The Aftermath of Argos Prime

On May 22nd, we played an Apocalypse game; three weeks and seven blog posts later, I’m finally getting around to posting the battle report.  Granted, I already made some pretty extensive blog posts on the thought that went into planning the game, and use of alternate strategy cards and missions, but I haven’t done a proper accounting of the nifty things that happened during the game.   During this battle report, I’ll be refering to many of the strategy cards that were used, as many of the defining moments of the game, seemed to revolve around them.  Some of the images have the specific cards in them, otherwise, if you want to know more about them, check out my earlier post on the subject.

Like my report on our previous Apocalypse games, this won’t be a play-by-play of the entire game, but rather,  a walkthrough of some of the more interesting portions that I remember.   And, as always, all the pictures just thumbnails.  Click on them for bigger images.

The game began with us randomly determining sides.  Normally, when we play larger games, we divide into logical sides based upon force choice (eg. Imperials vs. Aliens, Bugs vs. Everyone, etc.).  In this game, I’d decided to randomize team selections for a couple of reasons.  First, it ensured that people that always seem to be paired up together had a chance to face off against each other.  Secondly, it forced each player to bring a balanced list.  When you know who your allies are ahead of time, you can plan together to have them make up for any deficiencies in your own list.  Since we were using personal objectives for each army, it made sense that they might not know the intricacies of who they were allied with.  In hindsight, it worked out alright, but it was hard to justify in fluffy-fashion why there was a Tyranid player on each side.  Harder still was the justification of why the Grey Knights were teaming up with both Nids and Relictors (including Daemonhosts)…

Right off the bat, the Strategy Cards started making an appearance, with one team receiving the Brilliant Strategy card–which failed to have any effect on the game, along with a Surprise Assault (which, oddly enough, wasn’t played against the ‘Nid player in charge range, but the Grey Knights?), and Divine Inspiration for the Imperial Guard.  In retaliation, the defenders played Virus Outbreak, and a Delayed  the attacker’s manticore (which would later succumb to the Malfunction card as well, and lose its main weapon in the process).    In short, we had dealt out 24 cards for use during the game, and almost a quarter were played before the game officially began.

Another quarter of the cards were played in a frenzied attempt to alternately kill (and save) a Librarian on the wooded half of the board.  During his first shooting phase, he attempted a psychic test to deep strike into the thick of battle.  Unfortunately, he scattered into a friendly unit and wound up with a terrible mishap.  In reply, Kris threw out a SAVED! card to allow his model to miraculously survive.  By the next shooting phase, the attackers used Battlefield Confusion to have a nearby unit of Grey Knights gun him down.  Despite his terminator armor, he managed to fail two armor saves and be removed from the table.  Well, that is until Look Out Sir, Aaarrgh! was thrown and one of the brave Grey Knights took the bullet for him.  Later, out of spite, the attackers tried again to kill him with Fear the Warp, but he shrugged that off as well.  Ultimately he did finally meet his doom at the hand of Logan Grimnar (who had grown tired of duking it out for a solid three turns of combat with Pedro Kantor)…

At the onset, Hive Fleet Vespula (controlled by Norn Queen Simon) lined virtually every one of his units 6″ away from the starting point, set to charge into the heart of the attacker.  Despite his scarey forces, the bugs didn’t fare too well.  A carnifex charged into a squad of terminators and didn’t even get off a single attack.  His warriors died slower, to nearby grey hunters, but they did little more than hold off the attackers until the Grey Knights could come to help.

Indeed, Simon’s force looked decimated at several different points in the game, because he came on in waves.  At the first turn, he’d faired poorly against the Wolves, so then he outflanked his stealer formation onto the rear of the board.  Though the asset says nothing specifically about giving the unit outflank, it seemed appropriate to treat it the same.  As a result, one of his lictors turned into a squad of rippers (courtesy of Blaine’s Parasite of Mortrex).  After some horrible leadership tests, most of these units lay broken and scattered, until he was able to bring his Trygon and Ravener formation onto the board–who managed to live until the last turn… but at least one squad had the good sense to hide in a building and capture one of the objectives!

One of the really interesting things Simon wound up doing was charging his Hive Tyrant into combat with a slough of marines.  Without an invulnerable save, he was no match for their powerfists, and went down swinging.  As he died, Simon played the Last Gasp card, which allowed him to make one last shooting attack before he perished.  Smartly, he chose to use the psychic attack “Leech Essence,” which promptly sucked an AP2 wound out of a marine and allowed the Tyrant to keep on fighting.  I doubt  that I would’ve thought of doing that.  So, kudos to Simon for most original use of a Strategy Card in this game. 🙂

Elsewhere on the battlefield, Kris pounded the attackers with his automated weapons platforms.  When I had setup the board, I gave the defenders eighteen weapons platforms, and the attackers only two.  I figured the unequal numbers wouldn’t make a big difference because the weapons were only BS2, and the vast majority of them were simple mortars.  Despite that, Kris swore that the mortars did more damage than the rest of his army (though I think that has something to do with the fact that he was playing Pacifist and hiding in the imperial palace…

But, as I alluded to in the write-up on personalized missions, he was going to wind up fighting with his units whether he wanted to or not.  Cole’s Penal Legion took a running charge at the rhino and bent it completely out of shape due to Furious Charge.  Then, Blaine added insult to injury by charging it with genestealers, who would’ve blown it up, if it weren’t for the Ablative Armor card.  Control of the palace was spiraling out of control though, and the rhino soon blew up, killing most of it’s occupants who were forced to try an emergency disembarkation.

By the last turn, the Defenders had managed to secure four objectives, while contesting four others.  The remaining two objectives were bunkers in the wooded area, and were held or destroyed by the Attackers.  At this point I figured it was a done deal, but the attackers did have the last say…

During that turn, through a serious of wild attempts, they managed to accomplish what seemed to be impossible.  They had managed to destroy one of the palatial bunkers outright, and eradicated the tactical squad that was holding the other, along with contesting a third one of the objectives previously held by the defense.  Furthermore, of the three objectives that the were contested previously, three of them were cleared of defenders.  The final result: 4 to 1 attackers!

I was really surprised at how close it was at the end, and how few units survived.   One unusual thing about this game that I haven’t talked much about was the fact that everyone was limited to no more than 33 armor per vehicle, which left things out like super-heavies, and even landraiders & predators.   Without those big guns, I figured the war of infantry would leave more survivors, but it was quite the opposite.

All in all, a good time was had by all, including some people saying it was the best Apoc game they’ve ever played.  Some of the things people seemed to like were:

  • No super heavy spam
  • No Ordnance spam
  • No D weapon spam
  • Secret Card powers instead of assets
  • Secret missions

But I know the real reason was the players.  Thanks to everyone who came, and thanks to anyone who comes and reads this post, or any other blog post.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to plan another game for July 24th.

Anyone else want to attend?

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The Armies of Argos Prime

This post is all about the armies that appeared in our recent Apoc game.  I figured some people might be interested in seeing what sort of forces are fielded in our local meta-game.  Keep in mind that there was a rule that restricted any creatures with toughness 8 or greater, and any vehicle with total front/side/rear armor greater than 33.  That might explain why you aren’t seeing much in the way of vehicles…

Defenders of Rhoame

Dan’s Grey Knight Detachment

I don’t think I’ve seen a more generic list for an Apoc game.  Then again, I’m not sure I’ve seen a more solid list.  Dan wound up taking bare bones units for the most part, and only had one real obvious weakness–and that was tanks.  The thing was, in this game, the rules were built so that he wasn’t going to be fighting anything with armor greater than 12, and virtually every model in his army had a strength 6 weapon.  Who says Grey Knights can’t compete?!?

  • HQ:
    • Brother Captain Stern w/ 9 man Retinue (including Incinerator)
  • Troops:
    • 10x Grey Knights
    • 10x Grey Knights
    • 10x Grey Knights
    • 10x Grey Knights
    • 10x Grey Knights w/ 2x Incinerators
    • 10x Grey Knights w/ 2x Incinerators
  • Elites:
    • 5x Grey Knight Terminators w/ 1x Incinerator
    • 5x Grey Knight Terminators w/ 1x Incinerator
  • Heavy Support:
    • 7x Grey Knight Purgation Squad w/ 4x Psycannons
    • 7x Grey Knight Purgation Squad w/ 4x Psycannons

Kris’ Relictors

With the absence of Matt, Kris really stepped up and brought TEAM HQ.  With more than 30% of his total points spent in character models (including more Psykers than either of the bug players brought), his force was nutty.  He also went out of his way to include models from Codex Space Marines, Blood Angels, Space Wolves, & Daemonhunters, to give him the most varied force around.  To add color, he took the time to name every single one of his squads though, and came up with some pretty good ones:

  • HQ:
    • Master Arthulus Borkai (Pedro Cantor)
    • Brother-Captain Zerahiah (Captain w/ Artificier, Plasma Pistol, Relic Blade, Digital Weapons)
    • Inquisitor Solomin (Inquisitor w/ Power Armor, Plasma Pistol, Null Rod, Psychic Hood, Icon of the Just, Targeter, Auspex)
    • Epistolary Morhavik (Rune Priest w/ Wolftooth Necklace, Wolf Tail Talisman, Chooser of the Slain, Tempest’s Wrath & JotWW)
    • Codicer Trellheim (Rune Priest w/ Wolftooth Necklace, Wolf Tail Talisman, Chooser of the Slain, Murderous Hurricane, JotWW)
    • Codicer Amn (Rune Priest w/ Wolftooth Necklace, Wolf Tail Talisman, Chooser of the Slain, Murderous Hurricane, Living Lightning)
    • First Epistolary Natash (Librarian w/ Term. Armor, Combi-Plasma, Gate, & Avenger)
    • First-Captain Kostya (Logan Grimnar)
  • Elites:
    • Brother-Apothecary Mihail (Sanguinary Priest w/ Melta Bombs)
    • Squad Yuri (7x Sternguard w/ 3x Combi-plasma, 1x Combi-melta, 1x Powerfist, & 2x H. Flamer)
    • Squad Natash “Relic Takers” (7x Wolf Guard w/ assorted weaponry)
    • “The Tainted” (2x Lone Wolves w/ Terminator Armor, Wolf Claw x2, Chain Fist & Storm Shield)
    • Solomin’s Shadows (2x Death Cult Assassins)
    • “The Grey  Daemon” (1x Daemonhost)
    • Veteran Detachment (3x Wolf Guard Squad Leaders – one in each squad below)
  • Troops:
    • Squad Morhavik (8x Grey Hunters w/ Power Weapon & Melta in Rhino “Iron Will”)
    • Squad Trellheim (8x Grey Hunters w/ Power Fist & Melta in Rhino “Decario”)
    • Squad Amn (8x Grey Hunters w/ Power Fist & Melta in Rhino “DeMarche’s Gift”)
    • Squad Jeremias (5x Scouts w/ Telion & Sniper Rifles)
    • Squad Ahkun (5x Scouts w/ Melta Bomb & Teleport Homer)
  • Fast Attack:
    • Landspeeder Storm “Strong Willed” (H. Flamer)
    • Landspeeder Tornado “Swift Death” (H. Flamer, H. Bolter)
  • Heavy Support:
    • “God Slayers” (6x Long Fangs w/  2x Lascannons & 3x H. Plasma)

Simon’s Hive Fleet Vespula

Simon was a little late to show up, and didn’t have his list completed due to some personal issues… but he was a trooper and showed up to play.  In the end, the army he fielded wasn’t 100% displayed in the list, but I’m certain he did the math and didn’t come over on points (though it’s possible he shorted himself).

  • HQ:
    • Hive Tyrant w/ Armored Shell & H. Venom Cannon
  • Elites:
    • 3x Zoanthropes
    • 3x Lictors
  • Troops:
    • 15x Warriors (Eye of the Hive Formation  w/ 5x Rending Claws, 2x Venom Cannons, 8x Devourers.  All with Toxin Sacs & Adrenal Glands)
    • 10x Genestealers w/ Adrenal Glands & Toxin Sacs
    • 10x Genestealers w/ Adrenal Glands & Toxin Sacs (including Broodlord)
    • 16x Genestealers w/ Scything Talons
  • Heavy Support:
    • Behemoth Crusher Brood
      • 3x Carnifices
    • Subterranean Swarm:
      • Trygon Prime
      • 5x Raveners
      • 5x Raveners

Savage Attackers

Blaine’s Tyranid Swarm

Our terminal Tyranid player, Blaine’s been a die-hard bug fan since Rogue Trader and still has all of his classic models.  He’s never had any false pretenses, deciding to play WYSIWYG instead of playing what’s best each  edition.  In order to make list-building easier, he bought a whopping 3 formations which made up more than 80% of his total army…

  • HQ:
    • Living Fortress Formation
      • 2x Hive Tyrants w/ H. Venom Cannon, Old Adversary, Acid Blood, 2+ armor, Regen, Indescribable Horror, Leech Essence, Paroxysm & Lashwhip/Bonesword
      • 1x Hive Tyrant w/ Scything Talons, Acid Blood, Regen, 2+ armor, Leech Essence, & Paroxysm
      • 6x Tyrant Guard
    • 1x Tervigon w/ Scything Talons & Cluster Spines
    • 1x Parasite of Mortrex
  • Elites:
    • 1x Doom of Malan’tai
  • Heavy Support:
    • Behemoth Crusher Brood:
      • 3x Carnifices w/ Crushing Claws, H. Venom Cannon & Regen
  • Other Formations:
    • Genestealer Infestation:
      • 3x Lictors
      • 16x Genestealers (w/ Broodlord)
      • 16x Genestealers (w/ Broodlord)
      • 16x Genestealers (w/ Broodlord)
      • 16x Genestealers
      • 16x Genestealers

Sam’s Space Marines

Sam is a man after my own heart, bringing some units that nobody ever seems to field anymore, including Assault Marines & Whirlwinds.  He brought a pretty run-of-the-mill marine force that was spread equally through all five areas of composition.

  • HQ:
    • Chapter Master in Terminator Armor w/ Thunderhammer
    • Chaplain w/ Jumppack & digital weapons
    • Librarian with Avenger & Gate
    • Captain with Relic Blade/Storm Shield
  • Elite:
    • 10x Terminators with powerfist/stormbolter + 2x cyclones
    • 8x Sternguard with 2x Heavy flamers and powerfist in Rhino
  • Troops:
    • 10x Tactical marines w/ Flamer, H. Bolter, Powerfist, & Teleport Homer in Rhino
    • 10x Tactical marines w/ Melta, H. Bolter, Combi-Melta, Powerfist, & Teleport Homer in Rhino
    • 10x Tactical marines w/ Plasma, Missile, Power Weapon & Plasma Pistol
    • 10x Tactical marines w/ Plasma and Missile Launcher
    • 10x Tactical Marines w/ Plasma, Missile Launcher, & Teleport Homer
  • Fast Attack:
    • 10x Assault marines w/ 2x Flamers, & Powerfist
  • Heavy Support:
    • 10x Devastators w/ 3x Lascannons & 1x Missile Launcher
    • 10x Devastators w/ 4x Heavy Bolters
    • Whirlwind
    • Whirlwind

Cole’s Wolfguard & IG Detachments

Oh, Cole… where do we begin?  We love to rag on him for playing slowly, but he’s really the most thorough and technically accurate gamer in the lot.  Perhaps he could speed up his game by bringing less models than the either of the two Tyranid armies, eh?  You’ll notice that two players wound up bringing Logan in their force, but that’s because we didn’t talk about our lists before hand.  Luckily they randomly got split into two seperate teams.

For what it’s worth, Cole’s Logan did much better. 🙂

  • HQ:
    • Logan Grimnar
    • Njal Stormcaller
    • Runepriest w/ Chooser of the Slain, Living Lightning & JotWW
    • Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf w/ Runic Armor, Frost Blade, Storm Shield, Saga of the Bear, Wolftooth Neck/Tali, 2x Fenrisian Wolves
  • Elites:
    • 5x Wolf Guards in Terminator Armor w/ assorted weapons
    • 5x Wolf Guards in Terminator Armor w/ assorted weapons
    • 5x Wolf Guards in Terminator Armor w/ assorted weapons
    • 7x Wolf Guards in Terminator Armor w/ assorted weapons
    • 5x Wolf Scouts w/ Meltagun, Wulfin, & Power Weapon
    • 5x Wolf Scouts w/ Meltagun, Wulfin, & Power Weapon
    • 10x Psyker Battle Squadd
    • Marbo
  • Troops:
    • Infantry Platoon
      • 5x Command  w/ 4x Grenade Launchers
      • 10x Infantry w/  Flamer & Lascannon
      • 10x Infantry w/ Flamer & Lascannon
      • 10x Infantry w/ Flamer & Autocannon
      • 10x Infantry w/ Flamer & Mortar
    • 10x Penal Legion
    • 10x Veterans w/ 3x Snipers & 1x Autocannons + Harker
  • Heavy Support:
    • Manticore
    • Hydra
    • Hydra

So there you have it.  These are the two forces that wound up clashing in the battle.  The next post for the blog (and the last post on Argos Prime) will be the actual write up of this Apoc game.  So, if you’re waiting for me to finally post on another topic… bear with me… 🙂

Mixing Things Up With Missions (Part II)

In the previous article, I discussed how we decided to alter the standard Apoc missions, but I also alluded to the fact that we’d be using personalized missions for each player.  This allowed me to use the missions I had originally designed for the 4-team Apocalypse game, with some slight modifications.

Personal Objectives

Again, the idea behind personal objectives was to:

  1. Give a plausible reason why each team was at the battle and perhaps some insight as to why they’d be on the team they were.
  2. Give players a method to achieve a moral victory, even if their team lost.

Our first iterations of personalized missions included the fairly generic solutions that anyone could come up with:  Hold this point, capture this unit, keep your units alive, etc.  What I really wanted was something dynamic and fun—something nobody was going to be able to guess.

So, after some brain storming, the missions we opted for were:

Defender Missions:

  1. Reconnaissance
    “Scattered across the battlefield are six informants, each of which holds a vital clue to the reasons behind the recent uprising, each of which has been secretly numbered.  At the beginning of the game, roll a die.  At the end of the game, if you have a model in base-to-base with this informant, and no other players have a model within 2” of him, roll a die.  On a roll of a 6+, you receive a personal victory.  You may add +1 to the die roll for each additional informant  you have questioned during the course of the game.
    (6 total informants)
  2. In Defense of Defense
    “You win a minor objective if no bunkers (friend or foe) have been wrecked or destroyed.  Immobilized results have no effect.”
    (4 Total bunkers)
  3. Pacifism
    “Abstinence is the best policy.  At the end of the game, roll a die.  On a roll of 7+, you receive a personal victory.  You may add +1 to the die roll for each unit you have that has not shot, or participated in an assault for the entire game.”

Attacker Missions:

  1. Grand Theft: Rhino
    “Your infantry units and Independent Characters can embark on enemy transports as if they were your own.  Once embarked, you have full control of the vehicle, but may not fire any of it’s weapons.At the end of the game roll a die.  On the roll of a 7+, you win a personal victory.  You may add +1 to the die roll for each vehicle commandeered during the course of the game.” 
  2. One Shall Stand
    “You win a personal victory if you have an unbroken scoring unit within the Imperial Sanctum at the end of the game and no other units (friend or foe) are within 2” of the objective.  You also receive the “All Out War” Strategy Card:ALL OUT WAR:
    “Play this card at any time.  From this point on, any unit within the Imperial Sanctum can shoot or assault any other unit within the sanctum.” 
  3. Silence Their Guns
    At the end of the game, you win a personal victory if all of the weapons platforms in the opponent’s deployment zone have been destroyed.
    (18 total objectives in 4 clusters)

Not all of the missions are created equally, but in an attempt to create six completely unique missions, I don’t think it would be possible to make them equal.   Each of the missions provided a unique purpose for their commander.

They also gave more reasons for players to deploy and play on the wooded side of the board.  Despite having less total objectives, three of the players would have to have at least some units over there in order to complete their minor objectives.

As an added challenge, nobody was allowed to share their missions with anyone.  Players were encouraged to coerce their teammates to help them complete their objectives, but had to do so through subversive methods.

In no place was this better displayed than with Cole, our attacker who drew “Silence Their Guns.”  He stormed across the battlefield on the wooded side to take out the mortar batteries and the nearby bunker.  Whenever a teammate had a spare long-range weapon, he’d hint at how devastating the enemy artillery was, or the value of destroying the enemy’s bunkers (which would, in turn, disable any weapons platforms they had with them).  His conniving was masterful, though his team wasn’t easily manipulated by his suggestions.  In the end though, he was one of only two player who achieved his victory conditions.

The place where these missions were most at odds was in the early game.  Kris drew “Pacifism” and chose to deploy his rhinos filled with troops into positions inside the Imperial Palace that couldn’t be easily targeted.  His plan seemed to be to hide them throughout the game, and get an automatic victory for having six units (3 units + 3 vehicles) which hadn’t fought.  Meanwhile, Sam sat outside the palace walls with “Grand Theft: Rhino.”  Since Kris had the only transports, he had a bulls-eye painted on him.  Sam’s plan seemed hinged upon Kris pulling his rhinos out of the castle (a logical conclusion), and then jumping in the transports when Kris disembarked.  Little did he know, Kris never intended to move…  But Blaine drew “One Shall Stand” and dropped a formation of stealers, along with another of Hive Tyrants right into the middle of things… mucking it up for everyone.

From an outsiders perspective, it was great watching people make these seemingly odd plays on the table, while their friends surely must’ve been wondering what the heck was going on.  Perhaps they were all too tied up with their own missions though?

As stated above, the game ended with only two players completing their personal victories:  Cole destroyed all of the defender’s weapon platforms, and Dan managed to sneak units into every crevasse of the board to talk to each informant.   In case you’re wondering the others failed because:

  1. In Defense of Defense – Two of his own bunkers fell.  The idea behind this objective was a meta-game, with the intent being that you would defend your own bunkers, and talk your team-mates out of attacking the enemies (in favor of juicier targets).  Once Cole outflanked with melta-guns (in order to destroy the weapons atop the bunker), it was all over…
  2. Pacifism – A solid enough plan, but Blaine’s need to hold the Sanctum ensured that this was the worst possible spot on the board to play pacifist.
  3. Grand Theft: Rhino – My personal favorite mission as it added some over-the-top wackiness to the game (and had a cool name, to boot).  The real downfall here is that there just weren’t many transports in the game.  With only 4 transports total (three of which hid inside the palace), the odds were stacked against Sam.
  4. One Shall Stand – I’d like to blame the loss on the fact that Blaine never declared ALL OUT WAR!  Really though, he was looking pretty good right up until the final two turns of the game, when Dan dropped a massive Grey Knight Terminator squad right into the Sanctum in order to talk to one of the informants…

All in all, the personal objectives were a great success.  Everyone involved loved the idea, and had a good time trying to complete them.  Next time, I might try to make them a little easier though… but then again, I might not!

“Goals” poster from www.despair.com.  It’s important to note that no competitive jerks were present in the game, it’s just a funny poster. 🙂

Mixing Things Up With Missions (Part I)

In continuing the idea of mixing things up in the Battle for Argos Prime, I decided to vary the missions and objectives as well as the purchasing restrictions and the Strategy Cards.  My goal was to create dynamic missions that gave some secrecy in the objectives, as well as explain why multiple armies would be in the same battlefield all at once.

While the principle that two armies meet in battle over a single object works to some degree, it’s harder to justify that when you have multiple armies on each side collaborating together to accomplish a mutual goal.  Add to this that Apocalypse typically has six objectives on the board, and the believability on the back story goes kaput.

More than one way to skin a cat?

As everyone knows, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.  So, before the game, I sat down with Kris, and again later with Derek to brainstorm alternate ways of handling missions.  One theme that I rather liked was again based upon the 2nd edition rules, in that each player (or team) could be dealt a mission card which gave them different objectives to complete (for examples of these cards, check out this post at Galaxy in Flames).  We would just need to balance those missions to justify why certain people would team together, and ensure (to the best of our ability) that multiple people would have reasons to contest each others objectives (even if they were unaware they were doing so).

Conceptually, it’s a grand idea, but it’s not the easiest thing to implement.  To add yet another twist in the game, the original intent was to modify the Apocalypse rules to have four opposing teams going at the same time.

The thought was that each team would have Major, Minor, and Tertiary objectives, and would score 4, 3, and 2 points for completing each (respectively).  Major objectives tended to be of the “hold this objective” scenarios (ex. Protect the Governer while he prepares for Extraction, guard the portal, etc.).  Secondary objectives would give people alternate reasons to investigate people’s primaries (Capture the Governer [who could then move around], Use the Portal as a means of bringing at least 10 units onto the board from reserves , etc.).  And tertiary objectives were just fun little side-items (kill 5 psykers, etc.)

However, due to our inability to find that elusive 8th player, I chose to sit out.  Instead, I acted as a judge for the event (which really helped the game to flow better, given all of the crazy rules that were added).  The consequence is I needed to figure out a way to convert rules from a four sided game, back to a two-sided game, without completely reinventing the wheel–or should I call it uninventing the four-sided wheel?

The solution I came up with was to use somewhat standardized Apocalypse objectives, and also give each player their own personal objectives.  The thinking behind this was to give people things they could accomplish on their own, thereby justifying why their army was there in the first place, as well as to provide a means for the “losing” team to get their own moral victories.

“Standard” Objectives

With only one day before the game, I decided to convert things to standardized objectives.  The board had already been deployed, so we used each building as an objective for the armies to conquer.  With the backstory being that they’re fighting over the city, this made good sense.  However, we had to spread things out a bit, as we used two boards: one being a city, and the other being a nearby woodland.  With just buildings being objectives, it gave players no reason to use the woodlands.

To counter this, we also put four bunkers on the board (two in the walls of the imperial palace, and two out in the wilderness), along with a small hut.  We also mixed in the ability to destroy some objectives, granting the bunkers av15, and saying they’d be destroyed per the normal vehicle destruction rules.  We allowed them to ignore shakes/stuns, and gave them a permanent -1 Armor for the first immobolized result they suffered.

Objectives for the Battle of Argos Prime

With nine objectives so far, we also converted the “Imperial Sanctum” in the center of the palace as a 10th objective.  This left 7 objectives in the city, and 3 in the forest.  No, it wasn’t completely balanced, but I’m not known for symmetry in my terrain.  The deployment line seperated the palace from the rest of the city, and split the forest in half.  The good thing is that each team started with 5 objectives in their deployment area, giving us a clear defender (the side with the palace) and attacker.  In the picture above, the bunkers (destroyable objectives) are marked in blue, while the buildings (counts as ruins) are marked in yellow.  As always, you can click it for a larger picture.

To round things out, we put out weapons batteries around the board, favoring the defender’s side.  These weapons included:

  • 2x twin-linked double-barrelled autocannons on each bunker
  • 1x Turbo-Lascannon (d3 shots)
  • 2x Mortar Batteries (5 shots each)
  • 4x Heavy Mortars (across various defending bunkers)

We gave each an AV10, and a BS2, and said that they were “automated defense weapons” which fired if an uncontested friendly model was within 2” of them.  Players could choose to fire them at any model in range, rather than just the closest target.  It would’ve been nice to give them varied rules, but keeping it simple seemed to be the way to go—since we had already added enough zaniness, and more was sure to come with the Personal objectives…

….

Well, this post is getting much longer than I had originally planned, so I’ll end it here.  I’ll pick up my next post with the Personal objectives, and how they interacted with the Team objectives…

Bringing Back Strategy Cards

In our most recent Apocalypse game, the Battle for Argos Prime, we wanted to mix things up a bit from standard Apocalypse games.  One way we decided to do that was to eliminate Strategic Assets from the game, and replace them with 2nd Edition style “Strategy Cards.”

The problem I have with Strategic Assets from the Apocalypse book is that they’re completely unbalanced.  Some assets are very good and you’ll see them in most every game you play.  Other assets are obviously inferior, and rarely (if ever) make it to the table top.  The end result is that in a given game of Apocalypse (at least in our area), you’ll find the following assets:

  • Flank March
  • Disrupter Beacon
  • Careful Planning
  • Vortex Grenade

In comparison, I’ve never seen any of the following assets used:

  • Tunnels
  • Anti-Plant Barrage
  • Long Range Ack-Ack

<Rant On>

And, while I’m on the subject, I have to take a moment to rant on the option for “Jammers.”  The idea behind it is to disrupt communication so that teams won’t be able to coordinate their deployment, and it does a reasonable job of tying into the fluff.  The problem I have with this option is three-fold:

  1. In most Apoc games, sides are chosen ahead of time, so this card can be fairly easily nullified by coordinating with your team before you ever make it to the game, or talking strategy with your team before table-edges are picked.
  2. There is no penalty for violating the jammers rule.  It simply says the opponents can’t talk, but if they happen to communicate, what’s the repercussion?
  3. This is the big one.  Apocalypse games are supposed to be fun, epic battles.  Forcing people to “shut-up” for five minutes really starts things off on the wrong foot.  It makes the deploying team resent the fact that they can’t talk, and creates and adversarial tone for the rest of the game.  The last thing I want to do is start a day of fun by upsetting one side…

</Rant Off>

Ok, so where was I?  Oh yeah… the Strategic Assets, as well as the formations, aren’t balanced, and the result is that you see the same choices again and again.

I had originally considered randomizing these assets, but it left the chance for vast differences in power (what happens when one team gets all “good” assets, and the other is left with anti-plant?).  I also considered changing the way assets work by dividing them into tiers.  Each player could get several lower tier assets for the same price as a Tier1 asset (such as Flank March).  Conceptually, this would seem to work, but then I remembered how fun our games of 2nd Edition were with the advent of Strategy Cards.

For those that don’t remember, Strategy Cards were really the predecessors to the Strategic Assets known today.  They came out in the Dark Millenium expansion to 2nd Edition, and included 18 cards that were dealt out to players based upon point values.  My memory is a little shakey at this point.  At the begining of each game, each player received a card for each 1,000 points their army contained.  So, if you played a 2,000 point battle, each participant would get 2 asset cards.

The reason my memory is sketchy here, is that our local gaming group never felt like it was enough, so we might have fudged two changes.  First of all, I think we added the modifier “or fraction thereof” to their definition (and played games of 2,001 points just for that extra card) and sometimes reduced the point values to one card per 750 points.  The “fraction thereof” might have been a real rule, or it could’ve been a house rule… I’m not sure.

Anywho, these cards contained minor strategems that would make small differences, that generally affected a single model (except for the dreaded “Virus Outbreak,” which was insanely overpowered).  So, I planned to make a few simple modifications to these cards to update them for 5th edition, and use those to replace the standard Strategic Assets in our Apocalypse game.

But why reinvent the wheel?  It turns out that the guys over at Under the Couch, have already done this for us!  You can download those cards from their site using this link.  The only problem with using the cards as is from UTC is that I didn’t have card stock to print them out on.  So, I bought some double-sided business card stock and reformatted the cards within Microsoft Word to fit to the new cards.  While I was typing them out, I also took the liberty to modify the wording on a few cards to better fit with Apocalypse.  I also opted to “invent” a few more.   The changes and new card ideas I had can be found below:

Changes:

  • Surprise Assault – Edit to indicate it only works against a single opponent.
  • Covering Fire – I changed this card completely to allow a squad to infiltrate, and get a free round of shooting.
  • Reinforcements – Changed the last line to say “The replacements come on from your table edge at the start of your next turn” (since Apoc doesn’t have “reserves”)
  • Insane Courage – Added a free round of shooting to the rallying unit.
  • Master Tactician – Added “In an Apocalypse game, you may bring on one extra unit from Strategic Reserves per turn (including the first) than would normally be allowed).”
  • Broken Communication – Added “In an Apocalypse game, nominate one unit or formation controlled by an opponent.  It does not arrive until turn 3”
  • Misfire – Added the line “at least one hit must be taken by the firing model.”
  • Assassins – Changed it to “takes a STR4, AP- shot that causes Instant Death”
  • Traitor – Clarified that the Traitor is the unit that is removed from the battle, not the IC.

New Cards:

  • Premonition:  “Play this card at any time to cancel out the effects of one of the following: Ambush, Assassins, Barrage, Battlefield Confusion, Booby Traps, Broken Communication, Covering Fire, Delayed, Forced March, Malfunction, Master Tactician, Reinforcements, Strafing Run, Surprise Assault, or Traitor.”
  • Ablative Armour: “Play this card when one of your vehicles suffers a penetrating hit, but before the roll on the damage table.  The vehicle ignores the hit entirely.  Additionally, all armour values for the vehicle are increased by one for the remainder of the game.”
  • Malfunction: “Play this card at any time.  Nominate a vehicle to experience the malfunction.  That vehicle takes an automatic glancing hit, and has all of it’s armour values reduced by one for the remainder of the game.”
  • Forced March: “Play this card during your movement phase.  Nominate a single unit that is still in reserves.  This unit automatically passes it’s reserve roll for this turn and may choose to enter the board from any table edge.”
  • Brilliant Strategy: “Play this card at the start of the game before attempting to seize initiative.  Seizing initiative happens on a roll of 4+ (instead of 6+).  For games that don’t normally allow the initiative to be seized, you can still seize on the roll of a 6+.”
  • Virus Outbreak!: “Play this card at any time.  Choose a model in an enemy unit and place the large blast centered on that model.  All models touched by the template take a strength 3, AP2 hit with no cover or invulnerable saves allowed.  Wounded units must pass a pinning test.”
  • Special Issue: “Choose an Independant Character in your army.  You may equip that model with one of the following (in addition to any other equipment he has–see appropriate codex for rules):
    • Thunderhammer
    • Stormshield
    • Relic Blade
    • Inferno Pistol
    • Psychic Hood
    • Haywire Grenades
    • Jump Pack
    • Conversion Beamer

Astute players of 2nd edition will recognize the names of most of the cards above, if not their specific effects.  I tried to stay true to the classic cards to the best of my ability while making them fit with the rules of 5th edition and the powerscale of the other cards.

After the game, I also stumbled upon a similar solution on GW’s site.  They designed a series of cards for Planetary Empires with many similar names and effects to those listed above.  Those cards could be easily used/modified to fit within standard 40k or Apocalypse games as well.

Anywho, I hope this gives some of you ideas on how to spice up your games by changing some simple rules.  As a whole, I think these cards were a great success in our recent Apoc game, and now that I’ve explained the ideas behind it, look forward to a post of how they were actually used during the game!   Also, if you liked this post and are curious as to what the original 2nd edition strategy cards were like in their unmolested form, be sure to check out Big Jim’s recent blog post on the subject over at Galaxy in Flames.

Kitty picture from icanhascheezburger.com.