Only took me 10 months, but I had another game of Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes!
This time my opponent was Cpt.Shandy, the gentleman who runs The Wargaming Raft blog. Read it, he writes interesting stuff. He is a seasoned veteran of Song of Blades and Heroes and wanted to have a go at the new version of the rules.
This time I had all the terrain already finished. Over the past year I had added some scatter terrain in the shape of crates, barrels, chests. Also: chairs and tables. Got a ladder in the works as well.
So with these further additions to my collection of fantasy/medieval scenery it was time to get it all on the table again!
The twin sisters Nikala and Barei, once again up to no good. After their first raid had been a bit of a failure they were burning for revenge. Their assassin had infiltrated the good townspeople to gather information about valuables to grab and the upcoming Lechenheim Cup BloodBowl finals would be a perfect day. The whole town was going to be at Blutwiese stadium and their riches ripe for the taking. A simple plan: walk in, grab the shiniest of the shinies and walk out again.
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
Human Ball Game Fans
Ever since he was a little boy Captain Count Daunenfein had been a fan of Blood Bowl, and betting unreasonable amounts of money on his favourite teams. Naturally he wouldn’t miss the Lechenberg Cup finals and had taken his retinue with him to attend the event. They were late to the game anyway and missing the kick-off was out of the question.
Captain Count Daunenfein – Quality: 3+, Combat: 4, Traits: Block, Heavily Armoured, Leader, Long Move, Mounted
Smirre, the White Wolf Knight – 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 Spearmen – 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.
This time the game took place at the wargames club here in Vienna. I had to do without virago’s additional terrain this time, but a.) had a bit more terrain this time myself and b.) could make use of the club’s terrain.
I was there a bit before my opponent Cpt.Shandy, so I set up the table. In the end we didn’t even need much of the club’s terrain, just two buildings in the back, three trees, and the plastic ruins in the back. And of course the blood bowl player statue. I really need to make a few statues for that town square.
The table size was bigger than suggested for a game this size, but it would have been silly not to make use of the full table, for it leads to a much prettier looking game.
As you can see the whole town was deserted, with just a few leftovers from the pre-game feast in front of the tavern.
For this game we agreed using Cpt.Shandy’s secret mission objective system ; A tried and true spicer-upper of his pirate-themed Song of Blades and Heroes games. It’s very simple: Before the game each player gets a random game objective in secret. This makes games more interesting in keeping the players guessing what the opponent’s goals may be while they achieve their own objective.
I drew my objective and was rather pleased: Get to the objective, grab it and take it back to my table edge.
At least it wasn’t “slay the enemy Leader”, because Captain Count Daunenfein is heavily armoured, a strong fighter and fast. So things were well.
We didn’t faff about much with the deployment, we just set up the minis. I set up the whole warband to the centre and all together along the paved road. My opponent set up his band a bit more spread out in three groups and with Smirre, the White Wolf Knight, to his left flank.
No special Winds of Magic things going on, nor any special weather effects, so we rolled who’d go first (Me! Hooray!) and started the game.
Nikala the Dark Elf sorceress ran up first, urging the rest of the crew to follow closely, but only the Harpy and a Crossbow Elf were able to keep up.
Inspired by this feat of wanton authority the Crossbow Elf sprinted forward to the objective. I hoped that I could pull off a quick grab. Unfortunately the human Empire’s old gunsmith (of all people!) had reached the market square as well. He hopped out from behind the wooden building, fired his Hochland Rifle and the eager Crossbow Elf was gone.
The humans were a bit slower to get into gear but took up speed after my opponent started making clever use of Captain Daunenfein’s Leader ability.
At speed they moved up behind the wooden building to the centre while two approached my left flank.
The White Wolf Knight made use of his superior speed and moved up on his own to my right.
So apart from the “quick snatch and grab” not happening any more I was also about to get enveloped.
From behind her cover in an orchard Nikala started hurling fireballs, but with no effect. The heavily armoured White Wolf Knight reached the orchard and made ready to charge the Sorceress’ rear. Looking to save said rear and seeing as how fireballs didn’t do much anyway she went for a more subtle approach and cast a Sleep spell.
My opponent failed the resist roll and Smirre fell asleep on his horse. This was very fortunate, because the White Wolf Knight is one of the human warband’s powerhouses (along with the Leader). Waking him up again would take for an ally to move up and spend two actions, but given how isolated he had approached this was unlikely to be for the forseeable future. The right flank was safe for now. A Spearman had run up to the Sorceress and a wildly ineffectual fight broke out across the orchard wall. The pet Harpy swooped in to help, but didn’t.
Meanwhile a lot of action went down in the centre town square as well. The Witch Elf and the Raider carrying the flag had charged and killed the Engineer with a Double Strike while he was busy reloading his giant rifle. A Spearman and Greatsword were too late at the scene to help, but now kept my Elves more than busy, even after the Assassin had joined the mêlée.
At this point fighting was pretty even. The Assassin and the Raider managed to knock down the Greatsword, but he got up again. For the whole of the game I never managed to keep him down. The Spearman over at his side of the pile of chests had knocked down the Witch Elf, making her lose the Berserk trait. However, she got up again and fought on.
In theory they had a crossbow elf ready for fire support behind the flipped table, but he didn’t get a clear shot at any of the enemy troops for most of the time.
An overview of the situation at this point and what had happened so far:
My opponent had moved up to my flanks, but the White Wolf Knight was sent sleeping. On my left flank the Spearman and Greatsword were weirdly moving around far away behind the tavern building, now facing the challenge of getting over the fence.
My two Raiders in the back didn’t really want to move anyway, so I kept them there as guards. After all once I’d get the objective this would be my corridor for getting the loot off the table.
The Sorceress was kept busy by the Spearman and even the help of the Harpy didn’t tip the whole affair in my favour, so no spellcasting at this point.
For now things were mainly under control, but the Captain was still lurking behind the wooden building. So far he’d mainly made use of his Leader ability, helping actiate his men where required, but now as things started to become a grind and his most valueable man sleeping the day away it was time to act.
…and act he did, by charging across the town square and into the Harpy. This was not good. Not only is the Count hard as nails, but also he is a superior fighter (combat 4).
In the centre the Spearman most interestingly used a little pause to run off after his flanking comrades behind the tavern. At this point at the latest it dawned on me that this probably wasn’t just a flanking maneuvre, but had something to do with my opponent’s scenario objective. Was he trying to get models across the table and off my table edge?
Either way, I saw a chance to work on my own objective for once. The Greatsword in the centre was kept busy by the Witch Elf and the Raider with the flag, so the Assassin sneakily grabbed the objective and started hauling it (slowly) towards my table edge.
In terms of scenario objectives the cards were pretty much on the table now, which changed the situation for both of us: The humans had to get half their warband (4 models) off my table edge to get to the ball game in time. Two of them were well on their way already on my far left flank. The fences were an obstacle in this. On the other hand, he still had his leader about to hack down my right flank, wake up his bodyguard and with their thick armour and fast movement speed they were pretty much guaranteed to get off the table at any point once that would be achieved.
Things weren’t that grim though: I was in possession of my objective, for now the White Wolf Knight was still asleep and maybe I’d be able to keep the Captain in the fight for long enough until the situation in the centre was resolved and I had warriors free to support the Harpy and Sorceress. Last but not least I still had the two Raiders in the back as a rearguard (mostly because so far they’d stubbornly refused to move).
The Spearman who had just left the brawl in the centre square realized what the Assassin was up to he came running back. The Assassin had to drop the loot and fight. The Crossbow Elf behind him, still devoid of targets to shoot at, joined him for a total of a 2:1 superiority in numbers in my favour. This would be resolved quickly, right?
On the right flank Count Daunenfein finally had enough of the fighting, left his Spearman comrade to keep the Harpy and Sorceress in check and rode over to his friend, shouting at him to wake up.
The Captain had to move all the way next to Smirre to wake him up, but finally the feat was done and the dynamic duo took off as fast as they could to my right flank right at my table edge. Their plan was to make short work of the two raiders who acted as rear guard, help the Spearman and Greatsword across the fences and off the table and maybe make it to the game in time for the second half-time.
My Sorceress did NOT like the way things were proceeding. A Mighty Slap(tm) finally took the Spearman out of the game and her and her pet Harpy were free to run in the direction of my table edge to help out and keep the humans from escaping.
At the centre things still were not really moving. The two human warriors held their own despite being outnumbered and both sides were starting to show some fatigue.
Especially if combat pretty much could go either way it often is a good choice not to activate the figure and have it fight. At this point it seemed like it was more useful to either of us to keep the warriors in the centre tied in close combat rather than resolving it. I had more models tied up, but my opponent had to get four figures off the table. If I’d manage to kill just one of his models in the group to my left (Spearman, Greatsword, Smirre, Daunenfein) who were about to leave the table things would look much worse for him. I also had much more important models to activate (Sorceress, Harpy, Assassin, the Raiders who fought on the left) and in Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes you rarely get to activate all your models during your turn anyway.
At least the Crossbow Elf managed to shove the Spearman back long enough for the Assassin to grab the loot chest again and slowly proceed to my table edge with it. The big problem was that there still were the two heavily armoured horsemen essentially blocking my way. Things didn’t look good, but maybe something would happen.
Something DID happen indeed. Smirre and Captain Daunenfein charged my rear guard and took out one of the Raiders.
This was not good as chances of the one remaining Raider stopping four enemy warriors were slim indeed. The positive thing though was that this meant less of a risk of hitting my own troops with the very precisely (ehem) aimed fireball by the Sorceress who came running across the market square. It didn’t do much in terms of damage, but it knocked Captain Daunenfein off his horse. So he’d have to get up and either spend another action on getting back onto his horse or fight on foot from then on.
In the mean time I pumped as many activations as possible into my Assassin so he’d get the heavy chest to my table edge.
As the rest of the group (Spearman, Greatsword and the White Wolf Knight) were still busy shoving around the remaining Raider the human Captain got on his horse again as fast as possible and charged the Assassin just to keep him from getting the loot any closer to the table edge. The Assassin dropped the chest and made ready for combat. Even with the Harpy fling to his aid it would be a tough one.
An interesting one too. All of the three belligerents had “Free Disengage”, meaning they weren’t ‘locked in combat’ and basically were free to just walk away without risking a Free Hack from the enemy (Count Daunenfein due to behind horse-mounted, the Harpy due to being able to fly and the Assassin due to smoke bombs). The Sorceress was standing right behind them, so my – in hindsight slightly complicated plan – was to disengage with the Assassin and the Harpy and have the Sorceress cast a Sleep spell at short range. The plan collapsed instantly as nobody was willing to disengage.
Spouting ancient curses the Sorceress grabbed the loot chest. She was ready to drag it all the way home to Naggaroth herself, since her useless minions were unwilling to obey the simplest of orders.
Then odd things happened. Daunenfein started hacking at the Assassin and the Harpy, but against expectations the Assassin pulled him off his horse. Daunenfein tried to get up, but the Harpy was upon him and with a Mighty Blow took the human leader out of the game. This prompted morale rolls for all of the rest of the human warband and that didn’t go too well. With three models being so close to a table edge they ran off straight away. We ruled that in terms of the “get off the table via the opponent’s table edge”, fleeing models didn’t count.
With just two models left on the table it was impossible for my opponent to achieve his objective. Even worse, Captain Daunenfein was in no shape to attend the game and had to watch a match report via semaphore from his bed later on.
The Dark Elves won!
Conclusions and Thoughts
What a game!
Just the right combination of good opponent, good scenario, good rules, good table and good minis (if I may say so myself). Cpt.Shandy has a lot of games of Song of Blades and Heroes (in a pirate setting variant) under his belt. Just as I’d been before I tried Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes, he too was a bit sceptical of the reaction system the Advanced rules added, but he soon came to the same conclusions as I did. Sure, the reactions do slow down the game, but it also makes it more interactive, adds another layer to the gameplay and is an overall neat addition. It also lowers down-times for players even more.
During the game we barely had time to take pictures at all. I was surprised I had as many as I did when I edited them for this battle report. Also thanks to Cpt.Shandy for supplying additional shots.
On that day we actually had planned to meet at the club to have a look at Virago’s and Annatar’s second game of Sharp Practice set in the French and Indian War. The scenario was French forces and Indians trying to rescue an Indian chieftain from British captivity in a small fort. Great looking table also, I hope to write about it some time soon. Anyway, we decided to have a little game of Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes on the side so Cpt.Shandy gets to try out the rules and once we’re done we’ll get to watch the rest of the Sharp Practice game. In the end it turned out that our ASoBH game took longer than the Sharp Practice game across the room! Weird. Not that it took extremely long; it took us maybe three hours (including re-learning the rules and all).
The secret scenario objectives also are a very easy and fun way to add a lot of fun to your games. I’d go as far as to say that almost any skirmish game is improved via secret scenario objectives for each side. At the very least it saves you time making up scenarios (nothing wrong with that of course, but sometimes we’re just strapped for time). Having to keep a keen eye on what your opponent is up to of course adds further tension to the game.
Still very happy I invested in all these buildings and the terrain mat. I don’t get my 28mm fantasy terrain out often, but when it’s all on the table it always looks the part. I still need some more “scatter terrain”, probably some more fences, hedges and walls, as well as other things; not sure what else. Just stuff to make the scenery look a bit more ‘alive’. Any suggestions?
That’s the thing with 28mm skirmishing, isn’t it. You have a handful of models on the table and in terms of scale there basically is NO abstraction what so ever, so the possibilities for detail are pretty much endless.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this battle report. Thanks to Cpt.Shandy for participating and thanks to you for reading. If you have any comments, questions, etc. just drop them in the comments section below.
For more photos of my paintwork/modelling visit the Battle Brush Studios website, Facebook Page and/or follow me on Twitter @SigurSquirrel.
Cpt.Shandy just put his own AAR of this game online, giving a slightly different perspective.