The Horus Heresy at Blood & Glory Conclusion

Blood & Glory isn’t just about competitive gaming – there’s also a range of events available for players that prefer narrative gaming. We caught up with organiser Greg to check out the results of his narrative even, and the final destiny of the Mal-Raen system!

The first Blood & Glory Horus Heresy event is over; 24 players fighting over 2 days to help decide the fate of Coloranth VI in the Mal-Raen System. As an event organiser, I had a blast – meeting old friends, meeting new people who will hopefully become friends, and having the chance to experience a little bit of everyone’s excitement as they completed that highly unlikely charge or somehow survived the blistering fire of the enemy’s artillery. Thankfully, from the feedback, it seems the players had almost as good a time as I did, which is always the primary target I aim for.

In most tournaments, the matchups of players is decided by a Swiss-style scoring method, which should result in players facing off against those who have roughly the same record for that event. This is a pretty good way of finding who is ‘the best’ player in attendance, and in theory, it also allows people to play against opponents of roughly similar skill. In reality, this takes a few games to really even out, and even then it can be skewed by a large number of variables. What I try to do with narrative Horus Heresy events is encourage the players to aim for an army that will be fun to play with and against. I do this by offering no individual prizes for winning games and by giving bonuses to armies based on the narrative as it plays out on the battlefield.

At previous events I have run, the scenarios have been set before the event and the story of the results has been built to fit into them as things happen. For the first time, I decided to allow the outcome to determine the narrative, and I think it worked. The loyalist forces were on the front foot based on the First Blood event which led into this one, and so when they won the first game of Blood & Glory, the second scenario was based around the traitor forces retreating in a disorganised fashion as they were hounded by the forces of the Emperor. This appeared to work well; thankfully the campaign books from Forge World contain a lot of different scenarios, which provide different tactical challenges and portray a very thematic conflict, which is perfect for an event like this. This is definitely something I will continue to experiment with at future events.

The final major aspect for review was also a major piece of feedback from the players, and that is for even more narrative. This was the one area that I knew I wouldn’t achieve on the level I had initially hoped to, and although it was fine to provide a rundown of the previous game and the setup for the next, future events can and will feature more integration with players’ armies. Extra information from maps, specific objectives which affect future games, and more tailored battlefields will all provide deeper immersion in the unfolding narrative.

The best part of the whole weekend was, as always, the players themselves. When you have a group of people who smile even when things are going against them, look to resolve any issue by finding the answer that works best for all parties, and who will actively seek to help each other out, it makes being in charge so much easier. Additionally, the standard of painting was really high – we were blessed by some really talented hobbyists, but everyone in attendance had put a lot of effort into their army, and that really helps players to get immersed in the story.

Before I finish, I want to share some details of the armies and the winners of the awards. The following is a breakdown of armies in attendance:

Talons of the Emperor (Legio Custodes) x3
Thousand Sons x3
Ultramarines x3
World Eaters x3
Imperial Fists x2
Mechanicum x2
Space Wolves x2
Alpha Legion x1
Emperor’s Children x1
Iron Warriors x1
Raven Guard x1
Salamanders x1
Solar Auxilia x1

The Primarch of the XVth Legion, Magnus, appeared twice (obviously different shards), with his brothers Corax, Russ and Guilliman leading their own forces while various Lords of War were unleashed upon each side.

The ‘Best’ Traitor was awarded to Tom Whitbrook, who led Russ against anyone who appeared to be acting as a traitor. It is unfortunate that he may have been working off unreliable information. In reality, Tom stepped up when I desperately needed a loyalist to change sides and was a thoroughly nice chap all weekend.

The ‘Best’ Loyalist was Chris Mills, whose Talons of the Emperor were given all the toughest matchups, some in which he was the underdog due to extra rules, but did so with a smile on his face and never a word of complaint.

Best Painted was Rob Ing’s lovely Vlka Fenryka force with a gorgeous Cerastus Knight-Castigator. This was chosen by an independent Games Workshop staff member.

The final and most important award was for Best Sport, which was awarded to Aaron Tunney with his Thousand Sons. Aaron was the top choice for Best Sport from each of his opponents, which is a big achievement and a testament to the way he approaches the game.

Thanks, Greg! We’re looking forward to seeing how the narrative of your campaign develops in next year’s Blood & Glory. If you’re looking to start your own narrative campaigns in the Horus Heresy, you’ll need some Space Marines to do it with, and the Betrayal and Calth and The Burning of Prospero boxed sets are a fantastic way to get your hands on some.

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