Monday, January 23, 2017

Demo AAR - Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes ... and Jungle!

I ran a demo game of Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes (hereinafter ASoBH) for my friend Doug this past weekend using some of his gorgeously painted models: Doug took on 3 Blightkings from Games Workshop's Age of Sigmar range against my six elves from GW's Hobbit range - four Mirkwood palace guards and two Mirkwood rangers. It was a fairly straightforward fight, this being a demo game.

now that's a clear cut situation with the promise of comedy - tell your friends!

Ancient trees gone rotten overnight, putrid carcasses of deer littering the seasonal trails, and the nauseating reek of decay hanging heavy amid leaf and branch ... something evil was defiling the forest - something a pack of Elven scouts had little trouble tracking down. The disease-ridden monstrosities made their lair in an old ruin. There were only three: one carrying a ponderous shield, another waving around a hoary axe in one bloated claw and a rusted sword in the other, and the third wielding an enormous scythe. The Elves choked back rage and contempt and prepared to close in ...

oh man look at those knife ears go

I won initiative and began by firing with my rangers in the woods at C on the map above while two teams of shield and spear moved up to B. Doug sent two of his Blightkings to flank the archers and the third, the dual-wielding figure, south to carve up one of the sword/shield teams. Because I gave the Blightkings the Lumbering trait, they couldn't "grab" the Elven rangers - who led them on a merry chase through most of the game. Meanwhile, the dual-wielder almost immediately cut down an Elf spearman. I moved the others in to support the surviving shield Elf, confident that Doug would keep after my rangers with his other two Blightkings.

The Blightkings all had Heavy Armor and Tough. Taking one down was an uphill battle even for three Elves. By the end of the first scrum it was also literally uphill:

new cocktail - pox on the rocks

I gave the Elves Q3 C3 and the Blightkings Q4 C4. We did not use the Leadership trait at all so Doug got a bit frustrated that his Blightkings gave up Initiative so ... willingly? (lazy bastards!) and seemed reluctant at best to take reactions. But they also had the Big trait, meaning I was only breaking even with them when I was fighting them three-to-one! And even when I had them knocked prone, their armor got them out of quite a few tight spots.

The dual-wielding Blightking eventually went down and I moved my surviving Elves up cautiously to intercept the next target. My plan had been to lure one of the remaining Blightkings to the center while "kiting" the other away with my rangers.

gonna need some freaking back up here!

But the rangers' long bows had proven so absurdly ineffective against Nurgle's favored layabouts that Doug was now content to pretty much ignore them. He also closed in with his shield-bearer, who I feared the most - Block combined with the other "survivability" traits I gave the Blightkings would make him the greatest challenge. My elves could not even manage to put a single wound on the scythe-wielder by the time the shield-bearer was in position. Things were looking grim indeed.

But then the clouds parted - I knocked the scythe-wielder prone with one Elf and then tripled Doug's combat roll with a power blow from another Elf! The scythe-wielder lost all of his three wounds in one mighty thwack (swish?) of flashing Elven steel!

get him out of my sight

Oh but wait - we had forgotten his Heavy Armor trait, which saved him from the Gruesome Kill I so desperately needed. Instead, the scythe-wielder simply took the first of three wounds ... truly, Papa Nurgle was pleased with his servants' earlier lethargy! Basking in the sordid favor of his patron, the shield-bearer proceeded to nonchalantly murder my remaining Elf spearman.

blessings of Nurgle upon you, friend

Not to be outdone, the scythe-wielder cranked back his Huge Weapon for a power blow and eviscerated one of the remaining Elven warriors in a hideous shower of gore.

the gruesome killee becomes the gruesome killer

The final warrior failed his Morale test on all three dice - seeing the tide turn so viciously seemed to have broken his mind. He is probably still hiding somewhere in the forest, rocking back and forth while sobbing.

By the way, the two Elven rangers were around the whole time, plinking arrows into the unassailable hides of the Blightkings. One failed her Morale test on two dice and fled off the board. The other only failed on a single die but I could not imagine going on against two of Nurgle's favored warriors with a single bow-toting knife ear and so resigned.

Unfortunately, I didn't have time during the week leading up to our game to draft a cool scenario or even think much about what traits the opposing sides should take. The only thing I knew I wanted to do was see Doug's awesome Blightkings on the table. I wrote up the traits in about ten minutes before we started, while Doug set up the terrain.

This was the first time either of us played ASoBH and I wish I had taken more time beforehand to plan the demo. I know Doug was bored - almost literally to tears at times - controlling three figures that had difficulty activating. From my perspective, there were some truly exciting turns. I thought the Blightkings easily overmatched my Elves but when ... for that brief shining moment ... the scythe-wielder (erroneously) went down, I had just a glimpse of potential victory.

The most important thing that I learned from the demo game was that ASoBH is a good enough rule set to partially overcome my hamfisted scenario-writing and character-building. This is crucial because one of the major features of ASoBH is crafting your own scenarios and characters. I imagine we will have even more fun when we play a scenario with actual thought behind it.

Doug's pledge rewards for the Blood & Plunder Kickstarter also arrived this week so I got to look over all of those awesome toys - in anticipation of receiving my own haul, of course! I was so inspired that I spent the following Sunday night building an entire jungle.

we've got fun and games

The foliage is all from Pegasus Hobbies. I bought a tall stack of these kits some years ago for the sake of playing - you guessed it - a pirate game, Gav Thorpe's Cutlass!, which I have to this day still never played. But at long last the jungle is unleashed! Look for it not only in upcoming games of Blood & Plunder but also future ASoBH scenarios set in the world of Savage Core from Lucid Games.

The bases are MDF from Angry Mojo. I asked them - via Dakka Dakka - to make up some area terrain bases with removable round bases. They complied and I immediately ordered six (and will probably require at least three more). Each base accommodates five 60mm round bases, which can be removed to mix and match your terrain or just to get out of the way of units moving through. I will post pics of the completed stands as/when.