So, this Saturday five of us got together and went through a Mighty Empires campaign for Warhammer Fantasy. Three of the players were new to the game, so we figured most of the games would be floating around the 500 point range. This meant none of the big and exciting models would appear but, as it turned out, that did not stop things getting downright vicious…
We had already sorted out the hex map, and so went ahead to choose our cities. Ed and his Chaos Warriors chose to place themselves as far away from anyone else as possible, while I choose to go right in the middle (I knew that was asking for trouble, but there were plenty of mountains to mine there and I was counting on the reputation of the High Elves to keep challenges to a minimum). Alan’s Undead, James’ Wood Elves and Amy’s Skaven scattered themselves in the foothills and farmland below the mountains.
The first round of challenges went out and, because we had an odd number of players, someone was going to be double-teamed – in Might Empires this you either fight two separate battles or the points get divided between two armies.
As it turned out, both James and I were on the same team (all elves together!) against Alan’s Undead and, just to spite us, Alan declared he would stay at a single 500 point battle, meaning James and I would have a measly 250 points each. Alan’s thinking was that with cheap Zombies and Skeletons, he could have a reasonable army while the elves and all their expensive units would have a hard time fielding anything worth taking.
Oh, it so didn’t turn out that way!
James and I worked well together, with him providing two solid blocks of Wood Elf Archers, while I supplied Reavers, Sisters of Avelorn and, importantly, a Noble on Warhorse and Level 2 Mage.
Alan had taken (on my advice, damn me!) a unit of Black Knights who were immediately labelled ‘Priority Target One.’ My Mage, drawing upon the Lore of Light, smashed three of them in the first turn, and another fell to the Sisters, ably commanded by James. The last Black Knight turned and ran, desperate to get back to his Necromancer for a ‘top up’ but he was run down with a lance in the back from my Noble, who had trotted over to guard the Sisters against a charge.
Things kinda went downhill for the Undead from there, with James and I competing in a new sport we had devised, ‘Who Can Get the Necromancer First.’ As it turned out, the answer was Wood Elf Archers, though my Noble was just preparing for his charge. With the general gone, the Undead fell apart in a fairly predictable manner.
Game to the Elves!
Ed and Amy had fought one another in the last round (victory to Ed and his Chaos Warriors) and this time round I was facing Ed – and was joined by James again! Ed agreed to a 1,000 point game (meaning the Elves could have the ‘full’ 500 points each this time), and I watched in some dismay as his Champion promptly turned into a Daemon Prince.
I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive in this battle as I have never faced Chaos Warriors before but know they are nasty in close combat. The Elf plan was clear – under no circumstances was any enemy unit to be allowed to reach us.
As it turned out, things went quite well for Elvenkind. My Reavers did their usual Vanguard move/get in the face of enemy unit/but avoid combat, and delayed one block of Chaos Warriors and the Daemon Prince. Meanwhile, the Archers wiped out the Chaos Hounds and Chariot, while my Mage (now sporting the Lore of Metal) turned Chaos Warriors into gold and otherwise made them regret their heavy armour. The game ended when the Wood Elf Hero shot the Daemon Prince with his 3D6 arrow and downed it.
On the other table, Alan got a victory over Amy’s Skaven.
It has to be said, the Elves were feeling pretty confident by this time and we saw no reason to break our alliance. James was capturing more territory than my High Elves, but I felt we had better quality territory. So, no need for inter-racial fighting (just yet).
This time round, James and I took on Amy’s Skaven but she opted for a 500 point game again which meant we were back down to 250 points each. However, by this time we had all started earning gold from our territories which meant we could boost our points a little which made things easier for the Elves.
The battle was by the numbers, as far as the Elves were concerned – fast-moving stuff causing havoc among Skaven lines while the Archers and Mage whittled their lines down from range. So far, so standard.
The problems began when my Mage, mishandling a powerful casting of Fiery Convocation, detonated with the magical energies he was (mis)using. Plenty of Skaven were immolated and my Mage took the Strength 10 hit like a man (and ducked the shadowy hand that reached for him out of the warp), but four Wood Elves were blasted out of existence by the explosion. This caused the remaining Elves in that unit to flee off the battlefield.
Up to this point, those were the only losses either Elf army had sustained all day.
To say it caused some bad feeling was an understatement. We nobly defeated the Skaven, but James had banned me from sharing his forests…
On the other table, Ed and Alan were fighting, and I believe it was a victory for Alan’s Undead (can’t be sure, I had a Wood Elf to placate at the time…).
This was to be the last round of the day, as time was getting on, and I faced Amy’s Skaven alone while James took on a combined Chaos and Undead force against Alan and Ed.
My battle was fairly easy to describe – nothing went right for the Skaven and they ended up running, mostly while on fire.
However, on the other table James got absolutely hammered by the Chaos and Undead. Just goes to show, Wood Elves need direction (they are after all barely sentient, still worshipping trees…) if they are going to hold their heads up high. Under this onslaught however, they were wiped out to an elf.
In defence of the High Elves, I would say that throughout the day, not a single High Elf lost their life. Not one.
In the end of game admin, Alan pulled a blinder and built a bunch of cities with dead people inside, giving him enough territory to win the campaign!
We all agreed the Mighty Empires campaign was fun, and certainly added more to the games themselves than we would have had if we had just fought four battles each that day. It is also worth pointing out that we completed the campaign in a single day – true, we had small games, but even if we went to 1,500 or 2,000 points on average (as we are planning to next time round), it could still get done in a weekend.
In all, I would heartedly recommend the Mighty Empires system – it has just enough structure while not getting in the way of any additions or twists you want to put in yourself. In fact, I liked it so much I went out and promptly ordered the Planetary Empires set so we can do the same thing in 40k!
I would, however, make some observations/changes next time round, which I will be bringing up with the other players. The Mighty Empires system is supposed to be just a framework, so putting your own spin on things is very much in the spirit of it.
1. The victory conditions are great for a day’s or weekend’s play, but I think a campaign should go on for longer – perhaps for as long as you play the game seriously, I guess, as it gives form and function to the battles you play. In fact, you can even choose to start a new army halfway through!
I like the idea of getting together, playing a bunch of games, advancing your territories, and then going away for a week or two to work on fiendish new models which then get fielded in the next round of games. Just adds a certain something.
However, to do this, we need to look at the victory conditions. By default, you win by claiming 10 territories (each city hex counts as two) or by knocking out another player by taking their last territory (and you can only take territories if you beat that player in a game). The first thing I would want to do is stop the ‘surge’ whereby you save Empire Points and then suddenly splurge out on new hexes and/or cities. The obvious adjustment there is to control the rate at which players can build (there is no real control on it). Or, possibly, eliminate that victory condition, so someone has to get knocked out to give a winner – this has the advantage of sorting out the issue on the battlefield and gives other players a chance to counter the attempt (by throwing events at the aggressor or actually taking to the field in an alliance).
Possible downside: the campaign never ends!
2. I want to work siege battles into this system – after all, you can build castles in the game, and I just happen to have a very nice 28mm scale castle sitting here. I don’t know of any such rules in the current edition of Warhammer, so I may have to go back in time and use one of the older sets and adapt it. However, it does mean players will need ladders at the very least and very likely rams and siege towers. So, bit of prep needed and, frankly, it was hard enough to get some players to bring half-painted models to the table.
3. The victory conditions need a review for another reason. By RAW, most things start in the campaign side of things with the player with the smallest empire – this works well, as it gives them an advantage and stops the larger empires dominating. However, it also works for campaign victory, which is achieved immediately upon certain conditions (outlined above) being attained.
This means, in theory, a player with a smaller empire (and, thus, one not doing so well) could attain the victory conditions in the same turn as a larger empire, but claim victory first.
Could be bit of a kick in the teeth.
So, I am thinking some sort of tie-breaker is needed if two or more players hit the victory conditions (whatever they end up being) in the same turn.
And that tie-breaker needs to be sorted out on the battlefield 🙂