I thought I would try and collect some thoughts on making Dragon Rampant a bit more Tolkieny with a few house rules. I've been meaning to write them down for ages, but never get around to it before the Mad Padre and I are together and smashing each other's heads in with our Middle Earth hosts.
Some House Rules
Spellcasters: spell casters are a bit of a drag since their spells are often hard to cast so you end up trying them dead last so that their inevitable failure doesn't leave the rest of your force standing around while the guy in the robes is trying something spooky. Additionally, some of the more useful spells are only in effect until the start of your next activation phase. Consequently they don't do a lot, if anything.
I propose that the failure of a spellcasting activation roll DOES NOT end your turn. So you can try and cast Sharper Blades on your uruk hai
and then even if the spell fails you can still try to get them to charge.
Another way I like to keep magic thematic is to limit what spells my spell casters can use. Gandalf and Galadriel can Banish Fear, or Heal for example. My Nazgûl on the other hand will Prod the orcs and Befuddle or Bog the enemy.
Flanks and Rear: the lack of flanks in DR and me still liking the game is a weird. I generally dislike rules that ignore flanks. Even with the rules as written, attacking from two directions is still beneficial in DR because you are piling two attacks onto one unit. But, to encourage some tactical maneuvering, I propose:
If an attacking unit starts it's activation behind the target unit's front rank, then the target has -1 to it's Armour.
Shooting only gets the -1 to the target armour if shooting at an unshielded flank or the rear.
So yeah, lining the troops up semi neatly and having them all pointing a certain direction is important now. Sue me. Define the "front edge" of the unit however you'd like.
Epic Warbeasts: for very large models, such as my old Grenadier red dragon, treat the head and body as two Greater Warbeasts. The body has flight and ponderous. The head has cunning and flame attack. They don't have to do the same things; the body can activate to move and then the head can activate to shoot (breath fire) etc. Or both head and body can activate to attack if it really wants to wade in. Naturally two enemy units can engage it, one on each part. If one part dies then the whole beast is dead. The entire model weighs in at 20 pts. and I treat it as a separate division or command in my evil army.
If one part activates successfully but the other doesn't, then we assume the dragon was being a bit
uncoordinated. Failing with the first part of the dragon stops it's activation for that turn.
Ents, are hard to get right. Greater Warbeast doesn't feel right to me, the low defense value just seems 'off'. Plus I have 3 different sizes of Ents. My WOTC Ent is enormous.
Ents: Lesser or Greater Warbeast (depending upon size) but add cunning and throwing rocks (shoot attack)
The Giant Ent is an Epic Warbeast, but you need to get all 12 SPs to kill it. In addition to cunning and throwing rocks, it has Summoner (bringing total cost to 19 pts) and can generate units of Huorns.
Huorns are the angry, barely sentient, malicious trees like Old Man Willow, which are kept in line and herded by the Ents. They can be summoned from any area of trees and are a unit of elite foot with no feelings (courage of 0+). Being an area of forest they are rough terrain, so anyone fighting them without the Ranger ability are at a disadvantage.
With both Ents and Huorns, attacks from spears or arrows halve any hits, rounding up. A flame attack will double any hits rolled.
Captains: one thing I do like in Oathmark is that commanders have a command and control function. With the larger games that Mike and I play it seems to me that working commanders in would be a good idea.
Any unit within 6" of their commander gets an extra dice to roll for activation and then uses the two best.
For +1 pt a commander can have their command range extended to 9"
For +2 pts the range can be extended to 12"
For my orcs in mixed units with spears and bows I'm thinking to let them still form wall of spears but shoot with only 6 dice, to represent the archers in the rear of the unit shooting, not the entire unit.
Otherwise the different sizes of orcs from great uruks to little snagas, can be accommodated by the rues as written.
Baradûr has noticed a lack of uruks with polearms (offensive foot) for leading attacks and this has been addressed by a recent arrival of troops from Spain.