Saturday, 31 March 2012

Rats Rout Orcs

Half-Orc Chief and Beserker
Since I've found myself playing a lot of 'Void and Stars' recently, I thought it would be a good idea to go back to basics, as it were, and play some more 'Songs of Blades and Heroes'. The problem was that, whilst I have played the game a couple of times in the past, I didn't have any warbands of my own to do it with. Or, at least, that's what I thought. Those that know me will know that my 15mm fantasy figures are pretty much tied up in HOTT armies. But rummaging through boxes and piles of unpainted lead and plastic showed that I had far more 25/28mm figures that I'd care to admit owning. Some of them were painted. And most of them are more than suitable for SoBH.

The biggest source of figures I have is GW's 'Lord of the Rings' line. Many years ago I subscribed to the part-work that accompanied their original release, and so have a pile of sprues and unpainted metal personality figures. I even have a handful of figures that I managed to paint before the allure of the game wore off. This line provided my first warband - Half-Orcs:

Ok, they're Uruk Hai. But let's not go all official shall we? For this game they're Half-Orcs.

The warband is as follows:

Chief - Q3, C4, Leader - 70pts
Beserker - Q3, C4, Fearless, Savage - 52pts
3 x Warriors - Q3, C3 - 30pts
2 x Crossbows - Q3, C2, Shooter: Medium - 28pts

I already had the warriors and crossbows painted, and did the chief and beserker last night; a black undercoat and some swift dry-brushing saw to it in no time at all.

(The bases are very basic and I will do them all up properly at some stage.)

Whilst I have other LotR factions to fight them with, I thought something different would provide a better looking game. Tucked away in a box I found a handful of plastic Skaven my son painted some ten years ago. They were pretty much of the quality you'd expect when you let a child of six loose with paints and a brush - the colours were OK (I suspect there was a lot of paternal advice), but some of the painting wasn't entirely 'between the lines'. Not to worry - I patched up the worst of the missed bits with some brown paint, then ran a dark brown wash over the figures. A little drybrushing on the metallic areas, and the figures were good enough to put on the table. I found a metal Skaven personality I'd bought and never painted it, and spent 20 minutes getting him 'table-ready' as a suitable leader, then added in some GW giant rats I painted 25 years ago for use in a Victorian Horror role-playing game we played at that time.

And so I ended up with this:

Clan Chief - Q3, C3, Leader, Tailslap - 66pts
7 x Warriors - Q4, C3, Gregarious - 27pts
3 x Rats - Q4, C2, Animal, Gregarious - 15pts

And so to the game. This was the setup:

Basically it was a couple of areas of ruins. The Rats are on the left, and the Half-Orcs on the right.

Here you can see the Half-Orcs advancing, their commander leading from the rear:

The Rats show what it means to be gregarious:

The two forces quickly closed:

The beserker went it alone, but was quickly surrounded and overwhelmed:

The Rats followed up this success by rushing the Half-Orc's chief, and killing him too:

The morale tests saw the Half-Orc force break up, with a couple fleeing the table.

Meanwhile in the ruins, the giant rats were fighting a couple of Half-Orcs:

The gruesome death of one of the rats saw a general rout, however, leaving one giant rat to face both Half-Orcs.

Back in the main battle the beleaguered Half-Orcs formed up for a last stand:

It didn't last long. In the ruins the last giant rat killed a Half-Orc, forcing them to another morale test for 50% losses:

The resulting tests saw two Half-Orcs cut down attempting to flee from close combat. With only two Half-Orc figures left, I drew the game to a close.

The early loss of the beserker and the leader really saw the downfall of the Half-Orcs; whilst individually slightly better than their rodent foes, the fact that the Rats could activate as groups right until the end of the battle gave them a real edge, especially with the Gregarious ability.

A couple of things I wasn't sure about. Firstly if a figure fails a morale test whilst in close combat I assumed that their opponent got a free-hack. If that resulted in a knockdown, I ruled that the figure was killed. In other words, the morale test forces a break-off, followed by a free-hack. Once the free-hack was  resolved I then resolved the flee based on the figure's post-combat position. In addition, I assumed that a figure that was prone was automatically killed if hit by shooting; the rules just say 'combat', and aren't entirely clear on the matter.


  1. Nice pics and good report!

    Re your last paragraph I'm pretty sure you've played that right but I will have a look at the rules again!

    1. I checked other sets; if you lose the free hack combat you're automatically killed.

      Still not sure about being prone and getting hit.

  2. I have also been looking over this recently because one of the more recent supplements has campaigns rules, something we like at Geek Club. I haven't bought them yet but have been re-reading the basic rules.

    I like them. They are simple enough for me to remember the rule pretty quickly and allow you to play the game rather than keep referencing stuff. And I have many, many 28mm figures...

    When I played a lot I used the LotR figures as well. Elves are surprisingly effective, particularly with a leader. I also worked out the Legion of Everblight starter from Privateer Press and used that once or twice. This was built using the character builder.

    A fun game.

    1. "Elves are surprisingly effective, particularly with a leader"

      Oh yes - I played another game afterwards and a six-figure Elf warband routed a nine figure human one - wiped it out, without loss. Q2 is worth its weight in gold, especially if you don't rely on a leader to get it.

  3. Nice report and a really good job on getting the Skaven warband together. Gives me hope for my old pile of lead.

  4. Nice simple (but effective) table cloth/gaming mat.

    1. It's just a piece of MDF board lightly sprayed with green paint. Actually it's not mine, but since I hosted most of the club games up until this week a lot of useful things like that got left at my house.


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