Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Original 13th Black Crusade

GW's surprise Twitch broadcast earlier this week unveiled the next 40k Campaign book, The Fall of Cadia. This book details the beginnings of Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th, and presumedly, last Black Crusade. But time is fickle in the warp and some of us remember having already fought this war way back in the halcyon summer of 2003.

The Eye of Terror campaign ran through the summer of 2003 and had players all over the world taking part. Players chose a faction aligned to their army, played games and reported the results back to Games Workshop, mostly via the internet. A full rundown of the campaign can be found here

I took to the field as the Emperor's Children, an army I had been painting continuously for a couple of years up to that point. My army was led by the Emperor's Children warlord Desade and had a colour scheme of my own creation. In fact I recently painted a new model to see if I could remember how that you can see below!

As well as playing the Emperor's Children I was the Emperor's Children member for the Planet Killer Council. This was a think tank organised by my friend Ben Prager. A representative from each major faction of the Chaos forces would meet online every weekend and discuss strategy for the coming week. We would then return to our faction, using Yahoo Groups as that was the most sophisticated example of social media available at the time, and disseminate objectives to our fellow players.

This proved devastatingly effective and after a disappointing start the we Chaos players soon gained the upper hand. It was weeks before the forces of Order were able to organise anything similar. The credits in the Black Library tome 'The 13th Black Crusade' mention us in the with thanks section.

When the campaign was over it seemed we were on the verge of entering the 42nd millenium. The overall result was a minor victory to the forces of Chaos meaning the way was open to move deeper into the Imperium. Ahriman had located the webway and Eldrad Ulthran had been killed, his soul bound by the Keeper of Secrets at the centre of one of the Blackstone Fortresses taken during the Gothic War. Stuff was happening, the story was moving forward. 

This all happened back in 3rd Edition when I was still pretty heavily into gaming. In 2017 the march to Terra for the Legions of Chaos will be the main focus of the 40k narrative and I am really tempted to get involved again. With the release of the Traitor Legions codex we now have the Legion specific rules we always wanted since the mighty 4th Edition codex was replaced and I'm spoilt for choice having an Emperor's Children, Death Guard and Word Bearers force to choose from, though not all of the units are painted. 

The events of that campaign have since been retconned and none of the exciting story points have been kept intact. However it looks like the second run of the 13th Black Crusade is going to be better. Since then we have had the Legions rounded out more with their background from the Horus Heresy and Primarch models are now a thing. New special characters have been created for the next campaign book and the narrative looks set to flow in a more deliberate fashion with a specific end planned.

I'll miss the wild and unpredictable moulding of narrative that came with the campaign but with Games Workshop's engagement with the community in recent months and the return of White Dwarf it is hard not to feel optimistic and a little excited about where all this is heading. 2017 is going to be a good year for hobby.

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