Some amazingly BIG narrative Age of Sigmar events have been happening in Italy, and we want to share what the NeW (Narrative Events Warhammer) group from the Milan area has been doing, and advertise their upcoming event in May 21st 2023:
“Mystery in Bilgeport”.
The NeW events happen every summer (COVID-time notwithstanding) in Trecate, Italy, and have attracted dozens each year to battle on themed tables and use special narrative rules.
Each event builds on the story of the previous one, so players have a direct impact on the world they play.
And they mean big: last time they wounded Dracothion, and jumped on its back!
We chatted with the lead NEO for the event, long-time narrative player and organizer Alessandro Bonini, about what players can expect from it.
Q: Please summarize your last event, “Dracothion”, for us, and what players were able to do.
A: That was the fifth storytelling event I’ve hosted. Each event is linked to the previous one, and the narrative of the next changes based on match outcomes and players’ decisions throughout the day. Players participate in two-player teams and play games to earn useful items and can also use keys to activate special terrain pieces. As our events veterans know well, each game day we organize creates a story that changes based on the player’s choices and the events that ensue. The story we told on the last event followed from the shocking finale of the previous one, where players were tricked by Kaleb Daark, Malal’s chosen one.
The underground air becomes thick and difficult to breathe, as Kaleb concludes the folly of the prisoner, your companion, draining him of life to move the huge gears of the machine that he is greedily feeding on.”
An enormous instrument, the Obscura Machinaris, bursts with energy and shines a ray in the aether, amidst the hysterical laughter of Malal’s champion. Shortly after, a roar of sorrow is heard in all the heavens of the Mortal Realms.
Dracothion, the immense and immortal Godbeast that saved Sigmar, was wounded by that ray.
The news shocks the realms and every alliance organizes to remedy or benefit from this extraordinary and fateful event. In Azyr the news shakes Sigmar himself, who thought the beast was immortal, though has now been injured. It’s time to pay back the debt of life.
Archaon had long wanted an opportunity of this magnitude, to kill Dracothion with a stroke of grace.
Nagash found this event interesting and immediately meditated that if a Godbeast with such power could be wounded and killed, it could also embrace immortality in undeath.
If a beast of such a scale could be wounded, why not take advantage of its weakness with intrigues and poisons to tame it? Kragnos rounded up all the witches and shamans: he wanted this enormous tamed beast by his side instead of killing it.
Q: NEOs often try to tell stories that don’t affect the status quo of the Age of Sigmar storyline as much, so it remains “fully compatible”. From what you’ve shown us before, your events’ stories are grand in scope, and you’re not afraid to make big impacts in the tale of the Mortal Realms. Give us a bit of an example.
A: In the finale of the previous event, players had inadvertently activated a huge machine, the Obscura Machinaris, that shot a ray into the ether. A roar of sorrow was then heard in all the Mortal Realms. This last event started with finding out that the beam struck and injured Dracothion. Every faction had interest in this fact: Chaos wants to kill Dracothion, Death wants to kill him and create a huge zombie dragon godbeast, Destruction wants to tame him and Order wants to heal him.
Q: What Narrative innovations and special rules did you deploy in your last event?
A: Our event last year was played in two player teams, with multiple teams belonging to each Grand Alliance. Every player used 1000pt matched play rules. LEGENDs models with point values could be used.
The two armies in each team didn’t necessarily have to have the same Grand Alliance but rather a common goal in developing the narrative. So a Skaven army might not want to kill Dracothion the way Archaon would like but instead tame and mutate him the way Kragnos would like! All participating teams were allocated to the 4 macro coalitions pursuing the objectives of the 4 major alliances.
In all these events, we won’t be playing classic missions, and there may be events that upset the playing field. That’s why lists don’t have to be extreme but eclectic to face the unexpected. There’s no need to submit army lists but, as always, we recommend creating a fun, sporty list with a theme that characterizes it. Players are rewarded for this! Players also aren’t obliged to have a painted army in our events, although we highly recommend it because it’s good for the hobby and they’ll be rewarded for that effort as well.
At the time of registration, players provide a summary description of their army, in exchange for “composition prizes” represented by EVENT CARDS. The number of cards depends on how far they get into the “climate” of the event with their army composition:
– A painted army is a great way to reward your opponent, no matter the level, we are not all painters and we do not all have the same amount of time to dedicate to it.
– Spend time creating a list with a background and presenting it with a writing or other.
– A themed or varied list, but which does not contain the classic units that repetitively populate tournaments.
– Huge monsters and excessive reinforcements are out of place for the small contingent we will be fielding. Once the number of cards to which one is entitled has been established, these are drawn at random from a deck, changing any doubles.
After the deployment and before the playoff for the first round, each player announces the number of EVENT CARDS he has. The player with the most cards may play ONE for that game. If players have the same number of cards, no cards can be played. Cards have different times they can be played, some affect the whole battle, other times they can be played during the game, all explained on the card itself.
Some special rules in the event battles included potions to heal wounds, and keys to activate the machine. The champion teams of the 4 factions played the final game, one set of players on the Obscura Machinaris and the other on Dracothion’s back. When a player on the machine won a battle round, it fired a ray that created a “wounded target” on the dragon’s back on the other table.
Finally, players who win a N.E.W. A.O.S. event in a previous year receive a VETERAN SEAL. At each next event, by presenting the seal upon registration, they will obtain advantages, such as special rules or other, different from event to event.
Q: What are your tricks for introducing narrative elements in the players’ gaming experience?
A: If you are really playing a narrative game, the battle plan should be unusual and have different, unbalanced, objectives strange to a tournament player. It talks more about objectives than points, it has unexpected events even during the battle, particular scenic elements not found on the rulebooks you have at home. Ships, castles… a narrative paradise, in short.
So, you then come back to earth, talk to your opponent about the objectives of the battle, explain the reasons why your general got there and what his intentions are.
I ask players to follow the spirit of the game and respect the effort of others, not looking for holes in the rules to exploit as you would in a tournament but discussing immediately any problems they’ve noticed. The organizer probably poured sweat and tears into realizing all these battle plans, so we ask them to be sincere so that both can make the best use of the material provided. Maybe they need to place some objectives better, so they can make them more accessible to both armies. I encourage them to collaborate with their opponent to create the continuation of the story and that none of them will just be an appearance but a co-star. If they already understand that the match, despite the skills of the players, will be one-way, they can change what they think is most appropriate in the field, in case of disagreeing opinions they can throw a dice, or calmly call the organizers, they are there for that.
Then “personal skill” comes into the game: you or your opponent may have different logistical skills and “gaming seniority”, talk about it calmly, maybe one player is clearly more experienced than the other, the result of the game will be scored, but it would be better if the less experienced understood the reason for the defeat and they didn’t suffer it mercilessly, finding themselves without models and not understanding what happened.
I encourage players that they should play to win, but also play to evolve the story. The fact is that we play to test our skills and to compete, we try to compete with the organizers, surprise them with compelling matches, they will be pleased and we will be ourselves too. Players should try to achieve two things: the winning conditions of the battle plan and the objectives of their army.
Obsessively playing to win is a bad thing. But in every game there’s a winner and a loser, that’s why we usually have very few draws. If you find yourself focusing too much on winning, maybe it’s time to go back to my go-to advice: are you entertained and entertaining? We motivate players to look at their opponents face and body language: are they laughing and joking with them, or laughing at their crazy “luck” and frenzy? Are they sharing the experience or are they just a guest appearance in the match? You should be playing the game WITH them and not AGAINST them.
But winning the game should never be considered a negative thing or something to avoid because you’re a “story player”: you’re in the event to win! Winning with class is priceless.
Q: You have put in a lot of advice regarding army construction and philosophy in your event packs, so players coming to the NeW narrative events understand what is expected of them, and what they are signing up for. Could you explain us a little bit of that?
A: First of all, there is no need to weaken the list or make a “fluff list”, a totally wrong misunderstanding is that playing narrative means playing approximate and with weak lists: nothing more wrong. What you have to do is try to make sense, not to weaken the list. Obviously, a classic tournament list will clearly be more effective than a fictional list, after all, it’s created for that, but often tournament lists don’t make sense because they don’t take into account the military background but just statistics and skill pieces so they choose units stronger and multiply as long as they fit in the spots, gathering stronger artifacts and magic available.
Your narrative list starts from a different principle than a tournament list: think about the events that led your army to the beginning of the narrative event. Don’t strive to make the list weak but optimize your strengths with the most logical choices, not using random units, but interacting with each other.
After all, a general does not lead his men into battle to die, but selects his forces based on the needs of the moment. For example, if the background of the event is a small manipulator exploring a crypt, a general will bring his best men who adapt to quality combat in small spaces. On the contrary, in an assault on a fortress waiting for reinforcements, the same general will be able to choose many units, even if less trained, to strike on more fronts and you do not fall under the enemy’s fire with the whole army with a few shots.
The most important thing to think about is that you can face anything! Whichever! In a classic battle, as we said before, a general ends in the list with his best units because the field is balanced, the missions are balanced and the opponent is even armed. If an army is particularly driven to shooting, in the army selection, in a tournament, that phase will become extreme. In a narrative event, on the other hand, scenarios that limit one of the phases could appear, one could venture into caves where little visibility and numerous repairs could make it futile to end the shot.
So I ask them to try to have a balanced relationship to be ready for any eventuality: a player who shows up with a classic tournament roster, might get some nasty surprises and not have fun.
Some of our events have an army “growth” mechanism. But even in this case, a player needs to consider their reinforcements carefully by imagining how events could follow. Not about slaughtering the opponent, but rather about what the real objectives are and which units can help to achieve them. For example, if you are on the run (as called by the battleplan objective), chased by the enemy, you don’t need slow monsters in your list even though they would normally destroy the enemy, because your purpose is to flee. On the contrary, if you’re the chaser, you may want to look for fast cavalry units and fast units that hit and run and not with slow armored and indestructible infantry ranks. These are things to think about.
What if my army was both “high-performing” and “storytelling”? Definitely more than legal: you could have units that have solid interactions between them both logistically and background and on the field would result clearly above the average of the lists. No problem, ask yourself the same question, will I have fun and will I entertain others?
Q: You also promote on-the fly rules and players calling on the organizers to create new rules effects, in a Games Master style of event. Roleplay gamers are more familiar with this concept, but this is not as common in wargaming. Tell us more about it.
A: We are “story players”: rules can be bent and shaped to create a story that is fun for everyone and not just for rolling the dice. Players should talk to the organizers safely, express their doubts, and together will know the best way to adjust the rules of their army, so that it harmonizes with the climate of the event. If you have a good idea, a list with a compelling background, maybe with the organizers you might find some additional rules created ad hoc, that would make the game fun for you and your opponents.
For example, if you have a particularly powerful unit and you want to repeat it in the list, they may have rivalry with each other to want to appear in the eyes of the general: so in the game maybe they can not get close to each other, or they will have to have different weapon choices or whatever.
The idea is to make a fun list that you will enjoy playing and that your opponent will enjoy playing against. We will never stop repeating it, and every means is permissible. If your list is the current meta list, with the strongest combinations, with the most powerful monsters, ask yourself, are you in the right place? Are you the general who is helping to evolve the story of the event or are you the one who tries to tell how your army removes the opponent from the table for the umpteenth time? If you’re Runner-Up, maybe you should have signed up for a tournament and not a storytelling event, but you’re still on time!
Q: What can players expect from NeW’s upcoming event, “Mistero a Bilgeport” (Mystery in Bilgeport)?
A: In this event, we will have naval battles and a siege! There will be at least two water tables, and 4 sieges. We will be using the General’s Handbook 2023 2nd season army composition rules.
We will also be using sideboards: if a player wants to play one of the battleplans using the SIEGE or BATTLESHIP rules, they can have up to 500pt of additional units to switch between their main army list, to make it more specific for the scenario being played. The total in the field must always be a maximum of 1000pt.
There will be no winners or losers, and there is no ranking! The battles are used to collect the means to access the finale, this does not imply the destruction of the opponent but obviously they will make your intentions difficult because they pursue the same goal. Events may intervene that will disrupt the playing field: you know, the weather in the Mortal Realms is unpredictable.
The story we will tell starts from the unimaginable ending of the last event, where a dying Dracothion stood to be beheaded by Archaon himself. The Chaos legions had taken over their enemies, but a sinister fog had enveloped the scene and a furtive shadow emerged, stabbing Dracothion in the chest and stealing its heart with his soul inside! This event shocked the Mortal Realms, leaving Dracothion in limbo with no soul, encased in its still beating heart, ended up who knows where. Let the search for the thief begin!
“My lord, it was much too fast , we failed to stop it!” The Everchosen did not even address his subordinate: with one hand he pierced his chest in rage, extracting the heart, hot, dripping. “I demand that thief’s head. All the gods are my witnesses, Dracothion will perish under mine sword and no one else’s. Gather my legions.”
In the second battle, the armies will divide to find as many tracks as possible in pursuit of the fugitive. Each team can decide how to continue their adventure by choosing one of three ways to get to Bligeport. Each player with their 1000 pts will play one or more games to gain more clues for their team. Battleplans will have a number of CLUE CARDS up for grabs, based on the difficulty of the battleplan and the number of players involved. Each player can choose one of these battleplans:
– FORTRESSES OF THE EXCELSIS ROAD
– COAST OF TUSKS
– GLOSSOM CREVASSE and JAWS OF FANGATHRAK
The first two battle plans are sieges and naval battles respectively, and will involve multiple players and last all afternoon.
For the naval battle, four players will be divided into 2 fleets that will face each other as enemy armies. Each player will be able to use a maximum of 3 SHIPS, one small, one medium and one large. The places for this scenario are limited, though the ships will ALL be provided by the organizers!
But if a player has built their own ship, they can bring it and play with it, and will be rewarded for the initiative. Each alliance in the Mortal Realms has particular themed ships, and we will be happy to create ad hoc rules that characterize them, together with players, to play an epic battle!
An example would be a Moonclan that “promotes” one of its ships to KILLADRILL! A small motor ship without missile weapons but with a drill on the bow, which runs amok around the field to drill the hulls of enemies. Or the Seraphon who use huge reptiles with ballistae to navigate and bite enemies. And again, the Fireslayers, which mount short-range flamethrower turrets that are lethal against the hulls and wood of the unfortunate who tackle against them. …or…a Nautilus ? Up to players! If they have ideas to characterize their fleet, do not hesitate to contact us!
The event finale will be played by the four teams from the four factions that have earned the most CLUE CARDS and the most EVENT CARDS. The battle will be fought in the streets of Bilgeport. The field will then be the city where the player’s champions will look for the stolen heart.
Each team must select two GALLET CHAMPIONS from their lists. These will be the only two models that will be used in this battle. No units may be summoned, placed in reserve or redeployed during this game.
The fog rises as you approach the port, the landscape is eerie, a leviathan carcass was used as protection to build a city inside. A sinister and inhospitable place, perfect for losing pursuers. There are few inhabitants who stealthily walk the streets. Even if it is day, the mist seems to darken the sky as at sunset. Instinctively you hold your belongings and your weapons, better not to trust anyone. The reputation of this place is more than deserved. And now, to the search!
Every building in the port could contain what players are looking for. At the end of each team’s movement phase, one unit within 1” of a building may declare that it is exploring. The organizers will describe what is in the explored building and any subsequent events.
A team will have to find the heart first to win!
Thank you, Alessandro!
We will be looking forward to seeing more about the event as the date approaches, so please post lots of pictures on social media!
You can find the NeW AoS Facebook Group page here for more details and signup.
There are still tickets available, grab yours before it’s too late!!!
And if they happen to be all taken, sign up for the waitlist: there are always dropouts! (true story)
What do you think about this event?
Do you have any questions for the NEO, and how they build such a big successful string of events in such a great location?
Leave your comments below!