Mark and I dusted off the Dragon Rampant rulebook last weekend- and pitted my newly (ish) painted forest goblins against the doughty dwarfs. I originally put together my forest goblin force with Dragon rampant in mind, but the couple of games I played I didn’t really enjoy that much, as I noted here. We played at the excellent Dark Sphere near Waterloo – check it out if you get a chance!
This time around we decided on a house rule to smooth out the stochasticity of the activation rolls. We allowed 3 rerolls for the game, which could be used by any unit within 12” of the general. The first scenario we rolled was into the valley of death, the details of which we found pretty confusing… and possibly ended up playing wrongly.
The bulk of the dwarf list was 2 units of heavy foot, and 2 units of heavy missiles. The forest goblins were more varied, with elite riders with fly (shaman on wyvern), bellicose foot (trolls), light foot (goblins), light missiles (goblins), with 2 units of light riders (spider riders).
The first battle ended in a very comfortable victory for the dwarfs, with the artillery making short work of the spider riders, general on wyvern and the archers on the left flank. The trolls and the pump wagon were soundly defeated by the dwarf lord’s retinue and the spearmen.
I felt the reroll system worked well, although there were a couple of minor playability issues that I felt detracted from the overall feel of the game. Because of the way activations work, it’s usually better to try and activate troops near the centre of the action. Then, because you rarely get to activate all units, some get left behind, and neglected for a few turns. In this battle, the dwarf axemen spent considerable time standing around making faces at the equally lazy goblin warriors opposite. A second niggle was the hard limits around ranges of missile troops, a staggered rather than a cliff drop in effectiveness would feel better to me. Maybe losing one attack die for every inch you are over 12”.
Battle 2. Somehow, despite their comprehensive loss in the first battle, the goblins had managed to capture 10 dwarfs (well, 9 and a halfling), and were proceeding to cook them back at base. The scenario describes the valiant attempts of the dwarfs to rescue their brethren. I felt like this worked very well, although it was another quick win for the dwarfs. The trolls and the wyvern failed to offer enough resistance to the lord’s retinue and the axemen, who cleaved their way to the captives in time to save 8 of them (the halfling was eaten first obviously). This time, we modified the rerolls rule, so any unit could use them, as we felt the distance limit actually increased the chance of getting units stuck beyond the action.
The third and final battle saw a restructuring of the goblin forces, with the gigantic spiders dropped, and the trolls upgraded to elite foot, the bodyguard of a shaman. The scenario required the dwarfs to break through goblin lines. This battle really showed the weakness of the dwarf missile troops’ inability to move and fire, while the dwarf foot troops were peppered with arrows before being finished off by the wyvern.
In this game we added rest tokens, where a unit that hadn’t been activated by the end of a turn gets a token, each of which gives a +1 for the activation roll. This worked quite nicely, and meant that all units were able to get involved.
All in all, DR is a fun way to throw some dice during an afternoon, but I think it lacks strategic depth to keep me coming back for more.