What's that? It's Tuesday, you say...? Shush.... Keep that to yourself, will you?
For this week's installment of MMG I have the following planned for you. Firstly, a more comprehensive look at the new campaign book Blood in the Badlands. I've read this thing front to back to front and back again and I have to admit I.... no wait, I'll save that for later in the post.
Secondly I have a special scenario for all you Dragon lovers out there. Something I've been wanting to try out for ages and I finally wrote up some rules for it. I hope to try it out soon!
That should probably be enough for this week. I have plenty of stuff I want to tell you for today!
Off we go!
Blood in the Badlands Review - Best Bits of White Dwarf
I've been wanting to write this bit ever since I got the book last week and finished reading it: Releasing Blood in the Badlands is a stroke of genius on the part of GW! I'll get to a more indepth review in a bit, but I'll start off with saying that this is exactly the type of release that will make Fantasy a more popular and fun game.
As we all know 8th edition has had Fantasy kinda moving away from the competitive gaming scene (at least insofar as it was ever there; Fantasy, in my opinion, has never been a game perfectely suited for competitive play, but I digress) and tried bringing it back more towards the casual game scene's side. The rules of 8th in general do a fairly good job of this, although there are some areas that might need a little tweaking. Random charge ranges, potentially completely over the top magical spells, and other rules changes have done a good job of making the game as a whole better suited for casual play, the " beer and pretzels" game Jervis Johnson keeps talking about. Now, I know not everyone likes the rules changes or the direction Fantasy is going in currently, but I like them and I highly doubt any of the dislikers would read this, a small time Fantasy blog, anyway so I'll not argue my stance here.
What I am going to do is explain why I think Blood in the Badlands is such an awesome and great release, even if you are never going to play the campaign.
First though, lets take a quick look at what's in the book: beautiful hardcover book in style with the current armybooks. 96 Full colour pages, describing from beginning to end the Blood in the Badlands campaign. This review can pretty much be summed up with the concise phrase: "Best Bits of White Dwarf."
White Dwarf, for all you young ' uns, used to be a pretty cool magazine (well, cool for nerds). There were rules, model showcases, battle reports where the new army didn't automatically win, painting tips, hobby articles, and far less advertisements. I used to love receiving the new White Dwarf and reading through it, seeing what Jake Thornton and crew (later Paul "Fat Bloke" Saywer and crew) had come up with for this month.
Blood in the Badlands brings back memories from that era. It gives you the rules to play the Badlands Campaign yourself, it gives you additional rules to play Siege games, it gives you advice how to make up your own stuff for the Campaign (with examples such as Underground Fighting and the Skaven Magma Cannon), and it gives you a report on how the campaign went ala a battle report. The only thing 'missing' is some more info on each of the players' characters/armies, sort of more hobby articles, if you will. But that's a small gripe.
With this supplement GW has shown they still have a stong focus on the gaming aspect of the hobby and provide us, the gamers, with a book solely showing how to have more fun with our miniatures. Not once do they mention we should by this or purchase that, there are no ads in the book (obviously), and it really is just all about having fun with your mates. Numerous times in the book they mention making up extra rules as they went along. They added a sub-map (literally) under the map proper when a Skaven player wanted to attack the Dwarf Stronghold from underground, adding rules and scenarios just for fun!
Time for a more indepth look. As mentioned there are different sections to the book. First is a small introduction, explaing what the book entails.
Next up is a bit of background, exploring the Badlands area a bit and looking and what's were. They also show you how they made their map using those plastic tiles they have. A map made on a computer would work just as well, in my opinion, and would be easier for people to access (if you just email them to everyone after a turn's done) to see where they stand and help plan their moves.
Then we have the actual campaign rules. 8 Pages and you have everything you need. This campaign isn't the most complex I've seen but it is detailed enough to really give players different options. It also does a good job keeping players in the game. The way the campaign works every player has a chance to win the campaign right down to the final battle. Sure, if you are dead last pre-final battle, your chances of becoming the overall winner are very slim, but the point is that there is chance! This will keep players motivated and interested to keep playing.
Here's a short summary of how the campaign works:
-Make a map and find players to participate. You probably need at least 5 or 6 players, capping out at 8 or 9.
-Every player writes up three characters. These will be his generals, leading his armies to victory (hopefully)
-Players choose a starting location on the map.
-Players play through 4 seasons, each consisting of 3 turns. The goal of all these games is to aqcuire Relics. Whoever has the most relics will be the player who starts in control of the objectives in the Final Battle. Whoever controls the most Objectives at the end of the Final Battle wins the Campaign.
The actual rules are more detailed, obviously. There are rules for moving, mining, fortifying, experience, capturing and defeding lands, campaign turn events, and more. Every army has a special Racial rule that helps differentiate between the armies without giving any army too big of an advantage. Gaining (and losing) experience is kept simple and easy, but fun. Players can lose any of their three armies if they perform badly on the field of battle, but always get their armies back at the beginning of a new season.
Every season has a different rule that helps with creating a feel for that season (winter, for instance, limits visibility on the field of battle to 24" on a roll of 1-2 due to raging blizzards). At the end of every season all players play in a special end-of-season scenario, allowing the winners to gain more territories and some extra other benefits.
The rest of the book is dedicated to describing how the campaign unfolded, special scenarios that can be used at the end of each season and rules for sieges and underground fighting.
What I like about the campaign is that it does not require 100% participation of all the players all the time. Let's face it, if you want to run a campaign with 5-9 players over an extended period of time (4-6 months?), there will be times some people just won't be able to fit in a battle. For this campaign that doesn't matter. Sure, they'll be set back a little compared to people who can play all the time, but they are never out of it.
I will leave it at this for now. Maybe I'll describe it more at a later time, maybe to talk about the siege rules. I really like how they've set up this campaign and I most definitely am looking forward to trying this out. I see this as a grand possibility for my Order of the Moon Chaos Warriors to once again prove their dominance to the rest of the Warhammer World! Lord Thalenchar and Master Borazel shall once more travel down from the north and wreak havoc in the name of the Great Manipulator! And as before, every army opposing the Order will be offered this same choice:
"Join us, or die."
Everyone into Fantasy loves Dragons, right? Iconic lizardy creatures, ancient beyond time and powerful beyond measure, Dragons are in integral part of any Fantasy Setting. You know, because Tolkien used Dragons too.
So, it was as I was musing on what allies to include for a Storm of Magic battle, in particular looking at all the different types of Dragons to include, that a thought struck me (don't worry, it did not hurt). What if we could fight a battle where there'd be a normal army on one side and an army composed entirely of Dragons on the other?!
I had one of those 'Wow Awesome!" moments where I was completely enthused and immidiately started writing up some rules for it. Ideas were emerging in my head, different scenario types vying for supremacy, victory conditions of the most outlandish sort trying to creep in, and in the end, this is what I came up with.
A Special Scenario for Warhammer Fantasy Battles.
Armies: One player picks a 2500 pts army using the normal restrictions. These will be the Dragon Hunters. The following special rule apply to all models in the Dragonhunters army: Hardened Hunters - The model has a 6+ ward save vs any kind of Dragon Breath attack. In addition, all characters are allowed to reroll fear tests when facing a Dragon. If a unit including a character fails its fear test, just reroll it for the character(s), the unit still counts as having failed. Character mounts pass or fail with the character, when applicable.
The Dragon player's army is composed of the following models. 5 Young Dragons (see Storm of Magic), one of each type, and 1 Emperor Dragon (see Storm of Magic), who is a level 4 wizard (choose type). The following special rules apply: Great Mother - The Emperor Dragon counts as the General of the Dragon's force. She receives a 6+ ward save. Swift Attack: One of the Young Dragons (choose before deployment) receives the Vanguard special rule.
Deployment: Use a standard Battleline scenario from the main rulebook.
Victory Conditions: Victory Points are not used for this game. Instead, victory is determined by the total amount of wounds the Dragons suffer.
If the Dragons, combined, have suffered more wounds than they have remaining, the Dragon Hunters win the game. If they, combined, have more wounds remaining than they have suffered, the Dragons win. A tie results in a tie. A dead dragon awards one extra point to the Dragon Hunters. A Dead Dragon Hunter General awards two extra points to the Dragons. Regenerated wounds count as not having been suffered.
And that's it. The Dragon Hunters have more 25% points and can make their army with the knowledge they will be facing 6 dragons. The Dragons, well, they have 6 Dragons. 6 flying Monsters might be tough for any army to face, but the victory conditions means that the Dragon Hunters only need to focus on killing the Dragons, while the Dragons needs to decide between keeping back to preserve wounds, or advancing and killing the units that can hurt them, at the risk of losing too many wounds.
While writing this scenario, and talking to my mates about it, I didn't only want to play with the Dragons (and thunderstomp my way through the opposing army), but I was very keen to try out if I could defeat the Dragons with my Skaven or my Ogres. Only one way to find out!
So, what do you think of the scenario? Doable? Fun? Neither? Let me know!
And that's it for this week's installment. Hope you enjoyed it. See you next time!