A while ago, I published my very first AAR ever about a game of Blood Eagle. As a result, we were invited to host a participation game at Do or Dice 2018, a wargaming convention in Germany. We were very happy and a new project was born. A Blood Eagle participation game.
The right idea for a Blood Eagle participation game
At first, we had no clue, what to show at the convention. Of course, we could use our stuff from the AAR. But we wanted to present something new. So the brainstorming began and we collected quite some ideas. We wanted some form of local reference in our presentation, so the game should take place in the northern parts of Germany. But on the other hand, we are not the most historically accurate wargamers out there. Well, I guess as a reader you might already notice that. So, of course, there has to be some strange stuff going on the gaming table. With the Dark Ages setting in mind, we quickly figured out some kind of summoning.
Our main goals for the Blood Eagle participation game were simple:
- the players should have fun.
- the presentation should look nice
- the whole project should be manageable for us, think time constraints like jobs, family and stuff like that
Building the scenario
With these goals in mind, we started to build the scenario. We aimed to make the scenario short and crisp. The Do or Dice lasts only one day, so the players have no time to waste. In my opinion, a participation game should last about 60 to 90 minutes at most. Including explaining the rules and the setting. So this was our timeframe for the scenario.
We quickly outlined a story. A druid tries to summon an evil creature from the Wyrd. The heroes have to prevent this from happening. This can be done by reaching the summoning circle and stop the ritual. Of course, the druid is not alone, so some shady minions standby to stop the party.
Due to the fact that heroes mostly are superior to small numbers of minions, our goal was to spread them out to prevent them from killing the minions one by one. To achieve that, we placed two markers on different sides of the gaming table. We also split the minions into two groups. One group should guard one marker. While the druid was placed in the circle, one archer was positioned next to the circle to act as a backup for the druid, because it was quite obvious, that some player may try to rush the circle.
We were happy so far with the results, but there was one problem left. The minions could only stand their ground if they outnumber the characters. To prevent this from happening, the players may focus their force and kill one group after the other. The result would be a pretty easy game. Not what we had in mind. So we came up with the idea of some kind of time limit. Pretty obvious this was the arrival of the summoned creature. So at the end of each round, we rolled a D10. In the first round, the creature would appear on a 10. In the second round on an 8, in the third round on a 6 and so on.
Setting up the forces
Straight after the Brainstorming, we started to build the army lists. Blood Eagle makes this process rather easy and only minor adjustments had to be made. So after one evening, we had two army lists. For the player characters, we went the save road and chose a party of heroes. Nothing fancy here. One tank, one mage, one damage dealer and one additional character. With stuff like the popular TV series Vikings in mind, we wanted some kind of shieldmaiden in the party. Another idea was some kind of bard, but we quickly discarded that. Finally, we came up with the following cast:
Jarl Eskil: an inspiring leader and the most powerful character of the party.
Ulfrik: a berserk with the two weapons and the ability to use them both in one turn.
Asgeirr: a druid, with a mix of range attack spells and buffs.
Liv: a shieldmaiden, with nice defensive traits.
To make things easier for the players, we created character cards and a cheat sheet. All that stuff was laminated, to make it more durable.
Do or Dice 2018
After some weeks of playtesting, we were ready to participate at our first convention. So we packed our stuff and drove to Rendsburg, in the northern parts of Germany. Everything was well organized there and we were located right next to the snack bar. So supplies were secured. We quickly set up our stuff and were ready to roll. Soon afterward, we had our first game with four participants. The group was great and our scenario worked perfectly. After that, we ran two more games at the convention, so in total 12 gamers took part in our participation game. Everybody had a great time and we got a lot of praise.
Our participation game was a huge success. Everything from the scenario to the gaming table works perfectly. Even the transport was relatively easy. There was only one minor problem. Sometimes it wasn’t easy for us gamemasters to track the initiatives of the players. Some kind of marker would have been useful here. But besides that, there was absolutely nothing to complain. Honestly, we were so happy, that on our way back home we committed to making a new participation game in 2019. We even came up with some great ideas. In an additional post, I will cover the building of the gaming table and the terrain pieces. So stay tuned and happy wargaming.