Earlier in the week, the Warhammer Community website put out an article for Warcry, covering new rules for the miniatures released as part of the Dominion box set for Age of Sigmar. It was the last of these “Call of the Everchosen” articles, which has prompted me to look back at what they’ve actually covered in this series since it began in February. By my count, there have only been five, more’s the pity, but that’s a good number to allow for us to take a dive through and see what is on offer!
1. The Purge of Anvilgard
Stormcast Eternals vs the Blackscale Coil, a shadowy criminal enterprise in Anvilgard, around the events in Broken Realms: Morathi. There are a series of linked narrative battles where the Stormcast leader, Keiser Ven Brecht, is gathering clues on the activities of the criminals before the final showdown. The Blackscale Coil player musters different warbands throughout the campaign, finally playing with the Coil (made up from Dark Elf units, including a chariot and Hydra/Kharibdyss!) Ven Brecht is searching for clues, and will automatically lose the campaign if he fails to uncover 10 over the course of the linked battles. It’s a really cool concept, narratively, and I think it harkens back a lot to the anthology of short stories that I read a while back, where the cities of the Eightpoints are alive with criminal elements and not just bloodthirsty chaos cults vying for dominance – I know this particular campaign is set in Anvilgard, of course, but it’s very interesting to see how these types of stories can be told through the game system, and it’s not all just warbands fighting for the sake of it.
2. The Forlorn Hope
This is an interesting one, adding 21 Lumineth fighters to the roster, and gives us a narrative campaign of the Lumineth Realm-Lords vs Ossiarch Bonereapers. The campaign allows for the Lumineth to be led by the Light of Eltharion model, which is itself quite something, while the Bonereapers are able to use Mortisan Boneshapers, Soulmasons or Soulreapers, they can attempt to summon a Nightmare Predator. Much like the previous campaign, this one follows along the Broken Realms: Teclis book, and is fought over three games. The rules are much for flexible for the first two, but the third has a specific battleplan that brings none other than Arkhan the Black into the fray for the Bonereapers’ leader! A very cool aspect of this narrative campaign is the sense of travel given during the Aftermath sequence – the Lumineth player is trying to get to the Gates of Paradox to prevent the Bonereapers from enacting a ritual to corrupt this realmgate. During the Aftermath, the Lumineth player rolls a d6 and consults the relevant chart, adding 1 to the roll if they won the previous battle, and subtracting one if they lost; on a 1-3 they suffer a setback, and on a 4-6 they gain a reward. These tables have different effects depending on whether the warband “errs to the east” or “errs to the west”, which is a really nice idea that I like a great deal!
3. The Depths of Sylontum
The Depths of Sylontum narrative campaign features Chaos Daemons vs Undead (Nighthaunt and/or Soulblight Gravelords), making for an excellent introduction to the new warband while also tying into the third Broken Realms instalment, Be’lakor. This is a 4-6 player campaign, where the players form a team to play each other individually (no grand melee). Each team gets to select tactics that determine deployment etc, before the final battle where the teams join together in grand melee style. The Agents of Be’lakor are trying to complete a ritual, represented by controlling objectives, while the Emerald Host of Lady Olynder is trying to stop them; at the end of each battle round, Chaos get D3 ritual points for each objective, but they subtract D3 points for each objective controlled by the Host. If Chaos get 10 ritual points, they win! It’s a very interesting game idea – I’ve not got a lot of experience with big multi-player games like this, but I can imagine there would be a lot of back-and-forth as there are only three objectives out on the table. It’s also a very interesting match-up, purely Daemons vs zombies and ghosts, I can imagine that would lead for some very interesting interactions.
4. A Fool’s Trove in Ulfenkarn
Within the forsaken city of Ulfenkarn lies the Ven Silveren estate, and its lure of riches untold has led many to seek it out for plunder. Tying into the Warhammer Quest: Cursed City boxed game (that came and went in a heartbeat – but I’m not bitter), this narrative campaign features a strong theme of horror, with warbands unable to add reinforcements between battles, and potentially turned into zombies, meaning it is that much more brutal and grim! Rather than the team game that we saw in the Be’lakor tie-in, this is a free-for-all campaign where players are competing with each other to find the estate’s riches. To further the horror-story feeling, there is the Nightfall mechanic, which acts as the Twist for every game in the campaign. A d3 roll at the start of the game determines how many rounds of daylight are left, before night descends, and the Restless Undead come out – basically roving monsters like the chaotic beasts from the starter set. Another interesting mechanic happens during the Aftermath section, where you can choose to send out a fighter into the night, and roll on a d6 table to see what happens – maybe they’re slain, or perhaps they will be able to add to your progress? Progress determines the level of bonuses your warband will get during the final battle, where the warbands all converge on the crypt of Ven Silveren – entrances to which are denoted by objective markers, which are removed one by one at the end of each battle round, until the player controlling both the final objective marker and the key token wins! Sounds very atmospheric, I have to say!
5. War of the Morruk Hills
The most recent campaign is based around the Dominion starter set for Age of Sigmar, and has a decidedly different feel to it than the others we’ve seen. It feels very much like a war, fittingly! One player controls the Thunderstrike Stormcast, while the other takes the Kruleboyz, and each side is led by three heroes, who each surround themselves with a warband of varying size. There are a number of locations being fought over, and each hero is sent with their warband to one of those locations. When the location of the battle is revealed, the warbands are then deployed, and battle is joined! There are either three or four battles in the campaign – once a player has one two battles, the final battle begins. In this battle, all of the leaders are involved in warbands of 1300 points, and the objective is to take out all of the enemy fighters. Quite straightforward, in all honesty, though there is the unique mechanic of Victory at All Costs, which you can declare once in the battle and gain two wild dice, which you must declare how they are to be used (and then receive no further wild dice for the game). There’s a definite pitched-battle feel, as opposed to the normal skirmish-feel of the game, but it’s quite nice to have that sort of thing as an option for the game, really!
Overall, there are some really good ideas here – as well as some great expansions for warbands such as the Lumineth and the Soulblight. It’s an interesting take on narrative campaigns, to have them so prescribed and such. The Tome of Champions 2020 has the excellent narrative campaign that is based on the silent city of Soroth Kor, though obviously any warband can take part there. So I suppose a lot of people who play Warcry may not be set up to use this content – but perhaps GW are treating these campaigns as a way to lure AoS players into the Warcry camp?
Of course, it’s usually the other way round, and I think the Anvilgard campaign is a case in point, where you can use the Start Collecting contents for the Blackscale Coil warband. But I suppose it goes both ways, as the Soulblight, Lumineth and Dominion campaigns are all designed to let existing AoS players use their minis in Warcry. Hm.
It’s a shame about the way that Cursed City was handled, because the campaign using that game’s contents is pretty good, I feel! The nightfall mechanic is very interesting, and lends a definite air of dread to the game – if only the board game hadn’t disappeared so quickly, it would have been a perfect excuse, as a Warcry player already, to pick it up! I retain some level of hope that they’re planning to re-try when the world has returned to normal, though as some people have speculated already, some of those Soulblight characters do look very much like the sort of thing that you’d expect to see in an expansion, like the Ambull or Zoat expansions for Blackstone Fortress. Perhaps the design studio is already hard at work picking another locale for the next iteration of WHQ though, and we’ll see something in a couple more years.
Before I finish rambling though, I thought it might be interesting to speculate on what’s next for the game, given the little tease in the Dominion article about the “exciting things in store” for the game. Looking at how things have been shown with the new Kill Team, and the focus on warzones and seasons of the game, with the promise of bespoke teams and the like, I think we could see a move away from the purely Chaos-driven theme and blow it up to include more AoS factions. In a similar manner to how the Dominion narrative campaign had the feel of a small scale war, rather than the skirmishes between rag-tag warbands, I think we could be seeing this as the next stage. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that, because the appeal, to me, of this game has been in the fact that it’s almost purely Chaos vs Chaos, with the other warbands very much bolt-ons to the existing game system. Going forward, I think we could expect to see seasons of the game, with a couple of warbands specific for this game, though from any faction in the Realms, and maybe a campaign book or something that deals with the background and stuff, a bit like Soroth Kor in TOC20.
I could be entirely wrong, of course, and a big part of me does hope so! Catacombs was something that I had not expected, so it could also be the case here! I guess we’ll have to just wait and see what GW has to offer us next!