Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Guest Article : All Hallows Siege with Paul Wagner

Hello all, my name is Paul Wagner (better known as Pjschard) and I will be writing a few posts while Chuck is off on his exciting British adventures.  I play Age of Sigmar, am part of the Mortal Realms Podcast, and in general am a proud AoS superfan.  This last Saturday I attended an awesome narrative event right here in Madison, Wisconsin.  It was run by the Milwaukee and Madison crew and named “All Hallow’s Siege.”

Eric Herkert-Oakland ( @stonemonkgamer ) took the lead with some great assistance from Davy Calkins, Aaron Bohler, and Zach Lambe ( @redzeke, @dosaceos, and @ztlambe ) to produce a very fun 1 day 3 game Narrative event.  First off, I’d like to say hats off to these guys for taking all the time and effort to put this event together.

So how does one play narratively?  For sure there are different ways to approach the game itself, from building a narrative list, playing a narrative battleplan, writing custom lore for your armies, or even dictating which grand alliance players should bring.  For All Hallow’s Siege, the armies were open play composition to an agreed point limit, and the battleplans were all custom with two being revealed beforehand, and the third being secret. It might seem a bit trite to ask how one plays narratively after running my own events, but here’s a secret.  I’d never played in a narrative event for Age of Sigmar until Saturday, and the narrative wasn’t really a thing other people played around here in the World that Was.

I was nervous, it’s a bit different to write your own narrative that other people play in than to play within a narrative that you have to fit within.  I was asked to play death so the first thing I did was to read the lore in the Nighthaunt battletome.  My army is based on Lady Olynder even though she was not allowed to be fielded, so I was able to come up with my motivation rather easily.  My force was there to cause grief, in whatever way possible.  The event was set within the (custom location) KoAT monastery setting and focused on disrupting or maintaining a once every millennia ritual.  If the ritual failed, death would reign supreme.  That seemed like a great narrative hook to draw in my nighthaunt.

Eric incorporated narrative into the event from the very start pitting two forces against each other, Death vs everyone else.  Each side had a warlord that would make decisions about where their followers would fight and what objectives they were to obtain, complete with boons to grant cooperative generals.  The options were attacking the walls (I could fly through them,) search for hidden tunnels or a caravan scenario.  The first task that I requested was to ransack one of the caravans coming to resupply the KoAT monastery.  (Nothing like a little poison to cause defenders to despair.)  Since there were 5 Death aligned players and 6 other players we were always going to end up getting double teamed, and I ended up drawing the short stick.

Davy (one of the GMs) took pity on my plight and granted me a boon to allow one of my units to gain +1 wound for the game which I promptly gave to my Grimghast Reapers.  I set up my 2000 points of Nighthaunt against 2000 points of squigs (Matt) and 4 bloodthirsters (Mark,) and grew quite nervous.  Happily, I got the first turn and proceeded to swarm the caravan using several command points to relocate my Chainghasts and reroll a few charges.  Leaving the caravan in shambles I was perforated and disincorporated in good order, but one of the bloodthirsters managed to cause 3 wounds (d3 mortal wounds to everything within 8”) upon a colossal squig which led to a rather amusing civil war amidst the destruction of my nighthaunt.  It was a great game with a really fun atmosphere.

At this point, I felt compelled to reassess my narrative.  Would the mortarch of Grief feel compelled to obey a Warlord that had so obviously betrayed her?  How could Lady Olynder see being sent to a battlefield outnumbered and without a chance of success?  Obviously, the poison she was given was ineffective since no ill effects were felt by the defenders.  There was no grief to be had following their will.

Scenario two was a choice between a full frontal assault on the main gate of the monastery, one of the sides, or an aerial battle above the monastery itself.  I was given the side of the monastery with mostly ruined walls (from a game 1 battering by Brendan Melnick (@hobbybear) and Christian Wear (@maximumpants).  Obviously, my warlord had no intention of using my ethereal nature to its’ full advantage!  Deploying my army in the center of the battlefield I was quickly swarmed by a Brass Stampede! (Isaac) The fallen walls had proven a major advantage to Khorne as the army was given three ways to exit the walls instead of just one!  Another betrayal!  Upon beheading my general Isaac offered a bit of a truce.  His narrative had included that his general was being tainted by Tzeentch, and instead of fighting, he would rather live to fight another day! I happily accepted and floated past him through the ruined walls.  An interesting twist to this scenario was that you were allowed to bring only what survived from this battle (to a minimum of 500 points) to the third game.

This resulted in a full 1500 point Khorne Bloodthirster army and a full 1500 point Brass Stampede surviving into game 3 plus 1000 points of beastmen and 3 other armies at 500 points for the defenders, with only 3000 points total for the attackers (of which I had 1000.) This was obviously another betrayal.  They had never intended to stop the ritual, only to try and take the monastery (and failed.)  As such my narrative must be altered.  If I could not stop the ritual what else would cause the most grief?  Why betrayal of course! 

The last scenario consisted of 4 tables with shrines in the center that must all be destroyed by round 3 if the attackers were to succeed.  Fortunately, The Brass Stampede (Isaac)  Fulfilled his betrayal for failing to defend the walls, and instead attacked his own shrine, destroying it immediately.   Through doubling down on the Chaos Alliance Shrine, Brendan and I were able to topple that shrine by turn two.  Once the shrine was toppled the players were allowed to relocate their forces to another table.
The Brass Stampede then remembered it’s Khornate allegiance and failed to destroy the third shrine (Destruction) while Tanya, Christian and I collaborated on the Order shrine to try and topple it.  I did my best to torture Kenny (@kennylull) and his beastmen into turning on the shrine (refusing to attack him if he attacked the shrine,) but it was all for naught.   The Order and Destruction shrines stood, and while they did, the ritual was maintained.

In the end, do I think I played narratively?  Absolutely!  Did it impede my enjoyment of tactics and gameplay?  Not at all.  While a small part of me did regret not playing out the second game due to our agreement, it was still an immense amount of fun pretending to still be fighting while wandering around and heckling the other players (as directed by the GMs ;) )  Playing narratively ended up being an immensely enjoyable experience which really provide an amazing experience with the teams cooperating and betraying based on narrative.

I hope you enjoyed my breakdown of this event and I’m sure we will all be happy to hear from Chuck again upon his return.  Thanks for reading!