Thursday, July 14, 2011

Song of Blades and Heroes Battle Report

As promised, here's a battle report on Song of Blades and Heroes (SBH).  I met up with my friend, Mike, last night and we played a 325pt game.  We played a straight up fight between Orcs & Goblins and Dwarfs.  It was a good old fashioned fantasy stand-by that worked well for this game.

So I was interested in making sure we had a good mix of models.  The Orcs weighed in with one Leader, a Shaman, five Orc warriors and four goblin archers.  The Dwarfs suffer from their elite status when it comes to numbers.  They had a leader, rune priest, an Orc slayer, three warriors, and two crossbows.  We marked off a 3' x 3' area and went at it.  I played Orcs and Mike played Dwarfs.  Mike won the roll off and had me go first.

The first few turns of any game with a "kill 'em all" objective is usually filled with lots of movement.  This was no different.  What makes it interesting is rolling for activations.  Due to my low quality on Orcs, I generally never got more than two and often ended my turn early.  If you fail your activations on two or more dice, you pass the turn back to the other side.  Deciding how many dice to throw for activations becomes an interesting "mini game" of risk management.  It starts from the first turn, so you are actively thinking rather than just moving up models.

Here come the Orcs.  You can see that some models were left at the starting zone because of failed activations.  It was sort of a boon later on, as it turns out.  (All of these are iPhone shots.. which are not too good when it comes to minis.  But you get the idea.)
The Dwarfs use the house at the center for cover.  The orcs will try to go around one side, and send some archers to the other side.  Dwarfs move slower, using the small movement stick of 3".  So Orcs have a speed advantage here.  There's an interesting aspect to movement.  You measure from the front of the model base and move up to the back of the model base.  This is stated in the rules, and is different than the standard GW way of things.  So larger based models go faster.  But they can be engaged by more models as a trade off.

Orc shooting is crap.  You dice off using your combat score, which is low for goblins.  So combined with a low quality (meaning fewer activations) and a poor combat, they don't stand many chances to hit.  A Dwarf crossbow dueled with my night goblin almost all game.  Shooting in this game is more effective than LotR but not as deadly as WHFB.  It's about the middle ground, which is nice.

Eventually the first Orc charges up around the house.  Because you move in straight lines, it takes a lot of activations to run around a corner and fight.  I manage to get him into combat, but he doesn't have enough activation to fight.  It's OK, because he can fight when the Dwarf activates.  Besides, I was hoping to bring up some help.  I had contacted the Orc Slayer, which is lethal vs Orcs (not Goblins!).  This means as long as he wins combat, he will kill any Orc.  So this guy was a priority target!
But the dice gods were against me.  I had plenty of models to come up to help, but I blew two activations and sent the turn back to the Dwarfs.  Mike decides he can't go wrong with his Quality 2+ leader and rolls three dice.  But he gets snake eyes and one success!  The turn comes back to me after the leader makes move to a better position.  So even a "sure thing" Q2 model has its risks.  Feeling lucky, I activate the Orc in combat and the Orc Slayer takes his head.  First blood and it's greenskins!  Due to poor rolling and getting out of leadership range, my Orcs start to string out.  Here's what it looked like for me at this point.
That Shaman and the night goblin archer were trying to "one-two punch" a kill on the crossbows.  This is done by first transfixing the model with magic and then shooting it with archer (or vice versa... they both had the same stats so it didn't matter).  A transfixed model is treated like a knocked down model.  So any combat defeat or successful ranged attack would kill it.  But I wasn't getting too far with that.

Now it comes down to the big scrum in the middle where the game will be decided.  Mike had been holding back his Dwarfs, but was now bringing them up.  The warriors become Q2 when in range of their leader.  So they could do some serious damage.  I form up a line and the dwarfs engage.  Rather than write up the outcome, here's a before and after set of pictures.

The Orcs were demolished!  My Orc leader managed to kill the Orc slayer dwarf.  But otherwise Orcs got wiped out after a few rounds.  Thankfully the Goblins were all far back.  So the slow moving Dwarfs would have to walk up to them while I took arrow shots.  The Orc leader in the middle took a serious beating.  He has the "tough" special rule.  This basically trades his quality for wounds, so every time he is "killed" he actually lowers his quality.  Once he hits quality 7 he dies.  It took some fighting but he died!

The leader special rule is essential for low quality troops like Orcs and Goblins.  But part of the special rule is that when the leader dies, all remaining models take morale checks.  This was a doubly bad thing for me, as the Leader's death was also the 50% break point for my force as well.  So models would take two tests.  I didn't have to do that, as most models ran off the board when they saw their mighty war boss finally stagger and fall under the angry dwarven axes.  Only a goblin and the shaman remained, and they probably wouldn't last another test.  We called it at that point with a major victory for the Dwarfs.  They protected the village from the Orc invaders!

This was just such a fun and quick game.  It took us about an hour to play, even with all the casual talking that fills up most of that time.  If we'd been playing a campaign or linked series, I could've checked to see which of my models lived, were wounded, or taken captive.  But it was our first "real game" and just wanted to see how it played.

So it held up as I expected.  The rules play well, the two stats augmented with special rules make for well rounded troops.  One thing we noticed is that the points system is a little bit "fudged."  By that I mean my Orcs cost nearly as much as the Dwarfs.  However, Dwarf quality and combat were better.  This is significant because it makes it harder for me to double their combat rolls for a kill.  I should've had more models or better stats to make up for the similar point costs.  I guess if you are playing with friends, just don't be a douche bag and select a power army.  You could easily do that and get something way over powered for the points.  But this is not a tournament game, and so should not be a problem with friends.

I can't say enough good things about this rules set.  I was really able to get involved from the start and play out a skirmish encounter with hardly any referral back to rules.  Not that it's perfectly clear rules.  In fact, the book organization needs a lot of work.  But for most of what you want to do, the basic rules and quick reference guide has all of it handy.  I will definitely be playing more of this game.  I'm planning some lists specifically for it.  So watch for more on that front in the future.


Mike G. said...

Thanks for the game Jerry. It was a lot of fun. The system itself works pretty well. I think the orcs would be better by either upgrading the bow or getting some elite black orcs in the list. Also, the coordinated fire rule would make the goblins much more effective.

I like the system and it makes for a fun quick game. There are a couple of minor quirks of the system but every game has that and it does not take away from the game in my opinion. I am thinking he might have been better off splitting combat into attack and defend which gives you 3 stats total, but that is nitpicking for such a simple streamlined system.

Jerry said...

Thanks Mike. I agree that I should've upped the Orc stats a bit. I wanted to play with stuff directly from the rosters he provided in the first book. But after numerous solo games and last night's game, I'm beginning to see Orcs need a lot of muscle against Dwarfs. I'll use the points calculator next time to models something along the "black orc" ideal. I also forgot about group firing rules, which is really needed with low combat score troops like goblin archers.

Anonymous said...

Nice first game. I noticed the huge advantage you get with better Q. So I now use a d20 with d6 Q2+ => d20 Q8+, d6 Q3+ => d20 Q9+, etc. That way even the better guys have a fair chance to have a 'turn over'. I use the points values as listed or calculated.