Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Song of Blades and Heroes with the Lad...

Song of Blades and Heroes, by Ganesha Games is a relatively simple skirmish game. With slightly more than half a dozen figures per side, and only a couple of game stats to worry about, it plays quickly, but manages despite its simplicity to remain an engaging and tactical game.

Tonight my lad wanted to turn his hand to playing a miniatures game, bless him, and Song of Blades and Heroes was my immediate thought. I didn't expect him to immediately grasp the subtleties of how to push your actions or combine the use of your figures, but I did hope he would have a fun time pushing miniatures around, and he certainly did.

In Song of Blades and Heroes each figure can be activated with one, two or three dice. For every result above the Quality stat of the figure, you get one action. But if you roll two fails (below the Quality stat), play turns over to your opponent. This core activation mechanism contains a neat element of 'push-your-luck', with the desire to get more actions balanced against the risk of prematurely ending your turn. Combine this with various tactical bonuses and penalties, and an array or little special abilities, and you have an engaging but straight-forward game experience.

It's a great little game, much valued for the low miniature count, the fast game-play and the ease of rules. It also throws in some fun twists via the special abilities, such as the Leader ability, which allows for group activations, moves and firing. In short: it is fun.

In quick order I dashed off a couple of army lists, got out some miniatures and, with the help of the lad, set up the board. We rolled the Magic Item scenario - which would see our warbands searching for a special item from several possibilities on the board.

In all the game was a lot of fun. My son chose to continually push his luck by rolling three dice every activation, but that is to be expected. As we play more, his choices will grow more tactical. He did manage to knock off a couple of my warband though, so I can't be too critical!

In what I hoped would be a decisive move, my Mole with a Quality of 2+ managed to throw this turn, he fell to bow fire shortly after this photo was taken...

The miniatures are by Splintered Light, from their Woodland Warriors range, and paint up very nicely. The buildings are from 4Ground's 15mm Dark Age range, and look great.

I really do enjoy Song of Blades and Heroes, it's a thoroughly enjoyable and easy to get into miniatures game, with rules that are simple in play, but provide a solid depth of choices. Well worth checking out!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Attracted to Infinity...

Infinity is a skirmish level science fiction table top miniatures game published by Corvus Belli. It is thick on the action, and for me the two standouts in the game are the dynamic and tension building activation mechanism, combined with the threat imposed by a reaction mechanism. In other words, you have a set number of actions you can take, and you may spend them how you please (including activating the same model multiple times). You must also be very careful about dominating lines of fire on the table, as models may react by firing at enemy models at any and every opportunity, even out of turn.

It is a gloriously fun and dynamic game, filled with tense choices, tactical play and a mix of forward planning and flying by the seat of your pants.

A good Infinity table has plenty of terrain, allowing for extensive use of cover, planning, careful movement, and covering fire.

The setting for Infinity is a sprawling space opera style universe, with a multitude of varying powers vying for their own slice. It is a highly enjoyable and well developed setting, explored thoroughly in the N3 Core Book, and expanded upon in the updated release of Human Sphere. The setting is well supported by a very consistent aesthetic and wonderful art (carried through into the miniatures).

I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to write for the Infinity Role Playing Game, published by Modiphius Entertainment, and have loved getting stuck into the setting. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the books in print later this year!

For Infinity I collect the Yu Jing, a conglomeration of various Asian powers melded into one. The miniatures produced by Corvus Belli are stunning, if sometimes a little agonizing for a lazy man such as myself to assemble. 

With a variety of miniature games in my collection, as well as hundreds of board and card games, storage is a very real issue. I just don't have anywhere to put all my miniatures!

Pinching the idea from a friend (thanks Quinton), I recently got hold of a metal tool box, and started magnetizing the bases of my figures to go inside it. I know this is not a new idea, but it is the first time I've tried it, and I must say that it's worked an absolute treat.

A couple of neodymium magnets under the base of a model, and it sticks to the interior of the metal toolbox with no worries. My only concern in fact, is that I may have attached too many magnets to the base of some of the figures, and may well pull them apart or off the base as I try to get them out (note to self: neodymium magnets are strong).

Happily, I found a reasonably well sized tool box, and will be adding a bunch of my other miniatures to it as well. At the moment it is home to my Infinity models and my Splintered Light models (for Song of Blades and Heroes). I plan to add my Planetfall miniatures in there as well, as soon as the postman delivers the packet of magnets I need to the door.

If you are struggling for storage, or are looking for a storage solution that is also handy for transport, a metal toolbox and some magnets is a very solid choice.

I used two magnets per stack - as this reached the same height as the interior of the base. For my Infinity models I added two such stacks (4 magnets per base) - probably excessive. 

The remotes (the large bases at the bottom), I used 4 stacks (8 magnets), definitely excessive.

Splintered Light miniatures for Song of Blades and Heroes

I used a lighter touch with these, only one stack per base - which was well and truly enough.

Strong magnets... a plenty of room left in the toolbox for more miniatures...

Saturday, 7 May 2016


One of these days I'll get around to writing some book reviews, and when I do, The Name of the Wind and the other books of the Kingkiller Chronicle will be among the first.

I am a long-time lover of the fantasy genre, falling at first to The Hobbit and later The Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion. I spent many nights burning candles into the morning, journeying through Midkemia, Lankhmar, The Kingdoms of the West, Eosia, Melnibone, and many other realms and places.

"I only know one story, But oftentimes small pieces seem to be stories themselves."*

The Name of the Wind is the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicle, and it is one of the very best books I have had the pleasure of reading, irrespective of genre. Intelligent, deep, interesting and beautifully written it had me by the throat from the start and didn't let go.

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” *

Now I find that a game described in the series, that world's version of Chess or Go if you will, has been designed by James Ernest, and is currently on Kickstarter. Looking at the rules and how to play video, it looks like a solid abstract strategy game, which is no surprise from a designer such as Ernest.

As a lover of the books, and a sucker for games of all stripes, this is something that pleases me mightily.

"The entire game, not just the fiddling about with stones. The point is not to play as tight as you can. The point is to be bold. To be dangerous. Be elegant."*

*All quotes from The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Inverse Genius Podcast

Many moons ago now I found and started listening to a podcast called The Dice Tower. From there I voraciously downloaded and listened to a whole menagerie of podcasts. In the beginning it was all game related, later it spun out to include podcasts with a focus on science and history and other areas.

In these early, heady days of discovery, when the world of podcasting was opening up before me like some wonderful lotus in a garden of wonder, I ran across a podcast called On Board Games. The hosts of the show at the time were Erik Dewey, Donald Dennis, and Scott Nicholson, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show.

Time passed, and my passive enjoyment of podcasts turned slowly more active. I contributed to The Dice Tower, and On Board Games, recorded a short series of episodes titled Teaching Strategies with Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower, and co-hosted the Games and Schools and Libraries podcast with Donald Dennis. I also co-host the Element 270 podcast with Peter Fontebasso and Reese Plank.

Recently the fantastic people at the On Board Games podcast have been branching out, and have just started a new podcast called Inverse Genius, which is a general geekery podcast covering a range of topics from books to movies, Netflix series and more. I recently had the pleasure of jumping on the microphone again with Don, and we recorded a couple of segments that will be featuring in upcoming episodes of the Inverse Genius podcast, in these we talk about the Netflix series Jessica Jones and Daredevil Series 1. Of course, we have plans to record more, and about a range of other topics.

The hosts of the various segments will be familiar to people who enjoy a range of board game podcasts, and it really is a lot of fun to listen to them chat about things beyond the realm of gaming.

If you're a fan of podcasts, and are after something that covers a range of topics from books to movies, tv series and more, the Inverse Genius podcast is worth checking out (and yes, I am biased)!