Age of Sigmar Narrative Event at NOVA Open 2016

We played a 9-round narrative event covering 4 days at NOVA Open. Players took on one of two roles: a barbarian Warlord for Chaos, moving to destroy or capture all the inhabitants of the kingdom of Dawnland, an obscure corner among the thirteen regions in Ulgu the Mortal Realm of Shadows, or a Low King’s Warlord, moving to check the forces of Chaos and secure the High Throne for your own Low King or one you have found as an ally. For the purposes of this event, any Warhammer Age of Sigmar faction could fight for the Chaos invaders or the defenders of Dawnland.

We started with a world building session, drawing a map of Dawnland. This was not a map-based campaign, but the map helped us imagine the setting and determine some locations where the various battles happened. During this session it was also determined that the Shadow Ziggurat never stayed in the same location for more than a day, and that created a twist that changed the course of the campaign.

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After a round of warm-up games, with randomly matched players, we played the multi-player introductory game using the Triumph & Treachery rules from the General’s Handbook. As one player suggested, it would have worked better as a team scenario, but everyone still enjoyed the game, and we got our first example of inevitable betrayal.

Murder at the Inn

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The High King of Dawnland arrived at Citadel, the largest city in Dawnland, and spent the night in an inn, preparing for his role in the upcoming trial of champions when the best hero would stand on top of the Shadow Ziggurat during the Great Eclipse and determine the next High King. But shadow agents assassinated the High King and tried to escape the city… with a little help from some new friends. The two tribes of duardin turned on each other in a deadly street brawl after one tribe switched allegiance to aid the assassins.

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After the Fyreslayers turned on the court guard of Low King Gaius–his force had been in a prime position to intercept and capture the assassins which then escaped due to the betrayal–they crashed into the a brutal street fight with the Citadel Duardin High Guard, defenders of the capital city. This was a significant win for the Chaos invaders as the defenders of the realm had failed to come together in a united front.

The Invasion Begins

The following morning, Friday, we had 8 players playing on four different tables–each tables has special scenery with special arcane artifacts which could be retrieved and used in battle.

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There were also special narrative cards which were won by teams or individuals depending on achieving specific victory conditions. And any player that was tabled in a game and had an entire army removed received a bonus card as well to be used later in the event.

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In the Quickfall Marshes, a raiding Orruk warband attacks King Gaius Insatiable and his Court which was searching the stagnant pools for lost artifacts. The Orruks charged and the Orruks died.

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In the Loewnthrall Forest Lord Vynwyrd rallied the Sylvaneth to defend the arcane trees, but these ashen-skinned Orruks were different, and the Spirit Krushas tribe cleared the forest of both spirits and trees. Many ancient and arcane trees were felled during and after this brutal battle.

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In the lonely Dawnland village of Haybale Hollow, the 7th Legion organized and put up a stalwart defense and destroyed the Chaos spearhead, but at the cost of Lord Invictus suffering a terrible wound.

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In the Jadenvyne Jungle Queen Neferata led her skeleton crew to find sacred artifacts, competing and besting two of her rival Chaos armies to prove herself the sole leader of the full invasion.

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The Shadow Ziggurat loomed over the battlefields. We had determined, during the worldbuilding session at the start of the event, that the Ziggurat slipped among various locations, the next location unknown to any but the High Priests of Shadows.

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Full Invasion

The initial attacks had stalled, but the Chaos invaders renews their aggression and smashed their way through many small Dawnland villages.

Friday afternoon featured 10 players battling across 5 tables. The Dawnland village “Burn it Down” battleplan had the Chaos invaders trying to burn down as many buildings as possible, while several other defending players played “The High Road” which required movement across the length of a table to get information and supplies to their allies.

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A warband of Duardin defenders attempt to stop a Korne Bloodbound force from burning destroying another village.. The Duardin gunners were ordered to provide nominal resistance, but the village would burn and the story of the Chaos barbarian’s rampaging would be used to fuel and solidify political support behind Low King Gaius and his Insatiable Court. The Bloodbound burned many buildgings, and many of the Low Kings pledged their support to Gaius following this atrocity.From across Blackshadow Bay a Chaos fleet approached and attempted to block resupply convoys for the kingdom’s defenders.

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The spearhead of the invasion, a legion of bloodbound calling itself the Fleshstompers of Fine Bloodwine and led by the fearsome Krax, finally crashed through the gates of the capital city.

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Although the citizens of Citadel shuttered their windows and hid, the Fleshstompers had a specific goal to stop the Insatiable Court from fleeing the city with supplies and valuable information and artifacts. They move to block many of the King Gaius’s Court, but several key figures managed to escape the city.In the Jadenvyne Jungle, the 7th Legion of Stormcast, cutting through to reinforce a village on the other side, encountered a portion of Neferata’s skeleton legion. Although the Black Knights seemed to ride into the battle, wave upon wave without end, the Stormcast managed to hold their ground against the massed ranks of undead.

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After their earlier defeat in the Lowenthrall Forest, Lord Venwyrd appealed to the reticent Aelves of Dawnland and secured some resources, if not Aelven units, to counterattack the Chaos invasion of the forest. But this second attack in the forest was not led by rampaging Orruks… this time an army of Nurgle smashed through the trees, supported by a massive horde of Skaven plaguemonks.By the end of the battle, Lord Venwyrd had been severely wounded and most of the forest was in ruins or corrupted by the vile essence of Nurgle.

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Sailing Among the Uncharted Islands

The Chaos invader fleet, after securing Blackshadow Bay, encounters a small but determined fleet of defenders on a mission to explore the Uncharted Floating Islands among the far northeastern region of the kingdom.

We had a fantastic assortment of ships available for a variety of naval missions during our campaign, and during the afternoon planning session the Dawnland defenders decided to send the Spirit Krushas, a fearless warband of Ashen Orruks. During their journey sailing through the bay and toward the islands they were intercepted by another Orruk fleet, this one joining the Chaos invasion as an excuse to wreck destruction on everything in their path… including the fleet of ships crewed by the Spirit Krushas.

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The Spirit Krushas win the battle and capture the Chaos fleet, turning the tide against the invaders.

Sun Sets on Dawnland

The Chaos invaders have overrun the borders of Dawnland, burning villages, cutting down arcane trees in the Lowenthrall Forest to leave it a landscape of scorched stumps, and looting the mystical and ancient temples in the Jadenvyne Jungle. Citadel still stands under control of the Duardin as the Chaos invaders left the city alone, but most of the land has been soaked in the blood and sweat of the myriad defenders. Now, only a few days before the Great Eclipse, the Chaos invaders coordinate their attacks to seize and control at least two of the several Dawn Gates…if they can control the gates then they can determine where the Shadow Ziggurat will next appear, and if they can attack and control the Ziggurat before the Great Eclipse then they will remove the soul and stop the heart of all Dawnland.

Friday night the Chaos invaders attempted to take and hold at least 2 of 3 Dawngate portals which would allow them to at least predict if not control the movement and appearance of the Shadow Ziggurat. If they could put one of their on at the top of the Ziggurat during the moment of the Great Eclipse then the conquest of Dawnland would be assured and the destruction of the realm would be easily accomplished.

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Neferata leads her army into the ruins of an ancient Dawnland city where a Dawn Gate stands guarded by the Insatiable Court. The skeletal legion pushes relentlessly into the elite Court, but they fail to budge the guard and wrest control of the Gate.

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In the Badlands, the 7th Legion stands tall against the chaotic charge of Goredrak’s cavalry.

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Stormcast stand strong once again protecting the second Dawn Gate.

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In the splintered remnants of the Lowenthrall Forest the Spirit Krushas countercharge the rampaging Nurgle force,  and Rudneck ‘ead Smasha rode his Maw Krusha into the center of the Shaven battleline; the battle raged for ages but Goredrak finally fell from his mount.

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After King Gaius forced Neferata to retreat from the ancient ruins, he uses an arcane rod of teleportation to infuse the corpse of the Maw Krusha in the Lowenthrall Forest to stir back to life and resume the battle.

Duardin Civil War

In the city of Citadel, the Duardin miners rallied for a labor strike, siezing control of the city center with a list of demands. As the other Low Kings of Dawnland strived to keep the Chaos invaders from capturing more than one Dawn Gate, the Duardin tribes succumbed to civil war in thIn the city of Citadel, the Duardin miners rallied for a labor strike, siezing control of the city center with a list of demands. As the other Low Kings of Dawnland strived to keep the Chaos invaders from capturing more than one Dawn Gate, the Duardin tribes succumbed to civil war in the streets.

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The Fyreslayers stand their position in the city square, prepared for anything.

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The city guard take positions, armed with the best ranged weapons from the arsenal, and the captain of the guard makes a final demand that the rebellious Duardin return to their work in peace.

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Shadows on the Water

While the Duardin tribes resort to fighting among each other in the streets of Citadel, and the Chaos invading armies struggle to secure at least two Dawn Gates so the location of the Shadow Ziggurat can be determined, the remnants of the barbarian fleet sailing to regroup happens to spots the Ziggurat on the shore. Changing course, the fleet sails for shore as the daylight begins to fade, because after sunset the Ziggurat will vanish into the shadows, teleporting to another location in Dawnland. These Bloodbound must secure the Ziggurat before it relocates.

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Two separate armies of Bloodbound, 3K points equivalent according to the General’s Handbook, start the approach to the shore. They must push through the Sylvaneth defenders and have at least one model reach the base of the Ziggurat by turn 6.img_3097.jpg?w=660

The ships land on turn 3.

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Chaos forces disembark and pour across the shore, smashing into the Sylvaneth defenders.

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Just as the last rays of sunlight vanish, a demon prince with only, wounded and bleeding, manages to climb onto the lowest level of the Ziggurat before it teleports.

Race for the Throne

As the sun dawns on the foretold day of the high eclipse, the greatest champions of the most powerful and prestigious of the Low Kings gather on the Shadow Plain as the Ziggurat appears and the gauntlet is to be run. The champion which can race to the top and remain standing against all other contenders when the eclipse is resolved will be the representative of the High Shadow King of Dawnland for the next Seven Years.

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The dozens of champions sent by the most powerful and prestigious of the Low Kings of Dawnland gathered in a field on the Plain of Shadows during the morning of the high eclipse, the place where the priests had foretold the appearance of the Shadow Ziggurat. And the Ziggurat appeared, as expected, but the presence of Chaos agents was not expected. The champions battled each other and the agents of Chaos to position their houses for the final race to the throne at the final moment of the eclipse.

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All of the champions slaughtered, save for three–two of which are agents of the Chaos invaders–the final eclipse begins and the race for the throne begins. Neferata’s agent, bounding up the levels of the Ziggurat ahead of the others, reaches the throne and reveals her true self. img_3191.jpg?w=660

But then the agent of Nurgle reaches the top, knocks Neferata’s agent down with the swing of his staff, and is–in turn–knocked down by the champion of King Gaius.

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After Neferata’s agent snapped up the barbed daggers of the fallen king’s champion, she kills the Nurgle agent and claims the High Throne for Neferata. In a final twist of devotion, she declares herself High King of Dawnland and victory for the Chaos invaders, but secretely hopes to turn the conquest of the kingdom over to Nagash and the Grand Alliance of Death.

Fanning the Flames

After the tournament event during Saturday, some of our Warlord players had exhausted their leadership abilities and retired to their tents. But our Overlord players, after the afternoon games on the Shadow Ziggurat, and a few Warlords, were still ready for more mayhem.

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Neferata, on her way to the crowning ceremony in Citadel, stumbled into a Chaos ambush. Once partners in the invasion, now the Fleshstompers of Fine Bloodwine were determined to exact their revenge against the betrayal of Neferata. Fortunately Neferata’s lieutenants knew the ground of the Jadenvyne Jungle after fighting and surviving several battles in the wilderness, and they managed to deliver their Queen through the peril.

As Queen Neferata travels to Citadel for her coronation ceremony as the High Queen of Shadows, the Low King Gaius returns to the city with the remnants of the royal fleet in an attempt to stir the city to resist the new Queen. Ships clash in Blackshadow Bay with the remnants of the Chaos fleets, and the waters are choked with burning wrecks and broken vessels. But King Gaius is victorious, and just as he prepares to disembark and step onto the docks of the city, his remaining forces are best on all sides–from one shore charge an army of beastmen, and from the other side the dreaded army of Nurgle.

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After the epic sea battle, the survivors climb aboard the remaining ships or crawl up from the holds below decks. img_3201.jpg?w=660

Beastmen charge from the northern docks, and Nurgle forces from the southern. Gravely outnumbered, King Gaius prepares his defence, but overconfidently splits his forces to counterattack both armies simultaneously. img_3203.jpg?w=660

A Great Unclean One steps across a gangplank and boards the listing Duardin ironclad, taking the fight to the guard of King Gaius.

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Gaius begins to realize his cause to gather the denizens of Citadel to resist the false Queen of Dawnland may never be realized.

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Dawnland Divided

Sunday afternoon found the narrative in a new and interesting place. Stability had returned to Dawnland with a new ruling High King, the capital city intact and government functioning, and the Shadow Ziggurat secured by an invader.

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Victorious armies of Bloodbound and Nurgle turn on each other in the Jadenvyne Jungle, rushing to secure artifacts and finish the corruption of the verdant landscape.img_3220.jpg?w=660

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Lord Invictus, his Stormcast capturing King Gaius, has the captive removed to a Dawn Gate where his high priest begins a ritual to restore order to King Gaius and send his soul to Azyr. But the Insatiable Court will not stand by idly and watch their King turned, and they rush through the gates of the ruined city to liberate their King.

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The fight is fierce, but at the final moment before the ritual can be complete, King Gaius is removed from the gate and saved so he can rebuild his army and, perhaps one day, liberate Dawnland from the invaders and sit on the High Shadow Throne himself.

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Meanwhile in the unexplored badlands, Neferata led her chosen guard to a forgotten Dawn Gate to attempt a ritual to contact Nagash and inform him of her power over Dawnland and offer the conquest to him. Of course, Sylvaneth powers, still loyal to Dawnland natives, rose up to stop her.img_3218.jpg?w=660

Neferata’s household guard stood their ground, and in the fading moments of the day she managed to contact Nagash and inform him of her success.

Winter Conditions

Finally played a game of Muskets & Tomahawks in the new analog gaming room!  Taught the game to three gaming friends, so I may be able to get some traction for a regular campaign.  Which motivates me to paint more figures and work on more terrain.  The tabletop conditions reflected current weather outside–we didn’t get as much snow as some other parts of the country, but it certainly has been cool out with a bit of white stuff covering the ground.

M&T Friday

M&T is a refreshingly simple miniature gaming system, and the three guys playing it for the first time have played other games, but caught on very quickly.  And they all admitted to having fun with the game, despite doubts that playing a musket-era skirmish wargame without any cavalry could possibly be interesting.

Now it’s time to paint some canoes and add a river to the terrain options.

Wood Elves Leave the Forest

Glade Lord Arteamus stood in the branches of a chestnut oak at the edge of the forest, gazing out across the field which had been burned the day before by an Orc warband. The Orcs were burning indiscrimately, and a sacred glade just beyond the field had been desecrated by the greenskins. Those standing stones had to be recaptured and restored, blessed by the magic channeled by the senior Spellweaver in the forest.  The goal was clear.

Spellweaver Synclaire stood near the base of the oak when the Glade Lord dropped down from the branches.  She gestured toward him, holding an arrow in her hand.  “I’ve cast powerful magic on the arrows of our Glade Guards,” she explained.  “And this one, in particular, has been enchanted to bring down the Orc chieftain.  I know what must be done, and I am determined to do it myself.  Please, Arteamus, allow me to lead the expedition to recapture the sacred stones.”

He thought for a moment, considering he should lead the force himself, complete with his personal company of Eternal Guards.  But she would need to visit the glade herself, after all–after the battle to drive off the orcs–and she was eager to prove her martial skills and leadership.  She was young, relative for an elf, although she was profoundly talented for magic, especially that of the darkness.  He nodded, indicating she could lead the group herself.

She smiled slightly, bowed, and withdrew from his presence to assemble her martial force.  Although she would only take a small group of skilled archers from the guard, she would call upon the dryads of the forest, along with the restless treekin yearning for a fight against the rampaging orcs, and the old treeman as well.

Photo671The old forest dragon insisted on accompanying Synclaire’s battle contingent, although she only suspected the dragon had been secretly petitioned by Arteamus to join.  She accepted the old dragon’s assistance.  Convinced of inevitable victory, even on the grassy plain beyond the forest, she wouldn’t turn down the help of a dragon, and she knew such rejection would be considered rude.

The force lined up on the edge of the glade, the small Thrones Hill on their right flank.  The scent of roasting pork, mingled with the unwashed flesh of orcs and goblins, drifted across the field.  This was indeed the place.  The elves could see the standing stones–smeared, as they now were, with the excrement of orcs.

“And are those trolls?”  Synclaire closed her eyes and scryed the line of battle opposing them across the glade.  Yes, the force was supported with engines of war as well, and she sent a message to both the dragon and the treeman, warning of the bolts those crude machines could hurl through the air.  The elves were at a disadvantage here, in the open, but she had given her word, and with her magic Synclaire was convinced of victory over the nasty beasts.

Both sides began to close the gap, and the elven archers unleashed a volley of arrows into the ranks of the smelly orcs.  But the dragon was pierced through a shoulder by a heavy metal bolt.  The treeman was also hit, squarely in the chest.  But the force of forest spirits marched onward, the branchwraith leading the dryads easing the pain of the dragon and treeman both with her life magic.

Photo674This was the moment for Synclaire to unleash her most powerful magic, before the battle lines clashed together.  She would decimate the orcish ranks with a dark vortex, reducing their number as well as their will to fight, and they would likely turn and flee before the forest spirits had the chance to strike with branch and root.  Already, on the right flank a band of orc cavalry, mounted on tusked boars, had torn through the skirmishes tasked with securing Thrones Hill, and the orc cavalry was charging the forest dragon.  And, on the left flank, an orc chariot ripped into a band of waywatchers.  Now was the moment, to smash the center, and then her guards could turn to support the flanks with their magic arrows.

Synclaire reached into the heavens, closing her eyes, energy of the earth filling her through the soles of her feet.  She felt the winds of magic stir throughout her being, filling her with power, and she chose to pull in just a little more–but too much!  It was too late, talented as she was, when she ceased gathering magical might, knowing it was above and beyond needed to fuel the spell.  A crack of lightning spread from her body, shattering the bodies of those guards standing to either side of her.  But the spell was indeed cast–but something had gone terribly wrong:  rather than whirling toward the enemy, the dark vortex whirled to the side, directly into and across the front ranks of her guard.  Disaster!  Rather than decimating the ranks of the enemy, her spell and killed most of her guards–near all of them.

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Battle was joined in the center, and the forest spirits fought tenaciously, but the winds of magic had indeed shifted against the elves, perhaps because they had let the orcs desecrate their sacred stones.  The branchwraith was unable to conjure any more healing force for her comrades, and the old treeman fell to the band of black orcs.

Realizing her lethal mistake of magic, knowing the forest spirits would not dominate without elven support–but she had no more support for her elven guards to provide–she turn and fled… trailing sparks from her feet as she fled, wounded in both body and spirit.

Dystopian Wars/Legions Team Campaign Day

Our British and Prussian players arrived from Richmond to play a game of Dystopian Legions with the objective of controlling the door to an uncovered underground vault in the desert. But the Prussian team arrived with one of their rolling ironclads (otherwise known as a “tiny tank”).

We’re all still learning the rules for playing Legions, but this game was interesting to see unfold. That Prussian “tiny tank” inflicted significant casualties against the British infantry, and then the Prussian armored steam knights marched up and siezed control of the hatch to the vault.

The Covenant player at the next table mobilizing some bombards to provide some artillery support, some of which hit their allied British troops.

But the Japanese fleet smashed the Covenant forces and took control of the coast, providing an escape route for the Prussian Legions team to take the artifact they found in the desert vault back to a secret lab.

And the allied Russian fleet which was guarding an approach to the Strait of Gibraltar? An FSA fleet arrived demanding passage, and when the Russians refused a shooting confrontation broke out–the FSA helped to secure passage for the Prussian and Japanese fleets out to the Atlantic, although intelligence reports still don’t inform exactly why this rogue fleet fired upon ships of the Grand Alliance or if this indicates any change of political aims for the FSA.

The awesome tropical islands seemed to have been relocated into the Med by strange effect of the powerful artifact uncovered in the North African desert….

Battles of Westeros

We had a rough week at home, but last night my wife and I sat down at the gaming table to play the Game of Thrones version of Battlelore.  She enjoys BattleLore–it’s the only Commands & Colors system she has played, but she likes the straightforward system mechanics and the medieval fantasy theme.  Well, in recent years she has become a fan of the Song of Ice & Fire novels and the television show, particularly championing the plight of the last living daughter of the Targaryens.  “Can I play Daenerys leading a legion of the Unsullied into battle against your prancing Lannister army?” she asked.  No, I explained, but she could play the Stark forces against my prancing Lannisters.

ImageOur first game was small, mostly for practice, as she learned how the game worked; it’s quite different from Battlelore, in her opinion–it involves more strategic thinking, more like chess than the straightforward, choose a unit to activate, roll some dice, and move onto the next.

Still, she won the first battle by a slight margin.  Then we set up a second battle with a full complement of forces, and she tried to teach me a lesson for placing my leader’s unit in the center of my front line–with a bold play and some good die rolling, she destroyed my leader’s unit and almost captured Jaime Lannister on the first action of the game!  I managed to come back and decimate her forces, but then she switched into a defensive mode, shepherding her broken units to the rear and reinforcing her position to finally defeat my Lannister forces, leaving me with only Jaime to command a single unit of archers at the end of turn 4, scoring a crowning victory for the Starks.

Sunday Game of Hell Dorado

Met my Usual Opponent for a game of Hell Dorado on Sunday, my Immortals versus his Saracens:  230 points each.

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The book holding my unit stat cards was created by my Usual Opponent and fits the Asian theme of my preferred wargaming factions. The green dice track the number of current Command Points, and the yellow dice are all I need for the game. The Sphinx is just an extra piece of terrain we didn’t use.

We rolled up a CONQUEST scenario and TERRAFORMED the table; my Usual Opponent seized Dominance with his larger force, and I was forced to deploy first.  Of course, my fast melee independents moved quickly across the table and took out his musketeers before they could do any damage with their jezails.  But his scimitar-weilding warriors charged into my unit of poorly armed peasants on my left flank, and by the end of the 3rd turn I no longer had a left flank….

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Immortals on the left, Saracens on the right, clashing around the giant skull in the center of an ancient battlefield. The table is divided into 9 different section, each section with special properties which affect the movement and tactical options of the pieces in the section. My figures have yellow circles around their bases while my Opponent’s figures have black circles.

In the end, after 4 turns, my opponent clearly controlled more of the battlefield than my Immortals, although we were not so mismatched in casualties and figures remaining on the table.

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A key point in the first turn when the war panther ran up to engage my contingent of peasants, and then the Saracen alchemist threw a fire grenade which weakened the remaining peasants enough that they couldn’t put up a fight against the scimitar-wielding warriors during the 2nd turn.

So, after 4 turns, and a break to unlock a family member’s vehicle with keys locked inside, I conceded victory to my Usual Opponent.

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My final dice roll, and I still have 2 figures on the table, but I’ve clearly lost control of the battlefield with Saracens in my starting deployment zone.