Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Warhammer - Competition VS Narrative

Most people I know don't get to play warhammer as much as they would like. Given this fact, when we do meet up, most of the time we opt for a standard scenario out of the 8th ed rules. This is all good. However, this does preclude us from indulging in some of the less travelled roads of warhammer, campaigns, story based games and multi-player battles.

I'm as competitive as most folks, and love nothing better than a gory, close-fought game. I far prefer a close game to winning by a walkover. I played a game last year against a friend's wood elves that will stay with me forever. It was the closest game I have ever played, one in which every movement, every combat seemed to be vital to victory. But more importantly in my view, both armies played as their background might intend. The elves harried the undead looking for a weak point in the line, ambushing and fleeing as necessity demanded. The undead trudged forward in a seemingly unstoppable horde, cornering and overwhelming isolated elven units. The game had a great narrative that seemed to evolve without any special rules or planning on our part. Thinking about this, how much more entertaining would this have been had it been part of a campaign arc or special scenario?

I think at heart I'm all about the story in games of warhammer. I like tournaments, love them even, but given the choice I'd take a campaign. I'm one of those fellows with a well defined back story for my army. All my characters are named. I might take a unit for fluff rather than optimising the perfect tournament list. Personally, I get much more satisfaction out of taking out Rothrend the treeman with Stephane Dreux the vampire knight than rolling to hit a generic treeman ancient with an equally anonymous vampire lord. I think all players buy into this at some level, it just makes the game more enjoyable. I've taken to producing tourney battle-reports as narratives, and it goes down well.

So where am I going with this meandering waffling? I guess this year I'll be trying extra hard to get those games in with special rules, home-brewed or taken from the general's compendium (a treasure trove of warhammer goodness) campaigns, big or small, and that hankering for naval warhammer out of my head and onto the table.


  1. I love the fluff (oo-err-missus!).
    It's a great feeling when armies behave or perform like they should. Very likely a lot of instances of armies behaving 'like they should' is a result of viewing them through a pre-conceived lens, and twisting the happenings to fit the canon.
    Regardless, it's still amazing when it happens.

    I gotta disagree with you on the campaigns/General's Compendium linked missions.
    It's not that I wouldn't enjoy them, I definitely would.
    It's that I don't play frequenetly enough, so when I do get the chance to play my competitive side comes out and wants to go for the pitched 1v1 battles (or any out of the 8th ed scenarios) without any custom made up rules. It's suppose it's almost like I don't consider the other types of battles (campaign/general's compendium) 'real'.
    They count for much less in the bragging rights scheme of things!

  2. Yep, I think that has do with how often you get a game in. When it's only once in a while you just want blood. If we played more often I bet we'd soon be reaching for the compendium.


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