Today's work has left me feeling over the hill. Or at least, over these hills.
Last night I went round to visit Mi Hermarno Antiguo Jonesy. For the last year or so he's been running a games evening with a bunch of friends which I've dubbed the Old Farts Gaming Night (I can get away with calling it that, as the one time I visited I was delighted to discover I was the youngest person in the room.) I don't normally go there, simply because the games they've been playing haven't been the sort to float my boat. But the last two weeks Jonesy and the Old Farts have been playing the excellent fantasy skirmish game Song of Blades And Heroes, using 40mm figures, part of his new year project resolution that I've alluded to in previous posts.
SBH is a nice, simple set of rules that hide a surprising amount of depth. There are five or six direct supplements, plus versions for Napoleonics (Son of Drums and Shakos), Horror (Fear and Faith) and modern gunplay (Flying Lead). The activation system is quite innovative. When a player's turn comes around they may choose to activate one of their figures with either one, two or three dice. These are rolled, and the number of successes gained becomes the number of actions the figure can take in its turn. Obviously more actions is better, but there's a downside. Whenever a figure rolls two or more failed activation rolls, that players turn ends and initiative passes to the other player. So a player with poor quality troops might play safe and limit them to one activation dice per turn, so that they can at least guarantee to do something. A player with better troops might decide it's worth taking the chance of getting more actions by rolling three activation dice for them. This decision meking process is the heart of the game and is the primary source of friction as you suddenly find yourself unable to complete your plan due to a critically failed activation.
Last week saw a group of Roman legionnaires battling against a group of Egyptian undead. This week I didn't play but watched focussing on picking up the rules. We ran a treasure hunt scenario, and although Andy's small warband of Minotaurs found the treasure first, they were slaughtered by Jonesy's disciplined and organised Romans, who didn't take a single casualty. Despite that the game works really well and I'm looking forward to playing it again, as well as giving Flying Lead a try for both Victoriana and Street Violence skirmishes.
There was one other distinguishing feature of this game. As I mentioned we were using 40mm tall figures. These were plastic, and from a manufacturer you may have heard of......
Yes we have started experimenting with using Lego minifigs for light hearted gaming. They offer several major advantages over conventional wargames figures - they don't require painting but come ready to play, they are durable and don't require padded carrying cases, they have a selection of swappable weapons and equipment. While you may struggle to find suitable figures for some historical eras, fantasy and modern periods are well catered for, both by Lego and also a Polish company called Cobi who produce 100% Lego-compatible figures, including modern soldiers.
For a warband-scale skirmish game like Song of Blades And Heroes, the Lego minifigs work exceptionally well, and act as a helpful reminder not to take the game too seriously. I'm not about to bin all my regular miniatures in favour of smiley plastic men, but as a light-hearted diversion from regular gaming, I'm sold on the idea.
Not convinced? Will try to get pics of the next game to show you how it looks in practice.