Friday, November 9, 2018

Realms at War 2018 Impressions

Hey Everyone!  As a part of my recent trip to England, I was lucky enough to attend this year's Realms at War 3: Aethermy (aka RAW18) event held in Cambridge.  Created and run by the RAW NEO's of Jimbo, Mitzy, Ming, and Steve it is a top-level narrative Age of Sigmar event.  In short, it was RAWsome (couldn't help myself) and I have already begun looking at the possibility of making this a yearly must-attend event for my hobby schedule.  I met so many wonderful people at the event and it was a pleasure putting faces to Twitter names while throwing dice and sharing the collective story of the Aetherguild's battling for dominance.

Before I dive right into the event itself I want to share a bit about the town in which it is held, Cambridge.  Immediately after stepping off the train my wife and I were taken back at the beauty of the place.  As a foreigner, you develop some predetermined ideas of what another country might look like and Cambridge fit the idea we had of what England would look like in such a good way.  It is full of charm and I am thankful we had a bit of time to walk around and take in the sites of the area before and after the event.  The loveliness of Cambridge went very far in making my wife and me want to come back as soon as possible.  We already have thoughts of going over yearly and while I play in the RAW event she can walk around, have coffee, and enjoy the atmosphere of Cambridge.

After checking in to the hotel we met some folks at a local pub called The Tram Depot for a drink and some delicious food.  Shortly after we headed up to the venue located at The Compass House which is part of the College Campus, but the location was empty except for us so everyone felt very comfortable leaving their armies there over the nights.  There was a fair number of folks there helping set up and the tables got together in short order for the weekend of fun.  The room had plenty of space for all the tables and players comfortably as well as space around the wall to set coats, army bags, and backpacks so they were not in the way.  It was also nice to register/check-in to the event the night before as well allowing us to get right to the fun the next day.

It was an enjoyable getting to meet most of the folks the night before setting up for the event in a relaxed fashion.  People were chatting and there was music playing, which as you expect I hijacked for a song or two.  My wife and I really enjoyed seeing these top tables in person in all their glory.  I fell in love with the Ghyran tables as I base my armies from this realm and I had hoped to play there for a few games but was very keen to get to play in each realm over the weekend.  The quality of the tables really got me thinking of creating one exceptional table for my personal collection as opposed to my current random collection of terrain I have collected over the years.  Alongside that more narrative table, I would theme a more traditional competitive table as well.  

The RAW NEO's really set up a nice display of all the creative trophies, prizes, and even decorated a wall with the "City Fliers" which connected the player's armies with some fun lore.  These were originally released on Twitter in the lead up to the event as players emailed in their Aethermyst Narrative.  It was great to see the event team go this extra mile to help build excitement and I was thrilled when I finally saw one posted for my army.  The build-up to the event really felt like a two way street between the event leads and the players which allowed us all to connect early and eagerly anticipate seeing everyone and their creations. 

The trophies were very well themed for the event, being lab beakers filled with colored resin as well as labeled with different components that were part of the Aetherbrew Deck we used to brew our potions during the event.  From beginning to end the entire event was themed toward Aethermy and allowed me to quickly get into the spirit and stay there all throughout the weekend.  I want to give a quick thanks as for the event leads allowing me to do my small giveaway as well.  I gifted "Blessings of Tayrathi" to all my opponents, the event leads, and a fair few other people by way of a single Daughters of Khaine Dice.  I had everyone roll off in two groups based on the color of the dice (blue or white) for a fun prize.  I then let the two winners decide to stop or roll off in a winners take all and as I expected the two winners did just this leaving the winner of both prizes to be Jimbo!  Jimbo won a unit of Juan Diaz Daemonettes as well as Taylor Swifts latest album, Reputation.

The event got kicked off as everyone met early at the venue to set up their armies, change into their costumes, and get some of the generously provided Tea, Coffee, and Fruit to fuel ourselves for a day of gaming.  As you are all well aware I have been giving RAW my full attention as the event drew closer.  I really enjoyed prepping for this event with building my Aethermyst and Aetherlab, writing my narrative, and creating my costume.  By now I am sure you have seen me in my Morathi Costume I made for the event, but if not here it is again!  While every bit of the prep was enjoyable I really put my effort into my costume in the final days and it was kept secret in order to make the biggest impact.  I created to costume with the goal of winning Best Costume for the event and I am happy with the results and everyone seemed to get a really good laugh and took it as the tongue-in-cheek fun I intended it to be about.  I toughed it out and wore it all day Saturday along with everyone else!

The players were split into two groups representing the two Aetherguilds which was a clever way to pair people for games.  I was part of The Guild of Aethermerical Science Studies as opposed to The Aetherical Science Studies Guild.  Each Aetherguild had a leader who had cards representing a table number and they would hand them out at random for pairing, but we could request a table in order to play in a specific realm or play a specific opponent.  It worked very nicely and was a great idea for how to pair players in a narrative event.  The leaders also had some Aether blessings and Aether hexes to pass out as well.  I had a few blessings and a few hexes throughout the event and either way it was a fun extra addition to the games.  

As we played our games everyone tracked the number of brews they successfully created as well as the number of cards they used to brew them in their games.  This is how the two guilds competed over the event in order to claim dominance and I am happy to say the guild I was part of managed to dominate the event!

My first day saw four great games with wonderful opponents.  My first game was against Glenn and his Stormcast force in the realm of Ghyran as we both took our first steps as Aethermysts.  My Aethermyst suffered a few wounds early and immediately hid behind a building in order to brew without the threat of further harm as my Witch Aelves went in to do their bloody work.  I recall a fun bit where Glenn attempted a large brew which would see his Aethermyst be Potatofied by its effect only for him to roll double ones and fail his brew...and be Potatofied anyway!  Glenn was a joy to meet and roll dice against and his Stormcast have a nicely done "dusty desert theme" I enjoyed greatly.

My second game had me faced off against the legend that is Paul B. and some of his Arachnarok Spiders on another of the great Ghyran tables.  Playing Paul was an unexpected treat and a fun memory as his mighty beasts clashed with my Witch Aelves blades.  True to form of a true gentlemen gamer Paul was reminding me of my own rules and bonuses I was forgetting even though it only quickened the demise of his glorious spiders.  Even though I "won" the objective, and potaofied myself for the first and only time of the event, in my mind, went to Paul as he was an Aether-brewing madman and even managed to kill an Aethermyst on a nearby table due to the effects of one might max card brew!  When I return to England I really hope I get to see Paul again on the table to battle it out once more.

My match had me moving to Ghur where I faced Alex and his Idoneth army.  As our game began we had to keep an out as the table next to us had a few Orruk players who were keen to get to grips with our Aelves.  In proper Aelf fashion, we choose not to ally against this threat as we played our dangerous game of cat and mouse with each other and the opposing table.  Alex got in a bit of a bad spot as he was swarmed by Orruks which I was able to mop up easily after the two forces wore each other down.  Alex was a very good sport about this and he was brewing with ease as opposed to me who managed to fail every brew I attempted!  I do wonder how the game would have looked had Alex and I joined forces to counter the incoming Green Tide, but perhaps next time we can do just that.

The final game of the day was a 2 vs. 2 game and I was humbled to have had a player named Dan (who I cannot recall if he had a Twitter or not) ask to pair his Wanderers with my Daughters in an elven union of might!  His shooting ability and my combat power made us feel ready for anything!  We were placed in the realm of Shyish against two wonderful opponents of Snez and Lawrence who had a Khorne and Nurgle force for us to get through.  Dan opposed Lawrence and his Nurgle to give him a false flank while Snez and I pitted Khorne against Khaine!  Khaine held favor as some very lucky brews to increase my movement and add +1 to my hit, saw me make it into his line quickly and a clutch Kraith roll (6+ after a unit attacks to see if it attacks again) saw a full unit of 30 Witch Aelves with Paired Knives go twice and essentially remove the Khorne army quite quickly.  I took a fair bit of damage back as his remaining models did their bloody work, but the Aelven union won the day, but both sides had some great brews and we all shared drinks as well.  I would happily play with or against any of these gentlemen in the future as well as share some drinks and conversation and hopefully next year I will have the opportunity.

Later that night everyone met back up at the venue for the Saturday night event, "The Chunder Dome".  Our Aethermysts saw themselves enter the dome with three opponents to see who could cast the most prolific brews!  The game was quick, fun, and had just enough tension to make everyone hold their breath with every roll of the dice.  The game was played with some dice and part of the Aetherbrew decks and I cannot say enough how genius these decks were in their ability to easily slot into core game while also serving to function as a mini-game on their own.  I made it to the penultimate round before the tension got to me and I reached too far and was knocked out of the running.  The final game was an intense affair that saw everyone gathered around the table as the remaining four Aethermysts dueled it out.  It was fun, kept everyone together, and I plan to play again with anyone who has one of the decks.  A few pints later with some new friends saw an end to a fantastic first day of RAW18 and a planned game between myself and Ollie who really wanted a piece of my Aelves in the morning.

The second day was a bit of a mystery as the battle plans were given to us this day, but in a true surprise the RAW NEO's pulled out a 3d printed "Rawnado" Endless spell which was a big part of the final few games.  Ollie and I were able to pair up in Chamon and we were ready for a bloodbath, but I sensed an opportunity to the table to my right as Alexander N. paired off against The mighty Bish.  I asked if Ollie would simply ignore one of my units of Witch Aelves and the Hag Queen that followed and in turn I promised they would not harm a single Orruk.  With a smile, Ollie agreed and the game set off. It was very bloody and after getting a strong position early on the tide turned for me as Ollie began quickly killing every Aelf in site.  True to his word he killed every Aelf he saw in a fantastic game!  While I was decimated on my main table I was able to walk over and help Bish by deleting one of Alexander's units before my Witches fled to live another day!  It is easy to see Ollie puts a lot of effort into the event and plays to the nature of the event with some of the best-painted Orruks I have ever seen.  I knew our grudge would continue into the future in fun fashion as I would need to seek my revenge against his Green menace!

The final game of the day and the event saw me paired randomly against Ben S. who I played at Warhammer World a few days prior.  The Rawnados were devastating in this game and we both were eager to see how we would fare against one another in our surprise rematch.  In a bit of serendipity, I noticed Ollie playing Kye was to my left and after a quick agreement between Ben and myself I deployed my two Avatars of Khaine as close to Ollie's table as I could with the promise of them not doing much in the upcoming battle between my Witch Aelves and Ben's massive Gryph-Hound pack.  The Rawnados were cast and Witch Aelves were decimated very quickly and after a few rounds, it was clear Ben was winning our rematch giving me yet another reason to return to England for our future rubber match.  My Avatars managed to surprise Ollie and take out his Aetherlab in a few sings of their mighty swords in order to send a message that we would be back one day!  I was very pleased to end my final game in England against the gentleman I had my very first game with earlier int he week.  It capped everything off nicely for me and just as before Ben was wonderful to spend time with at the table and we had more than a few laughs along the way to his victory!

RAW18 was an exceptional event and I knew I had to make plans to attend it again, yearly if possible.  After mentioning the idea to my wife her only condition was that she come along as well.  She felt very welcomed by everyone in attendance and was offered to be brought a cup of Tea and Coffee more times than she could remember.  I was happy she was able to see how great this community is to one another and the depth of its kindness.

The event was wrapped up and we cleaned up the tables together similar to how we all set everything up as a group.  The awards were given, which you can see above (be sure to give everyone a follow on Twitter), and I was thrilled to have accomplished my goal of taking Best Costume!  I fear the competition for the award will only escalate in the coming years, but in a way that is a fun prospect as well.  

I cannot recommend this event any higher no matter if you are a narrative gamer, new player, or a competitive player.  It was exceptionally well run and the event leaders did a great job reporting on the event as the days went on as well so be sure to check back on Twitter using #RAW18 to relive it all.  I plan to return to this event without a doubt and I would love to see more U.S. players do the same.  The hobby was incredibly high and everyone was playing within the mindset of a narrative event whether their army was built specifically for the event or was a more traditional competitive army ported over to the event.  This event is more than worth the ticket price and I cannot wait until the next time I make it over for it again.  Happy Hobbying!

Chuck Moore