Friday, November 25, 2016

Thank the Dice Gods for New Opponents



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!



12 comments:

  1. Always good to make a new gaming buddy!

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  2. Thank you. If you have suggestions on what you would like to see in a campaign system please let me know. We are giving the final touches to Axe and Brimstone that is a narrative campaign with 5 connected games.

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    1. Looking forward to digging into some of your other supplements! The first thing I noticed on looking at the campaign system in Advanced SoBH is that it appeared one side could begin to gain a point based advantage after winning a number of games in a row that would be difficult for an opponent to overcome. I like the idea of warbands and heroes improving from one game to the next, but if one warband has accumulated a bunch of "free" upgrades I think it'll throw balance out of whack.

      Granted, I skimmed the campaign rules, have not tried them, and certainly think there is room for games with looser, free form narrative style campaign upgrades. I do have some thoughts on how to balance warbands over the length of campaign despite one side winning the majority of the games... maybe I should write them up as a blog post.

      Again, thanks for creating these rules! Had fun, and looking forward to trying out some of the other variants too!

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  3. Finding opponents...always a tricky thing in our hobby.

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  4. Very interesting reading! I know how it is with finding local opponents living in a town that literally isn't even on the map. I think I've solved my problem though, I simply had a kid. Of course, he's only three months now so he's got a ways to go!!! Anyhow, good reading and really enjoyed the pictures. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Groovy. Always great to not be the 'host' sometimes. cheers

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  6. I feel your pain in locating comrades/competitors. However, I have four sons, ages 10 and under, so lots of up and comers!

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  7. At what store did you play? I usually drive out Huzzah Hobbies in Virginia.

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    1. Joaquin, we played at Big Planet Comics in Silver Spring. I also play a variety of FFG's Star Wars games at Beyond Comics in Frederick. Are you in the area?

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  8. Hello again. Yes I am! I actually live in Germantown MD, I notice in your profile that you do too. I meet up with gamer buddies at Huzzah nearly every Thursday for board games and miniature games.

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    1. Joaquin, why don't we chat over email. Can you hit me up at 1000footgeneral 'at' gmail.com?

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