Saturday, 7 April 2018

Trouble On The Barrow Downs!

I played my first game of Sellswords and Spellslingers from Ganeha Games this afternoon. It was a solo game to get the feel of the rules before trying it out with other players. I picked the rules up after seeing some positive reviews and I am planning to use them for a Middle Earth based campaign. I will try out a few games, both solo and with other players, to see if the rules need tweaking to better reflect the Middle Earth setting.

For my first game I player Scenario One from the rules, with a typical mixed party of a wizard, a human ranger, an elf and a dwarf, attempting to cross a patch of ground somewhere in the Barrow Downs to the north of the Shire.
The wizard was obviously had the Spellcaster trait, with Magic Dart, the ranger and elf both had bows so I gave them both Archery +1 and Fighter (sword) +1, plus Healer +1 to the elf, the Dwarf had Strong +1 and Fighter (2-handed axe) +1.

 The table set-up, with a green troll, 2 orc brutes and 2 hordes of 3 orcs each. The party are just out of shot at the bottom of the picture.
 All the party tried two activations to get themselves moving across the table, but everyone except the ranger failed one of them so I drew a lot of cards let the orcs start to close in. The elf decided to start using his bow and cut down two orcs before they could get to grips.
 The last orc closed to hand to hand combat but fell to a swift thrust from the elf's sword. He stopped to loot the body, which meant he was still close to the starting edge when another orc wandered onto the table.
 In the meantime the ranger had rushed up to the nearest orc brute (forgetting he had a bow, Doh!). The gold coin indicates that the orc was wearing some extra bling). Unfortunately the ranger fluffed his attack and took a bad wound.
 The the orc cut the ranger down with a brutal attack.
 Another orc has snuck up behind the party, but the elf spun around at shot him down, whilst the dwarf rushed to the aid of the fallen ranger.
 As the dwarf closed in and I just had to hope that the orc didn't activate whilst he was standing over the prone ranger.
 But the dwarf made it and engaged the brute slicing him in two with a mighty blow. As a horde of three orcs approached the wizard zapped one with a magic dart, then the dwarf killed another when they charged him.
 Passing three activations, the dwarf killed the last orc, then paused to allow the wizard to catch up (and give him time to loot two of the bodies).
 Yet more orcs arrive and rush towards our heroes.
 Whilst yet another group move up behind them.
 The wizard and dwarf move on to clear the way, allowing the elf to try and heal the ranger. He successfully revived him and got him back on his feet, but with only 1 HP left.
AMBUSH! An orc srings out from his hiding place and rushes the dwarf.
Only to be cut down by that lethal axe. This time the dwarf doesn't delay to loot because 5 orcs are closing in on the wizard.
The wizards zaps one orc as the come in, then somehow kills another in hand to hand.
The wizard takes a hit, but now the dwarf has joined the fray and another orc bites the dust, soon followed by the last surviving bad guy.
More orcs rush up as the party moves on. Notice the troll approaching the elf, he had spent most of the game wandering aimlessly around but now was heading in the right direction.
The Wizard zapped the troll with a magic dart as they help the wounded ranger towards the table edge, but another AMBUSH! is sprung and an orc jumps the elf from the cover of the rocks, only to be run through. With the troll heading his way, the elf decides not to loot the orc but moves to the table edge to cover the rest of the party.
The ranger moves off to safety but when the wizard tries to move he activates another AMBUSH! instead and the dwarf gets jumped on. This orc has more fight in him than the rest and wounds the dwarf. They continue fighting while the wizard escapes and the elf lobs arrows at anything else approach the embattled dwarf. After a fierce fight where he receives another wound, the dwarf finally slays the orc.
With the troll closing in (probably annoyed by the elf arrow now sticking out of his cheat) the last two adventurers join their comrades in safety. It's been a tough time and only the elf is unhurt.
And the carnage they left behind them. All the party survived, so I suppose it was a successful adventure, but with only 5 orcs looted, they did not have a lot to show for it. That was a tricky call, if you keep stopping to loot bodies and max out on treasure, you run the risk of being over-run by monsters.

It was fun, I enjoyed it and look forward to playing again. I can see it being a good game with 2 or 3 players, but also being something interesting to game solo. I really like the card mechanism for activating monsters and events. The rules a simple to pick up, but I'm sure I'm probably did something wrong or forgot something. My only beef is that the rules are not well laid out and important points are often hidden in the text. For example the chapter on party creation is in the middle of the rulebook, but the details of starting hit points for your characters is in the the introduction at the front of the rules and starting spells are in the chapter on magic at the back of the rules. The cost for the starting spell isn't even in the rules at all, but printed on the spell card! A comprehensive index does help and (eventually) you can find everything you want, but to begin with it can be a bit frustrating. A good QRS would help, that will be my next job. That said, at only $8 as a download, I can see Sellswords and Spellslingers giving a lot of fun at a bargain price.


  1. A nice review. I think I'll stick with Dragon Rampant for my fantasy skirmish games, as the mechanisms are very similar to Lion Rampant and The Pikemen's Lament, so easier on the brain.

    1. Thanks Steve. I'll probably be using Sellswords, Dragon Rampant and Fantasy Sword & Spear for my fantasy gaming, depending on the size of the game.