Outside local gaming conventions, finding fellow wargamers has been pretty tricky since I entered the hobby 10 years ago. I managed to convert some of my friends, roped my family into gaming, and contacted a few other local gamers, but locating opponents is definitely the most challenging part of the hobby for me (well, except for painting pupils on the eyes of 20mm figures). I lucked out when Joe, a visitor of my blog and local resident, contacted me to set up a game. After a flurry of emails we convened at a local comic shop to roll some dice and push some figures. I don't mind painting up both sides of a game, building all the terrain, reading the rules and teaching them.... but I tell ya, it was such a relief to be able to just bring my own figures and some terrain to match my opponent's collection, sit down and play.
Some pics and thoughts on the Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes game we played after the jump.
I'd played the original Song of Blades and Heroes, but Joe had the "Advanced" version. I liked SoBH enough as a fun, beer and pretzels style game to get figures on the table, but reading through the Advanced version I noted a number of differences. Failed activation dice grant the opponent a chance to react with their own figures, the magic system has been expanded and there are rule clarifications, tweaks and brief campaign system included as well. I was pretty rusty, so Joe and I stumbled through the rules as we got up to speed on the system.
His necromancer lead a skeletal horde and pair of mummies into battle against my stalwart human defenders.
Leaving my crossbowmen to hold the high ground, my leader encouraged my armored foot forward to deal with the mummies and necromancer lurking in the woods.
My crossbowmen had a heck of a time with the shambling dead. Despite their tendency to stare blankly into the distance (Quality 5+ resulted in a number of failed activations), their skeletal forms were highly resistant to long range missile fire.
After several rounds of summoning forth the powers of Hell itself, Joe's necromancer unleashed a magical fireball which exploded with all the fury of a whistling fart (/sad trombone). Failing to inflict casualties with magic, he relied on his mummies to ambush my warriors from the safety of the woods.
Having managed to pick off a few skeletons and shrug off the necromancer's magic I was feeling confident, but the tide of battle quickly turned.
My foot soldiers fell beneath the blows of the necromancer. My mounted knight was pulled from the saddle by skeletal hands and decapitated, and my leader was gutted by mummified horrors.
Still, my crossbowmen held on. They rained bolts upon the necromancer, driving him from the field before turning on his undead minions with hand weapons now that their position was being overrun.
As we ground out the last few turns my humans made a valiant last stand and finished off the last of the undead horde.
Though victorious, I don't think I can claim any sort of award for strategic genius. Reading through the rules later that evening I found we had played a number of rules incorrectly (which always happens when getting into a new set). I like SoBH and I think the reaction rule is an interesting wrinkle, but I wonder if it interrupts the smooth flow of the game too much. I'll have to play some more to see how it works once I've got it mastered.
SoBH also seems to benefit from customization. I wasn't taken with the game world described within the rules, and prefer to see them as a tool kit. I used stat lines taken right from the pregenerated army lists, but I'd like to try creating some custom units to better match how I think they should perform. I was also hoping for some robust campaign rules, but after reading through those included in Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes they seem fairly skeletal. Maybe their expanded on in other splatbooks. I also would like to try more scenario driven games. Joe and I played a straight up bash since this was our first outing, but beyond the morale checks for losing a leader or half your forces there was no other "tipping point" mechanic to wrap up the game. If you survive those morale checks the game finishes up with a bit of a whimper as your last few figures grind each other down.
Still, a fun game and one I'm looking forward to trying again!