A full day of gaming? With a system I really enjoy? On fully painted terrain? With fully painted warbands? And with a group of fun wargamers? YES PLEASE!

El’ra’kayora Brightsoul detested these despoiled lands. The industry of build, fall to ruin and rebuild was anathema to the natural order that flowed through her. She could feel the decay of this place. It dragged at her. Despite these feelings, an Arch Revenant such as she had an obligation… an obligation to lead the Sylvaneth to retrieve shards of the Evertree. Leading them had brought her here. The lure of the fragments of the Evertree was weak, but she could sense it.

***

Cornix and the Hooded Crows had been patient. These shapeshifting trees were seeking something, their urgency betraying the value in what they sought. The ravens circling high above were his eyes. The cast bones of victims and broken pieces of deodands spoke to the path they were on. Pursuing these strange creatures was what the fates willed.

***

The call of the Evertree was all consuming. El’ra’kayora surveyed a set of ruins on the horizon. It was a perfect place for an ambush, but this was where she was being drawn. With a nod she sent dryads, revenants and hunters ranging forward, splitting into flanking groups. A pair of spites remained with her and she moved in.

***

Cornix could see what the ravens saw. The tree spirits had divided, intent on securing something in the old ruins ahead of them. With luck his Murder would arrive before them and whatever trinkets they sought would be his.

***

The cawing started with one or two voices, but it soon grew, each shrill cry echoing around the derelict walls. She felt it, a piece of the Evertree had been snatched by something. A svelte human wearing a billed mask and holding wicked hooked blades ran into view. El’ra’kayora couldn’t see it, but this creature had a piece of the Evertree. Without thought she took flight and sped with reckless abandon at the bird-woman. She felled it without remorse, its blood spilling into the hungry ground. The pulsing of the Evertree shard was all consuming and El’ra’kayora snatched the satchel it was in, feeling instinctively its call. The cacophony swelled and she caught glimpses of more black shapes swooping around.

***

Corvus could see the leader of the tree spirits and with a few curt clicks signalled to Corvus to pursue. Whatever the leader had taken from the fallen Pica must be of value.

***

Large wings blotted out the sun as El’ra’kayora moved back towards her followers. As she swung around elongated talons slashed at her, spilling the satchel from her grip. She fought desperately to defend herself as followers from each group hurled themselves into the fray. El’ra’kayora hit back, but more strikes slashed out at her, causing her to stumble backwards, strength ebbing from her torn frame. A bedraggled crow person grabbed up the bag, only to be cut down by a Kurnoth Hunter seeking to both protect her and retrieve the piece of the Evertree. They felt its presence acutely. As the crow fell, they slammed against the ancient wall, crumbing out a small hole in it. The Hunter stooped to take the bag from the crow person’s hand, but with a dying effort they pushed it through the hole. El’ra’kayora could feel the weakness grow in her, weakness from her wounds and from the growing distance between her and this Evertree shard she had briefly possessed. Consciousness was slipping from her despite the strength stemming from other pieces of Evertree they had retrieved. Hunting crows were the last thoughts to flit across her mind as she fell unconscious. The Sylvaneth would have their revenge.

I can’t remember the last time I played in an organised event, but when the opportunity came up to play at a local hotel I jumped at it. The event was fully vaccinated/fully masked, which I think is appropriate. Playing with toy soldiers (just like going to a pub, restaurant, etc.) is an optional luxury, so the least we can do is observe best practice in public health. With that in mind, the day before the event both my son and I awoke with sore throats, so I scheduled Covid tests for us, unfortunately suspecting that the results may not be back in time for the event. I would have been very disappointed to miss it, but as you can see from the photos I didn’t! The (negative!) results arrived in time for me to join around the middle of the day and Chris, the event organiser, was kind enough to arrange a lunchtime game for me.

I played three excellent games against Emmet’s Skaven, Chris’ Sylvaneth and Glenn’s Daughters of Khaine. I hadn’t played any of those warbands before, so it was a definite learning experience. Chris’ rulepack allowed for some narrative advancements with destiny levels, lesser artefacts and either an artefact of power or a command trait. These were layered in from the second game, so it meant the warbands evolved (escalated?) throughout the day. This was a simple yet lovely touch.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of my games and walked away with two wins and a narrow loss. Each of my opponents were nice guys. All of the games looked fantastic, with gorgeously painted models and terrain, which I believe is a fundamentally important part of the hobby. I still have flashbacks to my competitive Warmachine/Hordes days and all of the unpainted armies I played against!

Speaking of competitive play, I consciously have to actively curb my own competitiveness. Warcry helps with that somewhat as the games can be quite imbalanced depending on the terrain, mission, deployment and twist combination. That’s generally a bad thing in gaming, but when you’re playing friendly games accepting that the scenario is not balanced (never mind the skewyness in balance with some of the warbands) helps to take away the competitive edge. It doesn’t mean I won’t maximise my chances… e.g. when one of my Cabalists was killed near a solid wall, I ensured the treasure was placed on the far side of the wall!

Chris has offered to arrange more events, with different games, and I’d definitely be up for that. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be able to play without masks, hand sanitzer (though that seems like a generally good idea anyway) and social distancing at some stage. I won’t be rushing there. As I said at the start, playing our games is a luxury, so if observing these simple public health guidelines is what we need to do to enable some gaming, then I’m all for them.

Until next time,

Owen