able to move one or two units. One round, I didn’t even manage to activate one unit. That sucked, but I figured that is just my troops having a hard time following commands during the fog of war.
The battle system was fairly easy and enjoyable. It involved rolling target numbers on a certain number of dice. Each target number matched or exceed counted as a hit to the target. Count the number of hits and for each time that number matches the armour value of a unit, it takes a wound. Back to my Light Riders, they have an armour value of 3. For every 3 “hits” that the opponent rolled, one model is removed. Units attack at Full Strength or Half Strength so number crunching is easy as a unit loses models (Wounds).
I found this game so much fun that I found myself wanting my own copy of the rules. Osprey Publishing was more than kind and sent me a copy when I asked about the game.
Update: February 20, 2018. For those interested, Rebels and Patriots is another iteration of this core rule set with some alterations. If you are interested in a similar game in a different setting, we have a Battle Report and First Impressions Article for the game.
Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!