Shadows over Hammerhal introduces a new batch of baddies and a new role for the players: The Gamemaster!
We we first spotted the fact that Warhammer Quest: Shadows over Hammerhal would re-introduce the player-role of The Gamemaster, reactions were mixed. Not every is a fan of having to have a GM and a lot of folks liked that Silver Tower had an “AI” for the enemies controller. Personally, I like both ways to play as each has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. But I also think folks were making a lot of assumptions and having read the rules now, I’m hoping to clear some of those up.
The Gamemaster’s role is pretty simple: they are the story-teller. They control the adversaries, read the adventure text and just generally play as the opposition to the heroes. The enemies in the game do have some set behavior tables which the GM could use to control the minion’s “AI-lite” behavior. But they also have the option to overturn those behavior tables and take direct control. I think of it like the old school PC game Dungeon Keeper.
Now, unlike a traditional GM role (like say in a D&D game) the Gamemaster is NOT above the rules and if they are running the standard campaign, they really shouldn’t go “off script” with things. I’m not saying they can’t do that for future sessions, but Shadows over Hammerhal is designed to be run as is right out of the box. If you’re new to the whole “GM” thing, this is a great introduction. If you’re a vet of GM you might find this a bit limiting in terms of RPG-style – but hey, that just means you can run it on auto-pilot which is a lot less work for you to do!
The Gamemaster also has access to the Adventure Book – something only they should read. And if you’re going to run the game as the Gamemaster you definitely want to to read the adventure head of time just so you know if there are any triggers or special events that happen. The GM should also know the rules really well. You’re going to the defacto rules arbitrator – luckily they aren’t overly complex and the rulebook is pretty well laid out.
Once outside of the catacombs, the Gamemaster will also have the fun of running the Ciderfall District. There are actually quite a few fun things to do above ground which I won’t spoil here. But let’s just say there are charts involved and hilarity can ensue…
You can’t have a proper adventure with out some proper villains and these are the henchmen the GM will use to tussle with the players.
These are your “basic” Khornate followers. They joined this evil empire for the simple fact that there would be blood to spill. They aren’t that great in 1v1 situations but if you can get a Hero isolated and pile-on the number advantage they just might be able to take them down.
Tzeentches’ featherless followers are back in this game as well. With a promise of plans to spread confusion and chaos the Kairic Acolytes signed up. They are very similar to the Bloodreavers in terms of tactics – but they also have some magical talent up their shirtless sleeves. Use them to hurl bolts of magic at the Heroes from range.
If I’m honest, I’m probably most excited about the inclusion of these miniatures for the GM. The Blightking models are just fantastic and I’m really glad to see them get included. On top of that these guys are almost as tough as the heroes. Getting them in a 2v1 situation is a great way to put the hurt on a hero!
Chaos Sorcerer Lord Redomir of Slaanesh
Yes – you read that right. He’s a Slaanesh Sorcerer! If I’m not mistaken (I probably am), this is (probably) the first sign that Slaanesh’s followers are out looking for their missing chaos god. In fact, that’s pretty much the entire motivation for this game – Lord Redomir is trying to get his master’s attention so that he can try to find him. I mentioned it briefly in the unboxing article from earlier but I wanted to reiterate that point. This could be the kick-start to the heart Slaanesh needs to get active…I hope the GMs out there realize what’s at stake!
One more note about the Gamemaster Role, I was hoping this went without saying, but your job is not to kill off all the Heroes. In fact, in most scenarios if you do manage to down all the heroes, they get a penalty and lose some gear but they can start the mission over. So they will be back for more. Your job is to help tell the story of Shadows over Hammerhal – it’s a game and I hope as you’re playing everyone keeps that in mind.
The final thought I want to leave you all with is that this game seems like it’s just the beginning. The GM’s book also contains lots of extra rules for “exotic” encounters. Aside from the 4 that are listed above there are also rules for the following:
- Blood Warriors
- Tzaangor Skyfires
- Plague Bearers
I’m pretty sure if you have the rules from Silver Tower, you can extrapolate how the rest of the enemies in Silver Tower would function in Hammerhal. On top of that, I wouldn’t be surprised if Games Workshop is going to whip-up some charts & cards for the other villains for use in this game – just like they did for all the Heroes (which, by-the-way, are all compatible with Hammerhal).
Games Workshop is building a neat little eco-system for this Warhammer Quest series and I really hope they keep doing it down the road. With Silver Tower, we got the core game play, more backstory and a bunch of new models. With Hammerhal we’re getting expanded gameplay, even more backstory to build on and a more “module” type adventure game.
What else will Games Workshop do with this “RPG-lite” experience? Time will tell! But for now, we will have to settle for dungeon diving in the catacombs of the Ciderfall district – Adventure awaits!
Hammerhal. Built in the glorious image of Azyrheim, the seat of the God-King Sigmar’s power. Within its walls can be found danger and beauty, faith and intrigue, poverty and fortune. From the gleaming crystal spires of Goldenpath to the mist-shrouded vineways of Ghyra-un-Tyr, there is seemingly no end to its marvels. Yet most who witness this splendour know little of the danger and menace that fill the outer districts of the city, and that which lurks below…
A band of heroes has been brought together by circumstance, and are bound to hunt down and nullify a sinister Chaos plot in the dungeons and catacombs below Hammerhal. Lord-Castellant Arvios Sunhelm, his Gryph-hound Archimaine and Cogsmith Golnir Coalbeard are joined by Loremaster Alnaryn and Fleetmaster Vizrin Kyre, as they quest to uncover the Chaos Sorcerer Lord Redomir and put a halt to the vile corruption of the First City of Order.
Warhammer Quest Shadows Over Hammerhal is a boxed game for 2-5 players, set in – and below – the splendid city of Order, Hammerhal. Up to 4 players can quest in the catacombs and dungeons below the city, while another acts as gamemaster, setting fiendish obstacles, controlling the antagonists and setting the story – it’s up to this player to take charge of revealing the secrets each dungeon has to offer.
I know what I want to play this weekend!