Recently, we started an Apocalyptic campaign (you can read more about it here), but if you know me, I can’t ever do things simple. I’m always looking for new ways to spruce up the game, whether it’s to try to balance out the army compositions or, in this case, make it a four-way battle.
Adding extra teams is easy. You just have each team take turns in rotation, but with this strategy, doubling the teams also doubles the play time. Since Apocalyptic games already take a full day, the question is, how do you accomodate more than two teams, but not make the game take any longer?
My solution was to have teams play turns simultaneously. During any given “turn” two teams will be moving, shooting, and assaulting. During odd number turns, teams one and three would be active, and during even turns, teams two and four would be active. That seems to simplify things a bit, and makes the game take no longer than it would with just two teams. But it does raise some more questions–how do you handle conflicts?
Movement and shooting are fairly easy to handle, so let’s address them first. In movement, nobody can move within an inch of an enemy model, so teams just move simultaneously (if you see an issue here, wait, it will be addressed, I promise). For shooting, active teams need to resort to a different mindset: all shooting happens simultaneously in a turn. If an “active” unit takes wounds and still hasn’t fired, lay the model on it’s side to remind you that the model can still shoot that phase.
But what happens if two active teams want to do conflicting actions in a given phase? For example, what if Team 1 wants to assault team 3, but Team 3 wants to assault another team? (see picture to the right) If all teams can make their assaults succesfully, there’s no issue, but if Team 3’s assault would take it out of charge range for Team 1, what happens then? (By the way, these conflicts are rare, but possible to come up in the movement phase as well).
While you could have those sort of changes diced off, or settled by initiative order, I opted to go another route. During each turn, one active player was set as the “primary” team for that turn. In the case of any disputes, the primary player got to move/charge first. Primary teams rotated each turn so as to not make it unbalanced (ie. In the first and third turns, Teams 1 & 2 would be primary, and in the second and fourth turns, teams 3 & 4 would be primary).
So, to go back to our example diagram above. If this conflict arose in and odd numbered turn, team 1 would succeed in their charge against Team 3–but in an even numbered turn, Team 3 would succeed in charging Team 2, and Team 1 would be left out in the cold (unless they could make the charge after Team 3 had already moved.
With turns figured out, I moved on to how to tackle deployment. Again, how do you handle deployment more teams without making it take more time? The solution was simple: First you divide the standard deployment zones in half (in effect, quartering the board), and for determining how units are deployed, we again used simultaneous deployment.
Each time would bid their deployment time and, starting with the team that bid the highest, they would begin deployment. After enough time had elapsed to account for the difference between their alotted time and the next highest bid, the next team would begin deployment. This process would repeat until all teams were deploying models at the same time (if this is still unclear, the actual posted rules are below that give a good example of how the process works).
This does change the tactics behind deployment, making bidding lower even better (which, in turn, accelerates the game). Since each team normally can bid up to 30 minutes to deploy, and that seems to almost always result in at least one team bidding the max time (not because they need the full time, but because they want to go second), we also limited the maximum time bid to 20 minutes.
Both of these changes went rather well, but the accelerated deployment strategy was so successfull, we’ll be using this no matter how many teams will be playing. With that strategy, we managed to take what was normally about a 45 minute deployment with two teams to a 10 minute deployment with four! Beat that for efficiency!
So, without further adieu, here are the special rules for this scenario. Keep in mind, these are addition to the standard Apocalypse rules we had already decided upon for the game:
- All Cover is on the board grants a default 4+ cover save
- All green area counts as grass (clear terrain)
- Trees in the green areas are incidental trees (not area terrain), which block LoS as normal, and are difficult terrain to move through
- Hills (slopes) 1” high (or less—sloped or otherwise) count as clear terrain and do not take extra movement to scale.
- Hills (slopes) greater than 1” high count as difficult terrain when going up or down them, but otherwise follow normal terrain rules while atop of them (eg. The tops of most green hills are clear terrain).
- Other terrain rules are as follows:
- All blue areas are water areas, which count as difficult terrain but DO NOT grant a cover save
- All Dark Green felt areas (and GW forests) count as difficult terrain (woods) with cover
- All Buildings are marked off with light brown felt and are considered ruins
Each deployment area has three objectives in it, denoted by tri-colored piles of “Vallicite” gems. At this point, your forces don’t know the properties of these, so they just need to collect as much as they can to take back and study.
- Only troops can collect the gems—to do so, they must have at least one model within 3” of the objective and no enemy models within 3”. Contested objectives do not allow for collection.
- If a single squad of troops can stretch far enough to collect multiple piles, they will be allowed to score both in a single turn (assuming neither is contested).
- Collection happens at the end of each turn, so each player will score victory points for holding objectives each turn. This prevents a mad rush to capture objectives at the end.
- The team to score the most objectives by the end of the game is declared the winner.
With four teams, the game turns necessarily have to change. During any given turn, two teams will be moving/shooting/assaulting at the same time. Rules to allow for this are as follows:
- Teams will be numbered 1-4. On odd numbered turns, the odd numbered teams will be interacting, and on even numbered turns, even teams will go (so, on turn 1, teams 1 & 3 will move, shoot, and assault). This does mean that in a five turn game, team 1 and 3 will get to go first twice—keep this advantage in mind when bidding for deployment.
- Teams will alternate between who is the primary team for a given phase. Primary teams will take precedence if conflicts arise during the movement and/or shooting phases.
- All actions in a given phase are considered to have happened simultaneously. For instance, if team 1 shoots a unit of Team 3’s, team 3 will still be able to return fire. It’s best to lay such fallen models that haven’t yet had a chance to shoot on their side, to remind you that they’re still able to act once more that turn.
- In some instances, there may be some debate as the order of actions. For instance, if team 1 wants to move away from team 3’s model during the assault phase, who takes precedence? For these cases, whichever team is considered primary for the turn will get to declare charges first. In this example, if it was turn 1, team 3 would need to find another assault target. If it was turn 3, team 1 would successfully complete the charge.
- Standard Apoc deployment rules will be over-ridden for the purposes of the game. Deployment areas are roped off with Orange tape. The table is also marked to indicate generally where deployment areas were in order to account for reserves.
- “Short Board Edge” means the area where your two adjescent opponents deployed.
- “Long Board Edge” means the area where you deployed, and the area opposite.
- Four player deployment rules change the way units are deployed. Please account for this when bidding for time.
- Teams can bid between 0 and 20 minutes for deployment. Ties will be handled by a d6 dice off, with the higher dice roll being added to the total deployment time of that team (not to exceed 20 minutes).
- The team who bid the lowest amount of time will become #1, working their way up to team that bid the most as #4.
- After bidding, each team in numerical order will choose a deployment zone. Team 4 will be stuck with the last available spot. At this point each team will be allowed 10 minutes to move their models into position to expedite deployment (but they may not deploy any models). Any pre-deployment (such as Tyranid Spore Mines) must be handled during this 10 minutes as well.
- When deployment officially begins, a clock will start at 20 minutes. Any team which bid 20 minutes (or more) can now begin deployment. As the clock ticks down, to the respective number of remaining minutes for each other team, they may begin deploying their models as well. In effect, all teams will deploy their models, “simultaneously.”
- Bob bids 20 minutes
- Kyle bids 15 minutes
- George bids 15 minutes
- Lisa bids 4 minutes
- Team Order:
- George and kyle tied in their bids, so they dice off. George gets a 1 and kyle gets a 5. George wins and becomes Team 2.
- Team 1: Lisa (4 mins)
- Team 2: George (15 mins)
- Team 3: Kyle (20 mins)
- Team 4: Lisa (20 mins)
- Deployment begins with Kyle & Lisa. Five minutes later, George can also start deployming models. When there are only four minutes left, Lisa can begin her deployment.
The next post in this series will go into detail about how the game itself went, both from my own and from Tony’s perspectives. This is the first time we’ll get two sides of a game on the blog, so I’m excited to see what comes of that (of course, there are four sides to this game… so you still won’t get the entire picture, will you?).