Mixing Things Up With Missions (Part II)

In the previous article, I discussed how we decided to alter the standard Apoc missions, but I also alluded to the fact that we’d be using personalized missions for each player.  This allowed me to use the missions I had originally designed for the 4-team Apocalypse game, with some slight modifications.

Personal Objectives

Again, the idea behind personal objectives was to:

  1. Give a plausible reason why each team was at the battle and perhaps some insight as to why they’d be on the team they were.
  2. Give players a method to achieve a moral victory, even if their team lost.

Our first iterations of personalized missions included the fairly generic solutions that anyone could come up with:  Hold this point, capture this unit, keep your units alive, etc.  What I really wanted was something dynamic and fun—something nobody was going to be able to guess.

So, after some brain storming, the missions we opted for were:

Defender Missions:

  1. Reconnaissance
    “Scattered across the battlefield are six informants, each of which holds a vital clue to the reasons behind the recent uprising, each of which has been secretly numbered.  At the beginning of the game, roll a die.  At the end of the game, if you have a model in base-to-base with this informant, and no other players have a model within 2” of him, roll a die.  On a roll of a 6+, you receive a personal victory.  You may add +1 to the die roll for each additional informant  you have questioned during the course of the game.
    (6 total informants)
  2. In Defense of Defense
    “You win a minor objective if no bunkers (friend or foe) have been wrecked or destroyed.  Immobilized results have no effect.”
    (4 Total bunkers)
  3. Pacifism
    “Abstinence is the best policy.  At the end of the game, roll a die.  On a roll of 7+, you receive a personal victory.  You may add +1 to the die roll for each unit you have that has not shot, or participated in an assault for the entire game.”

Attacker Missions:

  1. Grand Theft: Rhino
    “Your infantry units and Independent Characters can embark on enemy transports as if they were your own.  Once embarked, you have full control of the vehicle, but may not fire any of it’s weapons.At the end of the game roll a die.  On the roll of a 7+, you win a personal victory.  You may add +1 to the die roll for each vehicle commandeered during the course of the game.” 
  2. One Shall Stand
    “You win a personal victory if you have an unbroken scoring unit within the Imperial Sanctum at the end of the game and no other units (friend or foe) are within 2” of the objective.  You also receive the “All Out War” Strategy Card:ALL OUT WAR:
    “Play this card at any time.  From this point on, any unit within the Imperial Sanctum can shoot or assault any other unit within the sanctum.” 
  3. Silence Their Guns
    At the end of the game, you win a personal victory if all of the weapons platforms in the opponent’s deployment zone have been destroyed.
    (18 total objectives in 4 clusters)

Not all of the missions are created equally, but in an attempt to create six completely unique missions, I don’t think it would be possible to make them equal.   Each of the missions provided a unique purpose for their commander.

They also gave more reasons for players to deploy and play on the wooded side of the board.  Despite having less total objectives, three of the players would have to have at least some units over there in order to complete their minor objectives.

As an added challenge, nobody was allowed to share their missions with anyone.  Players were encouraged to coerce their teammates to help them complete their objectives, but had to do so through subversive methods.

In no place was this better displayed than with Cole, our attacker who drew “Silence Their Guns.”  He stormed across the battlefield on the wooded side to take out the mortar batteries and the nearby bunker.  Whenever a teammate had a spare long-range weapon, he’d hint at how devastating the enemy artillery was, or the value of destroying the enemy’s bunkers (which would, in turn, disable any weapons platforms they had with them).  His conniving was masterful, though his team wasn’t easily manipulated by his suggestions.  In the end though, he was one of only two player who achieved his victory conditions.

The place where these missions were most at odds was in the early game.  Kris drew “Pacifism” and chose to deploy his rhinos filled with troops into positions inside the Imperial Palace that couldn’t be easily targeted.  His plan seemed to be to hide them throughout the game, and get an automatic victory for having six units (3 units + 3 vehicles) which hadn’t fought.  Meanwhile, Sam sat outside the palace walls with “Grand Theft: Rhino.”  Since Kris had the only transports, he had a bulls-eye painted on him.  Sam’s plan seemed hinged upon Kris pulling his rhinos out of the castle (a logical conclusion), and then jumping in the transports when Kris disembarked.  Little did he know, Kris never intended to move…  But Blaine drew “One Shall Stand” and dropped a formation of stealers, along with another of Hive Tyrants right into the middle of things… mucking it up for everyone.

From an outsiders perspective, it was great watching people make these seemingly odd plays on the table, while their friends surely must’ve been wondering what the heck was going on.  Perhaps they were all too tied up with their own missions though?

As stated above, the game ended with only two players completing their personal victories:  Cole destroyed all of the defender’s weapon platforms, and Dan managed to sneak units into every crevasse of the board to talk to each informant.   In case you’re wondering the others failed because:

  1. In Defense of Defense – Two of his own bunkers fell.  The idea behind this objective was a meta-game, with the intent being that you would defend your own bunkers, and talk your team-mates out of attacking the enemies (in favor of juicier targets).  Once Cole outflanked with melta-guns (in order to destroy the weapons atop the bunker), it was all over…
  2. Pacifism – A solid enough plan, but Blaine’s need to hold the Sanctum ensured that this was the worst possible spot on the board to play pacifist.
  3. Grand Theft: Rhino – My personal favorite mission as it added some over-the-top wackiness to the game (and had a cool name, to boot).  The real downfall here is that there just weren’t many transports in the game.  With only 4 transports total (three of which hid inside the palace), the odds were stacked against Sam.
  4. One Shall Stand – I’d like to blame the loss on the fact that Blaine never declared ALL OUT WAR!  Really though, he was looking pretty good right up until the final two turns of the game, when Dan dropped a massive Grey Knight Terminator squad right into the Sanctum in order to talk to one of the informants…

All in all, the personal objectives were a great success.  Everyone involved loved the idea, and had a good time trying to complete them.  Next time, I might try to make them a little easier though… but then again, I might not!

“Goals” poster from www.despair.com.  It’s important to note that no competitive jerks were present in the game, it’s just a funny poster. 🙂

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13 comments on “Mixing Things Up With Missions (Part II)

  1. What did Blaine think of drawing the Pacificism goal? I would think a lot of people would be pissed, as it puts pressure on them to basically not play the game. That goal seems overly negative and encouraging of weird, disengaging play.

  2. I like this idea a lot. I still haven't gotten to play Apocalypse but this seems like a much more dynamic game scenario than the standard setup.

  3. I like these ideas a lot, except for the pacifism mission. Some players / armies might enjoy using this (tricksy eldar zooming around and avoiding being targetted, etc), but it doesn't merely 'direct' (or misdirect) aspects of the WARgame, it contradicts the reason for taking part in it. I would imagine most players would be pretty annoyed about having a mission that not only required them to avoid combat, but didn't give them much of a chance to do some crazy side mission.I love the idea of grabbing all of the informants!One suggestion I would make is to try to make the missions a bit more player or setting specific. Most of them are great 'generic' secret missions, but if you could manage it, it would be even more fun to have the secret missions more specific to the players and the background to the game.

  4. Actually, I may have mispoke earlier. It was Kris that drew pacifism,as Blaine had “all out war.”. Kris seemed excited about the pacifismcard, delighted on the new twist-but I can see how some people couldbe miffed. The thing is, they weren't part of the main objective, andyou really coulf forsake your personal objective and still feel like awinner. Also, I figured pacifism counter balanced against theattacker's “all out war” card.Lasty, with 3500 points, in most apoc games I've been in, each playerseems to naturally have a unit or two that just doesn't do anything.If those units are in transports, you've practically guaranteed apesronal objective there.Of course, I do see how people might be frazzled by it. In actuality,the only person that seemed to think their objective was arduous wassimon, with “in defense of defense.”Next time around, I'd likely leave pacifism out, but then again, I'dlikely make all of the personal objectives different!

  5. Good suggestion. It might get hairy if people think you've designedthe mission against them, but with a good group of gamers, thatshouldn't be an issue.I'll give that a shot. Thanks for the idea.

  6. Yeah, overall these narrative missions are great. It's awesome that you've been able to put this kind of effort into your game.

  7. You don't necessarily have to design the mission _against_ them (although you could). Just a bit more tailored. Even just saying 'the Imperial Firsts are determined to incorporate the existing fortifications into a planned base, and so must avoid any of the bunkers being destroyed' would make the mission make more sense. Your reconnaissance mission does this actually. Having the missions tailored to the background of the game is cool, whether they're weighted towards or against some or all players.

  8. I think the problem I would have had with drawing the 'pacifism' card is that I wouldn't figure out how it fitted in with the game background or my army. Even though I might have some units not doing much, the idea of pacifist orks would require some pretty serious plot development! This being the Grim Dark future though, I'd have trouble justifying this for most armies.The mission mechanic itself I don't object to, I'd just prefer to have a better explanation. If I played Imperial Guard it'd be okay, although I'd like a way for Commissars to be able to override the mission (by carrying out a few executions), but for most other armies, I think I would want something like (off the top of my head): 'Technical fault revealed on eve of battle. The latest batch of power armour and boltguns are faulty and will not work. Rather than admit this humiliation to your allies, make sure that you keep X number of squads out of combat where their faults cannot be exposed.' This would do virtually the same thing in game, but would just make more sense.Still, I can't wait to see more posts about this game. It is sounding brilliant. In particular, I want to know more about the skaven uprising!

  9. Pingback: The Fall of Morrsleb (The Rules) | Warhammer 39,9999

  10. Pingback: The Fall of Morrsleb (The Rules: Revisted) | Warhammer 39,9999

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