The Defence of Arnor – A Dragon Rampant mini-campaign

I’ve finally started my Middle Earth campaign, which will be an on-going series of linked games set in the mid-Third Age. The background is the fight for survival of the declining kingdom of Arnor, or rather its one remaining splinter state, Arthedain, against the Witch King of Angmar and his allies.

The idea is to play games of Dragon Rampant (with a few minor scene-setting tweeks), both solo and 2-player. There’s no campaign map or ordering troops around, just battles and minor book-keeping to record who the faction leaders are and how they’re progressing (or not).

The objectives are to have fun and get a bit of immersion in Tolkein’s world. Arnor in the T.A. 1650s offers lots of scope for different forces, alliances and troop types, so I can free-form things in whichever direction I choose to go.


Lord Finaroth gallops out to turn back a border incursion by Rhudaurim raiders. Despite his heroic efforts he was slain by an arrow in the second game, giving his enemy some useful victory points.

No orcs or other nasties on the table yet, just men in a classic good vs evil confrontation.


Helgmar, a Rhuadar Chieftain, leads his savage hearthguard on a raid. His unit has routed in both the first 2 games, costing him victory points and loss of face, but unlike his initial opponent, at least he’s still alive.

Figures are from various 15mm Dark Ages and Late Roman era armies. I have plenty of fantasy figures to introduce over time, and am working on some Arnor royal troops for when these initial minor border clashes turn into something more serious.

The Chronicle so far:

# Scenario & Location Arnor Angmar
1 ‘Take them head-on’

March Lord aims to stop a Rhudaur incursion on the border

Ruins of Caer Molir watchtower

Lord Finorath (Might 10, Aggressive)

Attacker. +6 Might

Helgmar (Might 10, Energetic)

Defender. +0, Might, routed

2 ‘No Quarter’

Rhudaur chieftain seeks to restore his reputation by killing his adversary

The Weather Hills north of Amon Sul

Lord Finorath (Might 16, Aggressive)

Defender. Slain by an arrow. +1 Hero

Helgmar (Might 10, Energetic)

Attacker. +3 Might, routed. +1 Standard bearer



‘Ride Now’

With Finorath’s force destroyed, a nearby border patrol is outflanked and attempts to retreat

The Weather Hills north of Amon Sul

Ealdorman Branost (Might 10, Proud) Helgmar (Might 13, Energetic)


Bold – won scenario, otherwise drawn

Finally Some Gaming

A recent house move has disrupted projects, painting and gaming plans, but it’s all been worth it. The new games room is mostly sorted, and last weekend Jase and I managed to fit in a couple of co-op games of Rangers of Shadow Deep and a game of Sci-Fi Rampant. Everything was in 15mm.

Rangers scenario 1 – we did pretty well with our shiny new Rangers and their companions, bar the odd guardsman being taken out by a rabid rat.

Sci-Fi Rampant (which is Dragon Rampant played straight from the book, but with a lot of thought going into the representation of the troop types we want to use) was great fun as always. It presents a very different tactical challenge when both sides have a lot of shooty units. It was a close game but on this occasion the force with armour upgrades won the day.

Now I need to get some painting done, as there hasn’t been any since January and there are deadlines looming!



Sci-fi Rampant – Sausages With Mustard Scenario

Last weekend Jase and I played one of the scenarios from Lion Rampant, using our 15mm sci-fi stuff. Jase brought his ‘dogmen’  force and I used my mercenaries, which included several new additions since the last game.

The mission is for one side (me, the defender) to protect a number of buildings/features in the centre of the table, while the enemy attempts to destroy them. We chose 36pt forces and played the game length-ways on a 4’x3′ table.

Noble mercenaries hurry towards the threatened facility:

The mortars are not technically necessary as on-table pieces, but are there to look good and represent the indirect fire capability of my advanced spotter team (a unit of Dragon Rampant ‘Scouts’ with a ‘Wizardling’ upgrade that gives them the ability to bring down a bombardment or smoke).

Soon-to-be-gnawed Scouts on the roof:

Mercenary HQ and combat teams:

Despicable dogmen (counting as Bellicose Foot with Armour upgrade) advance, with destruction on their minds:

They even brought some nasty mechs (counting as Elite Foot with ranged fire upgrade in this instance):

My little tank (counting as Heavy Riders with ‘Chariot’ and ‘Venomous’ upgrades) did sterling work taking the fight to the enemy, but was eventually overcome by fire and close assaults:


The game played out very well and it was touch and go at the end as to who would come out on top. Two buildings were already burning when I had a final chance to snatch victory by destroying one more unit of attackers, but I just couldn’t manage it. Jase kept his force together very well, and kept them focused on the mission. I managed to lure one or two units of impetuous dogmen away with my jetbikes (‘light riders’) but couldn’t do enough damage overall to force a retreat.



So, despite a desperate defence, the facility went up in smoke in the end. I’ll have to plan a revenge attack for the next game! Great fun, and we thought it looked good at this scale and size of game, and played very well.



Bear Clan!

A couple of months ago I painted some 15mm fantasy figures for use with Dragon Rampant and my dungeon adventure game. Before I went back to the 6mm SYW project I did paint a force of Bear Clan/Cultists but have taken forever to get the bases done.

Now they’re finally finished, here are some pics:


Leader, champions and shamen:

Shapeshifters (Copplestone):

Crazy bear:

The men are mostly Splintered Light, with a few Copplestone and a Demonworld leader. The bears are from a variety of companies too, in small, medium and bloomin’ big sizes. I’ve kept to a very simple pallet and, with most figures having some bearskin on them, that’s provided the overriding look.

I have another batch of about 20 to finish, which will allow me to field more options for a Dragon Rampant force. When I’m fed up with painting 6mm I’ll switch back to these and get the rest finished off.

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.. 🙂

Trying Dragon Rampant for Sci-Fi

I’ve been looking, on and off, for a set of platoon-level rules for 15mm Sci-fi gaming for some time. I’ve written a set or two of my own in that time, but never really hit the target for what I was after (or at least what I thought I was after). With Dragon Rampant and some terrain in front of me recently, it occurred to me to look at this as a possibility. I won’t be the first person to think of this, and there are probably already people out there doing excellent things converting this ruleset for Sci-fi!

I started off with an assumption that lots would need changing and only a few unit types and upgrades/special rules would be applicable. After thinking through this for a while I found that more and more could be retained without alteration, until I concluded that, for me at least, the rules could pretty much be used exactly as they are for Sci-fi. Even the spells available to Spellcasters – I reckon every one can be used as a command and control-type ability by a force commander. Other special rules can cover equipment, skill or high-tech upgrades for units and it’s then just a matter of fitting figures to troop types and coming up with a force. The rules for undead might not be that much use however.

HQ Squad (reduced figure ‘Light Foot’ unit including command vehicle):

Alternative HQ squad, with some Mech protection:

The key difference as I see it is that for my Sci-fi games most units would have a ranged fire capability, which would alter the feel (and possibly balance) of the standard game. Only having reasonably comparable human military forces in my collection, this is probably not too big a deal as any effects will even themselves out. I am toying with the idea of an increase to the the firing distances (and possibly movement too) that I’ve been using for Fantasy 15mm (where I’m simply halving all standard distances in the rules) to make shooting feel a bit more ‘realistic’ and long range.

Most units will be 6 man squads – reduced figure units in the rules, with 2 Strength Points each. This keeps the number of figures down and will help it look like more of a firefight skirmish than a clash of hand-to-hand mobs. Most will be Light or Heavy Missile troop types. Command squads will have the Spellcaster ability, or the lesser Wizardling ability for forces with lower capabilities/training, etc.

A ‘Light Riders’ unit, with 12 Strength Points:

From there it’s all very flexible. Mechs can be pretty much anything, from Greater Warbeasts to Elite Foot (optionally with the missile weapon upgrade), or Light Riders for scouting machines. There are chariot rules for vehicles, The ‘Wall of Spears’ rules for Light or Heavy Foot can represent personal force shields, and so on.

Armoured infantry (good old Laserburn Imperials), probably counting as ‘Light Missiles’ plus the effect of the Pavises rule from Lion Rampant to give them an armour upgrade:

A sneaky sniper in an elite squad – ‘Light Missiles’ with Sharpshooter upgrade:

Support squad as ‘Heavy Missiles’:

Game in progress:

I’m in the middle of this first game, just trying things out. Naturally it’s the same game as before, but just having the different type of figures in play makes it seem different. I’ll definitely want some raiding missions/scenarios and will probably try a few more playtests and report back.

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.