I made a comittment to try to host three Apoc games per year, and in an attempt to keep them interesting, I’ve taken to calling each year a campaign. Since we have relatively few games to base each campaign off of, I’ve been looking for ways to tie them together a little better. First, I included things like story arc (for instance in the Vacillite Campaign, the arc revolves around discovery and collection of a mysterious new mineral). Another thing I’ve started to work into the theme is that of veteran abilities.
Luckily, GW has already laid the ground work for me in that arena, so I don’t have to go reinvent the wheel. You can find the rules for veterans in campaign settings on page #263 of the BRB. Essentially, it gives you guidelines how additional abilities are awarded to key units based upon surviving/winning each battle. The loser of each game would nominate one unit/model to gain an ability and the winner would choose two. Abilities can also be lost over time in accordance with the following rule:
“If a unit with a veteran ability ends a game below half strength or having fled the battlefield, it will lose one veteran ability. If it ends the game wiped out, it will lose two.”
The actual abilities are broken down into different categories so that you can somewhat tailor your abilities to the style of units you have (as illustrated in the chart on the left). Fieldcraft roughly equates to movement abilities, Melee is obviously for assault-based units, Gunnery abilities help the shooting phase, and Vehicle crew are specific to armor.
As a side note, I don’t see anything that limits vehicles to that specific chart–nor do I see anything that precludes non-vehicle units from choosing something on that chart. Granted, three of the options on the vehicle chart are completely useless to non-vehicle units (+1 BS isn’t bad though), and likewise, there are several weird combinations on the other charts for vehicles (does Fearless really have an effect on a vehicle?). I would advise that vehicles be restricted to the one section named for them though, and that infantry units be excluded from that (with the exception being walkers, who could choose from any category)–just to keep things a little less confusing…
Back on subject: I find that most of the abilities are fairly well balanced, and provide a little extra flavor for a unit, some could provide unique combinations that would seem to be rather powerful (for instance, infiltrating monstrous creatures or feel no pain on just about anything). They add enough flavor to a unit without making them overpowered.
When we take these abilities into an Apocalypse game though, I immediately have two concerns:
- The idea that a veteran ability could extend to a formation or to a super-heavy could get ridiculous quickly. Can you imagine what it would be like to have Feel No Pain on a Tyranid Hierophant? Or letting titans have +1 to AV on all locations or ignore shaken results?
- It’s Apocalypse: things are going to die in droves. The idea of having veterans living through game after game is fairly proposterous.
To address the first, we just applied a rule that said veteran abilities aren’t available for super heavy or gargantuan creatures. Those units are already powerful and their special rules are comprehensive enough to show how experienced they are in battle.
The second concept hasn’t really come up in our gaming group yet. We’ve only had this rule in effect for two battles now, so it’s only now becoming clear how difficult it is to keep these units alive amongst a hail of giant templates. We don’t use D weapons in most of our games; I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be to survive against those.
My solution would be two fold. First, I’d propose to grant any unit that has a veteran ability a 6+ invulnerable save. This would allow them a chance (albeit a small one) to survive even the nastiest weapons in the universe. Since only one model has to survive in order to keep the unit alive, this would allow people to keep their veterans alive through the campaign, and thereby give us a little more continuity between games.
The second change I’d make is to remove the rule about half strength units. In the rulebook, the rule actually reads that if a unit is reduced to half strength, it loses a veteran ability for future games; if it is wiped out completely, it loses two veteran abilities. Since our campaigns are so short, and in the final battle no army would be able to have more than four vets in it (assuming they won the preceding games and never lost a veteran unit), I would propose that the only way to lose a veteran ability is to have the unit completely wiped out (at which point you’d lose a single ability).
So, in summation:
- Play with the Veteran rules from page #263 of the BRB
- Super Heavies and Gargantuan Creatures are not elligible to receive veteran abilities
- All units granted a veteran ability receive a 6+ invulnerable save (if they already have an invulnerable save, this ability has no effect).
- Units do not lose veteran abilities for being reduced to half strength. Furthermore, wiping a unit out completely only removes a single veteran ability from that unit.