This week a few of us got together to play a much-delayed game of Song of Blades & Heroes. I have been canceling and rescheduling this game just about every month since Christmas, due to a variety of factors beyond my control (including Chicago's brutal winter).
But this week the stars aligned, allowing Karl and Mattias to join me in my basement for our game. I created a scenario set in Vildeburg, the main city in our recent fantasy campaign. The game took place in the marketplace, an area of town frequented by merchants and dominated by Vildeburg's guild hall (the three-story building near the docks in the picture below).
- Trudebaran the master mage made for his stone tower, trusting in its arcane enchantments to repel the invaders.
- Prince Akim Lorespeaker, merchant of the southern desert, pledged to defend the guild hall.
- Brak Morn, barbarian fur trapper, attempted to sneak out of the city and seek refuge in the nearby woods.
- Torrhigan Elfbane, dwarf metalsmith and trader, sought to meet up with his escort at the docks.
The chaos raiders would win if they could neutralize 3 or more personalities as they raced through the marketplace. The Vildeburg guild would win if three or more personalities made it to their destinations unharmed. In addition to the fellows pictured above, a handful of Vildeburg militia were roaming the streets and would aid the traders if needed.
With those rules in place, we were off!
Karl and Mattias both deployed a portion of their warband inside the church atop the rocky plateau. They had infiltrated the crypts beneath the church (which linked into the sewers of Vildeburg), which allowed them to come boiling out of the holy site on the first turn. Here are some of Mattias's ghastly dudes doing just that.
Just around the corner, though, were four dwarf boar-riders. These fellows were meant to escort Torrhigan to the docks, but they were pressed into service early in the game to counter the demons in the church!
Closer to the docks, Karl deployed his heavy cavalry, the Beast Blood Riders, along with Horg the ogre and Valspan the half-giant, to meet the dwarves and perhaps thwart their advance.
Remember those militia I said were patrolling around town? Well, they drew the ire of the Lord of the Lichens and the Shivering King, two fearsome mounted warriors in Mattias's army. Here's a look at the scene right before the two plucky soldiers were ridden down on the cobblestone streets of Vildeburg.
Actually they weren't killed instantly. Song of Blades & Heroes has a pretty generic combat system -- there are no weapon stats and minimal armor, so combat rarely yields a full-on "dead" result. More often, figures are driven back or knocked down, which of course puts them in a more dangerous position for the inevitable follow-up attack. In this case, the two militiamen survived the initial charge and then sprinted down the alley to rejoin a larger group of militia that was congregating around Trudebaran the wizard.
Here's a look at the battlefield as the game approached its midpoint. Karl's red-armored chaos warriors at engaging the dwarves around the dock, while Mattias's demons have thoroughly defiled the church and are threatening a small knot of militia on the left side of the battlefield. (And all alone, ignored for the moment, Prince Akim Lorespeaker stands alone in the courtyard outside the guild hall.)
Back at the church, the dwarven boar-riders rallied for a charge. With swords a-wavin' and blunderbusses a-spewin', they raced up a walkway and crashed into the demons. This combat turned into a real grindfest! Both demons and dwarf cavalry were stuck in combat right here for most of the game.
Here's a closer look at the epic scrum that was developing around the docks. Torrhigan is the short, out-of-focus dwarf on the left side of the pic, watching the fight development from his perch on the guild hall steps. Karl's chaos warriors, the Servants of the Black Crown, were formidable, but my dwarves were able to defeat three horse-mounted warriors -- greatly evening the odds!
Across the table, Brak Morn the barbarian was making his way out of the village and was pretty much unnoticed -- until Karl's chaos warriors spotted the hulking fighter sneaking under a bridge. Drawing their weapons, they leapt down and engaged him in a swirling melee. The huge barbarian gave as good as he got but eventually went down in a flurry of blows.
Thus my first personality figure bit the dust. Alas, it would not be the last -- a short distance away from his tower, Trudebaran the mage (in the purple robe below) found himself in a heap of trouble. He had joined up with a pair of militiamen, but the Lord of Lichens and the Shivering King had circled around to cut off his escape route.
The rest of the brigands swarmed to his location and overwhelmed the gallant fighters protecting him. Trudebaran fled but was caught and skinned alive a short distance away by the gruesome Flayer of Shins (Mattias's awesome standard bearer). Here is his final stand.
At this point, two of my four personality figures had been killed. Thanks to some lucky dice rolls by the docks, Torrhigan the dwarf had secured the dock. Karl had once last chance to engage Prince Akim Lorespeaker, paladin of the southern desert, with his remaining chaos warriors. Grimly hefting his sword and shield, Prince Akim met his attackers in single combat -- and survived!
We called the game a tie at that point.
In our post-game discussion, we agreed that this was a fun scenario and we could definitely play it again with a few tweaks. The best part was the mobility -- each personality was essentially a "victory point with legs," so we got to use the entire battlefield for our game as the warbands moved through the streets and back alleys.
Also, this was a fairly big game -- 500 points for both Mattias and Karl, and 1,000 points for me as the defender. We had about good number of figures per side (9 each for Karl and Mattias, and 19 for me). Gaming at this level is rapidly becoming our favorite way to play, since we're all quite adept at SBH after several years of playing it regularly.
This session was a good warm-up for our upcoming summer fantasy campaign. In a couple short months we will return to Qaarra and see what devastation has been wrought there. Stay tuned!
-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member