Chris Palmer came over yesterday for a session of fantasy skirmish gaming using the Song of Blades and Heroes (SBH) rules and Reaper figures. Chris’s warbands are entirely composed of figures from the first Bones Kickstarter. Mine are a mix of Bones I, Bones figures available before the Kickstarter, and some Reaper metal figures. As much as I like Reaper overall, they are not very compatible with my older “true 25” fantasy figures, so I am keeping them separated into their own games.
SBH nominally calls for the use of a 3’ by 3’ table for most games. (That’s about 90cm square for those of you living outside the last bastion of Imperial measurement….) Therefore, I left my card table set up from the game I had with William earlier in the week. Chris and I played two rounds of 300 point warbands, then we added William for a three-handed cutthroat game, and William and I had one more game, using 450 point warbands, after supper. The main scenery elements used were my newly acquired “hillows”, double-sided hills of fabric over upholstery foam, woods (with trees on steel bases encouraged to stay in place by spotting them on woods outline cloth cut outs with circles of magnetic material, and a stream. While I ordinarily use loose sand scatter for roads, I am considering cutting some fabric roads out of more quilting print material to go with the general cloth theme of the table.
The first game pitted my favorite human warband (leader, magic user, two elite archers, barbarian, and two warriors) against Chris’s undead warband. Looking over the table, we decided that the struggle was for the haunted tower.
Chris is still working out tactics appropriate to his undead collection. I’ve been trying to keep my warriors together as much as possible with the tactical objective of outnumbering the enemy whenever in contact.
Nevertheless, occasionally things got away from me. We had a demonstration of Chris’s cold dice when his wraith finally managed to attack my isolated magic user. Despite having a d6+4 for a combat roll to my d6+1, the magic user knocked down the wraith, and it was dispatched shortly thereafter. With nothing left but a few skeletons, the humans were left to take possession of the tower.
We rearranged the scenic elements a bit for the second game, and replaced the tower with the Great Stone Head, since we decided to set aside the high quality warbands and slug it out with two groups of orcs.
Chris’s orcs were a typical band of savage orcs, backed up by a few reluctant goblins and a swarm of rats. I used an ogre and a band of gregarious kobolds (reskinning a ratman example profile from the book rather than pointing out something new). Chris’s orc and goblin archers were handily overrun by the swarm of kobold mercenaries, who turned out to be small but extremely vicious, and a gruesome kill sent his leader fleeing from the field in a dismal morale failure. Chris was getting a bit discouraged, since he hadn’t killed a figure in two games.
After some chatting about the rules, we invited William to join us for a cutthroat treasure hunt scenario. The objective was to find a cache of treasure hidden in one of three places on the board and drag it off the table. Naturally, possession of the treasure had a tendency to unite the opposition against you. Chris frequently does this sort of scenario with his Blood and Swash tavern brawls, and picking up the treasure first in one of those is not usually a winning maneuver.
Chris used his undead band again, I stuck with the orcs, and we let William use the humans.
Chris quickly checked the first hiding place and found that it did not contain the treasure.
William got to the second hiding place and found the treasure. Immediately the fearless barbarian picked it up and headed for the edge of table, picking his way carefully down the rocky hillow. Unfortunately, the orc leader, seen holding the standard below, was able to unleash the kobolds. This delayed the humans, but in the fighting the orc leader fell, and the resulting morale test sent most of my force reeling back to the ford. This left the undead in possession of the treasure.
We thought that William had the ame won early, but it eventually developed into an epic struggle…
After dinner, William and I returned to the table one more time, to see what would happen if we increased the warband sizes. He took a band of mostly humans, with a centaur archer and a dwarf wizard, and sunk most of his personality points into a paladin, which we statted as an Elven commander from the book. I had orcs, kobolds, a small dragon, and a troll.
Despite his quality advantage, William got into trouble when the red shiled warrior below was gruesomely killed by an orc. The resulting morale checks caused one of his engaged figures to break, and that figure was killed as he ran. The centaur was swarmed by the kobolds.
There is a lot of luck in SBH, but I think that I am starting to get a feel for the tactics, and I was reassured to find that a mid-quality high numbers band did have some sort of chance against a smaller elite band.