The *idea* of the SoC was good, the execution was... meh?
The *idea* of the SoC was good, the execution was... meh?
Tarian's Plog! (Updated 7/10/12)
Comments/Criticisms/Thoughts welcome indeed!
Death Korps, High Elves, random Dark Eldar, more to come (eventually)! Now includes Dark Angels!
I wonder if Gav Thorpe has voted yet.
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Tarian's Plog! (Updated 7/10/12)
Comments/Criticisms/Thoughts welcome indeed!
Death Korps, High Elves, random Dark Eldar, more to come (eventually)! Now includes Dark Angels!
The question is though, even if most of the narrative was good, do the various advancements improve the 'present day' background setting?
Personally I would argue not. However it seems that popular opinion is split right down the middle.
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Lol indeed, at this moment, it's 73 votes for with, and 73 votes for w/o
I think that it wouldn't do any harm to have a 'Storm of Chaos' source book as an alternative setting to fight battles in, post seige of Middenheim. The question would be whether to pick up the narrative from where it left off, or whether to start tweaking at the point things got silly?
Ok, here is the draft of the starting point for the various forces, as contributed by two or three creative Warseer Members:
Storm of Chaos – The Eye of the Storm
The condition and disposition of the various factions following the lifting of the siege of Middenheim
The armies of Manfred von Carstein
Having scattered the remnants of Archaon’s forces at Sokh, Manfred has marched his army east. The naive leaders of the Empire, which had themselves failed to take Sokh after bitter street fighting, believed Manfred’s ‘retreat’ to be due to the defiance of the Grand Theogonist, Volkmar, but in truth, he knew he needed to protect his centre, and the vast power and knowledge stored there, from the encroachment of the hordes of Vardek Crom into Sylvania.
As Manfred turned and rode away from Middenheim, there was in fact an evil grin seeping across his pale visage, for armies under the command of his most trusted lieutenants had already marched across the borders of Sylvania into the eastern Empire States of war ravaged Ostermark, hated Stirland and Talabecland. The humans could never comprehend his great ambitions, for they were short lived and thought in terms of weeks and months, not the years, decades and even centuries his complex plans could encompass. There was one pressing consideration though. With the vast size of his forces, he must have a victory, to reinforce his dominance and keep the Vampires of his horde in order.
Trust among Vampires is a fallacy in purest form though, and whether Manfred is able to retain control of his lieutenants without his direct influence remains to be seen. It has ever been the way with Vampire kind that they rule through fear rather than loyalty, and only the strongest of wills can ensure their continued obedience...
Will the depleted but jubilant forces of an Empire and its allies battered by war be able to counter this new and terrible threat, or will the Empire finally fall to the cold machinations of the Vampire Counts?
The Orcs of Gimgor Ironhide
Grimgor Ironhide, mightiest Orc Warlord of the age, was seething with rage. Of every promise he ever heard roared across a battlefield, every challenge laid down by the warmongering cries of a mighty champion, every upstart proclaiming himself the doom of all other warriors, Archaon, the supposed Lord of the End Times, top Chaos boy, had been the biggest disappointment.
By the time Grimgor and his Immortulz had hacked their way to the heart of the mighty battle of Middenheim, hewing their way through screaming Flagellants and spiky Chaos boys, their leader was already battered and bruised after a fight with two other humies, but he’d beaten them both, but the fight he offered Grimgor was utterly disheartening.
How did such a weakling ever become the leader of such a vast horde of warriors? Surely the quality of the northern tribes of men must be pretty low for this man to rise so high? Having laid the Everchosen low with a mighty ‘edbut and the flat of Gitsnik’s heavy blade, Grimgor turned his army around and withdrew from this vexing waste of his time. Muttering to himself as his boys hacked and slashed their way clear of the fighting, Grimgor wracked his Orcish brain for the answer to his lifelong question. Where would he ever find a challenge worthy of his blade? Where could he go to find the greatest fighters he could possibly face?
As he finished battering a shrieking Flagellant into the mud with a length of wood he didn’t remember picking up, the spiky end of it caught his gaze. It had human words scratched on it. Wiping away the Flagellants blood he struggled to make out the name on what he now saw was a signpost....Alt-dorf? That was the human boys big city to the south. If they’d managed to beat the Chaos boys here, then the Empire must have even better fighters than the Chaos lot, and they would muster every blade to defend their big important city. Grimgor extended his muscled green arm, and with a roar and the pointing of a dirty claw, turned his army south...
The Council Chamber was in complete uproar. Fur stood on end, and tails swished agitatedly. The Council endorsed plan to utilise Clan Skyre’s super weapon, the lauded ‘Doom Hemisphere’, had failed to annihilate the mountain and the fortified human warren that sat atop it. Instead it had only partially exploded, warping and fusing the tunnels beneath the great rock into labyrinthine new forms. The device itself was now lost somewhere within the newly created maze, though even now, gutter runners of Clan Eshin had been despatched to try and find the device.
The shrieks of treachery and sabotage that had been levelled at Clan Skyre themselves had been defeaning, and it had almost come to bloodshed on several occasions, until the Council had restored order, the Storm Vermin guards brandishing their blades menacingly until the clamour abated. The fact remained that armies of many thousands of Skaven warriors were in place to attack. Beasts of every description had been herded to the underways beneath the city the humans called Middenheim in their hundreds. If they did not attack now, then the vast resources expended gathering so many Skaven and so much support into a single place would be wasted as all sense of order and purpose gave way to infighting and the Councils meticulously laid plans dissolved into nothing. The human Empire above was in turmoil, now was the Skaven’s time. This city would have to be taken the old fashioned way, by sneaking up on the humans from beneath and taking them by suprise. The order would be given. They would attack...
The Empire was in turmoil. Though the siege of the city of the White Wolf had been broken, and the forces of Archaon forced into retreat, the Warlord himself still lived. He was surrounded within the virtually impregnable fortress of Brass Keep, his greatest surviving warriors gathered about him and the walls of the edifice protected further by vile enchantments. Valten was gone, and none knew for sure where, but those who knew of the manner of his disappearance feared the worst. Some of the nobility with an eye on the throne themselves muttered in muted whispers about how conveniently this challenge to Karl Franz position had so neatly been removed.
Despite the hardships the Imperial forces had suffered, now was not the time to fall to complacency, and Karl Franz had ordered a mustering of the remaining Empire forces, bolstered by reinforcements from the southern States spared the horror of the war thus far. A decisive push must be made to cleanse the land of the forces of Chaos and drive them back to whence they came, or destroy them utterly. Archaon himself must die, so that he would have no chance to reorder his forces and plunge the Empire once more into bitter war. The northern States that had borne the brunt of the fighting were in ruin, and great was the task of rebuilding ahead of them. The roving bands of Beastmen and fur clad Marauders must be hunted down, and any treacherous men of the Empire who, in their darkest hour had thrown their lot in with the forces of the enemy, must be put to the sword as well, lest their taint be allowed to spread.
An army had already been dispatched, heavy with Priests and Witch Hunters, east towards Stirland and far Sylvania. Now that the threat of the Vampire Counts hung once more over their heads, that too must be addressed and ended for all time. Now, while they were on the front foot, the forces of the Empire could be victorious, but it was a hard task to come.
As Karl Franz stood in council around the map table before him and his generals, an outrider entered the tent. He looked worn and short of breath. From within a leather satchel he drew forth a rolled parchment, and kneeling he held it out for the Emperor. Karl Franz took the roll and unfurled it, scanning down the script within. The news was grave. The Orcs were marching south, towards Altdorf...
The Forces of Chaos
Archaon roared in pain. His head swam with terrible images and sounds, and felt as if all the power of Chaos threatened to burst his skull asunder. His body was equally wracked with pain, and it contorted and cracked into unfathomable shapes as the displeasure of the Chaos gods manifest itself. Being the favoured of the four greater deities brought almost limitless power, but it also meant that failure invited punishment from all four as well. His body, verging on the immortal, could withstand far greater physical damage than any simple man, forcing him to endure unimaginable agony while his life force refused to expire. The anger and the will that had brought him so far, down the path of long years, sustained him. It bubbled slowly from deep within him until it began to overcome the pain and the noise.
The malicious deities beyond the veil, a hairs breadth from the material realm, sensed the strength that remained deep within their defeated champion, sensed that, though brought low, the will that had brought him to them endured. It smouldered. They could still achieve their goals through him, though they must commit a portion of their own being to restore their champion...he was not like those champions who had gone before. He was of them, and his hatred burned hotter than the deepest hell.
...Slowly, and with great effort, Archaon, Lord of the End Times rose to his feet. Now he knew how close he had come to oblivion. It did not do to fail the very powers that had given him his chance to have his vengeance on the Empire. He had underestimated his enemy, thought his forces unstoppable. Now he knew better, knew what he faced, knew what waited should he fail once more...now there would be a reckoning. He strode from the chamber...
After battling alongside their human and Dwarf allies in the defence of the Empire from the vast hordes of Archaon, and distinguishing themselves at the Siege of Middenheim, the Knights of Bretonnia are in high spirits, jubilant in their hard won glory, though little of that spirit seems to be present in the peasantry who marched to the Empire’s aid in the wake of their noble masters. They appear as downtrodden and dishevelled as ever. Now that the siege has been lifted and the forces of Archaon forced into retreat, the Knights of Bretonnia seek further challenges to test their metal against.
The chasing down of bandits and the broken remnants of the enemy force beneath their interest, the Bretonnians turn their thoughts instead to the newly emerged threat from Sylvania. Many are the tales of that blighted realm that have found their way to Bretonnian tap rooms over the centuries, and such a challenge as the notorious line of the von Carsteins would indeed be a test worthy of the gallant elite of fair Bretonnia. It is also rumoured that a vast army of Ogres marches from the east, from beyond the Worlds Edge Mountains, and an entire army of such monsters is too much for any true knight of Bretonnia to resist. And so, word has spread amongst the legions of young knights eager to prove themselves in their eyes of both their piers and the Lady of the Lake. Never before will the dank and decrepit province of Sylvania have seen such a muster of splendour as the army of Knights marches to finally free the people of that benighted realm from the curse of the Vampire Counts...
The insatiable warherds that took part in the great invasion of the hated human Empire, led by the forces of the northman Archaon, took great satisfaction from the enraged bloodletting that saw the northern provinces ravaged. However, the Everchosen proved too weak, underestimating his enemy, and was now at bay, cornered like an animal within the pile of stones the humans called Brass Keep. Who was this Archaon? A mere man, who thought himself the Chosen of Chaos, when it was the Blessed Children of the deepest forests that were the true chosen of Chaos! The herds had been mustered in secret over many months, massing in numbers greater than ever before. The great beasts of the dark places had been roused to anger, and now the Beastmen were ready to finally take back what once was theirs, tearing down the pitiful cities of human kind as they went, in an unstoppable roaring, gnashing tide of destruction that would see the end of men in this world.
The northern Empire had been weakened by Archaon’s assault, and now the time was ripe. The numberless beastherds, joined by rampaging Ghorgons, insane Cygor and horrific Jaberslythe, would sweep across the northern Empire, razing utterly those places that still stood defiant, before they could rebuild their defences and call forth more warriors from the south. After the destruction of the north was complete, they would turn to the destruction of the rest of the Empire, and after that all the nations of men, Dwarfs and Elves beyond the mountains. The time of the Beastmen was here...
Garagrim Ironfist, heir to the throne of the Slayer Keep, is dead. His Father, Ungrim, beside himself with grief, and torn between his duty to lead his people and his oath as a slayer, has halted after the breaking of the siege of Middenheim, allowing his forces to reorder themselves and re-equip for the fight ahead. They have been joined by hundreds more slayers from the length and breadth of the Worlds Edge Mountains, only now completing long journeys from the south.
There is much debate within the Slayer Kings war council about the direction they should take now that Archaon’s forces have been forced into retreat. Dwarf armies march to defend their holds or to the aid of their human allies across the Empire, lending their skill to the rebuilding or shoring up of shoddy man made fortifications, but rumours have reached the ears of the Slayer King of a might horde of Ogres from far to the east which have crossed the Worlds Edge Mountains to the south, and now threaten the eastern Empire and the Dwarf holds of the region. Confronting such a force would earn many slayers a worthy end indeed, but having amassed such an army of Slayers as had never been seen before, many would have Ungrim march his army to the Eight Peaks, and attempt to regain the ancient city, greatest of Dwarf holds, an endeavour which would also assuredly see many Slayers fulfil their oaths. This course also promises the chance to return the city to Dwarven hands at long last.
Ungrim knows well that whatever the decision he makes, the repercussions will echo down the ages...
Throughout the war, small contingents of High Elves lent support against the forces of Archaon where they could. Though they were few in number, their spears were welcome wherever they joined the forces of men and Dwarfs. Perhaps a tale that will be told unto the end of time in the annals of history, the greatest achievement of the High Mage Teclis was the banishment of the host of Daemons led by the Dark Master, Belakor. Not since the first war against Chaos has such power been unleashed in the world. There is no doubt in the minds of some that Middenheim would have fallen had this terrible force reached the walls, and the people of the Empire will always owe a debt to the High Elves for this significant intervention.
As Karl Franz holds council to decide how best to combat the foes that still beset the Empire, and in particular regard to how Archaon himself should be dealt with, surely the sage council of Teclis will prove invaluable. As Teclis himself considers the many paths that the coming months may take, he has become acutely aware of the power that has been unleashed in Sylvania, and the fate that follows Manfred von Carstein, a fate that may see even greater death and horror than that which was unleashed by the Everchosen...could it be that Teclis and the Vampyre must face each other before the end?
The Summer has passed. Its raging infernos that consumed our forest as beasts burned, rampaged and rutted amongst the ashes is over for now. Though our realms are a withered husk of what they were, we made the tainted invaders pay with rivers of blood for every step they took, every forest despoiled and every one of our own they cut down in battle. The seasons turn, Autumn calls, and with it our last chance to chase them from our lands before we are too weak to defend ourselves. The king and his wild hunt call out to us 'Come drive them before us!', 'Come, let us finally crush the lord of skulls and drive his corrupting presence from our lands!', 'Come, let us rejoice in the slaughter of the unworthy, so their blood may nourish us in spring!’
The Ogre Kingdoms
From the northern Dwarf holds of the Worlds Edge Mountains to the rickety watch towers of the Goblin Tribes of Peak Pass and Mount Gunbad, lookouts have spied great columns of dust out across the plains of the Dark Lands. For weeks these clouds of dust have been visible, but their source has been a mystery until now.
First there came great tides of lesser creatures, game animals, and tribes of Goblins, heading west towards the Old World. The frantic Wolf Riders of the Goblins brought with them tales of an immense and insatiable creature from further east, all tusks and grumbling belly, that devoured everything in it’s path, save those who could offer mounds of gold and glimmering trinkets, or else lead it to even more sustenance, and afterwards it would devour those as well! On and on the rumors of the creature came, ever westwards, ever ravenous.
It was the Rangers of Clan Elriksson that brought the truth of this creature. Moving fast, well armed, and with great furred beasts of the Mountains of Mourn in tow, a great migration of Ogre tribes were on the move. Far to the east, in the foothills of the Mountains of Mourn, the Rangers witnessed an exchange between a Warband of Orcs, and the Paymasters of Greasus Goldtooth, the Gutlord himself. The Orcs, carrying with them a standard bearing the tribal emblems of Grimgor Ironhide, had driven a team of four hulking Squiggoths across the plains, dragging behind them a huge and ramshakled wooden wagon, plated with rusted iron, and loaded to bursting with gold taken in plunder from all the races of the Old World. The creaking wagon was mounted with sharpened stakes along it’s high sides, each of which impaled the diminutive bodies of Gnoblars, stacked one on top of the other: those who tried, foolishly, to steal the treasure horde of Grimgor, destined for the Lord of all the Ogre Tribes. This spectacular treasure, offered by a muscled and armed Orc Warboss in exchange for marching his warriors west to war in the Old World, was accepted. However, the bargain was not sealed with blood until the Orcs had agreed to also give over the Squiggoths, to bless the feast table of the Goldtooth and his warriors.
Several hours later, after much belching and butting, and Greasus Goldtooth had finished picking the last strings of Orc flesh from between his yellowing tusks, he announced that the bargain was made, they would march west over the Worlds Edge Mountains, to war…
Rather than change the ending, we've tried to give it scope to move forward in an exciting way.
Couple things that bothered me.
The Orc players deciding en-masse to side with the forces of Order, who they recognized as the inferior warriors. I get the excuse that they wanted to fight against the 'arder Chaos Warriors, but Orcs do not respect weakness and would NEVER have sided with Order. They should have been a force of nature, hitting whoever, wherever they wanted, deliberately with no focus.
In addition, GW assumed, and said as much in WD that the results were weighted because they expected more players on the Chaos side, this included counting the Orcs. Battles logged however told a different story. Order submitted far more results. The end being that Destruction didn't just loose, which I could live with, but they were utterly trounced, destroyed.. If the system was fair, why would there be such a landslide victory?
Btw I do not accept the excuse that Order was so much more organized.. o.O I was there on the side of Destruction and we didn't do a bad job at directing our forces. I will give you that Order may have done so better, but not enough to result in the massive victory they enjoyed.
Indirectly what also bothered me is the opinion, used as reasoning, that Chaos could never have won because that would have meant the end. No, GW were careful to never put the entire Old World at risk, it never was the Old World, it was Middenheim.
I think GW expected a re-run of the Eye of Terror, and the campaign was set up in almost exactly the same way. But EoT hadn't been a roaring success anyway in terms of execution, and the introduction of a third faction which sapped players from the Destruction side (I seem to recall the Orc numbers were pretty much the difference between the two) as well as the "bonus campaigns" which led to further distribution of valuable results, threw everything out and all the predictions were inapplicable.
It wasn't all down to organisation, of course. The defenders just had more results. But that could have been nullified or mitigated if the attackers had run a blindingly awesome campaign; the Chaos campaign in EoT was pretty tightly organised and helped them get an effective draw in that campaign. As it happened, the defenders seemed to run a better strategic campaign than the attackers (not necessarily a much better one) which reinforced the large numerical advantage they already possessed.
If I was given a magic wand that could let me change two things about the SoC campaign it would be these:
1. Have a more 'sandpit' approach to the narrative. That is, there was an ongoing narrative - the attack on Middenheim - that required certain things to happen that simply weren't backed up by the results players were seeing. There are two options here. The first would have been to recognise earlier that the victory conditions for Chaos were too difficult - the organisation we saw in EoT was simply not present in SoC. This might have been helped if I had posted clearer updates on what the victory conditions were for the sites currently being fought over at any time. As it was, the tree campaign and more geogrpahic style approach meant that the poor Chaos results stymied the advance (figuratively speaking) required to reach the second phase of the campaign. I needed to be clearer from the outset and in the ongoing narrative that Chaos would reach Middenheim but that their starting positions for the siege would be heavily influenced by the preceding weeks of fighting. Alternatively, we could have adopted the EoT framework and simply have all locations open for battle results throughout, without the second phase siege.
2. Kept the narrative firmly focussed on Empire vs Chaos. EoT could handle multi-faction storylines because there are simply less of them in 40K. By giving everybody their time in the sun, especially during the conclusion, it diffused the whole theme of the campaign.
In hindsight it was overly ambitious on a number of fronts; symptomatic for games dev at the time overcomplicating things when really the whole aim was just to get people playing Warhammer over the summer and focus in the new Chaos goodies. A simpler system and narrative would have done the same job and could have been just as exciting.
It's always a pleasure to have an 'isider' post his take on the situation and to enlighten the masses on the greater scheme of things and developer's thoughts. As always I thank you for your kind post Gav; I really wish we would see more posts like that around here but I perfectly understand why no one wants to jump into the shark tank called WarSeer.
It is kind of sad to see such a great idea go awry because the people behind it simply wanted to achieve too much (after all it was all for the players).
Anyway, do you think that a project like this might be worth attempting again in the future if the level of ambitiousness is toned down or would you guess that the risk would outweigh potential benefits?
I understand the point of having the campaign focus on the warring factions, but for people like me who play 'niche' armies like Lizardmen, Wood Elves or Tomb Kings it would understandably suck to be degraded to mere bystanders while the other guys have all the fun.
I like the basic idea of a summer of playing Warhammer, it just seems very difficult to pull off...
Exactly. I remember back in the day (put on rose-tinted B) now) we published campaigns in WD for players to run themselves - Raid! between the DE and Orcs, Thorskinsson's Isle and so on. Much smaller in scope but handing the power to gamers and stores rather than keeping it in the Studio. That seems to be a better way of doing things in hindsight.I understand the point of having the campaign focus on the warring factions, but for people like me who play 'niche' armies like Lizardmen, Wood Elves or Tomb Kings it would understandably suck to be degraded to mere bystanders while the other guys have all the fun.
It shouldn't be, should it? It is just getting people to play lots of games, after all. Like many things, we focussed on the game and rules rather than the hobby. the worldwide campaigns were cool, but in terms of effort and reward I think we could have been smarter.I like the basic idea of a summer of playing Warhammer, it just seems very difficult to pull off...
True, the results didn't seem to be directly related to what happened; but in fact you did say in the WD articles that Archaon was going to get to Middenheim, it was just a question of how fast. You're right that it should have been emphasised more, though, because no-one really grasped it.
True also, the stuff going on with Lizardmen and Dark Elves was a fairly pointless sideshow and even quite what the Vampire Counts were doing never made sense; but this (everyone being involved) had worked fine in Albion so is an understandable thing to attempt, it just didn't really work.
The real problem was the ending. Nothing happened. Archaon lost, but is still alive (no punishment from the gods, really?) and still the biggest threat to civilisation (TM). Valten died, but he'd only been created for the campaign anyway so no-one cared. Volkmar somehow came back from the dead, with no ill effects. Grimgor somehow teleported across a battlefield to slap Archaon, then just turned around and walked away. And so on, and so forth; this has all been listed at length before. Never mind Chaos still reaching Middenheim despite losing (that's easily enough explained away by the pre-prepared "slowing them down not stopping them" get-out) - after all those thousands of battles, nothing changed. It was literally a pointless exercise, and that is IMO what is responsible for the crushing disappointment that most gamers felt when it was all over.
Now, in a lot of ways, that was inevitable. GW were never going to say "hey, the Empire lost and Chaos were triumphant, that means all you Empire players have to throw your armies in the bin and everyone else needs to buy a new army book reflecting the new setting!" or whatever. Alright... but it surely doesn't need perfect hindsight to see that this was obviously going to be a problem? Surely, someone, at some point during planning, said "hey guys... how are we going to end this?" Over-ambition is one thing... everyone involved collectively sticking their heads in the sand and hoping that no-one would notice it was all pointless is quite another.
In fairness, at least it was better than the Nemesis Crown (so utterly pointless that IIRC they never even bothered printing the results in White Dwarf?) and even Albion, fun though it was, wasn't perfect (Dark Elves won but High Elves got all the best rewards anyway, and then it was never mentioned again). But neither of those were so obviously flawed from the start as SoC was... to this day I don't know how the Nemesis Crown ended, but whatever happened it can't possibly be more futile than nothing happening. (Equally futile, perhaps).
So while it's interesting to hear your thoughts, even a clearer communication of ongoing results, and a keener focus on Empire vs. Chaos, wouldn't have changed what seems to me the more fundamental problem: the ending was always going to be "nothing happens".
Last edited by MiyamatoMusashi; 03-07-2012 at 16:55.
Hope we don't bother you by asking questions directly, but do you think (know?) if the studio actually wanted to keep the results for later fluff, or if they decided to forget about it for whatever reason?
As for how to run SoC, I can't help but think it should have been divided in a few fronts (army divisions, say Northern Old World: Empire & dwarfs & 100% of the slayer armies vs chaos & Skaven & Grimgor Hardboyz, Southern Old World: brets & WE & Empire & regular dwarfs vs regular greenskins, the two undead, etc), with only one area to battle over per week for each front (say, for Southern Old world, Something in Athel Loren, something in the Border Princes, and finally Barak Varr). And also, also, only one or two results per player per week. Would have been simpler, might have balanced forces a bit more, and we wouldn't have, say, TK or LM shoehorned in all that mess where they clearly didn't belong.
I kind of agree, also, that not killing off some characters is a mistake. You did kill some before (Azhag), and, well, the hobby didn't crumble, nor did the greenskin players riot (well I didn't, at least ). Azhag's still out there as a SC with one of the best minis in the range, to boot. I think the studio might overestimate the reaction of the hobbyists in face of such things. It's too frivolous.
Last edited by Urgat; 03-07-2012 at 17:16.