On the spur of the moment (almost), Rob, Chris, Greg, and I got together for an impromptu four-player game of Songs and Blades and Heroes. This was only my third game using these rules. The activation mechanism is interesting. As a four player game among buddies, where we can fill in the time between activations with kibitzing, the rules worked fine, but it seems that the rules work best with just two players.
Chris and I were the good guys. Greg and Rob played the bad guys. Both sets of bad buys included a mix of skeletons, zombies, and a handful of special figures. Greg had some kind of specter who looked like the Grim Reaper. Rob had a sort of specter thingy that had a “terror” special ability.
We didn’t take time to talk about our game plan, but it turned out that Chris and I both moved toward Rob’s force. Since Greg’s forces were slow-moving, poor quality troops, he advanced slowly and didn’t get into the thick of the action until Chris and I had hammered Rob’s guys pretty hard.
When Rob hit 50%, his remaining forces had to make a morale check. He did reasonably well, but a bunch of his folks ran off the table. Then his specter got into the action, forcing a bunch of Chris’ guys and my guys to run away. I think one of Chris’ guys ran off the table.
This is where the final, big action took place. The zombies moved slowly and didn’t activate too quickly, but they fought pretty well. I lost a couple of guys in the final battle, but then Greg went over the 50% threshold and most of his remaining zombies ran off the table. At that point we called the game.
Combat in Songs of Blades and Heroes is conducted with an opposed die roll. It’s pretty straight forward, except since I have only played a couple of times, sometimes it’s hard to remember what is a plus to the attacker and what is a minus to the defender. Otherwise, there is nothing too novel about combat. Where Songs is innovative is in the activation scheme. The active player can choose to try for one, two, or three actions per figure. He chooses a figure to activate and decides whether to roll one, two, or three dice, trying to tie or beat his quality number. So why not always try for three activations? If you ever fail two activations, your activation ends, and initiative passes to the enemy. So, while three dice might get you more actions, it also increases your chance of the initiative shifting. So why not always just roll one die? That’s safe, but often you want to try to move and conduct combat (two actions), or conduct an aimed bow shot (two actions, where shooting without taking careful aim is just one action), etc.
As mentioned earlier, I think it is a fun system for a two player game with just a handful of figures on each side. I only had seven figures, for instance. Games with just a few figures on each side seem to be in vogue these days.
We had a good time. This made my 25th game of the year, so I am well on my way to my 50-game goal.