|An iconic front cover if there ever was one. Ian Miller's twisted siege is packed with gruesome and unsettling imagery. Every time you come back to this painting and actually appreciate it, you'll find something new.|
Hello and welcome to the latest installment of Acceptable in the '80s, my history of Warhammer Third Edition told through its releases, miniatures and articles. Today, we look at the first published hardback supplement for WFB, Warhammer Siege.
In the last article, we discussed the Mighty Fortress briefly, and I shared with you a number of pictures of it. If you recall, this was a gigantic polystyrene castle in different sections that came with a number of accessories; doors, flag poles etc. It's still a remarkable set, and well worth the £20 - £30 that you should expect to pay. It also has much more character than the later plastic beast that currently retails at £60 plus.
As you'd expect, the launch article begins with an amusing tale or two. I don't know about you, but I never get tired of reading '80s tales of orcs, chaos warriors and grumpy dwarfs. It goes on to outline some of the rather complicated rules that can be found within this volume. Yeah, its essentially an ad, but it contains photographs that I would not have seen before when the magazine was published and it does look rather impressive.
|Here's a sight that should warm the cockles of any Oldhammerer. A huge table, thousands of painted, old school Citadel miniatures, a detailed, converted Mighty Fortress and a spanking '80s jumper on Priestley that would make Alan Partridge proud.|
So what does the book actually contain? Well its split into two real parts; the Fantasy Siege and Sieges in the 41st Millennium. Yes, that's right, one book that provides additional rules for TWO GW games; Rogue Trader and WFB3. The Fantasy Siege is the most detailed, and contains much material that with little effort could be converted for use in Rogue Trader, and it should be pointed out here that there was a clear, if not entirely successful, attempt to make RT, WFB and WFRP fairly compatible to each other during the time these rules were written.
In the early pages, you get a simple discussion about how to use your Mighty Fortress, or homemade castle, to create a stronghold, and a guide to the layout of castles in general to start. This is quite helpful, as it explains each part of the castle in game terms and helps fire your imagination for possible battles and sieges. This is followed with a rather complex article on Castle Maps, and the role of the GM in plotting the positions of hidden resources and forces. Awareness, concealment and and exposure are all buzzwords here. In my view, this is a rich vein for Oldhammer Fantasy players to tap. The opportunity to create and run a narrative based siege, perhaps taking place over several days, is a real possibility and would certainly be an experience.
Then we are into the rules proper. Beginning with movement, unit cohesion and travelling in unusual directions (up or down) are discussed and explained, all in exacting detail. There are even rules to dictate how troops move out of the castle! This is followed with a combat section, which provides additional rules to those already published in WFB3, including details on splitting units and adding fresh troops to a melee. How to retreat during a siege game is also covered.
Next, we have a fairly complex section detailing missile weapons. These cover everything from who is hit, to shooting at large monsters and those hiding behind the ramparts. In support of this, there are rules for the player to deal with structural damage as well as breaking down doors and gates. Fairly extensive don't you think? If that wasn't enough to encourage you to pack up your baggage and break off the siege, the next section details actual castle assaults by different means; namely ladders, grappling hooks, log rams and so forth. Don't panic if you prefer to be the defender! There are plenty of rules covering how to counter such attacks; mostly detailing dropped boulders or poured hot missiles.
A new set of rules are given for use with large creatures and sieges. Fancy having a dragon attacking the wall, climbing the main tower and ripping off the roof to the keep? Yes, its all possible (and then some) in this rather inspiring section. Giants can even carry siege weapons for their smaller comrades!
|Proper art. And a proper man mangler too! Here's the famous 'Bryan Ansell's cigar' picture.|
A small section presents a ready to play example siege, entitled the Siege of Caraz-Lumbar and provides information about how to calculate who as actually won. The rest of the fantasy rule setdeals with the Strategic Map, which is used to 'role-play' other aspects of the siege, namely engines of war, baggage, constructing earthworks, mining (and counter-mining), using fire, starving out the opponent, magical weapons and so on. There really is so much material here that I feel exhausted just describing it!
Next up, we have the ruleset that provides additional support to Rogue Trader. Though the smaller of the two, you really do get some crazy RT ideas here. Sieges are split into three types; primitive, mixed and conventional (namely, sci-fitastic). For me, its the mixed sieges that provide the most interest. As I have written before, it is possible to design games where a lone space marine crash lands on a medieval world, pursued by a couple of traitor Rogue Traders. The space marine enlists the local human population to help him set up a homing beacon, while his enemies make a pact with the local orc tribes. Before you know it, you're fighting a fantasy siege with power armoured marines taking pot-shots and zany equiped Rogue Traders!
Read on, and you'll uncover details of minefields, gravitron guns, mole mortars and much, much more. There are even rules for running a game where your castle is made out of some futuristic material that self heals! Brilliant! This section is rounded off with three different example castles to get your creative wargaming minds a-gurgling.
|Doesn't that top battlement shot just conjure a thousand narratives into your mind?|
White Dwarf published a couple of articles that didn't make it into the final rulebook over the next few issues. I present one of those articles below. It concerns a few dirty tricks that a defender may use to help trounce the enemy. You'll find it below.
|Sorry this one is a bit wonky!|
|Russ Nicholson and Paul Bonner's illustrations really help create an atmosphere.|
Do you own a copy? Have you played a Siege game using these rules recently? Do you have any memories of playing with the ruleset 'back in the day'?
If so, please share below!