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Ganesha Games


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Long Review: I saw the advert for Song of Blades and Heroes (SBH) on TMP a while back, when Andrea was looking for playtesters. I was interested, but due to time constraints I decided not to apply as a tester. When he recently advertised the rules for sale as a completed article, I thought "$4.00? Why not!".
I was suprised at the quality and content of the rules. Andrea has put together a very neat little system here.
The 34-page pdf document and a full-colour cover sent as a separate file make up the entire purchase. The book itself has black and white fantasy art scattered between the rules. The quality is a little mixed, but the rules more than make up for it. The initial impression is that they are geared to fun (i.e. beer-and-pretzels), and don't take themselves too seriously, unlike some products that are on the market. I'd say it's perfect as an introductory game for someone new to wargaming, or as a way of playing some fast, fun games that don't require hours of meomorising tables.
An average game is supposed to take about 45 minutes, and is played on a 2'*2' table for 15mm and 3'*3' for 28mm figures. The game is a designed to use about 10-12 figures per side, and is a pure skirmish game. The rules are use normal dice (D6) and three sticks cut to specific lengths. Best of all (as far as I'm concerned) is that there is no book-keeping! It's also not miniatures-specific, so you can use any of your old miniatures that have been superceded by newer editions of other rules. As a long-time gamer, I found many familiar rules, while others are quite unique.
Each figure is rated for combat factor, quality and special abilities. Combat Factor can be any number but is usually 1-6, with higher numbers being better than low. Quality is a range from 2-6 with 2 being an elite character and 6 being a peasant. Special Abilities "break the rules" by allowing figures to perform actions and feats that others could not do- things like moving faster than others or flying, for example. There are no hit points or armour class- everything is abstracted into the combat system.
Game-play is in alternating turns. The winner of the first initiative gets to nominate a figure to move and rolls 1, 2 or 3 D6 for activation points. For each die that beats the figure's quality number, he gets 1 action point. If he gets 2 or more failures, the turn automatically passes to the next player. Each action point allows one action. For instance, you can use 1 point to move into combat range, another point to attack and the third point to make that attack even more severe.
Combat mechanics (both hand-to-hand and ranged, as well as spell-casting) will be pretty familiar. Each figure rolls a D6 and adds his combat factor and all situational modifiers. The highest roll wins the combat. On any result that is less than double, the loser is pushed back a base depth and might be knocked down. If the result is double or more, the loser is eliminated. If the result is three times the opponent's score or more (due to certain situational modifiers or ganging up on a figure), the loser is killed in a grusome fashion and any figures on the loser's side within range of sight has to make a morale test.
It's a simple yet effective system that requires no book-keeping (except remembering the initial activation roll off if you have multiple players). The rules capture the balance between playing a tactical game or a fast, furious hack-n-slash fest.
The rules also include a points sytem for designing additional figures not covered in the almost encyclopaedic listing, and even six scenarios, which can potentially be linked to make a campaign. There are even some frequently asked questions and some comments from Andrea.

Period:       Fantasy.
Scale:        Designed for 15mm, but can be used for 28mm with minor modification.
Basing:      Individual.
Contents:   34-page PDF document.
Historical Accuracy: Average.
Sources: Purchased for own use.
Designers: Ganesha Games
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