Welcome back to our monthly escalation league update. The escalation league has taken April off so everyone can catch up on painting projects or take a short break if they’re all done and ready, but this doesn’t mean games weren’t had. This month we broke out the skirmish games, specifically Warcry, Underworlds, and Blood Bowl, and you can check out what we were up to last month in that article as well!
Our escalation days have never been serious or competitive affairs, we don’t know the rules well enough for that, but even so this skirmish day felt like a particularly care-free affair; the half-time show, as it were. So we’re going to take a little whistle-stop tour of our games and who knows, maybe we’ll cover one of them in more detail later?
We’ve talked at length on this site about Underworlds, it’s been a staple of our group for quite a while so I won’t spend too long here. Our resident editor-in-chief Niall and a friend of ours, Matt (a different Matt to our mini of the month contributor) engaged in vicious combat as Orruks laid into Ogors; such aggressive games of Underworlds tend to be rather swingy affairs and, judging from the muttering I heard while I played Blood Bowl (more on that later), that is exactly what was occurring. (Editors Note from Niall; Matt won our game because I failed every roll, both attack and defence, with the Krushas. I’m not bitter about it or anything.)
While Underworlds has currently taken a backseat in our gaming schedule, Games Workshop have recently announced the next season: Doctor Doom cosplaying Stormcast vs Disciples of Tzeentch that stopped to watch Event Horizon, so it’ll probably start to pique our interest again in the near future.
What if Age of Sigmar, but smaller? That is the question posed and answered by Warcry, the fantasy equivalent of Kill Team and spiritual successor to Mordheim (leave your angry comments about that one below). Players take command of warbands ranging anywhere from 5 to 10 minis in maps absolutely chock full of terrain and play out a variety of missions each complicated by a twist randomly selected at the start of the game. The neat thing about all three of those is that they’re each drawn from a deck, resulting in a truly staggering amount of variation and replayability.
The day’s players were Matt (the mini of the month painter) with his custom and proxied Cities of Sigmar witch hunters squaring off against Arron’s samurai vampire Askurgan Trueblades using the new Bloodhunt terrain. In the moments I got to watch, I was reminded of how lethal Warcry can be, with the witch hunters taking chunks out of vampires from range before the bloodsuckers got into melee where they had the upper hand. For people who want to dip their toes into the world of Age of Sigmar, you could certainly do worse than starting with Warcry, in fact that’s how Arron got back into the hobby after many years away.
And last, but certainly not least, we come to my personal favourite of the bunch, a whimsical vestige of the 90’s that refuses to die: Blood Bowl. It is, in short, the violent love child of British Rugby and American Football played like a strategy game; what risks are you willing to take and what pieces can you sacrifice in order to score that all important touchdown?
I’ve introduced several of my friends to Blood Bowl and the chain of facial expressions has always been the same: bewilderment > uncertainty > concentration > enjoyment. It is a strange game that by all rights shouldn’t work but it just does, this is mostly done through the humour of the art style, Blood Bowl knows it’s rediculous and doesn’t pretend to be otherwise, reveling in its niche instead. You might not be able to tell, but I’ve been a fan of the game ever since I learnt of its existence.
The actual mechanics of the game are, in theory, very simple: two teams of up to eleven players (normally less after injuries start occuring) are attempting to get the ball into their opponent’s touch down area to score. By any means necessary. Each player has stats for their movement, agility, ability to throw the ball, how strong they are, and how good their armour is, along with normally a bevy skills to aid in these things. Some teams (usually a flavour of Elf) play a more “traditional” game with the ball, while other teams (usually some flavour of Chaos) would rather remove their opposition from the pitch before casually walking the ball home.
In this particular game myself and Niall (not our editor-in-chief, we ) played one half, or eight turns each, for Niall’s first ever game. Stalwart Dwarves (boo) vs bloodthirsty Khorne (yay) in an absolute grind of a match where one side wants to inflict casualties and the other side just can’t be hurt. We had a blast and you should keep an eye out for more Blood Bowl content in the future.
That’s all from this month; next time we’re going to 1250 points and many new Battletomes. Till next time.