Part 15 – Bard of Aynnsing

Center-stage is a series of articles spotlighting a particular model or unit in Godslayer; next we will look at the Bard:

The bard is no mere entertainer, for his mind is the repository of the collected myths, legends and histories of the Wyldfolk people for several hundred generations. He is the guardian of the Wyldfolk’s cultural heritage, and by performing the lyrical sagas, he not only educates but also inspires the youth towards lives of heroic valor. 

Apprentices embarking upon the path are taught the skills of eidetic memory, and learn the epic sagas in the form of rhyme. Each must master several instruments and develop a commanding voice which can directly influence listeners’ minds. He becomes a master musician with the instrument of the human soul, calming, enraging or inspiring people by playing different emotion-notes in their minds. Some believe this ability to manipulate consciousness is sorcery or Dreamspinner magic, while others claim it is merely trickery. Whatever the truth, the effects of the Bard’s songs are profound.

A clan counts itself lucky to attract a resident bard to its Roundhouse; there he lives as a permanent guest of the Pendragon. At sober festivals and wild feasts alike he performs the appropriate music to amplify the mood. Not all bards are bound to a community, many roam the glens, moors and windswept heath, even travelling among the Fiannor and Tuathan or serving the druids. 

Where there is a mighty hero there is often a bard accompanying him on his quest in order to immortalize his deeds in song. In times of conflict Bards accompany war parties, and their presence inspires warriors to perform extraordinary deeds and persevere against overwhelming odds. At times a bard may even inspire himself to wade into the thick of battle, armed with a bastard sword which he can wield one-handed or two-handed. However the greatest weapons in his arsenal are his lute, harp and bagpipes.

Although the Bard is a Tribal sub-faction character, Wyldfolk have the most synergies across sub-factions, so you should strongly consider taking him no matter what sub-faction you chose for your warlord. The bard has sight value 1 and is a light infantry character, so immediately we should keep in mind that he can make long charges and can move up to five times per turn – so 15 inches. His DPL is one so you will only get one Bard in warbands up to 499 points. His points cost is 24, which is pretty cheap for a character – pretty much double any cheap model, and around same cost as an elite warrior model like Einherjer.

[Image: Bard.jpg]

Let’s start with a look at their profile.
MOV 3 – nothing special there; this is the normal movement for humans.
MEL 6 – 6 indicates professional soldier level or veteran militia.
MIS 4 – inexperienced in missile fire
MAG 5 – Nice defensive level
DEF 14 – above average, showing that he is more agile than most
ARM 5 – This poor level of armor reflects the light armor he wears
LEAD 8 – Average for a character
ACT 5 – Average for characters.

The Bard has only 9 life points, and ARM 5 so he is definitely a squishy guy that you don’t really want to put into melee until near the end of the game. His weapon – Bastard Sword – has two attack options a POW3 attack for 2 ACT and POW5 attack for 3 ACT. So he’s okay in melee but not really cut out for fighting.

Abilities and Tactics
Turning the card over, we see he has one sub-faction ability, two abilities, one tactics and one special talent..

Wyldwalker – The sub-faction ability of Wildwalker permits them to move and charge through difficult terrain without the usual penalty of half movement. This applies only when they are led by a Tribal Sub-faction warlord, which at the moment means the Pendragon.

Harmonic – On the Battlefield, the Bard transmit orders from the warlord to the troops by playing a signal of several notes upon his bagpipes, resounding above the din of battle. Ordered tactics channeled through the bard require no LEAD test to be received.

Musician – Orders from the Warlord may be delivered by the Bard’s musical signals, and may even be relayed through other musicians. The Bard counts as a Musician, he can therefore channel tactics to models and units 8 inches away from him.

Courageous – This anthem fills the hearts of friends with new courage. This is not one of the Bard’s songs, so can be used in addition to the others

Minstrel – The Bard is able to weave magical effects through his music. The Bard gets to use one song per round. 

Legend Lore – This epic ballad goads friends to greater efforts in honor of their ancestors. The Bard’s song Legend Lore can be used to buff the melee attacks of units with either a +1 to hit or +1 damage. Remember that this is a talent so does not count as a tactic, in this way you can combine it with tactics that buff units. When you add Legend Lore to charge bonus and Wyld Charge tactic of the Pendragon have a unit with +3 to hit and +1 POW which could even be buffed further with spells.

Curse of Cendor – Enemies hearing this dirge lose hope and faith in their cause. Enemy models lose Hardened Will. You can use this if you want to make a unit take a bravery test, but the chances are that if they have hardened Will, then they probably have good LEAD too. So this is a pretty situational talent with limited use. It also takes away fearless, so you can exploit fear tests on enemies but again, they will likely have good LEAD anyway. The one exception is Creatures. Creatures often have Hardened Will or Fearless, and usually not so high LEAD, so it’s possible to make them fail fear or horror tests. Combine this with the Mirror Mask of Death talisman or Lord of Decay’s Horror.

Victory March – Comrades hearing this battle hymn are gripped by the urge to gain renown in battle. This allows a model/unit to make a long charge (3XMov +2 inches). Unless you are facing Beastspawn or cavalry, you will probably be able to dictate the charges of the game. Never waste this on a Bladeslingers unit because they already have the long charge ability since they are light infantry, but there are other models and units which you can give this rocket boost to. Do not underestimate the tremendous benefit of this talent! 

[Image: Bard%2Bfinished.jpg]

Combining the Bard with other Models
• Pendragon – Perhaps the best warlord to take with a Bard is the Tribal warlord, the Pendragon. He allows the Bard to use his sub-faction ability, and his Wyld Charge tactic can be combined with Legend Lore to give a unit +2 to hit in a turn they charge, or +1 to hit and +1 damage. When added to the charge bonus that is +2, +2. 
• Cromlech Guard or Wycca Warriors – These units are heavy infantry and infantry melee units, and some of the slower models in the Wyldfolk warband. They do not benefit from Long charge, so they are ideal for Victory March. 

Putting it all Together

Melee Buffer
His Legend Lore Song gives a model/unit +1 to melee to-hit or damage rolls. Remember this does not work for Wyccas Warriors using their MAG attacks. Otherwise dispense it liberally. Cromlech Guard are already awesome stats and Scabhta Hunters should really not get into melee so your best bet for this song is Bladeslingers who are about to charge (especially considering Bladeslingers have no use for his other Song victory March). 

• Keep in mind this also works for counter-attacks. 
• Also keep in mind this is a Talent, so can be combined with tactic buffs like Wylde Charge and spells like Omens and self tactics/abilities.
• Keep this Song for later in the game when most of the important charges have been made, because victory March is far more important.

The Long Charge
Victory March is probably the most important effect of the Bard. With it you can effectively turn Heavy Infantry Cromlech Guard into light infantry by giving them the opportunity to make a long charge. That means 11 inches +1 inch MEL range. Keep in mind the Cromlech Guard also have Wyldwalker so they can long-charge over difficult terrain (assuming they have line of sight. For this reason alone it makes sense to have a few pieces of difficult terrain around – low rocks and rubble, marshy areas etc. not forests.

Against most enemies this is a hell of a hammer blow. Banebrood have good options for countering this since their charge ranges are often even longer. Charging Cromlech Guard have MEL8 and POW6. Try to use a unit of 5 of these guys and be sure to assign them an action token before, as well as the tactic Wyld Charge from the Pendragon.

So keep your Cromlech Guard behind a handy piece of difficult terrain and wait for the enemy to approach. Take potshots at them with your missile troops as they advance. Even if the enemy does not fall for this strategy, you will at least force him to stay back while you cut him down with missile fire. If you do get to charge with your Cromlech Guard you should support them with a unit of Bladeslingers so they are not easily counter-charged by the opponent.

Victory march is also useful for giving the Wycca Warriors a long charge or the Lord of Decay or Pendragon

Sheep Dog
It generally pays to keep the Bard behind the front lines since he is squishy and strategically useful. IT also helps for rallying fleeing troops. Troops are most likely to flee when they fail a bravery test due to losing half or more of their models in one turn. 

When you have a unit which is likely to be massacred or when you have a unit that’s low on troops already, keep the bard behind them like goalie. With his tactic Courageous he can the target fleeing unit auto-rallies at the start of its next standard activation, and not only that, it can activate as usual and even make charges. This is awesome! 

Remember, he can do this even if he used one of his Songs because Courageous is a tactic not a talent. With his 15 inch movement and Wyldwalker its pretty easy for the Bard to reach a fleeing unit. Often a fleeing unit will be still in the middle of melee because it fled after using up all its ACT. In this case the opponent can get a real nasty surprise because the unit is immediately back in the game in its next activation.

Remember that the Bard is a musician. This means he can channel orders around the table from the Warlord. In this way, you effectively extend the LEAD-range of the warlord by 8 inches, allowing you to reach most models in your warband. 

When to channel:
• Firstly if the unit you want to channel to is out of range 
• It can also be useful if the warlord/character has no line of sight to the intended target 
• Thirdly, it saves your warlord/characters from running around the table wasting their action to-kens on movement
• Keep in mind that tactics channelled from the Bard require no LEAD test to be received! So even if you do not need to channel a tactic from your warlord to a unit (because they are close enough), you should still channel it anyway because then the unit does not need to make a LEAD test to receive it. This means that in an 8 inch radius from the Bard all ordered tactics are guaranteed to succeed.

While channeling:
• Always keep the Bard within the LEAD-range of your warlord.
• Keep a model from each unit within LEAD-range of the Bard
• Use the Bard to ensure units in a Farfarer warband all get their shooting tactics from him, and especially the crucial Ambush tactic. This can be a real surprise when you activate a unit then the Farfarer, and then still get to activate a second unit in the same turn with the Farfarer’s Ambush tactic. When you use the Bard, the Farfarer can reach a unit up to 16 inches away!
• Using the Bard to channel from the Farfarer enables you to keep your shooty warlord at the back of the table.
• Use him in Pendragon warbands to ensure models get their Wyld Charge and Sneak 
• There is no limit to the number of times he can channel an order

[Image: W03WyldfolkVillage.jpg]

Melee fighter Against Militia Troopers
With MEL 6 and POW 5, and potentially 6 ACT (if he gets assigned one, he’s not a great warrior but he can be used against militia troops (minis like, Hoplites, Bladeslingers, Reaver Tribesmen, Kinswords and Mongrels etc).

Of course you do not want to lose your Bard in melee, so in this role, you need to place him judiciously:
• Always place him so he cannot be charged, and remember he has Wyldwalker and is Light Infantry so he can charge across 11 inches of difficult terrain. 
• Use him with a unit so he doesn’t get separated from the main warband body.
• Always place him so he is engaged with only 1-2 militia level troopers.
• Retire him from the fight as soon as he takes any damage.
• If you have a Druid, consider healing him.
• Use him in a hit-and-run style so that he is always the charger.
• With an assigned ACT, he can charge with his 3ACT attack, and most likely get Slay Movement, gaining a second 3ACT attack for free, then finally he can make another 3 ACT attack or move once and make a light attack. That’s pretty good considering the charge bonus gives him MEL7 and POW6. With Wyld Charge from the Pendragon that would be MEL8.

Scenarios Character
Several scenarios require characters to fulfill scenario objectives. The Bard is not a bad guy to have around for this.

The Bard is just valuable enough and useful enough to convince opponents to charge him, even when he is clearly bait in a counter-charge trap, however, never do this before round 5 because he is too strategically important!

Further tips:
• If faced with an imminent charge or engagement, move your Bard into or behind a difficult-terrain feature. 
• Remember Courageous is not a Song, it is a tactic so can be done in any round you also use a Song
• You definitely want to keep your Bard protected until the end of round 4 because you will find his Victory March most useful in round 3 and round 4 in typical battles.
• The Bard combines quite nicely with the Banshee too. Mortodyn is a Unit tactic and if you chanel it through the BArd instead of ordering it directly, then you do not risk losing the Action token on a failed LEAD check. 

Designers Notes
Not much to say about this guy. He was conceived purely from a thematic view since bards are known in Celtic history and a common staple of fantasy. Therefore a Bard was a must for us. He enabled us to put a buffing character in the starter box who does not use magic, and we wanted to avoid magic so that we could keep the quick-start rules short. Therefore he represented the perfect guy for the job. His profile and skills remained pretty much unchanged throughout the play-testing with only a few minor tweaks like increasing his DEF and ARM to 14 / 5 (it was originally 13 / 4!). He also enabled us to properly test the channeling rules. 

The Wyldfolk have no unit musicians, but they have the Bard who is a handy fellow to have around if only for his Songs special talent which can buff units, allow them to make long charges or rally fleeing models. His ability to channel tactics is a benefit often overlooked!