Friday, February 7, 2014

Dark Ages Skirmish Day

My friend Chris Palmer and I have been playing a series of games using the popular Song of Blades and Heroes rules. This has mostly been to give us some impetus to paint the vast pile of Reaper Bones figures we got from the first Bones Kickstarter.

Buck Surdu, also a member of our club, the HAWKs, heard about this and suggested that we arrange for a day of Dark Ages skirmish gaming. He proposed that we run three sets of rules in parallel: Saga, Howard Whitehouse's Battle Troll, and Song of Blades and Heroes.

I was tasked with designing a scenario. I sent out this sketch map to the other designated rules leaders, based on a solo scenario I fought out last summer.

Buck did a write up of the overall event, so I'll just add a few things about the SBH games. I had hoped to try the other rules, but the illness of the other SBH "expert" left me working all three SBH games. In fact, we were short enough that I played the first two, so I am hoping my grasp of the game's tactics has improved...

For SBH, the Saxon side consisted of a leader, 2 slingers, 6 warriors, and 4 hapless farmers. The Vikings had a leader, 2 archers, 2 heavy foot, and 4 warriors, all drawn from the basic humans list in the SBH rules. "Leader" and "shooter" were the only special abilities in play on either side. This highlighted the activation rules and basic combat tactics (such as outnumbering the enemy and knocking him down are good ideas).

I played the Saxons in the first game. The activation rules came in for some early scrutiny when my opponent failed a key early check, turning play over to me while his figures were still fording the stream.

By the time he was ready to cross, my warriors were waiting to meet him, and the slippery rocks of the stream bed were apparently no fit place for a fight.

The Vikings never got out of the water, and the survivors eventually went looking for an easier target somewhere else.

In the second game, I also needed to play to make up the numbers. I gave my opponent a quick synopsis of game #1, and he chose to take the Saxons.

I got off to a much better start as the Vikings, and quickly crossed the ford. This lead to a much more open battle, as I had expected when setting up the scenario. As the Vikings I spread out and attacked the farmers. Inflicting a few gruesome kills on the farmers led to some hesitation on the part of the Saxons, which I was able to use to gang up on them.

The Saxons had a few good moments, almost turning the tide at one point, when their leader, at bay, successively killed two of his three opponents.

The third game ran much like the second, so I didn't keep any records as we went along.

It eventually wound down to two Vikings against two Saxons, with the Vikings finally sending off their opponents.

In addition to demonstrating the difficulty in play testing skirmish scenarios (due to the level of randomness), this was a good chance to firm up my understanding of the rules, and a fun outing in general. I still hope to get a chance to play the other rules sometime soon.


  1. This was a great write-up (as was Buck's on his blog)!
    The figures are exceptionally nice--are they Gripping Beast 28's? Or maybe 54mm figs?

    This is off the subject, but what project are you guys going to do for Histroicon this year?

    Best regards,

    Chris Johnson

  2. Thanks! My 28mm Dark Ages collection is a real mixed bag. There are figures from Gripping Beast, Old Glory, Foundry (old and new), Essex, and Eureka, at least. Most of the figures out in this fight were Gripping Beast or Old Glory, as best I can remember or tell from the pictures.

    As for Historicon, it's still in planning. It's the 20th anniversary of the club, though, so we'll try to make it memorable....