Sellswords & Spellslingers. Hurrah!

I'm keeping to my word about getting this game to the table now that I'm reunited with my printed cards again.

I'm playing the basic intro scenario (Through the Badlands) with 4 heroes: A magic user-type (spellcaster); a ranger-type; a rogue-type and a barbarian warrior type. They have to run the gauntlet of foes (a Troll, Orc Brutes and Orc warrior minions) and make it from one end of the table and exit out the other.

Excuse the terrain and unpainted minis but I really wanted to get this game on the table!

The game started well. The Spellcaster amazingly rolled triple-20s! What are the odds of that?! If only I can roll like this when I play Infinity! 😝

This was offset later on in the game where I failed to activate any hero 3 times (on 9 dice! but thankfully not all in a row) but with 6 activations my Spellcaster was able to learn her Fireball spell on the 3rd try. With the results below (it’s an AOE spell). 

The other 3 heroes slowly made their way up the to the other side of the map, fighting and killing off lots of Orc Warrior minions (horde) and several Orc Brutes (solos).

This was hampered by the Rogue's weakness: Greed. She had to pass a Will check every time she activated or she'd immediately start looting all the dead bodies.

The Spellcaster was incredibly useful to deal with hordes as her 3" AOE spell can reliably one-shot 3-4 minions IF it hits. And if the other solos clump up too much, there's a possibility of hitting two of them at a time.

The fly in the ointment was the Green Troll. With a ton of HP and high defence/attack... none of the fledging heroes wanted to deal with it despite the loot it carried.

So the game had the Troll chasing after the fleing heroes, Orc Brutes or Warriors popping up from Ambush and a Trap that the rogue evaded. (I made a mistake as the scenario had a very specific unavoidable Trap instead of the random one I rolled).

It was a pity the heroes had to leave more bodies unlooted but it was either go for the scenario win or possibly get cut down by the Troll that ws rapidly closing in on them!

I replayed the same game again (despite the rulebook saying not to) because I got several rules critically wrong. One rule I made a mistake with was not paying attention to the difference between PCs (your hero characters) and PLAYERS (how many people playing, if co-op). The scenario actually spelt it out: "Against a single player there will be no horde" since hordes are determined by # of players -1. Instead I assumed it was # of heroes -1. Still, that gave me a great challenge and I'm not sure I can go back to the lower numbers again in future games...

The second time round the bad guys just spawned right on top of the same 4 heroes and this time my heroes really flunked at least one roll each time they activated, ensuring lots of activations for the foes. Thank goodness their movement is only 4"! (Note all the DIY dead body tokens).

The end game featured an amusing game of "tiptoe through the tulips" as the heroes tried to kills some foes to loot them (it was painful to leave empty handed after leaving around 10 bodies unlooted) all the while avoid the charging Troll.

Still, my heroes managed to chop down most of the minions surrounding them and even managed to loot a few before the Green Troll had them running for the exit and the scenario win! I also managed to avoid the deadly Trap because I drew the card while my heroes were still in the lower half of the table (no traps). If I had drawn the card in the upper half, it would have been a totally different story.

AAR: As usual, my reactions are a mixed bag. Firstly, I was was pleasantly surprised. I like the game system a lot. Simple but not simplistic. The system works well and the game flows smoothly. Rolling between 1-3 dice for activations has a nice push-your-luck feel to your choices as you have to balance what you want to do with the possibility of failing a roll and letting the foes activate. This is a direct port of this game's older sibling: A Song of Blades and Heroes of which I have the rules but not played yet because it's written to be primarily PvP. And some Actions require you to have 2 actions to spend, so it's not an easy choice. 

This was offset by a rulebook that’s... probably... one version away from being the final version. It just needed one more pass by someone who’d never played the game before to highlight all the omissions. (e.g. The enemy AI usually instructs you to charge them at your heroes... but there’s only 1 mention of charge in the entire book and it wasn’t a definition... so I eventually worked out it meant just advance its max move which is a standard move if 4" and if the enemy hits base to base with your heroes, combat automatically happens. Being very free with terminology, using different words for the same action. And so on).

I'm also not keen on d20s as its so terribly swingy. I wish they’d gone for d10s instead. Of course you can roll a "1" (fail) on a d10 as easily as on a d20... but it's the perception of swinginess I think that's important. Needing a "15" to pass a roll (12 as the TN + 1 for non-optimal distance + 2 for rain) and getting a "2" is just... crushing.

But other than those complaints the game is very fun and free form. Take a total of 60XP to stat up your warband (4-6 heroes?) and off you go. There’s enough scenarios in the book to give you an idea of what you can do with the system and it shouldn’t be too hard to write your own, since one thing I overlooked in my earlier read through 1+ years ago was there’s also a campaign system built in.

So I'm still on a quest for a solo-able fantasy skirmish game. I thought 5 Leagues from the Borderlands was it, but though I like the campaign the battle rules felt a bit wanting. So now it's down to Sellswords, Crom and Burning Sands. Sellswords some campaign rules to help the characters progress but it doesn't advance a storyline unlike 5 Leagues. Crom is a great system but lacks a campaign mode, even though it's very sandboxy and you can do almost anything you want. Burning Sands... I need to play a bit more to get a better feel for the game.

And that's my thoughts (FWIW) after two very basic games with some basic foes.