In my last post I spelled out the army lists for each of the forces in our recent Apocalypse game. You may have noticed something unusual in that there were three distinct forces listed. Generally I frown upon having a three-way battle as someone always seems to be picked on, but this was sort of an impromptu change, and I wasn’t at the helm to make the decision.
When the invitations went out, there was a positive response. If you added in the “maybes,” we were on track to have a 10+ person game, but when it came time for game day, all of the maybes had bailed and even a few of the confirmations cancelled (some as late as the night before).
By the way, I know that I’m an old far, but I was raised differently than that. Once you make a commitment, you follow through with it. I’m not keen on the idea of bailing on an event the night before except under extenuating circumstances. If you fall ill that night, a family member dies, or similar, that makes sense. I also get worked up about people that show up late, but that’s another story…
Mission & Deployment:
Anywho, due to the low person count, we only had six people attend. We could’ve easily broken into two teams of three, but our host, Brandon, decided to go another route. He opted to go with a third team and made up rules for it on the fly. His suggestion was that the bugs be split up to deploy on far edges (with reserves coming onto the middle). The pitch was that the two forces were fighting to get off the planet that was being destroyed by the hive mind. To “balance” the objectives, the two forces would score for each objective placed (there were two little ones worth one point and three major ones: two chaos portals and the skyshield, each of which was worth d3 points each turn). The Tyranids, being an afterthought would score kill points instead.
I misunderstood this at first thinking that we were only scoring the standard secondary objectives: linebreaker, slay the warlord, & first blood. With those rules, we had no chance of winning, but I was ok with it, figuring that we were essentially playing the master of disaster: ensuring the stuff on the table died so the game moved faster as time goes on.
Of course, I was wrong, kill points meant that we earned points for each unit we destroyed in a turn, so we had a distinct advantage over the others (they had a hard-cap of 11 points per turn to earn in an ideal–aka. unrealistic–scenario, while we could kill all sorts of things).
As the masters of disaster, we didn’t roll off for first turn, so the armies of man won the roll and opted to defer (they wanted to react to the chaos deployment) and ultimately opted not to try to seize the initiative based upon the fact that the objectives were scored at the end of each full round. For deployment, each side was allowed to setup within 18″ of their board edge on either of the two long tables. They were not allowed to deploy within 18″ of the short edges (where we would be deploying) or on the center table at all. For the most part, each player chose a table and concentrated their deployment there–with very few exceptions. Cole and I wound up breaking the bugs in half and deploying that way, opting to leave a few units in reserve (including all of the flyers, mawlocs, lictors, and two each of exocrines & zoanthropes).
Turn 1: Forces of Darkness
A lot goes on during an Apoc game, so I’m not sure I can do this justice with a proper turn-by-turn recap, but I’ll give it a shot based upon what I can remember. Chaos went first and I don’t recall them doing much damage to the imperial players. They advanced units slowly towards them, but were only able to really charge/harass us bugs on the sidelines. I remember thinking that, since we can’t contest objectives and don’t score them, shots against us didn’t seem to be terribly effective, as they were really playing against each other. Whatever the case, Simon charged me with one of his demon engines and managed to do 3/4 wounds to my carnifex, but I was unable to do anything back. Otherwise, he peppered fire into various units, but didn’t do all that much damage.
The other side of the table was a good 20 feet from me and I had my hands full, so I won’t really be able to do them justice. I do know that the first turn involved a unit of cultists charging the swarmlord. Obviously, they lost, but due to the formation, they were fearless and stayed stuck in combat.
I also recall that Simon didn’t have much luck with his deep strikes. He dropped a unit of obliterators down and they scattered off the skyshield, while his dreadnought and abaddon managed to be delayed a full turn due to mishaps.
Turn 1: Armies of Man
Brandon’s deep strikes were no better, as he completely forgot to deploy his units. With half of his forces off the board, he didn’t do a whole lot of damage to anything on the far end of the board, but Kurt, with his big guns managed to pump a lot of lead into both Simon and me. Simon’s bikers were evaporated before getting a chance to do much of anything, and the rest of the big guns wound up pouring fire into my bugs. A good deal of the shots went into the Hierophant who soaked up much of the fire due to his amazing resiliency. This eventually inspired a conversation about whether or not the Hierophant is the best unit in 40k. Kurt seemed to think so, but I don’t believe that to remotely be true. I think there’s enough discussion there for a completely separate post though, so look for more on that subject later.
Since Brandon forgot his reserves and Kurt’s army was all tanks that didn’t really want to advance, they wound up conceding the objectives for the first turn…
Turn 1: Hive Fleet Proteus
Our turns weren’t terribly eventful either. Despite having 17 levels of psykers on the board, there really wasn’t much we wanted to cast. It didn’t help that we rolled so few copies of catalyst or that I had left my hierophants out of range of onslaught. So, we wound up throwing a fair number of dice at warp blast–all on Cole’s side of the board, since my zoanthropes were out of range for the lance blasts. This actually became a recurring theme in the game (more so when our other 8 levels of psykers came on the board on turn 2).
I moved my line forward and wound up destroying two leman russes with the hierophant, but doing little else otherwise. I decided to try to save my shootifex by charging another two carnies into the Maulerfiend. However, despite having a total of six S9 impact hits, I only managed to do two hull points of damage. That would’ve normally killed it, but he made a daemonic save to ward off one of the blows. Then, with my 8 close combat attacks (one of the carnies died at initiative step 3), I managed to hit only twice and did zero hull points of damage.
Turn 1 Score – Good: 2+1 vs. Evil: 5 vs. Bugs: 4
Turn 2: Forces of Darkness
As anti-climactic as it is, Simon did get Abaddon in this turn and opted to drop him on top of the landing pad. He really wanted to go elsewhere so that Abaddon could fight something, but I assured him that this was the better move: the end goal of the game was to get on that pad, so he would surely fight something. Even if he didn’t, Abaddon could sit there for the rest of the game and rake in d3 victory points per turn. Brandon agreed that it was a great strategy and cursed himself for forgetting his pods the previous turn (he would’ve surely put them on the pad as well). The obliterators marched up to the pad as well and started plinking Kurt’s knights in the rear armor.
On the far end of the table, Albert managed to summon a bloodthirster, and despite my 17 dispel dice, I wasn’t able to deny that witch…
I also captured this shot of a knight titan engaged with a single fearless cultist. I can only assume the reasonable, in that the knight must’ve charged the cultists in the previous turn and was simply unable to break them in either round of combat. Despite his mighty D-weapon and targeted stomp attacks, he couldn’t kill the cultist and had to forgo his shooting phase because of it.
Turn 2: Armies of Man
The imperial turn got a little interesting. Brandon dropped his pods down near the skyshield as predicted and a small skirmish broke out there, but the really interesting things happened on the far edges of the board. On the left flank, Kurt’s flyers had come on from reserves and started hunting Typhus. This is because Kurt had chosen a strategic asset wherein he scored extra points at the end of the game if he was able to kill Typhus, so naturally that was a fairly big priority for him. With all of his flyers coming onto the table, he unloaded at least one vulture’s worth of shots into Albert’s terminators, but managed to do no damage. Likewise, he was able to get a shot off with his deathstrike missile, centered on Typhus himself, but it scattered off and killed just a handful of plague marines instead. Immediately, Cole and I agreed that Typhus was ours to eat and that Kurt was not going to be able to rake in those victory points.
On the other half the table, Kurt’s Knight Lancer, who had just soaked up a round of melt-fire from a nearby chosen squad cried no joy and wound up returning fire onto the squad and breaking it. They didn’t run far enough to escape his charge though, but some how managed to fire off a stray snapshot into the super-heavy’s reactor core causing a catastrophic breach and killing it instantly. This was by far the coolest thing that had happened that game–a broken unit fired two melta guns on snapshots and nuked an oncoming titan with multiple wounds: that’ll teach him to charge!
Turn 2: Hive Fleet Proteus
We had decided earlier that this game was probably going to be quite short (four turns at most) and that “the break” would be after the first turn. Technically speaking we didn’t take a break, choosing to push through, but that did mean that all of our reserves were able to come on. We rolled really well for our mucolids, with only two of them scattering more than 5″, and none of them misshaping. Likewise, two mawlocs hit and killed their targets successfully, while the other deviated and our opponents opted to put them over by Typhus and his cronies. The lictors opted to hop around various places to either prepare for more mawloc strikes or to harass vehicles/small units.
Otherwise, the Flyrants and Exocrines wound up on the imperial side of the table and the Zoanthropes and Harpies on the chaos side. They all came in and wound up shooting at Imperial units because they just seemed to be getting the better of the chaotic forces at that time. Both flyrants shot up vultures/valks that had just come on. Despite reasonable successful rounds of shooting, their jinks offered them enough cover to evade destruction for the turn.
Elsewhere, the unstoppable tide of Hierophants surged forward and shot up various tanks and small units, earning us a few victory points. The Swarmlord also wound up using his finest hour (for fear of dying to the Bloodthirster) and rolled up the personal trait: Unkillable (gives him T10 and a 2++ invulnerable save for a full game turn). That proved to be more than durable enough–not that it mattered though, as he diced up the ‘thirster quite handily without it.
By the way, I didn’t say earlier, but not all of the photos are going to match up to player turns (this turn being an obvious example, as I don’t have anymore pictures of bugs to include), but I’m trying to keep them generally in the order that they were shot, so at least you get an idea of the progress of the game…
Turn 2 Score – Good: 7+1 vs. Evil: 5+1 vs. Bugs: 11
Turn 3: Forces of Darkness
By this point, Vulkan He’stan had already dropped down with a full command squad near the center of the table and been locked in combat with Abaddon and his bodyguard. The center of the table really gummed up with marines of both types: having a full squad of 20 chosen, abbaddon’s bodyguard, the obliterators, an assault marine squad or two, and the command squad all vying for control of the pad.
Technically, this photo was from the Armies of man’s turn, but it was next in line. By this point in the forces of darkness turn, Abaddon was in full swing, getting an extra 6 attacks from his daemon weapon and mowing through marines like a hot knife through butter. Simon’s demon dread finally came down but wound up flaming units of salamanders, along with his helldrake to disappointingly find out that Salamanders get a 4++ feel no pain verses flame attacks.
There were a few miscues during this game by the chaos players, but that’s too be expected really. Albert is just getting back into the swing of the game, and Simon is a super fun player but he doesn’t always play strategically, instead opting for the fun solution or an epic fight. They should’ve moved some of their units forward to contest the objectives, but instead directed them elsewhere and wound up earning no points for the turn.
Turn 3: Armies of Man
Vulkan, knowing he was outclassed wound up popping his finest hour and getting the exact same “unkillable” result as the swarmlord had previously, ensuring that he would survive the turn. Abaddon, rolling a 1 for his daemon weapon and reducing himself to weapon skill 1, was not so fortunate. The only surviving representative from the forces of darkness after that combat was a single terminator champion.
What I remember from the rest of the turn was Kurt’s irrational fear of Lictors. Now, he’ll be the first to point out that the lictors actually accomplished what he was most afraid of during our successive turn, but I’ve just never seen anyone as terrified of a lictor as he was that day. It got to the point where he was going to use his Hydra to fire at a nearby lictor over firing at a flyrant. Eventually Brandon was able to talk some sense into him, but those lictors did wind up causing some havoc for him, so maybe his fears weren’t quite as absurd as I’d thought they were.
Turn 3: Hive Fleet Proteus
By this point, we knew that the game was going to end after the turn. So, instead of playing it safe and planning for the end, we wound up focusing on kill points to artificially inflate our score. Well, at least that’s what Cole did. I still wound up trying to take out the things that were more threatening. So, when faced with shooting down a flyer (even with snapshots) or taking out a free kill point in the form of a rhino, I opted for the former. In all cases that I’d tried that though, I was unsuccessful. Where we did prove successful was in charging with our mucolids. Between their explosions (only half of which made the charge) and the hierophants and smaller bugs, we managed to knock out a whopping twelve kill points worth of units and took out a super heavy and kurt’s warlord.
Turn 3 Score: Good – 13+2 vs. Evil – 5+1 vs. Bugs 23+2
The vision of the game that Brandon set forth was a squabble between the forces of light and dark where they were fighting to get off the planet by means of the skyshield in the center of the table, while the implacable advance of the Tyranid swarm pushed at them from all sides.
I never expected the end result to be so spot-on. Much of the game consisted of an epic battle between the light and dark Warlords duking it out on the very escape pad, while the arms of the hivefleet really did collapse both flanks of the tables. We wound up pushing in on all four of the forces and forced them towards the center–even our reserves seemed to push them in (though that largely had to do with the fact that none of their units really ever approached the very edges of the center board.
Cole and I spent the entire pregame and indeed, most of the actual game, talking trash about how we were going to eat everything on the planet, but I don’t think either of us dreamed we would be quite so successful. In total, we had scored 25 kill points (if you include the points for killing warlords and superheavies) and lost 7 ourselves. Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that our opponents were busy worrying about trying to hold objectives, or because of our deployment or that they didn’t see us as a threat (though the last one seems decidedly unlikely).
Whatever the case, I think we played the role of spoilers or “Masters of Disaster” rather well. I just don’t know how to treat this in my grand scheme of keeping track of wins/losses. By Brandon’s original scoring system, this is definitely a win, but kill points vs. objectives really isn’t balanced. I’d much rather say that we were just there to have fun and harass and give the victory to the Imperial team, but do I then count this as a tie in my personal record keeping? Or do I not count it at all?
What I Learned:
- We have a good bunch of guys. Now this is far from breaking news, but it’s great to sit down and have a fun day of gaming with friends. Everyone had great looking armies (and lots of new units), everyone contributed to food, no fights or squabbles broke out. In general, it’s what an Apoc game is supposed to be.
- Kurt is mortally afraid of lictors. It was fun to threaten to pop my finest hour to allow one of the lictors to charge up to 30″ away on the final turn and watch him squirm.
- Lictors aren’t as bad in combat as I thought. I guess the times I’ve charged things with them, they were attacking armor 12, which requires them to hit and then roll a six to hurt it. Against tanks, they only have to hit (3+) and then roll a 4+ to glance it, so taking off hull points really isn’t that unrealistic.
- Divine interventions are awesome. The one for Tyranids allows every Tyranid unit on the table (not just in your army) to run, shoot, and charge, plus get preferred enemy for the turn. Sadly, it required three HQ units to be within 3″ of an objective within the opponent’s deployment zone. Our armies only had four HQ’s total (two of which started off the board) and technically none of the objectives in the entire game were in an opponent’s deployment zone. In future games, maybe I need to include a few more HQ units on the table–Tervigons aren’t so bad…