The original epic and most deadly Narrative Tournament is back, and about to kick off this weekend!
Holy Havoc is a 2-day doubles event, where players battle over some of the most beautiful and deadly gaming tables in the Age of Sigmar gaming community.
This has been one of the longest-running organized narrative events in the Age of Sigmar player community, and has inspired countless other NEOs due to its hobby quality and intensely refined rules.
The ‘Holy’ events, Holy Wars and Holy Havoc, have become well-known over the years as a top-quality example of what narrative rules can do for Age of Sigmar event.
Stephen Herner (@HolyHammerHern), the NEO mastermind behind them, and his team of Holy Hammers, have every year improved on their formula, also with the help of many others in the Age of Sigmar community.
The most visible signature of ‘Holy’ events are the beautifully themed tables. Stephen has spent many years crafting them, and several of them have origins in the lore of the World-that-Was.
These aren’t just your regular battlemat with well-painted scenery scattered about, no: each table surface is uniquely modelled, with gentle hills and modeled-on texture, and the scenery pieces are almost all special kitbashes or scratch-built.
And each table tells its own story.
Each year table rules are routinely adjusted and reworked to fit the core rules of Age of Sigmar. In addition tables get terrain updates with new terrain and/or rules and interactions. New for this year’s Holy Havoc V: The Warlord Ascends, more tables have terrain that moves around the board in a similar manner as the fan-favorite Shifting Monolith table.
Moving models around on these surfaces is not only a great tactile and visual experience, but each table has narrative special rules that bring it to life… and many players have learned the hard way how much the tables want to kill them.
Many hazards on the tables deal ‘Holy Wounds’, which are wounds that cannot be saved by any means, not even ward saves. Many victims from previous years of Holy Wars and Holy Havoc have had entire units eaten by the tables.
On top of it, each table has specific narrative rules that allow players to interact with the table, and potentially turn the hazards against their opponent. And there’s more! There is a dedicated battleplan per table, with objectives that are themed on the scenery elements: these are the victory points that determine who wins the Conquerors award.
And yes, it is Stephen that owns a gaming table with most metaliths on it (our iconic Age of Sigmar floating islands).
Players can pick which tables and opponents they get to fight against, so grudge matches (especially carried over from previous events) are definitely encouraged!
The second staple of ‘Holy’ events is the Warlord of Havoc.
This is a custom-made Hero that players bring, which has its own custom warscroll that gains abilities as the event progresses.
Yes, exactly like the Anvil of Apotheosis, only that Stephen has been doing it for 6 years already. And many other narrative events followed suit, like Realms at War and the NoVA Grand Narrative. And yes, the idea of using stickers with abilities to put on your warscroll is brilliant, and has also been stolen by every other event that uses similar warscrolls!
Each player is asked to write up a narrative for their warlord, and this counts towards scoring in the event.
We have seen amazing model conversions every year for the Warlords, and the formula for their upgrades has been refined over and over.
This year, the Warlord is NOT the army general, but is trying to upstage the general of their army.
Advancing the abilities of the Warlord, as always, is dependent on fulfilling a number of narrative objectives during battles.
Holy Havoc itself is the doubles version of the event: players fight in teams of two, with 1000 points armies per player. This year there will be space for up to 72 players! That’s a lot of custom tables!
And we know from good sources that some team members are willing to throw their mate into the opponents’ jaws if it means achieving some narrative objectives during the event, or some personal objective for their warlord. Especially when that means your Warlord unlocks a new ability (even if it costs them the battle).
Narrative at ALL costs!
Some of the things we have seen shared by players in previous years have led to interesting narrative spinoffs, including a comic book of the battles’ events.
Winners will be scored on multiple metrics during the event, including 3 categories of Hobby Master, Most Points scored, Favorite Team voted by other players, etc. There is even a Book of Grudges so players can write down their rivalries so they will burn on forever (or at least until the next event!).
Have a look at the scoring sheet: it has a number of great ideas that might inspire you to participate in Holy Havoc, or try out in an event of yours.
The event is also a charity drive, with proceeds going to Hesed House Homeless Shelter (a partnership that Stephen has built over the years).
Stephen uses the always popular “Holy Havoc Re-roll dice”: branded dice which can be purchased by players at any time, each granting them a free re-roll. There is also a charity raffle. All the money raised this way going to Hesed House.
So, if you still haven’t fallen in love with this amazing example of Narrative Event, here are some words from Stephen Herner, over what new things players can expect this year:
This year we have re-worked the Warlord of Havoc scroll into Age of Sigmar 3.0 and the newest battle tome releases that have removed the standard Command Ability options on Warscrolls.
We needed to adjust how the Warlord interacted with the game and the Havoc battleplans.
All the Holy Havoc battleplans were updated this year and there will be an exciting twist for game 4 (and maybe game 5, I’m still considering this surprise) that will certainly upset some players and have others chuckling as they proceed to the tables.
In game 5 players will need to hope for the death of their general so their Warlord of Havoc can ascend by the end of the weekend.
What excites me most about this year is not only the new Holy Havoc battleplans but the newest rules for many of the tables. I’m most interested to see how games go on the tables below.
- The Oak of the Ages
- Nest of the Arachnarok
- The Shifting Sands
- The Eye of Tzeentch
During play testing on all these tables I enjoyed everything about the crazy rules. The Black Pit of Tzeentch is just a spectacle that can really mess you up on capturing that objective. For the Shifting Sands the Shrine of Regrets can bring some additional pain just before during the battleshock phase, something we have not previously done. The Spirit of Athel Loren on the Oak of the Ages table will force players to measure risk vs reward in true Holy Havoc/Holy Wars fashion.
This year is the largest event we have ever hosted and we hope to continue delivering a unique fun narrative yet competitive experience to our players.
Stay safe and well, and we hope to see you in 2022 and beyond.
Thank you, Stephen!
We will be following the event online, so please post lots of pictures on social media!
You can find the Event Rules page here for more details and tickets.
The Event is currently fully booked and about to launch, but tickets for Holy Wars (the next event) should open up soon! Follow @HolyWarsGT on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss the announcement!
For more in-depth details on the creative process for the event, we have chatted with Stephen before, about previous Holy Wars and Holy Havoc, on The Filthy Casual NEON Podcast (see below).
What do you think about this event?
Do you have questions for Stephen?
Leave your comments below!