Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Game 44 - Dragon Rampant

So I kind of missed the whole 'Lion Rampant' rules medieval thing, but I'm becoming a fan of Dan Mersey's way of thinking, and so picked up Dragon Rampant - the Fantasy sequel (and look out for 'Pikeman's Lament' - the 17th century version. What? Of course, I have it pre-ordered.)

Now the fantasy figures that I've collected since 1981 range from old Citadels, through the odd Grenadier piece, with some complete unknowns thrown in - and a few Prince August home moulds, right up to some more recent Hasslefree miniatures (they are so good).

I think the whole damned collection got into this game...(not quite sure how Elric of Melnibone and Stormbringer snuck into the pic there...)

Despite the fact that i like to take the p**s out of modern fantasy tropes (Game of Thrones Moans, I'm looking at you - give me the DMG Appendix N anytime), you can get away with a lot in the name of testing a ruleset. (Actually the author gives a lot of credence to old school D&D here, and certainly doesn't take himself too seriously in the narrative). So here goes:

  • Dragon Rampant offers some lovely game turn sequencing, and yes, we have probably seen some of the mechanisms elsewhere, but it really works (and, key to all my endeavors, it can readily be hacked for other genres and periods - I am thinking westerns, superheroes, star wars skirmishes etc.).

  • My only gripe was rolling 'buckets' of 12xd6 - after having gotten used to single polyhedrals with the 'Field of Battle' family, but that's minor (and I'm sure someone can work out the probabilities).
  • It's unit activation - so balance the chance of activating more 'likely to go' units first with when you need to take advantage of the momentum you've gained somewhere else on the battlefield. There are similarities with the FUBAR family of rolled activations, but it's appeared in many places.
  • A 'courage' rating enables a unit to take punishment, without breaking, whilst the difference between dice roll and rating - taking existing casualties into account, can dictate whether the unit recovers, stands, or runs - hence some units are 'glass hammers' who inflict casualties early but have minimal staying power (my bloody orcs, I'm lookin' at you!).
  • Characters can act effectively as 'units' in terms of hit points (this is an homage to the original chainmail and D&D here I think).
  • Missing your chosen activation means that initiative is handed to the other side. This has real potential for modern games and a lot of work has been done on this at the 'Numbers, Wargames & Arsing About' blog. There are similarities with 'song of' systems without the push gamble.
  • You start with 12d6 until you hit half hit points, then it's 6d6. We did find that the only concern was picking up the 12 dice again, but keep them in a box and use it only for that I guess (plus, we like to complain about d6 at this blog ;)  ) 
  • There's no insistence on movement or flanking or angles or bullsh**t. It's not that style of game. There's a 3" cohesion rule. That's about it (see modern applications again).
  • Wizards can really screw up your day! NO, I mean really.
So the forces of 'bad':

Death knights types - hard to kill.
  • Orcs - they look mean (they weren't)

    The leader  Evil Overlord - no wait - he costs too many points...

    That's more like it; Xerox the Mighty - a second rate sorceror type, who is casting a 'blur' spell, so he's not too clear in the pic (see what I did there?).

     Oh yeah, and he has a dragon.

    And in the blue corner...

     Dwarves of the Dale (or some bulls**t)

     The barbarian mini horde.
      Erm...the Barbarian horde's wives...

     The Knghts of Nee...and Wyleebas Tard - the kingdom's wizard.

     The dwarves had taken to the cover of an abandoned fortress...and waited.

    As the knights moved toward the orcs...

    ...and were disturbed to find a dragon flying in.

     Cut to ...the inevitable.

    The laydeez started to move from the high ground, clearly not prepared to wait for their men.

    Death knights attacked the dwarven stronghold, only to be repulsed again and again.

    Until Xerox started befuddling them and affecting morale. Damned sorcerors!

    In the centre, orcs clashed with the barbarian mini horde.

     ...and pushed them back twice!

    So their wives decided to get involved...and were twice as effective as the blokes. (No surprise here).

    The Knights of Nee had great success, eventually convincing ole' Vermithrax to leg it.

    Xerox was not pleased, and took his vengeance out on the barbarian ladies - who were themselves convinced to depart the battlefield at speed, through the application of his powerful dice magics.

    But the orcs too had been pushed back and badly mauled, thanks to a concerted counterattack by the barbarians (clearly not happy that the missus had gone home early).

     As the orcs routed, only one evil unit was left on the table, and it was about to be surrounded by dwarves, men and p*ss poor barbarians (poor show guys, I mean really, Conan you were not!).

     In the melee... "HARGHHHH!"

    It all ended well for the forces of good. a lone stranger watches from a nearby hilltop, clearly concerned that her figure was left out of the battle. But that, is another tale.

Lord Boyit Stark and Lady Stairsan Bannister will star in the next financially centred episode of Dragon Rampant...A Game of Loans.


  1. Very nice. I played my first game of DR last weekend and enjoyed it immensely.

    1. Thanks Ski - there is a great set of rules there that can be hacked for many other periods. For some reason, that underlying theme always seems to be in the back of my mind when I try a set of rules, but the Lion Rampant series offers a lot of advantages and very little that stops it being converted.