2 August, 2011
John and I tried out SBH with two warbands that were mostly Q4/C2. It played very differently. In particular, gruesome kills were much more common, as factors were lower, and caused more panic, because quality was also lower. My warband was:
Gordon (Leader) Q3/C3 [60 Points]
Duncan (Magic User) Q3/C1 [40 Points]
Gavin (Standard Bearer) Q4/C3 [29 Points
Shieldwall, Standard Bearer, Steadfast
Brian and Calum (Archers) Q4/C2 [2×30 Points]
Shooter (L), Forester
Donald, Fergus, Malcolm, Douglas and Alistair (Warriors) Q4/C2 [5×17 Points]
Angus and Dougal (Dogs) Q5/C1 [2×13 Points]
Animal, Long Move, Dashing, Greedy
John’s warband also had 12 figures. I had a wizard and two archers; John had three archers. I had a block of five warriors that had the Shieldwall skill, while some of John’s warband had heavy armour. I lost a third of my force to two gruesome hits from shooting (I rolled two 1’s to aimed shots). For the first, I rallied to the standard; for the second my two Q5 dogs scarpered. I was very relieved when my wizard managed to transfix an archer that one of my own archers then shot. At this point it should have triggered a morale test, but the rules don’t make it clear that a doubled transfixed figure is the same as a doubled fallen one. As the two types aren’t identical we decided not to do the test. Things didn’t get much better for me, but my wizard was lucky enough to transfix another figure that an archer did the honours on. Again it was doubled, but we didn’t have a morale test.
John was beginning to make his numbers tell when my leader made a silly attack and was surrounded and killed. Two didn’t run, the steadfast standard-bearer and a warrior next to him, clearly inspired by his example. I decided to fight on, and the standard-bearer succeeded in gruesomely killingly one of the opponent’s dogs. This caused them to rally to the flag, but after that, disgusted at this gratuitous violence to animals, no mercy was shown and the last two of my warband were cut down.
It was a fun battle and had my two shootings caused morale checks, it might have been closer. However, it seems that gruesome kills may be too frequent when low quality warbands are used. Neither of our warbands were ‘shooter’ ones, yet shooting had a disproportionate effect and the fight was largely decided by a quarter of our warbands that had ranged attacks. Otherwise, the average Q4 made for a more interesting game, as turnovers were more common and getting three activations for a figure was chancier and rarer. The warband was even more concerned to cluster round the leader than normal!
I note that for Song of Drums and Shakos (SDS), a gruesome kill is classed as an outright kill (in contrast to an incapacitating wound), and only ‘Green’ figures are affected by seeing one. Something similar might be needed if the average combat factor for SBH was lowered. However, as it is, Gruesome hits are a key element in bringing about a victory, so it’d be a shame to see be marginalized like this.
Anyway, I’m keen to do more SBH, as is John and I’m preparing to get a 28mm warband for a series of Dark Age games at the Auckland Wargames Club. Doubtless the range of plastic Dark Age figures will increase very quickly, but it’s not quite there yet. I’ll just have to go for Vikings and call them Hebrideans or Islemen!