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Thread: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

  1. #1
    Chapter Master gorenut's Avatar
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    Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    I completely forgot that Warseer has a general gaming section. For those of you who visit the other GW sections, I apologize for the very similar posts.. I'm just trying to get as many opinions as possible before putting in more investments (mostly time-wise).

    TLDR is on the bottom.. but here is my (long-winded) situation:

    So I'm currently looking for a skirmish game for me and my girlfriend to replace Mordheim. We've come to realize that we like the idea of Mordheim more than actually playing it. The rules are great until you actually start playing it.. then all the clunkiness of 40k 2nd comes back to my head. It's a game I could have enjoyed more back in highschool, but not today as a working adult just trying to have a common hobby.

    So after about a year of both of us playing Mordheim we're looking at 2 other systems that we can potentially use to replace it. I've always heard great things about SBG.. but still hesitant of going into a still semi-complex system (relatively speaking compared to SOBH) and then going through the troubles of trying to find matching units in LOTR to our Mordheim warbands. It'd probably take too much time trying to create our own stats for our Mordheim warbands and try to balance it.

    The other system I just discovered about recently is Song of Blades and Heroes. I've already downloaded the rules (was so cheap anyways) and it does look promising for something thats quick and let us use all our models. Other bonus is that there's already a unit creator, but above that... the book itself already contains all the races we collect (Undead, Dwarfs, Lizardmen, Orcs). I'll probably give this a try first since I have the rules. Only thing I'm worried about is if the game is a little too simplistic that we might end up losing "flavor" amongst our units/races.

    TLDR:
    So while I try out SOBH first.. anyone who has played both systems I've mentioned make a comparison and tell me why you play one system now over the other? Big bonus to anyone who was in the same situation as me and wanted to find a replacement for Mordheim. Thanks.
    Mordheim Project Log (Undead, Orcs, and Lizardmen.... so far):
    http://www.warseer.com/forums/showth...05#post5871505

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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    Honestly, Mordheim's not that clunky, there's certainly worse out there. I've never played SOB&H, but I have played LotR since the movies first came out. LotR is really, really simple to learn, if you play with warriors on foot I think it's like 20-30 pages worth of rules, and they could easily be condensed down. Cavalry, heroes, and monsters add a bit more complexity, but not much. It's an easy enough game to mod to your tastes too, but I'd recommend giving it a shot using the actual LotR minis too. Armies are cheap enough and IMO it seems to work better than if you throw in your own stats and rules.
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  3. #3

    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    I enjoyed the little of LotR that I did play. (Messed around with both the first boxed starter and a later one, but both of them got smashed up on me when a cousin came and wrecked them while trying to play with them). Haven't played Song of Blades & Heroes though.

    One other option you may want to take a peak at is Savage Showdown by Pinnacle. It's a minis skirmish that is free for the most part (There are a few things that are intended to be imported from the Savage Worlds RPG, but most of them are still easy enough to figure out) and you've got a unit builder for free.

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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    I know SOBH and I play it (even if not that often) in my club we play more historical games and Ganesha Games' Song of Drums and Shakos (Napoleonic skirmish) is one of games we play more often (same engine as SOBH, very well customized for the Napoleonic wars).
    I'm sure you have already checked all the supplements for SOBH but, in any case, I would like to point out that there are: Song of Deeds and Glory (with a campaign system), Song of Wind and Water (weather and terrain rules) and Song of Gold and Darkness (dungeons exploration). All of these also contain new creatures, monsters, powers, etc.
    The main reasons to play with SOBH, for me at least, are that it's quick to play and that you can use any miniature you want (if you cannot find the stats between the hundreds already published you can always ask on the forum/group, the author and all the other guys are usually very helpful).
    And it's fun

    Hope this can help you.
    Luciano
    "Give a man fire, and you keep him warm for the night. Set a man on fire, and you keep him warm for a lifetime"
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  5. #5
    Chapter Master Whitwort Stormbringer's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    I answered your thread in the LOTR forum, but here's my quick run-down:

    The main drawback to SOBH, I think, is that with only two stats it can become difficult to differentiate between very different types of creatures. I haven't actually played the core game, though, only variants (and mostly modern or sci-fi variants), so maybe the base rules have a way of addressing this that I'm unaware of. The other thing about the game is the activation system - while I do like it, and it's different, I find games to be very frustrating if you don't have at least 1 Quality 3 figure with the Leader skill, or a team mostly made up of figures with Quality 3 or the Hero skill. I would assume that, in a game of Mordheim, whoever your warband leader is will be Quality 3 with Leader, so that's probably a non-issue. You mentioned in the LOTR thread that you wished there were separate shooting and melee stats, but in my experience it generally works OK with the same number. Consider WFB or Mordheim - humans tend to be average at both, elves are good at both, goblins suck at both. For a unit that is supposed to be especially good at one or the other, that's where special rules can come in (especially for shooters). True, an individual character can grow in one area more than the other, but once again that (to me) is where special rules should come in. You could even consider withholding powerful attacks and aimed shots, and make them learnable skills instead, to further emphasize the difference.

    On the SBG end of things, I like the system a lot for medieval/fantasy skirmish, or really any melee-driven game. I find that the more detailed stat line helps to better differentiate between races, but the basic game mechanics are still quite simple and straightforward. I also like the heroic stats (might, will, and fate), and think that they would add a lot of flavor particularly in the case of small-scale engagements along the same lines as Mordheim. Additionally, if you can track them down, there are already two games that are a combination of the LOTR rules and the Mordheim campaign system - Legends of the High Seas and Legends of the Old West from the now-defunct Warhammer Historicals - which you could use as a template. Obviously some legwork will fall in your lap, as you'll have to construct the warband lists, but honestly in my opinion that should be relatively easy, as you can come up with rough equivalents to a lot of Mordheim profiles without any trouble (magic users will probably be your main stumbling block). Not to steal another user's thunder, but there is of course the LOTR cost calculator (linked in the LOTR forum thread), which is very handy in the event that you want to create custom profiles. Heck, I've played a lot of both LOTR and Mordheim, I'd even be willing to help you put the warband lists together if you wanted me to.
    The great thing about the dwarves is that, even though there's this comic element, when they fight - they really fight!

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    Chapter Master gorenut's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    Thanks again Whit for the awesome post. Indeed having only 2 stats per model was one thing I was worried about. I hope there are enough special rules that help differentiate enough.

    I'll have to really look into SBG to see how much I like the rules.
    Mordheim Project Log (Undead, Orcs, and Lizardmen.... so far):
    http://www.warseer.com/forums/showth...05#post5871505

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    Chapter Master gorenut's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    As mentioned in the other thread the main races we'd need to find LOTR equiv are orcs (boar riders, black orcs, etc), dwarfs, vampire counts/undead, and lizardmen. I think dwarfs and orcs would be the easiest but I'm not sure how the standard lotr orcs compare to warhammer ones since in the movies they don't seem that much stronger or tougher than your standard humans. Not sure if its different in the game.
    Mordheim Project Log (Undead, Orcs, and Lizardmen.... so far):
    http://www.warseer.com/forums/showth...05#post5871505

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    Chapter Master Whitwort Stormbringer's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    Orcs in the LOTR game are pretty much the same as humans, only with worse shooting and courage stats. They're not quite so tough and brutish as the greenskins in Warhammer. Whereas most races increase their fight stat for elite units, however, orcs (including goblins, orcs, and uruk-hai) generally get an increase in strength instead.

    I'm not really sure how you would capture the difference between a unit that is tougher, but not stronger or more skilled, in SOBH where only one stat encompasses Weapon Skill, Balistic Skill, Strength, and Toughness. I guess you could give them "armor" and just count it as being resilient.
    The great thing about the dwarves is that, even though there's this comic element, when they fight - they really fight!

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    Chapter Master gorenut's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    Thats rather disappointing about the Orcs.

    You're right about armor thing with SOBH. I'm just going through the rules right now and I must admit that I was worried about the lack of wounds before.. but seeing how there is the "Tough" trait.. it does kind of deal with it in a simple manner. I also like that losing "wounds" affects the way they function by taking a higher number to activate.
    Mordheim Project Log (Undead, Orcs, and Lizardmen.... so far):
    http://www.warseer.com/forums/showth...05#post5871505

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    Chapter Master Comrade Wraith's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    If it heps you along here is a post I provided when somone else was asking about translating mordheim into lotr SBG, its only detailed equipment changes and stats for a general mercenary warband, but the skills section is also fairly easy to translate into SBG, mostly just by saying "Fight value increased by 1" instead of "WS value increased by one" and so on.

    Fist: -1 to win fight, +1 enemy defense (or -1 Strength if you prefer...)
    Dagger: +1 enemy defense
    Hammer/Club/Staff: If you win the fight your opponent is knocked to the ground.
    Axe: -1 enemy defense
    Sword: Parry- after you lose a fight, you may force your opponent to re roll one successful to-wound roll. This may not be done for attacks of strength 6 or more unless your models strength is also 6 or greater.
    *Two handed Sword/axe/hammer - -1 to win fight, +2 Strength. If fight is won on a roll of 6, opponent is knocked down.
    *Flail - As two handed weapon with optional special attack: If the fight is won, they may choose to knock every enemy in base contact down rather than roll to wound.
    Spear - no changes to SBG rules (possibly a bonus against cavalry?)
    *Halberd - may be used as a spear or two handed weapon. Choose before resolving fight.
    Short Bow - Orc Bow
    *Bow - Bow
    *Longbow - Elf Bow
    *Crossbow - Uruk Hai Crossbow
    *Musket - Uruk Hai Crossbow +1S, 30" range, alternate turn firing.
    Throwing weapons - SBG Throwing weapons rules.

    *Cannot be used with shields
    Kept Shielding rules and Armour rules.

    I never got around to working out prices, but these seemed to work fairly well, and gave some legitimacy to commonly underused weapons.

    For the mercanary warband I used the following profiles:

    Captain: Captain of Men

    Champion: Captain of men, -1A, M/W/F :1/0/0

    Younblood:
    F:2
    S:3
    D:2
    A:1
    W:1
    C:2
    M/W/F :0/0/0

    Warriors/Marksmen/Swordsmen: Warriors of rohan (with D3, as armour must be bought), Marksmen Have F:3/3+, Swordsmen are equipped with swords and have F4.
    EDIT: I also think that if you change uruk hai to have a fight value of 3 and perhaps reduce courage also, they represent greenskins fairly well, having a higher strenght and defense value than humans.
    Last edited by Comrade Wraith; 02-06-2013 at 10:22.

  11. #11
    Chapter Master Whitwort Stormbringer's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    Quote Originally Posted by gorenut View Post
    Thats rather disappointing about the Orcs.
    Yeah, just a different version of orcs, really. Tolkien consistently represents them as considerably weaker than humans, so the profile fits the background, but it does make translating between games a little more difficult.

    Quote Originally Posted by Comrade Wraith View Post
    EDIT: I also think that if you change uruk hai to have a fight value of 3 and perhaps reduce courage also, they represent greenskins fairly well, having a higher strenght and defense value than humans.
    I think at that point you may as well just use Morannon orcs, who are stronger than regular orcs and wear heavier armor (therefore increasing their defense), but only have average fighting skill and courage. Uruk-hai have the same base defense as most other races (humans, elves, orcs, goblins - only dwarves are really any higher), but they do tend towards heavy armor which pumps up their defense stat.
    The great thing about the dwarves is that, even though there's this comic element, when they fight - they really fight!

    My infrequently updated nerd blog.

  12. #12

    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    I've played a lot of LOTR and a fair bit of SOBH, and I prefer LOTR. While I love the simplicity of SOBH, it was ultimately the activation mechanic that put me off. It just gets too frustrating as your elegant tactics get ruined because you can't roll any actions with a particular model. There can be situations where you literally can't do anything with half of your warband for several turns. Not cool when you want to have a relaxing game on a sunday evening.

    LOTR tends to be quite laid back and definitely a lot more chill while being no less elegant. Personally I don't think it should be difficult at all to use various LOTR unit stats to represent Mordheim warbands. In the original LOTR rules (I don't know how it is set up now) you could assemble a warband of any models in the entire game, as long as they where all of the same alignment (no mixing Good and Evil). E.g., you could have the four hobbits, a captain of gondor, legolas and some rohan riders together if you wanted. And it was pretty damn balanced too. The thing is that many of the Mordheim warbands represent faction/army archetypes in terms of gameplay: Mercenaries are the all-rounders, Undead are a bunch of weak goons lead by a very strong hero, and Skaven are fast and numerous but individually quite fragile. To play the game with LOTR rules, it would just be about picking the LOTR models in your warband to represent the warband playstyle you are going for. I think Skaven could be well represented by moria goblins, for example. You could use the cave troll rules for a rat ogre too. For Orcs, I think Uruk hai would be good.

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    Chapter Master gorenut's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    Quote Originally Posted by EvilBlackMagicDarkness View Post
    I've played a lot of LOTR and a fair bit of SOBH, and I prefer LOTR. While I love the simplicity of SOBH, it was ultimately the activation mechanic that put me off. It just gets too frustrating as your elegant tactics get ruined because you can't roll any actions with a particular model. There can be situations where you literally can't do anything with half of your warband for several turns. Not cool when you want to have a relaxing game on a sunday evening.

    LOTR tends to be quite laid back and definitely a lot more chill while being no less elegant. Personally I don't think it should be difficult at all to use various LOTR unit stats to represent Mordheim warbands. In the original LOTR rules (I don't know how it is set up now) you could assemble a warband of any models in the entire game, as long as they where all of the same alignment (no mixing Good and Evil). E.g., you could have the four hobbits, a captain of gondor, legolas and some rohan riders together if you wanted. And it was pretty damn balanced too. The thing is that many of the Mordheim warbands represent faction/army archetypes in terms of gameplay: Mercenaries are the all-rounders, Undead are a bunch of weak goons lead by a very strong hero, and Skaven are fast and numerous but individually quite fragile. To play the game with LOTR rules, it would just be about picking the LOTR models in your warband to represent the warband playstyle you are going for. I think Skaven could be well represented by moria goblins, for example. You could use the cave troll rules for a rat ogre too. For Orcs, I think Uruk hai would be good.
    Your reply as well as others has gotten me a lil more interested in SBG rules.

    As a side note though... aren't there ways to make the activations more reliable? I know leader/heroes get one guaranteed action but I think I saw somewhere that they can affect those around them as well for the activations. Since I'm using this system to replace Mordheim, I'd definitely have heroes and leaders.
    Mordheim Project Log (Undead, Orcs, and Lizardmen.... so far):
    http://www.warseer.com/forums/showth...05#post5871505

  14. #14

    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    Quote Originally Posted by gorenut View Post
    Your reply as well as others has gotten me a lil more interested in SBG rules.

    As a side note though... aren't there ways to make the activations more reliable? I know leader/heroes get one guaranteed action but I think I saw somewhere that they can affect those around them as well for the activations. Since I'm using this system to replace Mordheim, I'd definitely have heroes and leaders.
    Absolutely. Leaders improve other nearby friendly model's activation rolls. They can also make group activations. Some people really like the activation system, but it sort of depends on the kind of player you are. If you don't mind the randomness of it, then you will probably enjoy it as the game tends to be quite dynamic. If however you are the kind of player who likes executing tactics, then it can be quite annoying when you for example set up a great strategy, only to have your important model just stand there and do nothing instead. I think the game would be improved if players had the option to use points to purchase re-roll tokens like in blood bowl (which also uses turnovers as a core part of gameplay).

    With LOTR, the game's overall pace tends to be far more steady. You get to move with all of your models, but because of the 'zone of control' rules and the turn structure, you find yourself really examining ways to deny parts of the board to your opponent, trap enemies and bend combats to your advantage. It feels a more like a chessmatch, in a sense. LOTR suits a player who likes a more steady, methodical game, while SOBH is more suited for someone who enjoys quite a bit of randomness and a game that swings in dynamic and often cinematic ways.

  15. #15
    Chapter Master Whitwort Stormbringer's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    re: SOBH activation, I personally find that it's OK as long as the majority of your warband can average 2 actions per activation, either by:
    - remaining close to a leader with Q3
    - having warriors who are Q3 themselves
    - being Q4 or 5 with the "Hero" ability
    Of course there's the random element of the dice, but you can play the probability game and, generally, maintain a smooth-running warband with that rule of thumb in mind. If reduced to activating on a 4+ you can usually fit most of your warband into one turn, but will likely be only averaging 1 action per model. Also, the larger the warband the less likely they'll all get to activate. In my experience, the game plays best with 5-10 models per side, unless you have multiple models with the "Leader" skill, maybe a ratio of about 1:5 - leaders:warriors.

    Obviously sometimes you'll end up with someone activating on a 4+ or worse. There may be situations where it's beneficial to send a lower-quality warrior off on his own, but that's a tactical decision that you have to make - is it worth reducing his effectiveness (by sending him outside of the leader's command radius) to accomplish a specific task, knowing that he'll probably get fewer activations? Is your warband too vulnerable if they're all clumped together to benefit from the leader's command bonus? If your leader is taken out of action, the rest of the warband will almost definitely suffer quite a bit (unless mostly made up of Q3 models).

    Models with quality 5 or 6 are basically useless, IMO, without a leader, and even with a leader they're not very reliable. Even if their point value is very low, the chances that they'll ever do anything useful at all is slim, since it's so hard to activate them that you'll rarely activate them before the rest of your warband, meaning your turn often ends before you get to them, and even when you do get to activate them they rarely are able to do much, probably getting only a single action.
    Last edited by Whitwort Stormbringer; 03-06-2013 at 14:23.
    The great thing about the dwarves is that, even though there's this comic element, when they fight - they really fight!

    My infrequently updated nerd blog.

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    Chapter Master gorenut's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    Again, thanks for the very informative posts. I can see how not being able to activate your models can be frustrating. I'm looking to play in the 15 model range (some more, some less depending on race). Also, we'll most likely be running a very hero-heavy sort of play. Like Mordheim.. we'll probably be running at least 5 "heroes" - I suppose I'll have to read more in-depth how that works out. Barring that.. maybe we'll play a modified rule where at least every sentient model gets to at least move. Trolls and other creatures that are normally "stupid" in the Warhammer world will not benefit from that.
    Mordheim Project Log (Undead, Orcs, and Lizardmen.... so far):
    http://www.warseer.com/forums/showth...05#post5871505

  17. #17
    Chapter Master Whitwort Stormbringer's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    If "Hero" works the same in SOBH as the variants which I've played, then it means the model gets one guaranteed action each time it is activated (although the model can still only get 3 actions per turn). So basically you would roll 1 or 2 dice (instead of 1, 2, or 3 dice) and then add 1 to the number of successes you rolled.

    The game DeepWars, which also runs on the SOBH engine, provides the option of forgoing activation rolls and instead granting every model in the warband 1 movement action. This would be useful early in a game, where it's maybe more important to move the warband up together than to ensure that individuals are doing a lot of work.

    You could also allow henchmen groups to roll a single activation for all models in the group, so that you don't gamble ending your turn quite as often with your lackeys.
    The great thing about the dwarves is that, even though there's this comic element, when they fight - they really fight!

    My infrequently updated nerd blog.

  18. #18

    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    Not much to add that has not been said by others but i have always found the LOTR SBG rules a delight to play.

  19. #19

    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    Quote Originally Posted by gorenut View Post
    Again, thanks for the very informative posts. I can see how not being able to activate your models can be frustrating. I'm looking to play in the 15 model range (some more, some less depending on race). Also, we'll most likely be running a very hero-heavy sort of play. Like Mordheim.. we'll probably be running at least 5 "heroes" - I suppose I'll have to read more in-depth how that works out. Barring that.. maybe we'll play a modified rule where at least every sentient model gets to at least move. Trolls and other creatures that are normally "stupid" in the Warhammer world will not benefit from that.
    One thing I am curious about is if you've tried Coreheim?

  20. #20
    Chapter Master gorenut's Avatar
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    Re: Song of Blades & Heroes vs LOTR/Hobbit SBG

    Quote Originally Posted by SotF View Post
    One thing I am curious about is if you've tried Coreheim?
    I flipped through it. Ultimately I passed on it because it focused too much on just the standard human mercs. Only one of our warbands (Undead) was represented in the rules and there weren't equivalents for our other ones. Essentially what we're looking for are streamlined rules, our warbands already mentioned represented or at least have similar units/factions/races that we can proxy... barring that having rules to make our own units and still be somewhat balanced. We don't need exact balance, just something within a sane ballpark since we just play casually.
    Mordheim Project Log (Undead, Orcs, and Lizardmen.... so far):
    http://www.warseer.com/forums/showth...05#post5871505

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