Triumph & Treachery is the latest expansion for Games Workshop’s (GW) Warhammer Fantasy Battles (WHFB). Where Storm of Magic focused on new ways to play with the Magic phase, Triumph & Treachery (T&T) give us a new way to play with 3 to 5 people… and it is glorious!
The pack comes with a rule book, 36 ‘treachery’ cards, 5 ‘turn’ cards and a bunch of thick, coloured, embossed cardboard tokens in a velvet-like draw string pouch. My first impression was: ‘oooh, shiny’. I opened the box of goodies and my impression changed a little to: ‘geez, they could have spent more on some thicker cardboard to hold everything together’. Then I flipped though the rule book which again altered my view to: ‘really? Only 9 pages of rules and 4 pages for 3 scenarios in a 96 page book? Riiiiight’. So not a great start… the Storm of Magic book seemed like better value at this point as although T&T has some cards and tokens, it’s also $60 more.
The book itself is what we’ve come to know with the other WHFB hardcover books. The full colour pages are nice, the cover is sturdy and the pictures are pretty. The treachery cards feel like they are a nicer quality than the WHFB magic cards as they have a gloss finish as do the cardboard tokens.
All the goodies that are included
Righto, on to playing the game:
There were a couple of question marks and concerns when I suggested a game of T&T with the lads at the club I frequent in Ballarat, some of them being “If we can add allies to our games, then I can bring the filthiest combo available” and “The game will take too long if we have more than 2 people”. Upon playing the first turn of the game though, these concerns were thrown out the window.
A different path to victory:
While most WHFB are won by calculating victory points through units destroyed at the end of a match, T&T gives the players victory tokens (physical representations of points) which are awarded each phase. The player with the most value in tokens at the end of the game is the winner. “But that sounds like a normal game but with tokens instead of paper!” I hear to say.. Ahh but there’s a twist. Victory tokens can be awarded not only through destroying enemy units, but also randomly through treachery cards or trades between players. Yep, you can willingly give your tokens to another If you want.. or if you’re desperate. You could bribe another player to not attack you or to attack a player that could be a threat to you later on. You can also ‘bribe’ a mercenary unit that you don’t control to not take any actions for a phase unless it’s controller pays the same or greater.
The game turn is also slightly different. Each player is given a ‘turn card’ which has a specific symbol on it (sword, axe, shield etc) which is then shuffled and drawn randomly at the start of each turn. This adds a randomness that makes it more difficult to plan your turns. You might have gone first turn 1, but probably won’t turn 2.
Then you throw in treachery cards. Think of these as ‘Community Chest’ card from Monopoly. Each player is given a card at the start of their turn, the player with fewest Victory tokens get 3 cards, the player with the most, only 1. These cards can then be played according to their description, for example: One card read that it can only be played if you won a round of combat against an opponent you lost a round of combat to. Or if the player that deployed on your left loses a combat play this card etc. Some of the cards can be quite powerful too. One card I received during the review game allowed me to prevent an opponent from successfully rallying a fleeing unit, which caused him to lose his unit of knights!
The last difference in the game turns is that at the start of every phase, you need to declare an enemy. Everyone is neutral and unable to be targeted. This sounds a bit weird but plays surprisingly well. It creates an air of tension when your opponents begins their turn and they have to make a choice on which player they’d like to declare a charge against. It creates good opportunities for bribery or can plant the seeds of vengeance. Here’s a tip: try to get on the good side of a Dwarf player when their shooting phase arrives.
The Brets make a bee-line for the Dwarfs while the Lizards cautiously head for the table centre to try and grab early Scenario points.
The allies situation:
T&T allows every player to ‘hire’ mercenaries from any WHFB army with a few restrictions. The mercenaries need to have a hero / lord to lead them that’s from the same army as the rest of the mercs and you can only hire up to a point limit that is 1/5th of your main force. So a 2000 point game gives you 400 points of mercs to play with.
In this review game of 3 players (myself, and club members Shamps & Danny), I played as Lizardmen with Warriors of Chaos mercenaries (wizard leader in a block of Marauders and Shaggoth support), Shamps ran Bretonnians with Skaven sercs (Warlock engineer in a bus of Slaves and Hellpit support) while Danny playing Dwarfs decided he wouldn’t take any mercs and instead took the allocated 400 points for mercenaries and turned them into additions victory tokens for himself.
So while yes you can bring as hard a list as you can and potentially have some mean combos with mercenaries, it didn’t feel unbalanced at all as the merc limit reduces anything super tough entering the game. You also have to think that while you can take 2 Ogre Ironblasters with a butcher leader, would you want to? You’d be playing against at least 2 other people and bringing along something that painful puts you on top of the threat pile and likely to get beat on until that threat is gone. There’s also nothing stopping your opponents from also bringing the same mercs for a mega Ironblaster smash-a-thon.
As mentioned previously, T&T comes with 3 scenarios which are fairly standard fare.
The first is like the Watchtower scenarios from the WHFB Big Rule Book without an actual watchtower, just a spot on the ground. The player with the closest unit to the centre point get some Victory tokens, which are awarded at the end of every turn, not just the end of the game.
The 2nd is like a capture the flag scenario where the holder of an artifact gains point each turn. Beat the character with the artifact to take control of it.
The 3rd is a table control scenario. 6 places on the table are worth points to whoever has a unit closest to them at the end of the match.
All are fairly basic and are just simple ways to encourage players get in to the thick of things instead of castling in a corner.
So with all the elements of the game explained, putting them into practice was surprisingly simple and I only needed to refer back to the book for clarification a couple of times. I played a 2000 point game with 3 players in 2 and a bit hours which was quite reasonable I felt. The next game I play will run a little faster.
Getting close to the end of the game, it becomes an all out brawl as players scramble for last of the Victory tokens.
Conclusion: Although I feel GW’s asking price of $140 rrp is quite steep because of the little content you actually receive, I kinda feel like the amount of fun I’ve had with just 1 game of T&T almost makes it worth it. If you’ve a group of friends who can be convinced to play it perhaps splitting the cost between a couple of people would be a good idea to lessen the sting on your wallet for 1 person.
If you’re heavily into the tourney scene or like a serious game, then this is probably not for you as there are too many random factors involved, what with the treachery cards and random turn placements.
With the price not being a factor though and preferring a friendly game over the ‘filth fest’ tournament style I cannot recommend this game style enough. It was the most fun I’ve had with WHFB in a long time and I suggest you find a copy and a group of friends and get into it ASAP. I can only imagine what this game would be like with drinks involved… the back-stabbery and double crossing would skyrocket… and I look forward to testing that out :p