AoS Shorts: Your Essential Guide to Age of Sigmar

Holy Wars V Preview

Hey all, today I also have another post from Mitch previewing the Holy Wars GT event coming up this weekend. Holy Wars is a great narrative event in the US and is always played on stunning tables, where you are often playing against the table as much as against your opponent.

And, as always, check out Dark Fantastic Mills for great 3D printed terrain perfect for wargaming.  Its super versatile and light so worldwide shipping is inexpensive. Use the “aos shorts” discount code for a further 10% off the already decent prices.

Age of Sigmar

What is Holy Wars?

Holy Wars is a five game Age of Sigmar narrative event held in Yorkville, Illinois. Started in 2014 out of the burning desire of two clubs, Lords of War and Holy Hammers, and their need to play games in the absence of tournaments in the area.  The “narrative” moniker doesn’t quite do Holy Wars its justice. The event, now in its fifth year, is renowned amongst the region for its themed tables, terrain and clever storytelling twists it brings for its players.

Forging a New Tournament

Coverage for Holy Wars starts with two things, tournament organizer Steve Herner and the event’s terrain, hand built by Herner and his sons to outfit fifteen uniquely themed tables that set the backdrop for a weekend of collaborative, battle-centric storytelling.

Herner serves as the TO for Holy Wars and Holy Havoc (the team version.) After receiving some early advice from fellow midwestern tournament organizer Rodge from Waaaghpaca to “run the tournament you personally would want to go to” Herner launched Holy Wars back in 2014 and has continued to facilitate the event since. This advice brought out a passion in Herner for organizing and building Warhammer events, almost literally from scratch.

Terrifying Terrain

Herner has spent substantial amount of time, even part of his own personal hobby streak, towards creating Holy Wars’ renowned terrain tables. He regularly offers his time and advice to community members and aims to create a positive atmosphere for all who attend his events.

Previous Holy Wars have featured large set pieces, all informing the stories being sketched out by opponents during each round. It’s not uncommon to find multi-leveled pieces of scenery, massive signature pieces consuming the battlefield and this year even a Skaven Clan Skryre-themed table built by Herner courtesy of kits donated by @ministomp.

Holy Wars is made out of a love of bringing people together and showcasing their armies. Clever scenarios invented by Herner and top-tier painted models enhance the experience of tournament goers and when combined with the terrain, the stories start flowing with ease. With an eye on sportsmanship and performance on the table, but the primary focus on investment in miniatures and telling a compelling story within each battle, Herner has kept investment high and event tickets disappear as soon as they become available.

Armies being brought to the GT stand out and play off of one another and build across the tournament’s five games.

Floating Island and Serpent Monolith from Khainite table.

The event hosts thirty players across its fifteen tables, each with their own custom built scenario. This in addition to the Holy Wars Twist and Ruse decks that accompany each table and realms were in full effect (with monsters provided for Ghur tables), Herner is more than excited to kick off Holy Wars V.

Weaving the Narrative

Of course, Herner can leave no narrative stone unturned, as he even found a thematic way to determine player matchups at Holy Wars. Draws for opponents are not simply generated using swiss pairings (1st vs 2nd etc) like most Warhammer tournaments. Aside any round one grudges from previous Holy events or player rivalries, matchups and tables will solely be determined randomly. Prior to the beginning of each round, individuals will be picked at random and will select either a table or matchup for that round. Repeating this process until all tables and matchups are set, Herner’s idea is to allow stories and games to evolve organically as the tournament progresses. Players may choose the same table or the same opponent each round should they wish, but no matter what is selected, the journey of every general’s army is priority one.

The Heart of Holy Wars

Holy Wars gives back to the Illinois community in a large way. Holy Wars sends part of its ticket proceeds to Hesed House – a comprehensive Homeless Resource Center – which provides shelter, food and other needs like haircuts and job placement to the local homeless. Herner has incorporated another innovative way for the player community in attendance to give back, via the Holy Wars Re-Roll dice. Players make a $20 donation to Hesed House and are afforded one dice re-roll during each game, even if they wish to re-roll for priority! Raffle winners are gifted selected pieces of Herner’s terrain and model kits, which are likewise donated by attendees.

Numbers & the Narrative

At the end of the day, games demand winners and scoring at Holy Wars breaks down into 74 points across three key categories. Categories are Battle (30 points), Narrative & Event Participation (22 points), and Appearance (22 points).

Battle Points

Each battle round has six points available to players. Two points are scored for every table or terrain objective attached to each round’s scenario. An additional two points are won if players capture special grail tokens that are housed at each table, with the final two points attached to the player selected secret mission and by having the most deployed units surviving the battle. Having various objectives and multiple ways to capture them allows options for players with different armies and play styles to continue their force’s narrative as they see fit.

Narrative & Event Participation

In addition to their 2,000 point army, players are asked to bring 1,000 point battlehosts to have as a sidebar to utilize as scenarios dictate. Points break down in four ways that relate to different participatory elements of the weekend. Eight points are reserved for using at least 400-1000 pts of players’ battlehost sidebar in at least two of their five games. The next set of eight points is dedicated to how cohesively your army reflects the narrative as it relates to composition, paint scheme, basing and custom display boards. Perhaps the most important five points of the tournament are awarded for attendees donating one or more items to the Hesed House charity raffle. The final point in the participation category goes for casting a “favorite army” vote in the first night’s judging.


Appearance is by far the most itemized of all Holy Wars points-earning categories. Army presentation is crucial to the value of the tournament as players are looking to immerse themselves in the experience. Highlights of the painting checklist include that only one point of 22 is granted for the tournament-standard three color minimum, each point following is earned for each additional layer of difficulty or technique. Display board, name plates, painted base rims, 10 or more models having glazes, highlights, blending, shading and details are among the higher tier of points available. For reference, you can view the complete Holy Wars V Paint Check List here.

One of a Kind Winners

No single player can take home more than one of these famed Holy Wars accolades.

  • The Holy Conqueror (most battle points)
  • Favorite Opponent (sports votes)
  • Fan Favorite Army (voted on by peers)
  • Best Battlehost (highest paint score, based on judge votes)
  • The Best Conversion (best converted single model)
  • The Hammer Hobbyist (best cohesive battlehost, based on judges votes)
Trophy work in progress.

An As-Yet Untold Weekend

Narratives have yet to be forged, but Holy Wars shows no signs of stopping. Herner keeps bringing participants back each year and the quality of Holy Wars jumps out at participants, as the loving amount of time and effort is evident in the final product. Should you be eyeing events more on the narrative side, this kind hearted, relaxed weekend tournament is a wise choice. High level hobbyists and competitive players alike are in attendance each year, and are only a fraction of what makes Holy Wars a credit to Warhammer.