Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Musical Interlude

I am taking a brief break from painting Napoleonics, mainly because soon I will be cross eyed from painting all the white belts and straps, and soon all of my vision will be tinted red. I was planning to make this another Wargaming on a Budget post but it has become more of a compilation of my various thoughts on Ganesha Games' unique little game, Song of Blades and Heroes.

Sir Tristan, out to earn his spurs. 
Why did I choose Song of Blades? To be perfectly honest the first thing that caught my attention was the title. The rather poetic title, Song of Blades and Heroes, reminded me of the heroic tales of my boyhood. I have long professed my love of skirmish level games, but always thought that games such as Mordheim was always too limited in scope.

Men-At-arms engage a rampaging troll
I decided to take a chance and bought a pdf copy from Wargames Vault and began reading. I was extremely impressed with it on the whole. Although I was used to glossy finishes as found in GWs products, this little black and white little indy title had a nostalgic charm about it, and the art work reminded me of old style rpg rulebooks like the first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. 

The System itself was radical to my mind. A wargame that functions with only two stats... Range sticks in three sizes rather than measuring tape? It all sounded crazy. After reading the rules for a second time cover to cover I realised more and more that these rules were the rules I always wanted to write. It had all the elements that my ideal skirmish game would have. This is a game not tied to setting or miniature line, where the players are free to create their own setting, factions and troops, with simple, quick mechanics and a simple yet involving campaign system.

Sir Tristan leads his Men-At-Arms through
ancient ruins
I soon ended up buying all of the expansion books that were not setting specific. And my creative juices were in overflow. My only problem seemed to be focusing one one idea for a warband.

I managed to capture the thrill of a new system, of a new game, without having to shell out on new models. I found myself scouring old cases and bits boxes rescuing old miniatures that had not seen use in years or projects that were never finished. I ended up digging out old models from Rackham, Reaper and even old Games Workshop  models.

For my first warband, I decided to go 'old school'. One of my earliest ever miniature armies was a Britonian Army for Warhammer 5th edition. I opted for Bretonians back then because I always had a fascination with medieval knights (my earliest memory is seeing Ivanhoe as a child). So I dug out a bunch of the old men-at-arms from the days when Bretonia was full of heroic, chivalrous knights (as opposed to snobbish peasant abusers that they are now) and began rebasing them.

Classic Bretonian Men-At-Arms, rebased and repainted 
As I was working on the army list, a simple narrative began to form itself. It was liberating to build a force not constrained by someone else's setting or army list. Here I was free to build my own narrative. So the rather cliched knight errant Sir Tristan and his band of retainers were born.

For the leader, Sir Tristan, I decided on a Confrontation Paladin of Alahel with a head swap. The warband was shaping up, with a leader and some archers and men-at-arms. I decided to fill the roster with slightly more unique models. I added a Reaper Dwarf fihter of some description, and thus Sir Tristan's old drill master and sometime bodyguard Baradan Stonefist was born. Creating the warband has been a joy. So much so that I am now working on four additional warbands, all based on rescued old models. I have even began planning multiple versions of Sir Tristan depending on how he progresses in future campaigns.

Baradan Stonefist
I managed to get 9 models painted in a couple of afternoons. Considering these were all painted in Non Metallic Metals (NMM) I was rather pleased with myself. It was a nice change of pace to work on someting that wasn't painted as part of a batch of 30 odd.

With Sir Tristan and his retinue complete, work has already begun on a band of orc raiders (including the troll picture above) as well as more scenery and some treasure/loot counters. Most of the scenery will be GW with the occasional treasure chest looted from Hero Quest.

In other news, I am looking into the possibility of self publishing some miniature rules online (through Wargames Vault for examplle) however this is still a long way off, as none of my rules are in the play test stages yet.

Until next time I leave you with some images of Sir Tristan and his warriors.

-Banchou Badger

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