Friday, December 22, 2017

Centaur Rampant

Two years ago, when Dragon Rampant was released, I bought my copy of the rules with little intent to follow through with building a warband. I'd heard good things about them and wanted a copy just to have it. But then fate took a hand, sort of.

When I was growing up, I used to read a syndicated columnist in the San Jose Mercury News who would sometimes write a column that was just about interesting things he found while looking up something else. That kind of serendipity is always welcome. I think I know more as a result of the secondary results of research (i.e., discovering things I wasn't looking for) than I ever learned from the primary results—but that may just mean that I'm pathetic at actual research. With the Interwebs now an integral part of our lives, I'm finding all kinds of things that I didn't intend. Sometimes I find bad things—I'd use some clever word for the experience here, but Horace Walpole, who coined the word "serendipity," never provided its antonym (contraserendipity?)—but mostly not. One truly serendipitous thing I found was Shadowforge minis.

I was looking up something (I forget what) and found an image of sythyr (i.e., female satyr) figures from Shadowforge's 28mm fantasy range. I don't think I ever thought about satyrs having a distaff side. I thought satyrs went with nymphs, but I suppose baby satyrs have to come from somewhere.

Mother of satyrs

The minis looked interesting, so  I went to their site (Eureka, actually) and started browsing. The Shadowforge fantasy range is very cool and extensive. Part of the range included centaurs, and not merely centaurs, but lady centaurs. (All of the Shadowforge ranges comprise only female figures.) The lady centaurs are very nice figures. They remind me a bit of the centaurettes from Fantasia only, ya know, way deadlier.

Sure they're cute, buy give 'em bows, arrows, and swords then look out!

I was hooked and ordered three packs of three figures: Dionysian Centaur Archers #1Dionysian Centaur Archers #2, and Dionysian Centaur Archer Command. They arrove from Australia (whence Eureka/Shadowforge hail) after several weeks. Oz is a long way away and upside down to boot. But I wasn't disappointed. The figures are very nicely detailed and beautifully cast. There are six distict figures for the archers and three for the command, which includes a musician with a big curvy, horn-like thingummy reminiscent of something in a Dr. Seuss book, a standard bearer with an elaborate standard, and a leader who is rearing up brandishing her bow.

I started them right away, but then they got set aside for other projects (or just because I'm lazy like that). And so they sat glaring at me from a shelf over my painting table, censuring me for my infidelity at every brush-stroke given to their rivals.

They might have sat there longer. I even considered selling them or giving them away partially done to anyone who wanted them—not because I didn't want them myself; I just couldn't endure their unremitting obloquy and didn't have a reason to finish painting them other than that I thought the minis were cool.

And then this summer I got the Dragon Rampant bug. After our successful Lion Rampant game day in September, the cry went 'round to do it again with Dragon Rampant. So, we have an upcoming Dragon Rampant game day in January, which will allow 30-point warbands. That gives us a bit more points to work with for adding magicky stuff without reducing the number of units in the warband.

I started figuring a list for a warband built around my sadly neglected centaurs and I made a new order to Eureka/Shadowforge, which arrived sooner than I expected. Oz is still a long way away and upside down, but it's the jet age after all.

I mostly set aside other projects and knuckled down to get these figures painted. I played around with a few warband lists and finally came up with the following. It's 30 points for our upcoming game day. I'd have to make some hard decisions to get it down to 24.

Centauress swords - Gorgeous Ladies of Doom (G.L.O.D.)

Unit Name: Elite RidersPoints: 6
Attack5+Attack Value3+
Move7+Defence Value4+
Shoot-Shoot Value-
Courage3+Max. Movement10"
Armor4Strength points6
Special rulesWild charge, counter charge

This unit provides the oomph in the strike ability of the warband. They're basically Lion Rampant mounted men at arms. I thought about spending points for some of the upgrades or magicky things that make them deadlier, harder to kill, or tamer, but decided to use the points for other units.

They're Shadowforge Dark Temple Swords figures. The Dionysian range has centaurs with spears, but they're a bit under-armored to pass as Elite Riders. They're not as frilly as the centaur archers, but I came to really like these figures as I painted them. They're festooned with skulls. If I had better painting skills I might have given them some wicked tattoos so they'd look like bad biker chicks, only with four legs and no bike. Even without the tats, they look pretty intimidating.

Centauress archers - Galloping firepower

Unit Name: Light RidersPoints: 4
Attack7+Attack Value5+
Move5+Defence Value6
Shoot6+Shoot Value5+/12"
Courage5+Max. Movement12"
Armor3Strength points6
Special rulesSkirmish, evade

I have two of these units in the warband. They provide mobile firepower and hopefully won't get caught on a failed evade and destroyed. Horse archers are pretty dicey. The unit type did well for me when I used Mike Garcia's borrowed Mongols in our Lion Rampant game day, so I have high hopes.

These minis are the original Shadowforge order, plus another three to give me 12 figures overall. I'm seriously tempted to add a third unit, but we'll see how these do. I'd have to redefine or remove something else to add a third unit.

Feminotaurs - Killer butterface on the hoof

Unit Name: Bellicose Foot Points: 6 (4 + 2)
Attack5+Attack Value3+
Move6+Defence Value6
Shoot-Shoot Value-
Courage4+Max. Movement8"
Armor3Strength points12
Special rulesRanger, wild charge, counter charge vs. foot, fleet-footed
  • Plus Terrifically shiny armour @ 2 pts. (ups the armor value from 2 to 3)

I'm a little wary of the wild foot kind of unit. They're pretty much fire-and-forget and, therefore, expendable. I like that their Ranger special rule allows them to pretty much ignore rough terrain. I don't like that their defence value is 6. They're all bad when on a rampage, but someone rampages on them and they go all wimpy. At least with the Terrifically Shiny Armour upgrade—even though the figures have, in fact, no armor at all—they'll be a bit more resilient in combat. 

I'm taking these as a reduced figure unit of six, but they're 12 strength points.

The figures are Dionysian lady minotaurs. They look pretty buff and have clubs, nasty sharp cutty-thrusty things, and scalloped shields. They also have bulls heads, so no matter how femacious the body, the butterface is a real downer.

Worst blind date ever

Spellcaster - Wibbly wobbly magicky wagicky stuff

Unit Name: Heavy Foot + SpellcasterPoints: 8 (4 + 4)
Attack6+Attack Value5+
Move5+Defence Value4+
Shoot-Shoot Value-
Courage3+Max. Movement6"
Armor3Strength points12
Special rulesFantastical rules (Spellcaster)

  • Plus Spellcaster @ 4 pts.

I had to have some kind of magic user in the warband because it makes no sense to me to play a fantasy game without something on the fantastical side—apart from centauresses, feminotaurs, and sythyrs, that is. Spellcasters have a bag o' tricks that makes them a pretty powerful unit, though pricey.

I took this as a single-figure unit of Heavy Foot. If I had another 2 points to spend, I'd have made it Elite Foot. However, to do that I'd have to give up something else, which I don't want to do. Also, I think 3 armour for 12 strength points and 4 armour for 6 strength points are kind of a wash. The only benefit for being Elite Foot, then, is the Ranger special rule, which requires rough terrain (preferably woods) to fight in.

The Dionysians in the Shadowforge fantasy range don't have any suitable figure to use as a Spellcaster, so I went from four legs to two and used a shaman figure from the Tribals in the fantasy range. It's clearly magic that gives her the 3 armour protection.

I had some other ideas for a figure as well. One option would be a character whom some call ...Tim?

This figure is from the Studio Miniatures Medieval Mayhem range, which comprises 28mm figures from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was a Kickstarter some years back and the whole range is now available on their site (including the Trojan Rabbit, but, sadly, no Zoot/Dingo). You could actually make a pretty nice Dragon Rampant warband using just them. I'll add that to the idea file...

Adding Tim the Enchanter as my Spellcaster, however, puts a bit of uncharacteristic testosterone in the mix. So I have a third figure option which keeps out the Y chromosomes but still adds the Monty Python factor. She doesn't look like much; others dressed her up to look the part and the nose is false (even if she does have a wart). But appearances can be deceiving. She turned John Cleese into a newt (he got better) and, more importantly, she weighs the same as a duck and therefore... A WITCH!

Even if I don't use this figure, she's good to have. If I'm facing a river crossing, I can build a bridge out of her.

Sythyr Archers - Prancing, dancing firepower (sort of)

Unit Name: ScoutsPoints: 2
Attack7+Attack Value6
Move5+Defence Value6
Shoot7+Shoot Value5+/12"
Courage5+Max. Movement8"
Armor1Strength points6
Special rulesEvade, fleet-footed, skirmish, hard-to-kill

I could easily rationalize using these points instead to upgrade my Spellcaster to Elite Foot, but I kind of like the idea of a skirmish unit that can annoy and harass and run away into the woods. It pads the number of units in the warband and, if used well, can have an asymmetrical effect against better, costlier, opposing units. Also, if my Spellcaster is in situations that require brute strength, I'm using her wrong. It's just nice to have the 4 armour and Ranger special rule.

The figures for this unit are the Shadowforge Sythyr archers that I first found on the Interwebs two years ago. I actually got 12 figures in case I want to change the warband a bit and give myself a unit of Light Missiles in a different incarnation of the warband.

Tactics 'n' stuff

The warband is, hopefully, balanced between skirmishy/shooty types and a solid strike force, albeit a wild, undisciplined strike force.

The centauress archers are mounted yeomen with bows in Lion Rampant terms, i.e., horse archers. I like horse archers almost as much as I like slingers (or Lithuanian bat-dung hurlers). They have a nasty sting, even though they can only shoot 12", and their 12" move and skirmish ability make them hard to pin down and kill. But the fact that their 3 armour goes down to 1 if they fail an evade or get contacted while evading means that they can be very brittle. I imagine using these as fire support for the centauress swords, the Gorgeous Ladies of Doom.

The G.L.O.D. are basically mounted men/ladies at arms. I didn't want to spend the points to make them Level-headed and lose the Wild Charge special rule. That means that they may sally forth against my desires, especially problematic when their target is inopportune or in terrain that will mess me up. Just stay away from rough terrain.

The feminotaurs are another wild and powerful charging unit and the upgrade to Terrifically Shiny Armour gives me fewer qualms about crying havoc and letting slip the cow-headed ladies of war. I imagine either using these in conjunction with the centauress swords or separately, being supported by the prancing, dancing, arrow-shooting sythyrs. The latter combo would be great in rough terrain since both have Ranger and Fleet-footed special rules, and both are fast at 8".

The sythyrs themselves can be used as noted above supporting the feminotaurs or on their own harassing the enemy from rough terrain.

The spellcaster is a unique tactical problem. Do I keep it back to support my forward units with its magic? Do I keep it forward to use its magic to mess up the enemy? The Heavy Foot armor value makes it more suitable in the latter case. It's Powerbolt! spell is as a good a shot (4+/18") as Heavy Missiles (a.k.a. crossbows in Lion Rampant terms).

I've always favored aggressive tactics, sometimes (or often) to my own destruction. As a defensive force, the warband is pretty useless. The spellcaster is the slowest unit at 6", but with an 18" magic range, I don't expect to be moving her/him/her to any extent.

The test of battle will determine whether I made the right warband. Our game day is just 3 weeks away at this writing. I hope to get a game in before then, just to get the feel of it. But even if it turns out I made a huge mistake and the warband will never win (of course, that could be just me), I don't have time to paint new units.

1 comment:

  1. Very impressive warband, David! I saw some of these on the PNW FB earlier. Looking forward to seeing them in action next month at the game day.