Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Shiny Happy People holding hands

Just got back from an evening at mi hermano del albañil Jonesy's where we had another couple of games of Song of Blades and Heroes using Lego minifigs.

 There's no disputing it.  Playing with Lego really does seem to boost the fun factor.  It's not for everyone, and to be honest I wouldn't like to completely give up my conventional figures entirely for these.  But if you are looking for a light-hearted, fun game, these little plastic people are sure to bring a smile to your face, as they try to hack each other to pieces.

We actually managed to get two games in tonight, with Jonesy's Romano-British going against Andy's furious Picts, with me kibbitzing, making keen observations about the rules and of course providing sound effects.

The All-Caledonia Swimming Team
The first battle saw the two sides fighting for a treacherous ford, or in our case a broken down bridge.  Figures attempting a double-move across the bridge had to make Quality checks to cross successfully, or else fall in the water.  Naturally with the dense mass of Roman troops blockading the far side, Andy's Scots felt compelled to charge across full speed.  Two failed to make it, falling into the river below.  Of the two that did one fell to a Roman spear, while the other managed to knock down the Roman cavalryman.  Somehow though he was able to get a foothold on the other side, and by bringing down the Roman centurion (Leader) triggered a morale check and greatly reduced the Roman's troop effectiveness.  Once the swimmers had made it back onto the bridge and across, they were able to mop up the remaining Romans with ease.
"Why is it always me on the end of the line?
Why can't I be in the middle like Lucius?"

The second battle was an Ambush scenario, in which the Romans basically started out hidden, represented by twice as many counters as they had figures.  Whenever an enemy got within long range, or attacked, or whenever Jonesy chose to activate a counter, he could then decide whether it was a real figure or a dummy.

This battle was notable because both sides' soldiers/warriors had the "Shieldwall" ability, and for the first time we saw a Pictish shieldwall match up against a Roman one.  unfortunately when the mounted Pictish King knocked down the Roman cavalryman, Jonesy pivoted his legionnaires to attack the King and in the process turning flank-on to the Pictish wall.  

Andy's ranger went up against the Roman druid and skirmishers and managed to take out the druid with a Gruesome Kill, with the following morale roll effectively neutralising the skirmishers.  Then after some very messy fighting between the shieldwalls, the Picts finished off the fallen cavalryman and scored another Gruesome Kill on one of the legionnaires, which effectively broke the Romans' spirits.

So battle honours went to the hairy men from the north and Jonesy went away to rethink his Roman warband.  Everyone enjoyed the games, all of us grinning like loons and howling with laughter as the game progressed.  Would the game have been fundamentally any different if played with conventional wargaming figures?  Mechanically not in the slightest.  But somehow I think it wouldn't have been as much fun.

After the games we sat around and discussed the pros and cons of gaming with Lego.  Top of the pros was the fact that you could be playing with figures on the same day you bought them, something that you can't say for lead or plastic figures (as our unpainted and unused lead mountains will testify)  We also discussed some of the amazing third party accessories available for Minifigs - I've seen some realistic looking firearms including a shotgun complete with tiny scale shotgun shells. And unlike conventional gaming pieces, anything you buy for Lego can be repurposed for a range of things by swapping and changing.  For example, Andy has a growing collection of the much sought after redcoat soldiers.  With tricorne hats, they're government troops ready to battle pirates in the Caribbean. Swap the tricornes for shakos, and you have Napoleonic era troops.  Swap them for sun helmets, and they'll do for battling Fuzzy-Wuzzy in one of Queen Victoria's little wars.  So if some of the third party accessories might seem expensive, once you start to think of them as part of a toolkit to greatly expand the use of your existing figures, they suddenly start to look a lot more reasonable.

I'm sad to say that I won't be joining Jonesy and Andy in their collection, at least for the forseeable future.  It's fun to collect and I'm enjoying the games, but to really invest in Lego gaming requires time, money and a hunter-gatherer attitude when it comes to tracking down the particular minifigs you need at affordable prices.   I'm committed to getting the most I can out of my existing toys, rather than starting anything new like this.  Maybe someday...

In the meantime I've been burning the candle at both ends and finally managed to complete the conversion of the two GW Leman Russ tanks I bought at Britcon last year.  I'm really pleased with the results, and they are now primed and awaiting painting.  After having them kicking around the flat in a semi-complete state for so long, it feels great to finally get them done and dusted and so nearly ready for use.  The only fly in the ointment is that Jonesy bought me two more for Xmas, which are going to require even more work to convert.  Maybe they'll be ready by next Xmas!

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