Monday, August 18, 2014

The Egyptians of Iskedumdrum

I got in a quick game of Song of Shadows and Dust with the family Sunday evening…

Iskedumdrum, 69 BCE


Iskendumdrum has a sizeable Egyptian population – traders mostly, but also artisans and others. There is a growing interest in all things Egyptian amongst a certain segment of the Roman population – including their religion… A certain up and coming Roman politician – Trimus Canis Nocturnus – a staunch conservative sees this as an affront to the Roman state religion and a threat traditional Roman family values and the morality of Roman youths… He had campaigned against the setting up of Egyptian temples and allowing Egyptians to practice their religion in Iskedumdrum. He has been especially irked that Roman citizens have been offering up Roman coin as offerings at the Egyptians temples… As his pleas have fallen on the Deaf ears of the Roman governor (himself a Egyptophile), Trimus Canis Nocturnus had decided it is time for action! A group of his cronies staged a daring daylight raid of the temple – making off with a rather large strongbox full of Roman gold – they were unable to get far with it and so hid it in an alley in the Egyptian quarter before fleeing for their lives. By night Trimus Canis Nocturnus returns to the Egyptian quarter to recover the stolen gold, but the treets are not empty – and by no means safe!!


The Romans under Trimus Canis Nocturnus were attacking, the Egyptians were defending.

The Egyptians objective was “Looking for Trouble”. They simple got victory points for taking out their enemies – 1 VP for every 25 points of Roamans killed or fled from the table.

The Romans Objective was “Theft”. The Romans had to locate the stolen goods (three possible location markers were placed within one ling of the Egyptian base line after terrain placement and determining side, but before setting up figures). If they located the goods and carried them off their table edge they would get 5VP. They also got 1 VP for every 50 points of Egyptians killed or fled from the table.

The scenario took place at night – there were only 4 civilians on the table.


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

The Egyptians – played by The Boy and The Girl


Bes – Guild Master
Q 3+, C2, 50 points

Sethirkopshef – Zealous Egyptian Priest
Q 4+, C3, 50 Points
Savage, Threatening

2x Priest Body Guards (as per Cretan Bodyguards)
Q 3+, C 3, 60 points each
Agile, Bow, Armed, Protect Priest

2x Armed Henchmen
Q 4+, C3, 36 points each
Armed, Bellicose

The Romans – played by Amanda


Trimus Canis Nocturnus – Young Politician
Q 2+, C2, 92 points
Demagogue, Tribune

Hottopix – Foreign Bodyguard
Q 4+, C 4, 42 points
Armed, Barbarous, Heavy Drinker, Protect Leader

6x henchmen (with improvised weapons)
Q 4+, C 3, 27 points each


Rolling for Hottopix “Heavy Drinker” outcome – he was feeling a little “Clumsy” this evening…

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

Night falls over the Egyptian Quarter of Iskedumdrum.

All set up and ready to go! Trimus Canis Nocturnus and his up-standing Roman citizen followers are at the top center of the picture. The three objective markers can just barely be made out across from them along the bottom half of the picture.

Trimus Canis Nocturnus and his gang storm into the Egyptian Quarter by moonlight…

The Egyptians were a little uncertain which way to go and took a bit of a “wait and see” approach…

Being a bit drunk, Hottopix – thea heavy Drinking Foreign Bodyguard of Trimus Canis Nocturnus Barged ahead – not realizing his leader had gotten into an argument with one of the others and ended up being left far behind… (Hottopix had gotten three actions and charged ahead, the second guy got two, the third rolled a turn-over…)

One the Romans second turn a few more henchmen moved ahead – one catching up to Hottopix, who was standing in the street wondering where his master was at. Trimus Canis Nocturnus, however, continued to argue with one of the other henchmen…

“I think I head someone coming, boss”

Finally moving forward… one of the Roman Henchmen located the stash!

…only to have himself be discovered by the prowling Egyptians… The first of the Priest’s bodyguards through the courtyard knocked him down. This violent action scared away the Nubian slave that was out sweeping the streets at night…?

The second of the Priest’s bodyguards out a second arrow in him taking him out! At this point the Nubian slave joined with the Romans – such violence in the streets at night! The Romans were right, these Egyptians ARE a menace!

The Armed Egyptian Henchmen were the next out of the courtyard and charged into contact with the next Roman henchman… but didn’t have enough actions to attack.

Amanda’s first activation attempt on her next turn…

This is going downhill fast…

The first Egyptian henchman actually tied the Roman henchman – despite the Roman being up ounumberd by armed opponents attacking with a powerful blow! The second Egyptian henchman forced him to recoil from the melee… where he was taken out with an arrow from one of the Egyptian Priest’s Bodyguards… The Nubian Slave was frightened off by the chanting of Sethirkopshef – the Zealous Egyptian Priest.

The Romans finally made it to the scene… mostly… and Hottopix rushed forward to grab the stash!

But Hottopix simply ended up being the next victim of the merciless Egyptian archer/bodyguards.

A bunch of the Roman henchmen tried to jump one of the armed Egyptian Henchmen – but none were feeling quite so vigorous to get too close to his massive khopesh! Trimus Canis Nocturnus, not beign one to learn from the follies of others, charged forward to grab the stash himself!

The Romans leader was cut down by the cruel arrows of the Egyptian bodyguards – his cries and the dark blood on his white toga in the moonlight made for a gruesome scene – the remaining Roman henchmen fled the table – well…. TRIED to flee the table – one was cut down with a free hack as he tried to break contact with the Khopesh-wielding Egyptian.

Another fun, quick, and utterly decisive game!

Playing at night is a whole different kettle of fish.

Bows are BRUTAL at night – without the line of sight issues caused by civilians, not to mention the strong possibility that a civilian will join the side of anyone struck by a bow. I am considering adding a few house rules to counter this… limit visibility at night…? negative modifiers to all shooting – or at least remove the +1 to hit for bows…? I’m not sure just yet, but I’m thinking about it…  Or perhaps I just need MORE buildings and line of sight blocking terrain…? I don’t’ want to make it totally impossible to move, though.

Also the Demagogue/Tribune abilities were basically useless at night… but them’s the breaks…

As I’ve mentioned one of the things I really like about Song of Shadows and Dust is the objectives – giving the player options about how to play the game and how to try and win. We had a little trouble with plans in this game as the game is supposed to end when either a scenario objective has been met that triggers the end of the game, all of the opponents have either died or left the table – as was the case in this game – or seven people have died. At the beginning of the game Amanda thought perhaps she could try and just grab the stash – if she could find it quickly enough – and scarper off the table without even contacting the Egyptians – if possible. This is the sort of thing I really like… but looking at the “Theft” objective, it didn’t specifically say that removing the item triggered the end of the scenario…? It simply said that removing it from the players own table edge gave them five bonus victory points. Of course anyone that purposely leaves the table gives the enemy one victory point. So, technically, if Amanda had wanted to play this way (and been able to pull it off) she would have gotten five VP for carrying off the stash, but given up 8 VP for all her faction leaving the table!? So I decided that leaving her own table edge with the stash could trigger the end of the  scenario those carrying the object would not give up VP to the enemy.

I also like the idea that the game would end when a certain number of people had died – representing “the critical point on eht table where the violence has attracted too much public attention forcing all faction members to quit the table in fear or arrest or loss of local support.” I REALLY like this rule – one more thing to keep factions from being utterly massacred – something very handy in a campaign! The one thing is the number seven seems rather arbitrary. So I’ve been considering making it slightly random… somehow… perhaps once four have died start rolling d6 after every death if the total of D6+3 is equal to or less than the current Body Count the game ends. On average I think it will still end at about 7, but could conceivable end at 4 or carry on until 9 die. Perhaps we’ll try it in a few of our next games.

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

My painting table is getting very crowded – it’s hard to tell what may roll off of there next, but it’d very likely to be SOMETHING ANCIENT – Egyptians, Greeks, Romans or Nubians… and there’s always the possibility of more game reports – have to make the most of these last two weeks of summer vacation before all our regular activities start up again! 


  1. Not played this but that seemed to have been a fun game.

    1. I definitely have been having a lot of fun with this lately!

  2. That activation roll is why we don't play "Song of X" games any more. It was painful. You seem to have a better time of it mate.

    1. I don't mind games like this at all - I also like DBA and HOTT and even stuff like Warmaster/Black Powder/etc - I think it is a far better representation of what goes on in a conflict (whether a skirmish or a large battle) than one where every model on one side goes.. then every model on the other side goes... but to each his own.

      Nothing else really covers that fact that humans have a strong sense of self preservation and express that in wildly different ways. Some hesitate and whether paralyzed with fear or just needing to take in as much information about their surroundings and circumstances to come up with some sort of conclusion conclusion as to what the best next course of action would be. Others, seemly recklessly, charge headlong into the thick of it presumably figuring the quicker I can kill all the others that oppose me the sooner I will feel safe...?

    2. The random number of activations side of the rolls seems fine from a simulation and gameplay perspective a good idea in my opinion, but the turn-overs seem more gamest rather then simulationist to me. (Of course it is a game, so that's not necessarily a problem)

      Probably one of the most "accurate" ways to model this sort of thing that I've seen was a free indie SF game called KR 16. You could give each unit an order each turn, but you had to roll (with a bonus for troop quality, and a penalty for suppression) against a difficulty to decide whether the order was obeyed or not. The table had difficulties between 2+ and 5+, with orders like Take Cover, Move & Fire, Charge, Move away from the enemy & Fire, etc. I never actually played it, but in theory it seems like a reasonable way to handle that.

    3. Yeah that's a perfect example of the sort of thing I'm talking about.

      Sorry, I wasn't trying to say that the system in the "Song of..." series of games is the ONLY way to cover the random/human element of conflict. I was simply saying that I don't mind, and actually prefer, SOME sort of system by which troops have to be activated or tested to see if they will actually do what you want them to do. I really liked Force on Force and the AAG mechanic as well.

  3. I don't have the rules, but from the way you've been saying it it sounds like you get victory points for opposing figures that are killed or flee, not figures that voluntarily withdraw. This makes a bit more sense to me since a gang that withdraws in good order isn't as serious as one that routes out of the battlefield, so that's probably how I'd play it, even though it does offer a few cheap, gamey strategies.

    1. The question was cleared up by the author in the SOBH Facebook group this morning - Leaving the table (on their own table edge) with the stash would have trigger the end of the scenario.

      It does say elsewhere in the book that (in addition to scenario dictated VP - for killing or causing others to flee or any objective based VP) anyone voluntarily leaving the table gives the enemy 1VP. I think this is to prevent people from scoring a couple of quick VP and they quickly running off the table to claim a victory before they opponent can score any VP.