While it seems that half the internet is either rejoicing or despairing at every new twist in 9th ed (or even at the rumor of a twist) I have been chewing through some of the new narrative rules that have leaked out. I have divided them into three different sections: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
- I am going to cheat here a bit, right off the bat, overall I think the whole system is solid. I like the way they have balanced out the standard campaign rules with ones that add more flavor (such as maintaining a combat roster. I think one of the greatest achievements of this rule set is the ability to create genuinely exciting in-game moments, and characters that have an interesting story.
- Missions: I love some of these missions. While I haven’t play tested them yet, just looking at the rules get me excited. I am also pumped that they brought back some of the old flavorful missions from past editions, most notably: Ritual and Assassinate.
- Starting limitations: I love the fact that (unless you start with a named character) you must pay additional requisition points for relics and warlord traits. As I said above, this can be a great way to build up a backstory for a character and watch them progress through a campaign (in my eyes one of the best parts of any narrative event)
- Experience and Casualties: In my campaigns I have always struggled to balance the urge to give units upgrades and how to handle casualties. One the one hand, upgrades add a lot of flavor and can make a unit fulfill a unique battlefield role. One the other hand, they can be abused by unscrupulous players to create a game wrecking murderball of a unit. Casualties are another tricky issue. As an organizer I want to have consequences for my players to encourage them to play narratively but at the same time it can turn games into a whack-a-mole-fest as each player tries to delete his opponent’s most valuable units. I think GW has walked the line well in this rule set and showed a lot of wisdom in by giving the players the choice in how they want their unit to suffer consequences
- The only bad thing I can see in this ruleset is: there is a lot of bookkeeping. Requisition points! Crusade Points! Agendas! Blessings! Experience points! In building this ruleset Games Workshop obviously decided to err on the side of depth, throwing a lot of important facets that players will need to track throughout and after the game. As an organizer this can be a bit of a headache as I have seen players frequently forget to track these items in the heat of a game and then try to piece together what happened afterwards. As someone who has struggled to maintain a cohesive player group through even a short campaign, I worry some of these rules will cause players eyes to glass over or will intimidate them from joining a campaign. I think that organizers might benefit from pruning some of the rules (especially early on) depending on the needs and desires of their player base.
- The only thing I have for this section is the rule on scoring points based on painting. I am certain this isn’t in the narrative rules, but I did want to address it as think this rule could be incorporated in a way to reward players in narrative campaign. While the rule itself is proving controversial (I believe it is a good rule as it can provide an impartial boon to smaller clubs who are dominated by a certain kind of player) I think you could incorporate this rule to award experience points to every unit in a player’s roster that is painted, or you could limit battle traits to only be available to fully painted units. I think that providing incentives generally works better then doling out punishments and incorporating this rule could be a good way to encourage players to paint their armies.
So that is all I have for this article. I am very excited to see what opportunities this new system will provide, and I am already starting my plans for the first campaign of 9th Edition. What about you? Any thoughts on what you do or do not like about the new Narrative rules?
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