Essen Preview #29: Dragon Rage and Rumble in the Dungeon (Flatlined Games)

In the crowd of small publishers attending Essen 2012 there is one that caught my attention last year with a small but really nice release, Rumble in the House, I reviewed here months ago.

This year Flatlined Games will strike Essen again with Rumble in the Dungeon. This is a stand-alone game that can be combined with Rumble in the House: it will take Rumble in the House to a dungeon setting with a new twist: a treasure chest hidden in the depths of the dungeon, filled with riches and glory!

What few people knows is that between Essen 2011 and Essen 2012 Flatlined Games released a great small wargame, Dragon Rage, a new edition of a 1982 success that will be also available in Essen this year: so, for Essen, is actually a novelty. Actually it was also in Essen 2011 but, as far as I know, there were only demo copies.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of it and here is my preview after some (few) plays.

Rumble in the Dungeon

Designer: Ken Rush
Publisher: Flatlined Games
Players: 3-6
Age: 8+
Time: 20 minutes

Rules preview by Andrea “Liga” Ligabue

The game is really simple. After assembling the map and filling each room with a character each player select 2 random characters tokens keep secret from other players. During your turn you can either move a single free (alone in his room) character in an adjacent room or just remove from the map a character in a room with more than one. You have to try to make your two secret characters stay on the map as long as possible. The round ends when just one character is on the map and each one scores according to how long it was able to stay in the dungeon. Than a new round start with new random characters and a new set-up. After 3 rounds the player with most point win the game.

Rumble in the Dungeon also add the treasure chests: A character on the same tile as the treasure chest can be moved with it to an adjacent room, even if he is not alone. A character standing on the entry tile with the treasure chest can leave the dungeon with the treasure. The character leaving the Dungeon with the chest will be the winner (will score than 10, like he was the last in the dungeon).

Of course part of the newelty will be the new caharacters including an elf, a troll, a goblin and the beholder!

Dragon Rage First Impression

Designer: Lewis Pulsipher
Publisher: Flatlined Games
Players: 2
Age: 12+
Time: 120 minutes

First impression by Andrea “Liga” Ligabue

On publisher web site you can read “Dragon Rage is an introductory wargame set in a fantasy world. Dragons and other monsters attack walled cities, trying to destroy as much of the city building as they can while the city garrison fights back. Controls the invading monsters or the city forces in a merciless struggle!

The basic game scenario has two Dragons attacking the seaside city of Esirien. The defender controls a small militia that defends the city. All troops are represented by counters on the game board’s hex grid. During each game turn, each player may move some or all all his units and then fight the enemies within attack range. The humans have a local hero which has special powers, as well as a wizard that can cast spells. The dragons are very resilient and can breathe fire, destructing men and buildings in a blazing roar.

Combat is resolved through a dice roll on a combat resolution table, cross-referencing the attacking and defending unit’s strength.

Dragon Rage is a good introduction to the world of wargames: there are few units on both sides, making the game simple to learn and fast-paced. It will introduce you to key wargaming concepts such as tactical movement on an hexagonal grid, units statistics printed on the counters, use of a combat resolution table, attack-to-defense ratios, terrain modifiers, reinforcements, and special abilities.

The first things to notice about this game is the name of the designer: Lewis Pulsipher, a name become a legend thanks to Britannia, actually one of the best games ever with a story of more than 25 years and a new Fantasy Flight Games edition in the last year.

Dragon Rage shows the designer mastery combining easy rules with a good level of simulation: of course it is an old-style wargame but easy enough to appeal also “modern” gamers.

What I really like in this games is the differences between the two factions involved: something you are used if you played Drako or if you are, like me, an old fan of Steve Jackson’s Ogre.

Dragons (and monsters) are usually few strong units attacking the city defended by the wizard and other units. In this new edition of Dragon Rage besides the great improvements in materials and graphics, there is also a new series of scenarios and a new map. To the 6 Esirien scenarios, showing Dragons/Monsters attacking the City of Esirien are added 6 scenarios about the human attack to the Nurkott Orc Settlement, Campaign and tournament rules and something more.

I’ll just write my impression concerning the first Esirien Scenario, Dragon Rage, designer himself suggest to start with.

2 Dragons attack the city defended by 4 cavalry, 8 infantry, 4 archer, 4 militia, 1 hero and 1 wizard. The invader to win has to destroy 19 points of structures that means arriving and spending time in some hexes like towers, guilds, hospitals and other special locations. The defender will win killing the dragons or having 10 turns without any damage in the town or without any enemy inside the walls (this two conditions are not exactly the same because there are some buildings offering VPs just outside the city walls).

The game has a classical wargame turn sequence: first the attacking side will move dragons. breath and melee attack, than the defending will cast spells, get reinforcements, moves, fires archeries and melee attacks.

There is a just one-unit stack limit in the map so, for the defender, it is really relevant where place and move the units and is not easy to attack the dragons in the same turn with many units. Of course the Hero and the Wizard can stack with units or together.

There is the usual set of rules concerning terrains modifiers to movements.

One of the nice things of this game is how the Dragon moves: it has the possibility to fly (if the wings are enough undamaged), bound, walk and slither. It can crash doors, destroy gates and bridges. But what a Dragon is better to do is breathing flame destroying almost anything in rage: units and places. Unluckily (or luckily) a Dragon can just breath 2 times in a game and “when and where” is one of the most important decision for the player using the monsters.

But the Dragon can also bite, buffet with the wings or kick and claw with the legs. To resolve dragon melee attack there is a standard attacker vs defender strength table with a target number to equal or exceed to kill the attacked units.

Now is time for the spell casting. The Wizard has 10 spell points for all the game that can be used to boost morale, create fog or whirlwind or throwing a lighting. The Wizard is an important part of the defender units and the spell points need to be used wisely. Helping units for a massive dragon attack or just throwing a lighting-bolt could make the difference between loosing or victory.

Then the arches shoot are resolved hitting with 5+ (close) or 6+ (far) and causing one damage to the dragon’s area selected by the firer.

Now is time for the melee attacks. Dragons have several part, head, wings, legs and belly, with different hit points and destroying a part has different effects on the game. To hit the head you need 6+, 5+ for the legs and 4+ for wings and belly. The damage inflicted depends by the unit strength going from 1 for militia to 3 for cavalry. The unit also have an escape number (needed to save from dragon breath) and movement value.

The game is not really difficult just after the first turns as long as you have clear some terrain effect and special rules concerning movement in the city. It is really different to play Dragons or City Defenders and also the different scenarios offer a great variety. The Dragon Rage scenario is explained in an easy to read 16 pages manual and the 36 pages Rules References offer everything you need to play all the possible games including rules for minor monsters (Giants, Sea Serpents, Tyrannosaurus Rex and Elementals).

I’m not a fan of complex wargames but I like light wargames and I think Dragon Rage could be a nice compromise to try and check if you like this kind of games. Ogre’s fan will find something they are used: Dragons actually are nothing less than Fantasy Ogres!

Dragon rage is now distributed in the US through Game Salute to retailers nationwide and on their online shop

About Andrea "Liga" Ligabue

Andrea "Liga" Ligabue is a game expert contributing to many games related international projects including Gamers Alliance Report, WIN, ILSA Magazine and Boardgamenews. Member of the International Gamers Awards Committee is coordinator of Play - The Games Festival and founder of the project Ludoteca Ideale.
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3 Responses to Essen Preview #29: Dragon Rage and Rumble in the Dungeon (Flatlined Games)

  1. ianthecool says:

    How many more games do we need with “dungeon” in the title?

  2. I’m a Fantasy addicted and a “dungeon” fans since the time of the first Dungeons & Dragons red box … so, I hope, will continue to have the usual flux of “dungeon” or “dragon” titles!

    good play!

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