Buckle up for my first Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes battle report!
In my last article I told you about the rules, the book itself and so on. Now it’s time to see what the rules actually play like.
A few nights before the game I sat down and threw together two warbands based on some Warhammer miniatures I like and some rules I wanted to try out. I used the Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes Warband Generator for this. In preparation for this game I also finally finished painting some medieval buildings.
As a treat to myself I also ordered one of them new-fangled gaming mats all the kids are so giddy about and quickly made up a measuring stick for ASoBH:
Dark Elves Raiding Party
The twin sisters Nikala and Barei, ever eager to improve their social standing and in search for pretty magic items to loot, raid the outskirts of Lechenheim. With them they brought their pet Harpy, a hirling Assassin and a handful of raiders.
Nikala (Sorceress) – Quality: 3+, Combat: 2, Traits: Agile, Spellcaster (Blast, Fireball, Protection from Arrows, Sleep)
Barei (Witch Elf) – Quality: 4+, Combat: 3, Traits: Agile, Berserk, Double-Strike, Parry
Assassin – Quality 4+, Combat: 3, Traits: Agile, Acrobat, Backstab, Free Disengage, Stealth
Harpy – Quality: 4+, Combat: 3, Traits: Flying
2x Crossbow Elves – Quality: 4+, Combat: 3, Traits: Agile, Repeating Crossbow
3x Dark Elves Raiders – Quality: 4+, Combat:3, Traits: Block
I gave all the Dark Elves the Agile trait which allows for much easier movement and to set them apart from their opponents
Little did they know who was paying a visit to the area just that day….
Just on this day Count Daunenfein paid a visit to oversee preparations for this year’s Bierfest just down the road of the attack. Him, his body guard, a local gunsmith who was eager to demonstrate his latest Wünderwaffe and three city guardsmen rushed to the defence.
Count Daunenfein – Quality: 3+, Combat: 4, Traits: Block, Heavily Armoured, Leader, Long Move, Mounted
Smirre, Head of the Count’s Guard – Quality: 4+, Combat: 3, Traits: Heavily Armoured, Heavy Weapon, Long Move, Mounted
Local Gunsmith – Quality 3+, Combat: 3, Traits: Arquebus, Good Shot
2x Count’s Guard Greatswords – Quality: 4+, Combat: 3, Traits: Heavily Armoured, Huge Weapon
3x City Guard – Quality: 4+, Combat: 3, Traits: Drilled, Long Reach
Both warbands are worth 400 points. It’s pretty amazing how easy it is to model all kinds of attributes and equipment. The Block trait represents shields (or seadrake cloaks in the case of the Dark Elves Raiders) and Long Reach represents spears. By using the Heavy Weapon and Huge Weapon traits I differentiated between Smirre’s huge hammer and the greatswords of the rest of the guard.
Count Daunenfein’s Leader trait is really handy as it helps friendly troops around him to activate easier. The trade-off is that if a leader falls all friendly units have to roll for morale.
According to the rules you roll for attacker and defender. The defender sets up the table and the attacker decides on the edge his troops are set up on. We decided to set up the table together (and we even had help from my opponent’s young’uns) and then just roll for the side the attacker (Dark Elves) set up on.
While setting up the table we were surprised how nice a medieval Fantasy table we get out of the stuff that accumulated. The gaming mat proved to be a good addition, as long as you put enough terrain on it. With too little other terrain, they often tend to look dire.
We set up our miniatures, rolled for who goes first and off we went. The humans, played by my opponent Virago, got the first turn and got themselves in position. Count Daunenfein and Smirre, being on horse and thus the most mobile characters advanced across the city square towards my flanking crossbow elf and Assassin. The rest of my models were huddled together to avoid the Gunsmith and his long rifle.
Right Flank Skirmishing
My single crossbow elf, sitting behind a wall in the corn field, is the prime target of the Count’s and Smirre’s attack. The assassin, lurking around corners, ever ready to pounce, but never really willing to do so. He is largely ignored.
Actually very early on I make a funny mistake with that Assassin: I roll up two actions for him, just enough to charge the Smirre. Only to realize that to actually make an attack I’d need another action! Luckily for me, my opponent’s activation roll for Smirre has a failure which I can use as a reaction to get the Assassin in relative safety. This experience is enough for him to spend the rest of the game mostly hiding and watching from afar. All while the human characters first clobber the crossbow elf (after a chase through the corn field) and then take off to join the main battle.
The first two turns or so are mostly positioning using the free moves models get if they are far away from enemy models.
When my opponent realizes that my main force advanced to a house and then go hiding not to get hit by the long rifle they took the opportunity to leave the positions behind the hedges. They advance towards the house as well and a bit of a hide and seek situation emerges for a few turns, with nobody wanting to make the charge around the corner.
As the Harpy tries to move around to pose a threat to the flank and help break up the static situation of the Dark Elves she gets taken down by two shots from the gunsmith.
I’ve gotten my Dark Elves into a sticky situation, all bunched up behind that house there. Quietly, the human foot soldiers starts to creep up around a corner…
The Dark Elves relocate the raiders to meet the human soldiers, which make them recoil. I manage to have Nikala the sorceress hop around the corner and throw a fireball at the humans and due to a lucky roll killed two of them outright. Now each side has taken 2 casualties.
The Part in which all the Things happen
Now the skirmish takes up pace as Smirre charges across the town square to hit the now exposed (steady…) Nikala.
In the mean time the cunning Count hurries his steed around the town Inn to hit the Dark Elves in the back.
As he charges he bellows the command to launch an attack around the corner NOW, and Barei the Witch Elf and her crossbow pal see themselves victims of a pincer attack.
Barai immediately does what Witch Elves do: charge at the enemy with an impressive hairdo, shriek and number of attacks – and bounce off their armour. The Raider with the flag moves up to help out in fighting the Greatsword and it doesn’t look all too horrible.
At Nikala’s end of things though…
After a whack on the head by Smirre Nikala goes down, but a Raider leaps over the hedge to help her out. This gives her time to get up again, but then more people start piling on. First a spearman, and on top of that Count Daunenfein, irritated by Barai’s yelling and slashing, joins in. You may wonder why it’s so easy to leave close combat. Usually it isn’t, but mounted characters may leave close combat with characters on foot via a regular move.
Nikala and her Raider pal get mauled badly and I have to roll morale checks for the remaining models in my warband. The useless Assassin is the first to take off at supersonic speed. Despite the rest standing more or less firm we called it a night.
Conclusion and Thoughts
A win for the human defenders! Okay, that one’s on me. I really could have played it better. Most of all I should have made more use of Nikala’s magic powers and be more aggressive. Maybe the warbands weren’t that perfectly balanced either. But mostly I simply got outplayed. That’s okay. The table was stunning. It made this game so much more enjoyable. There can never be enough care and work put into terrain, especially in skirmish gaming.
The Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes rules work really well. The game wasn’t quite as fast as I had imagined, but it was fluent, made sense, it felt tactical and had the right amount of friction. It’s easy to learn, rules don’t get in the way of the game (magic took a bit of looking up, but I got it now), and it’s good fun.
This game rekindled my interest in fantasy gaming.