Pimpcron: Designing a Huge 40K Narrative Battle
Pimpcron has something epic in the works. An enormous Warhammer 40k battle that must rise head and shoulders above the rest!
Hi! [shakes hand] Hello! [shakes hand] Hi! [shakes hand] Alright, sorry but this is exhausting. Only three hand shakes will be given out this week. The rest of you just get winks until the muscle in my eye lid doesn’t respond anymore.
So some of you have been keen observers and noticed that I have two buttons at the bottom of my articles, and one of them is for my convention Shorehammer in Ocean City Maryland in December. To those who noticed that, you get to enjoy the benefits of two Internet Points. Anyway, we’re always looking for ways to improve and send out a survey after each Shorehammer. One thing we’ve never done in previous years is have a large cooperative Narrative Battle. Many people have mentioned this in this this year’s survey and we are gonna make it happen! “But how Mr. Cron?” I hear you saying.
Just don’t ally with a Khorne player.
Well, let me put on my Game Designer’s Hat, and we will discuss how to make an awesome Narrative battle for 20-30 players. And for those of you who attend Shorehammer or plan to, here’s a sneak peak at something new for this year!
It Has To Look Real
At the center of “Narrative” battles, is the awesome feeling of real warfare and the fact that you are using your forces in a meaningful battle. So it figures that terrain is extremely important in order to sell this concept. Leave your unpainted, crappy terrain at home, it will destroy immersion. In my opinion, playing on a battle mat like the one of Gamemat.eu’s is also crucial because the textures are head and shoulders above a solid colored cloth.
Besides the large, well-painted terrain pieces and the game mat, small details are also crucial. Little piles of debris, trees, water features, and well painted craters add many levels of detail needed. My gaming group knows me as a Tree Hugger because I always think the splashes of green that trees add are an awesome contrast to the generally gray palette of Warhammer terrain. I have a large container of trees and just Johnny Appleseed the place up.
Hmmm. Might have to buy a fog machine.
It Has To Feel Real
Real war is a joint effort between field commanders, upper brass, and soldiers; not to mention allied from other countries. If you plan on making a huge, cooperative battle, the battle conditions must be real. So what are realistic battle conditions? Well in any joint operation, there are different objectives to be accomplished, but nowhere to be found are “Objective markers” just arbitrarily laying around. Objectives have to make sense and be logical for the battle, not just markers.
So while I won’t give away too many awesome details of our Narrative Battle, I will give a couple examples. There will likely be a 12-18 foot long battleground with varying but believable terrain to incorporate city as well as rural areas. There will also be a side board of Zone Mortalis which will represent the fighting inside a Space Hulk in orbit. This derelict vessel is armed with massive Orbital Bombardment Artillery, and a couple consoles to control where they fire. So each team will have to decide which units to send up to the Space Hulk in the beginning of the game for close-quarters fighting and control over the powerful missiles that can be launched once per turn onto the battlefield below. These boarding parties will have a crucial mission, because failure will give their enemy a big advantage.
Used correctly, the enemy never saw what hit ’em …
Meanwhile, there will be several key ground Objectives that will have instant effects in-game. It could be that controlling a bunker will give allies a force field 5+ invulnerable save, or controlling a sewer access may give units (friend or foe) access to enemy deployment zones as they come and assault. And Artillery? Talk about a powerful asset to keep protected, because the absurd, rarely-used full range a Basilisk might have will get so much use as units call for artillery support in a pinch. For once, the guy who brings artillery will be everyone’s favorite buddy.
It MUST Be Well-Organized
I’ve ran and participated in enough multiplayer games to know that organization is key. For some reason, players tend to stop what they are doing and watch what their team mates do instead of acting in tandem. In our event, we will have a dedicated volunteer for each side to make sure everyone stays on task and stays productive. Also, it may be tempting to allow players over 1000 points for use, but I would warn against it.
Think of it this way: the game will go faster if each player has only, maybe five units on the board to move, shoot, and so on. Versus each player having 15 units to move. If the team managers do a good job of keeping everything running, you can have a GIGANTIC game of dozens of people per side and it will still go smoothly. Every phase of the game needs to be timed and ran like a Japanese subway: if you take too long, you don’t get to shoot, kiddo.
Don’t make him sad. Roll quickly so he doesn’t lose his chance at killing.
In conclusion, make the board as beautiful as possible, make team work crucial, give each person a logical and important role, and make team mates rely on each other. There is nothing more epic than being part of a team where everyone has an important job and your success or failure impacts others. But keep in mind, that failure happens, and you’re just here to have fun and tell a story. That’s what Narrative is all about.
Have you tried this sort of thing? How smoothly (or not) did it go? Is this something you’d like to try?
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