When Darren asked me if I wanted to do a review of Advanced Songs of Blades and Heroes it was a bit of a giver that I was going to say Yes. I have already done a review of Songs and even a small piece on how I developed my Campaign setting so it’s not like I don’t know how the game system works.
Now Advanced Songs of Blades and Heroes as a core game is the same as the Original game. You still have the same Quality and Combat stats which work the same way that means that moving from one system to the other has a reduced learning curve. What has been added is a slight change to the quality system, conditions, new/modified traits and a full on magic system.
One of the other main bits gained by Advanced Songs is an actual world, Norindaal. The first few pages of the book explain how the world came into being and how the various Gods and factions were formed. Rather than rattle on about it there is a site set up with all the info, it’s well worth a look. Just because there is a world remember Advanced Songs is still a ruleset and there is nothing stopping anyone from bending the rules to suit the campaign setting they have in mind. I certainly will be with my Trudvang setting.
Lets go over some of the changes in the new rules section by section.
In the normal Songs rules if you make a Quality roll a failure on it only mattered if you rolled 2 or more dice and got 2 failures. This ended your turn and handed it over to your opponent. It’s a great system and really makes you think what you’re doing and in what order. Now with Advanced Songs you have a new choice, Reactions. For every failed roll you make your opponent can make a Reaction before your turn, if you roll two of more failures you can still steal the turn though. Reaction wise it’s as if the model gained a free action, so you could charge the bowmen before he shoots you, shoot at someone charging you and so on.
It really does change the dynamic of the game and I’ve found that it also makes you think about what a model is doing. I’ve seen Cavalry beaten due to bad dice rolls or models fail morale when they thought they were going to rush in.
Magic has defiantly had a huge upgrade from normal Songs. Before all you could do was Transfix and opponent or do a 1-3 Dice shooting attack on them. We tended to not bother with Wizards as they were very ineffective in play and a big points sink. In Advanced you now have a whole host of spells from Blast to Wall of Fire. Each spell has a cost and you can add them to your hearts content or you run out of points, whichever comes first. It does make taking some sort of Magic user more viable for games. I shall have to paint up a suitable Druid of some sort for my Trudvang Campaign.
It also makes it a lot easier to add spell like effects to the monsters in the game. Dragons can gain spells like Fireball or Flame Jet to better represent the breath weapons they use. For me it’s one of the best elements added to the whole system and really opens up a world of possibilities.
There is also a nice idea on magical fluctuations, remember Magic can be dangerous. The rules explain what could happen if the winds of magic decide to blow in the wrong direction.
In with Magic are some suggestion for Magical items but they are a little loose in information for now and no doubt future supplements will add some fixed items with points. But it does give you plenty of suggestions on directions you can go.
Songs always had conditions you just had to know where they were listed. Often it was along with a spell or trait that caused it. That’s fine, but it could mean a duplication of the same rule time and time again. Advanced has a whole section instead, it explains what the Condition is and what effects it brings to the game.
Traits still work as they did in Songs, though a few have been added and some removed. They do require some reading through as some of them have been modified and the last thing you want is to play a rule how you thought it used to work. A few of the traits have also been nudged into the Personalities area or even Rare so from a player point it does balance a few aspect out and should hopefully stop certain over used Traits from turning up.
One of the new Traits I do like is Subcommander, it’s a nice little skill which means should your Leader end up down/dead someone will step in and take over the warband. It should hopefully reduce the amount of times a force fails its morale and decides it wants to be someplace else.
In Songs you had a separate little book that went through the idea of how a campaign could work. This isn’t in the main Advanced book and hopefully we’ll see something soon enough. Although running campaigns is briefly touched upon in the rules the depth isn’t going to be enough for a lot of people.
My own plans are to take the elements from Songs that worked campaign wise and give it the twist we have already. So should be pretty easy to update it.
As with other Songs books the rear of the book is full of sample lists covering some of the major protagonists in the Norindaal world. If nothing else they are a great resource and really show you what stats you could be setting for a force. Its a great moment to be able to pick someone else’s brain for idea’s.
Further books will as always expand the rules, add in new elements and give us a wider knowledge of the world itself.