Archive for the ‘Wargaming’ Category

Turn3Cycle2The target audience for this blog post is my gaming group.  What I’m writing about pertains to our campaigns, though can be applied outside as well.

A few years ago I wrote a series of articles for Bell of Lost Souls that explained what exactly narrative play is.  That series starts off here:

https://baelsoubliette.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/forging-the-narrative-what-is-narrative-gaming/

https://baelsoubliette.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/forging-the-narrative-what-is-narrative-gaming-part-ii-guest-editorial/

https://baelsoubliette.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/forging-the-narrative-part-ii-the-campaign/

https://baelsoubliette.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/forging-the-narrative-part-ii-the-campaign/

It generated a lot of conversation on BOLS, and highlighted that gamers and what makes them happy are very different.  Sometimes explosively so.  This is why before any campaign that I run, I make it a point to establish from the beginning that this is a Narrative Campaign.

What does that mean?

Pointedly, it means that its not fair.

Tournaments and leagues, and often pick up games are created and designed to be fair.  That is, the forces are symmetrical and the scenario is sterile so that the only thing the players have to play against are each other.

That has been the cultural default for wargaming since the mid 90s, so over twenty years now it has been ingrained and built up that all games should be set up like this.

Narrative Gaming takes that concept and spins it on its head.  The tales of battles often feature asymmetrical battles and environments that are just as deadly to the armies as much as the enemy are.

The bottom line of narrative gaming is that not all games are going to be fair.  There will be some games that are pretty even sure!  However, not all games will be like this.

Narrative gaming is not for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with someone that wants and needs absolute balance and fairness at all times.  Thats what tournaments and leagues are for, and as its the cultural default, players should have no problem finding these to join because they are literally everywhere.

Campaign Days, Narrative Scenarios, and What You Can Expect
Campaign days feature a day out of the month when we can all get together as one group and play a game together.  It is one of the pinnacles of the campaigns that I like to organize and is why I have them always on the last saturday of every month, so that players can plan accordingly.

Any campaign that I run will largely feature narrative type scenarios.  A narrative scenario can be fair, or it can give certain sides bonuses for playing well that month, or simply through where the battle is located.

Typically in every event that I have run over the past almost twenty years, there will be a campaign day event that ruffles someone’s feathers.  I have a long list of tirades, rants, rage quits, and exodus because a scenario wasn’t fair.

Even after talking about how narrative scenarios won’t always be fair.

The most explosive of these was the Lustria fantasy campaign.  Jungle fighting meant that forests once again blocked line of sight, and quicksand could swallow knight units up easily.

This ran counter to internet-meta where gunlines had laser guided cannons that could shoot across the table and where you min/maxed high armor saves, so even after this was knowingly stated there were a couple of players that were personally offended by these rules and went on a large scale tirade about how it screwed them over.

Despite this, the Lustria campaign was also one of the most successful campaigns that I have ever been a part of.

Now at this time, this is where I say… narrative campaigns are not for everyone.  Narrative campaigns are to me a time to play in places you don’t normally play in campaigns and pickup games.    Narrative games are a time to play with models you don’t normally play because they don’t adhere to the internet-meta in standard tournament scenarios, but could shine in narrative scenarios.

Case in point… if you’re fighting in a jungle you don’t max out on cannons and knights.  Jungle fighting is not for those things.

The Lustria campaign was just one of those examples.  I can pull several, but I will not because they all share the same point:  narrative games are a time to play to the story and sometimes the story is not going to be kind to you.

Aqshy, the Hellish Heat, and Exhaustion Screws Me Over
The Aqshy campaign day time of war was pulled from a scenario that warhammer world ran.  It definitely made players think about how to overcome it, and there were ways to overcome it, but those ways were not how you traditionally play a game of warhammer.

When your army is falling all around you to the elements, and points are on the line as is reclaiming an artefact, that means you have to play aggressive and you can’t park in a corner and play a conservative ranged game.   You have to move forward, grab that artefact and score as many points as you can before your men fall over.

There are plenty of tales of this kind of battle in many books…where two armies clash in a hellish landscape and in the end as the smoke rises a lone hero staggers out clutching the prize.

I’ve said it once before and will say it again… the winner of the Sword in Azyr Empires will be the player that learns how to build an empire, and learns how to overcome obstacles.  It will take more than doing spreadsheet math on statistics and knowing that every scenario will be sterile and not offensive to your force.  Regardless, giving it your best effort will often reward you.

Case in point was Alex and his skaven fighting in a scenario that did not favor his low bravery rats, but he ended up being a failed exhaustion check away from taking 2nd place at that table.  And the failed exhaustion check was MY chariot failing it and dying, thus robbing him of the points that would have carried him up.

Campaign Days are one battle in a series of many.  Not every campaign day will favor you and not every campaign day will be an uphill battle for you either.  In five months there will be somewhere near twenty games you can play.  One campaign game that did not favor your army is not going to kill a player from being able to claim the final prize, just like winning a campaign day is not going to guarantee any player from claiming the final prize.

The campaign system is designed so that there is no way for one person to just run away with it easily.  The higher you are, the harder things can get.

Its Not Fair, Sportsmanship, Rules Arguments
So we know its not fair always, its not always going to be fair, and campaign days are going to be scenarios where the environment can be just as devastating as your opponent.  Expect that.  The reason that the scenarios are not given out ahead of time is because min/maxing the scenario is something that I am trying to minimize.  You are being tested on your ability to react and adapt as much as you are tested on being able to spreadsheet out your statlines and max out efficiency.

This is where tournaments and leagues differ from narrative games, and to reiterate – Narrative Games and Campaigns are not for everyone and there is nothing wrong with that.   However, if you are a player that demands perfect symmetry and balance and sterile scenarios, recognize that and stick with tournament gaming or other events that will cater to that.  Most of the campaigns that I run are not going to fall into that category.  There are plenty of other events that are purely competitive and all about symmetrical gaming, I like doing events that are different and offer a different side of wargaming (a side that I began with in the 80s before tournaments became a huge thing)

In terms of sportsmanship, during a game where points are on the line it is expected that you will finish out your game.  You can’t just get up and walk away to deny people points.  Personal conduct is the most important aspect of any game, and all of us to a person are expected to hold ourselves at the highest level of sportsmanship and conduct.  It is understandable that sometimes you lose your cool when bad things pile up, but it is all of our responsibilities to make sure that we keep ourselves in check.

If you are having a rules argument with someone, simply ask me during the day for an interpretation and we will have it resolved in a few moments and we can discuss it later.

If you have any questions on narrative gaming, or what to expect… please feel free to contact me.

 

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finalsParticipants

 

From June up until Thanksgiving, Louisvillewargaming.com has run its annual fantasy campaign.  This year it was held in the steamy jungles of Lustria, where the players had to not only deal with their opposition, but also the lethal jungles themselves!  The rules for the campaign can be found on http://www.louisvillewargaming.com if you are interested in reading about those details.

The final event took the five owners of the chests of Mathias Ward – chests won during campaign days spread throughout the duration of the campaign:

* Cory Jenkins – high elves – claimed the first chest of Ward by winning the pre-season tournament.
* Keith Rankin – ogres – claimed the second chest of Ward by winning our first campaign day event in July.  Also won the Best Painted award for his exceptional work on his ogres.

* Travis Childress – lizardmen – claimed the third chest of Ward.
* Joshua Taflinger – lizardmen – representing southern Indiana – claimed the fourth chest of Ward.
* Tony Lopes – orcs and goblins with a captive slaaneshi demon prince – representing southern Indiana – won the final chest of Mathias Ward

finalsmatward

The Scenario
Triumph and Treachery with Storm of Magic.  The players would claim coins in the usual Triumph and Treachery manner.  Additionally, for every fulcrum they owned they would receive a brass coin at the end of each magic phase.  If they possessed the pyramid in the center of the table, this would grant them a silver coin at the end of each magic phase.  The catch was that Mathias Ward himself sat at the top of the pyramid.

Mathias was templated from a Death Elemental from the Monstrous Arcana.  Additionally, he was a level 5 wizard that knew all of the spells from High, Light, and Death lores.  He would not have his own turn, rather he would gain six power dice to cast a spell whenever a player miscast a spell.  Mathias would target that player with his spells.

The table was a six foot by six foot square, with the pyramid in the center and jungles spread out all around it.  The table used jungle fighting rules, with Lustrian encounters in play.

The game would go for six turns or until 7:30 pm, whichever came first.

finalsSaurian

The Early Game
Travis came out aggressive and immediately charged Ward with the first move.  The creator of the jungles raised his eyebrow as ripper-dactyls flew at him, but Travis followed that up with not one but two miscasts that allowed the champion of rules writing two spells which shredded the skinks and their flying mounts – putting a quick end to their attempted usurping.

Travis pointed his dread saurian over towards Keith’s ogres in what would be a continuing battle for most of the day.

The miscasts put Travis’ slaan on Keith’s fulcrum.  Indeed all of the wizards got scrambled around the table until another miscast would set things right (in storm of magic, fulcrum miscasts do additional effects – one of which is randomly moving wizards from one fulcrum to another, replacing its occupant)

finals1

Cory’s high elves had summoned forth a greater demon of Nurgle for this – desperate the high elves were for a victory and to retrieve the powers of the Wardian temple and make a quick return to Ulthuan, where it was said an invasion was underway.

Dancing For Position – The Orcs Draw Huge Points

Tony kicked the game open in Turn 3 when his enslaved Keeper of Secrets managed to cast unbinding on the nurgle greater demon, forcing it out of the game and netting Tony over 700 points.  Tony would have the advantage in points from this point forward.  Travis and Cory quickly fell behind, but Keith and Josh were both hot on Tony’s heels.

finalsOgres

Keith broke Travis’ line and netted himself a large portion of points in the end game, pushing his point total within 50 of Tony’s.  Josh surged forward and tried to finish off the high elves.

Tony managed to unseat one of Josh’s wizards off of a fulcrum, giving the orcs two fulcrums and two brass coins a turn to help out his score towards the later part of the game.  This move would prove hugely pivotal.

Josh had the final turn of the game and after some last minute casting and moving, it came down to a final battle between his carnosaur taking on a unit of high elf spearmen.

A stegadon charge cleared the weakened remnant of a swordmaster unit, scoring Josh much needed points and pushing him to 2450 points.  Tony was also sitting at 2450 points and Keith was right behind at 2400.  Tony played a treachery card which gave him a brass coin for Josh winning his battle against Cory – which pushed the orcs to 2500 points.  Josh was only a brass coin behind him (the orc owning the fulcrum at the last turn being that difference) and all he had to do was break the unit of high elf spearmen he was fighting.

Cory denied him, being steadfast and all, by holding even though he lost on his stubborn elven leadership of 8.  Thus Tony claimed the title after a very close final turn by literally a brass coin…

finalschampion

finals2

Thus the campaign concluded and the fantasy players look to summer of 2015 for a map campaign on the shores of Ulthuan.  In the meantime, we congratulate Tony on a hard fought campaign which saw him move to #14 in our all time rankings for fantasy, as well as Keith for his best painted ogres and Vincent Starks who was voted the best player of the campaign for sportsmanship.

I would like to also thank the Louisville gaming community and store owners for the support of the campaign and to all those that participated.  It was a great time this year and will be another memorable leaf in the book of battles that we have forged.

From the Transcript of Sergeant James W. Reed
Bravo Company 2nd Platoon “Delta Dogs” – 10 weeks before war

I knew that something was not normal when they had my work detail report to the gymnasium after breakfast chow.  The gymnasium was where they made you go when someone was in trouble or some kind of out of the ordinary transfers were going down.

My detail and I walked the corridors leading to the gymnasium in a single file line, just like the ords demanded.  Ords was short for Orderlies; a term we used to describe our guards.  No need causing trouble or a stir, especially if we were already in for some deep shit already.

When the doors opened and we were ushered in, the first thing that stood out to me was that there were a lot of us gathered which was definitely not normal.  Standard prisoner protocol is to not have more than a dozen or so of us in an area at a time; makes it harder to police us and put down any potential riots or any shit that we want to cause.

The gym was packed with what looked like a few hundred of us.  They had us lining up, and forming a kind of column facing each other.  Each column had about three lines of prisoners each, kind of like some army shit.  I say army shit because the reason they were not afraid to pack us all together in one place like that was apparent as soon as you walked through those doors.

They had a whole squad of army guys pointing rifles at us when we entered.  Any thought of causing a ruckus or messing around pretty much went away when we saw that.

The other thing I noticed is that for a big place with all of us lined up in, the only noise was the sound of feet moving and ords telling prisoners which line to fall into.  Every now and again someone would mutter under their breath asking their buddy in front or behind them if they knew what the fug was going on, but of course none of us did.

I think we all had the feeling of what was going down though.  We aint stupid.  We may be criminals and we may have done some bad stuff in our lives, but a lot of us weren’t that stupid to not see what was going on.  There was some shit going down somewhere close, and we had just been recruited into the army to fight whatever it was that had stirred the hornet’s nest.

My buddy Cooper asked what was going on and another guy behind him confirmed what many were thinking.  “We just got enlisted into some shit.”  The dude said.  A few of us nodded.  You hear about it happening a lot, prisoners getting roped into service in the guard and promised their freedom.  Truth is that a trooper has an expected life span of roughly eight minutes on the battlefield, and prisoner conscripts about half that.  Freedom my ass.  The only freedom you could expect was at the end of the barrel of some ork’s stubber.

I didn’t know then what was to come, but boy I tell you… we would have welcomed fighting some orks over what command threw us up against.

So after a bit they have us all standing in this formation in the gymnasium.  Everyone’s looking around at the guys next to them and there’s this impending doom on everyone’s mind.  Some of the guys start asking questions and getting a bit lippy, but the ords knock the noise down pretty quickly.  They feel a bit more confident with all of the army’s rifles on us and to tell you the truth, none of us were really keen on testing their marksmanship.

The main doors to the gymnasium opened up with a bang and in walks some guys dressed up in dress uniform.  Medals are all shiny, ribbons displayed, their rank reflecting off of the lights overhead.  These guys look super serious and those of us that can see them come in figure that we are about to get some confirmation on what is going down.

So there we are all standing around, and the guys that had served in the military assume a disciplined stance, while the rest of the guys are still all loose and milling about.  What appears to be the head guy slowly walks in between the two formations that are facing each other, and starts inspecting us.  He holds a tall grey peaked military cap in his gloved hand, and the other hand rests on the pommel of a sword that he has belted.  Behind him, a freakishly large ogryn dressed up in his ceremonials keeps pace and the both of them are eyeballing us all without saying a word.

He gets about halfway down the formation when Blue opens his mouth and asks the guy who he is.  Blue is one of our gangers on the workline.  In the joint, he has some say with the ords.  With this army guy he isn’t shit, and the ogryn lets him know by blasting him across the face with that meaty hand of his.

The guys around Blue help pick him up and put him on his feet again, and the officer doesn’t miss a hitch.  He keeps walking down the line as if nothing happened.  No one else says a thing after that, its all silence and heel clicks until the guy gets to the end of the formation.  Once hes done with the walk, he turns around and begins walking back down the formation in the other direction.

“My name is Captain McCottrell, but to you all my name is Sir.  The first thing that comes out of your mouth will be my name, and the last thing that comes out of your mouth will be my name.  Do we all understand?”

We all mutter that we understand, and make very sure to begin and end our affirmation with the word “sir”.

“That’s very good troopers.  In exchange for your service to the Emperor’s armed forces, you will all be granted a pardon upon the completion of your duty.  Signed, sealed, and delivered by the administratum themselves!  You may be thinking that a pardon does you no good if you are dead, and that we will be sending you directly into harms way!  You’d be correct!

“Fortunately for all of you, dying in service should be the last thing on your mind because from this moment forward you will not eat, sleep, or shit without permission.  You will most definitely not fugging die without permission.  Is that understood?”

Again, we all acknowledge that we will not die without permission.  My day has certainly become one of the shittiest days that I have ever woken up to at this point.

“Starting today you are a fine piece of meat, and the Emperor has seen fit to dress and equip you all with the finest of weapons and armor that any fit and fighting solider could want.  You will be issued a uniform.  You will be issued a mess kit.  You will be issued a primer.  You will be issued a rifle.  You will name your rifle.  You will love your rifle.   You will fugging marry your rifle because you will possess no better wife in your entire life than your rifle.

“You will learn how to fight the enemies of the Emperor.  You will kill them.  You will have victory.  You will fight together and have victory.  From this day forward you are a fighting member of the Delta Dogs, one of the finest fighting forces mankind has seen fit to create to protect the imperium with.

“If any of you have any personal problems with this conscription, then please speak now so that your cowardly ass can be executed on the spot.  I just ask that you don’t bleed too much on the floor, because you will only be creating more work for your fellow soldiers to have to clean up after you have departed.”

This guy’s words have a pretty clear impact on all of us, because no one opts out.

“Excellent.  I look forward to forging you all into the fine weapons of the Imperium that I know that you can be.  We have a lot of work to do men and not a lot of time to do it in, so look around you.  The line you are standing in is now your training squad.  You will all be best fugging friends.  Prepare to fall out and receive your gear and your new bunks.  We’re starting the day off with some physical exercise…”

And just like that I went from serving a ten year sentence to being a trooper in the guard.  The last thing that went through my head as we were marched out of the gymnasium was “aint this some bullshit.”

I was never very articulate.  I’m still not, but seeing some of the shit I saw in the war made me appreciate at least not sounding like a complete uneducated fop, but damn I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I hadn’t went to sick call that morning…

badlandsMap

The pinnacle of campaigns that can be run are Map Campaigns.  Map campaigns combine the wargame in question with a strategic map that must also be maneuvered upon, creating multiple layers of planning and execution.  At their best, a map campaign is as close as one will get to simulating what commanding a real war might be like.  At their worst they devolve and flicker out well before they get close to concluding.

A well run map campaign is an ambitious project.  The person or persons in charge of administrating the map campaign can expect to have to put in quite a bit of work to make it work, as well as a good set of tools to deal with all of the hardships that we discussed in this campaign series with campaigns in general.

What Do I Need?

The most difficult aspect of running a map campaign is simply finding the map campaign rules to work with!  There are not a lot of systems out there and often one must resort to writing their own rules.

For Warhammer Fantasy, my first system was the long out of print Mighty Empires rules, published in the 1980s.  If you can find that I would recommend it greatly.

generalcompendium

Another great resource that Games Workshop put out in 2002 was the General’s Compendium.  This book was packed full of campaign ideas and had a basic but functional map campaign system within.  If you were not around for this gem, I would highly suggest trying to locate a copy.  My binding was poor and the pages started coming out a few months after owning it but it is still easily one of my top three books ever produced by GW and I still use it this day to get ideas from for campaigns (and I will be using some ideas from this for our 2015 Invasion of Ulthuan campaign next summer!)

Another system that I have used is the one that I wrote, using Mighty Empires as an example.  It is not on my group warhammer site, but you can find it on scribd for free:

Titled the Warlord Campaign, this system allows players to control their own empire on any map that they want and explore and conquer their world in true Warhammer style.  Several campaigns have run using this system since I published it in 2004 and it has had refinements to it since then (the document online is up to date).  I may go back and tweak this for Ulthuan next year.

For 40k, Battletech systems are actually an inspiration for anything that I have written that is map-based.  40k brings the challenge that often you are not just fighting over a single world (though nothing stops you from limiting the scope of your campaign to that – in fact some memorable wars such as Armageddon are fought mainly on one planet)

For 2015, my group is using a system that I wrote called the Grand Crusade.  A beta copy of this work can be found here on my warhammer website:

http://www.louisvillewargaming.com/Files/Badab2015/GrandCrusade_40k.pdf

This will get playtested and refined in 2015 as we launch our Badab campaign, inspired by the Imperial Armor 9 and 10 books.  If you wish to follow the progress of this campaign, I will be leaving updates on my blog as well as the website.  If you go to http://www.louisvillewargaming.com, you can click on the Badab event (either 40k or the battlefleet gothic portion) and review the files and rules we use for our campaign)

Pit Traps and Ambushes of the Map Campaign

There are several things you and your group should be wary about with map campaigns before running one, especially if you have never tried before.

1)  They are demanding.  They are demanding of the administrator’s time.  They are demanding of the player’s time.  As such, I do not like running campaigns anymore that depend on one player controlling a faction because the odds are that that player will eventually drop out (as in any campaign).  This is especially damaging to a map campaign because if a player bounces out of one and leaves their faction behind, it can paralyze and cripple the map.

2)  Balance is never going to exist.  Much like real war – part of winning the strategic map is creating battles that are as one sided for you as you can get.  As such, conditions need to exist in the rules to allow this to happen without people just quitting.

In the Grand Crusade rules, whenever forces are over two categories bigger (armies are 500, 1000, 1500, 2000 so a 500 vs 1500, or 1000 vs 2000) the smaller force simply has to kill however many points that it possesses to claim a victory.  This is akin to a hit and run type attack.  A small force cannot stand up to a larger force of that magnitude, but it can bloody their nose.

As balance is going to be hard to achieve, players that are sticklers for exact balance will likely not have as much fun with these types of games.

3) The flow of the campaign cannot be impeded.  If something holds up a map campaign from advancing to the next stage, that can often begin the end for your campaign.  Games must be played timely.  For our 40k campaign, players belong to one of three factions.

Players within the faction announce if they are available that week for battle.  It is entirely a team game at this point.  Awards in June will be given to the winning faction, not the winning player.

Types of Maps

Maps can really be anything you want them to be.  They can be square grids, they can be regions, they can be hexes, or they can be points.  For Badab, we are using a point based map as shown below;

Badab_Sector

The factions each own a section of the map and then their fleets travel to the various systems to do battle.  We are also incorporating Battle Fleet Gothic for space battles as well as Boarding actions using zone mortalis or even Space Hulk!

The type of map really doesn’t matter.

Creating the maps can be done with a variety of programs that exist today.  You can simply use MS Paint or Photoshop if you want.  I use Campaign Cartographer 3 to design my planets, star maps and hex maps of the surface.

Conclusion

This article wraps up the “What is a Narrative Game” series.  I hope that you found it entertaining and perhaps even gained some ideas for campaigns of your own.  If anyone has any questions or comments, you can find me at the email listed on http://www.louisvillewargaming.com

Over the past two articles in this series, we have explored what Narrative Gaming is exactly, and what Campaign Gaming is about and some of the pitfalls that one can encounter while attempting to organize a campaign event.

We now come to the part of the series where we begin to discuss some of the various types of campaigns that we can get our hands on and play with our friends, as well as some of the pros and cons of those individually.  We start with what is in my opinion the easiest of the campaign types to run to its conclusion:  the Narrative Campaign.

Narrative Campaign will follow a story arc from a beginning point to an end point.  It can be as simple as three story points that are reached one battle after the other.  It can be as complex as a dozen story points that represent a battle, each with branches that lead the players to points only accessible via a victory or defeat.  It can utilize an experience system, or it can simply be about playing a set of games until you reach the conclusion and tally a score up.  I have played in a narrative tournament that was five battles over the course of a Saturday and a Sunday, where we were put in one of two factions, and the game results would lend bonuses or penalties to our side depending on how we did as we followed an overall story plot that the event organizer had written.

Ultimately I feel that these make for the best campaigns to run if you have a more casual group, or if you are new at running campaigns, because there is really not a lot of book keeping at all unless you actively choose to implement systems of experience in.  They only need the story that they will follow, all of the battle points fleshed out, and a schedule to play the games.

Where to Begin

The best place to begin I feel is to start off with an already published campaign.  The only thing that you will have to do is to read the material and become familiar with it as well as go over any mechanics and scenarios that are present.  This will also give you a framework that you can use in the future for your own creations and will plant the seeds for many adventures to come in the months and years forward.

There is quite a bit of campaign material already out there, and I would recommend picking up something from Forge World.  If you are a fantasy player, the only real book that you have is the Tamurkhan – Throne of Chaos campaign.  If you are a 40k player, there is a large source of data and material from you to pull from.

Using a pre published campaign lets you not worry so much about mechanics and lets you focus on story.  However, that does not totally stop you from injecting your own pieces into the story either.

Tamurkhan – The Throne of Chaos (Warhammer Fantasy Campaign)

For example, in 2013 my campaign group ran Tamurkhan.  I broke down the major battles into six distinct chapters, with each chapter lasting one month.  We have a campaign day which sits on the last saturday of every month.  One of the major battles from the book would be fought on each of those days.  Additionally, we have a floating flex game where the players are scheduled a battle against an opponent that they can play anytime during the month at any location they and their opponent wish.  These battles would all contribute points toward their faction, which I record and keep track of in a database which is pulled by http://www.louisvillewargaming.com to display the standings.

As the story went on, it was possible that the actions in the campaign could not mesh up with the story in the narrative, and that was fine!  We just altered the storyline a little bit and it matched up to the Throne of Chaos campaign overall.  Our final battle consisted of a massive twenty-five foot long table and there were over thirty players involved in our game store that is located in a shopping mall.

The battle was epic, with timed rounds and a constant flow of curious onlookers taking pictures.  Tamurkhan was slain by an elven bolt thrower in the end, but his forces managed to sack Nuln and burn it to the ground!  This result stays with us in our version of the Warhammer world and in future campaigns is a part of our ongoing narrative.

Imperial Armor Eight – Raid on Kastorel – Novem

Our 2014 40k campaign runs from January through June and follows the same basic format as the Tamurkhan campaign above (I rotate six months with 40k and six months with fantasy to keep interest sparked and prevent burn out).  The 40k narrative has been running for over a decade through various campaign systems.  The jist of the current narrative is that an ancient eldar prison artefact was discovered housing an ancient necrontyr warlord and this is the object of many campaigns (to capture or try to imprison).

Last year on the planet Rubicon (completely custom created system and world) the artefact was spirited away by the orks and so for 2014 the Imperial Armour Eight campaign was run – which depicts the Raven Guard and Elysium drop troops attacking an ork world.

Some modifications were made to the narrative to allow for a third faction (the xenos eldar, dark eldar, tau, and necrons).

Faction Based Warfare

TamurkhanOne of the most challenging aspects of developing a narrative or working with a narrative campaign is that you are going to inevitably have players that want to run armies that are not featured in the campaign.

Imperial Armour Eight, for example, features orks taking on Raven Guard and Elysium Imperial Guard.  That leaves out pretty much everyone else, so some creative work was done to give other factions at least a passing reason for being here.

In addition, when you fight a campaign with only a pair of factions you run the risk of having one faction run away with the score in the beginning – which is an unfortunate catalyst in causing other players to quit the campaign because they don’t feel there is any way to win.  As such, I enjoy having THREE or more factions involved, which helps balance out factions getting out of control and also gives you a vehicle to move players around to other factions should the need arise (players quitting for example leaving a faction underhanded).

Other Space Marine Chapters – aiding the Raven Guard.  One of our players is using the Scorpions list from the Badab War (which ties in great for our next campaign which will be the Badab war) and is tying in Alpha Legion to his chapter.  That is his background and he’s really pushing the narrative in a direction where you do not know if his chapter is really for the imperium, or fighting for other reasons (one never can tell with Alpha Legion)

Tau – The tau’s presence simply followed the guise that there was a power present that needed secured For the Greater Good

Eldar & Dark Eldar – The prison holding this warlord was placed in the webway long ago before mankind was even crawling out of its evolutionary oceans as fish.  This represents a mistake or stain on their conscious that must be fixed.  This gave rise to the character The Crimson Witch – a hate filled eldar spirit seer that was set afire and became the Burning Witch – vessel for the necrontyr warlord.

Necrons – this one was more obvious.  The necrontyr warlord is sought by the necrons as either a powerful ally or as a criminal they want control over.

Thus these three were bound into one “faction” that had similar goals – remove the Prisoner from the ork factory-world and beat the imperium to it.

Players Joining and Quitting

Another benefit of factions is that one person does not control an entire faction.  This means that players can freely join your campaign whenever, and players that quit will not cripple the campaign because the faction is still in existence and there are still players fighting battles for it.  Anytime I work with any campaign system, this is one of the first things that I look at – the ability to circumvent campaigns crashing when a player quits, because as I discussed in the previous installment of this article series, quitting players are going to happen so you must be prepared to handle it when it does happen.

Tying it All Together

Apr2013CoverOnce all of your faction information is ready to go you simply need to find a system that works for your group and go for it.  As I mentioned above, we have two games a month.  One set campaign day and one flex day against a scheduled opponent.

Each battle is worth a set of points which I keep track of in a database tied to a website, but you could easily use a spreadsheet or just post it to something like Facebook if you wanted to.  At the end of each chapter the winning faction gets a bonus for the last battle.

The final battle is where most or all of the campaign bonuses get applied to.  A final big time explosive battle to determine who is going to take the campaign and who is going to go home until next season.   This setup works the best in my opinion because a faction can get really unlucky through most of the campaign but still have a chance to pull things out at the end and win overall.

This very thing happened in our Rubicon campaign that we ran in 2013.  The imperials lost every chapter, but pulled off a striking last battle win despite having their backs to the wall.  Had they not had a chance to win the campaign up at that point, there would not have been a final battle.

The key is that there is a set structure for a beginning and an end.  An end battle should be something everyone looks forward to.

Additional Mechanics

The complexity of your campaigns will ultimately depend on you and your group.  The information above is really all you need to launch a narrative campaign.  However, nothing is stopping you from incorporating additional mechanics to the campaign or house rules to further customize the set of games into fitting what the narrative needs.  Some examples of this may include:

  • An experience system where units and characters can gain additional abilities (Tamurkhan features one of these for example)
  • Ally mechanics (either new mechanics or in addition to existing)
  • Modified building rules
  • Using other games for your battles.  For example, in 40k you could use Battle Fleet Gothic games as well to represent ship battles
  • Using expansions such as Planet Strike, City Fight, Zone Mortalis, Kill Teams, and Apocalypse in your battles.  40k does not have to be the only way you resolve battles!
  • Having a Game Master present for big battles.  For example – our final game will feature a 1000 point zone mortalis game into the depths of an ork factory where the top players from each of the three factions will be fighting to recover the Prisoner’s vault.  There will be encounters that get rolled and the environment is as much of an enemy as the other forces are – and the Game Master will be running those neutral forces that are trying to stop the players just as they would in an RPG.

Creating Your Own

Using an existing campaign may be an option, but what you may want to do is to write your own.  The problem is where do you start?

The first thing that I come up with is the overall story arc.  Lets say that you have five players in your group:  two space marine players, an imperial guard player, a chaos player, and an eldar player.  I find that there is usually no shortage of imperial players so I always figure that the imperium is going to be a steady imperial presence.

So based on that hypothetical situation, I would divide the players up into two factions.  The imperium, and the opposition.

Next – why would chaos and eldar team up?  It would have to be something dire indeed.  We can always look to video games for inspiration.  Dawn of War and Dawn of War II both had chaos and eldar fighting our imperium protagonists.  Perhaps a chaos warlord has unearthed something that the inquistion wants and the eldar know that if the imperium gets their hands on it that they will use it to eradicate one of their worlds.  Very basic, you can flesh it out more, but that gives you a starting point.  You have chaos and eldar not really on the same side but fighting for a common cause though diametrically opposed view points.

So we have the basics, lets look at hooking these up into a campaign of some sort now.  Lets give it three chapters or three battles.  This is fairly easy to get through, basic enough to write for, and will give your group a sense of accomplishment at having started and completed one.

The initial contact between the imperium happens in a ruined city.  The item that the chaos warlord found was in a dank basement of an old ruined building.  Therefore, we will use City Fight for our first battle.  You could come up with your own scenario (this is a lot of fun I find) or just roll randomly in the City Fight book.

Assign a victory condition now.  What does this battle represent?  Lets say that the chaos warlord’s force is trying to send a beacon to their craft in orbit for extraction and the Imperium must prevent this.  If the chaos warlord accomplishes this task, he receives reinforcements in the final battle.  Lets say +250 points.  If the imperium wins then they have succeeded in cutting off their enemies’ communications and in the final battle they will always be able to choose who deploys first and who goes first as they have their enemy cut off and reacting to them.

Again very basic, you can flesh it out or use a different condition if you want.  I like to have varying conditions, not just say both sides get +250 points if either wins.  That is just my preference though.

Battle two could be a normal battle rolled out of the rulebook at 1500 points.  The two forces clash on a hill near the ruined city.

Battle three can be split into two battles.  One battle could be an Escalation type battle with a Lord of War and the other battle could take place inside of a building using Zone Mortalis rules and apply the victory conditions from Battle One and Two to these battles.

The overall victor of Battle Three wins the campaign and everyone can go out for a beer (or a soda if one is not old enough to drink of course) and discuss plans for the next campaign.

Concluding

Narrative Campaigns are the easiest of the campaign types to run and there is a lot of resources out on the internet as well as published by Forge World and Games Workshop to help you.

Games Workshop as of late has been publishing Apocalypse War Zones which are good for some ideas and Forge World has an entire library of campaigns that you can pull from.  The older ones may need to be modified a little bit to bring it up to speed with the current edition of the game, but the story remains the same.TamurkhanCampaign

I would strongly recommend Tamurkhan to any fantasy players, and the Badab war (Imperial Armors 9 and 10) are classics as well to look for in the narrative world.  These will give you great experiences, and will help seed your imagination for your own narrative in the months and years to follow.

The last article I posted was about what Narrative Gaming was and how that applied to tabletop gaming in where we are coming from in terms of what we are looking for in a game.  For most narrative gamers, this was not new information but I feel it was a vital primer on what we will be discussing in the next few installments of this series as everything that is written from this point will be coming from the point of view of Narrative Gaming.

Campaigning – What is it?
This is a topic that many readers may be familiar with already, but I have also found that there are a good number of people interested in this concept, but that what it is is lost in the maelstrom of rage and angst that is the community, or are coming from a gaming system that really doesn’t cater to or inspire campaign gamers so much as it does the competitive guys.  Really at its very basic level, a campaign is nothing more than a series of linked games that tie together somehow.

CampaignTitleImageA tournament can be a form of a campaign as it is a series of related games that lead to a desired outcome.  This idea is something that I have been kicking around lately as a matter of fact, as narrative tournaments I think would be a great type of event that has no real visibility to the community in general.  I have heard of a couple of narrative styled tournaments running, but when you think of tournament you typically think of things like NOVA, ADEPTICON, and events of that nature.  This type of event would be a short-term campaign taking place over a day or two, and is something that a few of us in my local community are going to attempt to put together this fall to see if we can generate some interest.

Another form of campaign that you may hear about are narrative campaigns using a storyline.  Some examples of these can be found with Forgeworld in their excellent Imperial Armor campaign books, or for fantasy fans the Tamurkhan Throne of Chaos campaign.  These provide a very detailed background story as well as a linked set of battles where you and your group can fight over a predetermined set of battles that have a clear beginning and a clear ending point.  Victories in battles tend to give small bonuses to future battles, and as such are how the games begin to matter over the course of the entire game, culminating with a final battle that determines the overall victor.

I find story-based narrative campaigns to be the easiest to run as you have a clear beginning and a clear end and they don’t require a lot of work in terms of organizing.  The rulesets can be as complex as the group wants them to be, but they can be run pretty much how they are out of the box.  The campaign group that I help organize have for the past few years run nothing but these style of campaigns because of their simple nature which helps make running them easy and allows for people to pop in and out as they need to without disrupting the overall campaign.

Another style of campaign that you may have heard about are Game Mastered Campaigns.  A Game Mastered campaign is one where there is a neutral figure, called the Game Master, that plays the role of creating dynamic scenarios on the fly that change and morph as the storyline does.  The Game Master may also be called upon to run opposing neutral forces and will often craft unique items and situations for players to find themselves in.

Game Mastered Campaigns can be uniquely tailored to any group and provide the group with an experience that they desire on the fly, changing as time goes on to suit the fluid desires of campaigners.  The onus of a Game Mastered campaign will often reside with one individual (the Game Master) and can take a lot of organizing and planning to pull off successfully.  Game Mastered campaigns were what I myself started with in the 80s under historical gaming systems and Battletech.  Often, the focus of these campaigns is not on list building, but on overcoming scenarios and situations that the Game Master devises for you (much like RPGs).

Map campaigns are often cited as being favored by many people, for they provide a visual map to fight over and provide more than just a game of Warhammer or 40k to play over; the map itself is a game in and of itself!  Map campaigns are truly my favorite as well, but are also the most difficult of any of the campaigns that I have run to pull off successfully for many reasons, those which I will discuss in a future article in this series dealing with Map Campaigns.  I will provide a link to my personal fantasy map campaign system that I wrote in 2003 then, as well as discuss a little bit of my 40k version I call The Grand Crusade which is an in depth system focused on sector battles all the way down to holding planets.

Node campaigns are a mixture of story-based campaigns and map-campaigns, wherein there are a series of nodes that represent areas or chapters in a story that have a variety of paths that can be taken depending on player choices and battle outcomes.  An example of a node campaign can be found in the Lustria campaign book released in mid 2000.  Node campaigns are a bit more flexible than the maps because the nodes themselves can shift and change whereas a map is more rigid.

I have run all of these formats in one form or fashion over the past couple of decades and each one has their pros and cons.  As I mentioned earlier, lately I prefer the story-driven narrative campaigns because it lets me as the organizer focus on the story, minimizes paperwork, and allows me to move players into factions and shift them around as needed.  Despite that, I still vastly prefer deeply logistic campaigns centered around a map; you just have to know where the hazards and roadblocks will get you.

Arranging a Campaign

The first thing that one must do is set the campaign up.  This next section is aimed at people not really sure how to do that or who would like some ideas to better get their community open to the idea of campaigning as opposed to random pick up games or tournament games.

I live in Louisville, and we have a decent gaming community going.   I realize that not everyone has access to a large community but look at the size constraints of what you are trying to do first.  A good campaign at minimum requires just two players.  For intensely detailed map based campaigns I would suggest capping your players at around four or five.  Narrative story-driven campaigns can be very flexible and there really is not a cap I’d recommend other than what a potential organizer wants to deal with.  This year’s 40k campaign featured the Imperial Armour 8 campaign Kastorel-Novem, and we had roughly fifty-five players.

Realize that in any given gaming community, you are not going to attract everyone to your idea.  Campaign gamers I find are about as common as tournament gamers in that neither are the common player, at least in my experience.  Your common player is often not going to want to dedicate the time to see the campaign through and are more comfortable with random pick up games or events that only take up an afternoon.  This is fine, the first step in arranging a campaign is to simply identify the players that are willing to invest time into a campaign and who will fit best with what you are trying to accomplish.

There are a few general rules that I follow when setting up a campaign and the very first one is simply you will never ever ever ever please everyone so do not try to.  It will be tempting to share your creation with the community in the hopes that it will be globally lauded but there will always be people that do not agree with what you are doing, and realize that that is fine.  Your target should be those people that do enjoy what you are trying to produce, so focus on them.

Start Simple

If this is your first attempt at campaigning, it will be tempting to launch out of the gate with the world’s next awesome campaign system,  complete with rules that cover everything that could possibly happen in warfare.  That will be your first mistake as well, I promise you.  Rule #2:  the more complex your system, the higher the probability of it not being seen to its conclusion.  People love the idea of complex campaigns on paper, but dedicating the time and energy into seeing one of these through is daunting and you will need to generate some good will and trust from your campaign group before you attempt to try one of these, lest it collapse midway.  Keep your rules simple.  Start with an idea and push out from there slowly.

For example, you may have read a nFinalBattleovel from the Black Library where a space marine faction does something on a world that you really liked and you want to recreate it.  Set it up!  Outline the world, its traits, its background, and why the armies are there, and put together a simply three or four linked scenarios that go from start to finish.  Set up some small victory conditions that benefit the victor for the final battle.

Your first campaign will likely have a handful of players.  Build from that!  Keep the campaign small in scale, complete it, and then build from there.  Your players will enjoy seeing a campaign to its conclusion, and so will you.  One of the more frustrating components of campaign gaming is that so many campaigns simply fizzle, which makes it hard to recruit players that have had this happen to them in the past.

Houseruling – Keep it Contained

One of the things most campaigns will feature inevitably is a houserule tweak here or there to existing framework or codices.  I find that perfectly fine; as a matter of fact if there is ever a place to tinker with rules it is in a campaign in my opinion.  I know that in the past I have written vast forty or fifty page house rule documents that pretty much altered the game largely, and that has largely not been a positive thing as for the most part players tend to want to stick as close to the published rules as you can get.  Now this will also depend on your gaming group.  Some groups enjoy tinkering more than others, and you will know your group better than I will.

I am writing a chaos legion supplement for our 2015 campaign, which is going to run off of the Badab War framework from Forgeworld (Imperial Armour 9 and 10).  These will largely be severe changes in some places, but it fits the campaign.  Other campaigns I have tried my absolute best to keep houseruling to a minimum.  Currently our 40k campaign has a small page of houserules that include limiting flyers to one per 1000 points, not allowing non-troop choices to be taken more than twice, and a rule giving painted units a re-roll during the game to encourage painting.

The Lustria campaign we limit unit sizes to 60 models or no less than 25% of the overall army in points without characters being added to prevent the death star mega hordes from appearing, which in our campaign we do not want.  The painting rule for Lustria was altered so that unpainted models simply are hated by painted models to encourage painting.  We also have it so that buildings can only be entered and exited by their access points, instead of being able to evaporate out of walls which defies any sense of “realism” we are trying to put into the game.  (this also makes scenarios like Watchtower more palatable)

Are these houserules the absolute best and the gaming world will see them as genius?  Not hardly.  I have been attacked verbally for these houserules on several forums after sharing them.  See rule #1 – you will never please everyone.  Please your campaign group first and foremost.  The rest of the global gaming community is not required to like what you are doing.

Dont Be Afraid to Get Creative

One of the biggest draws to campaign gaming is that you are not constrained to the Core-Six scenarios.  There is a lot of material out there that you can draw from.  There are narrative scenarios in the core rulebook.  There is cityfight, planet strike, Apocalypse, Escalation, Battle Missions, Altar of War Missions, Zone Mortalis, Kill team!  There are so many ways to play the game (and I just listed 40k expansions there, fantasy does not have as many but there are still narrative scenarios and Storm of Magic that you can plug in not to mention Triumph and Treachery scenarios with mercenary rules) do not feel that you have to constrain yourself to the basic six; in my opinion that would be a disservice to your group.  Explore the game!

Another thing people like to do with campaigns is come up with new units, or use fan made codices or army lists.  For Lustria, we are using the fan Dogs of War codex as well as the fan made Pirates list as they both fit very well with our theme.  Listen to requests your players make, and understand that not everything should be allowed in to the campaign but do not be afraid to use outside resources or material if it fits the campaign.  If it proves to be too powerful or too unbalancing, work with your players to right the ship.

A Chance to Model

I spend a lot of time in a game’s off season (which for us is during one game’s campaign, the offseason is the opposite game) painting my next campaign force and working on terrain for it.  Our campaigns have a final game which are intentionally made epic in scale with nice terrain and scenarios that wrap up the six months we’ve been fighting.  Last year we had a twenty-five foot long table in our gaming store set in a mall with roughly twenty players playing a massive battle and we had a constant stream of people walking in to take pictures of it.  Its still talked about months later.

For Lustria, I am building a large golden pyramid which is the end goal of the campaign.  For our 40k campaign, I am building a zone mortalis board that represents the interior of an ork munition factory which will be the setting for the final battle for the top players in each of the three factions while an apocalypse battle rages outside.

Here is your chance to build some units or terrain that reflect your campaign and begin telling your tale.

Be Prepared For Rough Seas

It would be great if all campaigns rolled smoothly but the organizer has to be prepared to play the role of the organizer, which is not always pleasant.  Tournament Organizers, Campaign Organizers, Event Organizers, they all have different names but their role is the same.  They are the ones that are ultimately responsible for seeing the event through and dealing with any rough spots.

People are going to quit.  You have to be prepared for that.  Campaigns require an investment of time, and that investment of time is not easy to come by.  If your campaign is set up where a person quitting will bring the whole campaign down, you need to evaluate the campaign system you are using.  This is especially true for map campaigns, which is one reason why map campaigns are hard to run and conclude.  People quit for all kinds of reasons, and why they quit is not really important.  You need to have contingency plans in place for when they do quit.

Some people are going to get irritated with the rules, or are going to get irritated that someone looked at them wrong, or get irritated that so
meone said something that they took personal offense to.  Regardless, people are going to get irritated and you are going to be who they go to to tell about it.  You have to play the role of mediator at times.  This is a group of people that will be playing together for an extended amount of time, and unless everyone is close friends, you will get issues crop up between two personalities that are not meshing very well together.  (this is true in tournament environments as well, though typically those are one day affairs where the two people will not be around each other for extended periods)

No Man is an Island

Your gaming group will often be a great resource for ideas.  Involve them!  Players that invest creative time into a project will often stick around to see it through and will have an enjoyable time doing so.

When crafting campaign rules, get them together to discuss what is forthcoming and iron out a final rules packet.  For our campaigns I like to go have a dinner or a painting party with people that want to discuss the rules and we iron out any issues that may arise a couple of months before the campaign starts.

Involve your players often.

Have a Solid Schedule and Stick With It

Campaigns run for an extended time.  Create a schedule that works for everyone.  If you schedule games too fast or too often, people will quit.  If you have a system where one person can play and win many games and get a serious advantage over people quickly, people will quit.  What I have found works great for the story driven campaigns is that in any given month I schedule one game with my players.  They get a scheduled opponent and have all month to play that game wherever, whenever.  Then on the last saturday of every month we have campaign day at a store.  We rotate the stores.  This places both a flex game and a set game on the schedule.  Most players cannot make every game in a campaign (ours last six months each) but the system does not allow one player to run away with the campaign and people for the most part do not feel that their side ever has no chance of coming back.

Have a Plan for the End – Reward Your Players

One of my favorite parts of a campaign is the final campaign day.  This is a celebration of everything we have worked for the past few months and a final resolution is ha
d.  TypChampionsPicturesically the last battle in a narrative game will be the ultimate decider over which player or faction wins.  This is also where I like to hand out awards to players.  We have a small campaign fee which everyone pays at the beginning which I use to pay for the website and awards.  Any money that is needed after I typically front but that’s just me.

We have a plaque for best painted army and the best player (the one that is the most fun to play against) which is a group vote.  After that I obtain a nice trophy for the overall winner, and consolidation trophies for those that came 2nd or 3rd place.  For 40k, there are three factions this year and the top players of the factions get a trophy, with the overall winner being the player that is top of his faction and that faction wins the campaign.

We have also had trophies for Best Rookie, Best Game, and so forth.  I also get medals for the members of the winning faction.

Its a lot of stuff to give out, but I do not see why campaigns cannot be treated like large tournament events that also give out nice awards.  This is not required of course, but something to consider.

Have a Central Location for Information

This one is very important in my  opinion.  In this day and age, having a place where players can go to see their standings, the map, who is winning and so forth is vital.  It keeps peoples’ attention.  Even if it is just a facebook page, create something that the players can use to meet and discuss and see how everyone is doing.

Be Communicative

Coordinators that do not say much I find lose peoples’ interest.  A weekly blurb about how the campaign is currently going may be all that is needed, but lets everyone know on a fairly regular basis what is going on.

Let it Grow Organically

Campaigns that are successful will generate a lot of goodwill and enthusiasm.  Goodwill and enthusiasm will generate more interest.  Do not push for campaign groups to grow faster than you can handle or accommodate, however.   This part here is probably one of the more important pieces to remember.  Often I will hear how it is difficult to get people to play in any campaigns and how people are tournament-focused.  There will genuinely be many people that do not have any interest in campaigns, but there will also be many people that COULD BE interested, if you show yourself as capable of doing so and start showing through successful campaigns that you see them through and that people are having fun.

Finish What You Start

This goes without saying, but is something that I see get dropped very often.  If you are going to start a campaign, see it to its conclusion.  This is where starting small works to your advantage.  You will get to see what your group wants, and how much of your own time you are willing to devote to seeing these events to their close.  Regardless, leaving campaigns unfinished and dropped leaves players with a bad experience.  Finish what you start.

Overall these pointers are what I have picked up over the years of running campaigns and I hope that they were useful.  In our next installment I will discuss setting up a narrative story-based campaign and how the Lousivillewargaming.com campaigns are created and run from a narrative story-based standpoint.  We will move on from there and explore some more complicated systems.

 

 

CampaignMapby Alex Hagerman, written for Louisvillewargaming.com

Since the beginning of the year I have been involved in a six-month Warhammer 40k narrative campaign. With it winding down I wanted to take a moment to look back at the experience and share my thoughts on the experience. To start this was my first “narrative” event even though I have been playing 40k off and on since 4th edition.  Most of my previous games had just been pick up, local tournaments, or beer and pretzels flavor of the month games with friends without any sort of connection between the games. While that was fun I can honestly say that being involved in the narrative campaign has provided me a new way to play that has also provided a new level of immersion.

First what is narrative gaming? While there doesn’t seem to be a concrete definition of what narrative gaming in 40k is we can look at some characteristics of it. First, narrative gaming typically takes place in a community where a group of people are trying to tell a story about their respective armies and heroes while experiencing other people’s stories on the table as well. Instead of simply rolling from the 6 scenarios in the book you tend to create mission parameters that match the fluff of what has been happening on the tables across your group. Games don’t have to be symmetrical and doors are opened to pull from IA, Altar of War and other sources to help reflect the universe you are in. That being said, narrative gaming is still competitive.

In the 5+ years I’ve played 40k I haven’t come across anybody that enjoys losing. You’re telling the story of your army, the last time I checked nobody wants their army to be the one that gets stomped into the ground in ever chapter. At the same time you don’t have to power-list to win; depending on the mission parameters power listing may be worthless or not entirely as effective as they are when only playing from the same six missions with the same three secondary objectives all the time.

So with the some of the characteristic about narrative gaming above laid out why would you want to take part in this community experience? One of the first things that comes to my mind is the memorable moments that stand out from the last four months of gaming.

I have seen some of the most epic moments of table top play out recently that stick in my mind better than anything in the last 4 years. In a recent Apoc game watching some Masters of the Chapter down a Warhound titan and live to tell the story through the explosion is the first to come to mind shared by three XV9 suits holding the pass against wave after wave of 20+ demons for 4 turns as they poured through a portal bent on flooding the entire bored with the will of Tzeentch.

Narrative gaming is about the moments of success or failure that we read about in the fluff and then see brought to life on the table by our own units. Along with this comes a greater sense of immersion as your units garner kill counts, survive impossible odds and tell their grimdark tale.

Along with telling your story comes the benefit of sharing in others experiences getting to hear about how your friends game played out and seeing how both of your actions lead to the games in the next chapter and how those outcomes affect a game three months later. One of the reasons I love playing 40k in this setting is it takes it from being like chess, risk, or any other one off strategy game and gets you more involved in knowing not just the rules of your army but the background, how they think, how they would act and respond on the battlefield and even allows you to add your own personality on top of that to expand the fluff for your group.

That being said, narrative gaming isn’t for everybody. Narrative gaming not only asks the player to be committed on the table, but also to spend time learning about their army and potentially adding to the fluff of it off the table. One of the things I’ve found interesting and enjoyable in my first narrative campaign is the Forging the Narrative events. These are events where players can earn points for writing about their army its previous exploits and its battles in the current event. It seemed a bit daunting at first but after sitting down and starting to do it I found myEldarPortalBattle3self thinking about ideas for my army as I was driving to work, sitting around listening to music, running, etc.

Suddenly this was something extra for me to toy with in my free time and another reason to learn more about my army. One of the key things to point out is that people don’t get rewarded for how proper there grammar is but in our system based on word count to encourage people to write. The more your write like most other things the better you will get.

Further, some people like to build a list and only run that for the rest of their life based on six static missions. Narrative campaigns tend not to be the best place for that as missions and in each chapter may require you to adapt your tactics depending on the previous month’s results, if you’re an attacker or defender, the objective of the mission etc. In this way for many it is fun because it require you to stretch your tactics and skills and try new combinations and think in different ways.

Finally, GW has recently been on a writing spree which I personally enjoy seeing as we haven’t had this much new content in a long time. That being said narrative campaigns need a way to handle this as new units popping up months into a campaign needs to be explained somehow. Further if editions or something were to change you probably need some mechanism for introducing new rule sets to your campaign community or even a day where you all get together and try them out to see what the community thinks.

So overall my first narrative campaign has probably been my best 40k experience to date. I have met new people, had some great gaming experiences, seen some epic moments play out and been given a greater reason than ever to read up on the grimdark future of 40k.