I’ve been looking through a bunch of old White Dwarf magazines to read up on the Warhammer Underworlds articles that I always used to skip, given my new-found obsession with that game, and I thought I’d take a look at the Flashpoint stuff that was published there at the end of 2020. A three-part narrative campaign system, Flashpoint: Argovon System gives a narrative rule set for games that follow the developing story of the Task Force XI.
The system is deep within the Pariah Nexus, and forms a site of strategic importance in the Imperium’s war against the Necrons, which seems to be the main focus for 9th edition. In the first part of the campaign, we have Theatres of War rules for three distinct worlds, as well as a set of eight new Agendas. The planet rules are wonderful additions, giving rules such as ‘Miserable Weather’ on Sarronik, or ‘Avalanche Risk’ on Hishrea. I love stuff like this, though it does tend to be forgotten about when you’re trying to cope with a myriad other rules going on!
The Agendas are very interesting, especially because they’re pretty much all for armies that don’t have codexes yet, so it gives a nice bit of extra crunch when playing games. There is one for the Necrons, though, as we’d probably expect from the narrative. These all gain a mix of war zone points, which contribute to the win conditions, and experience points.
Part two gives correspondingly fewer rules than the first part, but does give us bespoke missions to play. Both are for the Crusade system, which I still need to properly understand but seems to fit strongly with narrative play. Each mission has custom stratagems and agendas, to further add to the unfolding story, though part two is mainly about the xenotech!
A new agenda, Search for Xenotech, allows infantry and biker units to search terrain to gain one point; there are four universal stratagems that can be used for one xp and one cp, giving benefits of cover as well as providing pretty offensive benefits in the shooting phase. Some quite nice effects there, which will perhaps make the agenda action worth performing!
Xenotech continues to be important in the third and final part of the campaign, where players get to choose a stratagem from a list of six on offer, starting with the player who has the most points. The stratagems are quite nice, and I think they’re probably geared towards those armies who don’t yet have a codex to give them more options. I’m not sure I could say they would make it worthwhile gathering as much Xenotech as I could during the previous campaign phase though!
We also get two more Crusade missions, following the story of the Argovon war. Lastly, we have the rules that come at the end of the campaign, assigning battle honours and crusade relics. These are quite nice, as it happens, and the relics are only available to those players with XP. So I guess there’s the incentive!
Overall, there are some pretty great things going on with this idea of Flashpoints – while the rules are perhaps a little more sparse than I’d have thought would come in this kind of thing, I suppose the rules team don’t want to lavish too much work on this kind of transient content. The real meat, though, comes in the narrative bumph included in the articles. Each instalment runs to more than 20 pages, making this about half the size of a regular campaign book from 8th edition. The articles are all written from an in-universe perspective, and alongside the main text we have plenty of additional material, such as journal extracts, and planetary profiles. It really reads like the kind of material you’d find in a sourcebook for a role-playing game. It’s the sort of effort that I really appreciate, and makes me feel ever more justified when my wife asks me why I’m keeping old magazines!
We’re currently now in the middle of the Charadon War Zone, which seems to link in with the Book of Rust, so I guess that we can see these types of Flashpoint articles continue in White Dwarf for a long time to come! They’ve even bled into the Mortal Realms to tie in with the Broken Realms series. It does seem like a great use of space within the White Dwarf magazine – my only criticism of it all really is that it’s coming out in the middle of a global pandemic, when we’re not able to meet up so freely with friends and play games!