Planning a Campaign – Warhammer Fantasy Battles

I’ve volunteered myself to run a campaign for Warhammer Fantasy Battles. It will be map based, with exploration and army management as important as the actual battles. I’m hoping it will be fun.

Research into Warhammer Fantasy Battles Campaigns

I started with an idea – I know it will be small-scale armies, and I had an idea to base it on an island. Beyond that, I didn’t really know how it was all going to work. So I found a few books on the subject and started reading.

I got Mighty Empires (as I wanted the tiles anyway). I found the book which went with it disappointing, although it is just a small, couple-of-pages supplement to give you ideas. But it wasn’t at all suitable for what I had envisioned – it was more of an interlude between battles, and not a game in and of itself.

I got Blood in the Badlands This is a very interesting and well-thought-out series of campaign rules. Not only that, it’s writing style is engaging and entertaining. The story of their campaign really adds to your understanding of the rules (as well as bulking it out enough to make it into a book). I will definitely be stealing ideas from here for my game – the battle results tables will likely be used, as will some of the individual army ideas and other minor rules. It still wasn’t the perfect fit for the game I wanted to play. By this point, my ideas had solidified a bit, and I know I wanted to have permanent armies – where a loss in one battle is kept for the next, so you have an always changing army roster. This makes troop conservation more important than it normally is, and Blood in the Badlands didn’t touch on this at all.

Looking further afield, I found the General’s Compendium, produced by Games Workshop in 2003. This has by far been the most useful book in coming up with rules for my game. Not only is it an extensive book, on many different types of campaigns you can run in Warhammer, but it actually addressed the type of campaign I wanted to run – a GM led one, where the GM is not a player but acts as the facilitator for everyone and keeps track of all the variables. Should you be interested in running any sort of campaign in Warhammer I would whole-heartedly recommend you get hold of a copy of this book.

Planning the Campaign

By now I had got a pretty good picture of what I wanted in the result:

  • Small-scale armies
  • Troop death permanent – also, XP gained for fights
  • Map exploration as big a part of the game as the battles
  • Random events
  • Army management raised to being more important
  • Support camps as important as army placement

I’ve long loved the idea of the Mordheim style game, and wanted to try to include this style of play in the game. Not quite as small as in Mordheim, due to a) it’s not being supported any more and b) most of my friends are more into the bigger battle style game. But I took some inspiration from this game style as well.

I also wanted the game as inclusive as possible. Myself and my friends are not “serious” Warhammer players. I’ve collected since I was a teenager (so for about 15 years….) but I’ve never been consistent. Honestly, I’ve never had enough money to buy many models. So I have a small collection. Not only that, but I collect Chaos. Back when I started, it was JUST Chaos. Now it’s been split into 3 different army lists – Warriors of Chaos, Beastmen and Daemons. As such, I can make up almost 2 small armies out of the models I already have. My Warriors of Chaos army is more extensive, and I can just about scrounge together a Beastmen army as well, leaving my odd Daemon out in the cold.

Results of my Work

I cobbled together a set of rules, and posted it up on my site here. And I opened myself up to criticism from my friends and prospective players. The results are fairly simple – an 1000 point army, then split up into as many banners (forces) as you like. Banners move about the map every turn, should they end up on the same place as another banner there is a fight. A turn will last about a week OOC, to give everyone a chance to use their emails and contact me with their orders. Every 4 turns there will be upkeep included in your turn – your ship has come back to the island, allowing you to spend any gold you have gained on more troops or improving your fortifications.

It immediately became clear that not everyone understood how small I had intended these battles to be, and they also were unhappy with the idea of removing the rare / special / core unit balance completely. I had originally thought this would make it easier for the smaller armies to have access to some of the fancier unit types – 250 points isn’t that much, after all, when a single Giant costs 225 points (for Beastmen). In fact, of the 5 rare choices Beastmen get, 3 of them cost 275 points – making them unusable in a 1000 point army. However, it was pointed out to me that some (idiot) people may choose to field an army of nothing but Ogres if there wasn’t some form of check in place. So we came to a consensus. You must have a minimum of 250 points (1/4 of your total) spent on core troop types, and spend the rest how you like. For this, troop types which normally wouldn’t count towards the “minimum core choices” would, in fact, count.

In addition, there was confusion over my allowing anyone to take skirmish for their troops if they desired and towards my removal of the minimum number of models in a unit. Both of these ideas I put in place to deal with the fact of such small-scale battles. I certainly don’t understand, when you’re using such small forces, why it’s bad to have 2 Dragon Ogres, but it’s OK to have 3. Especially when they were sold in packs of 2 (when I bought them, at least). It also doesn’t make sense to force a unit of 6 foot soldiers to rank up – they would naturally be more disperse and “skirmish like”.

It’s all sounding quite positive. It’s an experiment for all of us, especially me in running it, and we can adjust on-the-fly if we have to. It should actually be quite easy to adjust. For instance, if we all decide that in fact it would be more fun with bigger forces, everyone can have a windfall of gold to be spent on the next turn their ship comes back, keeping it balanced and adjusting it as we go.

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