Wednesday, June 21, 2017

OVERVIEW: Coalescence - The Endless Deserts

Coalescence, the global one day narrative event for Age of Sigmar, has come and gone and it was a tremendous success! Locally I ran my own event, set in the Endless Deserts of course. With 10 players fighting for our Keystone Shard, the Eye of Ptra, it was a super fun day with plenty of stories to tell from all of our games.

I had a lot of preparation to do to get ready for the event since I was running it. Originally I had planned on getting a bunch of cool scenery and my desert gaming table done for it, but the 40k release had other plans for me. Even though I couldn't contribute much scenery to the event, I decided to fully commit to the narrative side of it and wrote up several pieces of lore to get people hyped for it.

I brought a ringer army with me just incase there was an uneven amount of people, which there was, so I got to play as well! I brought my Tomb Kings of course, since it's the Endless Deserts of course. Since this was a narrative event I made sure to take an army that I thought would be fun, not necessarily super tough. One thing I knew I wanted to take was a Tomb Scorpion since I thought he would be a lot of fun in the smaller point games. You start with 1,500 points in the first game, and then go down to 1,000 for the second, and 500 for the last, drawing your army list for each game from the previous army list, meaning you can't add in new units. You also keep your same general throughout, which in my case was Prince Ptra-mose, the favored son of King Pharakh.

In addition to the special rules in each scenario I also added in a bit of Time of War rules to represent the deserts. I didn't want to over complicate it, so I just used the Intolerable Heat rule from the Endless Deserts Time of War sheet. This meant that in each hero phase you needed to roll for each of your units and on a one they suffered -1 to their movement value. This was cumulative over the turns too, and if your unit was reduced to movement 0 then they died from heat exhaustion. It was pretty simple, but added a bit of flavor and a lot more tension to the first game as you'll see. I also wrote a bit of narrative that I read aloud to the players before each scenario. Coalescence scenarios has objectives to win in each game, but you also had a bunch of feats you could achieve that would score you points as well, so that led to players trying to do more than just win the game. You can download the event pack here and read about the scenarios more in depth if you want.

Game One

Your army has been travelling through the rolling dunes of the Endless Deserts for weeks on end, the barren vista broken only by the occasional sandblasted monument left half buried and forgotten. The heat has started to take its toll, your warriors slowly succumbing to the uncaring elements. Some have become so delusional that they speak of scorpions the size of a dracoth, or snakes of stone that disappear beneath the sands as soon as they are spotted. Undeterred, you have pressed on, for you will not be denied the prize you have come to claim. The Eye of Ptra shall be yours, and with it, the power of a god.

As you crest the next dune a ruined tomb-city stretches away before you, its streets clogged with the detritus of ages and its statues leaning forlornly, echoing the glories of past ages. As the suspiciously large carrion birds circle above, you hear the clatter of gear and similar gasps of astonishment from the next dune over. You are not alone! Another seeks to steal your glory, your treasure, your sole purpose for marching through these blasted deserts! Marshalling your troops you command them onwards, leading from the front as you race towards what awaits you within the necropolis’ walls, for good or ill. From behind you hear the transgressor’s army in close pursuit. All you need to do is reach the city’s gates first. The Eye shall be yours, and only yours.

The first game of the event had everyone using the full 1,500 points of their army. It's pretty unique in that you both start on the same side of the table and are both trying to get units off of the other side. One player deploys first, six inches up and no more than 12 inches forward and gets the first turn, the other player deploys up to eight inches in their first hero phase and can then move and stuff normally. The first player had to get a third of their units off, while the second player only needed to get a quarter of their units off to win. I was playing against Evan, who had an awesome looking Stormcast army. He went first and moved his units as far forward as possible, including a unit of Prosecutors which went about half way across the table. I came on second and promptly shot and charged as much as I could.

One of my units of chariots started chasing the Prosecutors, while the other started running down the opposite edge of the table trying to get off the table. I popped my Scorpion up right in front of the Prosecutors as well, which meant it couldn't score since it didn't start on the table, but I thought it was a good compromise, plus it felt very cinematic and in character for the big bug. I really wanted to get a feat of my general killing a hero of his, so my Tomb King charged into his Castellant, but failed to kill him. The whole game was super tense with lots of back and forth in combat. My Tomb Guard went in and wiped out his unit of Decimators, who were then promptly wiped out by his Retributors in return. In retaliation my archers wiped out that unit in the following turn with shooting. He only needed to get three units off the board while I also needed three. One of my units of chariots reached the opposing table edge, but decided to hang around to deal with any of his units that tried to escape. It's a good thing too, since he got both his Errant-Questor and Knight Venator off the board in one of his turns, but his Lord-Celestant fell in inch short in his run. My chariots wheeled about, peppering him with arrows before running him down beneath their wheels and fleeing off the board edge. We ended the game each needing to get one more unit off the board. I had a Liche Priest somewhat nearby, but we worked out that even if I rolled a six for his run, he would still fall an inch short and it was the last turn, so the game ended in a draw with both of us achieving several feats. I really loved this game and scenario. If you want to have a super tense and fun time I would recommend giving it a shot. The only change we made to the scenario was that there was no priority roll until the start of turn three. This was based off the recommendation of fellow NEOs (Narrative Event Organizers) who had already run this scenario over in the UK earlier in the day. Evan was a great opponent too and I loved the look of his army, especially his converted Lord-Celestant.

Everyone else seemed to really enjoy this game as well, and I don't think any of the games ended particularly early, which meant they all went down to the wire.

Between game one and two we broke for lunch, generously provided by Imperium Games, the store we were playing at, and I went around to judge the armies for the Best Army award. There were a couple that I really liked, but in the end I had to go with the Seraphon force by Al. They were bright, well painted, and had awesome basing to boot.

Here's a few more shots of his army.

Really makes me want to start a small Seraphon force, which honestly, is a compulsion I have to fight a lot. Back in 8th edition they were going to be my next army after Tomb Kings.

Game Two

As you burst through rubble strewn city streets you find yourself at the edge of a sprawling plaza. Large, animal headed statues line the thoroughfares in various states of disrepair. It appears you aren’t the first to arrive and the sounds of battle already echo from the sands and stones around you. Rallying your forces from their headlong charge into the tomb-city you see the goal of your quest rising up before you, a single monolithic monument to the lost gods of the desert monarchs and embedded within it, the Eye of Ptra. As the desert sun begins to set, the shadow it casts slowly engulfs all before it, the waning light reflecting off of the rising and falling swords of the armies clashing before it. You feel a madness creeping through your thoughts, urging you on, a malignance as old as the crumbling architecture that surrounds you. As a dry laugh echoes through your mind one thought rises above all others.


The Eye demands it and you shall appease it. With the name of your god upon your lips you charge forward, your army close on your heels. The power is so close you can feel it coursing through you. Do not disappoint it.

Game two of Coalescence had you reduce your army down to 1,000 points to represent the attrition of war. The scenario was all about capturing scenery pieces with your units. We added in a rule where you could try and steal back scenery pieces and also had the Intolerable Heat rule in effect for the first two turns to represent the sun setting. Order had won the first round by quite a bit, so they went into this round in ascendency. To balance things out I also decided that the two smaller grand alliances, Death and Destruction (we had no Chaos players) would be the underdogs, which meant any feats they achieved, Order couldn't get.

I was playing against Andrea, @Luckysixes on Twitter, and her Kharadron Overlords. She took the first turn and started grabbing a few objectives. Her frigate also targeted my Tomb King and nearly took him out, but he survived with one wound remaining. If he had died right there it probably would have been a very different game. On my turn I grabbed the objectives in my deployment zone and started advancing towards the others. My archers, buffed by both the Tomb King and the Liche Priest, managed to take the frigate down to one wound, and after winning the priority on the following turn they finished it off. I managed to grab some more objectives and without the ship to protect them and provide back up fire I managed to chew through the rest of the Overlords. It was a fun game and I was happy to see my Tomb Kings do well against the newest army in the bunch. At 1,000 points my army was more a Deathrattle army than a Tomb King army, comprised of Tomb Guard, Skeleton Spearmen, Archers, one unit of Chariots, my King, Priest, and a Scorpion. People think the power to Tomb Kings is in the Necropolis Knights, but the regular skeleton units are pretty tough and can take a beating if you know how to use them. After tallying up feats I think Andrea and I actually came out with around the same points.

Everyone else's game seemed to take about the full time again, which is good since it means the scenario was a good and took some effort to win. After tallying everything up at the end of the round Order was only slightly ahead, meaning the underdog mechanic worked. I decided to get rid of the underdog status going into the final round since other wise I was pretty sure there was no way for Order to win against two underdogs.

Game 3

Now at the base of the ancient monument, you gulp in great lungfuls of air as blood seeps from your numerous minor wounds. The battle has been tough and your army has suffered greatly, for it is but a shadow of its former self, but you have reached your goal. The Eye of Ptra resides before you, the stone pulsing a slow blue as you draw near. Yet it appears you are not the only one to have braved the trials of the tomb-city. From the various side streets similarly battered and bruised warbands appear, the same fervor and single minded purpose reflecting in their eyes. It matters not, for you are the Eye’s chosen champion, you can feel it in your bones.

Swinging your blade through several practice strokes to loosen you arm you slowly begin to advance as the other’s do the same. It appears that this shall end messily, but the voice inside your head will not cease.

Glory. Power. Might.

Repeating in a slow mantra as a sound like the scuttling of a thousand insects drones on in the background. The baritone rumble of a dark god. The chattering of a legion of skeletal teeth. The dry laugh of a bemused patron.

The Eye of Ptra is now within your reach. Claim it!

The final game of the event is a multiplayer game based on Triumph and Treachery. We had two games of three people each and one game of four people. I was playing against Al and Dan, both Seraphon players. We actually had three of the lizard armies at our event funnily enough. I tried my best each round to split them up so they weren't just fighting each other each time. In this scenario there was a central piece of scenery that you wanted to get close to so you could score points each round. Dan advanced up the center scoring early on while Al and I lagged a little behind. I decided to go after Dan since he was closer and I wanted to inflict as many wounds as I could since that was another way to score points. I wiped out one unit of Saurus but then got stuck in with another as well as his Sunblood general.

Those heroes are insanely tough and powerful. I charged my Tomb Guard into him but failed to do anything and he wiped them out in return. The Sunblood was in combat with one of my chariots, and while the charioteer did a wound or two, the real hero of the match were the horses of the chariot. Over several rounds of combat they did the most wounds on him and finally managed to kill him. I like to imagine they were just kicking him in the back of the head while he was distracted by my Tomb Guard. It's always the horses in Warhammer.

Al had hung back most of the game and came at both of us after we were both slightly depleted. It ended up being Al and me against each other in the end, and through some luck I managed to take out most of his models before the game ended. My Tomb King challenged his Slann to combat, a special rule in the scenario, but failed to kill him. He did hang on himself though and the game ended with the two still locked in combat.

The four player game went on the longest where Brad, @Rhellion on Twitter, "tricked" the other three players into fighting each other before going after them. His Errant-Questor managed to kill several of their heroes in a row though, earning him the most hero kills of the event.

Everyone seemed to have had an awesome time, and there were a few new faces at our club too, which is always welcome. I really enjoyed running, and playing in a narrative event, and will keep this going at my club, or at least try and encourage other people to run them too so I can play without running it. After tallying everything up, Order won, with Death in second place, and Destruction just one point behind them. I had printed up a couple of certificates to give out as awards like Monster Hunter, Headhunter, Best Army, Best Sports, and such. Brad managed to win overall though, securing the ultimate victory for his Stormcast.

Reaching forth, Errant-Questor Rhellion grasps the Eye of Ptra, now glowing a steady blue, and wrenches it from its stone resting place. Holding the relic Rhellion is overtaken by vivid visions of a distant land. Beneath a mist shrouded fortress a great beast stirs, the rising and falling of its breathing a steady rumble that shakes the land above. Atop one of the tallest towers sits a crystal of unparalleled magnificence glowing a multitude of colors, shifting from one to the next in the blink of an eye, the rhythm steadily picking up speed. You feel the innate connection between the relic you now hold in your hands and the one in your visions and know that you have played your part in Order's inevitable victory. 

Suddenly your vision crumbles around you, replaced with a shadow of the purest black that stretches out over the desert sands, slowly engulfing all it touches. Gold capped pyramids and magnificent obelisks fall beneath its embrace as surely as the newly risen cities and fortresses of Sigmar. The warmth of the desert sun is strangled in an iron grip, a chill cold rising through your bones. An ever deepening sense of dread overcomes you, threatening to drown you, but from the west a weak light begins to shine. Growing in intensity the light nearly blinds you, but the warmth it brings is very welcome indeed, forcing back the cold. The sound of skeletal legions marching in lockstep resound within your thoughts, as the rumble of brass shod wheels rattle your teeth. Briefly you glimpse fleeting images. A three pronged crown. A golden serpent. A blade made of purest sunlight. A striking lightning bolt. And then, you are returned.

You merely stand before the monument, the relic in hand, your army victorious and your foes vanquished at your feet. Unsure of what you just witnessed you glance back at the towering monument one last time, a malevolent presence seeming to briefly linger, and then vanish, clearing your thoughts of the haze that has plagued you since reaching the ruined city. Gripping your prize tight you gather your warriors around you quickly and make to leave this barren land with all haste. As you depart, the city fading into the cooling desert night at your back, a low rumble follows you, lingering on the still air. You cannot be sure, but you think it must be the laugh of a bemused god.

Did you participate in a Coalescence event near you? Let me know in the comments below. The event pack is easy to use and fun to play, so if you want to run a Narrative event sometime soon you can just use the pack I linked up at the top. Even though the global event is done, it's still a fun set of scenarios.

A special thank you to Evan who took half the pictures in this article and to Imperium Games in Wixom, MI for hosting the event, and of course to everyone who came out to it and took part!

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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