Erik’s Road to the GW Open Narrative Finale, Part 1: Avoiding Black Rage

Hello, Dear reader. As part of the larger series of articles about us getting hype for the GW Narrative Open US Finale event, Goonhammer invited some of us Patron attendees to submit articles about the run up to and our experiences at the big event. After the invitation I considered if there was any perspective I could add to the series that someone else wasn’t already doing better.

As you will see in the photos in this article my painting skill is not article worthy (though made to looks its best by great photos from my wife TabooRose), I have no great narrative experience with which to craft an interesting army and tell you a cool narrative story, and don’t have tanks nearly as big as seemingly everyone else going. So I thought I would write my articles from the only slightly unique perspective I can bring: I am an unrepentant competitive gamer going to an explicitly narrative event and I’m going to try and retune my mindset to have maximum fun without needing competitive games.

When I play tournaments my favorite games are the ones in which I have to think hard and solve unique problems on the fly. I like to play good armies, I like to try hard when I play, and I like to win the games I play. I have had some moderate tournament success but nothing that will impress the internet. I am also person with a career, marriage, and children so I can’t or at least don’t attend that many events. I have also been wargaming – Fantasy, 40k, Warmahordes, Saga, M:CP – since I was about 12 with some long gaps here and there. So I find myself in a space that I suspect many players are. For me the game is a hobby but one I like and try at.

Before I totally lose the audience I should make it clear that while I try hard I never put sportsmanship before results and never using deception or angle shooting to get an edge. I play by intent and unless it is clear that my opponent has a similar competitive mindset I will warn people about plays they are making that look like big mistakes to me, even in tournament games. So I’m competitive but not a jerk. Now you might ask “why in the world would you go to a giant fancy narrative event then, Mr. Try Hard?” and the answer is twofold:

  1. It sounds rad as hell it reminds me of my first campaign at Gamesmaster’s when we took territories to gain magic items in Warhammer Fantasy and
  2. My good friend Mr. Robert Goonhammer invited me to (Rob: Hell yeah)

Further, because the event is at a luxurious resort in a cool place, my lovely wife (TabooRose) decided to join me due in no small part to the fact that she and Rob’s wife are friends in more than just a “our husband play army guys together” kind of way. Which is excellent because she likes to relax more on vacation than I do so having an activity for me that she feels fine skipping is kind of a perfect mix.

So join me then if you will into my journey into the unknown world of “playing what you think is cool and not considering efficiency(as much) in list building.” It’s a bumpy road and I’m not sure that what I ended up with won’t still kick in some teeth but it totally is a sweet list that had my 15 year-old self collecting Eldar seen he would have been stoked. To be fair 15 year-old me also loved kicking in teeth at wargaming so the army being sweet is probably a bonus.

Credit: Erik Nelson

I began the process of prepping for the event by wanting to take the project I was currently working on, which was a Blood Angels list. So I picked up my copy of Codex: Blood Angels and jumped to the annoying section that I always have to skip over during games, full of hope. Could I work on the 5 virtues and the 5 graces of the Blood Angels to craft a force worthy of the Great Angel? Could I turn some sick red marines into immortal lore-like badasses?


Those of you who’ve read the section will know my tragic disappointment. No, the whole section is about losing your characters and units to the black rage. So, your narrative arc is all your guys become zombie vampires and you die. Which is somewhat less than compelling. Who would send these handsome boys off to become zombie vampires?

Credit: Erik Nelson

Further after reviewing my collection of Blood Angels it occurred to me that its probably not narrative friendly to have the last 3 generations of sanguinary guard who have existed all in one Crusade roster.

Credit: Erik Nelson

I decided that I’d be damned if I was going to paint to paint more handsome red boys specifically so they could be lost to the black rage. I considered a successor chapter as I have quite a few marines in an old scheme but those rules also lack flavor and my disappointment from the previous rule set had soured me. So on to the next possibility and the other part of my collection the much maligned and afformentioned space elves.

Next time: Codex eldar or, “Should I just bring a meta list and clown on people?”

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