Song of Blades & Heroes Campaign, Session 1 – Coming Ashore on the Iron Isle

Last night we began our Song of Blades & Heroes fantasy campaign with a couple of games situated on territories on The Iron Isle, our homebrew fantasy setting. The idea was that each faction had just made landfall on the island and were cautiously expanding their respective beachheads. As such, our games took place two coastal territories: the Windward Valley and Balthus Province.

The games were both quite decisive, with the losing warband opting to quit the field to avoid an outright slaughter. It's really fascinating how campaigns alter our play style. If this had been a typical kill-em-all meatgrinder game with no consequences or warband advancement, we wouldn't have hesitated to fight to the last man. Now, with each loss having an impact on a player's overall presence in the campaign, everyone is playing more prudently.

Game 1 - Skara Search Party (Tim) vs. Emperor's Vengeance Mercenary Warband (Jon)
Location: Balthus Province, farmland
Scenario: Treasure Hunt

Shortly after making landfall on The Iron Isle, both warbands encountered each other while exploring an abandoned farm looking for a stash of treasure. Balthus Province is located on the northeastern coast of The Iron Isle, near the point of origin for both of these factions.

Here is Jon's squad, the Emperor's Vengeance Mercenary Warband

And here is Tim's group, the Skara Search Party

The battlefield featured a small barn and two plots of agricultural land bordered by overgrown hedges, plus a few stray trees. Three treasure chests were placed on the battlefield, their contents unknown, leaving Tim and Jon to uncover which one holds the treasure.

The antagonists advanced slowly — until Tim's raiders found the treasure, prompting a full-on attack by Jon's mercenaries. The tide turned in Jon's favor until he made the mistake of killing Tim's skinchanger — the human figure died and was replaced with a fierce werewolf!

Faced with that — and watching his losses mount — Jon wisely decided to retreat.

After the game, we awarded experience, and then both players rolled on a big table from Song of Deeds & Glory to explore Balthus Province and see what might be hidden over the next knoll.

Jon's mercenaries found a keg of ale, and Tim's raiders found (and seized!) a roadside tavern! So now Tim owns an actual asset in the game. He can sell the ale produced by his tavern for cash, or keep it to fuel his warband. Of course, now that the other players know there is a medieval pub on the table...well, Tim's tenure as a small business owner might be brief indeed.

Game 2 - Elderroot Glade Patrol (Karl) vs. Lady Marie's Entourage (Mike)
Location: Windward Valley
Scenario: Burn Them Out!

Mike's good-guy warband, led by the mighty angel Lady Marie, was exploring the secluded valley on the northwestern coast of The Iron Isle when they discovered some strongboxes of supplies being guarded by Karl's elven patrol.

Quickly lighting torches, Mike's soldiers decided to seize the opportunity and set fire to the vital supply cache. Karl's elves would have none of it, so the combatants moved quickly to engage each other.


After a series of fierce clashes, two of Karl's elves lay dead. The scenario's victory conditions called for Mike to use his three torch-bearing figures to set fire to the barrels (using the "set stuff on fire" rules from Song of Wind & Water), so Karl tried to focus his effort on killing those warriors. Alas, it was not to be, and he chose to quit the field after losing two elves. Again, the nature of our campaign forced Karl to behave carefully with his warband and end the game to avoid a bloodbath.

Both players rolled to explore the Windward Valley after the skirmish. Mike found a keg of ale (continuing the beer theme) and Karl uncovered a roadside shrine! His pious elves left a small offering at the shrine and attempted to secure a blessing, but were unsuccessful. Karl needed to roll a 6 on a d6 to get blessed. However, the shrine remains on the map now and can be visited by other warbands.

All in all it was a fun evening of games. I wasn't able to play, but I served as photographer and battle scribe (and rules judge when needed). In two weeks, though, my undead warband will begin its unholy rampage across The Iron Isle. Stay tuned!

— Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames member

6 responses to “Song of Blades & Heroes Campaign, Session 1 – Coming Ashore on the Iron Isle

  1. Hmmm, sounds like a good experience! For a long time I've blown off the SOBH family as being a sort of 'hipster game' but I may have to rethink that…

  2. Michael: Thanks for the comment. We're a casual group that values story over raw competition in our games, which makes SBH work quite well for us. It's a great way to get a bunch of figures from different manufacturers on the table, with no limits on how you compose your warbands. Plus, games tend to wrap up in about 45 minutes or less, so you can really go deep into a campaign after only a few sessions.

  3. Great report, loving the campaign.

    As to the Hipster comment, you're only hurting yourself by not checking the SBH rules on your own.

  4. Truth . Granted SBH on its own can be a bit
    "basic" for a lack of better words, between all the other content for the game you can make it whatever you want.

    Frankly I prefer this over warmachine.

  5. Yes, it's a wonderfully simple rules engine upon which you can layer any number of complexities or house rules. It also leaves room for plenty of story-based stuff in your games. No wonder Ganesha Games has used the basic engine to power a whole slew of rulesets.

  6. I'm following this with great interest! Would appreciate if you could do a post explaining the meta game with hex movement and conquest etc. as I'm hoping to do something similar myself.

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