More Rampant Dragons

.. now there’s an idea. I need to get a dragon on the table for a game – nothing like a dragon to get things looking like a true fantasy scrap!

Anyway, this week I squeezed in a quick game using one of the scenarios in the rulebook – Scenario C – Death Chase. This involves one side running the gauntlet down the length of the table while the other converges from the flanks to stop them. I set it up as a Kislev force on the run and Beastmen doing the ambushing, on a 4′ x 3′ table with plenty of undulations and trees. I also selected Quests for both forces, going with the ones that seemed most plausible for each side.

It was a very interesting game, swinging nicely one way and then the other as activations succeeded or failed. I initially thought the trap was closing quickly enough to catch all the Kislev units before they got too far onto the table, but by the mid-game they’d made surprisingly good progress (albeit by sacrificing their slower moving infantry!)

Overview pic of the early stages, with the Kislev light riders making a run for it while the Beastmen converge:

A flurry of combats, made interesting by plenty of units being subject to the Wild Charge rule, resulted in an exciting finale which saw only one Kislev cavalry unit escape while the rest were destroyed. Things were evened up a little with good Kislev results with their Quests, but overall it was a 9-6 victory for the minions of Chaos. The rules seem to produce fun games where there’s always a twist in the tail. A battered unit, for example, always has the potential to implode right at the end as it tries to rally, potentially affecting the result.

Centigors aiming to get ahead and cut off the enemy horsemen:

Just when you think you’re the toughest fangy, clawy monsters around, someone bigger and nastier turns up:

I’m enjoying Dragon Rampant a lot, and will aim to play a few more games in the next week or two. Got to dig out a dragon though.. 🙂

Dragon Rampant Games

Following my last post, where I picked out a pair of 24 point forces for a trial game of Dragon Rampant, I’ve expanded things a bit and am now in the midst of a ’round robin’ type league of battles with 6 fantasy forces. Well, these things get the better of us don’t they?

To the Dwarves and Beastmen I have added further adversaries in the form of contingents based on GW’s Bretonnians, Orcs, Empire and Kislev. I have played 5 games so far and hope to try each army against each of the others. For now the Orcs, with their relatively large force of 7 units, top the table with 2 wins from 2. At the bottom are the Kislevites with 0 from 0.

Perhaps especially when playing solo, a lot comes down to luck of the dice, and I am not expecting (or would even want) to identify some sort of winning formula for the best force structure. For example – every time you think that missile troops are the answer, as they see off another attack before it hits home, they fail an activation and are chopped to bits. I really like the unpredictable nature of the game, there’s lots of dice rolling and even after a one-sided result you can just re-set the table and have another go – knowing that two games can never be remotely the same.

It’s fun just learning the rules, and trying to spot the nuances of how to play well with each troop type. I haven’t got there yet, that’s for sure, but am having plenty of fun. I’ve been moving the terrain around a bit after each game, but it’s basically 3’x3′ of undulating ground, with some trees, rocks and a lonely cottage to fight around.

A typical battlefield:

Bretonnians about to charge into battle (repeatedly, as they should):

 

The Kislev leader, on his battle bear. Note to self, don’t put the leader in a unit of light horse (‘Light Riders’ in the game). Fail an Evade roll and his head is likely to be chopped off by angry pursuers.

Kislev troops with handguns:

.. and a very useful furry friend:

Somehow the Bretonnian Lord survived this one:

When I have played a few more games I’ll be adding in Quests and some of the magic and special rules. The only issue with this is that inevitably the costs for ‘upgrades’ will result in smaller forces, with some retinues struggling to keep to the minimum of 4 units!

Trying Out Dragon Rampant

I bought myself a copy of these new Osprey rules before Christmas (just in case Santa messed up) and now the FPW game is done and all the figures are packed away I thought I’d give them a go.

I’ve played a few games of Lion Rampant and I fully expect the fantasy version to be just as good. Even on just a few light read-throughs there’s clearly so much flexibility and so many options that any fantasy force could be represented in the game – traditional or otherwise.

I’ve got a fair few types to pick from in 15mm, including just spicing up some historicals with a giant or wizard, etc. For a first go, though, I fancied some proper fantasy so I’ve selected Dwarves vs Beastmen and chosen basic unit types for now, with no magic item upgrades or spellcasters. I just want to have a go with the core rules initially, and will try out the magic and spells later.

Thane Darvin Ironforge’s Retinue

Lord (Elite Foot), Leader, reduced model unit, 6 pts
Bodyguard (Heavy Foot), Offensive, 6 pts
Warriors (Heavy Foot), 4 pts
Slayers (Bellicose Foot), 4 pts
Quarellers (Heavy Missiles), 4 pts

Drak Blooddrinker’s Warband

Chariots (Heavy Riders), Leader, reduced model unit, 6 pts
Gors (Bellicose Foot), 4 pts
Gors (Bellicose Foot), 4 pts
Centigors (Light Riders), 4 pts
Chaos Giant (Greater Warbeast), reduced model unit, 6 pts

Game pics to follow.

I’ll try the basic ‘get stuck in and kill stuff’ scenario first, probably more than once, and hopefully have fun while learning the rules. After that, I’ll try some extra upgrades and swap units and forces around a bit to try out other troop types and special rules.

Lion Rampant – First Game Pics and Thoughts

Lots of fun, but surprisingly challenging too – that’s my verdict on Lion Rampant after a few solo games. The rules mechanisms are simple to learn but offer a lot of subtlety for how you play the game and how you use your units. I have definitely joined the ranks of those who think it’s an excellent set of rules and I’m intending to play more in the future.

So far I’ve played through three games and have a fourth on the go, which I’ll get back to this evening. I’ve used the same forces each time (as per the previous post), but moved the terrain around quite a lot for each game to vary the setting. I’ve just been playing straight forward clashes rather than full scenarios, and ending things when one side loses half or more of its starting points worth of units – which feels about right.

For me, the unit zones of control (where no unit, friend or enemy, can come within a certain distance of another without actually attacking it) are probably the toughest thing to keep remembering and applying, but it does add an interesting dimension requiring planning and the need to be careful with your unit and figure placement.

I’ve tried a bit of everything, using the various units’ special rules and options, such as Evade and Skirmish, and of course Wild Charge which is lots of fun – but of course you tend to lose control of knights (‘mounted men-at-arms’) and fierce foot pretty quickly! The activation rolls make for an excellent solo experience as you never know exactly what will happen, and can just concentrate on trying to make the best decisions for each side when it’s their turn. I’m looking forward to some 2-player games where there should be a good mix of planning and luck dictating who gets to do what.

A few pics, mostly from the first game..

In the colourful corner, Sir Malice of the Golden Chalice, defender of the realm:

And in the brown corner, we have Vog, Lord of the Marshes and all-round thug.

The game underway. I like the force to space ratio – it feels like a big skirmish rather than a handful of individuals fighting it out. There’s about enough room for manoeuvre (and hiding where appropriate!) on a board of this size with 15mm figures.

Crossbowmen and Bidowers (as skirmishers are called in LR) set up a ‘Valley of Death’ for the raider’s cavalry to hopefully blunder into:

Knights and Fierce Foot replace tactical finesse with out-and-out aggression.Very enjoyable, unless you’re the one standing still when the enemy charge.

More of the same. I’ve spotted a ZOC error in the bottom left corner 🙁

Run Away! Must have been a savage rabbit somewhere, as the enemy were seen off at the same time.

‘Not me face!’ Although, even outnumbered like this the knight still gets 6 fighting dice so he actually managed to cut down an enemy horseman before going under.

A later game, with the hovels moved to a hill and the game played along the length rather than across the width. This made the space a bit tight, but still generated plenty of interesting action and events.

 

Interestingly, the Feudals have won all three initial games, but I’m not sure how. The knights haven’t generally been all-conquering battle winners, scoring some successes but doing badly on occasion too. The extra numbers of the raiders don’t seem to have had much impact, probably because I’ve not protected the fierce foot enough from missile fire before unleashing them where they can do the most damage. Ah well, learning to do better will be fun!

Steam Tank-tastic

As a bit of an aside from my 28mm efforts of late, I recently spotted a likely addition to my 15mm fantasy collection in Black Hat Miniatures’ Martian Wars VSF range. A few years ago I built a number of 15mm armies based on the Warhammer background, which to me is a decent blend of high fantasy and fun. I don’t play Warhammer itself and I don’t use GW figures (obviously, as they’re 28mm) but the races, armies and troop types have been absorbed fairly successfully into the rules I use.

The Empire army was the first one I worked on. It was one of those wargamer’s odysseys which involved looking for the right figures from across a wide spectrum or historical and fantasy ranges, and requiring lots of conversions to get the results I was after. One thing that I couldn’t find and didn’t fancy scratchbuilding was a steam tank. When I spotted Black Hat’s model it was a no-brainer, even though I knew there’d need to be some customisation to get the right look.

Here’s the model and the potential add-ons I’d salvaged from previous projects, alongside some of my Empire Halberdiers (Old Glory) for a sense of scale:

And here it is after being festooned with an engineer (who still needs a pistol and hat feather), extra funnels, Empire iconography and other decoration:

 

 

Once I’ve finished painting it, I guess this army will have to be first subject matter for my resuscitated of Army of the Month concept!

The Defence of Noelev and St Nikolas – Part 2

The Battle Report

Playing a solo game to a scenario you’ve written yourself means that you have a good idea of what’s going to happen, but you usually still get plenty of surprises! First off, the random terrain rolls generated a nice handy forest avenue in the middle of the table for some of the beastmen to slip through without being targeted by defensive fire. The Kislevites were deployed in some depth in the centre, in and behind the church and village, as this was the key to the battle. However, their limited numbers meant that there were fewer units to guard the wide flanks, and these would no doubt prove vulnerable – depending of course on how and where the enemy attacked, and where and when the Empire allies arrived.

The beastmen went for brute power, with their toughest, nastiest guys (including minotaurs and a giant) in the middle. With chariots, centigaurs, warhounds and ungor skirmishers they also had the advantage in fast troops and would be able to move forward swiftly on the flanks, causing the defenders concern there too.

 

So, without further ado the game started and the forces of chaos pounded forward through the snow as fast as their hooves (and command rolls) would carry them. There was little maneouvring apart from the light units on the flanks, which the Kislev horse archers and skirmishers sought to counter, and within 2 turns the defenders were beginning to open up with their handguns at the approaching horde. Casualties at long range were light, however, and it was clear that hand to hand fighting was going to decide the day. That said, help was suddenly at hand with the arrival of the hoped-for Empire allies (a lucky roll!). Doughty swordsmen and fanatical flagellants came on behind Noelev and St Nikolas as additional reserves, while to their left a glittering unit of Reiksguard knights cantered forward to plug a gap and take on the enemy’s boar chariots.

Led by a hero of renown the knights charged to victory over the chariots (typical, as the latter are of course a favourite scratchbuilt unit!) and helped to drive back the enemy on this flank. The allied units became scattered though, and their generals were never to have enough command points to make this early advantage count later on in the battle. On the other flank things were going most definitely in the beastmen’s favour, and before long they were beginning to roll-up the Kossars who stood increasingly exposed as the enemy swept in. In the centre the battle was fierce, with casualties high on both sides. The defiant priests, and even the Ice Queen herself, led the Kislev forces in a desperate defence of the church. Helped just in time by the Empire swordsmen they saw off several units of beasts and minotaurs and killed 2 of their chiefs, but the chaos giant was causing mayhem and slaughter, aided by the wizardry of a sinister bray shaman.

Eventually, though the giant was finally brought crashing down on the very steps of the chuch, the onslaught was too much and the overwhelmed survivors were forced to retreat (the Kislev army had suffered the requisite damage score for the beastmen to win), resiging the village of Noelev and its church of St Nikolas to utter destruction, and leaving in the bloody snow the last of the guardian priests who had sold their lives dearly for their beloved holy ground.

All in all, a good fun game and well worth the effort of writing up the scenario and digging out the terrain and figures. I’m sure there’ll be an opportunity for the Ice Queen’s revenge at some point…!

The Defence of Noelev and St Nikolas

With a little bit of the festive season, and more importantly some holiday, still left I decided it was a good opportunity for a small solo game – so yesterday out came the winter terrain boards and fir trees. Although there’s been no white Christmas here what better to fight than a battle in the northern snows of Warhammer’s Old World? Now, I don’t play Warhammer, or fantasy in 28mm at all for that matter, but I do like the GW background, setting and armies and have applied it to my 15mm collection, fighting under home-grown rules written by my friend Jase. By following this path I have, like a typical wargamer, made things difficult for myself, with lots of hunting for appopriate figures, converting and compromising, but it’s been fun along the way!

I’ll post more about these armies before long but for now, it’s off to a remote, frozen location in the border wilderness of Kislev where the forces of chaos have once again come south for blood and destruction…

The Scene

Barked orders echo among the trees as the panting, heavily
encumbered men hurry through the snow. Their exertions produce plumes of steaming
air, all thoughts of the day’s freezing cold forgotten while the soldiers’
urgent march continues. Then, with little warning, the dimness of the forest
gloom is lifted as the trees thin and the blue coated columns stumble into the
relative light of the iron grey sky, now open above them.

Ahead is a pale expanse, dotted with tall copses, stretching
off towards the dark forest wall to the north. With no time to take their
breath the men are led on, over white, rough stubbled, fields towards the
woodsmoke and church dome ahead, beyond which they are ordered into position
and hustled back into formation. Now their training takes over; packs are
loosened, heavy handguns gratefully grounded and oilskin covers removed from long
axe blades. The men, seasoned in war, know without looking that the rumble they
feel through their boots is caused by their light horse auxiliaries sweeping
past into position on their flanks, just as they know now to turn their
attention to the far tree line as the air, and the birds, become still. Eyes
narrow and blood quickens, but there is no shiver of fear through the ranks. Their
calm and strength return as the familiar words are spoken by officers and
priests, the chanted cadence pervades all and the men reply with their hard-edged
roar as they renew their bonds of duty and honour. They expect no one to come
to their aid but have followed their warrior Queen here and now stand as
comrades, shoulder to shoulder, defending sacred ground.

The silence ends when the horns begin to bray and flickers of
movement creep amongst the dark trees, but the men, blowing on their matches
and saluting their brothers in arms with flasks of hard spirit, stand ready.

The Game

An army of Beastmen has stuck from deep within the forests
to the north, overrunning the lightly-manned watch posts, though not before a
lone messenger escaped to bring news of the threat. The hastily-assembled local
militia were no match for the horde of ferocious creatures that swept bloodily
through the first villages and within two days the chaos horde was closing in
on its true prey – the inhabitants of the village of Noëlev and their priestly
guardians in the church of St Nikolas. However, as the cold, grim day moves
past noon the tramp of marching feet announces the arrival of units of the
field army under the command of the Ice Queen herself. Unfortunately for the
Kislevites, their winged hussars were elsewhere when the urgent news came, so
the army comprises Kossar infantry and Ungol light horsemen only. Before marching, the
Queen despatched a request for aid to a nearby contingent of Empire troops that
had been assisting Kislev in its winter patrols. It is hoped that the courier
found these comrades in arms, but even if he did there is no certainty that
they would arrive in time..

The Table

Played on a 4’ x 3’ table. The village of Noëlev and its holy
church of St Nikolas are in the middle of the Kislev deployment area, 3 squares
in from the southern base edge. Additionally, 1dAv of further ‘bad going’ 4” squares
are placed randomly on the table, containing forest. Remaining trees to be placed aling the northern board edge as background scenery.

Beastmen
Beastmen
Beastmen
Beastmen
 
 
 
 
Kislev
 
 
 
Noëlev &
St Nikolas
Kislev
 
 
 
Kislev
 
 
 

Objectives

The Beastmen must capture the church to destroy the holy
order that resides there and bring their darkness to this remote part of
Kislev. The defenders must prevent this from happening.

The Armies

100 points per side

The Beastmen army is a standard army which can deploy up to game
2 squares onto the table from their base edge. The defenders are split into 2
parts; 2 ‘forces’ worth from Kislev, which begin deployed on the table up to
their deployment line, 3 squares in. The 3rd force consists of
Empire troops hurrying to support them. They will arrive in the turn that the
Kislev player scores a total of 6 when adding the score on a d6 to the turn
number. This roll is made at the same time as his CP rolls. The Empire units
all come on either to the east or west of Noëlev, as the defending player
chooses.

Special Rules

The Guardians of St Mikail

The church of St Mikail is home to an order of warrior
priests who will stand with their Kislev and Empire comrades in defence of
their holy shrine. A warrior priest will automatically join any defending unit
occupying the church and fight with them using the normal rules, with the
exception that they have a free power point per turn which can only be used to
boost the morale of the unit within the church’s 2 squares, although it can still
be used offensively against a Beastmen unit in an adjacent square. The warrior
priest cannot leave the church squares, and if killed is automatically replaced
the following turn by another member of his order. Should the Beastmen capture
the church and win the battle (see below) it is assumed that all of the priests
have been killed.

Game Length

The game continues until one side or the other is
victorious, see below.

Victory Conditions

The Beastmen win if they capture both the squares containing
the church (ie. there is no defending unit contesting it). They will be
considered to have achieved this is they defeat the defenders according to the
standard rules for victory, as the defeated army would retreat. However, to
reflect the religious and patriotic nature of the defence of the church, the
defenders’ Army Morale breakpoint is 16 points rather than the standard 14. If
the Beastmen fail to win (ie. are defeated through reaching their own Army
Morale breakpoint), the defenders are victorious.

The stoic defenders await the chaos onslaught

The beastmen emerge from the dark forest

The armies drawn up, but will the Empire allies arrive in time to help?

The Ice Queen herself, ready to lead her men in the defence of this holy place

Next time, the action!