You might remember that a few editions back there was a variant of Warhammer Fantasy Battles which saw you playing as smaller skirmish level warbands taking to the field and completing scenario based narrative encounters. They were perfect for building up character within a larger campaign setting and it also allowed you to build a force from practically a handful of models.
Skirmishes Of The Old World
Since then there have been other variants. Mordheim of course has been a constant source of skirmish based warfare for the world of Warhammer but it has somewhat gone the way of the dodo thanks to Games Workshop dropping Specialist Games. It still exists as Coreheim and Heroheim thanks to fans but it’s not the beast that it was.
At one point Games Workshop put out a supplement with White Dwarf called Path to Glory where you played as Chaos Champions (and later Beastmen) looking to prove themselves in the eyes of their fickle Gods and claim daemonhood through whatever means necessary. This was another awesome way to build your army from the ground up, taking a handful of models from maybe even a single regiment box and customising them to make heroes and soldiers with character. They could then branch out and become unit champions for a larger army, or maybe even role-playing characters in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Overall skirmish based fighting has always been a part of the Warhammer world.
I, at one point, thought about coming up with a system that allowed for this kind of fighting and it’s still present over on the Warhammer Fantasy forum somewhere but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Warhammer World had put together an altogether more professional and indeed fun package for some of their event days.
This pack was called Regiments of Renown and when I flicked through it I was immediately gripped by how awesome this could be.
What Is Regiments of Renown?
Regiments of Renown is a fantastic little game where you take your existing models from a larger army, or custom make your own heroes and lackeys and take them to the battlefield in very short but enjoyable battles against similar warbands. The limit is 100 points, so as you can tell it doesn’t require many figures (unless your Skaven…) and you can have loads of fun making your heroes and their followers individual.
You have a few basic rules to start with before you begin fighting however. At least 25% of your models have to be from the Core section, 50% can be from Special and 25% from Rare, pretty similar to the main rulebook. No one can wield magic, no Wizards sorry, and upgrades are kept to a minimum.
The exception to these rules come with the Dogs of War and your Leader for the force. The Leader can grab twenty points of magic items from the main rulebook but he and the Dogs of War, basically his trusted advisers, can take wargear that might not be magical but are certainly fun and it’s also free for them!
These kind of items range from the more normal Kraggis’ Pick which gives you Armour Piercing to others like The Dashing Cloak Of Heroic Renown which gives you Regeneration 5+. Other weapons and items include Drogg’s Decapitator which gives you Killing Blow and The Spiky Shoulder Pads which give you Impact Hits!
As I mentioned before, these are all ‘free’ in terms of points so they serve to make your Dogs of War a bit more individual when compared to the rest of your warband. They also encourage you to come up with your own take on the weapons and items to tailor them to your particular faction. For example, one of my Dwarf Longbeards had The Horn Of Ribald Tomfoolery which made him immune to fear. I decided that it would be the model with an eyepatch, over his good eye, so he couldn’t see and the Horn itself was actually an Orc head he carried around with him for good luck. Because it had been such a brutal fight he no longer suffered fear while he held it.
These kind of items and the chance to develop heroes and their warriors means that you are immediately making up stories and narrative and actually connecting with what you’re doing on the tabletop. You have moments of ‘Noooooo’ when your hero or Dog of War bites the dust or manages to prove himself worthy and bring low that enemy that kept harassing you a few games ago.
There is progression in Regiments of Renown too. It might not be as in depth as it is in Mordheim but your leader, and only your leader, can get a series of upgrades based on a roll after the game. In the basic pack this is worked out as 2d6 + however many kills he managed to get. The rewards are all stat based but it does mean you can have some fairly brutal warriors by the end of it. It also means that things don’t get too unbalanced as if only the leader is a brutal killing machine, you can still kill off his other warriors and win that way. A nice antidote to ”well there’s no point playing you” syndrome.
Now, the actual pack is meant for a one day tournament style affair where you play a series of eight games at the event and then see who emerges on top by the end of it. That’s all well and good but I wanted to take it one step further.
Building The Narrative
I’ve always loved the idea of telling stories on the tabletop and I saw Regiments of Renown as being the perfect outlet for this. Thankfully my local gaming store, Titan Games, saw this as an ace project to pursue as well so thankfully they gave up some of their tables on a Sunday for folk to come down and play a series of linked narrative games which would build a story over four weeks.
Here is the background…
“The Great Forest of the Drakwald is a dangerous place for anyone who enters. Woodsman tell tales of creatures that dwell within the shadows that could kill you by merely looking at you. Whether that is true or not is a subject of much debate but both the forces of Order and Destruction have spilled blood over the forest floor tangled with ancient roots.
The forests however were not always as dark and dangerous as they are now. In times long forgotten there were towns and villages that have now been swallowed by roots and submerged beneath the Earth. In the days of yore these villages and townships buried their dead in ancient barrows and tombs of stone and that has what has now been discovered in the woodland.
It started off as a simple fall into a hole but soon the woodsmen started to uncover great underground caverns lined with stone, filled with the dead and artefacts of power. Fearing for their lives they fled and told others and over time small expeditions were sent to uncover what lay beneath the wood. A vast network of tombs and barrows has been uncovered and their secrets are waiting to be stolen.”
The players therefore would be playing as their warbands looking to dominate these places of power in the Drakwald and winning a place in the tales told by the fireside at taverns and campsites around the Empire. We made no bones about keeping this as non-competitive as possible, it was purely for fun and to tell a story. I would be recording their games (as well as playing) and then build a story around their triumphs and failures in an effort to tell a great yarn that they could look back on.
We had a great mix of different armies coming to try their luck in the Drakwald. Chaos Dwarfs, Dwarfs, Orcs & Goblins, Bretonnians, Wood Elves, Ogres, Skaven, Vampire Counts and Empire all made an appearance and built warbands with buckets of character to them as well as stories as to how they ended up where they were.
The Empire player for example decided that his leader had stolen the rainments of a Witch Hunter and was posing as one, looking to become one himself, believing he was appointed by Sigmar to do so. My Dwarfs had come down from the mountains looking to raid the tombs because they believed that the men who had been buried within them had taken their artifacts. The Skaven were, as always on the search for wyrdstone/warpstone and the Ogres (more on their leader later) were looking to make a name for themselves and become Manhunters or renown and fortune.
We had a lot of fun from week to week. The first weekend we played straight up fights just to get used to the system and work out any kinks. It played very quickly and with plenty of brutality. In subsequent weeks I added objectives to heighten the narrative element. In Week Two they were finding small grave markers throughout the woods. Claiming them won extra bonuses on the rolls for advancement. Week Three was the same with bonuses but included a central objective which focused the fighting. Week Four, the last week, included multiplayer games where the armies would be fighting over the massive temples (that all had random terrain effects!) that had been unearthed by a storm of magic. Claiming those would prove who was victorious once and for all.
As I mentioned before, this push on a narrative slant to proceedings produced some amazing characters. There was Istvan the Ogre, a brutal killing machine that managed to notch up over 60+ kills in the various matches. He was matched by my Ironbreaker Leader, Gronti who was one of the only warriors to bring him down in combat. Others involved a small Gnoblar called ‘Nutter’ who had impact hits thanks to the Dog of War item in the booklet. He even managed to mess with a few people with those low strength charges!
Notable mentions also go to Gorbash, the Orc Leader who was quite the raving lunatic. His pet Troll called Lindsey was also a highlight. Whenever she met a foe she just vomited on them and reduced them to a pile of goo, much to my Trollslayers dismay. The Bretonnians and the Wood Elves also gave a good showing with the Peasants and Horses in the Knights employ being more powerful than their lance wielding owners! The Wood Elf Waywatcher too became a star player, sniping people off from a distance with his killing blow arrows. He was certainly a better leader than the Wood Elves actual one who managed to run into a wall and kill himself on one occasion.
As you can tell character and narrative was rich and people seemed to be having a lot of fun as they went through Warhammer Fantasy Battles at this skirmish level. It was fun, silly, brutal and really showed off what you can do with a few figures and a bit of imagination.
Because everyone seemed to enjoy Regiments of Renown and this alternative take on its tournament style format the folk down at Titan have rallied behind the idea of more narrative based campaigns and adventures and so we’re next taking on Coreheim. I’ll be playing as Witch Hunters led by the cruel and malicious Richter Haustman. I have some dastardly tricks lined up and I’ve already began writing a story as to how he came to be in the City of the Damned.
In the grander scheme of things I hope that the next edition of Warhammer Fantasy has some skirmish element to it. There have been rumours of one for a while, and I think considering Regiments of Renown and its popularity, it would be a great road to go down. It also gives their designers and artists an excuse to make some rather awesome solo models for use in the game.
Until then I will be building my warband for Coreheim and finishing off the final chapter in the Drakwald Tombs saga we played through.
If anyone would like to read the full narrative I’ll upload it somewhere so folk can read through the tale as it unfolded week by week! I hope I’ve inspired you folks to pick up Regiments of Renown and give it a go. It’s not balanced, it is silly, and it is fun, but that’s the charm of it.
Let’s bring the Old World back to life!
"...the Horn itself was actually an Orc head he carried around with him for good luck. Because it had been such a brutal fight he no longer suffered fear while he held it."
"His pet Troll called Lindsey was also a highlight. Whenever she met a foe she just vomited on them and reduced them to a pile of goo, much to my Trollslayers dismay."