At the end of October I had the pleasure to organize the event – 2nd Polish Oldhammer Weekend.
I was prepering for this event for months. Preparing fluff and scenarios. Getting all together to be a proper narrative campaign with nice background story. Ton of work.
The Weekend 21-22th October 2017 was a grand final of these preparations. The Weekend I was waiting for full year, since the 1st Polish Oldhammer Weekend in 2016. And it was all worth it, I tell you that. Great deal for all participants.
When it come to rules, it had nothing to do with Oldhammer. We played 5th edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle (so,technically Middlehammer, by definition).
I’m quite aware that the name maybe misleading. Some, may be even offended that we suggest the fifth edition is Oldhammer. Don’t be. The thing is, from our Polish perspective, 3rd edition or older is barely alive. Handfull of players, and basically no awareness. Games Workshop products arrived to our country in mid 1990s (I started to collect miniatures in 1994) and 3rd edition was long time gone.
So, beginning of wargaming scene in Poland comes with 4th edition of WHFB and 2nd edition of WH40k. For many veterans that was the time when everything started. For many – this is Oldhammer. The editions that make the heart beat a bit faster. And the emotions win over the cold gaming calculation.
Or simply – the sentiment. There’s a huge deal for good old times. And we try to reach that sentiment, to organise something cool. And I have strong believe that Polish Oldhammer Weekend is something like that.
The second Polish Oldhammer Weekend took place in Warsaw Adeptus Mechanicum Wargaming Club. Large room filled with 11 tables prepared to play. Each equipped with battlemat and enough of scenery pieces to make it look like a proper battlefield.
As mentioned before, we used 5th edition rules. We also added tournament restrictions (to make Herohammer side of the game little bit less present;) from The Battle Book. Quick reminder:
- 2000 points armies
- No special characters
- No allies
- No more than one war machine to be chosen for each regiment of troops included in the army
- Wizards are limited to a maximum level of 3, no magic items can improve this
- Magic items with a points value of more than 50 cannot be included
Beside these restrictions, each player were obliged to prepare two more army lists for Siege scenario. One army list in case he will be defender in The Siege, and the other in case of besieging the keep.
We divided the campaign into two part. The first part, played in Saturday – was the series of scenarios, more complex than simple pitched battle. In each scenario the was a bonus to win, that could be used in upcoming battles (additional magic item, regimental champion or +1 to Armour Save). The second part – played on Sunday – was a big Siege battle, grouping all players on one table.
The story of the campaign is a sequel of last year struggle, when 10 armies were after the ancient artefact – The Old Hammer, which power was legendary ans was said to be a tool to stop The End Times and what’s after it.
The search of Old Hammer continues… The prophecy of it’s supposed hidden location at the beginning of Blood River wasn’t legit. The time of unrest and unexpected changes was about to start…
Old alliances were broken, and the level of trust between Old World kingdoms were the lowest since ages. The rulers of The World desired The Old Hammer. Each and every of them wanted The Hammer only for himself. The glory of becoming The One who stopped the end of the world were a huge temptation fro every on of them. Desperation was growing…
There was nobody who knew about The Old Hammer location. Wisemen, prophets, wizards were studying old books and scrolls, looking for answers. Futile efforts. No mention about The Old Hammer. All clues were telling about The Blood River, and this direction has been investigated already. The hall, where The Hammer was supposed to be hidden, was empty. No sign of it.
Everybody were debating – if The Old Hammer even exists. Maybe it’s just a rumour and the world is doomed…
…and when all hope was almost gone, in Dwarf keep of Zhufbar, a hero emerged. He arrived to the gates of Zhufbar with a prisoner. Miserable creature. Greenskin. Hobgoblin of Sneaky Gits Clan.
Hobgoblin was an eye-witness. And a thief as well. According to him, The Sneaky Gits stole The Hammer from it’s original location and took it to the east. Across The World Edge Mountains. To The Dark Lands. It’s now well kept in one of The Hobgolins keeps…
Damn those cursed Sneaky Gits!
This intel spread across the whole world with the speed of lightning. Was it true? No way to be sure. It was enough though to lit the hopes once again. Rulers mobilised their armie to search for The Old Hammer once again…
Although we called Oldhammer Weekend, we allowed players to use newer modele. As long as it was painted and WYSWIGed (more or less) it was allowed. Of course we encouraged to field older models. The oldest, the better.
However, the joy of gaming is our priority. So nobody, even with 8th edition plastics were excluded. I used my freshly painted Empire army based fully on 1980s and early 1990 models, but there were armies full of newer models and they still looked awesome (modern era Nurgle daemons army or Bratonnian army based on Perry models)
We had a space for 22 players, and even we got many more registrations, but a few weeks before the event, people started to give up on us. Different reasons – busy schedule, family, not enough painted models. One guy completely disappeared from the radar, for instance. And still nobody knows where is he. Oskar, mate, where art thou?
The list of players: (each of them presented a background story for his army. This is not a competitive event, we are telling a tale here. A little effort is appreciated:)
- Andrzej (Dogs of War)
- Kuba (The Empire)
- Tytus (The Empire)
- Mateusz (Skaven)
- Jan (Chaos Warriors)
- Zbigniew (High Elves)
- Mi Ty (Vampire Counts)
- Maciej (Dwarfs)
- Adam (Chaos Daemons)
- Tomasz (The Empire)
- Łukasz (Dwarfs)
- Łukasz (Bretonnia)
- Bartolomiu Zen (Dwarfs)
- Grze Tar (Dark Elves)
So, out of 22 registered players (no mentioning these who registered for reserve list) we ended with 14. Not bad, if you ask me. And to those who bailed on us, I have one thing to say:
The Day 1
First day of Polish Oldhammer Weekend was dedicated to more organised games. Each of the player received from me a small description of his battles with a map attached (with a route of the army and location of battles). The story pushed every army east to the other side of World’s Edge Mountains where was a new location of The Old Hammer.
The first two battles were 2000 point scenarios. We prepared 9 scenarios for this day. Each player were about to play two of these and victory in each battle provided a special bonus for the winner. Depending on scenario, it could be a magic item, or regimental champion, or +1 Armour Save bonus for entire regiment. It was nothing much to destroy the balance, but it was catchy enough to mobiles everyone to win their games.
The scenarios we used were based on battle reports and ideas from old White Dwarf magazines and old 5th edition campaign sets. I used, for instance, ‘The battle for Grimsdal’s Tomb’ from White Dwarf #153 or final scenario from ‘Grudge of Drong’ campaign set from 1996. All scenarios were little bit re-designed and rewritten to fit our campaign.
For the third game of the day, we paired all players in three larger groups to play bigger multiplayer battles.
- battle was between Skaven allied with Dark Elves vs joint forces of Nurgle Daemons and Warriors of Chaos.
- battle. Brettonian knights teamed up with High Elves of Ulthuan to stand against dark army of Lahmian Vampires and mercenaries of Tilea.
…and finally the third battle. The larger scale 3 vs 3 engagement. Combined forces of three provinces (Altdorf, Averland and Stirland) of The Empire vs large Dwarf army. 6000 points.
The last battle supposed to determine who will the defender and who attacker during the Sunday siege. At the end we mixed up the Sunday alliances anyway, so the last battle was just pure fun with no pressure at all;)
And at the end, I don’t even remember the results of the battles during Saturday. I can only share my battle reports.
The battles of Count von Suskov of Altdorf
When Count Sebastian von Suskov, a nobleman from Altdorf, was summoned by The Emperor himself, he knew it’s going to be a great deal. He had the dreams and visions of The end of the World, and when people in the court found out about them, Sebastian felt it – something is going to happen. Soon…
…and of course, Count von Suskov was right. The Emperor had a task for him. Gather forces and march east to find for The Old Hammer. There was no time to waste.
Battle 1. Averland connection
The road to The Dark Lands was long and full of adventures. The first, and rather unusual stop was in land of Aver River. Apparently, the treacherous Count Jacobus von Aver wanted the Old hammer for himself. Apparently, he thought that he may overthrow our beloved Emperor and take his place. He thought he may stand a chance against finest men Altdorf has to offer.
Two armies stood against each other on the fields of Bernloch. Brothers against brothers.
Count Jacobus on his pegasus was flying above the battlefield and shouted commands to his regiments. He chose rather defensive stance – crossbowmen, hand gunners, cannon and the steam tank stood firm against marching units of Count von Suskov. Altdorfian nobleman was riding his favourite creature – the mighty griffon.
There was no other possibility, that those two will meet in vicious challenge. The battles like that, always end in similar fashion. Two mighty heroes clashed in decisive combat. And it was epic fight. Two skilled warriors were fighting like equals. After quite some time, when the pegasus were dying in agony, Count Jacobus was forced to give up. He bend on his knees and begged for mercy. Count Sebastian von Suskov knew the battle was his. Just a glimpse of the eye to see regiments of Flagellants, Halberdiers and Knights Panther breaking the enemy lines), so he showed his greatness and accepted the surrender.
This battle was not a part of the campaign actually. I was playing against my friend, Jakub and his freshly painted Averland army. Jakub wanted to refresh WHFB rules after long, long break, so we decided we will play simple Pitched Battle scenario. No special rules and no bonuses for winning the battle. Kind of friendly tutorial-like game. The final result was a secondary issue.
Battle 2. Die, heretic! Die!
This battle wasn’t indented to play like that. Originally, it was planned as the meeting engagemnet between Nurgle Daemons and Tilean Dogs of War. However, there were a tiny mix up with a players and we needed to shuffle the ideas slightly. Nurgle Daemons were directed to the other table, and my Altorf force were put in their place instead. Unfortunately, the whole story went south because of all of this, but in the end we had a fun game, so there was no harm done to anyone:).
The battle was basically a copy of the ‘The Battle of The Tree of Shields’ scenario from ‘Perilous Quest’ campaign set. The initial plans was that Tilean were assigned to cleanse the filth of Chaos Cult, and while they were doing their bidding – The Great Unclean One appeared in the mortal plane to defend its reign. The army of Daemons came out from the warp to defend the altar of Chaos.
And since I landed on the table and my adversary were Tileans, so we needed to tweak the story a bit. No problem with that…
Count von Suskov continued the march west. The morale among his men were high, everybody looking forward to face another adventure…
…and the opportunity to do that was even closer than anybody would imagine. Imperial army was about the encounter the unexpected…
…in the marshes of Stirland, deep in the forest there was truly magical island, were the ancient cult of Marius, The southern God of War, has its lair. And Count von Suskov couldn’t bear this foreign abomination spreading across the land of Sigmar. He decided to banish the cult and destroy the altar on the island.
But the fate prepared an obstacle for brave men of Altorf. The army of Luccini under the command of Legate Lorenzo Lupo, who arrived here to receive the blessing of his patron god before the quest of Oldhammer. When Tileans realised what is going on – their fury were incredible! The wickedness of the northern folk of The Empire must not go unpunished.
The battle between Tileans and Empire was fierce. Marius, The Tilean God sent a dread curse upon the Imperial invaders (all my troops had -1 one to shooting hit due to the thick, unnatural fog that surround the marshes), but they did not fear the witchcraft. They stood their ground and resisted the foreigners.
Tileans literally covered the sky with arrows and bolts. Many brave sons of the Altorf lost their lives here. Count von Suskov knew he could be the only one here to save the battle. Legate Lupo was the leader of the Tileans and his dead could force Tileans to fall back (according to the scenario, Tilean side will lost the game if the general is slain). This was the only chance for The Empire side to win the battle.
So, von Suskov fly up high on his griffon and peaked down from the sky upon the unit of Pikemen with Tilean General in the front rank. Togheter with Panther Knights and fearless Flagellants, they fought the Tileans. Grey Wizard Adolphus supported his leader with magic, and all together, in group effort, they managed to slain legate Lorenzo Lupo. Broken and panicked Tileans started to flee away from the site. Merciful count von Suskov decided not to pursue the enemy regiments and he focueds on the most crucial task intead – to bring the unholy land back to Sigmar, and rush east to get The Old Hammer!
The battle was strange. I won this thank to the ‘sudden death’ rule of killing the enemy general. I was receiving heavy causalities all battle, and only my ‘all or nothing’ attack at general’s regiment of Alcatani’s pikemen with Tilean general leading them gave me a victory.
I played this one with my good friend Andrew, who got the most incredible collection of Dogs of War of classic Middlehammer era. All painted! Boss!
By winning this battle, I obtain a bonus magical item – The Chalice of Sorcery (an extra Winds of Magic card each magic phase). Yay for me!
Battle 3. The Grand Alliance is broken
The third battle in a order of the day. While among all participants, there were three Empire players and three Dwarfs players – it became pretty obvious what we have to do:).
We arranged a big battle between Dwarfs and The Empire! Forget the old friendships and alliances! Bring out the guns! And smash the foe!
All the fuss started when Empire armies combined their efforts and decided to pass across The World Edge Mountains in one contingent. Two provinces Averland, Stirland and capital city of Altdorf joined forces to be better prepared for any kind of danger on the paths trough the mountains.
Unfortunately, the old allies of human kind, Dwarfs of The High Mountains were not exactly happy about providing a free passage for humans. The Old Hhammer, they claimed, should belong to Dwarfs, and nobody else. Armies of Karaz-a-Karak, Five Rock Peak Keep and Karak Norn stood against the humans, denying them the right of passage.
Each side was 6000 points strong (2000 points for each army). We deployed our miniatures on two regular combined 48’x72′ tables. Each player deployed his army in front of his opponent, but during the game we were allowed to mix the regiments, like in any other regular battle.
My army was deployed in front of The Dwarfs of Karak Dorn (run by Łukasz). Those Grey Mountains Dwarfs usually live in friendly relationships with us, folks of The Empire. But the growing tension of closing End of Times made everyone nervous and distrustful. Every race were after themselves and nobody else. The was no other choice than fight.
And what an epic battle that was! Empire marched forward to meet the dwarfs clansmen somewhere in the middle in horrendous combat! The stench of gunpowder was in the air, gyrocopters engines distinctive sound: ‘thump.thump. thump. thump…’ echoed everywhere and mighty heroes of the Empire were flying their monstrous mounts up high above the clouds, ready to peak down and charge the enemy.
The battle was long and bloody. The causalities on both sides were numerous. Mighty Dwarf Runesmith was slain by Count Sebastian von Suskov. Ironbreaker unit were fired with all Hellblaster Volleygun barrels /more then the half of them fell down due of the salvo/. The Dwarfs though stood strong and took down many brave men of The Empire. At the end, Empire armies made to the other side of The Mountains, but the cost was too high. Decimated regiments and morale the lowest that the oldest veterans couldn’t remember such depression among men. Dwarfs were triumphant. Their goal was achieved – The Empire armies were out form the run after The Old Hammer.
The Empire side had some minor moments of success, but in overall we lost this one. Dwarfs players tactics was smart. They concentrated on the weakest points of Empire army, and at the end of the last turn – they managed to gather more victory points.
At the time the Battle between Dwarfs and The Empire was played, on two other tables more action were going on. Brettonians allied with High Elves faced Vampire Counts along with Dogs of War. Skaven together with Dark Elves versus Nurgle Daemons and Chaos Warriors.
The last series of battles supposed to determine who will be defending the keep and who will be besieging it in grand Sunday battle. Eventually we simply trashed away all results and after short change of ideas, we decided who will be defender and who the attacker.
Before the day was over, we set up the battlefield for Sunday and went off to the afterparty.
The Day 2
Comparing to the day one, Sunday was more casual. The plan was to play grand siege battle. 6000 points of defending side and 12000 attackers – 6 armies on each side. So, in order to even close to the end of the game, we need to be get more easy with the rules and drag as much fun as possible from this easiness.
We messed a story completely. The fluff is wrong in so many ways, that you don’t even want to know. Long story short:
Attackers side: Two Empire Armies, Dogs of War, Dark Elves, High Elves and Skaven
Defenders side: Three Dwarfs armies, The Empire, Bretonnia and Nurgle Daemons
There is no fluff explanation here. Nobody cared though – some of us wanted to defend the keep, and some wanted to attack. So, we kept it that way. There was no reason to take the fun away:).
We managed to fit the whole battle in 5 hours. We ended on turn 6 (of 7 planned), so in my opinion we kept pretty good pace. The reason that siege scenarios are generally quicker to play helped us a lot.
Who won? Tricky question. It was really hard to decide – at the end of turn 6, besiegers were almost inside. Many wall sections were demolished. It was matter of time that the keep will fall. On the other hand – defenders were strong and fought bravely. There was a chance they would defend the keep in the last. So, to settle the matter once and for all – we decide it’s a draw. Nobody complained. Nobody lost. Everyone were happy.
It was impossible for me to comprehend all the events on the battlefield. There were so many things going on. it’s the beauty of massive battles. Heroic deeds are done literally on every corner of the battlefield.
On the east flank Plaguebearers of Nurgle held the small piece of the wall section, push back three units of attacking Skaven. There was no possible way to get them of the walls. Even Ishik, the Skaven Warlorld was forced to flee. Nurgle showed his superiority.
On the other hand, unit of Flagellant, The Black Brotherhood from Altdorf got to the main gate with a log ram. They survived the ‘shower’ of hot boiled oil poured by defenders on their heads. Then they crashed the gate with the ram, and at the moment they were stepping into the keep yard, they stumble upon the enemy Helblaster Volleygun ready to fire! Oh, the Sigmar himself must have watched over them, because the Helblaster misfired during the second barrel fire and ony a few Flagellants died. Thanks to that extreme luck, Black Brotherhood were first from all attacking army to stand in the castle yard.
Another story. When Altdorf army’s general – Count Sebastian von Suskov on his faithful griffon were about to attack one of the wall section defended by Dwarfs from Karak Dorn, the successfully shot of organ gun put down his beloved mount. There was no time to grief, so Count von Suskov joined the unit of High Elves of Ulthuan and together they marched to climb up to the wall on the ladders. The walls were protected by Dwarf bravest Clan Warriors led by their General – Snorri ‘Stone Axe’ Storngenfeld. And while the Elves were fighting the Dwarfs, Count von Suskov issued the challenge against Snorri Strongenfeld. The challenge was a quick one. The Dwarf runic armour granted him almost perfect protection against any attack. Almost… Count von Suskov wielded one of The Runefangs, and when he inflicted the swift and accurate blows, the runes on the Runfang glowed brightly, and the Dwarf Runic armour was penetrated with ease, and sword cut deep to the Storngenfeld’s flesh, wounding him mortally. Count von Suskov was triumphant…
The battle ended around 3 pm. The draw as mentioned before. One more meal together and everyone went home.
The two day of intense wargaming. That’s exactly what my body needs. Months of preparations, then a big conclusion, a finally a breather. Pure wargaming essence.
The event was great, and it needs a further editions. The date and place for 3rd Polish Oldhammer Weekend is already set. Mark your calendars – it’s 20-21th October 2018 in Katowice. That’s right, we move south of Poland. Changing a venue will bring us some extra energy.
A for the programme for next year…nothing is settled so far. I’d love to intorduce WHFB 3rd edition no wider public. It would be awesome to see 40k Oldhammerers as well. It’s all about to be decided. Unfortunately we are limited by space, and as we would like to continue The Search for Old Hammer campaign, the other things – we will see. It’s all open for debate…
And I hope players will bring the oldest models they get. We probably won’t be forbidding the use of new models, but we continue to spread the idea of collecting, painting and using Oldhammer era models in the armies. And I strongly encourage to that:)
At this point I’d like to thank all the Oldhammerers in Poland. Those who attended to the event and even to those who couldn’t make it. I know we didn’t play true Oldhammer, but, shoot, that was great journey to our youth years, right?
Also big thanks to Adeptus Mechanicum Wargaming Club for letting us the space, tables and lots of scenery. And super big thanks for Kromlech who funded some little extras fro participants.
Until next time!