After one session of play last night, here is what I find so exciting about SBH.
The only rules governing how you build your army are 1) the amount of points-cost-total that you and your opponent agree upon and 2) no more than 1/3 of your total army point cost can be spent on "personality" models such as leaders, special monsters or heroes. Also there is a huge list of characters to pick from and even more in other system suppliments.
The turns are not I-go-you-go, nor is initiative decided by drawing random markers from a bag. Each model has a "quality" number between 1 and 6. High numbers are better. Both players roll a d6 to see who goes first..then the one with initiative can choose to roll between one and three d6s to activate the model of his/her choice. Matching or beating the model's quality number allows the model a single action for each successful die rolled. Rolling two failing dice means the initiative goes to the other player on the next turn. Therefore there is a degree of risk in trying to take multiple actions with a single model. Making and predicting strategy is much more difficult, but then again, this IS a skirmish game, not Waterloo.
After several failed attempts to win in combat against a stubborn door, the goblin sneak succeeds in smashing down the recalcitrant barrier and finding the rope bridge.
There ARE NO hit points. You either get killed, pushed back, or knocked down, but you CAN get back up again (like the Chumbawumba song says) if you get the initiative and can roll a successful activation. Having no fiddly wound markers to keep up with lets you focus more on playing and less on tracking all your models' hit points.
You don't have to play on grid or hex paper or worry needlessly with how to measure movement around a corner. There is a simple movement measuring tool that works for all models in the game, and only one straight-line movement may be taker per model action. While this may seem to slow down play in a dungeon setting, the simplification is worth the slowdown.
The skeletons begin crossing the bridge after their archers fail to remove the green menace from the cavern on the other side of the chasm.
I've not personally read through the rulebook yet. But my husband tells me there are charts for filling in all sorts of dungeon essentials such as treaures and traps; and that there are campaign rules that let my models become MORE heroic as they survive more battles.
Fast, Fun, Dummyproof
Our game took a little more than an hour to play, much more due to the mazelike nature of our cavern labyrinth than anything game-mechanics related. I had ten goblinoid models. He had ten (IIRC) assorted undead types. All the model data I needed was on one easy-to-comprehend player sheet, and I only needed my three d6s and my movement-measurer to play. After just a few turns I had the hang of how initiative works and how combat resolves, and after that, it was almost like roleplaying...complete with teasing, taunting, and obnoxious warcries from the ubiquitous orcs.
This orc bravely attempts to slay the recumbent wraith hero, only to later end up himself in orc-heaven while his surviving victorious compatriots drink to his memory and squabble over his gear.
The Song of Blades and Heroes game, as well as the game system, makes its web-home right here on Blogspot. There you can find links to buy all their PDF downloads as well as links to their Lulu print-on-demand store. If nothing else, you should go there just to check out the fantastic cover artwork.
Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing if I can somehow find a way to work my orcish horde into the Arthurian or Robin Hood legends. If I do, you'll definitely hear about it here first.