Sunday, 12 October 2014

A game of Song of Blades and Heroes

Saturday, and with the current Mrs TTS on shore leave for the weekend, I was entertaining the two offspring. So we decided to get the soldiers out. I’ve been looking at the Ganesha Games stable with a view to using Song of Drums and Shakos for some Napoleonics and thought I’d combine entertaining the boys with getting the hang of the Song of … engine by digging out my old PDF of Song of Blades and Heroes.
Smallest boy wanted to be Chaos Warriors and eldest chose Dwarfs – I had intended to referee, but both insisted I play, so out came the Orcs.
We had just over two hundred points each or around five or six models. The Chaos warriors were given the human profile (which wasn’t hard enough but I couldn’t see a substitute) and we each had a leader and some troops. The Dwarfs also included a crossbow armed fellow. We started equally spaced out on a 4x4 table and went at it. This naturally resulted in a scrum in the centre of the board with not much subtlety involved.

 Clan Groznog enter the field

 Mutants from the Chaos Wastes

 Waaagh Gruzzkup's ladz

 'Ere we go, 'ere we go...

 After some C&C issues the forces finally close


 The Groznog boys start handing it out

 Now the Chaos lads get in on the action

 Orcs down all over the shop

 Fights in all directions

 The Dwarf commander shows who is the hardest

After several bloody rounds of combat the Dwarfs were left in control of the field and the bad guys slunk off to lick their wounds.



I like the activation system, giving a lack of definite control, something I always enjoy in a war game.
The rules are simple and straightforward, we all picked them up pretty quickly.
The combat system seems a bit too simplistic, and means it’s hard for a lesser warrior to ever beat a better one. Maybe we need some more practice to get the hang of ganging up and picking fights.
Quality 3, and Fighting 4 made a huge difference and the dwarfs just seemed altogether much harder. We just seemed to bounce off them quite a lot.
There’s a Cat Warrior profile in the book, which is a bit tougher and probably about right for the Chaos Warriors next time.
Shooting seems unlikely (excepting very poor dice rolls by the defender) to kill anyone. The odd push back, or maybe knock down, but full on kill will be very rare.
Morale is odd. I failed some tests and as a result stood up without having to pass a test to do so, so ended up better off. Also after fleeing for a turn you can just turn around and get stuck back in? Seems a bit odd.
We didn’t use any of the group moving or shooting rules. I imagine they’ll be more useful in the Napoleonic version
It lacks a bit of depth, really. I suppose the rich background of WFB (however derivative it may be) has spoiled me, but it felt a bit generic and bland. I suppose investment in the system and running the campaign may add something to this.
So overall I was a bit disappointed. Be interesting to see what Drums and Shakos has to offer over and above this.
The boys however, both said they enjoyed it and want to play again


  1. I have a copy of these rules too. Never used them, came to the same conclusion as yourself, that they seem very bland. A little bit over-simplified, with the sting in the tail of lots of added special rules which would be better served by extending the stat line a little. Some folks reckon Pulp Alley is a good skirmish game............

  2. Interesting report. I play Flashing Steel, the pirate version of the SBH engine, quite often and enjoy it very much. Maybe you give it another try? The system allows for enough special abilities to add color and individuality to your figures - we never use army lists, we just made our characters up as they fitted the minis. Having individualized figures also provides a better narrative… (for some examples, I've got a couple of reports of games over on my blog).
    Also, like any skirmish game it really gets better with lots of terrain.
    But then, I enjoy fast & simple games and understand that this may not be to everybody's taste :-)

  3. Nice report with beautiful the marsh too!

  4. Thanks all, definitely going to give the game another go.

    But before that I'll be trying the Napoleonic variant later this week.