Apoc 2016: The Battle

Apoc2016Photos (3)One of these days I will learn that the only real way to do a battle report is to sit down immediately after the game and write out the details while they’re fresh in your mind.  Naturally, you’d have think I would have learned by this point in my life–and to some degree I have.  If you asked me, I’d give you the correct answer, but in practice, that doesn’t seem to happen all that much.

While I did do some of the write-up, I hadn’t finished it.  If you want to catch up on what you missed out on, check out these posts

So, between the fact that I’m writing this a good two months after the actual game and the fact that Apoc games are large battles where no one player can fully capture the magnitude of what transpires, I’ll do my best to recall the events of the game.  Rather than trying to recall the entire game on a play by play, I figured I’d go over some of the high points by addressing some of my preconceived notions and how they played out.

  1. People Will Paint Their Armies
  2. People Will Play “Apoc Style” forces (super heavies & bad FoC)
  3. Teams Will Not be Random
  4. People Will Adhere to Specific Board Sections
  5. The Score Will be Close
  6. Everyone Will Have Fun

Let’s work on these in order from top to bottom:

People Will Paint Their Armies

Apoc2016Photos (9)In previous Apoc games that I’ve attended, I’ve found that people like to play with big crazy “Apoc Style” units that don’t normally see the board in standard games of 40k.  I’ll speak more on what this means in my next point, but suffice it to say that the units in an Apoc game aren’t necessarily the same sort of units you see in a standard game.  As a result, people tend not to paint those big units because they see play so rarely.

Given that “Unbound” is an option and rules for super-heavies are baked right into the rules for standard 40k now, anyone could use these units in a normal game–but it would take a real schmuck to actually do that, right Sam?  Since it happens so infrequently, I think there’s still an inherent preference to push hobby progress on this sort of model off until you get the “real units” finished.

Apoc2016Photos (11)That seems to lead to Apoc games being a giant clash of gray plastic crashing into each other, and frankly lacks visual appeal. We’ve since played around with various rules to incentivize people to play with painted figures, and after doing so, people are showing more and more interest in actually getting things painted for these games.

Personally, I wound up painting a bunch of terrain and some storm talons (expect a post on the latter to come shortly).  While it wasn’t as comprehensive as I had hoped to accomplish, it did inspire me to get up and actually make some progress.  Likewise, Albert wound up painting up some more vehicles essentially leaving him with everything he owns for CSM painted (except for, apparently a single bike squad that he’s just not interested in fielding).  Brandon has finished up an entire battle company worth of Salamanders, and Simon… Well, that guy is a machine.  He wound up painting up his Super-heavy, “Dwayne the Rape Train,” along with a series of tanks for the game.

And he didn’t stop there.  Even after the game he kept painting and knocked out four demon princes in the following week.  So, not only has this Apoc game inspired people to paint, but that inspiration has somehow lasted beyond the game itself.

Of course there are others, such as Kurt, who basically own every option available to his codex and somehow manages to have everything painted as well…

People Will Play “Apoc” Style Forces

Apoc2016Photos (6)I eluded to this in the first point.  It means that people will be playing super-heavies, gargantuan creatures, and other units that don’t see much play in standard 40k games.  I fully expect to see people brandish titans and the like because you put a lot of money into such models, and most people don’t seem to be comfortable in fielding them in a normal game.  It makes sense that they’d show up for Apoc.

More than that, I expected to see people play units that may be allowed in standard games of 40k, but are just flat better in Apoc.  I’m guilty of this as I never field my IG artillery except in Apoc games (then again, I almost never field IG in standard games).  There’s not much point in having an effectively unlimited range gun in a standard game, but in Apoc it gives you options.  Likewise, there isn’t really a point to adhering to a Force Org chart when making an Apoc army–especially when we tell you in advance that there aren’t traditional objectives, so what good is “objective secured” anyway?

Apoc2016Photos (13)As a result, I expected that I’d see a smattering of super heavies and a bunch of armies that are heavy in the elites/HQ/heavies with very few troops.

If you’ve already read the post about the army lists, you know what we found.  For those that haven’t read it, things were about as expected.   In total, there were a total of nine super heavies or gargantuan creatures on the table.  In retrospect, that number seems high to me.  If you asked me how many there were off the top of my head, I would’ve likely have said six: Sam’s Knights, Simon’s Demon Engine, and Sean’s Titan.  Scabbethrax is no longer large enough to stand out on the table, given the size of models anymore–nor does the Tau variant stand out as particularly large or menacing.  The last one is an Eldar tank that frankly also looks small.

Perhaps the fact that only one super heavy was on my half of the table skews my impression.  And that tank, Dwayne, only survived for a single turn.  That was with good reason.  I remember weathering the first enemy shooting phase across the table from a Khorne army and a smattering of Space Wolves.  I survived the turn relatively cleanly when Brandon beside me handed me my Quad Gun from the Aegis line he was using.  I looked at him dumbstruck: Who wastes a shot at a gun emplacement?

Apoc2016Photos (4)That’s when he told me that it had died as an incidental victim to an Apoc-sized flamer of instant death coming from the Lord of Skulls.   Strength 9, AP 3, Instant Death?

I remember shaking my head and remembering that it was not allowed to live.  It had a giant target painted on it’s back from that point on.  Towards the next shooting phase, I glanced over to throw some stray lascannons into it, but found that it had been vaporized by two squads of wraithguard.

Eldar are ridiculous.

But that leads into the rest of the “Apoc style” armies.  In addition to a bunch of super-heavies I expected virtually all of the lists to be running some sort of unbound configuration.  Of the lists, it seems that Sam ran some combination of a CAD plus some formations, plus Brandon ran a complete Space Marine legit list (a battle company).  Of the others, Mitchell, Albert & Andrew (three of the four chaos players) ran pretty well balanced forces across the board.  They’re the only other ones that included a significant number of “troops.”  The rest of us seemed to focus more on the “good stuff.”

That’s really not so bad.  In total, about half of the people seemed to show some sort of restraint in army building.  That’s better than I would’ve expected.

Teams Will Not be Random

In advance of the game, I made sure that everyone realized that teams were going to be random.  Apoc2016Photos (15)I did this to stop people from trying to build armies specifically designed to work together in order to crush the other team.  Granted, if everyone had knowledge of how the game was going to go, and each team had the ability to build lists in advance, that would be fair–but some people are just more into that process than others.  To prevent that sort of advantage (however minimal it might be), I just said we would randomize the teams in advance.

But we didn’t really randomize them at all.  In the post on personal objectives I detailed that instead of randomizing the teams, we actually went back and picked them.  Still, the teams weren’t decided in advance, so it served the same purpose.  When picking teams though, I’d be curious to find out what the rational for the choices was.  I know that Kurt and Dan are close, and they wound up on a team together, while I’m probably the closest to Brandon, and I was his first pick.   I’m sure if you asked either what the decision making process was, neither would immediately admit to the friendship being the deciding factor, but I’m sure it weighed in to some degree.  Actually, I asked Brandon already and he said that he chose me because he didn’t want to face all of those guns.

The point of this is that I knew that teams would most likely not be random.  Random teams is just a way to prevent collusion from the onset, but these things typically evolve into sides based upon armies (most often: Imperials vs everyone else).  I didn’t know in advance that I would be the one that violated the randomness though…

People Will Adhere to Specific Board Sections

Apoc2016Photos (11)In Apoc, the natural deployment of people seems to be that they clump their armies in one general area.  The logic is that it’s easier to have them all in one spot than to be running around–plus if you built any symbiosis into your army, you’ll almost assuredly want them near each other.  As a result, many people deploy in one specific area.  In cases of armies like Dan’s, he literally deployed in one section of the board and had no other units intermingled with his.  This is an extreme that’s fairly unusual, but has been done.

In fact, it seemed like a fairly prevalent  deployment strategy for the other team.  With the exception of Kurt, everyone seemed to deploy in their own lanes with little-to-no intermingling.  The units that Kurt did deploy were seemingly focused on the two board edges, so it appeared that except for three or four units, the entire enemy side of the table was broken up.  Of course, both Kurt and Sam had a significant number of reserves, so I’m sure that factored in.

Our side of the table wasn’t hugely intermingled though.  Albert and I seemed to mix our units as I took the lines of fire and he filled the roll of meatshield for me.  Apoc2016Photos (10)Brandon used my Aegis, but otherwise, I almost completely stayed on my side of the board (well, with the exception of my Ironclad in a drop pod, who managed to get immobilized in the first enemy shooting phase and then was promptly ignored for the rest of the battle).  Well, I guess I had artillery units on either end of the table, and a few stray lascannons as well.

Brandon and Sean wound up intermingling a bit, but the big factor that we had was that Mitch served as a meatshield for three different armies.  Mitch’s army at first glance isn’t terribly impressive: lots of nurgle demons and zombies.  It’s not the sort of Apoc force that I would expect to see because it just doesn’t have damage output.  But what it did have was some staying power.  Frankly, I don’t think we’d have done nearly as well without him taking the brunt of multiple armies over the course of the game.

Our team didn’t have all that many reserves and those we did seemed to stay in our own lanes.  Their team was laden with drop pods (Which was the stated reason why Kurt chose Sam first: so Team Drop Pod could exist), and they did a better job of spreading out.  In the end, I basically played a game with Albert against Kurt & Andrew–though I took a few pot shots at everyone throughout the course of the game.

The Score Will be Close

When the smoke cleared, the game was about as close as you could imagine.  Our initial tally of the score turned out to be an unbelievable tie: 33 to 33!

Apoc2016Photos (20)But that was, practically speaking, only due to the fact that I’m bad at math.  Somehow, my brain proved itself inept in calculating small amounts of single-digit numbers.  So, 8 + 8 + 13 + 3 = 33 for some reason.  Maybe it’s because I really like when large games end in a tie so that nobody goes home a loser?

But someone caught my math and it turned out that by that score, one team won by a single point.  For what it’s worth, I ended up on the winning side, and the guy that was on the losing side was the one that pointed out the point total.  What this tells me is two things:

  1. Kurt is a good sport.
  2. If you play against me, you probably should double-check my math to ensure I didn’t cheat.

That’s when I was taking people at their word for points.  Sadly, Dan had misread his card and was giving himself 2 points per psyker killed, instead of just 1 point.  Apoc2016Photos (21)We had created a table on the card that gave people benefits based upon the normal amount of psykers that a table might see, but then made an exception if things got crazy.  For instance, if I ran Tyranids, I could feasibly put 10-15 psykers on the table myself–which would’ve made the Purge the Witch objective far too easy to accomplish.  Through pure coincidence, our side of the table drafted most of the psykers in the game, thereby giving us more than 10 total, and removing an additional 5 points from their total.

The final total?  33 – 27

So, it wasn’t as close as initially thought, but aside from rounding errors, it was close enough for me to consider the missions to be relatively balanced.  Sam and I had spent a good deal of time balancing the missions/objectives for the teams and considering how they could be used/abused.  In the end, I’m happy with how they all turned out.  Any changes I’d make to them would be minor, other than to perhaps add more of them into the game, and give them enough deviation that it wouldn’t be immediately obvious as to what a person’s strategy might be.

Everyone Will Have Fun

Apoc2016Photos (1)This really seems like a no-brainer.  If you get a bunch of gamers in a room to play together, how could it not be fun?  Well, as I proved back in 2012, not all Apoc games are fun.  Granted, that was a game that was accessible to the public, where this game was a cherry-picked lot of people that I enjoy playing games with.

It helps to underscore this when you receive multiple emails and/or phone calls on the following day from people saying that they had a good time.  Some people, like Kurt, were just raised to always be polite, but when less social-type folks reach out to let you know after-the-fact, it’s a good measure of success.

One thing I didn’t mention is that that things were messy.  By the end of the game, our side of the board was almost completely vacant.  What remained when the time ran out were:

  • Brandon: 3x Marines (not squads, just three marines)
  • Mitch: Nothing (tabled)
  • Me: 3x heavy weapon teams, a librarian, 4x centurions, a thunder fire, two whirlwinds and 8x devs (including two missiles)
  • Albert: 1x obliterator, typhus, 1x sorcerer, 10x chosen, 1x rhino, 1x forgefiend, 18x plague marines, 9x terminators,
  • Sean: ??  I didn’t get a final tally, but I think he was about tabled as well.

Though we did table Simon (relatively early in the game), the enemies still had a good deal of models left–heck, Dan’s army had deployed in the corner and was relatively untouched.  Had the game kept going, we would’ve surely lost.

Some more random photos are including the thumbnails below…

Apoc2016Photos (18)  Apoc2016Photos (17)  Apoc2016Photos (16)  Apoc2016Photos (14)  Apoc2016Photos (12)  Apoc2016Photos (8)  Apoc2016Photos (5)  Apoc2016Photos (2)

 

 

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