Wednesday 7 January 2015

Songs of New Games and New Years

New Year, New Games. Okay, the really radical thing that I am planning to do (gaming-wise, at least) is to learn to run, play, and appreciate Fate. That's radical for me, anyway. I'll probably wimp out and end up playing something closer to Fudge, but hey...

If we rule out games of King of Tokyo, Tsuro, Ingenious/Mensa, and Snake Oil with my wife, my mum, my aunties, my brother, my sister, and my cousins, then tonight was the first tabletop gaming of 2015. And I don't think we should rule out those games. So this was the first geeky, fantasy-themed gaming of 2015. A couple of games of Songs of Blades and Heroes with D.

This was the first time that we had played SoBaH, and I am pretty impressed. It is easy to learn, quick to play, and able to accommodate pretty much any figure - and 'character' concept - that you pull from the box. I can see it reinvigorating my miniature gaming - I can't even imagine assembling and painting several whole units at the moment, and mass-battle games swallow up too much time to squeeze them in with any regularity.

Our first game of SoBaH pitted a group of Dwarfs (mostly my old Citadel minis) against a small band of Beastmen raiders. I used the Hyena-man statlines from the rulebook as stand-ins for the Beastmen. We played at about 200 points, and - possibly due to the small scale - the game was convincingly won by the Dwarfs. I gave the Dwarfs a 'Commander' with the 'Leader' ability, and with with reasonable 'Quality' across the board already, the Dwarfs were able to hold their discipline and get a lot of 'Activations' each turn. At a higher points total, and with a more interesting scenario than 'FIGHT!', the Dwarfs might not all have been able to stay within range of the Commander's 'Leader' ability. But as it was they were able to make up for their 'Short Move' by their reliability and ability to take orders. The Dwarfs held their line until the opportunity to charge arose, and once of few Beastmen fell their morale broke and they scattered from the field of battle.   

For the second game we opened up the board and played a slightly expanded Beastmen tribe against a small, shambling warband of Undead - including the Harryhausen-esque Reaper Bones Skeletons. This was a more interesting force to play, as it included the poor 'Quality' but hard-hitting Zombies and a Mummy, as well as the weak but relatively reliable Skeletons. Much rested on the Activation rolls (6+) of the Zombies as they came shambling up the right flank while the Skeletons made a nuisance of themselves in the centre. We drew the game to an end when we realised that the Beastmen, having finally taken down the Mummy and most of the Skeletons, could, if they wanted, keep out of combat with the Zombies all night long. 

Our next game - which will likely be Chaos Warbands done SoBaH style - will definitely involve some more interesting objectives than simply 'Kill 'Em All'. 


  1. I remember playing SBH a few years back with a friend who, not knowing the rules, created a zombie-heavy undead force. By the end of the game half of his men still hadn't even left their deployment area!

    SBH does give short, fun games, although it annoys me that all the Special Rules are spread over something like five supplements (I recall buying Song of Wind and Water just to get the 'Sharpshooter' rules).

  2. I found it pretty interesting that in just two games I feel that I have some insight into the tactical depth possible in such a simple game. Running an undead warband would require a 'necromancer'-type figure with the 'Leader' ability, who would need to stay close to the action but also remain protected, or involve hordes of weak Skeletons. Fighting against Dwarfs, meanwhile, requires that you try to pull their formations apart and outnumber them.

    As for the spread of special rules, I agree, but when you've been playing recent editions of Warhammer, in which stat lines and special rules are spread across all the Army Books, SoBaH seems restrained.