Every now and then you have a game that come down to the last dice roll and the last man standing. Last week was one of those games.
I met up with the Wargames Oregon crew at Wild Things in Salem for some Dragon Rampant. We had enough players to set up a four-player game, so we grabbed a scenario from the rulebook and got started.
Our scenario saw the defenders (Oliver’s undead and James’s ogres) tasked with sweeping through a small fishing village, driving the enemy (my dwarves and Scott’s men) ahead of them, and exiting off the opposite table edge. Sounds easy, right? Well, we knew early on that this would be a grindy game of attrition.
The opening moves saw Oliver and James begin maneuvering their armies to “run the gauntlet.”
In response, Scott and I began positioning our troops and selecting what we hoped would be defensible areas to stop the bad guys’ advance. At this stage in the game, there was lots of table talk as the two teams of players tried to anticipate the enemies’ movements. Scott and I negotiated about which units to keep in reserve, knowing full well that improperly deployed units would likely not be in a position to have an effect on the game.
Oliver and James pressed forward with their attack, and soon enough their vanguard units were in a position to engage our frontline defenders. Thus we began a series of mighty clashes, as the attackers pummeled the defenders, driving them back at considerable cost in life and limb.
In this pic, James’s warbeast roars in defiance from atop a small hut as the dwarven skirmishers below prepare to feather it with arrows.
Scott and I were able to position several of our more defensive units to take advantage of the shield wall rule (called “Wall of Spears” in Dragon Rampant). This helped improve their survivability as “speed bumps” impeding the enemy’s advance. Plus it looked really cool!
Much slaughter and butchery ensued. The dwarves put up a stout defense, but their cavalry was lost early in the battle, and the line troops found themselves pressed back as the undead surged ahead.
Ultimately the dwarves were swept aside, and ogres joind up with the (now depleted) ranks of Oliver’s undead legion and began swarming toward the opposite table edge — and victory.
We hadn’t looked too closely at the victory conditions but we knew that the good guys could get points for killing enemy units, and the bad guys scored mainly by exiting units off the table. So it came down to one final clash, as a squad of spearmen made a valiant effort to prevent a souped-up magic human necromancer (we jokingly referred to him as the howitzer, as he could really pack a punch in ranged combat) from exiting the board.
Here’s their final clash. The necromancer bit the dust shortly thereafter.
We tallied up the victory points and found that the forces of good (the men and dwarves) had squeaked out a victory. Seriously, our win was about as narrow as they come. If that necromancer had survived, we’d be singing a very different tune. (Actually, we’d probably be joining the shambling legion as undead thralls.)
Once again, Dragon Rampant gave us a fun, medium-sized skirmish game. We had to house rule a few things on the fly, such as the requirement to keep three inches between all units, friend and foe. I understand the spirit of this rule, but it just didn’t work for our cluttered and busy battlefield during this particular four-player game.
In a month, we’ll try out Frostgrave, so check back to read about our forays into the grim, ruined city of Felstadt…