Dragonrage Review

[Archived from www.thehexedgamer.co.uk]

Publisher: Flatlined Games (only available direct)

Designer: Lewis Pulsipher
Developers: Eric Hanuise and Lewis Pulsipher

Dragon Rage is a remake of a game originally published in 1982, shortly before the then publisher (Dwarfstar games) went out of business. I had a copy of the original game (no longer, unfortunately!), so I was intrigued when I heard about the remake.

What’s in the box?

You get a lot of bang for your buck – a mounted, double-sided board, with a Human city on one side and an Orc oppidum on the other, 2 rule books, 213 counters, 4 monster cards and a player-aid card. The counters are thick, with rounded corners, and feel like they can take a lot of play! They are double-sided, with the original artwork on the back.

Gameplay

The basic scenario (covered by one rulebook) has 2 dragons attacking the city – large monsters like Dragons have several hit locations and attacks, so the scenario is well balanced. The Dragons have to make hit and run attacks, and avoid being caught on the ground. Other scenarios (in the other rulebook) have various combinations of units attacking the city or oppidum, and there are also point-buy and campaign options.
The way the large monsters work reminds me very much of the Steve Jackson games Ogre and GEV. They have several hit locations, and damage affects the movement modes (walking, flying, bounding or crawling, in the case of Dragons) and the attacks it can make (Bite, Wings and Legs, for Dragons). Other large monsters are Rocs, Wurms, T-Rexs and Sea-Serpents. Each has its own combination of hit-locations and attacks. Giants (Minor Monsters) have several wound points, but only one attack.

Combat is a case of rolling against a target number. If the target is a Major or Minor monster, wound points are reduced according to the attack score of the attacker. Normal units die if attacked successfully.
One or both sides may have a Hero and/or a Wizard. Heroes are ‘super’ units, able to provide leadership and take on monsters single-handed. They die after 2 hits. Wizards cast spells.

The rules are pretty comprehensive, with rules for breaching gates, scaling walls etc. There are some confusions, but these can be resolved by agreement. Each unit has its own section – this can cause a lot of flipping between pages in early games. There is a lot of fun little rules which add a lot to the atmosphere (Orcs and Goblins can only scale walls once, as they leave their ladders behind!), but the complexity is low (Eric Hanuise has stated that this was developed as a introductory wargame).

The victory conditions confused me somewhat – the attacker gets Victory Points by destroying important buildings, the defender wins by destroying the attackers – what happens if both things happen? I decided that the attacker can declare victory once he has reached the VP target. If he wants a better victory, he will need to continue and risk being destroyed.

This is an excellent game, and I recommend it as both an introductory wargame and a fun game which you can play to a conclusion in a couple of hours.

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