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.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Le Duc on the Road - Part III - Oldbridge Estate/Boyne Visitor Centre

So, this one started as Dad's Taxis (TM) having to take senior daughter and a bunch of teenagers to a concert near Dublin. With nothing to do for a number of hours, I was able to squeeze in a visit to the Battle of the Boyne Visitors' Centre at Oldbridge House, right on the river.

As we've just done the scenario with Field of Battle, it's a little bit of an afterthought, but worth using satnav and suitable pics to get bearings and modern views of the river crossing...and good to see justification of my crossing points on the table - and more importantly of course, that I got the bend of the river just right, and to scale ;)

 A great map which allowed the visitor to navigate their way around the site. What used to be a dodgy road is now a well developed path beside the river.

The museum is festooned with uniform guides, well dressed dummies (!) and scenes from the time. The reception area also has reproductions of most of the important Dutch and Irish paintings of the time.

It was a like a life-size Osprey book on the walls...

The diorama was well constructed, and rather than use figures, lasers plotted out troop movements in a 5 minute 'info-mercial'. It worked well, and the designers have taken time to show important elements of teh crossing, as well as Jacobite cavalry charges, without going into too much detail. There was also a longer AV presentation in a separate building presenting the battle, its cultural significance and its legacy.

The obligatory musket shot - but note the difference in size between matchlock and flintlock.

6 and 9 pounder artillery pieces outside. Obviously I missed the re-enactors, but it must be great when they attend.

 So proceeding east along the walk - my approximate position would have been at the Hugenot and Dutch crossing point later in the battle - on the Jacobite/Southern bank.

 Looking west,
 ...then straight across the wide river...
 then the the narrower fordable portion to the east - where Dutch cavalry and William would have crossed.

 Another view to the west, showing the motorway and the island.

Water levels have changed dramatically, but you can still get a sense of trying to ford across this.


 Moving to the other side of the river (with a quick detour up and down 'King William's Glen') to the Williamite positions - looking now across at the southern bank. Again - further to the east and probably closest to Hugenot crossing points - with Oldbridge to my right.

 Looking toward Oldbridge.

 There may have been significant changes to topography, but the height of the far bank was the biggest surprise here. It was also apparent that Williamite artillery would have had a commanding view of the crossing and far bank.

The museum is small, but well tended, and any buffs of the period or battle would have a great time. There's very little to complain about.

...and for me, it was better than sitting in a parked car, listening to distant 'hip hop' (being an 80s metaller it would have driven me insane), waiting for the concert goers to return to the car at some ungodly hour. But hey, it's all in a day's work for 'Dad's Taxis...Anytime, Anywhere, in any direction...'


Addendum - the pics that got away...
(There were extra pics, which I thought I'd lost, but then I found 'em.)

So most of these are in and around the Oldbridge area, on the same ground that the early part of the battle with Dutch, Hugenot and Jacobite foot was fought over.

Position looking south toward the Jacobite ridge line; Richard Hamilton had around 3 battalions behind this ridge as the Dutch Guards crossed the river. Behind and to the south east, you can see the hill at Donore.

 Closer view of the dominating ridge.

 Same position looking north - around 500 yards to the west of where Oldbridge has been 'rebuilt'.

Looking east around 500 yards from the river crossing in the middle of where Jacobite cavalry would have charged the Dutch and Hugenot lines.

 Same area - (very) approximate spot where Schomberg would have been killed.

 On the ridgeline itself now looking south east - well I was right about the wheatfield in the games(?) A great view of Donore hill too here.

 Looking north from the ridge - imagine the combined might of William's allied army crossing here.

 Same position looking west to Oldbridge House.

 ...Re-enactor in the rain. He still managed to get three shots off despite the downpour.

 Looking toward the re-built Oldbridge and motorway bridge - this time from the west in contrast with the earlier pictures.

The rebuilt version of Oldbridge village.