Song of Blades & HeroesPosted by Mattias Fri, July 23, 2010 09:34:23
For a while, we've been talking about how an SBH game with nothing but zombies on one side would play out. About a month or so ago, we decided to do a trial game. With the rules as written, it would be near impossible to do anything reasonable. We noticed several issues, mainly with morale of the zombies but also with activation.
The biggest problem is logistical, though. It takes quite some time to roll activations for 38 zombies! To get around this, we agreed that all zombies more than a Medium range from an enemy could be batch-activated. I had one dice for each zombie, put them in a plastic container and rolled all of them in one go. I then assigned the successful activations to the zombies I wanted to move, alternating between the front ranks and the back ranks.
Another change we made was to the morale rules. A zombie witnessing a gruesome kill would have to succeed with ALL three morale dice to not be instantly destroyed. That simply wouldn't work. One of the first kills was a gruesome kill, and it took out 10 zombies. We decided that for this scenario, all zombies would have to count as fearless. As we didn't want to remove the effect of a gruesome kill completely, any zombies within a long range are "stunned" one turn for each failed die in the morale check. We played this game prior to the first Stillburg game
, where we tried a different approach. Haven't decided which to use in the long run.
Prior to the game, we also changed the stats line of the zombies. Instead of Q6, C4, Undead, Slow, Short Move at 8 points, we instead went with Q5, C2, Undead, Slow - still at 8 points.
All changes were made to emphasize on what we feel is the strongest point of zombies; numbers! With a higher Quality, Medium move and the batch activation rules we could make the zombie horde maneuverable but with a fairly low Combat.
We also used the modified turn over rules as described in our house rules
So, on to the actual game. Here's a summary of the scenario rules:
* Zombies count as having Fearless
* Zombies within movement range of an enemy model must be activated individually. All others can be batch activated; rolling 1D6 for every model, allocating half of the successful activations to the front rank and half to the back ranks.
The goal of the scenario was for the villagers to fend off all zombies. The zombies had no goal, other than to devour any and all brains on the board.
My warband consisted of 38 zombies, with stats as mentioned above. As I don't own 38 zombies (yet), we had to settle for proxies on some.
Fredrik's warband consisted of various villagers; Human Leader (Q3, C3, Leader), Human Magic-User (Q3, C1, Magic-user), Human Thief (Q3, C2, Stealth), Human Berserk (Q3, C3, Savage, Fearless), 2x Human Archer (Q3, C3, Shooter: Long), 3x Human Rabble (Q4, C2)
This is an overview of the setup, prior to turn 1. As you can see, for this game we used only plastic pre-painted D&D miniatures. I'm working on building a collection of painted Citadel vintage miniatures but the D&D minis are great for one-offs!
The two first turns were fairly uneventful, I won initiative and went first with the undead. The villagers spent their turns positioning themselves while the undead horde shambled forward. A few pot-shots were taken by the archers, but they were very ineffective.
In turn three, the first casualty was suffered by the undead. The berserker scored a gruesome kill and almost a third of the zombie hord was stunned.
It looked like this would be a walk in the park for the defending villagers, who got cocky and took on a more offensive role than I had anticipated. Slowly, the undead wittled away. The occassional scare occurred, when the undead managed to attack and a villager fell - but they survived and could recover and fight on.
In a series of unfortunate events, it all turned though. With two unlucky and early turn overs for the villagers, the undead could advance en masse. They gathered around their victims and the first casualties were a reality. A poor drunkard had been completely surrounded by the walking dead, and suffered horrible (but not quite gruesome) death. However, when the thief fell and the flesh eating abominations descended on him, the majority of the villagers retreated.
At this point two villagers had perished, while only fourteen zombies remained! The berserker (the town's resident torturer - no village should be without one!) was fallen and surrounded and would most certainly be devoured in the following turn. Unfortunately, we had to end the game at this point due to real life commitments (curses!) but such a great time was had that we'll replay it (with some changes) as part of the Stillburg campaign. We're also planning to do a Mutants and Death Ray Guns variant of it - if we ever get around to that system and setting.
So - any Jerry Springer-like conclusions? Archers are ineffective against undead. Savage on the other hand is very effective, even more so when it stuns everything within a long distance. The game was defenitely not close - I'm sure the villagers would've been able to fend off the undead. The question is at what price. The stunned change to the undead worked very, very well! As I had one die for each undead model, I just picked a die from my dice bin and put it next to the stunned model as a marker. When a zombie was destroyed, I removed a die from the bin. The batch activation worked ok, but the rules for it are too fuzzy would break if any of the players is a rules lawyer or power game. Please let me know if you have any better idea on how to handle it, there's an excellent comments functionality that no-one but Paul is using! =)
Song of Blades & HeroesPosted by Mattias Sun, July 18, 2010 13:57:03
First of all, sorry for the slow pace here - but it's summer time (and crazy hot!) as well as vacation time (three weeks done, one to go) so I haven't spent much time writing for the blog. We have played some games though, most recently me and my cousin Fredrik played the first game in the Songs of Stillburg campaign! A full battle report is coming soon, but first a little post on our house rules and the philosophy behind them.
Song of Blades and Heroes (SBH) isn't designed for adventure gaming. By adventure gaming, I mean a table top game played out similar to role playing games. Every roll of dice should count, but the outcome of the game should not hang on every roll. With standard SBH, the latter is often the case. Troops will fail to activate and cause turn overs, throngs of undead will vanish in thin air when a gruesome kill is scored on a zombie, fleeing heroes will be automatically killed as they pass a snotling by a short distance. All in all, it's mayhem and frustration and hilarious fun. But it's also very unpredictable. In order to remedy this, to make sure scenarios don't end prematurely and to reduce frustration and enhance the fun, we have made the following changes. They are not "fixes" or anything. I don't think SBH needs fixing, as long as it's played the way it was designed - fantasy free for all versus all comers.Activation
When rolling for activation, a turn over is only caused when a 1 is rolled on two or more dice. Rolling two or more failures does not cause a turn over.With this change, a warband of only goblins (and no leader) will stand a chance when facing elves, for example. There's still a risk, but usually most troops will get atleast one activation per turn.
Undead failing their morale checks are transfixed instead of instantly destroyed.With this change, the scenarios won't end prematurely due to a single gruesome kill on an 8 point zombie taking out 100 points worth of troops.Morale
When a model fails a morale check, it enters a state called routed
. A routed model may do nothing, except attempt to rally (with a standard morale check) at the start of
its controller's turn. It remains routed until successfully rallied. A model that successfully rallied may not activate during the turn it rallied.
Models are not instantly destroyed when moving past enemy models,
instead they suffer a free hack. Models are not instantly destroyed when
rolling three morale failures, instead they flee three distances.
Models unable to flee (transfixed or no free path) are removed from play as casualties and must roll on the injury table after the game. Models fleeing off the table are removed from play, but suffer no ill effects.
A model fleeing must flee away from it's enemies, towards the nearest table edge to wich it has a free path. If there's no free path to the nearest table edge, check if there's a free path to the second nearest edge and so forth.
With this change, the morale rules are a little bit less digital and models stay on the table longer.
That's it for now, I expect more will be added at a later date when I remember them.
Song of Blades & HeroesPosted by mappe Thu, March 18, 2010 21:05:06
I've been ill with a cold for the last week or so, hence the complete and utter lack of updates on my Song of Blades game more than a week ago. Now I'm recovering though and tomorrow I'm heading back to work. This will be celebrated by a report of my less than stellar performance in...Pyramid Campaign - Scenario 3
Miss Catherine and her band of warriors have now acquired the old talisman they need to access the riches hidden in the pyramid of Sankar. They reach their final destination at dawn, and with their blades at the ready emerge into the clearing in which the pyramid is located. Automated metal guardians stir to life as ancient seals of warding are broken by the talisman's presence.
Scenario specific rules: The pyramid is located in the centre of the battle field. The defender (that's me, playing the guardians of Sankar's pyramid) deploys his forces either in base contact with the pyramid or on the first level of the pyramid's steps. The attacker then assigns the values 2,3,4 and 5 to each table edge and rolls a D6 to determine which side he's deploying on: 1; Defender's choice, 2-5; the assigned side, 6; Attacker's choice.
As you can see above, Fredrik deployed miss Catherine and her trusty companions on the "western" edge, while my automaton guardians are spread around the pyramid.
The goal of the attacker is to reach the top tier of the pyramid with
the talisman bearer (assigned pre-game) and spend 3 actions in one turn
with that character to activate the powers of the talisman. The
objective of the defenders is simply to stop the attackers from
reaching their win condition.
Fredrik's warband consisted of Catherine (human leader), Creed (human berserker), Summer (human magic-user), Blink (elf archer), Tora (dwarf warrior) and Ana-Marie (human thief).
My guys were a bunch of Q4 heavy hitters: Sergeant (Q4, C4, Champion), Magic-user (Q3, C1, Magic-user), Fighter (Q4, C4), 2 x Hammerer (Q4, C4, Short move), 2x Sneaks (Q4, C3, Stealth), Golem (Q4, C5, Big). All had "artificial" trait as well.
I started with initiative, and managed to move my guys around a bit before failing two activations. As always, click the image below for a larger version.
Fredrik's first turn was a bit more eventful, as he managed to move forward and Blink took a shot at my Magic-user which actually got him to fall.
Turn two was very inactive for both. I moved one of my sneaks, and then when I actived my
magic user with two dice to stand him up I failed both! Fredrik was
even worse off though, and failed with two on his first activation
(Creed, the berserker).
I then had a pretty decent turn, as I activated all of my characters. I tried positioning defensively around the first tier on the pyramid as that would give my guys some bonus. I put the hammerers (tough but slow) as some sort of bait on the ground.
Fredrik's troops were not late to go for the hammerers. First his magic user Summer attempted to transfix my Golem, which failed as I passed the two-dice Quality test. Blink missed an aimed shot at the nearest hammerer and then Tora and Creed moved up on it, failing to cause any damage though.
I started my next turn with a successful transfix of Creed. With a golden opportunity, my fighter failed to activate and the turn passed to Fredrik. Fredrik broke the transfix on Creed and went on to take out my hammerer but failed to do much else.
I tried to respond in force. My golem moved down from the ledge and attacked Tora, the dwarf warrior. She was merely pushed back though. My magic-user attempted to transfix Creed, which also failed. My other characters moved about a little, and then I did the mistake which would cost me the game. My champion moved forward and attacked Creed, but failed and was pushed back. One of my sneaks tried to squeeze in and attacked Creed too, but failed and fell!
Creed smashed the sneak to smithereens with a powerful attack, and Summer transfixed my champion. Tora rushed forward and aimed a powerful attack at my champion, but I lucked out and we rolled a draw! Blink took an aimed shot at my fighter, but missed. Catherine and Ana-Marie had not been participating in the battle so far, but now Catherine moved up while Ana-Marie stayed at the edge of a woods section (not in the image).
My champion managed to break the transfix spell, and boosted by this I decided to gamble on my golem. I activated with three dice and all succeeded! He dashed forward, and attacked Fredrik's leader Catherine with a powerful attack... which resulted in a push-back of Catherine! =( My magic-user then attempted to transfix Catherine, but failed to activate.
Summer started Fredrik's sixth turn by transfixing my champion. Tora, who was in base contact already did a powerful attack but once again I lucked out and rolled a draw! I was all out of luck though, as Creed circled around and with the assistance of Tora managed to kill my champion. All 5 of my remaining models failed their morale tests with at least one dice, and none of them could flee towards the nearest table edge without passing any enemies within a short distance. They were all wiped out and Catherine's gang could without suffering a single casualty pillage the treasury of the pyramid!
I was pretty let down by this abrupt end, and so was Fredrik. I did make a misstake when I moved my champion to the front-lines, I admit that. We still don't think the ending was fair - or more importantly; it wasn't fun! The main problem here was the way my remaining models were forced to flee into the arms of the enemies.
In conclusion, a neat little campaign - with a surprisingly abrupt ending. A pity that, especially as I had built the pyramid especially for this scenario and painted a few D&D Warforged for the occasion!
Coming up; I'll post a short tutorial on how I did the pyramid. Also, a close-up on the painted Automatons!
Song of Blades & HeroesPosted by mappe Sat, February 27, 2010 09:04:11
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. In this scenario, it was the plans of my men... I'm sure I'll post about mice plans going awry as well some day.
Pyramid Campaign - Scenario 2.The last episode
ended with Hawkins and his men gaining both pieces of the talisman. On their way to the ancient pyramid where king Sankar is buried, they're ambushed by a band of troglodytes. What Hawkins doesn't know is that the troglodytes have been employed by his surviving enemies from the last battle; miss Catherine and her warriors. If Hawkins can guide his party safely to the other side of the board and exit with the talisman still in his possession, they should be able to lose the troglodytes in the dense forests. Then it's only a matter of a few days of travel until they reach the pyramid of Sankar.
Scenario specific rules: The defender (Fredrik, controlling the troglodytes) sets up the terrain and then positions his troglodytes anywhere within his half of the board, with atleast a medium distance space between any troglodytes. The attacker (me, controlling Hawkins warband) sets up with normal rules and have to exit with my leader (who is holding the talisman) on the other side of the board.
I decided I would try to go through the woods on my left flank, staying in cover of the center woods as long as possible. With the new addition of a minotaur warrior named Bull, I felt invincible. This turned out to be a poor assumption...
Llandau (elf rogue) and Tibor (human warrior) charged into the center woods, where they clashed with a kobold archer and a troglodyte bonecrusher. Just outside the woods stood a troglodyte brute and the troglodyte captain.
At the same time, Husk (half-orc hero) and Khwair (dwarf warrior) advanced between the two woods sections, where Husk ended up falling in a battle with a troglodyte barbarian near the left woods.
Bull had joined Tibor and Llandau in the center woods, but was very unlucky with his attack on the bonecrushed merely managing a push-back.
Fredrik managed to take out Husk with one of his two troglodyte brutes, while I still hadn't managed to kill more than a lousy kobold archer.
I moved my guys out of the woods hoping to do some quick tag-team damage to a few of the stronger troglodytes.
Fredrik pushed me back though, and after a few turns Hawkins (my human leader) was locked in combat with a troglodyte barbarian (lethal to humans!) and a troglodyte brute. Luckily, I managed to take the brute down. Looking back at the pictures, I don't understand why - but at this point I decided to make a dash for the objective instead of fighting and I ran off whith Hawkins and Tibor, who went out on the left flank and around the left woods section. I had no enemies between Hawkins and the table edge and really did think I could make it.
Unfortunately that was not the case. Fredrik had more luck with activations than I and soon Hawkins fell.
We continued to trade blows for a while, but my warband was soon wiped out and Fredriks troglodytes could return the talisman to miss Catherine. With a rested and refitted warband, she will be the one to approach the pyramid of Sankar in the next scenario.
My warband survived though - except for Bull, who was torn to pieces and feasted upon by the savage troglodytes. Who knows when they will show up again?
Song of Blades & HeroesPosted by mappe Wed, February 24, 2010 22:35:06
I had a day off work today, and my regular gaming buddy (and cousin, to boot) Fredrik came by for a day of gaming. I had worked out a small Song of Blades & Heroes campaign for us to tackle consisting of three linked scenarios.
Pyramid Campaign - Scenario 1.
Two warring adventurer bands have acquired one half each of a magical talisman. The complete talisman is needed to unlock the secrets of an ancient pyramid, buried deep in the remote forests. Neither band is prepaired to share the certain riches to be found, thus they meet for a final show down. The winner walks away with both pieces of the talisman and can gain access to the pyramid when they reach it.
The scenario rules were quite simple. The leader of each warband have one half of the talisman. To win, a warband has to posess both talisman pieces when exiting their entry point. The entry points are a "long" section on the centre of each player's table edge. Talisman pieces are dropped when the carrier is removed from play and any non-animal character can pick them up by spending one action when adjacent to it.
Fredrik's warband consisted of (from left to right): Darkhölme (human archer), Ana-Marie Lebaue (human thief), Creed (human berserker; 3+, 3, fearless, savage), Catherine (human leader), Summer (human magic-user), Blink (elf archer), Tora (dwarf warrior). Click the image for a larger version.
My warband was fairly similar (from left to right): Lasek (human witch hunter), Khwair (dwarf warrior), Husk (half-orc hero; +4, 3, hero), Hawkins (human leader), Tibor (human warrior), Kiruk (dwarf warrior), Llandau (elf rogue; 2+, 3, stealth).
After setting up the table, we diced for initiative. I won, and advanced up the middle in a fairly fanned out formation. In retrospect I should've had Llandau (my elf rogue with sneak) on the right flank instead of the left, and tried to sneak up to the forests on my far right flank.
Fredrik's forces moved up to the centre field, leaving only the elf archer Blink in the back, at the edge of the woods on my far right flank.
The next round, I made my first mistake. Lasek (my human witch hunter) advanced to the middle of the board and took a shot at Creed (Fredrik's human berserker). Lasek missed his shot, and all my other activations failed. Fredrik's Creed and Tora (dwarf warrior) closed on poor Lasek and disposed of him the next turn, while following with most of his other warriors. The grim reaper below indicates poor Llandau's position.
I tried counter assaulting and flanking his magic-user Summer with an ambush attack from Llandau, but failed. Llandau fell and was killed the following turn by Creed.
At this point, I had a feeling I would lose the game. So far, I had not managed to take any of my opponent characters out, while I had lost almost a third of my points values in the form of two characters.
My first break came when Fredrik advanced with Tora and failed activating any other characters. I attacked her with Khwair and Husk, who managed to bring her down. Tibor moved in for the kill, abandoning the assault on Blink who had camped out in the woods stand but ran out of arrows.
Fredrik tried to move around my left, attempting to get at my leader -
while I wheeled around to the right trying to do the same. I did a lame
attempt at attacking with Kiruk, but he was quickly slain. Fredrik then
advanced towards my hero Husk and disposed of him too. At this point, I
was about ready to throw in the towel.
After this, things kind of went bananas. After a failed attempt where Fredrik assaulted Tibor (my human warrior), I managed to turn the tables. Tibor killed Darkhölme (who had been very passive the whole game).
Hawkins and Khwair came to Tibor's assistance and together they brought down Creed. Fredrik countered by taking out Khwair who had been transfixed by Summer.
Free to move, with no adjacent enemies, my two remaining warriors
attacked and took out Summer. This sent the three remaining characters
in Fredrik's warband fleeing.
The remaining melee was a bit long winded. We traded blows back and forth, wittling away the numbers on each side. Finally, only my leader Hawkins and Fredrik's leader Catherine and her companion Blink were still on the battlefield. Things looked grim for Hawkins, but with determination and a hefty portion of luck he managed to turn the tables. From total despair a few turns earlier, he was the last man standing and could head home with the two talisman pieces!
All my characters recovered fully from their injuries, except Kiruk who went on to the next battle with a temporary decrease to his Quality attribute.
I'll continue tomorrow with a (shorter!) write-up on the second scenario, where Hawkin's brave band is waylaid by a foul band of troglodytes.