Song of Blades and Heroes is no stranger to us, and there's tons of posts on it here. Love it, great friggin' game. There's even been some Flying Lead around these parts, just ignore that broken image link. Now there's a new addition to their rules stable, and unlike the first two mentioned that share many of the same mechanics, Battlesworn; Bid for Victory is completely different in scope and incredibly fresh to boot.
It says 'fantasy' right on the cover, but you can just as easily use it for any genre you want. Really, you can. In the rulebook it gives suggestions for zombie survival, alien bug hunters, wild west, historicals, and more.
The best part of the game is that troop types are defined by fourteen archetypes and the rules are inherent within each type (ala another of my faves, Hordes of the Things).
If you have a "shooter" on the table that could be anything you define as a shooter; an elf with a bow, an orc with a spear, a Colonial Marine with an M41A pulse rifle, a gangster with a tommy gun, you think of it, it's a shooter. The troop types also include brutes (hit more often), tanks (hard to kill), rogues (hard to hit), and so forth. There are some spell-casters in there too, but a fireball thrown by a wizard has about the same effect as a Vietnam War-era trooper tossing a frag grenade. It's all how you interpret your army during creation.
What makes it different though? It says so on the cover; bidding. When you start a turn both
sides bid a number from one to six for initiative. The lowest bid goes with a number of actions equal to their bid. The initiative loser gets a number of reactions based on the difference between the two rolls. I bid a 2, and you bid a 4; I get two actions and you get two reactions during my turn. You won't get any actions this turn, just reactions to what I do. It's a quick turn, then we bid for initiative again, rinse and repeat.
Combat is in the same fashion, it's all about the bidding. Say I'm going to hit you with a melee attack. I bid a number between one and six again, you bid the same. The lower bid strikes first, and if the higher bid is still standing they get to strike back. So why not just bid "1" all the time then and always go first. Because you roll a number of attack dice equal to your bid, and you need 5's and 6's to hit. If you bid one die, chances are you won't hit. If you bid six dice to attack with, chances are you'll get some hits, but you'll also roll some 1's in there, and 1's cancel out hits. Ranged attacks are handle in a similar fashion, with the targeted player bidding for a dodge.
It sounds pretty different so far, right? It gets better. No measurements, no ranges. None. Now I've played some games with "Line of Sight" movement before, horizon to horizon, but Battlesworn takes it further. Ranged attacks are not measured in increments, but shots are at "the closest model" be the closest target two inches or two feet away. Same with spells and pretty much everything else. Being that ranges are relative and not measured, and movement is done in straight lines until you hit a new terrain type, you can play on any size table you want, with any scale figs you've got.
The first time we played we hadn't even read the rules yet, but within twenty minutes we were knee-deep in the battle and didn't think twice about the rules, end of story. It is a pretty non-traditional minis game, but you get the hang of it quick enough, and when that light bulb dings, you really get it.
The rules are solid, versatile, and easy to grasp right off the bat. The best part, the PDF of the rulebook is a mere eight bucks. Eight bucks! I could've save you reading this entire post and just written this last paragraph. Here's the one line review: Battlesworn is great fun and innovative enough to deserve room on the bookshelf regardless of your preferred genre. Plus, did I mention it's just eight bucks?