Trolls on parade

Posted by  | Sunday, September 30, 2012  at 8:07 PM  

Games Workshop host their grand annual event at Birmingham NEC. It's called Games Day. It is the stage where the Golden Demon Awards and Slayer Sword for best miniature painting in the United Kingdom takes place each year. For most enthusiasts it is the chance to buy cool new releases and admire cabinets loaded with finely detailed Citadel miniatures painted by some of the most talented painters in the hobby.

Once every twenty years, a playwright, street performer and suspected werecreature is unleashed upon UK Games Day...

This year I managed to attend Games Day for the first time since I was teenager. I accompanied Chris 'Frogprince' Kneller and Michelle 'Geekgirl' Steele who go along every year! Mr Flibble came with us too because there aren't enough penguins in the Warhammer universes. "Too busy killing Batman", offered one of our coach-going companions. We travelled from the GW store in Poole. The coach ride wasn't unpleasant. There were only a handful of youngbloods among the local warband of Warhammer nerds. I can tell you a lot more wild youths went in 1992! What are kids doing these days for Sigmar's sake?

[Left to Right] Werekin, Mr Flibble, Geekgirl, the Frogprince
Tickets are priced at £30 which covers entry and a free programme. I found the handout to be fairly pointless on the day because the excellent layout explains itself. There is way too much to look at and do in a mere 6 hours of open time. I can't stress how short the day is! The ambitious schedule is suffocating. Once you deduct rest breaks you're left with too little time to pack everything in. A couple of additional hours opening would relieve retail congestion considerably. There is a lot more going on than a single report can hope to divulge. Read on if you care to hear of random activity nobody else would think to write about!

Upon arrival we hunted for tickets to attend the Forge World and Black Library seminars. Attendance is restricted to 150 places on each of 2 seminars for both. Being as the slots are 11am-12pm and 2pm-3pm there isn't much scope for flexibility. There were less than half-a-dozen places left for each seminar by the time patrons from our store's coach were being admitted. Oddly a lot of folks didn't turn up for the Black Library seminar at 11am. And why that might be? *drum roll* FORGE WORLD

After we grabbed seminar tickets we wandered through the main exhibition hall and gaming hall littered with battlefields into the trade hall. There was an enormous queue of hobbyists lined up to get to the Forge World trade stand. I've seen a scrum of punters before at the Salute trade fair last year in London. That was carnage. Nothing like this! The queue was sheer madness. Snaking all over the trade hall like some giant serpent out of a mythological legend! Suffice to say we did not join this nerdcade. Depending on whose version of events you have listened to the wait was anywhere between 1-3 hours. Nobody seems to care because the miniatures are just that damn good! One far-fetched account being relayed was that a disabled woman had waited 3 hours to be served her Forge fix. The smell of freshly forged resin warriors, vehicles and monsters is intoxicating.

I had a nose around the bazaar of books and made a couple of choice literary purchases. I was hoping to get a copy of new Time of Legends novel Neferata but the rumour it was going onsale in advance was a falsehood! It took the aged clerk some ponderous amount of effort to get Bill King's new hardback release for Sword of Caledor to ring through the till. I had exact cash in my hand by that point.

At this exact moment I could spy authors across the trading post wall signing their books for Black Library but it was time to make way to the first seminar. On the way we bumped into my old buddy Anton who manages a Games Workshop hobby store in Maidenhead! As I write this today it is Anton's birthday. Many happy returns squire.

Fantasy Flight Games were demonstrating their full crop of associated cards and board games in the main hall. Nobody appeared to be playing Blood Bowl this year yet there were fantasy football computer games demonstrations aplenty. What caught our interest was a display of Warhammer Quest and Talisman apps under development for iPhone and iPad being demonstrated by Rodeo Games and Nomad Games. According to the representative these games are being produced exclusively for Apple platforms. If it can now be wielded like Ghal-Maraz then perhaps this makes my otherwise hopeless iPhone useful for something, at last... Suck on my gromril warhammer Samsung Galaxy users! The release date on the App Store for Warhammer Quest is being advertised as Spring 2013.

Observing volunteers playing the demo quest game, we recognised vintage rooms tiles being trodden. Visually the game looks great. Politely declining an offer to face the dungeon as interpreted by Rodeo Games, Chris & I queried why there was a River Troll facing off against one young fellow (beating his warrior to death as it goes!) in the game. The demonstrator explained that in keeping with the greenskins army theme they had substituted the original large monster (it was Minotaur) with the aquatic foe. While it makes perfect sense to employ a Troll we weren't in agreement with the rationale behind this particular breed of troll, even if the well-rendered graphics are based on one of the latest funky Citadel miniature releases. The developers stated that the adventures will include unfamiliar new room tiles alongside classic favourites from the original game. According to the rep we can also look forward to new artwork for Rodeo's quest-room boards becoming available next year to download, for use with original Warhammer Quest board gaming. This means tabletop games of Mordheim-Quest can be further expanded too.

Note: Next month Frogprince & Geekgirl are hosting a multi-player Mordheim-Quest battle in the sewers beneath Marienburg. 'Burrow Town Collapsing' is our new underground campaign scenario and a Halloween battle report will follow.

Burrow Town Collapsing: Strigany River Pirates converted and painted by Michelle Steele penetrate the Marienburg Grand Sewer Network using a Warhammer Quest junction tile
Armies on Parade is a recent feature at Games Day events around the world. The competition is scored based on attendees votes. There were a couple of fantastic ogre armies entered into the contest. One was an Ogre stronghold...

Another entry was a beach party...

...with stunning Ogre pirate crew and trollish new breed of fish-dog! (or dogfish?)

Competition is stiff when there's great attention to detail for so many entries. One particular detail which tickled me was the rider of a Thundertusk wearing a diving helmet! While the idea of an ogre wearing a diving bell might have come from elsewhere in the market place it was a neat touch which I mentioned in passing to the sculptor of this miniature Seb Perbet when I passed by the designers display stand later in the day.

The winning army will be announced on the GW web site at some point. We wandered the gaming hall to check out what battles were being fought. Tilean paparazzi agent Chris 'Frogprince' Kneller grabbed pictures of unusual sights to his liking. Following the coastal theme our treasure trove led us to a cliff-top stronghold populated by ratmen (from Clan Skurvey we presumed)...

And a gigantic magical construct dominating one of the many battlefields...

Plus two ships (Nurgle Man O'War & Imperial Barge) that were sighted by me from the crow's nest...

The afternoon seminar was hosted by guru Tony Cottrell who runs Forge World and lead writer Alan Bligh who conjures most of the new gaming material. Both staff were present to explain all the latest developments. This session was packed out. Tony has a dry wit to say the least, making this presentation a joy to behold. His sense of humour provided me with plenty of laughs. Alan is lead author of those perfectly profane tomes for the Warhammer Forge. Most of the fantasy battle talk was geared towards Monstrous Arcanum up until the guys started spilling beans about Blackfire Pass which is their next lavish campaign book. We saw previews on the projector screen for more new monsters, a Dwarf command group sculpted by Steve Whitehead (more on him shortly) followed by talk of new Orc and Empire army releases. The seminar is unmissable! If you ever get the chance to hang out with the Forge World team you have to take it.

Towards the end of the day I conversed with some of the hired swords who help breathe new life into modern day Warhammer. Seb Perbet from the Citadel design team was my first victim. He is the sculptor of latest editions to the Ogre Kingdoms range including the mighty Thundertusk/Stornhorn kit which I keep calling the 'Stonehoof' in error. When I explained to Seb that I purchased this kit just to use the heads of the crew in my Mordheim warband conversions his response was indescribable.

Forge World sculptors Edgar Skomorowski and Steve Whitehead were available to discuss their work. Both gentlemen have provided Chaos Dwarf fanboys with plenty of reasons to rejoice in the past 12 months. Edgar's impressive Bull Centaurs were among the recent releases on display. He'd also brought along WiP versions of one of the centauroids. Whoops I forgot to take pictures of the concept sketches Steve had on display for his new Empire sculpts. They were characterful and very much in the vein of art from the source book Blood On The Reik (A Journey Through The Old World). Steve was responsible for producing the new Fimir warriors featured in Monstrous Arcanum, freely admitting to being a big fan of the one-eyed fiends since olden days! It's uncertain whether there will be more Fimir releases in the future. Any fellow Fimir enthusiasts will be disappointed to hear it would seem unlikely based on the political response my question prompted from Tony Cotrell (yes I posed a question using the F word!) in his Q&A session. As a consolation, Tony was admiring my hat in a very vocal way! Steve himself is blissfully unaware of what quantities of which of his miniature designs are selling like hot halfling hot-pots.

The creative imaginings of Edgar Skomorowski are well known to my friends and fellow hobbyists Joao and Cianty. Make sure you check out this link to Edgar's personal web site. It contains some stunning quality sculpting. Both of the miniatures designers were friendly gentlemen.

Which leads me onto my final port of call. The Black Library authors stand. I failed miserably to greet novelist (and self-proclaimed hack!) Joshua Reynolds at the Black Library Live 2012 due to overindulgence (mine not his). The sands of time were running out but I located Josh before departing the event for a brief exchange. He is one of the few authors right now who is writing about subject material which really peeks my interest! Josh has launched a new blog on Wordpress which you can check out here.

With the day drawing to a close there was no sign of storyteller and guitar-hero Darius Hinks. I've finished reading his book Orion: The Vaults Of Winter, detailing the exploits of Athel Loren's god-king alongside elves, faeries and polecats! It's part one of an unwritten trilogy meaning I had to find something else of its equal to read last week. Warrior-Priest, also by Herr Hinks, staring at me from my bookshelf seemed like the best story to consume next. With any luck I may catch up with Josh at a future Black Library event and eventually meet Darius along with my guitar-buddy Ed 'Skarloc' Morgan. For reasons known to the likes of us we wanna bug Darius about his academic skills in rock power and elven lore! Because the two things that matter most are talismanic tattoo ink and decibels.

Coming Up Next: The next adventure sequence in Marienburg happens below the city. A team of daring Mordheimers have been hard at work playesting an underground scenario for the MiM campaign. A copy of the detailed scenario and a battle report will be published on Liber Malefic in the coming weeks.

[Left] Witch Hunter Capt. Dave play-tests 'Burrow Town' with Webby's Criminal Cartel [Right] Canada Steve's Cathayan Monks fight a turf war verses Skyre Warp-Engineers led by Frogprince

Best fight scene

Posted by  | Saturday, September 29, 2012  at 12:41 AM  

The Mutiny in Marienburg campaign uses new core scenarios written for this setting. Each scenario treats players to a taste of what life if like in the city-port for their warriors. While not every scenario is combat-centric, the waterfront adventure features violent turf wars! The best fight scenes ever.

Mutiny in Marienburg follows the same structure developed for the Border Town Burning supplement. This is different than in the Mordheim Rulebook.

For players using the standard campaign rules these Core Scenarios replace the scenarios found in the Mordheim Rulebook. Refer to Border Town Burning supplement for scenario rules to 'Last Orders!'

2D6 Result
2 ....Scenario 1: Rolling Fog*
3 ....Scenario 2: Black Market Lagoon
4 ....Scenario 3: Powder Bridge
5 ....Scenario 4: Pit Of Blood*
6 ....Scenario 5: Stockade
7 ....Scenario: Last Orders!*
8 ....Scenario 6: Silk Market
9 ....Scenario 7: Illegal Salvage Operation*
10 ..Scenario 8: Burrow Town Collapsing*
11 ...Scenario 9: Dead Freight**
12 ...Scenario 10: The Sting

Scenario 13: Midnight At The Mausoleum*
Scenario 15: All Hands On Deck!
Scenario 16: Swap Meat*
Scenario 17: Colony of Plenty*

*optional multiplayer scenario
**multiplayer scenario

All core scenarios are now illustrated here. Scenarios are accompanied by Marienburg campaign charts. Also included are two of the special scenarios which found their way into the Marienburg campaign story. Click on links in the table above to view and save each of the scenario files. These will be updated periodically to include more new campaign scenes.

An additional player aid for enhancing your campaigns can now be downloaded. Epic Campaigns Rules features a selection of important guidelines to help your maritime city adventures.

All other published resources from the Marienburg manifest can be downloaded here.

Fell cargo

Posted by  | Wednesday, September 26, 2012  at 12:39 AM  

Dealers in strange unknowable goods bring business to Marienburg.

Representatives of every nation and race can be found there, and it is rumoured that if something exists, no matter how rare, a trader with money will find it in Marienburg, find someone who knows where it is, or be swindled into buying something that looks just like it.

Running a Mordheim campaign set in the trade capital of the world means there is wider scope for deals to be struck. Smugglers are interested in opportunities for moving more than just shards of wyrdstone. Click on the image below to expand detail for the two main charts being used when determining physical objectives in Marienburg campaign scenarios.

The tender is gold guilders which are Marienburg's equivalent to gold crowns. Gold is not the only currency and wyrdstone-hunting is not the only source of revenue available to warbands. Mercantile gangs featuring a trader and vehicle can flaunt their illicit wares on the black market. Violent gangs operating in a slaver ring could be set on taking hostages and capturing rival warriors. Ghoulish warbands collect corpses for vile purposes. All different types of commodities are being shipped down the River Reik.

The Cargo Chart can be used for determining objective markers when playing scenarios. Value for each cargo marker is decided in the post battle sequence to maintain the flow during games. Whilst a Hero might realise he is moving a barrel rather than a crate, he won't expect to lever the lid off to inspect its contents until the shipment is safely secured.

The Booty Chart expands the themes for piratical rewards when warbands are committing 'wet' or 'dry' crimes. Specialist charts such as the Profane Books Chart add a further level of detail allowing players to capitalise on an archive of existing merchandise or discover strange unknowable goods from the Marienburg manifest.

"In collections and museums in Marienburg and Brionne, you may see such things, scavenged from the field of battle and carefully preserved."
— Ehrhard Stoecker, Exiled Imperial Novelist

There are all sorts of useful charts to roll on in Marienburg, especially when it comes to Heroes escapades in the post battle sequence. Nothing has been included for the sake of it and anything can start the next big conspiracy between warbands!

Lots of vital material has been carried over from Mordheim articles and one priceless chart comes courtesy of the Warhammer General's Compendium. Click on the chart below, it may look familiar. These rules need to be referenced when gaming some of the forthcoming maritime scenarios which will be appearing on Liber Malefic in the coming days.

Perks of skirmish

Posted by  | Tuesday, September 18, 2012  at 10:40 PM  

Producing a concise set of rules for a skirmish game is a noble quest if ever there was one. Legends of the High Seas/Old West are popular amongst a lot of Mordheim's old guard. Chris 'Cianty' Templin and I discussed the cherry-picking of desirable elements from each others systems that games developers go through. A project like designing a game might be a labour of love or it might seem on the surface like all the concepts have been filched from an older game. For arguments sake let's call them homages not thefts! Combining existing principles with fresh devious imaginings in the process of conjuring new skirmish games and settings is only evolution.

Andy Hoare is putting touches to Get The Girl, Kill The Baddies. The godfather of grim and perilous adventure Rick Priestley has got himself mixed up in a wacky faerie tale universe where centaurs dressed as David Bowie brawl with flying monkeys wearing fez hats. In Fanticide, they use their faeces as missile weapons. Co-incidentally the fighting monkeys in my Marienburg campaign do the same! Apes may not fly in the Warhammer World but they can 'Scale Sheer Surfaces'. Chris Templin has meanwhile long brooded over his Gierburg skirmish game.

Cianty became temporarily obsessed with exploring nuances of non-combat themed tabletop activity. Worryingly it all sounded a bit like Chris was locked away at home playing with dolls as opposed to fighting battles with warriors! Ultimately his principles are correct. Not all skirmish battles should to be a pitched street fight or a raid. I'm a massive fan of narrative campaigning, particularly scenario-driven skirmishing adventure. Black Library novels tempt me for this exact reason! The stories are what give a system and setting gravity. Quality terrain and a heavily themed table help bring the stories to life. Some of the best scenarios I've had the benefit of playing were written to revolve around particular pieces of terrain. Kudos to Matt Ward for his themed terrain chapter in the latest tome of rules for Warhammer. He even mentioned the F word.

When tabletop adventure beckons, I find military battle themes less and less desirable. There are still aspects of grandiose warfare (and there's no escaping the war in Warhammer!) which strike a chord. In terms of a gripping story, the Warhammer Heroes novels by Chris Wraight homed in on conspiratorial angles which I found stirring and inspiring. The level of intrigue took me by surprise! Being unexpectedly sucked in my his adventurous hooks evokes all kinds of tabletop yearnings. With the importance of strong narrative, it feels tough to move away from the rich tapestry of the Warhammer setting. Countless materials are available to the keen researcher. You can really lose yourself in its depth. There's a realness to its application in gaming that I've found sorely lacking in Middle Earth re-enactments. As with anything I suppose its warhorses for courses.

In the Marienburg scenarios, we exploit comparably domestic themes; Fishwives, winkle-pickers or goose-girls being taken hostage, cargo shipments being moved or sabotaged, graves being looted for trinkets or fresh corpses. I had the recent pleasure of meeting fellow forum-goer Joao who is an avid collector of miniatures and he owns a lot of civilian themed characters. Plus he has modelled some marvellous marketplace buildings to game around. We will be getting together to play some games and I hope to bring pictures of our combined efforts on here later in the year. Joao has a interesting warband to add to our campaign story.

Critical tables are another personal favourite of mine. Charts add extra special moments to the story in Mordheim battles. Playing for the purpose of telling a story on the table is where lies the strength of a memorable skirmish. You strip away the juicy roleplay aspects and you might as well be playing another pitched battle. Not that there's anything fundamentally wrong with that. Attention to detail is what provides unforgettable moments. Unlike in Warhammer battles where the battlefield resets after each game, when you play Mordheim your heroes can die for real! If they survive (for long enough in the Free City of Marienburg) your heroes can prove what real men they are by visiting gambling halls, drinking dens, bordellos, drug parlours, or crypts in the Garden of Morr.

I've laboured the point before. Having to produce (what can claim to be brand) new rules is the most tedious and tiresome task in the hobby. Change is sometimes a necessary evil (ask a Champion of Tchar) if you want things to progress. There are already a zillion different rules in the Warhammer pantheon of games. If you look in the right place then you can find an existing guideline to apply to any situation. The fun in research can be what surprise gems turn up along the paper trail!

Why even write another supplement? Border Town Burning is immense. It is Cianty's brainchild and a wilderness supplement that won't be beat. Games developers have praised (and we now suspect cloned!?) its campaign objectives system. The city of Mordheim itself is great as an urban setting, motivating me to continue gaming when I ought to be doing real life stuff.

While Mordheim is fantastic, dark, gothic, grim and perilous, it doesn't have any pirates in it, it hasn't got enough elves in it, and it was based on an underdeveloped selection of campaign rules governed by a limited pool of scenarios. Mordheim only got better later on when the system was fleshed out by freelancers!

I don't play Necromunda. I'm not excited by the background of the game but what I do identify with is the notion of gangs. Gangs of thieves, assassins, drug smugglers, mercenaries, bounty hunters, renegades and a multitude of other desperado characters. Motivational ideals from Necromunda do not ring true in Mordheim. They will in Marienburg, the City of Secret Deals.