Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sometimes a Fantasy

[Yes, more than a month after the event, I'm finally publishing the post about it—replete with misrememberings of plays and sequences only foggily understood when fresh in my mind. If this AAR bears any resemblance to actual events, it's purely by accident.]

On Jan. 13 , we held our Dragon Rampant game day at the Gig Harbor Public Library. There were 12 of us playing on 6 tables. We arrived at 11:30 and most of us stayed until about 5:00, getting in two games.

This was my opportunity to test the centaur warband I've been painting for the last four months. Overall, the ladies (and one man in game 1) acquitted themselves well.

Game 1

I played the first game against Dean Motoyama and his Men of the (Pacific North) West warband. He made up his splendid little army using a lot of classic Games Workshop Warhammer minis.

Dean's griffin-mounted general - nasty business with wings

Dean's army had several shooty elements. There was one unit of heavy missiles, for which Dean used a formidable Games Workshop death ray on a wagon-looking model. He took the unit as having a weighty projectile, which gives it only a 12" range, but let him shave off 1 point from his warband cost. He also had a unit of Elite Foot with missiles, some very natty-looking pistoleros, a unit of Scouts, and a unit of Light Riders with missiles.

Shooty heavy horsemen

I deployed my scouts to my left. Right of them, the Bellicose Foot (feminotaurs). Right of them, my Spellcaster. Right of them, one unit of Light Riders backed up by my Elite Riders (my general's unit). On my far right and across the river, the other unit of Light Riders.

The field of battle

Except for the Spellcaster and Terrifically Shiny Armor for the Bellicose Foot, my units could have passed for stock Lion Rampant units—except for being sythyrs, feminotaurs, and centauresses.

Since I have three different spellcaster figures painted, I had to decide which to use. For game 1, I went with  ...Tim?

What manner of man are you that can summon up fire without flint or tinder?

Early on, Dean's and my Bellicose Foot clashed.

Cow-ladies against wild two-hand swordsmen

The initial combat went in Dean's favor and I retreated back to lick my wounds.

Bloodied, battered, but unbowed: Feminotaurs at bay

I managed to rally on my turn, but Dean came right back at me. This time, however, the worn turned in my favor. As our Bellicose foot smashed away at each other, I started moving the weight of my forces to my left to counter what I feared was Dean's advantage there. I also engaged my Scouts against Dean's fearsome Weighty-Missiled War Machine of Doom to my advantage. I was in the cover of the buildings, which gave me better armor defense against Dean's weighty projectiles.

Feminotaurs reengaged and a shift to my left

My feminotaurs eventually beat Dean's Imperial sword-wielding madmen only to get shot up by his pistoleros and rout away. This brought on my Gorgeous Ladies of Doom (GLoD) to counter the pistolero threat. Already hit by a Befuddle Thee! spell from Tim the Spellcaster and shot up (a bit) from my scounts, the pistoleros were easily routed by the GLoD.

In position, ready to charge

My Spellcaster got late into play. I intended to move him to a forward position in some scrub where he'd benefit from the cover, but Dean pretty much kept his distance from the magic man. I had to move him up a bit more, and out of cover, to get him into the action. Once in, he performed well.

I mostly used his Powerbolt! spell to shoot. It's the same shot as heavy missiles: 7+ to activate, 4+/18" shooting. Although, the best effect came from using the Befuddle Thee! spell as noted above.

Beating the pistoleros brought the GLoD into conflict with Dean's general. It was a tough fight, but Dean prevailed. The GLoD got beat up and failed morale. Soon, however, it was Dean's turn. The fight between our generals was nearly a repeat of the Kilkenny cats:

There once were two cats of Kilkenny
Each thought there was one cat too many
So they fought and they fit
And they scratched and they bit
Till (excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails)
Instead of two cats there weren't any!

Except that Dean's general had just a bit more than his tail left and I had no tail at all (nor the rest of me), but he was hurting bad. The Gorgeous Ladies had done their bit. A little shooting and a spells finally caused Dean's general to fade away after a failed courage test.

Over on my right, my lone unit of centauresses faced Dean's Light Riders and a Scout unit. I ended up getting the better of the shooting exchange and chased Dean's Light Riders away after a few shots.

Forward to the foe
I also brought my other unit of centauresses to counter Dean's Scouts. They took a bit of a beating, but survived the game (and Dean's Scouts didn't).

Worse for wear, but still hanging in

The far right centauresses managed to get all the way back into Dean's flank and put the coup de grâce to Dean's pistoleros, who'd retreated back to the edge of the marsh away from the GLoD.

The bitter end for the pistoleros

This was pretty much the end of the game. Dean's forces were all but non-existent. I was pretty beat up, too, but had much more at hand comparatively.

Game 2

For out second game we played doubles. Ron Beery and I teamed up against Dean and Scott Abbott. Ron and Dean faced off to my left and I faced Scott. Dean's and my warbands remained unchanged, except that Dean switched in a different Warhammer tanky thing for his heavy missiles. The switch did not contribute to its survival.

Dean's tanky-shooty machine version 2.0

I also switched out Tim for Ursula, the Shadowforge tribal shaman figure, who was my original Spellcaster. The WITCH! never got to play. Next game.


Scott's warband was only four units: A single model unit for his general, which was Elite Riders with a Wizardling attribute, a single model unit for a Great Warbeast with the Venomous attribute, a unit of Bellicose Foot (also Venomous), and a unit of Scouts with Magical Weapons (which failed to activate for the game).

I decided to use my units with the Ranger special rule (the feminotaurs and syhtyrs) to run up the river (rough terrain, which they ignore) to get to the heart of Scott's position. That sorta-kinda worked. The feminotaurs managed to attack and wipe out Scott's Scouts. However, they then ran afoul of Scott's Venomous Bellicose Foot, who put them out of action.

Ranger types advance up the river

My sythyrs responded by shooting away at Scott's Bellicose Foot, managing at least one evade, and eventually causing them to spectacularly fail morale and go away. They'd already taken some losses while wiping out my feminotaurs and the shooting losses put them over. Bellicose Foot (like all the wild thangs kind of units in the "Rampant" rules) are really a one-shot deal. If you can get more out of them, good for you, but normally they get so beat up they fail morale soon after they start fighting. Like me, Scott took Terrifically Shiny Armor for his Bellicose Foot. That gave them a bit more staying power, but you know they're bound to fail a courage test as losses mount.

Feminotaurs second death in two games

At this point, Scott had only his general and the nasty scorpion Great Warbeast. He'd originally run his Warbeast up into a wood, but pulled it back into some scrub near his baseline. I advanced my sythyrs towards it, but got too close. He charged out, I failed to evade, and got slaughtered. At that point, Scott started to move his Warbeast down the river opposite the direction I had run up with my now eliminated Ranger troops.

Centauresses vs. General Doom

On my left, Ron and Dean were banging away at each other, mostly around the stone walls that enclosed a few fields. Dean was using tried and true WW2 squad tactics to seek defilade and cover from Ron's missile troops.

Skirmish among the ruins

With Scott's Warbeast coming down the river at me (though already with 2 of 6 hit points lost), I interposed my Spellcaster, who managed a Powerbolt! shot before getting smacked into by monstrous, hexapodal, insectoid death with a nasty stinging tail. I didn't win, but I didn't lose too badly. My Spellcaster is heavy foot, so I had a 4+ defensive combat value and 3 armor. The Warbeast hit hard at 3+. I lost three strength points and got pushed back, but passed my courage test. I gave back pretty good and knocked the Warbeast down to half strength.

The warbeast cometh

On my turn, I took another Powerbolt! shot with my Spellcaster and sent in the Gorgeous Ladies of Doom for their first combat of the game. Warbeasts are nasty, but their defensive combat value is unimpressive. I hit on 3+, Scott hit on 6—but because the Warbeast is venomous, every 6 counts double. Nevertheless, I whacked the nasty thing good and suffered no ill effect. Scott failed his courage test and the evil scorpion monster was gone.

This left only Scott's general, who proved hard to kill. Scott's general was an Elite Rider with Wizardling powers. I had my Gorgeous Ladies of Doom, Ursula the Spellcaster, and one unit of centauresses left.

GLoD move up

It came to a battle of Powerbolts! and arrows. Scott focused a lot on the centauresses because, being in 12" range, he got 4+ shooting at them. He kept knocking them down to half strength and I kept propping them back up to four figures using the Heal Thee! spell from Ursula.

Endgame: Closing in on General Doom

While this was going on, Ron was working at finishing off Dean, who was down to one unit. This put us in a strange situation. The scenario rules stipulate that if the unit bearing the Ring of Power is the last defender unit, then it kills everyone and the game is a draw. We weren't sure whether the last unit was Dean's Elite Foot or Scott's general.

I moved the Gorgeous Ladies of Doom into position and charged Scott's general, who countercharged. I failed to break him, but managed to push him back.

Before I could take out Scott's general, Ron killed off Dean's Elite Foot, who had the ring. Game over.

Post mortem

I like Dragon Rampant. It's a very fun, very wild 'n' woolly version of the "Rampant" genre. All the basic mechanics are there plus a few extras—not a lot of extras, but enough to change the flavor of the game. Units can have a lot more bells and whistles, which allows creating a much more idiosyncratic warband. It makes for some nasty surprises, too, but adding those bells and whistles drives up points cost tremendously.

Spellcasters are way cool. I wasn't sure what to expect. I bought the full meal deal version at +4 points. I had pondered buying just a Wizardling at +2 points, which would allow me to pick any three spells, but I opted for the full smorgasbord of spells. Even though I think I used just three in both games (Powerbolt!, Befuddle Thee!, and Heal Thee!). Heal Thee! was a surprisingly good spell. I didn't hit on using it until game 2, but I was able to keep one of my Light Rider units in play for several more turns by bringing lost figures back from the dead. If I'd used the spell in game 1, I might not have lost my feminotaurs.

The drawback to Spellcasters/Wizardlings is that the spells are almost all 7+ or 8+ to cast. It's a bit dicey to have to rely on it as an initial activation, even though setting up disaster for your foe by using a Beffudle Thee! spell and then attacking the befuddled (i.e., battered) unit is a neat trick.

I've really enjoyed this foray into fantasy gaming. Even though the basic mechanics are the same as Lion Rampant, there are enough nuances in Dragon Rampant to give it the feel of a whole new game. I still have some idea of doing a Lion Rampant retinue using the Grenadier minis available from Milrliton. I can order from Noble Knight Games in the US and avoid the nasty, nasty postage charges from Italy. The fantasy range has great figures for Late Medieval, but also a few truly fantasy type things (like dragon-riding knights) that can be mixed in/swapped out to reuse much of the same units for DR and LR.

I'm still a devoted historical miniatures gamer and not likely to go off and start playing D&D. However, Dragon Rampant hits a spot. It's just a fantasy, as Billy Joel sang, but sometimes a fantasy is all you need.


  1. Very cool write up if a fun game day, David. Thanks for making it sound like my Men of the West fought harder than I recall they did. Looking forward to the game day next month too.

  2. Your write-up makes this die hard historical gamer want to give fantasy a try.

  3. Excellent aar. Nice to see some the nice collection on different miniatures.

  4. It was a great game day. Thanks for the write up. I had a good time. Varl Heavy Hand will be looking for revenge from game 2...