HobbyHammer is the name behind the Rise of Empires narrative event, back for a second year, February 16-18, as a 2-day Narrative Map Campaign weekend, where 40 players turn up with their armies, battle over a custom map of a city called Colarcanium. Each table represents a different part of the city, whether that is the Sigi Gate  orthe Slums district or the Ruins of Exillicium, and each player will have a stronghold to defend and enemies to crush elsewhere.

How did you become a NEO?

So, funny enough, I found a tweet from this time last year where I casually said If TO’s are Tournament Organisers, Narrative Event Organisers should of course be NEOs! This was in the build up to Rise of Empires 2017: Realm Hoppers, a narrative event in sunny Margate. It was a few weeks later, a few of us in the UK and US decided it would be a great idea to create a WhatsApp group so we could all share our narrative plans, share and discuss Event Packs and such.. this was the birth of the NEON, from there it has gone from strength to strength and built gradually to the Monster it is now. This can only be a good thing for Narrative gaming, the future is also bright with NEON with involvement from GW themselves… there is a Narrative Only the Faithful Team, there has been a NEO takeover day on Warhammer TV, and much more planned too. Exciting times!

Can you tell us about your local group?

Kye Baker and myself set up our club around 2 years ago. Before that, there was no AoS being played in our area and for the first 5 weeks, it was just us! Since then though the club has gone from strength to strength, played many a campaign and even small evening tournaments too. It has grown so much that we are having a Masters event in February too where the top 8 (Out of 28 registered individual players over the year) will compete to be crowned the Master of CliffHammer club! We have even started venturing out of Thanet (In the arse end of nowhere in the UK) to compete and play in Events and Tournaments over the UK.

Why is narrative gaming important to you?

Narrative gaming is to me… just gaming. Every game I play, I at least forward my own army’s narrative, noting achievements my General or particular units have done. I like to run narrative events, events that focus less on winning and more on story progression, as in general, this means crazy terrain.. being able to add in elements like Times of War, Path to Glory, Map Campaign, Siege etc.. basically elements of the game you would not see in tournament play. Dont get me wrong, I love a good tactically Matched Play game too. But there is so much being missed out on if you only focus on this part of the game, in my opinion.

What tips do you have to share with other NEOs?

So, tips. Firstly, come up with a pre story. Ask Why? Why is the armies there?, why are you in that Realm? Why do you want to run a Narrative event? Why should you try and inject more narrative into the community? Have an idea of what you both want to achieve from the game. Where do you want to story to progress too? Is this a one of battle, or can it expand into a small campaign?

Talk to your opponent or the players attending an event of what they want to achieve.

Try and avoid over narrating though. This can make it cloggy and also like your trying to put a round peg in a square hole. Let games flow, let events flow too, let players come up with their own sorties and adjust your overall story accordingly. Another important aspect is to give players reasons on coming, what makes the event stand out? Terrain, Rules? Etc..

One thing to avoid.. Conventions.. a lesson learned last year was the sheer impact on peoples enjoyment of a game when the noise levels are that high and that amount of outsiders want to watch games… yes it sounds like it’ll be cool, but really its not. Avoid it like the plague. Keep your event private and fun shall be had!

Thanks! You can find Hobby Hammer on Twitter and if you still aren’t signed up for Rise of Empires: Border Wars, then go to TGA for details here.

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