Monday, 1 February 2016

Dragon Rampant - first impressions

Dragon Rampant seems to be a reaction to a certain overly rigid, win-the-game-in-the-army-selection style of wargaming, and from the first page comes across as a breath of fresh air. Throughout it emphasises keeping things simple, and using your imagination to field whatever models you have in your collection.

That simplicity can be strangly intimidating at first - "what if I want to give these guys two-handed weapons?" - until you start to get it. And then the freedom becomes a whole different sort of intimidating.

To illustrate the point, there are a grand total of 13 different types of troops, of which there are 5 non-missile infantry types (Elite Foot, Heavy Foot, Light Foot, Bellicose Foot, Ravenous Horde (e.g. peasants, zombies, etc.)). Each have a few specific options available, for example Heavy and Light Foot can have the Offensive option, which makes them better at attacking but means they can no longer form a shield wall. And then there's 12 "Fantastical" options (some of which aren't available to some troop types) and the concept of Single or Reduced Model Units - for example you might want to represent a unit of ogres as 4 Bellicose Foot - they hit just as hard and can take just as much damage as the standard unit of 12 orcs or humans, they're just represented differently on the table.

But how then do you represent say goblins (assuming you're going for the archetype that they're cowardly, not much good in a fight but not to the point you can turn your back on them)? As I see it, there are at least 3 ways -
  1. Light Foot with the Fearful option
  2. Ravenous Horde
  3. Light Foot, but with 24 models rather than 12
Not exactly the worst dilemma to have, but the freedom with which you can draw up your warband is a bit of an adjustment for me, where I usually have to just field everything that I have painted!

I eventually settled on a warband as seen in my second impressions, needing only to paint up these two (who were selected for their ease of painting) to fill out my heavy foot -

The other challenge presented by this openness is to (ideally) agree on what sort of theme you're going for with your fellow gamers. Personally my preference is to emphasise the grunts, with the odd fantastic element thrown in. But conversely I was shown the campaign list of a friend of a friend which initially seemed a bit cheesy to me (everything was in some way "special") until I realised that it could just be that their reference point is much higher fantasy than mine. Of course you can just pitch your low fantasy grunts against their high fantasy whatevers, but it might be a bit hard sustaining the narrative.

I've now got all sorts of ideas I want to experiment with one day - I'm trying my hardest to push them to the back of the queue rather than gather up even more unpainted stuff...

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