Yesterday I got to play Dragon Rampant at the newly opened Discover Games in Fayetteville, GA, with a friend.
Dragon Rampant is fun to play. Unlike other fantasy wargames, you’re not restricted to an army list based on what miniatures you own. The game encourages you to be creative in selecting your miniatures.
What matters is the standard templates you use.
My warband was fairly standard: medieval and fantasy warriors led by a minor sorceress named Vella.
My opponent’s warband had centaurs, beastmen, and herd of charging bulls.
Yep. You read that right. The rules allow unit of charging bulls.
(My opponent assigned them as “bellicose foot.”)
I hadn’t played a Dragon Rampant game since last March, and my friend had never even played the game before. So we took things slow and disregarded rules for Glory or any special scenarios. Each side used a standard 24-point warband.
My friend decided to invest some extra points in giving his centaur warriors venomous arrows.
After we set up, we diced to see who went first. Won the initiative. Yet unfortunately I rolled snake-eyes to activate my first unit. My turn ended.
That’s one thing which can be brutal about Dragon Rampant. The moment you fail an activation test, your turn ends–even if none of your troops moved or attacked.
This happened to me at least twice early on in the game. So my opponent advanced to attack since I wasn’t coming to him.
Soon his rampant bulls trampled my peasants before slamming into my heavy infantry. The peasant, however, slowed the bulls down just enough for the heavy infantry to form a wall of spears. This helped them repulse the attack.
Yet the ensuing battle caused both the bulls and the heavy infantry to leave the battlefield.
By this time the centaurs had advanced on my left flank and shot their poisonous arrows into the ranks of my foot knights in Golden armor. Half my knights died from the volley. Vella, however, restored one with her healing powers.
The crossbowmen returned fire, hitting the centaurs, forcing them to withdraw. The withdraw turned into a steady route as my opponent just could not succeed with their courage roll.
My bad luck near the beginning of the game had began to turn around. I had been really concerned about the damage those centaurs could do with their poisoned arrows.
At this pont the Centaur King advanced for one final charge. Yet my crossbowmen (barely) held their ground and forced him back.
They then reloaded ther crossbows and sting him with their bolts. Vella followed with a blast of lightning. This felled the Centaur King.
After the game we discussed our tactics. We decided both of us had sound plans. My opponent wanted to hit my flanks hard and he almost did. Next time he said consider sending the bulls down the middle, to screen the advance of the Centaur King and his beastmen.
This is a good idea, since slow-moving heavy infantry don’t usually do well in the open when under fire.
The retreat of the centaurs was just bad luck. And, I admitted, they should have done more. He just could not rally them.
And I was getting fed up being unable to activate my units. I kept failing that first activation test so much that I threatened to throw the dice away after the game.
And guess what?
My dice must have listened, because they started rolling better.
I look forward to the next game.
After I play a couple more games and get reaquainted with rules, I’ll do a proper review.