Wednesday, 25 January 2012

King George commands and we obey...

Today's work has left me feeling over the hill.  Or at least, over these hills.
These are the last of a batch of home-made hills that I started for the Big Birthday Bash last year. They were cut and undercoated just too late to be finished for the game, and so have languished in the Cupboard Under t'Stairs since then.  Painting and flocking them was an easy win for DO-WOP Day 3.  These are so easy and cheap to make, there's absolutely no reason to ever buy commercially made hill pieces again.  I think combined with the hills I'd previously completed these will be enough regular grassy hills, the next batch I do will either be hills with an impassable rocky cliff on one or more sides, or possibly some desert coloured terrain.

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.


  1. Nice looking hills!

    I used Lego figures for a wargame over ten years ago ... and they worked very well indeed.

    All the best,


  2. They're also somewhat articulated, so you can pose them to represent various conditions such as fallen/lying down.

  3. What have you done to my boy?... he's talking about buying sheets of polystyrene, saving his pocket money to buy cardboard building pdf files and wanting after Warhammer figures (ok I know that last one wasn't your doing!!)

    Seriously though the lego stuff sounds very interesting (for one thing it's stuff we already have) and takes very little preparation.

    Nice hills - almost good enough to eat :-)

    Saul's comment about your blog (BTW), it's hard to find things. (Hhhmmm... they were never meant for reference so not sure if you can do anything about it)

  4. @r1ckatkinson - I did warn you! You should be grateful it's me - I'm trying to steer him towards cheaper options. If we don't get him properly trained before Uncle James takes him to that Games Workshop club, you may need to take out a second mortgage to pay for his new hobby.

    We'll have to arrange a visit ASAP. I've got some polystyrene sheets to spare here and we can have a game to see if it's really his thing before he (i.e. you) spends any more money on it.

  5. Is there a way to view Labels and posts flagged with them?

  6. Just for you, I've added Search and Labels gadgets to the right hand column.