[WFB] Never Start A Land War In Sylvania (Part 1)

“Hel Fenn?” the Lord Ruthven said to me. “My dear boy, everyone who’s anyone says they were at Hel Fenn. There are scions of our line barely out of their grave who’ll tell you they remember it like it was yesterday.”
“Do you?” I asked.
“History will tell you,” said the Lord Ruthven, “that I was nowhere near the place; that it was Adolphus Krieger who stood with Mannfred at the last, while I was derelict in my duties to my lord and still mourning my fair Emmanuelle.”
History, I reflected, is written by the winners; and history is very clear that at Hel Fenn, the house of von Carstein came off the worse…
But history, I also reflected, is frequently a lot of old cobblers.

Remember when I said I’d be retiring my Vampire Counts, “except for maybe the odd big exhibition game or something?”

The moment long awaited has come. Mr Joseph B, esquire of any parish he happens to be in, has arranged a day of fun and frolics at Warhammer World in two weeks’ time, with some big scenario-type fantasy-historical refight games afoot. One of which is a Hel Fenn game, basically adapted from the Hoodling’s Hole battle report but scaled down to four players and a modest 6000-ish points a side. One Thomas Æ, admin of the VC Facebook group and thus my online liege-lord, was to command the Vampire Counts tag team against a force of Empire, Dwarfs and one token High Elf Archmage, after the works of the revisionist Savile. But what’s this? Oh no and crikey, the other Vampire Counts player has had to drop out. What’s needed is someone with a Von Carstein or Sylvanian army ready to go and a drive to play big narrative driven games of Warhammer at the drop of a hat.

Oh hey. Whaddup. It’s your boy.

So Thomas has called dibs on Mannfred, which is actually fine by me as it frees me up to take the other big centrepiece figure I never get to use, i.e. my Zombie Dragon, and with Mannfred as overall General and the only figure whose death will induce army-wide Lancashire cheese behaviour, I can actually throw my Zombie Dragon into battle and not worry about the consequences if its rider gets shot off the back. Bonus.

I offered Thomas the choice of two army archetypes to support his fairly balanced 3000 point force (Mannfred costs no points in this scenario, but still occupies his normal triple helping of character slots). It was either going to be a cabal of dark wizards (Necromancer Lord, three Necromancers, Wight Lord BSB and the Dragon, plus a giant Spirit Host and Banshees to go) or the Army of Sylvania rising to defend their home (two Vampire Lords, one on a Dragon and one anchoring the defensive line of crossbowmen, spearmen, ghosts and Drakenhof Guard).

Thomas opted for the Sylvanians and so here’s me writing a list I never thought I’d actually get to field. Time to put some The Vision Bleak on the ol’ stereo and have at it.

In my heart, the year is ALWAYS two-thousand-five.

By the end of track three, this is what I had together.

Lord + Hero + Hero: Vampire Lord: magic level 3; great weapon; Zombie Dragon: 639
Lord + Hero: Vampire Lord: magic level 3: 335
Hero: Vampire Thrall; Army Standard: 105
Core: 30 Sylvanian Militia: spears, shields and light armour; Champion, musician and standard bearer: 325
Core: 20 Sylvanian Militia: crossbows and light armour; Champion, musician and standard bearer: 225
Core: 5 Dire Wolves: Scouts: 55
Core: 6 Dire Wolves: Doom Wolf: 60
Core: Bat Swarm: 60
Core: Bat Swarm: 60
Special: 20 Drakenhof Guard: Champion, musician and standard bearer: 340
Rare: 12 Drakenhof Templars: barding: Champion, musician and standard bearer: 340
Rare: Cora, a Banshee: 90
Rare: Clarice, another Banshee: 90

Magic items have yet to be selected, and will round the army out to the full 3000 points. I usually like to keep it simple in large games, but with access to the unusual Sylvanian bloodline powers I might have to go for some moving parts on the Lords. With only three characters to administrate things won’t be too complicated (he hopes).

It’s a little different from my normal Vampire Counts outing. Being Sylvanians, I can’t take two units of Knights, so I’m going to break out my massive unit with the actual Von Carstein shields and Drakenhof Templar colours for the occasion. Being Sylvanians, I can take my Drakenhof Guard and Crossbowmen, so they’re in without a second thought. And the nature of the scenario allows me to bring the Dragon, so there’s no way in hell she’s not coming out for a ride.

To cover all of this one significant cut has had to be made; I am not fielding my usual giant Spirit Host (which would normally get billing over any kind of Grave Guard). I also turned down the opportunity to take two Black Coaches as I know the scenario will have some big boggy areas and I don’t think the chariots are the best choice in those circumstances.

I won’t divulge the plan ahead of time, as I’m sure my canny opposition will be reading the blog (this is also why I’ve no intention of revealing my magic item collection). I do have one, albeit a very crude one, but it’s going to depend on exactly what Joseph does with the table on the day.

Of course, all this is assuming Thomas doesn’t veto me back into the Stone Age and demand I bring the Necromancers instead when he sees what I’ve done here.

[WFB] An Imperial March?

I can’t get that Empire army concept out of my head.

Discussion on the sixth ed. Facebook group, regarding Knights of the White Wolf and their eminent superiority over other, lance-toting members of the cavalry fraternity, has given me a renewed enthusiasm for the Black Bears (look, they both have alliterative, animal-focused nomenclature, they are both renowned for boisterousness and bruiserhood, I think I can sleep easy giving the Black Bears cavalry hammers if I want to).

I’d already totted up the possibilities for Knights, State Troops of a static character (spears and handguns or crossbows; crossbows would mirror my Sylvanians very nicely, handguns would make the point that this is the modern Empire we’re working with) and Kislevites (either a couple of Ungol Horse Archer units or a bigger Gryphon Legion line) out of the Perry range, but there’s a lot more out there.

Poking around Wargames Atlantic’s website (I forget why) has revealed a large box of plastic Halflings; of course, Averland borders the Moot, and thus it is not beyond possibility that a regiment of Halfling Halberdiers (Halfberdiers?) and associated Archers and Huntsmen might be amassed to join the rabble.

I’ve been playing around with the Ogre Mercenaries in TWW2, and of course Ogres are an age-old feature of the Imperial armies; somewhere deep in the pits of my festering mind lurks the long-ago concept for Phat Tum Pot and his Legion of Lard (early-twenties Jonathan was a classy bloke when it came to naming armies). I don’t think I’m going to go all the way in on that name, but I’ve always liked that one Ogre Maneater done up in Empire clobber, and I’d forgotten how much I liked some of the others, especially the Paymaster. Being Citadel they run a bit pricey but one big stubborn oaf won’t kill me.

And of course, there’s something I forgot about the whole affair the last time I mentioned it: the Frostgrave Wizards, whose master/apprentice blister packs lend themselves ideally to a Lord and Hero level caster, or the same caster at different stages in their career. I’m very fond of very many of these models and if I’d gone all in on Fadgrave I’d probably be up to my neck in them by now.

I’ve been rereading the Woffboot Wizards’ Cup posts this week, and thanks to that I have wizards on the brain, so many of the Frostgrave figures have implied narrative potential coming out of their ears. I’m especially fond of the Sonomancer musical magicians, the original Beastcaster pair whose master-figure has turned into a cat fella, the carnivalesque Fatecasters and the sinister, overdressed Spiritualists.

But I think for Warhammer purposes the smart money is on the Astromancers (Heavens magic being the go-to for the Empire), the second generation Thaumaturgists (who’d do very nicely as a pair of level 2s from different, competing colleges) or either variant of the Sigilists, who are suitably bedecked in Scrolls to serve the true purpose of wizzos in an Empire army.

The whole is in grave peril of becoming a right old mess, but I wonder if the shabby black and old gold colourscheme would hold things together where the model ranges fell apart. There’d be some variance, of course, the Halflings in a more rustic brown-and-tawny version with more variety of colours under the surcoats and the Knights all glossied up to proper lacquer, with the State Troops falling somewhere in the middle. It occurs to me now that the wizzos could very well be variants on a theme, in white (well, off-white) and gold. Light wizards, to combat the gathering darkness. I’ve never played Light wizards before.

In battle I see the force advancing in oblique line, detachment by detachment almost; spears, handguns and artillery holding the centre, halfling halberds and bows advancing into the field, ogres taking point a little ahead of them and the knights out in front, racing for first blood.

If I had the capacity to rush out a new army just for Resurrection, this would undoubtedly be it: a muster at Grenzstadt, with the County of Averland, the Order of the Black Bear, the Elders of the Moot, the White College and a passing Ogre who thought “the hell with it” all contributing forces to a ramshackle errand of war; its duty to cross the Black Fire Pass and hold the way out of the Badlands against whatever nonsense the emerging conflict sent its way.

The background is writing itself at the moment, living in my head rent free; bereft of electoral guidance after the Storm of Chaos, a captain of Averland takes matters into his own hands, touring the province and meeting one eccentric character after another: drunken and boisterous knights who could probably command the whole fiasco, enigmatic lady-wizards with whom he shares a Past (TM), a Kislevite boyar who will probably kill him in the morning and, of course, the malodorous runts of the Mootland and their big smelly associate.

I have the Wood Elves to finish. I have over three thousand points of Tomb Kings who have been in the queue for four years. I have chronic pain conditions and can barely hold a brush for ten minutes at a time. I do not have time for this.

… I wonder if I can convince Shiny to paint them for me?

[WFB] If I Played…

It must be something about January. This time last year I was starting the Wood Elves, and this year the brain is gonging along with thoughts and feelings about… basically every Warhammer army under the sun. Not being made of money, nor time, nor the capacity to paint without my thumbs going weird like I’m in the middle of a bloody overdose, I am extremely unlikely to act on any of these impulses, so I share my ideas in the hope of inspiring someone else to do some new hobby this winter.

I don’t think I’d be very good at Bretonnians, but I do have a shaky kind of vision for an army. I’ve always had a soft spot for the scheming, man-eating sorceresses of Arthurian lore – your T. H. White’s Morgause or Camelot Morgana type – and such a high level wizard lady would probably be in charge of affairs. Leaning into Morgause as inspiration I’d probably load up on Paladin Heroes to represent her sons, one with the Virtue of Empathy because there’s always one good hearted friend to the peasantry (your Sir Gareth sort of figure). I see this army as being fairly indifferent to affairs of the Grail, with mostly worldly Knights of the Realm, second sons of petty nobility paying court to my sorceress.

I was very impressed by the Chaos soup armies I faced at Resurrection, and Chaos are always fascinating to play around with thanks to the sheer range of options there. I never really got my teeth into the Beastmen, and it’s the sheer flexibility of aggressive Tzeentch casters combined with game-changing mobility spells from Shadows and Beasts magic that get me here. Lots of dice and lots to do with them! It’s that or the Slaanesh army I posited late in 2019.

I don’t know why I don’t play Dwarfs. They’re infantry focused, they’re reliable, they have a conservative playstyle that generally aims for a draw in their favour as the best possible outcome, and they have no time for Orc mischief or Skaven shenanigans. They give me an excuse to affect my best faux-Lancastrian accent and chomp on an imaginary pipe while complaining about everything that’s happened since the last time I had fun (the late summer of 2006, if anyone’s counting). I have spent some time staring at Mantic (before remembering that I can’t stand them), Avatars of War (before realising they don’t do war engines) and MOM Miniatures (before… actually, I’m still staring at them). Bolt Throwers at either end of the line, Organ Gun in the middle, flanked by solid blocks of hammer and shield Clansmen and some good honest Thunderers (Dwarf handguns have always rather impressed me in the rules). Proper job.

I have, of late, been giving a lot of thought to the south-eastern corner of the Empire once again, largely because of TWW2 placing Drycha and Mannfred in direct conflict down that way and it all being set right across the mountains from the Forest of Gloom where the Resurrection is. If I had the capacity to buy and rush out an army just for this year’s campaign season, the current heart’s desire is a set of Perry historicals repurposed into the Order of the Black Bear (based in Averland, with rules and background in WD310, fractious but intrepid) and their supporting exchange garrison of State Troops from the House of Leitdorf.

I went so far as to work out what I could do with the various boxes (two small Knight units, a huge Greatsword unit, a spear block with Crossbowman or Handgunner detachments, a Halberdier block and a lot of Archers, and two Winged Lancer lines) and consider leaders (the Grand Master Genschler obviously, Father Iovanus the chapter house priest, and Otto von Grenzstadt, the senior sergeant of the state troops who carries the Order’s banner, both as a mark of respect to the County and to show the rabble who they’re really fighting for). I blame Phil A for this as he was the one asking if an army of Knights and Warrior Priests was viable. I also really like the Black Bears’ / Averlanders black and gold colourscheme (you can’t live over the road from the Molineux for three years and not develop an affection there, it’s hi-ho Wolverhampton and all that).

The odds of me buying and painting all that are slim to none with half a Wood Elf army and over 3000 points of Tomb Kings still in the queue, but it’s nice to dream – and that’s what these occasional pipe dream posts are about.

I can’t be the only one, right? Surely some of you have a favourite fantasy Fantasy army that you imagine yourself doing, one day, but never quite get around to…

[WFB] Seeing the Wood for the Trees

The background for the Deadwood Covenant has become… convoluted. This is why I don’t normally do backstories; the moment one starts playing, new contexts emerge, options become clarified through experience, and sooner or later much of what you devised at the start is being jostled out by newer ideas. Not necessarily better ones – just newer. This is especially true with wargames, where you might come out of the gate with An Idea and then discover that it don’t work like that in The Rules and suddenly you’re in the jaws of the Stormwind Fallacy again because making stories and doing well are not aligned in productive harmony.

What follows will not be deliciously tuned and well crafted prose: this is another of those posts in which I dump my thoughts out on the table and poke them about with a fork in public, thinking aloud rather than presenting fully formed and concrete ideas, freeing up brain tape so I can move on to the next step of refining and reorganising the raw ideas. Thus, straight from the notes folder:

Original Concept

TESSONFROID in BRETONNIA: a realm afflicted by permanent winter
Uneasy alliance between Wood Elf and Bretonnian courts
Wood Elves keep forgetting there’s a truce — why?
Family curse; the ruling aristocracy made a deal with the Forest Spirits, trading their life force to keep the forest alive
they are now Alter Kindred; no Wood Elves can be in charge; general has to be a Forest Spirit
Thus: the Maven.

ISSUE ENCOUNTERED: one Branchwraith isn’t enough to keep a whole army together, turning down Leadership 9 or 10 is a Folly; the concept does not work in The Rules at 2000 points.
I introduced the Druid (a Spellweaver) to give me a Leadership 9 Level 4 wizard as general, a comfort zone thing, and Gwydion the Battle Standard Bearer. Why are they called Gwydion and the Druid? Because of a Bill Bailey skit I doubt anyone but myself or Shiny will laugh at.

ISSUE ENCOUNTERED: Resurrection created the need for a divergent storyline as it locks the army into a different location (the Badlands)…

Solo Campaign

The Maven & The Witch opened the tin lid on a lot of backstory:

Introduced the full Court of the Crag — Prince Hywel, Gwydion and Gilfaethwy, Bloddeuwydd the Spellsinger.
Introduced High Tiernmas, an ancient kingdom of barbarians. Pre-Bretonni. Clearly a bit necromantic as they ended up being Tomb Kings… well, Barrow Kings. Last king, name of Grimgroth, personally put down by the Wood Elves when they arrived. Twin Princes also: Drognar Nar Janath and Jadan Nar Garoth.
Introduced the Heart of the Forest, a magical location which the Maven was counting on to sort itself out and end the winter one day.

Reflecting on this Grimgroth character and on the rules possibilities of fourth/fifth edition Warhammer, I also introduced the Crown of Sorcery! Dragged up here by Orcs migrating back from the Badlands after the sack of Mourkain, it became the heirloom crown of the kingdom of Tiernmas.
One presumes the Wood Elves came out of Athel Loren to put a stop to all that necromancy going on in said barbarian kingdom, couldn’t destroy the Crown but could seal it away, and settled down there to keep an eye on it.
THEN SOMETHING HAPPENED — against some existential threat (the adversary in a fifth edition game), a Highborn of the Asrai put on the Crown of Sorcery (against the advice of his druidic advisor). WHATEVER THE OUTCOME, the Crown had to go, and the Druid went away to get rid of it (taking it all the way to Troll Country to be sure and returning it to its place in the true canon lore TM).

CAVEAT: none of this can be anything to do with the eternal winter, because that’s not my story element to interfere with; that’s Shiny’s thing.

Resurrection Campaign

So the Deadwood Covenant did a Worldroots walk to protect the Forest of Gloom during all this upheaval in the main campaign storyline.
They didn’t do well: the Maven died a death, Prince Hywel is an Alter Kindred so he can’t be in charge even if he is thinking more clearly now the curse is loosened, so he made a new bargain with the Forest of Gloom, getting his daughter Bloddeuwydd back as a new Maven.
All this has been sent to the campaign organiser so it’s LOCKED AND CANON now! I can’t do my usual “malleable backstory to justify the list I want to take this time” tricks.

Bloddeuwydd is a mage with the Glamourweave upgrade (making her a Forest Spirit so she can lead an army) but she has to ride a Unicorn (I’ve got the model, this is fine). She doesn’t have to be the Lord though — I could take a Treeman Ancient, and since my Treeman has been the absolute star of my games so far I’m not entirely opposed to this.

Asrai Forge

While thinking about the army’s characters and story I’ve also been thinking about army lists, magic items and so on. I’ve reached a point where my units have names – the Black-Briar are my Glade Guard, the Pale Rose my Eternal Guard, and I’ve decided Celyn and Eiddew will be my newly subordinate Branchwraiths. Now I’m thinking about magic items – building a continuity between games is a lot easier when your characters feel like the same people because they do the same things on the battlefield. I went through the Wood Elf army book and made a couple of lists:

Theme Items I Should Use

  • Callach’s Claw
  • Sword of a Thousand Winters
  • Briarsheath (I named my Glade Guard the Black-Briars, so…)
  • Glamourweave
  • Amaranthine Brooch (Shiny’s Damsel is named Amaranthe, and also, this is a thing and so is this)
  • Fimbulwinter Shard
  • Hagbane Tips (Thank you MilitantKakapo for the suggestion of harvesting the Maven’s body for arrows! It’s probably going in the Resurrection list at least…)
  • Banner of Midwinter

Good Items I Like Using

  • Bow of Loren
  • Helm of the Hunt
  • Hail of Doom (and Asyendi’s Bane as a delivery system, off the Battle Standard Bearer; I don’t like dodging the “no longbow” restriction, but I do like that this one stings back if it misses, and I think I can accept it as a one shot “spell-like ability”, reminiscent of Total War’s Talon of Kurnous)
  • Arcane Bodkins
  • Elyneth’s Brooch
  • Gwytherc’s Horn
  • Calingoir’s Stave
  • Banner of Springtide

I haven’t bothered to list Common Magic Items: these are the old standbys to which I always turn when I have space and time, and I’ll always have room in my heart for a Sword of Might, a War Banner or one Dispel Scroll for the bread and butter effects.

I also haven’t gone deep on Spites. I like the Annoyance of Netlings and Cluster of Radiants a lot, and credit is once again due to comrade Kakapo for pointing out that the Resplendence of Luminescents goes a long way on, say, the Druid and a Glade Guard bunker, giving me options that aren’t the Hail of Doom for dealing with Daemons / Spirit Hosts / other Forest Spirit friends. I tend to forget about Spites when not equipping a Branchwraith and that’s something I want to work on as I tune the characters further in the future.

My hope is that they’ll settle, eventually, into the kind of setup Lord Ruthven and his coterie have achieved – minor adjustments as they drift back and forth between editions and list variants, but not losing their fundamental identities.

Prince Hywel is the cursed founder of a dynasty he can never lead; a warrior par excellence but nothing but a warrior. Gilfaethwy and Gwydion are of a pair; arrogant and dangerous hunters of the deep wood. Bloddeuwydd is the voice of reason, but deepest in the forest’s clutches since her death and resurrection.

My poor Battle Standard Bearer – well, he’s where I start making sacrifices for the sake of actually winning a battle now and then, because I find it hard to get a decent story out of “being whooped so hard we really should all be dead by now”. The photocopy special here is Asyendi’s Bane and the Hail of Doom but I think I like the Hail more on Prince Hywel and I want the Banner of Midwinter as my Army Standard, dammit. (From a strict optimisation perspective it should go on the regiment of Eternal Guard, but I think I can argue for wanting the War Banner there or on the Glade Guard and since both of my War Banner candidates look the same… aesthetics and WYSIWYG are a compelling case. Means I can’t take the War Banner on the Wild Riders, but they’re better off cheap I think.) He needs a new name as well as there are just too many Gwydions flying around here (and I want to keep the “Gwydion and the Druid” reference for my Lord and Archmage in the fifth edition “history” list).

And there’s a vacancy for a new Lord, since the siren song of Leadership 10 can only be ignored for so long. The idea here is that the new Lord – hello Nivienne – isn’t cursed, and may actually be able to liberate the Deadwood, given time and good advice, and can at least keep the scheming forest spirits under control. Bow of Loren, Briarsheath, Fimbulwinter Shard and Arcane Bodkins should make for a very hard-to-hit sniper with some “forest spirits stay away” flavour; the alternative is really leaning into having taken what’s left of the Maven and turned her into weaponry, with the Callach’s Claw, Hagbane Arrows, Fimbulwinter Shard again and Gwythec’s Horn to keep any unit she joins robust in the face of terror. Maybe I’ll try that second build at Resurrection 3 and 4, since that’s a much more themey event and I’m on a hiding to nothing in the campaign anyway.

Muster The Kindred

Finally there’s the matter of models. I have a fair amount of stuff in the painting queue already, as discussed in the roundup post:

  • 12 Eternal Guard (primed)
  • Branchwraith (primed)
  • archer Highborn/Noble (primed)
  • 2 Great Eagles (assembled)
  • 5 Wild Riders (assembled, but break every time the cat farts in the next room)
  • 16 Dryads (on sprue)
  • Treeman (on sprue)

You may have gathered that I do not fully respect the Wild Rider models, which are firmly from the new “designed for the Studio, failing at life” tradition of casting and assembly. Lovely display pieces, but in a foam case on public transport they’re not up to code.

I am also having second thoughts about the big Treeman; the first was enormous fun to assemble but again, case and space are iron laws and he’s a bit spindly around the twiggy bits. Can I transport two without a second box that takes me into the realm of “games for the motorised” – which I am not.

Help, however, is at hand. Dead Earth’s cavalry have been repackaged into a “Beastrider Wars” range and made available for 3D printing; I have also been directed to a 3D printing firm who are said to do one-off runs to the acceptable standard.

My current wheeze is to pick up the Stag Riders I’ve had my eye on for a while, as well as their rather spiffy Raven Riders (they do Warhawks, but given the option of a giant corvid I’ll take the giant corvid), and liquidate the Citadel Wild Riders (dreadful spindly things) and Eagles (fine models but a little oversized and intimidating to paint; I’ve had them for a year and don’t feel like taking them on; besides, I could just use MORE TREEMAN).

As for the Treeman, Raging Heroes do a set of three more modestly proportioned lads who might do nicely on 50mm squares. They’re taller than the Tree-Kin anyway, although maybe not large enough to be Large Targets. I shall contemplate them on the Tree of Woe, but as I type I feel more inclined to either build another big bugger OR keep my eye out for some decent Waywatcher proxies.

[Meta Gaming] A Battlefield Is Love

The starting point for this was a question on Classichammer.com about how many terrain pieces people use and how they’re generated.

I don’t actually have a say in my terrain setup very often. I’m usually booking tables at one of those large wargaming venues that have sprung up on industrial estates around the UK within the last decade, and the boards are set up by staff members in the morning before either player arrives.

We generally tweak positions (to create lanes through which units can actually move) or angles (to create opportunities for dynamic play, or rather to eliminate borehammer by forcing choices).
For example:

The first Battle of Point Lestroud. This table was set up for us by the boys at Atlantic Games in Stroud, before I’d figured out how to hide the venue names in the report titles quite so well or learned that horizontal photos are best for blogs.

For the second Battle of Point Lestroud we nudged all the walls to 45 degree angles instead of parallel with the deployment zone.

This is something I picked up from Warmachine, where there are game-changing defensive bonuses to be achieved from being on hills and behind walls (as in “you may literally not be able to hit or hurt certain models if they stack DEF or ARM bonuses high enough, good luck if that’s their ‘caster or they’re on an objective!”).

A wall parallel to the deployment area creates a safe zone for whatever’s behind it, discouraging dynamic play, a wall at 45 degrees to it is more interesting as units can take cover in one direction but have to expose a flank in another. It’s really apparent in rank and flank games where the angle of approach matters so much, and the second game was so much spicier as a consequence.

This isn’t to say that weird “fight at an angle across the field” battles are always Good and solid defences are always Bad. This one’s the grand battle at Caerwysg, the big 6000 point game I played back in 2019. I got to set this one up but it had to be with the limited collection of fantasy/historical scenery that had been brought to the venue by attendees.

Here, the terrain has been deliberately arranged so that the Dogs of War army has something to stand behind – defended obstacles across almost the whole zone. We did this on purpose so that they wouldn’t be swept away by 6000 points of oncoming vampire filth before their Bretonnian reinforcements arrived (it was a mashup Flank Attack/Capture scenario because neither of us wanted to count Victory Points in a game this big).

Those obstacles were a huge factor in the Dogs holding out for as long as they did (although we did misplay the extended rounds of combat across them). It took me five turns to get my elite units across them and I lost most of said units doing it. That led to a wonderfully tense end turn where the Bretonnians could sweep the field but only the Green Knight could actually reach the Capture objective and kill Mannfred von Carstein – with Mannfred dead there’d be more Bretonnian than Vampire points on the mark and it’d be game for the good guys.

This is what I want out of my Warhammer – a game that goes the distance and is worth playing right to the end – and where possible I tweak the terrain I’m given to enable it.

Sometimes opportunities are missed due to a lack of communication. This table was set for me at Firestorm Games in Cardiff for the battles at Tor Caerdydd: I came up with the “ruined city” narrative entirely based on walking in and finding this monstrosity already set up.

If I’d know about this in advance I’d have advocated for a scenario from the General’s Compendium – the one that’s basically about fighting in the Emyn Muil from Middle Earth – because you don’t often get a battlefield that’s this busy with one feature type without setting it up on purpose.

In theory we could ask for something specific from the venues but a) most of them have way, way more 40K terrain than anything suitable for WFB and b) I’m still getting other players on board with my “curate as much of the experience as possible” shtick.

It’s one of the reasons I like the Warhammer: Resurrection events so much, because Alex is on my wavelength and sets up tables that represent areas of the campaign map and puts thought into the kind of engagement that should happen there.

One day I will get back onto the deep forest table…

Is there a “takehome” from all this? I think it’s that “how many pieces?” is less important than “what kind of game experience are you trying to create here?” – answering that question will give you an idea of what to do with what’s available. If it’s just a pick-up game between pals then “what the venue’s left us with” is fine, but as ever I aspire to something a bit more shared and controlled.