Edit: See my updated post on this here!
This week at Kingston Nexus we are kicking off our Age of Sigmar Path to Glory campaign. This is a simple campaign outlined in the General’s Handbook that follows the growth of a champion and their warband. You start by picking your allegiance, which is basically the army that you will use, and then by picking your champion. The champion you pick tells you how many units you get to add to your warband. Then, you play games, and watch your warband grow. After every battle you have a chance to add a unit, add a benefit to your existing units, or add a benefit to your champion.
If anyone has given this style of campaign some thought, you may have noticed the large gap in power levels of the warbands when you start looking at points. For example, an Ironjawz warband with a Megaboss on Maw-krusha can select five units to start with. The lowest amount of points this army could have is 920, if all five units were Warchanters, which wouldn’t be very effective. On the other hand, if all five units were one of the three battleline units, the warband would have a point cost of 1,420. Compare this to a Sylvaneth warband with a Spirit of Durthu as the champion. By taking only units of Dryads we could get 640 points, and by taking only Kurnoth Hunters we could get 1,120 points. As we can see the Ironjawz warband will have on average 25% more points. Things start getting even more messy if we compare Stormcast Eternals and certain Skaven factions.
Restoring the Balance
There are two ways that this apparent lack of balance can be addressed. The first is to limit starting forces to 1,000 points. While this works for most factions, some will struggle to get up to 1,000 without taking the absolute strongest unit, and others won’t be able to come under it with the units as written. This begins to feel a little more like matched play with some bonuses tacked on after you win a fight, as you’re now trying to balance points with effective units.
The second way this can be addressed, and the way our campaign is handling it, is to leave everything exactly as it is, but get rid of everything to do with allegiances such as traits and treasure. Your warband’s allegiance is to it’s own warband after all, and you’ll have the opporunity to gain items for your champion. Once you do this, things start looking a lot better for the armies. Anyone that has played against Ironjawz knows that they are much faster than their 4″ movement lends people to believe. They can reliably get off some first turn charges with the proper batallion warscroll. If you suddenly remove the ability for them to get that free d6″ movement, sometimes with a +2 attached, they are now a very slow army that will have to rely on Gore Gruntas to outflank and secure objectives, which aren’t a super powered unit. Ardboyz start looking better than Brutes due to their ability to charge 2d6+2″, giving you that little bit extra mobility. All of a sudden the game has changed drastically, and you can see why Ironjawz get some more points to whether all the damage they will take while they waddle forth.
Another result of this is that Death armies no longer get their 6+, but usually 5+, ward save, becoming incredibly fragile. This seems bad, as they were rather low on the points curve for their starting forces, but seeing as this system ignores points, there is no way to track the limits of summoning. With the ability to summon limited only by the number of Wizards you have, it seems fairly balanced. How this plays out on the battlefield will remain to be seen, and it might be that this is something we have to fix.
Another thing to consider when looking at balance is the rewards tables. Stormcast start out strong, but their tables have no new monsters or artillery to add, and some of the champion rewards can really mess your champion up. Compare this to Skaven who have mostly really good champion and follower rewards, as well as the opportunity to add 6 monsters or artillery pieces.
Other rules that we have elected to use are the three rules of one from matched play, as well as the rule that behemoths cannot receive benefits from cover. These rules just make a lot of sense in any game, and help avoid some of the cheesy things we don’t wait to see in a friendly campaign. Another way to balance games a little is the addition of a couple of guidelines that state that you should not play the same opponent back to back, should not face someone with less than half of your victory point total, and that you and your opponent should choose the battleplan that you play. This allows a weaker army to perhaps choose a battleplan that they can win much more easily. For example, during testing for this campaign, there was a game where the objective to slay the opponents champion. The Stormcast player’s champion was almost slain during turn 1 by the weaker Dispossessed force due to the fact that they had an artillery piece that could pick him off.
At the end of the day, this is a narrative campaign. Imbalance will happen. It’s up to us players to sit down and figure out how to fix things when they start going wrong. I think this idea is exemplified by the prize for winning the campaign: the honour and privilege of buying all the other players a drink. And maybe a trophy.
I’ll update this blog with progress of the campaign, how well the balancing works, as well as the progress of my own warband!
Here is the contents of the guidelines document I created for all the participants in the campaign:
Age of Sigmar Path to Glory Campaign Guidelines
Here begins your path to glory, a path that will lead to vast riches and rewards*, and one person being named the 2017 Path to Glory Champion!
The following are a list of guidelines that should be followed throughout your games. If something is not covered by these guidelines, talk to other campaign participants, and figure it out.
The three rules of one from matched play apply to all games within the campaign
Behemoths receive no save bonuses from cover
Your warband’s allegiance is to itself. Therefor, no allegiance abilities are used, such as battle traits, command traits or artefacts. Your warband will receive these over the course of the campaign!
You should try and avoid playing against the same opponent back to back
You and your opponent should agree on a battleplan to play. It should not be one that either of you has played in your last game.
After a battle, you should roll to determine if you add a new follower, a follower reward, or a champion reward. The exception to this is if you lost the battle; you may forgo the roll to add a new follower instead.
Reroll duplicate follower or champion rewards
You may pick which follower table you roll on, and should roll to see which follower you are rewarded with. If you do not have the model, or simply are not interested in buying a fourth unit of bloodknights, reroll the result.
You should make it as obvious as possible when you roll for your D3 victory points. The bigger the die, the better. Get a notary public if you have to.
The number of victory points required to win this campaign is 10.
You should try and avoid playing opponents with less than half of your victory points.
*The glorious winner of the campaign shall be bestowed with the honour and privilege of providing those less glorious with a drink. There may also be a trophy.