Monday, April 20, 2015

Campaign Rules for The Gathering Storm

Below are the rules we used for our campaign games to date. I have added some suggestions and lessons learned under each. Gray made use of the Border Wars interactive book for iPad, and I encourage the use of this material to help get your campaigns started!

After playing through these out-of-the-ordinary games, I really believe they offer the tactical wargamer a new level of strategy to challenge them, away from the standard ETC battle-line.

For full battle reports, follow the links below:

Game 1 - Ghosts at the Walls


The battle takes place outside the walls of Stromdorf. A river will run through the centre. A castle will be set up running the length of one side to represent Stromdorf.

The game is to be based on the Guerilla War scenario with these additions:

  • The empire defending force/ search party (25-50 models up to 500 pts) will be set up searching the river. To represent this they must be set up touching the river banks. Randomise for each model to see if they are on the north or the south bank.
  • Every Man For Himself. Each model acts as unit! (panic can be issue that needs to be managed)
  • Night Fight is in effect. 4D6 visibility (roll each turn)
  • After the forces are deployed randomise the location of the arcane map fragment in the river

Extra rules we used to tie it into the campaign:

  • Victory is achieved by moving the artifact off your board edge or by causing 50% casualties.
  • To represent the town watch, the defender can roll for reinforcements. These can appear anywhere on the castle walls or through the gates. This force will be comprised of 250 points and each model will be rolled for individually 
  • The artifact can be picked up during normal move (not a march or charge). The side that carries it can channel an extra dice (and use it next battle too!)
Lessons Learned: At the start of our game we decided that fleeing Empire troops would head for the city wall and then make for the gate. However this meant that they had much more time to rally than the Elf forces. If we were to run this again we would set the walls up as the table edge, rather than 6" in from the edge, and any Empire troop reaching the walls is removed.

This scenario also demonstrates some very simple skirmish rules that require absolutely no re-learning. Panic tests are everywhere, so you will need to plan accordingly!

Game 2 - Death in the Oberslecht

A Herdstone on a hill is in the centre of the board. The map piece is attached. The rest of the board should reflect a civilisation-free wilderness (lots of rocks, trees, shrubs).

The game is to be based on Surprise Encounter with these additions:
  • Units may not deploy within 12” of the Herdstone.
  • The artifact can be picked up during normal move (not a march or charge). The side that carries it can channel an extra dice (and use it next battle too!)
  • Get off our land! A unit of Gors come in as reinforcements, each turn the players roll to control them, but they will continue their combat with whomever they are in contact with. They must charge the closest unit.

Lessons Learned: Unfortunately we couldn't get our hands on a unit of Gors, but the game was chaotic enough! The same scenario (or very similar) can be found in the back of the 8th edition rulebook. You start at very close proximity to enemy units, often without support so troops that can hold their own do very well. There will be fighting right from Turn 1, and so 'mop up' capability will make the difference in later rounds.

Weather Table

Roll 1D6 at the start of each player turn. 

On the roll of a 1, roll a further 2D6 and consult the following Weather Chart. 

In Game 2, these weather effects are triggered on a 1 or a 2. 

In Game 3, they are triggered in a 1, 2 or a 3. 

Any side in possession of an artifact rolls the dice to trigger weather effects with a -1 modifier for each.

Weather Chart

Roll 2D6 to see what is affected: 

2-5 = Shooting Affected

D6 1-3 Heavy Rain - All non-war machine  Ballistic Skill shooting is at -1 for this turn.

D6  4-6 Soaked– All war machines need 4+ to fire this turn.

6-8 = Movement Affected

Sodden Ground - All Movement is at -D3 for this turn (includes Charges, Fleeing, Random Movement).

9-12  = Special Effects

D6 1-2 God-like Thunder - All units are -1 LD for the remainder of the turn.

D6 3-4 Flooding - Player whose turn it is may add one swamp piece to the table (Place token, scatter 4D6, place swamp touching token)

D6 5-6 Lightning Strike - Roll a D6 for each unit in the battlefield (friend and foe). If a '6' is rolled, that unit takes D6 S4 hits as lightning damage. War Machines, units that Fly, or units that have an armour save of 5+ or better are affected on a 5 or a 6. Units carrying the artifact are hit on a 4, 5 or a 6.

Lessons Learned: There are several weather-effect tables out there, from the General's Compendium to the Albion Campaign book. We opted for one with minimal impact to our games.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

WFB Campaign - The Gathering Storm: Part 2

Death in the Oberslecht

The shattered map fragments blaze like signal fires in the minds of the wizards. After the initial clash before the walls of Stromdorf, the Empire force races to claim the remaining artifact with the Elves nipping at their heels.

As time is of the essence, both forces rush blindly into the wild marshes of the Oberslecht. Deep within the mists of the marshes Galharain's mage sight fails him. A corrupting influence is afoot…

The second artifact is discovered lashed to a herdstone in the middle of the swampy region known as the Oberslecht. The braying of wild beasts is heard is the distance, as the two armies become aware of each other through the storm. Scattered due to low visibility, a bloody fight ensues.

The Nuln Steam Tank Deliverance spots the artifact first. Modifications to the wheels allow the machine to churn through the swamp with greater efficiency. The rain and mud splash onto the piping hot engine and the tank emerges from a cloud of steam to slam into the herdstone. The engineer swiftly secures the artifact.

The Magnus Gate Halberdiers cheer on the nearby field guns as they wreck havoc amongst the oncoming Tiranoc Chariots. As they emerge through the sheets of rain they see the Demigrpyh Knights in hard battle with some Silver Helms led by an Elf on a giant eagle. They charge through the foliage and assist in the melee, breaking the elves and running them down.

Luthor Huss and the Knights Gruffon are faced with a more challenging foe - a monstrous Phoenix navigates the lightning strikes overhead. Another unit of Silverhelms, seeking vengeance on the Witch Hunter van Korden, ride him down along with the huntsmen and the great cannon.

The Arch-Lector enters the battle, his war altar being towed through the unforgiving landscape by a contingent of frenzied flagellants, eager for final penance. The light emanating in a halo around the Golden Griffon is like a beacon in the storm.

The Knights Griffon are decimated by bowfire from the trees. The Sisters of Avelorn Pathfinders methodically hunt down straggling Empire troops in their hunt for the artifact.

Deliverance moves in to assist the Celestial Wizard Niklaus Schulmann and the Ironsides, but not before the gunners are forced to flee under the onslaught of the Knights of the Crimson Heart.

The Elven Archmage Galharain is brought to bay in the corner of the swampland. The remaining Empire forces converge to try to end his magical influence. However, the prowess of the Elven bow-fire wreck a heavy toll on the encroaching troops.

Desperate to close the distance to the archers and avoid more casualties, the halberdiers enter the swamp, but many more are drowned during the advance. The steam tank Deliverance powers up the engine for a final devastating collision to wipe out the Elves. Disaster strikes as the floatation device rigged to the underside of the tank fails, and the entire contraption sinks beneath the swamps. Upon witnessing this, the nearby bolt thrower crew gracefully dart forward to secure the second artifact.

Arch-Lector Kaslain and Archmage Galharain face off for the first time. Elven magic is negated by a shield of faith, while righteous fury is held at bay by arcane barriers. The duel ends in a stalemate, as the Elves melt back into the wilderness, their objective achieved.

The two forces now hold one artifact each, and the final battle to control the fulcrum is looming.

[Graeme and I have yet to play the last (few) battles, but I hope you enjoy what we have played so far via Gray's awesome camera work. I will next post up the scenario rules we have been using. Stay tuned!]

Monday, April 13, 2015

WFB Campaign - The Gathering Storm: Part 1

Ghosts at the Walls

(read the Prologue here)

Albericht van Korden strode angrily through the rain and gloom. The Celestial Wizard was hiding something, and he intended to find out what. Documents in the young mage's possession indicated a particular interest in an artifact stored in the Temple of Sigmar. A far cry from 'weather research'. 

The Temple was a solitary building on the banks of the Teufal, just outside the city walls. It seems the Arch-Lector was already here, attempting to talk Lector Gottshcalk into supporting him on his bid for head of the faith.

"Additionally", intoned Kaslain, "all the outlying temples would receive a generous..."

"DOOM!", roared Gottshalk, his eyes rolling to the back of his head as lightning unnervingly cracked overhead. "The Storm rises and the Empire will drown 'neath the waters of the Dark Realm!"

Kaslain moved to calm Gottschalk, but the Lector was crazed, and instead lunged and swung his hammer as he screamed; "Sigmar will come again, and..."

Lead shot sprayed the Lector's brains over the Temple door. Van Korden slid the smoking pistol back into his holster. Before Kaslain could say another word, another deafening peal of thunder shook the ground, and a blinding flash of lightning struck the temple. 

Van Korden regained his senses with enough time to see the peculiar weather-vane attached to the roof of the Temple, loosened by the storm, blow off into the river. In the few seconds he had to observe, he noticed that it looked suspiciously like the wizard's drawings. As the Arch Lector made his way back to the city gates, the Witch Hunter gathered a posse and began to search the banks of the river.

Across the river, another group of searchers emerged from the treeline. The Handmaiden Ysvena and 'The Ghosts of Avelorn' padded towards the river with deadly purpose. Their arrows fell like the very rain that covered the land before the city, and several of the Empire soldiers died before before they even knew they were under attack.

Several of the Halberdiers lost their nerve in that moment and fled for the gates of Stromdorf. The Nuln Ironsides tried in vain to find a target in the rain and dark. The Knights Griffon used the fords in the river to advance on the shadows in the trees, their heavy armour allowing them a certain amount of protection from the barrage of arrows that found their mark.

It was the elves who managed to track down the artifact first - the Reaver covering the Shadow Warrior as he waded into the river.

The Shadow Warrior attempted to escape with the artifact, but Van Korden was well used to evasive quarry, and his time in Sylvania had left him prepared for any eventuality. He closed in on the fleeing elf, preparing his many weapons for the kill.

The elves did not have things all their own way. While clearly superior by stealth, by bow and skill-at-arms, when out numbered those advantages mattered little. A lone Reaver was hooked from the saddle and butchered in the damp soil. 

The banks were littered with dozens of arrow-filled corpses of Empire troops. However, once the knights reached the elven positions, carnage ensued. With the screams of men and elves, and the roars of demigryphon drifting up to him through the storm, Van Korden finally caught a bead on the Shadow Warrior fleeing with the artifact. Hit with pistol shots and vials of Alchemic Fire, the elf was incinerated, and the artifact claimed. The Empire forces withdrew to the city walls, and the elves melted into the night.

The bloody skirmish at the walls of Stromdorf would not be the last time the two forces would meet. After some mild interrogation, the Celestial Wizard Niklaus von Schulmann revealed more information about the artifact - the fact that it was paired with another, said to lie somewhere in the Obserslecht. The Arch-Lector was convinced of some greater importance of these artifacts, and so within the week the army was on the march.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

WFB Campaign - The Gathering Storm: Prologue

Stromdorf. The rainiest place in the Empire.

The locals take great pride in this fact, although that won’t stop them complaining about it.

The small southern Reikland hamlet is unremarkable in all other respects, situated alongside the River Teufel, and on the edge of a large area of wetlands known as the Oberslecht. In times past, the human tribes in the area would travel to visit a standing stone that stood just outside what are now the town walls, said to grant visions of the future. On the site now stands a Sigmarite Temple.

Rumours of the secession of Sylvania and of the war in the north are troubling, but ultimately have no real impact on the lives of the people here. Not much happens, not much changes. Except for one thing.

The weather is getting worse.

All is not well in Stromdorf.

It started thousands of years ago, before the War of the Beard forced the Elves to abandon their towers and cities in the Old World.

An arcane fulcrum of pure Azyr magic erupted near a river in what would become known as the Teufel. A promising young mage was able to contain it, sealing it beneath the river depths. A Tower of Hoeth was erected nearby, along with a device capable of locating the fulcrum, and assisting with the sealing ritual.

Time passed, and the tower fell into ruins, now known as Tempest Knap. The latent Azyr magic continued to permeate the region, causing near constant weather anomalies. At some point the tower was struck by a lightning explosion so huge, it sent chunks of the building and parts of the device flying across the landscape. These device parts still crackled with Azyr magic, radiating the powers of foresight and weather manipulation.

One part was discovered by the human tribes, and turned into a standing stone (over which a Temple of Sigmar now sits), while the other sank somewhere in the Oberslecht.

Thousands of years later, a young human wizard attempting to divine the location of the fulcrum set off a chain reaction that would weaken the seal, causing it to leak pure Azyr magic. The effects of this are starting to be felt not just in Stromdorf, but also as far away as Ulthuan. The Elven curator of the fulcrum must now covertly journey into the heart of the Empire and repair the damage before it is too late.

Time is of the essence, as the human wizard is also returning, and hopes to harness the power for himself…

Dramatis Personae (and Order of Battle)

The Sigmarites

Arch-Lector Kaslain of Nuln
The Sigmarite crusade into Sylvania has ended in disaster.  Grand Theogonist Volkmar has been taken captive, presumed dead, and only a handful of the invading force made it out. Arch-Lector Kaslain led the remnants back to Nuln, where he wasted no time in preparing to outmanoeuvre his rival, Arch-Lector Aglim, for the office of Grand Theogonist. Having secured the support of the Knights Griffon, he prepares for the trip to Altdorf to lobby for support.

On the eve of his departure, Kaslain receives a letter from the Temple in Stromdorf. The local priest claims to have been gifted visions and dire portents from Sigmar himself, and requires his aid. While the tale is not likely genuine, Lector Gottschalk does have a vote in the leadership. Given how tight the race will be, Kaslain decides to detour west at Grissenwald, and pay the Lector a visit…

Witch Hunter Alberich van Korden
Alberich van Korden was the last surviving agent in Sylvania before its secession. Having survived Mannfred von Carstein’s trap, Alberich must now travel to Altdorf to report to the Grand Temple. Arch-Lector Kaslain is eager to keep him in his entourage, as he was the only other witness to the dire events around Volkmar’s abduction.

Niklaus Schulmann, Acolyte of the Celestial College
A charismatic young wizard with absolutely no talent at his craft, Schulmann has nonetheless been able to convince those who matter that he is, in fact, a prodigy. Rumour has it that he won the favour of Countess Emmanuelle herself by ‘reading the heavens’ and providing favourable portents (long-lasting beauty, decades of prosperity for Nuln, and an end to the ‘rat problem’ in the sewers). In return, he has been granted state troops to escort him to Stromdorf to study the local weather effects for his thesis. What no-one knows, however, is that Schulmann has already been to Stromdorf quite recently…

Castellan-Engineer Jubal Falk
Not at all happy with the Ironsides being assigned escort duty for some mage, Falk uses the expedition as opportunity to field test wet-weather modifications on some of the new big guns and the Nuln steam tank. They should work well. In theory.

Captain Timothias Lindmann of the Magnus Gate Halberdiers
Forgot to pack an overcoat.

Franz Bieber and the Stromdorf Huntsmen
One of the best hunters in the Reikland, Bieber has been sent to guide the Arch-Lector through the Beastmen-infested Oberslecht.

Luthor Huss
A long-time opponent of Arch-Lector Kaslain, Huss hopes to thwart his superior’s ambitions to become head of the Cult of Sigmar. Lector Gottschalk will hear what he has to say about Kaslain, as well as the matter of the ‘Blacksmith of Lachenbad’…

Magnus Gate Troops - Halberdiers

Franz Bieber's Huntsmen - Archer detachment

Nuln Ironsides - Armoured Handgunners

Knights Griffon - Inner Circle Knights on Warhorses

Knights Griffon - Inner Circle Knights on Demigryphon

Long Tom - Great Cannon

Gravin's Wrath - Helblaster Volley Gun

Ol' Cranky - Mortar

Deliverance - Steam Tank

The Ghosts and the Stormbinder

Archmage Gallharian Stormbinder
Gallharian Stormbinder looked back. Mortal eyes would have seen little but mist rolling up the valley. Gallharian’s mage sight saw beneath the layers of the low rolling cloud. His war host advanced silently.

His army had become known as ‘The Ghosts’ and rightly so. Their ships had made landfall, not far from Marienburg, in a fierce storm of Gallharian’s creation. In an audacious move they had advanced into the heart of Reikland. They had utterly wiped out two small settlements to remained undetected. The quest could not be compromised.

Gallharian could not contain the smirk that spread across his face. Long had his line fallen out favour in the Everqueen’s Court, after he had sustained massive losses leading his force on a prior campaign. How things had changed though, in the Gaen Vale - a magical focal point of the world the Everqueen had sensed a change in the winds of Azyr. Something was causing the imbalance deep in the heart of The Empire. An ancient fulcrum long buried in the ruined elven colony of Tor Arven had fallen, leaving a network of waystones vulnerable to daemonic attack. The Everqueen had hoped that the sons of Sigmar who now inhabited the land would unwittingly become its guardians by building their town of Stromdorf nearby.

The court was left with little choice than to send small force to ascertain what was causing the disturbance. Much to the disdain of many in the Evercourt, Galharian was chosen to investigate - his talents in controlling the winds of Azyr were second to none.

Now was Galharian’s time for redemption. Nothing would stand in his way.

Noble - Galimar on Night Talon
Galimar has served the will of the Queen for hundreds of years. Courtiers have come and gone and Galimar’s court standing has ebbed and flowed. His unswerving loyalty has not changed though. Many a battle has been saved by one his deft charges. Those who do not know him see him as reckless or lucky. Those who know him well see his genius in reading a battle. Galamar has doubted Galharian’s conviction in slaying humans so wantonly, but is powerless.

Handmaiden - Ysvena the Everqueen’s Hunter
Ysvena is taciturn even for a Handmaiden of the Everqueen. Having reached the revered position of Handmaiden early in her life, she spends little time involved in the politics of court life. Her position is maintained purely by her exceptional skill in enacting the often hidden and violent will of the Court.

Noble - Cerlian the Unbowed
Cerlian is a duelist at heart, his high status as a Queen’s Banner Bearer has been earned by his endless duels and reckless bravery. Some say he cares not who he fights, he only cares for his own glory and image. Certainly he had no qualms about about wiping out human villages on the way to Stromdorf.

Ellyrian Reavers - The Dusk Riders

Ellyrian Reavers - The Dawn riders

Archers - Moonglade Guardians

Silver Helms - Knights of the Crimson Heart (3rd)

Silver Helms - Knights of the Crimson Heart (5th)

Tiranoc Chariot - Malhin Brothers 

Tiranoc Chariot - The Tempest

Shadow Warriors - Eldremar’s Rangers

Lothern Skycutter - Mathlann’s Bride

Lothern Skycutter - Mathlann’s Fury

Sisters of Avelorn - The Path Finders

Eagle Claw Bolt Thrower - The Whisperer

Eagle Claw Bolt Thrower - The Sycthe

Frostheart Phoenix - Storm Talon

Sunday, March 29, 2015

WW100 - Great War Exhibition Miniatures

I finished my last 33 Turk and Fernleaf soldiers this evening, just before the deadline. It was a huge privilege to be involved in the project.

If you need catching up on what all this is about, Sir Peter Jackson has commissioned a diorama to be constructed as part of the WW100 programme which will appear in the old Dominion Museum and National War Memorial in Wellington. The exhibition will open a week before ANZAC Day and run through until November 2018.

The diorama will feature some 4,000 soldiers, depicting the battle for Chunuk Bair. This is a special interest area for me, having studied this part of the campaign when I was a student, and attempting my own diorama at the time (though I did not have the appropriate era soldiers, much to my teacher's disappointment!). Hopefully I have atoned for that sin.

Former GW sculptors Michael and Alan Perry have provided the 54 mm troops. You can see New Zealand's other miniature painters and their efforts on the official blog Mustering the Troops. I simply cannot wait to see all these miniatures in place on the diorama, which is supposedly contour-accurate, based on digital scanning of the landscape care of Weta Workshop.

Looking forward to getting these guys sent away for their final placement on the diorama. I plan on heading down to see it when it opens, and help celebrate and remember this important moment in New Zealand's history.

The Turks Advance

My three ANZAC Troops

A small piece of the final diorama