As some of you may or may not have noticed I recently got the fantastic opportunity to go onto Warhammer Tv, and whilst suffering from no small amount of anxiety it was definitely not an opportunity I was going to turn down. Somewhere deep inside of me my younger child self who first discovered Warhammer would never forgive passing up this opportunity as they’d of been doing frantic excited dances in what I assume to be my soul or a passing feeling of hunger not least because the idea of internet tv shows was really weird and tomorrows worldy back then.
Wade and Raph are fantastic at putting you at ease before you go and during the whole proceeding, relaying how things are going to go in a nice orderly way that even my anxiety ridden brain can process and find a nice calming order to which was a huge relief. I got to enact my own custom battle plan (I lost but more on that later) and talk about a project that has been a part of my life for just over a year now and that I have written countless pages on (My Midnight City), if you follow me on twitter you may or may not have seen them by now, and if you don’t follow me on twitter I’m shocked and amazed you found this blog.
Cameras are my enemy, one of the beautiful comments uttered by my other half when I got home (aside from well done) was that a top down table camera does not do my thinning hair any good! You may have noticed my eyes flickering a lot and that’s as much keeping an eye on the comments in the stream as it was anxiety. But the experience was fantastic, and getting to put my ideas out to the inter webs is always amazing, and ultimately I really enjoyed being there and taking part!
Getting to talk about my Midnight City is always fun, its one of those subjects that I could go on for hours about as I have all little fancy details and nonsense facts about the city, and then through the city the tribes and cultures of Ulgu that then span out into the history of the Realms,. its all interconnected in this tangled web of lore that spreads across two laptops and now a MacBook as I try and bring cohesion and order to it. I started this project in January of 2019 as an imagining of what humanity could be within the realms, by no mean an absolute of what I thought all humanity would be like but a very stylised subject of Engineers exploring weirdtek, mad sciences and the things that engineers do with nigh limitless resources and very little oversight. The aim back then was to complete the full Ironweld fan made battle tome, but when the glory that is the Cities of Sigmar book released I instead started to redesign it as a sister battle tome to sit alongside the Cities with rules interplay and a shared unit pool. That idea alone is sort of weird but in a fun way, shared (and expanded) sub factions but a new set of overarching allegiance traits focusing on Industry and Engineers rather than the magic focus in most of the Cities armies, of course at the heart of all this would be the Midnight City as the new city sitting amongst the big 7.
I am a huge fan of custom rules, any time a player sits down and puts that much effort into trying to match the game experience to the narrative they have imagined is worth exploring, sometimes it takes a bit of hammering and tweaking to get those rules fun for both people but that again is an engaging conversational process that you both can get to enjoy as part of the hobby. For the Midnight City the warscroll philosophy was very simple, I only want to make scrolls for units that I cannot happily use an existing scroll with a name change for. Units like my Ironsworn Templar CAN be Treelords but that doesn’t quite encapsulate the interplay between engineers and the Ironsworn that I wanted to be integral, much like the Cogstriders can proxy as Demigryph Knights but are far more suited to their own warscroll as Apprentices and Nobles.
Similarly the infantry scrolls are each designed to fill a void in heavy infantry, the crossbowmen especially sit in that rare 4+ armour save for heavy infantry that the ranged Cities units dance around but never quite touch. As touched upon on the Stream I am trying to minimise mortal wound output and after saves as neither strike me as an overly “human” trait, in the realms where everyone is peerless I have an enduring love for my faction of mad engineers and people just trying their best despite their flaws. However in shunning mortal wounds in abundance and after saves you begin to see in the battle report how glaring an issue that can become, when faced with a beautifully destructive arcane assault from the Hallowheart city there is little defence in the list that can shrug it off, though there is comfort from the fact that with an average casting value of 13 there was no way I could of dispelled even if I had come more thoroughly prepared.
I wrote that scenario, and yes it did seem very tailored against the Midnight City but the beauty in Narrative Play isn’t always the easy route. Midnight is besieged, they aren’t magical, they are strained and the scenario really gave that impression, to have the victory conditions so stacked against them if I had managed to wrangle a win it would have been a heroic tale and as many of you commented my loss was also such a tale of tragedy. Rich was a fantastic opponent, really engaging with the game and a great laugh throughout that I’ve never had quite so much fun getting slaughtered, if you can exit a game loving it despite such a grievous loss then you’re doing something right and I don’t regret the scenario at all. Playing against Rich’s beautiful Hallowheart army who present a stark counterpoint to the grim engineers of Midnight made it all the better and the cameras were just icing on the cake there.
Someone mentioned to me that the Midnight City seemed to be lacking something in the Battlereport and that is a perfect sentiment, because they were. As I haven’t played Rich before I wanted to avoid Custom overloads, I am a cities player so I am vaguely aware of everything his city does and all his units, but bringing a custom allegiance he might be unfamiliar with and on such a tight timeframe for the game I wanted to bring the cool scrolls and then opted not to play out my Allegiance abilities or many of the cool buffs I built into the City. None of these would ultimately have impacted the end result of the game, he played a blinder and really hammered into the central objective before mercilessly hunting down my Cogseer to bring the game to a dramatic conclusion in the final battleround. It is this feeling of lacking something that I sort of wanted, the city felt missing something compared to the Hallowheart using all of their allegiance abilities because Midnight wasn’t using any, below is the Midnight City allegiance pages
As you may have seen my lovely command point counter kept creeping up, but as I hadn’t managed to get around to mentioning my Tier command ability mechanic I didn’t want to spring them up as a “GOTCHA” moment, I got so wrapped up in talking lore that I didn’t get to pitch them but you can see here how the “As One” command ability would of gotten me up the board at pace in the first turn and allowed me to shoot once in range, its something to explore in future games but its a mechanic that is in its early stages so I didn’t want to spring it on my opponent first game out. Next on to the traits of the Midnight City:
Midnight doesn’t have a huge amount of spell resistance or mortal wound defence, instead their unique mechanic lowers the range of abilities targeting them, if you are going to obliterate them you must come closer to do so. This isn’t going to stop you but might but them a turn to get you closer and then use their “As One” command ability to spring a sudden rush towards you, again this mechanic was another overlay on top of custom scrolls so I didn’t let it run about during the game but it may have made some choices harder, spell distances being reduced could be a real asset against Hallowheart in future games and its a nice thing to remember.
You may have also seen my lovely Cogsmiths do…. nothing, well that a bit harsh one did repair a walker once but when they became the Victory condition they instead had to a hide. But on any other missions Engineers in the Midnight City are as vital as Priests and Wizards in any other army, generating Schematic points when you build you list based on a variety of Warmachines and Engineers, and able to channel them into costed abilities throughout the game. Again this nifty little ability will go some way to give a bit of bite back to the Midnight City without necessarily causing too many rifts but introducing the mechanic might well have taken far too long so instead I set it to one side and focused on getting the custom scrolls to the table.
All in all I’m pretty happy with how the scrolls performed, they aren’t built for that level of mortal wound output but when they got where they were going they performed well enough without being overpowered. The Ironsworn delivered a decent punch and went down to a hail of fire as is to be expected, the Reclaimer however you may have noticed from his scroll has the ability to fire twice in a turn that I never implemented. This is for a myriad of reasons but mostly because telling someone its 6 damage can usually merit an eyebrow raised, saying it has a chance to fire twice can potentially be shocking. But if you watched it through the game that one shot is so hit and miss you start to wonder if it is worth its 220 points the in the length of the game it failed to deliver even a single wound, this is again a result that I’m happy with as that second shot then “feels” right, it needed it to feel useful but I didn’t enact it because I wanted to see just how useful it was on a single shot.
It may not have seemed it, but that Cogfort is resilient. 20 wounds of 3+ save, increasing to 2+ save if you have a damage characteristic of 1, that is resilient to the point very few units can match. I dislike after saves because it is neither arcane nor ghostly, so the mortal wounds really tore through it and this is something I need to revisit potentially later on in the design. The level of mortal output was phenomenal and I may need to abandon some of my design principle to get the Cogfort into the place it should be in terms of resilience compared to the modern game, if every Cogfort went over sideways if a wizard looked at it Hammerhal would have fallen long ago. So this will maintain a debate going forward.