Sunday, May 12, 2013

Battle Royale

Deep within the mighty tome that is the big rule book of 8th edition Warhammer lies the Narrative Battles section.  Here you will find many scenarios that can provide a novel twist that you may find worth considering instead of the old Battleline or other basic scenarios.  One of these scenarios is called Battle Royale.  It goes beyond simply providing you with a new two player scenario and offers a completely altered turn structure which accommodates 3 to 5 players.  So, one day me and 4 of my fellow Black Sheep find ourselves ready to play some Warhammer, and a Battle Royale with 5 players commences.

Initial setup - a large part of the Daemon force is not visible due to being deployed in the elven tower (Plaguebearers).

In this battle, a Daemons of Chaos force is in the center of the battlefield, surrounded by Lizardmen, High Elves, Warriors of Chaos, and Vampire Counts.  Each player has placed a gravestone on the table and controlling gravestones and killing enemy generals brings victory.  While the player who rolls lowest and has to deploy in the center is at a disadvantage due to having enemies on all sides, as a consolation they get first opportunity to take action in each of the phases of the game.

In turn one, Warriors of Chaos started off true to their nature, engaging enemies on 2 fronts, rushing into the Vampires on one side and the High Elves on the other.  Lizardmen mostly held still, but sent the stegadon and salamader forward to seek out some opportunistic shooting.  The daemons appeared to be most upset by the presence of lizardmen on the battlefield and the soulgrinder and great unclean one rushed forward over the river to smash them.  They did not much like the High Elves in the distance either and sent the beasts of nurgle off through the forest to harass them.

Soon, the great unclean one was engaged with saurus warriors, and the soulgrinder with a stegadon slowly grinding away the lizardmen.  Warriors of Chaos were taking many casualties from overwhelming numbers in close combat from the vampires and being peppered by shooting from the high elves on the other side.  Besides shooting, the high elves sent a phoenix off to put some heat on the approaching beasts of nurgle and find other targets to engage as well.

As the hour grew late, forces made desperate attempts to take out opposing generals with the lizardmen sending a cohort of skinks and kroxigor on a long charge across the river to engage the vampire general.  The phoenix made his way amidst the melee between the daemons and lizardmen and engaged the lone Slann Mage Priest!  A combination of devastation high elf magic and the unending hordes of undead continued to dwindle the beset Warriors of Chaos.

The high elf dragon is being proxied as a Flamespyre Phoenix here, because the battle took place on the same day as the new high elf models were released.

The vampire and his host of crypt ghouls proved to much for the skink unit, while the phoenix killed the Slann Mage Priest and the daemons wiped the rest of the Lizardmen core force off the table.  The rest of the high elf force was emerging from the forest to secure objectives as the game approached the end, while other armies also sent their mobile troops to nearby objectives.  In the end, most armies managed to come away with 1 or 2 points, but the high elves won the day with 4 victory points.

When setting up a battle royale, it's a good idea to think about the terrain setup to help equalize the engagement for each of the armies that will be deployed.  We provided a border of terrain features around the center deployment zone to help with this, but did not think much about ideas for terrain around the edges.  It might be a good adjustment next time to ensure each corner is either clear or has some screening.  It's impossible to make it perfectly balanced, but the scenario plays well, and is fun on all sides.

There are also other subtle effects that you discover about how the scenario plays that you have to keep in mind.  For example, spells that last until your next magic phase are a little weaker because they only last for one combat phase.  In the movement phase, depending on where you are in the player order, you have to consider all the players who have not moved yet and could still charge you depending on where you move.  It's an interesting twist and I recommend trying it out.