Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Do scenarios define the game?

Following on from the last conversation about how a diverse meta encourages different armies. How much do the scenarios define the game? How do other games handle scenarios to provide high degrees of replayability and army diversity?

Historical games.
Ancient wargaming such as DBMM does not provide scenarios both sides line up across the table and advance to contact. However there are a number of stratagems like flank marches or extra dummy troops that generals can employ to provide high degrees of variation. There are also something like 400 army lists in 4500 years of war.

Flames of war
This game focuses on capturing objectives or killing enemy units and the general in order to win. There are a wide variety of different deployment options and many missions feature an attacker - defender split with different rules for each side. With asymmetric deployment maps that can look like:

This is widely regarded as the big rival to warhammer, it's gone for more of a tournament game and it's scenarios are designed to be over and done with in 90 minutes. Timed turns and death clocks are common. The scenarios also feature kill box where if a players general is within a certain distance of the board edge it either takes damage or gives up scenario points to the enemy. Warmahordes scenarios often focus on control of objectives or zones with the alternate way of instantly winning killing the general. A typical mission map looks like.

Even 40K has missions
Back when I played 40K in a tournament setting (circa 2000) there were a large variety of missions including attacker - defender missions. Not all these were used at tournaments but they were certainly usable in pick up  games at the club so you needed to consider them. the most popular tournament mission was Dawn assault. You won this game by killing 75% of your opponents units or by controlling the most table quarters at turn 6. Deployment was in opposite table quarters, not within 6" of the table edge and not within 24" of another enemy unit already deployed. The deployment map looked something like:
So with warhammer really having only 3 missions (battle line, blood and glory and watch tower) and some jurisdictions not even using all of those, is it any wonder that we have a narrow meta and limited combinations.

So do people think importing scenarios from other games would be a good thing to expand the meta? Would people come to an event that wasn't rule book missions if the missions were published with the players pack? Or is that one bridge too far and no one will come?


  1. Personally I love scenarios/missions and would love to play in tournaments which had unique objectives and rules etc.

    1. So do people think importing scenarios from other games would be a good thing to expand the meta? - Yep, as long as there is some play testing put in so the scenarios fitted with WHFB mechanics.

      Would people come to an event that wasn't rule book missions if the missions were published with the players pack? - Definitely, as long as the scenarios accounted for the unique play styles of all armies.

      Or is that one bridge too far and no one will come? - I don't think so, look at how much fun was had at the Karak Eight Peaks tournament, and the campaign version of Horned Rat (or Runefang) a few years ago.

      - Adam Richards

    2. Before I chucked it in I 'imported' a Warmachine scenario into the last Warhammer tournament I ran. Three flags spread across the middle of the board (Warmachine players will know this as "Incursion") and one flag disappeared at a pre-determined time. If I recall correctly each one successfully controlled at the end of the game yielded 400VPs, so they were worth going for in VP terms and in the context of the tournament setup. Don't recall how well it was received - have the feeling the players humoured my attempt at something different but were otherwise fairly unimpressed.

      In retrospect probably not a great decision on my part as the mechanics of Warhammer make armies a lot less manoeuvrable and reactive by comparison.

      In my time I also changed Watchtower to 'King of the Hill' (control a central elevated piece of terrain) and that went down VERY well with the local crowd. I fondly recall one game in particular (Rory vs Luke Brimblecombe - I think Empire vs Empire?...) where they engaged in a massive all-in scrap involving something like 6 units (blocks of infantry) all hitting each other in the flank/rear over several turns. Mind you, this was FluffyCon where the scariest character was typically a Captain with a 10pt magic weapon and heavy armour :)


  2. Flames of War is a game I really enjoy, the Scenarios are a huge factor in this.

    Your army determines how you may end up fighting in terms of the scenario. It really changes up how you play and what you do. Added with many other things such as how reserves will work, the time of day and the status of the initial deployment then on top of that you have your army type.

    In contrast to my limited experience in Warhammer Fantasy, there is seemingly little difference in how you play each scenario. Although it could simply be me still learning the game. Most of the games I see are simple about counter deploying then target selection.

    I personally think more in depth and well thought out scenarios could definitely shake up the game in a good way. It would certainly get me very interested in Fantasy again as well.

  3. I think WHFB has suffered from 8th being the first edition of the internetz era to introduce scenarios as an official part of the game. 6th ed and 7th ed STILL have a massive impact on the psyche of the game and the international meta.

    Look at the "big" events/comp packs. ETC, swedish, SCGT (I believe) are all intended for battleline older editions. The ways in which we think about and theory-hammer the game are all based around certain variables...tit for tat deployment, 6 turns and VPs for the win.

    The also suffers from this inherent bias towards focusing soley on beating each other up from a historical perspective. Objective based games require movement...and especially require flexible movement + an equalibrum across all armies in this sense (or a rock/scissors/paper equivilent). 40k does this with standardised movement values and a focus on ranged damage with token combat...WHFB is stuck with "slow dwarfs vs normal human/orc vs fast everything else" in a game where combat is the defining moment of the game (see complaints about being "shot off" or "they avoided me all game").

    I like the way 8th has changed up how armies are deployed, and the missions that they have introduced that require consideration at the theoryhammer stage do compliament each other rather well (ie needing "pointless" banners and "useless" infantry). Disclaimer - I am 100% in the camp of "watchtower is a watchtower not a forest" as forests can be held by demigryphs and steamtanks while buildings cannot.

    Could there be more missions? sure - but they have to be balanced across the variety of armies in WHFB where movement values is a very important variable...

    Joel v

    1. Europe and to some extent the US seems to be stuck in a 7.5 edition universe. They were heavily invested in the older editions and didn't want to start from scratch.

      As has been noted and Dwarfs do have a new book and can get loads of fast moving gyro fighters and bombers and with vanguarding multiple units and miners coming on from behind, it's not like Dwarfs can't do a strategic movement game. Imagine shifting 3 dwarf hordes from 3 objectives placed down the center line of the table I don't fancy that job. Sure you might be able to delay the Dwarf blocks with chaff but then they can fend off chaff with their air force or shoot it off the table with warmachines.

      So gone are the days when Dwarfs have to be slow.

  4. With regard to Warmachine (which is the only system I can speak for) the short answer is: yes, scenarios definitely (help to) define the game.

    1. Sorry... that comment was from me - Dave.


    2. Agreed, otherwise it's just caster kill and very one dimensional. Some casters have great scenario feats that do little for caster kill others a great for caster kill but have no scenario game.

  5. ban dwarfs :) everyone is happy and scenarios make for a much more tactical game where the scenario is meaningful. Hopefully 9th introduces some new ones that add a dynamic to the game.

  6. Neil Williamson used some interesting scenarios at Nicon in 2009 involving multiple objectives per table and one game where one army had to escape across the opposite board edge. They worked under 7th ed really well

    1. I'd forgotten that. I seem to remember I gave Dwarfs a head start in their bid to escape. Maybe I'll dust them off and have a look at some new scenarios for Vermintide.

    2. That would be cool Neil they were fun.

  7. I've played several of the other scenarios from the big RB, enjoyed the hired swords one. Also played a frozen lake one that was fun.

  8. Cant speak for the main gamesworkshop systems, but Ive played a heap of flames of war, Impetvs, war of the ring and a few rpg and skirmish systems.
    I can say that flames of war, whilst the mission shown above shows a symetrical game, its not entirely bound to the missions as a system... and of all the systems I've played, perhaps has the most versatile and flexible missions and scenarios.
    playing tournamentsis a different story as it used to be bound to about 6 missions but I think now they have over a dozen missions and also a campaign system and the total war rules which encourages multiple player games. Ive used these to full advantage in the past and weve set up some really fun and differing syles of game play.
    Impetus is like you say, set up across the board and go nuts at each other, but many ancient or historical battles were fought this way... it just doesnt give siege rules which is a shame because otherwise you could run some great campaigns.
    nice read man :)