My brother Norman and I took some time out of our busy schedules yesterday (ahem...) to play a game. After our recent Cincycon
outing, I was in the mood for more fantasy, so I suggested that we have a game of Dragon Rampant
. As I have mentioned elsewhere, an advantage of Dragon Rampant
in a remote setting is that each player has a relatively small number of maneuver elements to concern himself with, and the exact angle and positioning of those elements is less important than the general idea of which other unit (or piece of terrain) their activation is intended to address.
My solo campaign has a battle pending which I have already determined will be resolved using the DR scenario “The Crystal Gale”, so I thought it might be interesting to try it with two players first, and my brother was agreeable.
Accordingly, I set up my 3x5 table with a little slice of the borderlands of the Myzantine Empire, in the northern reaches where it borders on the Orc lands. (This is a bit of background from an unfinished fantasy map, intended to give some structure to my collection of older “true” 25mm figures.)
My first observation was that my table was too small to have much flexibility with respect to the placement of the objective markers (the royal crystals by the scenario write-up, reskinned here as information tokens).
|The battlefield, as seen from the east, from whence came the Orcs|
|The battlefield, as scene from the west, from whence came the Myzantines|
I chose two forces from my collection of figures which were all Ral Partha, out of respect to the inspiration provided by Cincycon. The orcs, shown below, had a reduced model unit of elite foot as the warlord and his bodyguard, a unit of orcish heavy foot, a unit of goblin berserkers (bellicose foot), two units of goblin wolfriders (light riders downgraded to javelins rather than bows) and a swarm of rats (lesser warbeasts).
|The Orcish force|
The Myzantines had the Governor’s bodyguard (elite cavalry with the level-headed advantage), a unit of allied horse (heavy riders), a unit of heavy foot spearment, a unit of light spearmen (with added javelins—which never got thrown), and a unit of light archers.
|The Myzantine force|
We decided that we would use the rules that we have been putting off unit we were more familiar with the game, particularly the leader personality roll and the availability of additional victory points for the fulfillment of quests/boasts. My brother, after seeing the army lists, elected to command the orcs. I rolled a leader who was immune to fear (less than helpful since no enemy unit caused fear), and my brother rolled a “commanding” leader who was allowed an activation reroll once per turn. We randomized the direction of approach, as per the scenario write-up, and I ended up entering along the short side of the table partially behind the river, as shown above.
My second observation, as we got started with the game, is that it was going to be very difficult to reach objective/information markers when his force had faster units than mine, and he had an activation advantage.
Nevertheless, we pressed on.
|Orcish wolf riders advance boldly to open the action|
I realized after the first two moves, when he already had 4 of 10 information tokens in the bag, that my only chance of pulling out a victory was going to be to succeed at my quests/boasts. For me, that meant that I couldn’t afford to have anyone rout, and I needed to destroy more units than I lost. Since the game would end when the last information token was collected, I realized that I was going to have to leave one on the table and protect it in order to have a chance to beat up his units.
So, I attacked as quickly as I could with my elite riders, and followed them up with the allied horse. The heavy spears were sent to the right flank to keep him from circling around toward the last objective marker, and the light spears with their javelins and the bows came up on the left to soften up his units for a decisive charge by the elite riders of the Guard.
|The Governor’s Guard faces down the goblin berserkers|
Norman’s rat swarm was subject to the Wild Charge rule, and they ended up getting into a protracted charge/response cycle with the allied horse, which wore both units down. Eventually the allied horse were wiped out, but at least they didn’t rout.
|Allied horse takes on swarms of rats|
I got involved in the mechanics of running the game, and didn’t get a picture, but over on my right flank, my spearmen were under heavy attack by javelin throwing wolfriders, and even repulsed an unexpected attack by the orcish heavy foot, who waded across the river at a disadvantage to come to grips with them. Eventually they were routed by the unanswerable rain of javelins. It turns out that one of Norman’s chosen quests was to destroy that particular unit...
|The Governor’s Guard in pursuit of the Orc Warlord and his Bodyguard|
Having achieved his side quests and collected 7 of the 10 information markers, he decided it was time to withdraw. As my only hope of losing less ignominiously was to pursue him, hoping to destroy another unit or two, I pursued with what I had left...my archers (who were very unhappy about being ordered forward), and the Governor’s Guard, reduced to half-strength. The warlord and his bodyguard, taking up the rear of the orcish force, exited well ahead of my pursuing cavalry. Assuming that I got the two information markers left on the board, my final score was 3 minus 2 for the failed quests/boasts, a total of “1”, while he had 7 plus 3 for his quests, for a total of “10”. Ouch.
However, the real primary objective, of taking my mind off of things for a little while, was achieved. The total elapsed time was two hours, which left me with time to prepare dinner.
I’m sure that more remote games will be on the agenda in the near future. I will try to take a few more pictures next time I’m hosting.