Friday, 8 November 2019

EVENT REPORT: Grewyater Fastness (and Gotrek) at Warhammer Achievements 7


Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend Steve Wren's Warhammer Achievements (now in it's seventh year), my first proper narrative event. Originally put together for WFB by Steve (now events manager at Warhammer World), who continues to run it under the umbrella of Blood and Glory at the Roundhouse in Derby, Warhammer Achievements is an event like no other, where the overall winner is determined by how many "achievements points" players can score on and off the battlefield.

Achievement points can be won for list building (for example fielding an army with no duplicate unit choices in, or taking three chariots), painting (including a model painted solely with contrast paints, painting a freehand banner), and sports (buying your opponent a drink, letting them go back and do something they forgot in a previous part of the turn); but most are to be found on the battlefield, with points for pulling off all kinds of feats, both positive and debilitating, like slaying a hero or behemoth with a battleline unit, managing to do three wounds with an Arcane Bolt, and losing an entire unit to an unlucky battleshock test, as well as battleplan specific awards for each game played. If you're interested in exactly how all this works, then check out the event pack here.

Greywater's notorious "Contrast Killer"

The theme for this year's event was brotherhood, with each player able to bring a 1,000 and 2,000 point army, with the option to play any of their games solo or with a doubles partner. Furthermore, we got to choose from five overall thematic "Brotherhoods" for our armies to belong to for the event, with extra achievements and special rules on offer encouraging themed forces, as well as all friendly models counting as sharing keywords for the purpose of buffs and abilities between allies from the same Brotherhood. Brotherhood eligibility was determined by general, and as I was attending the event with my friends Lawrence and Jon, who respectively had generals on a griffon and Maw-krusha, qualifying them for the Mounted Brotherhood, and wanting to fight alongside each other, I hurriedly converted and painted Venerable Hrathnir, a Runelord of not-inconsiderable years, who prefers to take to the field on the back of a mining pony, if only so the rest of the army isn't forced to slow down while telling him to hurry up.


Players were also given a unique Commander warscroll to run in their lists, a cool free hero integral to several achievements who would level up after every game, with whatever faction keywords you wanted. When I was developing a narrative for the weekend, Lawrence (an Ironjawz player) pointed out the gnoblar helpers littering the bases of several of my heroes and warmachines - accusing Greywater Fastness of slave labour! I of course rebutted, that the gnoblars, with their willingness to be paid in dead rats, and replaceable abundance, were valued citizens of the Ghoul Mere, but Lawrence wasn't having it, and set about converting the "Iron Gobbo", a notorious grot outlaw dedicated to the liberation of Greywater's diminutive greenskins (whether gnoblars care more about being liberated, or where their next dead rat's coming from up for debate).

Narrative all set, I converted and painted up Thurix Starbeard, Commander of the Cog Watch constabulary (because if Greywater Fastness had a police force it couldn't be called anything else), a loose steam cannon, who'd flown in the face of his superiors and gathered a rag-tag group of heroes to chase the Iron Gobbo to the end of the Realms... only for the perils of having to finish the rest of his army to cut Lawrence's painting of his beautiful Iron Gobbo conversion short... meaning that Thurix had unwittingly failed in his earnest quest to apprehend the detestable fugitive before it ever began, and would have to wait until his next narrative event to bring the Gobbo to justice.

Thurix Starbeard - see if you can name all the parts used
(not pictured: the Iron Gobbo...)
My 2,000 point list was a bit all over the place, focused on getting as many achievement points with the units I'd selected as possible, and I ended up playing all my games as doubles, and unfortunately never managed to use it. The 1,000 point one I chose was a much tighter affair containing:

  • Venerable Hrathnir, Runelord on Pony, General, Seat on the Council, Wand of Restoration
  • Drakhastra, Sorceress, Adjutant, Eroding Blast
  • Thurix Starbeard, Commander, pistol, Descending Ash Cloud
  • Gottri's Irregulars, 10 Longbeards, great weapons
  • The Copperhawks, 10 Lonbeards, shields
  • Mav-Rik, Gyrocopter, Steam Cannnon
  • Malevolent Malestrom (gotta get those endless spell achievements)
  • Gotrek Gurnisson (apparently he had a bone to pick with the Iron Gobbo too)


GAME 1:

On Tainted Ground - Shyish - The Gloomtide Graveyard

With Jon's Tempest's Eye vs. Jason's Khorne Bloodbound


Before I get started on the game, hats off to Steve any everyone who brought them for the prodigious tables on display. They were easily the best boards I've ever seen, let alone had the pleasure of playing on, with Steve having put together a full colour atlas of printed pages for each of the boards used, with easy reference for all of the custom scenery rules he'd devised for them. My first game took place in the Gloomtide Graveyard, a collection of spooky Shyishian shipwrecks, donated for the weekend by Ben Johnson of the AoS design team (also in attendance with his awesome Anvilgard Steam Tanks - photos don't do them justice).

The happy coincidence of it looking like we'd gone to the
effort of coordinating our bases

The opening game saw my Greywater expedition team up with Jon's Tempest's Eye expedition, made up of Demigryph Knights under the command of griffon mounted Grand Master Andren Knost, and an accompanying Sacrosanct contingent of Jon's heavily converted Pyromartyrs Stormhost, also hot on the trail of the Iron Gobbo in the wake of a closely guarded prophecy involving the minute menace. The Gobbo had obviously lead both forces into a trap, as they'd found themselves on the coasts of Shyish, facing off against Jason's almighty army of Bloodbound cannibals, featuring a unit an allied unit of 6 Skin Wolves, something not commonly seen, lead by suitably Ghurish Commander, converted from a Kurnoth Hunter, with a skull for a head and suitably brutish weapon.

Maybe half of Jason's army...
The battleplan involved Jason's army working their way down the table lengthways corrupting pieces of scenery as they went, obviously in at bid to shatter the barriers of reality and transform this particular stretch of Shyish shoreline into an ocean of blood. Realising early on that we were out murderous-axe-nutter'd early on, Jon and I resolved to make a beeline for Jason's Commander - needed to corrupt scenery pieces, with the only model the Bloodbound and their Skin Wolf allies weren't likely to go through like a wet paper bag - Gotrek (Jon hadn't glued a shield to his general on griffon. Jon!). After some tense charging and positioning, Gotrek had made his way to and had made very short work of the Khornate commander by turn 3, securing a major win for the Free Cities - Jason didn't seem to mind though, as he'd come to the event with the personal goal of scoring as many Blood Tithe points as possible, and we continued to play in order to score achievement, with Jon and I having very few models left between us by the end, and Jason pretty satisfied.

My favourite picture of the weekend

Highlights of the game included my Gyrocopter making a daring charge to prevent almost all of Jason's heroes piling into, and potentially taking out Gotrek before he could reach the commander, instantly getting a Skullgrinder's Brazen Anvil to the face; and Jon and I underestimating the Skin Wolves to our peril, only to watch them shred the entire left flank of our armies. A fantastic game against a fantastic opponent (who I should probably add came dressed as a unicorn), and a great start to the weekend.


GAME 2:

The Quest for Excess - Ulgu - Corrupted Temple

With Lawrence's Ironjawz vs. Ben's Slaanesh Daemons

Not pictured: Ben's hand gestures

In the second game, Thurix and company (having abandoned the depleted Tempest's Eye lancers), had followed the Iron Gobbo's trail to a Slaanesh corrupted Stormvault in Shyish, where he'd left a cadre of Chamonite Ironjawz in wait for them, but not being painted had failed to turn up himself. Before either side could raise a blade to the other, the skies turned an unfortunate shade of purple, as the daemonic hosts of spare player (and my very good friend) Ben erupted from them, forcing Lawrence and I (and our armies) to temporarily declare an uneasy truce in the face of the greater threat. The battleplan, loosely based on the one in the Slaaneshi battletome involved each player having a secret quest to achieve, while at the same time battling it out for control of the central Fane of Slaanesh. Ben, as a solo player got to pick his quest, and picked having models from his starting army in our deployment zone by the end of the game, while Law and I had to roll for ours, with the orruks having to keep a single battleline unit (Law chose his brutes) alive for the entire game, and the Greywater expedition needing to take out Ben's most expensive hero (his Keeper of Secrets...).


Law's Brutes put up a brave fight, but were eventually sliced into very fine green chunks by Seekers and chariots, with even Gotrek going down to a couple of Heralds in Exalted Chariots (lots of damage 1 attacks are definitely his Kryptonite) before he could reach the Keeper, leaving very little in our combined arsenal capable of taking down the relatively unharmed greater daemon... or so we though. Enter Thurix, who having learnt a command ability that allowed him to nominate a unit (in this case himself) to attack twice, made impressively short work of the Keeper after it had been softened up by a Gyrocopter bomb. Though Law and I didn't know what it was at the time, Ben's quest had gone from hard to impossible to pull off, as his army had gone the way of most Slaanesh ones, getting wiped out, but replacing itself with almost as many models gained through depravity points, for a major victory to the short lived Order/Destruction alliance, with me (very luckily I might add) scoring maximum gaming achievements for the round for having completed a quest when my partner couldn't and having the most models near the centre of the board. With a newfound begrudging respect, the surviving Ironjaw and Greywater forces elected to go their separate ways, ruing the day either had ever heard of the Iron Gobbo.


GAME 3:

The Skeins of Fate - Chamon - The Sultan's Bazzar

With Jimbo's Celestial Lions Stormcast vs. Tom's Chaos (Archaon!) and Ol's Skaven


After the encounter in Ulgu, Thurix and company decided they needed to water up, and were doing so in a Chamonite port town (Gotrek in particular wanting nurse a sore head by getting drunk, having been turned into orange mist knocked unconscious by Ben's chariots). Before the Cog Watch could get anywhere near the requisite amount of R & R, they found themselves in the middle of another conflict, when the Sacrosanct and Vanguard Chambers of Jimbo's Celestial Lions rocked up (in exquisite NMM) with a wagon bearing the recently exhumed treasures of a nearby Stormvault, the forces of Chaos in hot pursuit, lead by no less than the Everchosen himself - given a new look and M.O. by Tom, having swapped the Slayer of Kings of the Spear of Destiny in a bid to permanently kill Nagash. A battleplan adapted from the Disciples of Tzeentch battletome made for a strangely thematic fit, with the Celestial Lions and Greywater expedition defending the township from the combined Chaos armies (how Archaon must have resented teaming up with skaven), and competing to score Laurels of Victory, earned in different ways, with the defenders' laurels geared much more towards casting spells and pulling off tricks, and the attackers' based on killing things.

Well, I got my achievement for a turn 1 charge
In a game not nearly as tense as it should have been, largely due to the volume of wizards Jimbo and I had between us having an easy time winning laurels by casting spells, and Archaon having a hard time landing between buildings and spread out groups of models, my highlights were Ol's awesome Clans Moulder chariot conversions (though I didn't get to fight any, they were too busy making a mess out of Jimbo's Sequitors) finding out just how effective a CoS Malevolent Malestrom can be (it blew up three times after I'd only dropped 10 points on it to get endless spell achievements), and the Copperhawk Longbeards proving themselves exceptional MVPs - taking out Tom's Siege Gargant before Gotrek could reach it (winning an achievement for doing so as a battleline unit), and even doing a single wound to Archaon (before it was rebounded on to them, but it's the fact they caused a wound that counts).


By the end of the battle, both armies were almost entirely spent and a major victory a sure thing for the forces of Order, it was time for Archaon (finally able to land, and having eaten most of Jimbo and my heroes a turn earlier) to have what should have been his big moment, taking a run at Gotrek and... finding himself suddenly short of the Treasures of Chaos... as well as the parts of his body they were attached to. A great game with three great players, and a perfect way to cap the first day of the event.


GAME 4:

The Blood Swamp - The Faceless Masque - Hysh

With Phil's Stormcast vs. Paul's Seraphon


Like the above trio, this game was short but sweet. Phil's beautiful all mounted (brotherhood) Stormcast force also contained a couple of converted duardin on beasts of burden, though both of them significantly more fantastical that Hrathnir's pony (sorry Hrathnir!), Varag the Old was Phil's Commander, and rides the flightless Great Tarus above, and Kazic Longstride and his Gryph-hound counted as a Lord-Arcanum for the weekend. Phil and I immediately agreed that, in keeping with the fraternal theme of WA7, the trio should be long lost brothers, with Hrathnir having called in a favour to help his companions get back to Greywater Fastess after failing to apprehend (or even locate) the Iron Gobbo.


The battle took place in the Faceless Masque, a stretch of Hysh clearly situated closer to the Hidden Gloaming than the conventional logic-and-sunbeams parts of the Realm, on a suitably Slaaneshi board, created by Ben especially for the event, full of energy sapping LED clouds that moved like endless spells, and creepy gargantuan body parts, that I can neither confirm or deny are the result of Ben's fiance making him watch Mannequin. In the battleplan the expedition and their Stormcast allies were tasked with securing the area by toppling a magical lodestone (no doubt combating the predilections of Slaanesh) guarded by Paul's stunningly converted, behemoth-packed Seraphon.

Paul's display board

Describing Paul's army doesn't quite do it justice, and so squeezing in as many photos of it as I can. Every model bar the (excellently painted) Skinks os entirely converted, with my favourites (if I had to pick) being his brilliant bipedal Bastiladon pair, converted from Forge World's Mazarall the Butcher. The Blood Swamp's battleplan rules featured, as you can expect, models in the attacking armies being at risk of getting lost in the swamp on their way to the lodestone, and only being able to emerge from at table edge. Unfortunately for the Seraphon (and the length of the game), Gotrek managed to get lost in the swam, and the battleplan map specified that the lodestone be set up conveniently close to the table edge...


Emerging from the swamp on turn 1 with a small party of duardin (all the Stormcast had failed their rolls to show up, swamps probably being considerably trickier  to navigate when you're encased in precious metals), Gotrek then made his 9" charge into the nearest Bastiladon, and everything went about as predictably as you'd think. The lodestone had 25 wounds, and could take a maximum 10 a turn, buying the Seraphon a bit of time, but by top of turn 3, Gotrek and his Concussor allies had easily toppled both the stone and the monsters and heroes defending it in another major win for Greywater Fastness and its allies.

Coordinated bases strike again. It's almost like Steel Legion
Drab is the official GW basing scheme or something...
I was a bit gutted that a game with two such great chaps and their stunning armies had been such a short one (with Gotrek largely to blame), running under an hour, but was given a nice consolation prize in being able to get a glimpse of how everyone else's games were going, and check out all the awesome armies being used in the AoS, 40k, Horus Heresy and Adeptus Titanicus tournaments in the main hall.


GAME 5:

A Fest of Skulls - The Faceless Masque - Hysh

With Ben's Slaaneshi Daemons vs. Jason's Khorne Bloodbound and Andy's Ogor Mawtribe


The final game! I nicely asked Steve if Ben, who'd only played the one game as spare player, and had spent the rest of the weekend secluded behind the admin desk could partner with me for the final game, and was very graciously obliged. With the lodestone nullifying the innate magics of the area and its Seraphon guardians disabled, Hrathnir's two brothers departed with the Stormcast, leaving Thurix's expedition to make what should have been a relatively simple trip back to Greywater Fastness, once Hrathnir had finished configuring the runes on the dormant realmgate that lay under the battlefield's central Slaaneshi shrine. Unfortunately for the Cog Watch, they'd been followed to Hysh by the surviving Bloodbound from their first encounter in the Gloomtide Graveyard, hungry for vengeance and a whole lot of skulls, now lead by Skarr Bloodwrath himself, and having been joined by a group of fatter, more enterprising cannibals in Andy's Ogor Mawtribe.


Bereft of other options, the Darkling Sorceress Drakhastra ran a dagger across the palm of her hand, offering up a bargain with the very Slaaneshi daemons who'd struck the expedition during their encounter with the Iron Gobbo's Ironjaw henchmen in Shyish. With the corrupted landscape's magical defences bereft since the topping of the Seraphon lodestone, lithe, daemonic shapes began to step out of the mists, and Skarr Bloodwrath screamed to the the heavens. He might just have a fight worth his time on his hands...

These two had the right idea
The battleplan was a perfect way to round out the event, with the attackers and defenders battling it out for a trio of objectives, with an achievement point bonus for getting your commander back home through the middle one at the end of the game. The rules Ben had put together for the Faceless Masque really hadn't had a lot of effect in the previous game, but it became my favourite board to play on of the event here, with lots of cunning manoeuvres in play to get as many clouds around each other's models as possible for maximum penalties, and the sometimes helpful, sometimes harmful "rewards" offered by the central altar acting as the main objective making securing it something to be cautious about. Ben's Slaanesh took on the majority of Jason's Bloodbound, leaving Andy and his ogors for my guys to spend most of the game scrapping it out with. Andy is a terrific guy, who I'd played once before a couple of years prior at a Throne of Skulls, and we had a laugh, with his ogors putting a considerable amount of damage on Gotrek, but taking way longer than they should have to take out the Gyrocopter after it had a single wound remaining.


Gotrek managed to take out most of Andy's army on his own, playing whack-a-mole with Skarr while he was at it, only to eventually lose his final wound in the last turn of the game to a Thundertusk's snowball (must have had a rock in it). With only the Thundertusk and Skarr (resurrected for I think the fifth time) left of the attackers at the end of the game, the Cog Watch had won another major victory, securing safe passage back to Greywater Fastness, surviving the Black Gobbo's machinations to hunt down the nefarious grot another day. As they left Hyish, hellish laughter echoed in the expedition's ears... just what had Drakhastra promised the daemonic host in return for their assistance? I sense a narrative game against Ben in Greywater Fastness's future...


At the awards ceremonies, I was a little surprised to find I'd come first for achievements in the Mounted Brotherhood (no mean feat considering it was the most popular Brotherhood by a mile, and Mounted Brothers made up about half the total attendees), not as surprised with the dubious (at a narrative event) Power Gamer award for best general after my five major wins (holding Gotrek responsible for that one...), and when we reached the main ceremony for all the Blood and Glory events held that weekend, staggered to find I'd come second for achievements overall, and given one of the GW's swanky new trophies to go home with. Lawrence's Ironjawz also got a very deserved best painted trophy, making the Iron Gobbo's absence a lot easier to swallow (he'd better be in attendance next time though!).

The Greywater Expedition, joined by all the models I brought
with me, but didn't end up using
Disregarding any unexpected prizes, Warhammer Achievements is easily the best event I've ever been to for Age of Sigmar (or any system), a big thanks to Steve and Ben for doing such a great job running it, to all my opponents and allies, and everyone who donated the weekend's staggering level of boards and terrain. I'll certainly be back next year, and signing up for as many narrative events as I can fit in future. If you only attended one AoS Event in 2020, make sure you sign up to this one, it's a weekend of games unlike any others you've played, with the highest standard of opponents, armies, boards and presentation - you won't be disappointed!

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