Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bees of Iskedumdrum

I played another game of Song of Shadows and Dust with the kids over the weekend. This time I actually got them to make up their own factions (using my figures – for the moment). We thought we might start a campaign, but then later decided we’d play a few more one-off games to get a sense of how it works. I also wanted to try and make up a new campaign system with some elements from Song of Deeds and Glory.

I’ve been obsessing over this game for the last few weeks and have been thinking I might actually use it for the 11th Annual Wargaming Birthday Bash in February (since this year’s skirmish campaign went over so well… We shall see… but part of the obsessing has involved trying to find the best deals on some armed ancient civilians so the kids could make their own factions and I decided that the Wargames Factory Numidian Light Infantry might be the best option – inexpensive plastic, lots of customizing options – they can all have bare heads (i.e. no helmets) and have a range of weapons that might be useful for a street fight (swords, slings, bows – clubs and other things could easily be converted – I could even leave the hands empty for unarmed civilians or add a little ball of green stuff to make them look like they’re chucking rocks).

So When I happened to be looking at them today I happened to notice that they’re 25% off (some sort of sale tied in with Historicon) and that the shipping to Canada for one box was $12, but the shipping for two was $14… so I ordered three boxes in the end… yeah…  and a couple of frames of Persian infantrymen that were on some crazy blow out sale (6 frames/12 figures for $2.40!?! plus they were 25% off of that too!? How could I NOT tack a couple of those one for a few more conversion options!?)

Anyway… the game…

Iskedumdrum, 69BCE


Marcus Petrificus Totalis, unsavoury Roman Noble and very corrupt politician, had had it with his political rival and was out for a bit of pay-back after a particularly effective smear campaign. Well… HE called it a smear campaign… all his opponents did was bring to light some of Totalis nefarious undertakings…


The Girl rolled “Seize the Suburb” for her faction’s objective – meaning she gained victory points for “controlling” certain buildings – receiving points for every turn that she held them.

The Boy rolled “Aeneas’ Bees” for his. He had to retrieve a bee hive from one part of the table and throw it in through a building in another part of the table! Revenge is sweet!

It was midday, The Boy was attacking, The Girl went first.


The Boy’s Faction

Marcus Petrificus Totalis – Faction Leader
Q 3+, C 2, 60 points

Phillipadonis – Cretan Bodyguard
Q 3+, C 3, 60 points
Agile, Armed, Bow, Protect Leader

5x Armed Henchmen (Sword or Spear)
Q 4+, C 3, 26 Points
Armed, Bellicose

The Girl’s Faction

Porcia Venustus – Faction Leader
Q 3+, C 2, 60 points

Canicula - Dog

Decimus Atrius - Assasin
Q 3+, C 4, 90 points
Agile, Poison, Quick, Stealth

4x Armed Henchmen (Sword or Spear)
Q 4+, C 3, 26 Points
Armed, Bellicose


The Boy, when I read his objective, decided that would be too hard to do and he’d just ignore it and try and kill all of his enemies… until I explained how the victory points worked for that particular objective – he only got 1 VP for every 100 points of enemy he took out (as opposed to the usual 1 VP for 25 points), but he got 10VP for delivering the bee hive to the house. Also considering how quickly The Girl couple potentially accumulate points if she managed to control any of the designated buildings AND she got 1 VP for every 50 points of enemies she took out… he decided he’d have a go at grabbing the bee hive.

Right from the get-go I though this was going to be a really interesting scenario – I will have to make some proper mini bee hives for when thei comes up in the future!

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

The scene of the confrontation. The Boy’s faction is arrived  at the left, The Girls faction is arriving at the right of the picture.

Marcus Petrificus Totalis, Phillipadonis – his loyal bodyguard Cretan Bodyguard, and five other hired thugs arrive in Venustus’ neighborhood.

Warned of Totalis’ approach, Porcia Venustus and a few of her loyal followers spread out to protect the shops and abode of her loyal clients she thought Totalis might act against.

The Irritable Mule and the makeshift Objective Marker/Bee Hive.

Noisy Pigeons that would momentarily take to flight whenever anyone approached (negating any Stealth or Ambush bonuses)  

Porcia Venustus people spread out through the neighborhood.

On the Boy’s first turn two of his henchmen advanced towards buildings to try and challenge The Girl’s control of them… and then rolled a turn over – the first of MANY early turn-overs in the game… Not being able to make it to the one building The Girl’s faction was already in contact with, The Girls scored her first victory point

On his next turn they spread out a bit more...

On the Girl’s third turn she got one of her henchmen in contact with one of the Boy’s that was in contact with one of the buildings she needed to control to score points… the two were set apart from the rest of the groups and would always selected last to activate as they would not enjoy their leader’s activation bonus… as there were so many turn-overs rolled they stood there in contact for many turns… so we figured without their bosses eyes on them or any sort of back-up, both parties were reluctant to engage and stood in the street circling each other trying to taunt each other while a nearby citizen implored them to calm themselves and that there was no need for bloodshed! 

The two groups spied each other as they rounded a corner in an alley way in the middle of the table. With all the failed activation rolls it seemed they were a little reluctant to engage…

First Blood went to Phillipadonis – the Cretan Bodyguard – with his first shot he took down one of Venustus’ henchmen! So incensed by this sudden violence in the street one of the nearby civilians activated to join The Girl’s side.

Venustus’ henchmen rushed forward to get at the Cretan Bodyguard before he could get off another one of his deadly shots.

One of Totalis’ men took out the newly activated civilians – in hindsight, not the best idea – easy to take out but counted towards the total dead which would bring the end of the scenario quicker.

Rolling to activate Phillipadonis who – when within the leaders command range - activated on a 2+… this was the third or fourth time this had happened… so he decided they were cursed and switched dice.

On his next turn… first activation... yellow dice didn’t seem to be working so great either!?

The Cretan Bodyguard – outnumbered and knocked down!

Some of Totalis’ men rushed back to help out the body guard – distracting them for their objective and getting them bogged down in a brawl in the middle of the table which they couldn’t come out of on top…

Venustus’ dog joined in the fray.

Another of Venustus’ henchmen cut down in the battle.

Finally on the Eighth Turn The Girl was able to activate the separated hanchman and…

Knocked down his opponent!

Just when I thought The Boys luck couldn’t get any worse… SERIOUSLY!? 

Later I started joking that if he rolled that again he should just quit because he clearly did not have the favour of the gods today. 

The back street brawl drags on turn after turn.

“Just stay down there until I can activate again…”

The Cretan Body guard finally extracted himself from the brawl and loosed another arrow – missing Venustus’ henchmen – before joining his boss and making for the Bee Hive.

Four henchmen and a civilian lie injured in the street.

Totalis grabs the bee hive.

On his following turn Totalis makes it past the Irritable Mule…

Venustus’ henchmen finally takes out the downed opponent…

Venustus’ dog and remaining henchmen at the street brawl in the center of the table gang up on  the last of Totalis’ men there.

He is driven back into the corner…

The Cretan Bodyguard sneaks past the Irritable Mule… but one of the henchmen is kicked and recoils.

The last of Totalis’ men fights desperately to keep the game going (once the death toll reaches seven the game ends…)....

...but is finally slain.

As it turns out it was probably for the best – for Marcus Petrificus Totalis – tottering down the street with his beehive – the building in view – he suddenly heard shouts of “THE GUARD IS HERE! THE GUARD IS HERE! RUN FOR IT!” knowing this was the end and he could not possibly make it to the building and get away before getting caught by The Guard, Totalis cursed, tossed the bee hive to the ground and ran for it – little did he know it probably save his life, for hiding behind the corner of the building he would have to pass to get to the target building was The Girls assassin!! Without the support of his body guard and henchmen –who were still trying to slip past the Irritable Mule – Totalis could not possibly survive against the assassin!

Another totally exciting game – we played TWELVE TURNS – which seems like a lot, but I don’t think either of the kids got through an entire turn without rolling a turn-over – often it was on their first activation!!

In the end The Girl ended up with four victory points – two for holding buildings for a turn, two for taking down 100points of The Boys faction. The boy, on the other hand, ended up with nothing. The civilian he took out was worthless, and the two Henchmen weren’t worth 100 points.

Checking afterwards both of Venustus’ and the civilian died of their wounds. Two of Totalis’ men died as well, but the third escaped with minor wounds and would have been fit to fight in the next scenario – had we continued on with a campaign…

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

More Song of Shadows and Dust, and some more Romans followed by a few greeks then on to the Egyptians and Nubians! 


  1. Great looking game.I am swithering about how to take Song of... forward. I am tempted by a 15th century setting but we will see. Terrain ideal- pleasing to the eye and practical.

    1. Thanks! These buildings have worked out well - I've used them as villages all over from Africa to Afghanistan, and from ancient times to very modern.

  2. Another excellent game. Is it possible to run a pure Gladiator game/campaign with these rules, centred around an arena?

    1. Thanks Mark!

      While that's not really what it was written for, I think it very easily could be adapted - especially if some elements of the campaign system from Song of Deeds and Glory. I'd had a similar thought and may try it out in the not-too-distant future.

  3. I was thinking the same thing with the Numidia plastics infantry. Just mode the gang member a bit with maybe dyed colored tunic to represent their favorite Chariot team.

    1. Exactly! There are so many options in that set - and with some extra options from the additional Persians I picked up and some left-over bits from previous sets I've gotten for the kids (Amazons, Orcs, Skeletons) - and not to mention a package of Green Stuff - We should be able to put together a few fairly diverse factions!

    2. Very true. I am thinking I might have to pick up a few more of the Numidian and Persian figs to populate my Polis.
      To bad they don't make more ancient civilian female models in plastic. :P

  4. Great looking figures and models, as usual. Sounds like a really good time.

    1. Thanks Sean, it definitely was a good time.