Friday, July 31, 2015

The Arkyrian Cabal

While most enemies are easy to recognize, there is a threat to the world that is invisible to most eyes. A threat that has threads into nearly every nation or military force. That threat is the Arkyrian Cabal, a secret society of wizards whom true loyalties lies with themselves and the organization. Being among the most accomplish wielders of magic in the world, the Arkyrian's members have earn positions of great influence as advisors, court magician, and the like in numerous armies or nations. Using their influence Cabal members have siphon wealth and information from their home nation into the coffers of the secret society. Because this spying is not to another nation, their deceit is nearly impossible to catch. Spying aside, members do help their home nation to the best of their abilities until that nation's goals are in opposition to the goals of the Arkyrian Cabal. In that case members will not hesitant to bring their home nation to ruin.

An unique aspect of the Arkyrian Cabal is that even the members do not know the identity of other Arkyrian members. At their meetings every member wears oversize hooded robes to hide their features. While there they are given a large medallion to wear around their neck. Each medallion has a different letter engraved on it. These letters have no importance other than a means of identifying the member who wears it. None of the members even know exactly how many Arkyrian Cabal members there are total. Estimates are around 20 to 30 "grand" members and around hundred "lesser" members. Cabal meetings usually take place in deep caves or underground caverns that are dimly lit to help mask peoples identities. There is usually three to six very large alcoves in the meeting hall. They are always filled with a deep impenetrable darkness that makes vision inside impossible. Members whom wander near these alcoves can feel the powerful presence of something emanating from within the alcoves. Everyone assumes the alcoves hides the identities of the more monstrous members but few knows for sure.

The one entity that knows all of the Arkyrian Cabal's secrets is its mysterious leader. The leader is the one whom created the Arkyrian Cabal and personally convince every member to join while keeping his identity a secret. The members only know two things about their leader: his arcane knowledge is immense and his presence exudes more magical energy than any being they have ever known. Even the most arrogant sorcerer will admit that their leader can wield magic better than themselves in every way possible. Despite his overwhelming power, it was his charismatic leadership plus his willingness to share his knowledge that earn the loyalty of the Arkyrian members. For a handful of members their level of trust for their leader goes beyond this. The mysterious leader acted as a mentor to these members early in their mystic studies. His teachings was what allow some of those members to excel in the arcane arts in the first place. For these members the mysterious leader is not just a source to achieving greatness but more of a father figure.

The goals of the Arkyrian Cabal are simple. They want power. Some wants to be kings or queens, some have other ambitions, but all of them want to increase their own arcane power. By following the orders of the mysterious leader, the Arkyrian Cabal has formed the building blocks of an invisible empire. Scatter across the world the Cabal has hidden military outpost and secret laboratories. These facilities has money and other resources members may need and can tap into. During the Cabal's latest meeting, the mysterious leader announce that enough of these facilities have been setup that the Arkyrian Cabal can now move into the next phase of his plans. He assure his members that soon their personal power will grow and the foundation of the world will shudder!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Update on My Lore

I have written about my Chaos Magic Lore in a few articles. Some of the things I have talked about have change slightly. Most of it has remain the same thou there are now some new issues. Since I am about to release a series of new lore pieces I figure this would be a good opportunity to restate what my lore is and to clear up issues relating to it.

Chaos Magic Lore is the fiction that gives life to my wargaming armies and the campaigns I play in. A literary world that continues to grow with each additional campaign and self-contained short story. I do consider my settings to be different from the official settings of the games I play in. That means I do not try to write in a way to fit in with the official settings and I have the option to change game systems if need be. This last point has been mostly academic since I only played one game system with each setting. However with the release of Age of Sigmar I now have a real opportunity to do fantasy campaigns with two different systems.

All of my lore is not one single universe. I have separate settings for each genre of games: Fantasy, World War II, Space Age Science Fiction. As I expand on the number of settings I write about I will develop methods to make sure it will be easy to know what canon each article belongs to. Currently I have only written lore in two settings. One article was about my team in the BattleTech League. Every other piece is in my fantasy canon which up to this point have been played exclusively on Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition. I am reluctant to remove articles I have already posted here but that may be the fate of the lone BattleTech piece. The League ended before I was able to write anything else on it, lore or gameplay elements. That means the piece is not anchored to anything else in the setting. There will be future BattleTech campaigns or leagues I will be apart of and it would be nice if I was able to connect that old piece with the new lore whatever that is. However it is possible that the new lore will contradict what I have already written. In that case I will remove the current BattleTech story. Until then it will remain here on its lonesome.

One method I will be using to help organize my lore is with pages I call "nexuses". A nexus is a page dedicated to one topic such as a campaign or a setting in general. Each nexus will have at least two major parts. The first part is background information about the topic and the second will have all the relevant links to articles on the blog in one organize location. I plan to have three new nexus pages out soon, two of which should be out next month. These will be the Border Prince and World of Chaos nexuses. The Border Prince Nexus will have the story behind the campaign, a description of how the campaign is played, and links to every Border Prince article. Someone new to the blog will be able to quickly understand what the Border Prince campaign is and be able to follow how it played out by reading the nexus. The other major nexus I'm working on is the World of Chaos Nexus. The World of Chaos Nexus will be dedicated to explaining my fantasy setting in general. It will have major characters' histories, glossary for unique elements, describing how campaigns are connected and much more. The third nexus will be dedicated to the new campaign I will be running myself and it will be up around the time that campaign is ready to start.

Hopefully this will make more sense once my nexus pages are up if this isn't clear. Feel free to send me any questions or comments. In the meantime enjoy my up coming (and long overdue) lore fiction.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

My First Age of Sigmar Game

I played my first game of Age of Sigmar earlier this week. That first game both maintain my excitement for the system and slightly change my opinion of it in some ways. We played Bretonnia vs Warriors of Chaos. We decided to go with 50 models a side. He made a list ahead of time and I just brought a sample of my collections and just deployed units until I got to 50. My idea was to adjust what I would used on the fly but it didn't matter in this game. Partly because I didn't bring enough different options to have a choice and partly for another reason I will discuss at the end. I believe what my opponent brought to the battle was a Bretonnia Lord on a Pegasi, Damsel of the Lady, Grail Knights, another cavalry unit that I can't remember, a unit of Peasant Bowmen, 2 units of Mounted Yeomen and a Field Trebuchet. I brought 2 Chaos Sorcerer Lords, 2 units of Warriors of Chaos, 1 unit of Marauders, 1 unit of Forsakens, Dragons Ogres, 3 Chaos Spawns, a Hellcannon and a Chimera. The game started out fairly even for the first two rounds. On the west side of the board the two heavy cavalry units, the Lord and Lady face off against Warriors, Forsakens and a Sorcerer Lord. On the east side had the Mounted Yeomen trying to shoot to death the 3 Spawns, Dragons Ogres and the second Sorcerer. The other Warriors unit was also on the east side but their presence did not matter until the end of the game, which was around the time I remember the run option. The Bowmen and Trebuchet rained death on the east side from their comfortable position in the center of the map. The Hellcannon tried to rain death right back on the Trebuchet and took way too long to do. The Chimera sat next to the Hellcannon looking pretty. And the Marauders were immediately deleted by the Trebuchet before my first turn.

As the game move to the later rounds, I quickly found myself getting grinded into a slow painful death. The Warriors and Forsakens were not a match for 2 heavy cavalry units. Even getting the assist from the chimera didn't stop my west flank from disintegrating. Once my chaos forces were gone the heavy cavalries that only took modest casualties ran into the Hellcannon. Probably should have ended the game here but we kept playing until I got tabled. Th east side fared much better at first. The Dragon Ogres along with the Chaos Spawns murdered the Yeomen but then got shoot up by the bowmen. The final Dragon Ogre tried the charge into the bowmen but died before he could do much damage. Heading into the end game I had 2 Chaos Spawns, 1 unit of Warriors and a Sorcerer Lord. My opponent had the 2 heavy cavalry, the Lord and Lady and the bowmen. The second Warriors unit and friends didn't fair any better against the dual heavy cavalries. The Sorcerer Lord did manage to snipe the Bretonnia Lord on a Pegasi with Arcane Bolt. I consider this a minor victory due to how much damage I threw at him and him just not dying. But in the end I got tabled with the majority of the Bretonnia force still being on the table.

So what did I learn from my first game? You might gather from my tone that I was a little bitter and I would be lying to say I wasn't. At least at the time and I tried to kept it to myself. I knew my negative thoughts were just excuses to protect my bruised ego. So after digging a little deeper into how the game went I finally realize two important points. One was that I had answers to the things giving me problems. The two heavy cavalry units with support from the Lord and Lady was what wreck my army. This was due to their high save and me not able to generate enough wounds. If I had concentrated the Hellcannon and chimera's range attacks on them I probably could have turn the battle around as they both do mortal wounds which means the cavalry would not have gotten any saves. It would also help if I realize the chimera had a range attack earlier in the game. This is one of the many mistakes we both made in terms of forgetting what our force can do. The other thing I realize is that I am playing a different game. This should have been obvious as Warhammer 8th edition and Age of Sigmar rules are nothing like each other. Nevertheless I found my thinking that since I'm using the same models with the same name as 8th edition, they will perform a similar role in Age of Sigmar. If my first game is any indication then that line of thinking is very wrong. I'm use to my warriors having really good saves but in Age of Sigmar they only have "decent" saves which means more failures than I am use to. Their balancing factor is that now they have 2 wounds each which is nice if it wasn't for the fact that the cavalry also had 2 wounds each. Also my shields were worthless because my opponent didn't have any attacks that did mortal wounds outside of Arcane Bolt from the Damsel but she had better spells to cast. Another factor was that I had no synergy in my army while my opponent had some. Nearly my entire army had a chaos mark but in Age of Sigmar they do nothing unless I have something that specifically affects them. For example Glottkin has a command ability that affects friendly Nurgle units. Its going to take a while to wrap my head around the fact marks does nothing by themselves. This means when I plan out future lists I very much need to keep what synergy options I have available.

There is no telling where Games Workshop will take Age of Sigmar but I now have a few guesses what the future holds. I think competitive games will be compose around balancing what models you bring to the game and what models you use in the game. In essence you will have two "list" instead of the traditional one. I know some in the community want to make single lists like what we did in 8th edition but I think this is a flawed approach to Age of Sigmar. It doesn't take advantage of Age of Sigmar's unique elements. Instead I think the following example would be a better approach. You and your opponent agree to play a game with equal number of models per side, such as 50. You and your opponent both brings models in excess to the agreed total such as 200 to 400 models each with the previous example. You both deploy one unit at a time from this pool until you reach the agree upon total and the leftovers can only be used if summoned as well as you are only able to summon models from this initial pool. Additional composition restrictions might be needed to be applied to the agree total though I need to play more games to see if this is really needed. With a system where you bring more models than what you use on the table allows for an environment to have healthy counters. 8th edition has it share of counters but I don't think it was very healthy. You had to factor in potential counters to your army when you make your list and if you left something out and had to face it on the table you had to either work around it or you were just screwed. With Age of Sigmar, as long as you have the models, you can adjust your play against potential counters on the fly in similar ways that real-time strategy games work. This is what I attempted but failed to do in my game because I lack the models and the knowledge of the new way my and my opponents armies play. However this style of game is what gets me excited about Age of Sigmar. All that is needed to for Games Workshop to balance their armies and not in ways most players are use to.

My next game of Age of Sigmar will probably be next week. I'm looking forward to a Skaven vs Goblin match. Until then try to stay positive!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Age of Sigmar

Age of Sigmar has created such a wave in the miniature wargaming community that I feel I need to throw in my input. First for those of you who don't know the significances of Age of Sigmar or was curious why its cause so much rage in the community, this is my narrative version of what is going on.

The setting of Warhammer Fantasy is around 30 years old and its lore has a rich history. The Warhammer Fantasy game is currently in its 8th edition of the rules. Last year Games Workshop started a major event in the setting called "The End Times". The event came to a conclusion with an apocalyptic final battle that was publish earlier this year. In the end evil won and the world was destroyed. Games Workshop has said they will no longer support Warhammer Fantasy and eventually all Warhammer Fantasy model lines will be removed to make room for their new game: Age of Sigmar. The story of Age of Sigmar is that Sigmar, one of the setting good gods escape the destruction of the Warhammer Fantasy world and took a few surviving remnants of its population with him. They found a set of new worlds to settle in. After a time the Chaos Gods found the new worlds and started corrupting people again because that is what they do. At this Sigmar basically said "Oh no, not again!" and created a race of divine angel-like warriors to fight against this new Chaos threat. Thus the Age of Sigmar begins!

Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition and Age of Sigmar are two vastly different games. I can understand the rage fans of 8th edition have with the destruction of their favorite game and setting but I also see why Games Workshop went with a reset in the first place. From a narrative point I like having an advancing metaplot. If a major element of your metaplot is "the end of the world is coming", at some point you really need to do your world changing End Times like event. You don't have to have evil win and destroy it all but I digress. Story aside the real reason Games Workshop is doing this reset is because they want a setting with stronger intellectual protection and I can't fault them for wanting that. Warhammer Fantasy has a rich history but at its core its really just European history mix with generic fantasy tropes. To be fair Warhammer was one of the pioneers for fantasy tropes but now these concepts are everywhere. I can fault them for the ideas they decide to go with but that is another discussion.

So what are my thoughts on Age of Sigmar? I have read the rules but I haven't played a game yet. The person I would most likely play with went on a family vocation around the time the rules were release. Now that he is back we will be getting our first game in later today. What I can say is the I like the theme of the rules and where Games Workshop may be taking them. That said there are only two official armies out. Games Workshop release rules to allow everything in 8th edition to be play with Age of Sigmar rules. However I consider this to be giving the community a taste of what is in store with Age of Sigmar. I'm sure over time these rules will be phased out as the meat of the new setting comes out. Overall I like the new direction GW seem to be taking this. The rules are free online and a spokesperson has said GW plans all future game rules will be release for free. They want to make the game easy for new player to get into and I can respect that. As I said 8th edition and Age are vastly different games that will probably scratch a very different itch. Unless I end up utter hating Age, I foresee myself playing both games for years to come. I will not be consider any of the community built "8.5" nonsense. For me I will either play vanilla 8th edition, 8th edition End Times or 8th edition modified for specific campaign rules. One thing is that I will probably be playing with a different force in Age of Sigmar. What force I am not sure yet but Age is just beginning so I have time to decide.

In terms of my projects I can see Age of Sigmar having little affect initially. I will finish Border Prince with the exact same 8th edition rules that it ended with. My Dragon's Fall campaign will be using modified 8th edition rules if its gets off the ground in the next few months. After that I may consider having Age of Sigmar projects.

Now I need to leave to actually play Age of Sigmar. I will have a lot more to say after I have real gaming experience with it. Until next time.