Dan: Are you looking at all the cool pictures from The Goonhammer Open Narrative and thinking “Oh, I can’t believe I’ve missed this event. This is the worst mistake of my life. I’ll never recover from this?” Or maybe you’re wondering what the hell even happened at the GHO, and you wish that there were two idiots who came up with the worst bit you’ve ever heard there to explain it to you?
Well don’t worry. Team BADMAN is here to help.
MildNorman (Norman), the fearless Captain of Team Chaos AKA Team BADMAN, and I, his personal Starscream lieutenant, have put together this article for you to get the details of the GHO Narrative from the frontlines of the battle for the planet Lenk. Here’s Norman, with a breakdown of how we will put this article together.
Norman: Rob did some amazing work outlining his process for designing the narrative packet (which can be found here) but we’re gonna go through playing it. We’ll be starting with how we planned around the pack once we had it, notable highlights, the few areas for improvement, and our overall thoughts.
BADMAN Origin Story: Initial Impressions of the Player Packet
Norman: Ok it might be worth explaining the BADMAN bit here. When we found out we’d be split into teams, we tried to figure out a unifying bit for team Chaos. We landed on getting the BADMAN shirt both to let everyone know who the villains are and to pay homage to the patron saint of BADMANs, Vegeta. We got half the team together to get the same shitty shirt and the rest is history.
Dan: I can’t emphasize this enough, the quality of the BADMAN shirt is just horrible dumpster garbage.
Dan: Now, from the initial player packet, the thing that catches my eye is how we are handling XP in the narrative here. I think the plan to make Marked for Greatness 5 XP instead of the usual 3 XP is a great idea, as well as the adjustment made so that if an Agenda gives a unit 3 XP or more, once per Agenda they can be Marked for Greatness instead. 5 XP versus 3 XP doesn’t sound like a lot, but it means that the first time something is Marked for Greatness in this event it will already have enough XP for its first level up. This is a great way to boost the XP accumulated from this event, which means I get to roll on the very cool Chaos Knights battle trait table more often.
Dividing the players into three teams is also a highlight of the player packet. Putting the players into Team Imperium, Team Chaos, and Team Xenos makes sure there is good narrative cohesion in this narrative campaign. I won’t have to do mental gymnastics as to why I’m fighting alongside Imperium armies (unless they are Imperium armies fallen to Chaos, like our friend Scott). We are all bad on team BADMAN.
I do wish that we could’ve had some way to coordinate between all the players before the event. I think it would’ve helped build team camaraderie and coordinate armies, and even more importantly make sure everyone buys overpriced BADMAN shirts that are assuredly going to fall apart after the GHO weekend.
Norman: I was smitten with the packet the first time I read through it. For me the thing that jumped out was the datasheets for all the fortifications. I’m sure a ton of work went into getting those ready and it gave me an inkling of what was to come. Seeing stuff for planetstrike missions was also very cool because that meant I was in for some real thematic stuff.
The other thing that was more revealed by conversations in the Goonhammer discord than really in the packet, was just how much choice we had in mission. Mostly just knowing I wouldn’t have to subject my opponent to a 1000 point knight game (they tend to be very swingy) did a lot to build my excitement for the event. Also knowing some of these secondary missions would lead to permanent buffs was very interesting and exciting. More on that in the highlights.
One thing I was a bit weary about was the faction mechanic ramp up. A lot of factions need quite a few crusade games to really get going, so we were likely not going to see that pop off during the event. There were custom rules for taking over the planet for GSC, Tau, and Tyranids, which was so cool and I appreciate that effort, but I don’t know if those rules ever got used and I know I didn’t expect to get any damnations going on my knights throughout the event.
Dan: Lastly, shoutout to Rob on the quality of the design of the packet itself. The high production value of the packet means that all the pages look right out of an official Crusade rulebook. There’s a whole section dedicated to the background of the planet we are fighting on, Lenk, describing it as a backwater only recently wrestled into control by the Imperium. And all the Datasheets and rules references are similarly well designed and formatted (though in fairness, some of these may just be reprints from other sources.) A bad packet makes an event feel lazy. Kudos to Rob for making a player packet that gets me pumped to roll dice.
BADMAN Rising Action: The Highlights
Norman: The absolute best thing from the event was the agency we were given to organize ourselves and pick our missions. Whenever a new round started there would be 2 primary missions that we needed to send 3 players to each and 1 raid mission where we could try to take/defend facilities which gave our team major buffs or sabotaged the enemy, giving them debuffs for the round. Not only did this add an extra layer of strategic decision making for us as a team (especially me as captain since it was my job to make sure my team knew the full scope of what needed getting done) but also allowed us to tailor how we wanted to approach crushing our opponents. For example; in one round we had a primary mission where we needed to get far across the board in order to score, while the other primary mission required us to defend objectives and get dug in. Our team consisted of 3 Chaos Knights players (I know, there should have been more), 2 Death Guard players, a guard player, a Night Lords player, and a Necrons player. After discussing it, we knew the knights players could strike deep into enemy territory early and would be really good at routing our opponents, while the slower armies like Death Guard would do well defending points and focusing on not dying.
Since we easily took all the facilities on the planet with our superior BADMAN tactics (except the foundry but also who needs it (Dan: Goddammit Norman we did, we needed it)) we got a good feel for them. Stuff like the comms tower, which let our team deep strike a turn early (our Night Lords player loved this), or the orbital gun which let us give 3 players a round a free orbital bombardment, really changed the way we played the game. As we took these facilities it felt like our push to take the planet was really having an effect.
In terms of personal highlights, I managed to get to legendary rank on my warlord, Warp Warden Nelkas. By getting there he had a combination of upgrades that let his gun do 6+d3 mortals a turn (at minimum) which was very handy in my last battle when trying to get through 10 stormshield vanguard veterans. Apparently I was doing well enough to earn the moniker “Everyone’s Favorite Tryhard” and win the award for most kills over the course of the event. Naturally winning this award resulted in an eruption of boos from the crowd which just means I was successful in being the baddest man I could be.
Lastly I’m gonna go ahead and plug the quality Goonhammer product: Administratum. As someone who’s done many a crusade, it made doing the bookkeeping easy and painless. This is usually a huge pain point in crusade events, and having an app that could smooth out that rough patch was invaluable. If anyone reading this ever organizes a crusade event PLEASE use this app.
Dan: I really loved the raid missions. These missions were Incursion size games where Rob went wild and were designed to be very different than a normal warhammer mission. One of the coolest ones was a game taking place on a Zone Mortalis board where you had to defend the captain of your ship from a boarding party. I couldn’t play this mission, as my big stompy robos would not fit.
The one raid mission I did end up playing, I was doing my best re-enactment of the Road Warrior, and boy howdy I lost.
The conceit was that my force had to defend a supply convoy as it traveled across the badlands of Lenk. The game was played on a long rectangular table made up of three of the old realm of battle plastic tiles lined up. My opponent was the lovely Greggles and his Dread Mob, and his goal was to destroy my convoy and cut me off from supplies. Victory for me meant extra RP for the team. Defeat meant no RP from games for my team. I had a lot on the line.
It wouldn’t be a Road Warrior mission if things didn’t move fast, so to this end every time the convoy got within 18” of the board edge, a plastic tile would be removed and another one placed at the end of the tiles. If your guys were stuck on a tile that got removed, they would get forcibly placed into strategic reserves. This meant that having guys that could go fast was key here, or all stuff would get left behind. The army you assembled had to have the need for speed.
Anyways, I lost pretty bad. Greggles blew up the fuel tank on one of the convoys, and since Rob cursed me to always suffer from awful explosions, Greggles rolled really hot on the radius and damage and it was all downhill from there for me. Here’s a good picture of one of the Dread Mob jumping down to give me Da Orky Elbow as I die inside knowing I’m about to have to tell my team they don’t get any RP this round.
Still, the mission itself was a blast. I’m glad I got to play a game of Warhammer unlike ever I have ever played.
As far as my personal highlight goes, I’d say it was blowing up a Fortress of Redemption during game two. I matched into my friend Burger and his White Scars successors, and we were fighting to control the fortress for our teams. He deployed infiltrators on the fortress, and I realized that while he can man the fortress, I cannot climb the stairs to put a banner on it with my Chaos Knights. I noticed then it had a wounds value in the player pack, and I knew what needed to be done.
Greg, if you’re reading this, I wish I could say that I’m sorry that I blew up the Fortress of Redemption that you lovingly painted for the GHO and sent it straight to hell on turn one. I wish I could tell you, dear reader, that I didn’t feel immense satisfaction doing something that ultimately mattered very little to the outcome of the game with Burger and actually kinda hurt my team because it meant we got less rewards from the mission.
But hot damn, did I love blowing up that old school piece of terrain and walking over it’s smoldering ruins. Peak Chaos Knight aesthetic.
BADMAN Pit of Despair: The Lowlights
Dan: So despite my highlight of the weekend being blowing up a Fortress of Redemption, I found the fortification stuff lackluster. In three of the games I played, the defender could get free fortifications to shore up their defenses against the attacker (and I always was the attacker). This is a really cool idea, and this is exactly how the Planetstrike rules lay out using the fortifications. In return, sometimes I would get big orbital firestorm attacks to try and weaken the enemy defenses before I struck.
The problem isn’t with this setup, really, it’s more to do with two other factors. Firstly the rules for fortifications really didn’t feel like enough to give a meaningful advantage to the defender in the games I played. Oftentimes, fortifications were easy targets for my knights to kill and get favors/XP off of and having lots of fortifications could also give me extra very scary firestorm bombardments. Secondly, the defenders selecting which fortifications they could use from the wide array available at the GHO meant that they could make suboptimal choices on their selections. Team Imperium needing to interact the most with fortifications the most during the campaign didn’t do them any favors: Team BADMAN and Team Xenos quickly overwhelmed them in points and by day 2 they were solidly in last place, being trampled over by both the hordes of the alien and the BADMAN.
All except one man. Andrew, The Hero of Team Imperium and the Final Defender of Lenk, and his Sons of Ash Space Marine Chapter.
This is secretly a highlight. Andrew is a local in my area and we convinced him to sign up for the narrative with Texas Greg and I. He went undefeated all weekend (though he did tie once), and everyone at the narrative got a kick out of watching him kick ass on the table with a fuckton of Salamander Eradicators and Redemptors. Watching Andrew be undefeated after six games was probably the closest thing I’ll ever get to watching a Space Marines Battles novel play out on the table. We all love an underdog story.
I just wish it also meant he didn’t melta Norman and I directly off the table and give me FIVE battle scars in the process for even daring to face him.
Norman: Speaking of Andrew, I also met him on the wartorn battlefields of Lenk and didn’t manage much better. I was tabled turn 3 and had killed 1 Redemptor and 1 Eradicator. Turns out, 9 Eradicators and 3 Redemptors having the confirmed first turn against Chaos Knights isn’t a favorable match up. Especially when the opponent has 10 extra cp. Luckily Andrew is a great opponent so we just laughed through it, especially when the killing blow on one of my big knights was from a Hammerfall Bunker.
You may be asking “wait 10!?” and that brings me to another feels bad from the event. Basically every game I went into, I had something like 15-20 extra crusade points than my opponents. This is less a problem with the event and more with crusade core rules in general. For the unaware, if you have more upgrades than your opponent, then for every 2 crusade points you have over the opponent they get an extra cp. The kicker is if the unit is worth over 200 points they’re worth 2 crusade points per upgrade. On top of this, making a knight a character is its own upgrade, so I was starting the crusade with 12 crusade points where my opponents were at 5. This didn’t stop me from doing well (ended up going 4-2), but it did feel like I was somewhat being punished for my faction which is never fun.
BADMAN FOREVER: Closing Thoughts
Dan: In the end, though Team BADMAN won the Narrative, the real victory was all the friends we made along the way. Hanging out with the buddies I have here through Goonhammer is always a delight, and just like any good event I made plenty of new friends there as well. I finally got to figure out what Fogo De Chao was on day one and got really excited about the Yakuza game series over Sushi after day two. I made dumb Warhammer jokes over margaritas and beers at the hotel bar with the exact dumb Warhammer people who would like those very dumb jokes.
And I played six great narrative games that make me want to play more Crusade, the true measure of success for any event.
Norman: Dan’s actually wrong, the real victory was winning and crushing our foes.
That said, it was great to meet all of my opponents. There wasn’t a single one I wouldn’t play again happily (except I might ask for a GT mission against Andrew) and there were some amazingly beautiful armies on the table. All I wanted to do after getting back was get more games in, which is generally a great sign of a successful event. Also I look forward to never wearing that BADMAN shirt again. It was really genuinely shitty.
Dan: If you get the chance to participate in a local Crusade event, jump at the chance. Especially if it’s a Goonhammer Narrative event, I’m sure we will be there and have another very dumb bit for team Chaos ready to go by then.
Norman: Find the guys in the matching BADMAN shirts if you want an ass kicking.
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