We got together for the fourth session of our Song of Blades & Heroes fantasy campaign. Mike, Jon and Tim gathered at my place for a couple of games. I had prepared a scenario for my undead, which saw them defending their newly won watchtower (discovered on the borders of the Velathys Marsh after session #2 a few weeks back) against Tim's tribesmen.
For this game, I used a modified version of the "Burn Them Out" scenario from Song of Deeds & Glory. Basically, Tim's warband was trying to burn down my watchtower and rout the undead defenders. I made the watchtower slightly harder to set fire to (given that it was stone, of course) but I also allowed him to arm any number of models with torches. He opted to give torches to all of his human tribesman, leaving just a handful of support figures without torches. We set the turn limit to 8 turns.
Here's Tim's warband. Yes, that's a freakin' coatl on his team. Tim is infamous for bringing out crazy dragons or other beasts from his extensive miniatures collection.
Here are a few guys from my warband: some Mantic skeletons, with Jack the Pumpkin King (a Blue Moon mini) and a Wraith from Reaper following close behind.
The game opened with Tim sending his tribesmen in a headlong charge across the battlefield. My undead warriors were clustered around the base of the watchtower, which was itself surrounded by some ruined walls and trees.
The battle was joined near the base of the tower. Tim's tribesman met Morse Dunjen, an undead wight leading a small group of skeletons and zombies. Morse proved to be a tough, capable fighter, but the minions in his charge were woefully inadequate compared to Tim's battle-hardened warriors.
While Morse held the center, Jack tried for a flanking move, spurring his steed around the crumbling stone walls to take the invaders by surprise. Jack proved to be a potent piece in this battle. He had impressive combat scores and the terror special ability, which proved decisive later in the game.
As the battle got underway, Tim's gigantic bird cavalry unit charged my wraith. It was a hard-fought duel, but the wraith soon fell to the bird's incessant pecking and scratching.
By about halfway through the game, Tim managed to mobilize his coatl. Naturally, it chose the least dangerous foe for its initial attack -- my poor zombie. Here they are, facing off on the edge of a small swamp. Spoiler alert: The coatl won.
Jack managed to push through the tribesmen's flank and crash into the rear of their main skirmish force. Right about the same time that he did this, though, I foolishly killed one of Tim's werewolves. The human figure was replaced with this slavering beast!
With a series of lucky rolls, I managed to kill the werewolf. By that point, I had just a few figures left, and Tim began positioning himself for the victory (set the watchtower afire). He sent several warriors running to the base of the tower, whereupon they began attempting to set it alight with their torches.
In the meantime, as I tried to deal with these enemies at my gate, Tim's coatl landed on the roof of the watchtower and picked a fight with my undead taskmaster (sort of a zombie leader). He was on the roof because he had been wounded in a previous game, rendering him almost useless in a fight!
That winged zombie in the lower left corner of the photo turned out to be the savior of the day. Somehow -- don't ask me how -- he killed the coatl. Shortly thereafter Tim's warband had to take a rout check, and he wisely decided to quit the field.
Afterward we did the typical campaign housekeeping: roll for casualties, roll for income, explore the territory. Most of my casualties came back, though a couple were wounded. The real zinger, though, was my exploration attempt. I rolled on the big random chart in Song of Deeds & Glory and found a forgotten temple hidden away in the swamp. It turned out that it was a temple dedicated to the forces of Good, so naturally my undead warband set out to sack it! We got a handful of gold for our troubles, but alas -- the patron gods of the temple grew wrathful at this transgression and cursed my warband! In game terms this means my entire warband suffers -1 to all Quality rolls for the next game. Darn! Talk about a crippling penalty!
Across the table, Jon and Mike fought a quick match. It ended early because Jon wanted to retool his warband. I didn't take notes, but I snapped this photo, showing a dark elf witch fighting a serpent atop a rugged cliff. Interesting!
A note about the turn limit we imposed on our game: I've been thinking a lot about the victory conditions in various Song of Blades & Heroes scenarios. They seem to assume that both players will fight until one side routs off the map, but I prefer a set number of turns in addition to morale-based defeat. Knowing how many turns you have to fight gives a measure of pacing to the game. In the watchtower game, we kept an eye on the number of turns we had played so that Tim could start to push forward with the scenario victory conditions.
We'll keep trying out new ideas as the campaign progresses. Check back soon for the latest updates!
-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member