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Saturday, 6 September 2008

Chaos in Cathay



The very first Border Town Burning review on the world wide web.

The unofficial Mordheim supplement Border Town Burning by Christian "Cianty" Templin, Stu "Werekin" Cresswell and friends has been in the works for over four years, and is eagerly awaited by Mordheim gamers all over the world. A week before its official release, Tom's Boring Mordheim Blog was the first to be invited to take a look behind the scenes of the most anticipated Mordheim supplement of 2008.

Exclusively on TBMB you will be able to read about what exciting stuff awaits you within the pages of Border Town Burning before it hits the web! Admin Tom has read the Mordheim supplement for you and offers an exclusive review of the exciting new setting for your Mordheim campaigns.

Exploring new spheres

Border Town Burning is set near Cathay, the far East region that lies behind the World's Edge Mountains, whose snowy spine shields the Old World from the Dark Lands. The first pages of BTB offers insight into a letter of Remino Hauser, a merchant on his way to Cathay and into the personal journal of Hans Hierbach, a travelling Sigmarite preacher, whose descriptions of the foreign, secretive and rich land of Cathay set the stage for the extraordinary mood of the rulebook and raises questions that tickle the reader's appetite. Do the elves have contact with Cathay? If so, for how long have they known about Cathay? Are they the ones responsible for smuggling Topum into Mareinburg? What lies beyond the city of Sen-Quoi which, by imperial decree, no Old Worlder is allowed to trespass to the East upon penalty of death?

In BTB we leave the sinuous, torch-lit streets of old Mordheim to breathe the chilled air of the borderland steppes between Cathay and the Northern Wastes, where barbaric tribes devoted to the Gods of Chaos dwell.

"From this point on, reality continues to break down [...]. Even the landscape itself is hostile, as the mutating, ever-changing effect of Chaos has scarred the lands permanently. A lack of landmarks makes map-making extremely difficult and something that can be seen in the distance one day can be gone the next. A traveller might even think they have been going east for many days only to find that they have been going west, north or not moving at all."
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excerpt from Border Town Burning

What's new?

BTB is much more than just an expansion to the "core game" Mordheim. It unites new background, new warbands, new skills, new equipment, new dramatis personae, new hired swords and most importantly a brand new narrative campaign system in one supplement. In addition to introducing new and exciting features, BTB also partly relies on successful and approved rules from Empire in Flames and the article Blazing Saddles for mounts.

With a new setting comes a full package of new rules. Players will have a choice of 6 new warbands to lead into battle, namely Marauders of Chaos , Merchant Caravans, The Restless Dead, Battle Monks of Cathay, Black Dwarfs and Ogre Maneaters. It also includes the Norse Explorers which have been re-edited from the Lustria supplement. Of course all the original and official warbands from the basic rulebook remain available, and entirely playable in BTB. Although this supplement can be used for one-off games in an exotic setting, it develops its real flavour when played in campaign mode - its designed purpose. Unlike the core game, BTB provides specific agendas for every actor in the campaign and an enticing background with entwined stories.

Another new feature are unlockable scenarios. These only become available as the warbands progress through the campaign and it is the order in which they are played that tells the story.

Furthermore BTB introduces the campaign points (CP) system. Each warband has its own objective throughout the campaign, and collects CPs for completing incremental steps in it. (like playing a game, winning a game, taking out a rival/minion of chaos etc...) . The new rosters in the BTB rulebook provide little boxes that are checked one at a time. As in the known XP-point system, every time a player reaches a thick CP-box, he may check the campaign achievement chart, giving subtle advantages like slightly reduced recruitment costs due to fame, exploration re-rolls and such. Unlike XP however, CPs are gained by the warband as a whole. Campaign points are two things: first, an indicator of progress through the story and secondly a currency! Indeed hired swords costs money and CPs in Border Town Burning. A warband wins the campaign when it achieves its objective before the others, i.e. when all CP boxes are checked.

Story

In BTB Chaos is brewing but this time it's not about wyrdstone. A barbarian Chieftain is striving to become a Champion of the Dark Gods and raise an army to lead against the civilized peoples of the Warhammer World. However one does not become a Choas Champion over night, and so the aspiring champion has to locate four arcane artefacts that will grant him the power to become a Lord of Chaos. Unaware of this, adventure parties venture into the Cathayan region driven by rumours of these ancient magical items worth a fortune. The good news is, all factions - good and evil - are playable! Whether the players choose to go in as marauder chieftains yearning to become Lords of Chaos, as Cathayan Monks fighting the threat to their homeland or simply treasure hunters profiting off the confusion to get their own piece of the cake, they will play a part in orchestrating the campaign. Let it be said here, that there is no obligation to choose any of the above listed factions in the mentioned constellation. The beauty of BTB is that it works with any set-up of warbands: all good, all evil, all neutral or a mix thereof. However it goes without saying that the most enjoyable BTB experience will come from the latter.


Border Town Burning gaming table by Cianty.

Release date and installments

The Border Town Burning rulebook is split into six installments which will be released on a fortnight basis, boasting 144 pages in total of brand new material that allows you to explore an entirely new and exotic setting with your gaming group. Of course, the BTB sourcebook also provides us with a beautiful and inspirational gallery.It was kicked off on sunday august 31st 2008 with the first intallment out of six: "Background and Merchant Caravan".

Every two weeks thereafter a new installment will be published. This will allow players time to assimilate and enjoy every one of the chapters and ease them into this new setting.
Background and Merchant Caravan has already been released and the next installment is scheduled for September 14th, 2008.

Conclusion

With Border Town Burning the development team has delivered a one-of-a-kind and highly creative supplement for our Mordheim games that convinces through incredible professionalism and flair. With four years in development and playtesting it constitutes a very solid system and can be thus be trusted like any official release, if not more so.
When reading this sourcebook it is nigh impossible not to picture endless steppes, monasteries in snowy mountains, steaming pits of chaos, dim lit caverns hiding riches in their bowels, Cathayan monks doing spin kicks, ogres riding into a charge on the back of mighty rhinoxes.

It feels almost ubiquitous to say that if you are already a Mordheim player playing this supplement is a must. No wargamer worth his salt can afford not to play and enjoy Border Town Burning. It will bring not only a breath, but a blizzard of "fresh" air into your gaming experience and guarantee infinite replayability through a clever design and a rich setting. It will inspire and motivate you to explore new visual styles and ideas for your models aswell as spark myriads of new ideas for those of you who like to design new scenarios, quests and campaigns.

To those who may not play Mordheim yet, all I can say is that this is an offer you cannot refuse. An offer to join into a fantastic and fun world of Mordheim that has just been expanded to a universe by the talent and effort of a small team of bright young people.

Conclusively I would like to thank Cianty - gamer, painter and designer extraordinaire - and his great team for their effort and incredible dedication in bringing this brainchild to life, in a friendly and professional atmosphere. This is what the hobby is about and this is how it should be.

Thank you for your time.
- Admin Tom

Want to know more? Download BTB here!
http://www.bordertownburning.de.vu/