Following on from last week’s rambling blog about Warcry, I wanted to ramble today about the game some more, because why not?! I’ve been leafing through the Tome of Champions 2020 recently, and thought it about time I took a thorough look here on the blog!
This book is just incredible. There is so much new stuff in here that, when you start to read it and see just what has been included, it’s actually pretty amazing value for money. I picked it up for £16, and for that you get a bajillion new rules to support so many different ways to play – it’s really quite incredible. Let’s go through it.
So, as normal for these things, the book is divided into the three ways to play, open, narrative and matched play. The open play section is quite short, and introduces a new variant on the Triumph & Treachery multiplayer battles, called Pit Fights. Catacombs is supported as well, as you can also play dungeon pit fights. Nice!
The bulk of this book is devoted to narrative play though, with the Soroth Kor campaign system taking centre stage. This is very similar to the Dominion campaign for Necromunda, which involves the warbands fighting for control of territory in the mausoleum city of Soroth Kor. The idea is to have a group of players (ideally three or more) who are all in it together, and not following their own campaign. There are three convergences that are set as part of the campaign, and after an indeterminate number of battles in the first phase, followed by a convergence as normal, and so on.
The campaign is divided into three phases, as the warbands fight for control first of the outer city, then an industrial complex, and finally a tower at the heart of the city. As each phase progresses, the number of territories available to dominate increases, and each territory grants certain effects and boons. Following convergence battles, players are able to gain control of artefacts of power as usual. It all sounds pretty great, even if it is largely a port-over from Necromunda.
In addition to the campaign, there are six scenarios that you can play under the Narrative Battles heading, which provide some useful fodder for the campaign, as well as for one-off battles. Champion Mode is an additional layer to campaign play that gives you critical injuries for your fighters, you can search your dominated territory in the aftermath sequence of a game to gain additional bonuses, etc. It’s stuff like this that adds additional depth and layers to the game that I just love. I mean, Warcry in its core form is a pretty straightforward game to play, but when you bolt on some of these additional bits and bobs, it becomes wonderful. Like the sort of game that I could quite easily limit myself to playing and never tiring from it.
There are 8 more Fated Quests in the book, some of which use the boards and terrain from Catacombs, and then we have Challenge Battles, which function a bit differently this time around in that they are team-up battles where warbands go up against Wild Fighters. This is effectively solo play rules, as these Wild Fighters have rules that govern their behaviour much like the adversaries in Warhammer Quest, which I find quite interesting! The fact that this book came out during another national lockdown is perhaps fitting! There are five battle plans included, which include battles against the Dead, against the Gloomspite Gitz, against a Mega-Gargant and his chaotic beasts, against a Lord of Change and his Arcanite followers, and against more Chaos cultists. The narrative play section ends with more tables of Lesser Artefacts for each grand alliance to choose from.
Bringing up the rear, gives us six Pitched Battle profiles, alternative hidden agendas, and rules for Escalation tournaments with artefact tables. Last but not least, we have an appendix with fighter profiles for squigs and chainrasps that can be used as roaming beasts, and “open play terrain” rules that basically reprint the rules from Tome of Champions 2019. It’s not essential by any means, but I know lots of people like to actually have it in print that they can do stuff like this.
All in all, Tome of Champions 2020 is pretty amazing. A lot of it does feel like an expansion to the 2019 book, though adding so much more depth. Don’t get me wrong, 2019 was a great book that had some very useful content in the shape of the original fighter cards and the quests etc. But yeah, 2020 is quite the tome, and I can’t recommend it enough!
I’ve also been looking at the Catacombs book, having played regular Warcry a couple of times lately and feeling in the mood for a change! I’ve not done anything with this box since buying it last February, though I suppose that’s not surprising as I’ve been focused elsewhere anyway. Now that I’ve come back to look at it, though, I do have something of that sinking feeling, that the production value in the box isn’t exactly up there, as it was for the first starter set. I mean, the miniatures are still beautiful, but I’m not sure why we had so much of the terrain from the original set re-introduced here. It feels as though it should be properly a box for the Catacombs system, and focus more on these underground/internal battles. More terrain is always nice though, so I can’t really complain too much.
I have assembled the Catacombs terrain features, so far, and have made a start as well on the Scions of the Flame, which look like an interesting warband to play. There are eleven different fighter types, which is quite the surprise really, although a lot of the different options for their basic troops don’t seem to be incredibly different to each other. Their universal ability is a double that allows them to add half the value of that double to their strength characteristic for any attack at range 3 or less. There are some nice abilities in there, some similar to other factions’ for sure, but it’s nice that they can do this stuff, and it’s all very flavourful!
I’m looking forward to trying the Catacombs thing, as it looks to be quite an interesting system. I’m still a bit disappointed in the way it has been sold to us, but I’m not one to allow such things to get in my way!