The Mission of Tartarus VII

I’m continuing my write-up for the Battle for Tartarus VII: an Apocalypse sized battle we used to herald the passing of 7th edition last year. For some reason, I wound up kicking the can down the road on writing up the batrep (if I had to guess why, I’d say it was apathy combined with the fact that I lost some of the army lists that folks had given me). Well, in an effort to right previous wrongs, I’m making good on my write-up.

As with previous Apoc battles (Apoc 2016, the Fall of Morrsleb, the Vacillite Campaign, Argos Prime, & Arctic Apocalypse 2010), I’ve taken to writing this in multiple parts:

In some instances, I’ve broken them down even further, especially when there are excess details. This one will be summed up in three posts for sure though. The first post, covering Army list, went live earlier, so we’re up to the mission itself.

As with every game we’ve played, we try to mix things up a little bit each time. We’ve introduced some items over the years that have become regular staples (such as time clocks), and some that show up occasionally (like personal objectives). This game was to be no different.

Per usual, I enlisted the help of anyone who wanted to contribute for plot twists, terrain, and mission setup. For this game, Kurt and Mitch stepped up to the table, and we brainstormed ideas until we came up with something that seemed like it would work.

We started off with a little customization with objectives. Three objectives were placed on center table, with one in the center and one staggered four feet from it to either side. This would help to ensure that the main battle would be focused around the center of the table (which would consist of three tables arranged in an “I” shape). In addition to these standard objectives placed around the board, we awarded each team with a team based objective that would need to be placed within their deployment zone, but could be placed on either side of the table. This way they’d be able to help dictate how setup would flow.

We placed the original three on the table in such a way so that, even if the teams opted to place their objectives together on one flank, the other flank would at least have an objective there–preventing it from being rendered completely useless.

The other thing we did was brainstorm how to handle kill points. In addition to scoring points for holding objectives at the end of each “player” turn, additional points would be earned for killing the most expensive units on their side. To prepare for this, we warned them that both kill points and traditional objectives would be used “in some capacity” to determine the winners of the event.

But how would we balance this without knowing what they were going to bring? Sure, we could try to create rules that required people to bring an expensive unit or restricted units of so many points, but we weren’t looking to lump additional restrictions on people. Instead, we opted for the following rule:

When each of the five most expensive units on a team are completely destroyed, the opposing team is awarded one victory point for each 100 points of models contained within that unit (rounded down).

Naturally, this meant that teams would likely have a disparate amount of points available to them. We reasoned that, since we limited this to the five most expensive units, these would likely consist of things like Titans, or other similarily tough units. Assuming rough balance between units (which can be spotty at times, I realize, but bear with me)… Assuming that rough balance exists, a unit that costs more should be more durable and therefore justify the increase in victory points.

One loophole we figured would be that characters are not really part of units, but would generally be used as deathstars and the like. To avoid this, we set forth a couple of rules for characters in this battle:

  1. Characters may be assigned to a unit before deployment. If done, the character becomes part of the unit for the duration of the battle.
  2. Characters may not join or leave a unit throughout the course of the game.

These rules allowed us to include the cost of the characters into the cost of the unit. When the battle went down, the most expensive units for each team were as follows:

The Victors:
  1. Scabieathrax the Bloated (7)
  2. Sam’s HQ & Retinue (5)
  3. Commissar Yarrick & Ogryn Retinue (5)
  4. Knight Titan (4)
  5. Knight Titan (4)
The Spoilers:
  1. Lord of Skulls (aka. Dwaine the Rape Train) (10)
  2. An’ggrath the Unbound (8)
  3. Scabieathrax the Bloated (7)
  4. Greater Brass Scorpion (7)
  5. Abaddon & Retinue (7)

Interestingly enough, our team (the Victors–which I should mention is just a continuation of the names from the first post and not necessarily any indication of who actually won the game), consisted of three units of Sam’s making the top five in expense. Likewise, Mitch accounted for 4 of the top 5 on the other team. I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to check, but it would be interesting to find out whether this was the norm: in Apoc games, do you tend to see one or two players concentrate all of their points into a couple of big units? Or do you find that people will run one big unit and several small units?

Whatever the case, there was a definite imbalance in total points available (25 vs. 39). But, at face value, “the Spoilers” units seemed to have considerably more durability as well. I’ll leave it to the actual “battle report” to see how things faired. Hopefully I’ll get that written up in the near future…

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