Thoughts on our latest narrative event

Yesterday was the third round of our gaming groups narrative event “Battle for Tarandros”.  We started this event back in February after a few of us, myself included, grew tired of the competitive way we had been playing.  I had some hobby burnout, and at the suggestions of a few people on the independent character’s forums, decided to try a series of narrative events.

Our local gaming store, Critical Hit Games, agreed to let us use the gaming tables one Saturday a month in place of their normally planned 40k events, usually small tournaments.  Augustus, our chief librarian, enjoys writing so he agreed to writing the narrative that framed these events.  You can find those in our previous blog posts.  Now with a little planning with the Lord Primarch, Shorereaper, Augustus, and myself, we were on our way.

Now, our first few events we tried to keep it simple.  The missions were nothing fancy. The first event was crusade and the second was kill points.  We kept it simple to encourage new players to join us.  We averaged about 8-10 players per event, mostly guys from our gaming group.

This time I wanted to try running a mission that was a little less standard to try to reflect the story we are playing.  At this point in the narrative, the imperial forces, led by the ultramarines, are advancing on a location the marines believe holds a store of gene seed left from the great crusade.  Various forces of evil/disorder/orks are in their way.

To represent this, Shorereaper and I worked up the following mission.  Deployment type, deployment, and night fighting were all regular rule book style.  The forces of the imperium were the attackers, forces of evil were the defenders.  There were three objective markers, one in the exact middle of the board, the other two the defender places in their deployment zone.  Starting in attackers turn two, if the attacker has a scoring unit within 3 inches of an objective marker that is not engaged in close combat, they remove the objective marker from the table.  At the end of the game (random game length), each objective removed in this way gives the attacker 1 point.  Each objective left on the table gives the defender 1 point.  Most points win.

Now, I had thought this was a pretty fair mission, the central objective should be easy for the attackers to take I thought, then it would be a slug fest to try to take one more.  As it turns out, I was wrong.  No attackers scored a single objective in the event.  Defenders won 3-0 on all tables.  We had 10 players on 3 tables, most of us fairly seasoned players.  The closest anyone came was the Lord Primarch almost scored one on Ralshenik before Ralshenik crushed him with a deamon prince.

So, what did I learn? Play testing is important.  We could have sorted out some of these balance issues before hand.  I am toying around with how to use this mission in the future.  Ideas are to always give the attacker first turn, have 2 objectives in the neutral ground and 1 in the defenders deployment zone, and to allow any non vehicle unit to score an objective.

I want some feed back from any of you that attended the event.  I also wouldn’t mind feedback from any readers that see how we could improve in the future.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on our latest narrative event

    • I think having all non-vehicle units being able to capture objectives would make the most impact, but may make it too easy for the attackers. Guaranteed 1st turn only helps some armies a lot.

    • Yeah, I thought it was just me, but looks like it was very rough for all attackers. Even for drop pod space marines, which you would expect to crush this sort of mission.

      For my part, the game was pretty much decided before our turn 1 started. But that was due to many more factors than just the mission. The desert table has no real LIOS blocking terrain and hordes of guardians/avengers did not last very long against the Tau gun line :p. Also the rolls, Khaine’s sweaty balls…

      In terms of improvement, one possibility would be for all three objectives to be at the half table mark, evenly spaced out, with each player deploying on the long table edges. This will prevent the defender from barricading himself around two objectives in his backfield.

      It might also be a good idea to move away from the “attacker” vs. “defender” dichotomy in terms of victory conditions. Have the objective be the same for everyone and wrap the narrative around what happens. I think only the “Final” battle in each event should have clear differences between the sides, representing what happened in prior games.

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