September 23, 2017 by crew
Building on their exploration of the Mortal Realms and taking you deeper into the lore of Age Of Sigmar, Games Workshop has now put together their latest supplement for the game, Season Of War: Firestorm.
This campaign supplement allows you and three friends to play out a mighty campaign controlling one of the four Grand Alliances, Order, Destruction, Death and Chaos, in an effort to gain dominion over the Realm Of Fire known as Aqshy and write a saga for the ages.
What’s The Background?
Following the battle for the different Realm Gates around the Mortal Realms Sigmar cemented his control on the Realm Of Fire and Life with the mighty city known as Hammerhal. However, his control of the realms is nothing short of precarious with other forces always seeking to take control of the Realms.
This campaign, Firestorm, looks to write that campaign and has you playing as one of the four Grand Alliances, playing out the story to find out what YOUR vision of the world looks like.
There is a wealth of background information and narrative story woven into the majority of the Rulebook you get inside the Firestorm book which not only takes you through the current situation up to this point but also deals with the situation right now.
You’ll find a bunch of information on the different cities, armies, characters and more that are playing their part in these expanding schemes within the world of Age Of Sigmar.
I found it quite an exciting read to get stuck into all of the lore and find out more about how the forces of Order, in particular, are all gelled together within these mighty cities, some of which have been given new Army Sets by Games Workshop.
Duardin (Dwarfs) and Aelfs (Elves) in particular haven’t been dealt with in any substantial manner just yet in terms of the actual releases by Games Workshop so it was good to see how they fit into the wider world alongside the likes of the Freeguild (built from the remnants of the Empire troops by Games Workshop from 8th Edition Warhammer Fantasy).
By the end of the lore section within the book I was much more on top of how things are shaping up within the Mortal Realms than I was before, and this is something I’d say has been a strength of previous releases over the past few months as well.
The actual world building right now is sometimes shaky, but overall is going in the right direction to provide a better understanding of what and why you’re fighting for this landscape.
What’s In The Box?
Inside your copy of Season Of War: Firestorm you’re going to get the aforementioned Rulebook which is packed with lore and all of the rules you need to get playing the game.
You will also get yourself a very plush looking board which shows the Flamescar Plateau. This is the place from which you’ll launch your campaign.
Also included within the box are a wealth of cards for each of the four players, and a set of reusable stickers which can be used on the board allowing you to show where you have taken control of regions.
The rulebook speaks for itself as I think you’ll agree from the discussion above but the rest of the components bear some talking about. The board is fantastic and just what someone wants for a campaign, rather than some paper and printouts stuck up on a wall.
The artwork on the stickers is also incredible and very highly detailed. These alone, especially the markers showing off the dominions controlled by the grand alliances, also help to provide you with some world building, showing off immense battlefields and glittering cities.
Overall when it comes down to it the contents of the Firestorm box are top notch, as you’d expect from Games Workshop. No expense has been spared to make this look like something you’d actually consider framing after you were done with the campaign.
I’m not kidding. People have done the same with their game boards from Pandemic: Legacy and I could see Firestorm displayed quite regally on the wall of a gaming club or store…or (my favourite) under a glass coffee table surface.
But, whilst the components can be nice, how does the campaign actually work?
The Campaign System
A campaign of Firestorm will begin with four players deciding which of the Grand Alliances they are going to pick from and then taking control of areas around the map edge. These will be your starting regions from which you will then venture out to control the board.
There are a number of steps to then go through where you place a selection of control markers across the map including the Realm Gates which can be used to bolster your armies.
Each player will then also get themselves a starting deck of cards. This deck of cards forms the backbone of your army and tells the story of your expansion across the Flamescar Plateau.
The deck of cards measures you’re starting force and how many Muster Points worth of units you can bring to the battle. There are limits to allow for fairness when it comes to narrative and open play battles but it all comes down to establishing a base of points to draw from.
There are also special rules on some of the cards which might win you more glory or allow you to use special abilities in battle. For example, Walled Settlement gives you extra glory when you’re fighting around your home base.
I keep mentioning this resource called Glory. This is the measure by which you win the campaign. After their recommended six to eight weeks of games (one per person a week) you will tot this up and find out who has claimed dominion over the Flamescar Plateau.
Glory points can also be spent to upgrade your deck and your settlement as well. The game is as much about settlement building as it is about battles. These upgrades can either replace cards in your deck with better versions or allow you to draw on more special abilities.
For example, some of the additional cards in the deck offer up what are called Strategy Points. These can be used a bit like Command Points in Warhammer 40,000 but they are in effect for the entire battle giving you options to fight a Night Attack or add in Hatred where you can get a bonus against a specific enemy character.
A nice twist and something which plays well into some of the alternative methods of play in General’s Handbook 2017 is the use of Secret Objectives which can be used to provide you with a shadowy alternative to gain Glory during your games.
You can also do a bit of parley and trade with other Alliances. Whilst the forces of Order might not always want to ally with Chaos (never in a blue moon…which probably happens knowing Chaos!) maybe you want to offer them a reinforcement card which might help turn the tide against that mass of Destructive Orruks who are at your doorstep.
These trades are always one-time deals so you get your card back afterwards, and it might also be a double-edged sword. With a more powerful Chaos army now in play, are you more threatened than you were before?
You will play your games, placing stickers down to determine winners and losers, and then by the end of the period allotted, or when someone gets to thirty Glory you will have a winner. BUT, it doesn’t stop there.
There is also the chance to play what they called a Legacy Campaign. While the forces of Death may have prevailed in the first campaign you played, the game offers up a way for you to play another campaign ON the map you just created.
For those who have planned RISK: Legacy, this follows a similar format where YOU have built your own Flamescar Plateau and can then forever fight out battles, tussling between who controls it. Maybe make it a yearly affair?
Scenarios & Special Rules
As with most of these supplements, the Firestorm book also offers up a selection of new scenarios for you to play out which are tailored towards campaign play.
You will also find new rules for the various locations you fight over. For example, a battle at the Black Iron Peninsula will offer you the Hidden Armoury allowing you to improve your weapons and armour. Each of the different locations offers up a new and interesting opportunity for your games.
This is then bolstered by a further ten Allegiance Abilities for you to use that help Order armies as well as those from Destruction, Death and Chaos. The other Allegiances also mention special narrative characters and moments which might help you build a themed force under the command of Stoneklaw (Orruks) or Lord Zaronax (Chaos).
As someone who loves the world of Age Of Sigmar they have been created and is a big fan of narrative gameplay on the tabletop, this is a great product. It’s got a lot of excellent tools and tips to help you create a great campaign for your friends to play.
Now, I will say that I haven’t been able to play this campaign due to the timely nature of getting this look inside the campaign box out, BUT from what I have seen this could be the kind of thing you’d enjoy doing with a few close friends.
The components, as mentioned previously, are looking great and the book is a wonderful product with loads of gorgeous artwork – most of which is new – along with oodles of background and fluff for silly buggers like me.
We shall have to wait and see how the campaign feels after it’s been through the true test on the tabletop but this feels like another step in the right direction from Games Workshop on welcoming people into Age Of Sigmar.
A lot of what makes tabletop gaming special for me is the ability to tell stories and afterwards, embrace those special water cooler moments. This gives you another avenue to explore when striving for that so if this sounds interesting to you, I’d consider popping out and grabbing this.
So, which Grand Alliance would you fight for?
"I found it quite an exciting read to get stuck into all of the lore..."
"A lot of what makes tabletop gaming special for me is the ability to tell stories and afterwards, embrace those special water cooler moments..."