Saturday, February 13, 2016

Dragon Rampant

I recently got a copy of the Dragon Rampant rules  by Daniel Mersey from Osprey. On my initial read-through it looked like a good, fairly simple, yet nuanced set of rules. I worked out a couple of small 20 point armies that I could put together with miniatures I already have.

The dwarves:
1 dwarf lord, classed as elite foot, 6 strength points, 6 figures
1 unit of heavy foot (dwarf hammerers), 12 strength points, 12 figures
2 units of heavy missiles (dwarf crossbowmen), 12 strength points, 12 figures

The goblins:
1 goblin leader, classed as heavy foot, 12 strength points, 12 figures
2 units of light foot (goblin warriors), 12 strength points, 12 figures
1 unit of light foot (archers with short range missiles), 12 strength points, 12 figures
1 unit of light riders (wolfriders with bows), 6 strength points, 6 figures

I played the basic "bloodbath" scenario, which is simply a straight up battle without any objectives other than destroying the enemy army.

I didn't find any rules about placing terrain so I just plopped down a small hill on one flank and some woods on the other, about equidistant from both armies. Then I placed the units in what seemed like a good arrangement, keeping in mind the minimum 3 inch spacing between units.

The table looked like this at the start:
The cards are handwritten with unit stats. They  don't need to accompany the units; I just did that for convenience. The round piece of mdf in the lower right is a 3 inch piece I had previously cut out for a tree stand. I found it useful for making sure I kept the minimum 3 inch spacing between units at all times.

The view from the goblin leader's position:

Because of the activation rules you won't always get to use all units every turn, so that introduces some good uncertainty for a solo gamer. I had times where I would only get 1 or 2 units activated and other times when I got them all activated.

Early in the game:
The dwarves have managed to get their crossbowmen onto the hill on the left and into the woods on the right. The goblin archers have been forced back, and a couple if units on both sides have taken a few casualties (I placed them back at the baselines, so I could quickly count up how many a unit had lost. Useful for when you have to make a courage test.).

More casualties.

Nearing the end of the game:
The dwarves are really whittling down the goblin army. Once it got to the point of only the wolfriders still in play for the goblins I stopped and called it a win for the dwarves.

Fun, quick, didn't take a lot of figures or table space (the table is about 3 feet by 4 feet). I like these rules and went ahead and ordered Lion Rampant as well. I also got En Garde, another Osprey rules book, but that doesn't look so appealing to me. It seems to lack the simplicity of the Rampant rules, and doesn't seem like there's much swashbuckling in it. I also noticed 1 picture seems to be used 3 times, in this one short book! I also like that the Rampant rules credit the miniatures by manufacturer and who painted them/who they belong to. I guess it shows that you can't always judge a book by its publisher (or by books you might think were related).

A big thumbs up for the Rampant books. A big thumbs down for En Garde. I have some dwarf musketeers that I am slowly working on putting together to paint, so I'll be on the look out for some rules to use with them. Ganesha Games' Flashing Steel might be a possibility. I'm hoping for some rules that are fairly simple, with some swashbuckling fun (like improvised weapons, repartee, etc.), but at more like hero and small unit level rather than a fuller character level rpg kind of game nor more of a battle-level game


  1. Fantastic! Great report - glad you're enjoying the game. I'm looking forward to getting more games in myself. I'm kind of torn between a few different games at the moment though.

    As they are all done by different authors with very different styles of rules I find the osprey games are a bit "hit and miss" - some of them I love, others... not-so-much. But they don't cost so much so I don't mind picking them up to have a look.

    En Garde is actually a hit for me, personally - it uses the same mechanisms as Ronin, which I enjoyed very much. It seems a little odd at first but once we'd played through it a few times and got the hang of it we could play through games fairly quickly. It's definitely a totally different scale of action that Lion Rampant or Dragon Rampant En Garde/Ronin is goof or games with no more than a dozen on each side - more often we would play with 5-8 on a side.

    1. Thanks, Tim! I'm always inspired by your game reports and painting! One problem I have with En Garde is it doesn't seem like they make for a very swashbuckler-esque game, or put the burden on the players to make it so. I think I'll look for alternatives. I do have Gloire, but it's a bit heavier than I am looking for.

  2. I now have played four games of "Lion Rampant" . . . and enjoyed them very much . . . so I have ordered "Dragon Rampant" (although it has not arrived yet). I understand that they use the same basic 'engine', both being written by Daniel Mersey.

    As for terrain placement, the only guideline in "Lion Rampant" is that there should be something in each quarter of the board.

    What we do (and we are playing on a 5'x 8' table) is to roll two 'averaging dice' (numbered 2,3,3,4,4,5).

    The Defender gets to place the higher die roll number of terrain pieces in (at least) the lower die roll number of 'table quarters'.

    Then the Attacker gets to place the lower die roll number of terrain pieces, while making sure that there is something in all four 'table quarters'.

    If that helps for "Dragon Rampant", great; if not, then ignore it.

    -- Jeff

    1. Thanks, Jeff! That might work, but is probably better suited for suited for more than a single player (I play pretty much solo). I was thinking of coming up with cards to determine maps or finding one of the various random terrain generators amongst all of the rules I own. Well, the game I played failed the "something in every quarter" guideline, but it was still fun.
      Looking at Lion Rampant, I think there is a lot of overlap between the 2 sets of rules. I expect if you like the one you'll like the other. One big difference, besides the fantasy flavor and magic, is the option to field units with fewer figures, but with the same 12 or 6 strength points. So you would have to keep track of the points, but you could do things like make unit of 3 trolls worth 4 strength each or a large dragon or giant worth 12 strength. I could see carrying that over to Lion Rampant to do something like fielding a unit of epic knights as maybe 6 figures of 2 points each.

  3. I am a big fan of both the Rampant Rules - and not just because some of my painting is in DR! I think DR might be a bit wobbly if I was trying for high fantasy a la war hammer but for low fantasy settings like Middle Earth, Conan and what have you, it's pretty hard to beat. It's also freed me to rescue old miniatures and paint whatever the hell I like.

  4. Glad you enjoyed the Rampant rules. I really enjoy them,they bring back fun to gaming I think. Interesting terrain ideas Jeff.
    I will have a wee look at en garde once more...
    I enjoyed your photos too

  5. I should point out for those who might mistake them that I do not believe that Osprey's "En Garde" is totally unrelated to the old "En Garde!" dueling rules (which morphed into a number of great multi-player online games). The new Osprey rules (which I have not seen) lists totally different authors than the old "En Garde!" rules.

    So anyone who might be confused should check it out with someone who has this new title.

    -- Jeff

  6. Eureka minis has a great free set of rules for swashbuckling called ... And One for All! It is designed for very small scale fights.

    Personally if I could shoehorn in a set of general task resolution mechanics it would be great for RPG play.

    There's no support for solo play, but a system could be worked out.