Just a few months after the first expansion to Warcry, yet another book hits the shelves. But what exactly IS the Tome of Champions?
Following quickly on the heels of Monsters and Mercenaries, Tome of Champions is the latest expansion and supplement for the Warcry boxed game. Inside the surprisngly large book are rules for a variety of new ways to play Warcry in Open, Narrative, and Matched Play, as well as a handfull of other useful tools. It seems like Games-Workshop intends for the Tome of Champions to be a yearly release (hense the big 2019 on the cover) so chances are this will become the General’s Handbook of the system. That being said, lets dive into the book section by section.
Open Play is the first section in the book, though it only contains a set of new rules for deploying scenery (instead of using the cards) and a ruleset for playing games using only Monster models. While these monster brawls are a lot of fun and generally only take about a half hour at most, I can’t see them becoming too prominent as they pretty much always just come down to whomever has the best dice. Still, it’s a fun diversion, and I really hope GW keeps including variety like this in later editions. Open Play is the smallest of the sections in this book, but that makes sense as it, by nature, has less rules than the other two.
The bulk of this book lies with the Narrative Play section, which makes a lot of sense as most of the game is based on Narrative play. It opens with a collection of campaigns for factions that were not previously released in Warcry, such as Ogor Mawtribes and Ossiarch Bonereapers. While this sounds fantastic, new Warbands, like the ones listed above, do not have actual rules contained in this or any book. It’s likely that GW will release new card packs for these factions, but until then, these players are left with a quest that can’t be completed.
The next section features Fated Quests, which are basically non-warband specific campaigns, usually with a unique twist and very powerful rewards. It’s a cool way to keep playing with an already existing and leveled-up Warband.
Following that section are the Challenge Battles, which I want to draw special attention to for their inclusion of the Shatered Dominion Objectives. Each one of these is used as a particular objective (or threat) that plays to the theme of what the item actually is. Too often in Warhammer, we’re asked to defend an objective, which for all we understand is a strangely-circular spot on the battlefield. With these Challenge Battles, attempting to locate the tomb of a fallen warrior actually sets you up hunting for a coffin, complete with skeletons and all. Obviously, these battles can be played with any sort of objective marker, but you’re already playing Warcry for the narrative, right? These Challenge Battles also features rules for unique models that act as a final challenge, or as someone to escort. Overall this is the strongest part of the book for me, as each one feels unique and flavorful, whereas the generic Quests can start to feel a little similar the third time through.
The Narrative section also includes some new rules called the Trial of Champions. Essentially, this lets you start a campaign and play through with ‘hardcore’ rules in place. For instance, injuries are much more expansive now, with some lingering on an unlucky warrior for the rest of the campaign. While I don’t see myself using these rules that often, it’s a nice addition for players who are looking for something a little more brutal. Finally, the section ends with rules for wandering monsters, such as skeletons and Squigs. I’m actually really excited about this as, with examples of what ‘NPC’ monster stat lines should look like, it’ll be very easy to modify and create tons of home-brew adventures, even longer-form ones like Warhammer Quest.
The next section of the book deals with matched play, which is the most structured and balanced way to play Warcry. This section contains six new battleplans, Hidden Agendas, and rules for Escalation Tournaments. By nature, Matched Play is the most ‘clean’ version of the game, as it’s intended to be more balanced and less narrative. Escalation Tournaments add a level of Narrative to the system with ways to gain artifacts and traits during the tournament, though these have to be chosen from specific lists and not from the standard options.
Finally, the last part of the book contains updates to campaign rules, which tweaks the Glory Point system, and fighter cards for the previously released, but now no longer in print, warbands. These are not the Warcry specific warbands, but ones like Stormcast, Idoneth, etc. This is a nice touch for players that might have missed out the first time around, but…where are the new rules? It seems strange to me to have a book that hands you a full campaign for the Ossiarch Bonereapers, but doesn’t actually give you the rules to play it. Was this book supposed to release with an all-new card set, or perhaps a digital component? It was a solid kick in the pants to Seraphon fans to see the first hint of ANY new rules for them in this book, only to discover they still can’t venture into The Allpoints.
If you’re playing Warcry, chances are you’ve probably already picked up this book. If not, it’s a fantastic addition to the system, and adds months of content to a nearly-endless game.