Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Song of Blades and Heroes

Song of Blades and Heroes

So the last handful of posts on here were warbands I had created for the fantasy skirmish game, SBH. Unfortunately, last week when our group was scheduled to play, I had to call in sick; I was fine, but I didn't want to take any germs over to Andy's house.

As you can tell from my whopping fifty posts just last month, I have a bit of an abundance of time on my hands (I should be painting, not blogging). On the flip side of the balance of time, my buddy Andy has very little of it, so it may be some time, if at all, before a detailed batrep shows up over at Little Lead Heroes. I don't think he'll mind me posting the few pics I snagged off his Flikr account, he has about twenty from last week's game.

Asatians, Nezumi, and Dwarves duke it out

SBH has a strong following of gamers out there, and for many reasons, I can see why. The mechanics use both tried-and-true methods as well as some innovative ones. The rules themselves can be purchased via digital copy for as little as five bucks, and my favorite aspect, you can use whatever figs you have on hand. Take a moment if you haven't already and scan back through the 'SBH' tag here, you'll see all the warbands I whipped up came from a scattering of fantasy figs from my shelves and cases. Plus, the rules for creating your own warbands, just called 'bands', is incredibly simple. With the SBH supplements out there as well, there's army rosters for just about anything you can imagine.

Shieldmaiden Stoutbrew fights off skeletal hordes
"Andrea Sfiligoi has put "fast" and "fun" back in the fantasy skirmish game vocabulary with his "Song of Blades and Heroes" series. The core book, and its three(thus far) supplements will allow you to game almost any fantasy situation anyone can imagine. Literally hundreds of pre-rated characters can be put into challenging scenarios that can be played to completion in around a hour. Most games will use less than a dozen miniatures on each side. Measurements are given for 15mm and 25-28mm figures. The rules are well thought out, clearly worded, and concise. If you own ANY fantasy miniatures, you can be playing the same day you get the rulebook. Simple enough for kids,the system is fun for long-time gamers, too. I have played fantasy combat games for thirty-five years, and this one beats them all!" -Steven D. Page

Magus Skulk flanks the Dwarves, who are battling the Froghemoth

From RPG.net:
"I helped to playtest "Song of Blades and Heroes", written, illustrated and distributed by emailware by Andrea Sfiligoi. SBH is a set of fast-play fantasy skirmish rules. We played several games and I got a free PDF and a free printed copy from the author. I'm credited as a playtester in the rulebook.

I think SBH is a perfect introduction to the hobby of tabletop battles. It's simple and fast (I played at least 10 full battles lasting no more than 45 minutes each) and its activation mechanics are addictive. Basically, every model has a Quality rating, a number to be rolled on d6 to "activate" the model. You can roll one, two or three dice to activate, and every success you roll entitles you to do one action or movement. But -- there's a catch. If you roll two or three failures, play passes to the opponent(some specific situations and model types get other disadvantages, e.g. a magic-user or cleric who rolls three failures when attempting to cast a spell loses his powers for the remainder of the game). So every turn you have to make your tactical choices-- you have to decide how much you are going to risk with your dice rolling. A neat idea.

Combat is furious and requires no book-keeping. No hit points, no armor classes, no nothing. Models have a Combat score. They roll a d6 (SBH is completely d6 based) and add their Combat score. The two scores are compared. Basically if you beat the opponent and you roll an odd number, he gives ground. If you beat him with an even number, he falls down. If you double him, you kill him, and if you treble him (possible with some situational modifiers, also ganging up on a lonely opponent can be very effective in this game!)you score a "gruesome death" -- meaning that his friends will have to test for morale.

The SBH mechanics are very complete for a 34 page book. There are all kind of special rules (you can have amphibian models, assassins, mounted figures, flying monsters, etc.)making sure that every model is different and has its own niche in combat. Assassins, for example, are very difficult to catch in broken terrain as they move through cover and shadows, and they kill you easily -- but once you close with them they are relatively fragile in combat. There's a point system to design your own miniatures and there are 183 (if I counted them correctly) ready to play profiles (undead, orcs, bugbears, ogres, elves, dwarves, etc.)"

Retired Captain Gromhammer goes toe-to-paw with Magus Skulk

Continued from RPG.net

"I want to stress out that this is a simple, fast-playing game. Don't buy it if you like to browse through hundreds of tables of effects or modifiers. It's perfect as an introductory game (for example to play with a younger brother) and also as a game with all the essentials (tactical decisions to make)and no fluff. SBH is not miniature specific, so you can play it with any scale or model you already have. No centimetres or inches are used -- you have to make three measuring sticks (I did mine with a balsa wood lath from the hobby store, for a grand expense of 30c)and all measurements and ranges are calculated with these three sticks (and yes, you can play on a hexboard too if you want, and in that case the sticks are not needed).

Another feature of the game is campaign rules. Your warband (you play with 8-10 models on the average, so the game is very inexpensive) gets more powerful after every two-three scenarios. You can raise the stts of the models or you can buy "advances" for the warband -- they are like dirty tricks that can save you when the going gets tough.

SBH is played on a 2'x2' table (if you use 15mm miniatures) or 3'x3' table (with 28mm miniatures). The author plays with 15mm from Splintered Light Miniatures (www.splinteredlightminis.com) on a DBA table with DBA terrain. Splintered Light will be carrying a few copies of the game at Historicon. The author told me that a Companion book is planned for September and after that the SBH line will expand into other genres (the author is an history buff and will probably do an Ancients skirmish system).

All in all: an excellent little game which gives you what it promises -- fast fantasy battles full of cinematic color and surprises. It can be bought for $4 as emailware from the author at andreasfiligoi@gmail.com or, if you want a printed book, you can buy it from the site www.lulu.com/songofblades. There's a Song of blades yahoo group (I didn't join it for lack of time but the author told me it's active)and the author keeps a blog at songofblades.blogspot.com"

More Dwarf action...

It's a shame I had to miss the game, apparently Andy has been furiously painting up new figs to represent many aspects of the vast Sarterra creation process we all took part in. This awesome mecha-scorpion was one such fig I missed out on seeing in person.

Coming up next for SBH will be me digging deep into the cold storage of miniatures that is sequestered away here at the homeworld of Mik's Minis, and instead of grabbing random minis to make a band, setting out with a specific goal in mind; Barbarians!


  1. I think that's a first edition D&D critter, but can't remember!

    Looks like you guys had a lot of fun!

  2. SBH really hit the scene just after I decided that I wasn't going to have a use for all of my fantasy figs and sold most of them at the flea market at Historicon. Doh!. I still have a few (and a number unpainted) and would love to give it a try some time...

  3. We've got a ton to be able to loan out as well!