Oldhammer people are generally opposed to tournaments. Hell, in the modern sense of the word ‘tournament’ I agree with them. Playing five or six or seven cutthroat timed games, under pressure, knowing that to drop out is to bodge up the strength of schedule and ruin it for everyone, sucks balls. I am a soft and sleepy autist and a slow player par excellence: this is not my natural environment.
And yet, and yet. In the medieval sense of the word – as I believe my good friend and colleague Handsome Mr. Webb once said in one of his many hacked, redacted-when-he-became-the-industry’s-bitch or otherwise lost bloggeries – ‘tournament’ means something else entirely.
It was an opportunity for every knight of fair means and foul intentions (or vice versa), every man who owned a few peasants and a murdering tool, to come together and have their preferred barney. There would be archery, and the grand melee, and a joust or two, and you could win one of those events in their own right. There was variety.
When I think back to my first contact with the Grand Tournament (a writeup of the 1995 event by the esteemed Jervis Johnson, its organiser) I recall just such variety.
Attendees brought along a 1500 point force, a 500 point allied contingent from another army, and a special character.
One round was a straight 1500 point battle – but victory was awarded to the table with the highest Victory Points score, meaning no incentive to play Borehammer – solving the game through points denial or a ‘combo’ of abilities that tables the foe with little effort. Only mutually assured destruction would do: a proper gory game. You and your opponent had to work together to ensure maximum carnage.
Another was a battle with only your 500 points of Allies and your Special Character. Yes, I’m sure it was very gameable, let’s take Mannfred von Carstein and as many Pump Wagons as we can. It was there to generate absurdities, unusual games, games worth travelling and paying money to access, not the usual 2000 point pick-up (which in our modern times would often be someone’s ‘tournament prep’ anyway, to really cement that ‘more of the same’ feel).
There’d be an Arena of Death, in the classic style. Personally, to encourage the appearance of ‘lesser’ special characters like your Korhils and Kourans, I’d be tempted to bracket this: featherweights worth 1 or 2 VP all the way up to heavyweights like Nagash or Malekith. Or you could be boring and cap the special character’s cost at X hundred points or something.
And then, if you’d been very very good, you might just get to fight something resembling a 2000 point game, with the maximum 500 points spent on allies, and a special character – the quintessential Herohammer experience everyone remembers, only you wouldn’t have paid points for the special character so you’d actually have a proper army to go with them.
The main thing to consider here is that I don’t think there was a Best Overall, or if there was, it wasn’t the Only Thing for which everyone was shooting. You could win the Arena of Death and you’d win something worth winning. I approve of this. It ensures that there’s something at stake in every round, without sinking into the territory of participation medals or ‘best in faction’ or non-prizes like that.
If I were to run something like this, I can see two ways in which I’d do it. Either those four rounds, with a free lunch or tea (the meal of tea, eaten in the evening, to avoid controversies over what’s ‘dinner’) at stake for the winner of each round, OR those four events, four rounds of each.
That way people who like the single character approach (the Arena of Death) could do that for the whole weekend if they wanted to; people who enjoyed the wacky “500 points of Allies plus a Special Character from another army” round could repeat that one; people who like the ‘standard’ Herohammer game could just play their four 2000 pointers if they really wanted to.
Happy days. I don’t know if there’s a gathering point for Herohammer, like Bring Out Your Lead for the Oldhammer crowd, but maybe… there should be?
EDITED TO ADD:
- There is such an event, it runs at Warhammer World in early September. Huzzah!
- I have of course talked up the old tournament format before, in a post that the helpful “you may also like” widget dug out of my archives. In eight years of blogging it is almost impossible not to repeat oneself, which is why I don’t post as much as I used to.
- I forgot the “chariot race” round. Pick one model from your army and have a race round the table. Yes, you’re allowed to shoot other competitors. It was, apparently, hilarious to bring a Dreadnought and try to win by blasting all the Land Speeders and suchlike out of the sky.