Making a Warhammer Escalation League That’s Right For You

The Handful of Dice team have a problem. We don’t actually play a lot of Warhammer…

We play a fair amount of Underworlds and the occasional online game, but with a team spread out along the south coast and around London we don’t get to play a lot of physical games of Age of Sigmar or Warhammer 40k. Some of us paint, and Arron paints a lot, but since we so rarely put the models on a table together some of us don’t paint at all. Every year we talk about doing a “new year, new army” project and maybe a few people buy Christmas Battleboxes, but by February the enthusiasm has always been stolen by some new codex release, new models, or new boxed game revival. It’s a problem that miniature and wargaming fans all over the world have. We’re all massive fans, but we don’t actually play; not as much as we’d like anyway.

So this time it’s going to be different. We’re going to employ the most powerful and exciting tools at our disposal, the driving force behind all productivity and engagement in every industry in the world. This year, we’re making a spreadsheet!

Better than that, we’re going to make a game about getting ready to play games. Our spreadsheet will be tracking the teams progress through the inaugural Handful of Points Warhammer Escalation League!

Spreadsheet showing the structure of the Handful of Dice Warhammer Escalation League

What is a Escalation League?

The premise of a Warhammer escalation league is simple. Every month (or sooner if you’re really quick) competitors will earn points by playing games with armies that gradually increase in size as the league goes on. The caveat is that the games can only be played with fully painted models, and they must have been unpainted, or incomplete, when the league began. This means that every month the players must paint all the models they need to expand their army to the new points threshold.

At the end of the league every player will have gone from nothing, to a full 2000 point army, and very likely a little bit more.

We’re slow painters and quite spread out geographically so have given ourselves a quite generous month between each point threshold, and will be escalating at a slow pace of 250 points each time. This means we’ll only have to paint one or two units a month, which should be very manageable even around our busy lives.

How do you earn points?

I’d encourage anyone planning a league, to tailor the points and challenges depending on what you’re trying to achieve. For instance, I’m trying to get the Handful of Dice gang to dig through their piles of unpainted, maybe even still on sprue miniatures, (that I know they all own) and finally finish the army they thought they were going to bash out in 2020. That means there’s a few considerations when deciding how we earn points in our league.

  • 15 points for meeting the new points threshold.
  • 3 points for attending a monthly game day.
  • 2 points for each game played that month.
  • 2 points for each game won in the last two months of the league.

I want the main activity of the league to be building an army, with the knowledge that not everyone will be able to play, or get to a planned game day, every month. That means I’ve skewed the points really really heavily towards presenting a fully painted and expanded army, and away from games played and won. There are still points for playing games but not a lot, and you don’t start getting points for winning games until near the end of the league where the armies are most complete.

Your goal might be to get people playing more, and in that case you might even want to scrap the whole painting rule entirely or skew your points more towards playing games than painting models. If you do give points for winning games though, keep in mind that most armies are not designed to play at really low points values, and armies that rely on a varied toolbox of units will struggle in the earlier rounds.

  • 3 points for writing lore for your army in month three.
  • 3 points for winning a best painted model competition in month four.

I wanted to add some extra challenges to break up the months a bit, but also want people to be able to use models they already own, and don’t want to impose any unnecessary requirements on how they spend their hobby money. That means there’s no themed weeks in our league, where players are required to add a certain type of model to their army, such as a monster, a wizard, or a hero. We’re even going to let people build their armies with models they already have half painted, or want to re-paint. As long as it wasn’t finished before the league started it’s a valid addition to your growing force.

How do you keep track of the scores?

You can use our very simple spreadsheet to keep track of your scores, or work out your own method. I recommend you think about what you want your league to be like, why you’re doing it, and what you find fun, and customise the challenges and scores.

Maybe your league has more competitive players than our league. If so maybe you want to give more points for winning games, and even assign players an opponent at each stage to make it more of a competition.

If your players are all buying new armies then having a unit type requirement will help people decide how to expand their force, and keep each stage feeling different to the last.

Or maybe you want to really spice things up. You could have players buying or painting models for each other so that you don’t get bored of the same army. You could introduce multiplayer games or other game systems like Underworlds, or Kill Team, as long as the games get bigger as you go it’s still an escalation league.

How did your league go?

We haven’t started our Warhammer escalation league yet, but I’ll be playing the Hedonites of Slaanesh and have planned my starting 500 points.

I’ve had Syll’Eske the Vengeful alliance half painted for a while, along with 10 riderless and half painted Hellstrider seekers. It comes out at a little under 500 points, but will let me clear up my backlog and start a clean slate for month two. Syll’Eske with an entirely moral army probably wont be the best, but it’ll give me a very clear direction to expand my force as we progress (and we’ve ruled that summoned units don’t need to be painted, so I might manage to get some demonettes on the field).

If you want to support the site you could always tip us a bit of change to help with our gowing armies, or if you want to start your own Warhammer escalation league (or just pick up some new minis) check out our Element Games referral link. They have great deals on units and a wide range of Warhammer and accessories. Make sure you’re following us on Instagram to stay up to date and get involved in our community by sharing pictures of your projects with us!

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