Ever since my college days in the early '90s, I've usually played some sort of spooky battle around Halloween. Great time of the year with the weather just starting to turn colder, it's time to go inside, grab some hot cider, and play a spooky battle or two.
For years this was typically some large Warhammer battle with my Undead army verses whomever. When I returned home to Minnesota in 2001 from the Army, I found that some of the locals were really into Mordheim complete with an already great collection of terrain (and minis!) that we would continue to add to in the years ahead.
Although I bought Mordheim when it first came out, the Fall of 2002 was the first chance I got to be in a actual league. The four week league was a blast, but the best part came with the annual Halloween game the guys at Phoenix Games (then in Minneapolis) had been already doing for a few years.
The game pitted a few warbands of Skaven against the Undead. As with most of our spooky bashes, we included a few troops not available in Mordheim to add to the fun. The Skaven had to cross the river, make their way up the hill through town, to the graveyard at the top to kill the Necromancer/grab the warpstone/or something.
The task proved a bit much for the mutant rats as they got bogged down in the town. Fun times, but one of main problems with big one-off scenario games like this is you never get to play test them. As long as everyone is there for a good time this usually isn't a problem anyway. Usually...
In the late Summer and Fall of 2003 we spent a lot of time working on new Mordhiem boards and terrain. Along with helping with the boards, I spent a solid two weeks creating tons of graveyard terrain and a few other items. This was not only for our league, but for the shop's first ever "Octoberfest" Mordheim Tournament.
That year I put together a very detailed vampire hunt game for Halloween that had three Witch Hunter warbands (led by Johann van Hal no less) making their way through a large graveyard to (s)take out Heinrich von Wulfenstein and a few of his minions along the way. The Witch Hunter players were kept in the dark about what they were facing and only received a slightly burnt letter from the Grand Theogonist Volkmar upon arriving at the shop with instructions for the game. (See the letter at the bottom of the post)
The Sigmarites had the task of cleansing all the large mausoleums or tombs that any vampires could take refuge in and find the two lesser vamps while trying to make it to Heinrich's crypt by a set number of turns (Midnight) before he woke up. Each turn was an "hour" in game time and contained more and more spooky fun.
The Undead side got to place a number of their troops in hiding and try to set up ghoul, dire wolf, etc. ambushes if they could. Meanwhile the graveyard itself contained a couple "wight" traps and a few scheduled "random" events including spooky wind/weather, a banshee making her way through the tombstones, and even a werewolf. I also tweaked the effectiveness of some of the events so I wouldn't overwhelm the Hunters from their main purpose.
"Werewolf?" "There wolf!"
Although I did spend a good amount of time planning this game, I was still surprised to see everything go off with out a hitch. Right down to the stroke of Midnight and the climatic battle between Heinrich and Johann. If I remember correctly, I think Johann was cut down and then the rest of the mob finished off Heinrich. Either way, all the vamps were staked in the end.
Johann vs Heinrich
The best games are full of "cinamatic" moments, and I tried to stuff as many as I could into one night of Mordhiem as possible. Simple stuff that adds flavor and excitement, but doesn't bog the fun down. There were a couple of things I wanted to include with a Black Coach and Evil Cossacks coming to rescue Heinrich, but I couldn't get everything done in time. I also had Gotrek and Felix standing by to randomly swoop by in case things started going badly for Johann and the boys, but in the end they weren't needed.