Friday, 8 August 2014

40,000 Apocalyptic commitments needed

We tried our first large-scale game a couple of months back, where we tried out the Apocalypse ruleset with 7th Edition. To celebrate we tried a 40,000 point game. Here follows a breakdown of the our first experiences with the system of Apocalypse, 7th Edition, and the weekend setup.

Being championed by my good friend Bave, who managed the entire planning of the thing we set a date, and started checking how many points those invited collectively had, and how much we could field, to see what would be worth trying out. After bandying about for several days for sizes, we went for a game that would be 20,000 points a side. 

Ambitious, epic, awesome, but possibly a case of eyes being bigger than stomach!

After pooling and roughing things about, Bave gave us our sides. My contribution would be the Sons of Omega above, (fielded by the only player that had to leave early). And of course the fodder. The good old Guard!
Note shiny friends
Bave, as our champion had compiled a massive collaborative Google Drive Spreadsheet that everyone could edit and add their points, and tally of units into. With this distributed a couple of weeks before action day, we were able to compile our forces into the sheet,

Some of the key facts from that sheet are as follows.

  • 8 players
  • 5 army owners
  • 32825 base unit points
  • 351 units
  • 1107 models
  • 363 Loyal Marines
  • 148 Chaos Marines
  • 217 Guardsmen
  • 113 Tau
  • 134 Eldar
  • 47 Tanks
  • 4 Superheavies
  • 4 formations 
  • 39+ warp points on the table on the first turn

Those were the headlines. We then spent a good few more days adding and tweaking as needed until we'd made enough for everyone to have access to a few shining killers.

The lists
We split these roughly along the lines of owners, and level of experience.

The 'Bad guys' Lists
6000 Chaos - Di
4000 Guard - Me
3500  Blood Angels - Den
3500 Tau - Me and Den
3000 Ravenwing - Fom

The 'Good guys' Lists 
3000 Iron Hands - Mant
3500 Ultramarines - Bave
4500 Imperial Guard - Bark 2
6000 Eldar - Fteve
3000 Farsight Tau - Bave

Bave and I tentatively suggested that with the most amount of gaming experience we would take the lions share of organisation, and with some last looks over the lists before cementing them, we selflessly nominated ourselves to be the overall warlords of the army. 
Because we're nice.

Apocalypse rules.
As Seventh was still relatively new to us at the time of writing, and Apocalypse was a completely new experience, we opted to pick and choose the elements of Apocalypse that we'd use. In the end, we decided to go for most of them; Strategic Assets, Strategic Objectives, Strategic Reserves, Finest Hours, Divine Intervention
But omitted the fire and doom and gloom of the Unnatural Disasters table. Too many meteors!
In hindsight, as we were so fresh to the system perhaps we should have omitted a few more

Compiling all of the available formations to give people options was a fun task, finding the sheets in the various books and then cross-checking with the roster of available units. Some of the more interesting formations such as seen in the Imperial Amour books like the quartet of Dreadnoughts would have meant some serious trading would need to occur.

In the end across 40,000 point game we only managed to field 4 proper formations; these were the following;

  1. 3 Riptides
  2. Spearhead of Predators
  3. The endless ranks of Cadians
  4. A Stormtalon Cadre flier thing

To the game itself.
We set up outside as it was such a nice day, though repercussions to that decision would come later.
Using concrete mixers, crates, boards, dust sheets and a whole lot of terrain, the below was set up. Around 11 feet long, the large board in the centre of that table is actually an impressive raised roadway that was almost completed by Bave and I before the kickoff, at eye level its very impressive.

After taking the guys through a changes Apocalypse, and how things would run regarding breaks, some bright spark suggested we attempt to get a picture of all the units that would be used.

A wasted hour and a half later, we had one photo to show for our efforts, one;

After then cleaning the extras off the table, we then started to deploy. 

To decide on the first turn we used the bid system (whereby you bid for the numbers of units deployed on the table, the lowest gets first turn). Bids were sealed and revealed at the same time.

Both sides chose 30 units...a draw!

So a roll decided that the BAD start the proceedings

The Bad deployment
30 units of Chaos, Imperial Guard, Blood Angels, Tau.
The Good deployment
30 units of Ultramarines, Tau, Imperial Guard, Eldar,and Iron Hands

First turns
Things then began to rattle along at a nice pace, with each player performing their own movement, with at least one contemporary on the other side keeping an eye on 7 inch moves, and difficult terrain tests.

Apart from a few charges and some repositioning of guns the 30 units on both sides waited for their major reinforcements, determined not to die in the first turn of shooting.

Some highlights from the First turn.
- 3 Chaos Spawn getting frisky with an entire 60 man guardsmen blob, tying them down for several turns
- An infiltrating unit of Tactical Marines realising they faced a horde of reserves walking onto the board behind them.
- A cheesy Hellhammer sitting behind an Aegis line, next to a Dark Angel Techmarine with a Power Generator
- A R'vana suit being clipped by a D-strength weapon and using a billboard as cover.
- A Drop Sentinel being killed by his own Allies to a lucky plasma shot scatter
- An Ironclad dropping to swipe at some Obliterators without success, and then taking one down by exploding in their faces.
- An Aspiring Champion becoming a Daemon Prince after a very beneficial table roll, trying to take on an Ironclad and then failing.

What then slowed things to a sedate pace was the psychic phases. As dice needed to be pooled and tallied across the armies it became more of a Psychic council, rather than each army blessing their own.

A tweak should be made there. 

As well as this, the relatively slow pace of the large scale close combats slowed the other phases of the game as those gunline armies patiently awaited their role in movement, and shooting. Often people were left for a good hour without a single roll to be made. One player didn't get a dice roll at all.

Second turns
Floods of reserves came onto the board, both sides opting to bring on larger second turn forces that 1st. 
Things quickly were becoming cramped. The Eldar and fliers arrived in force. 

Some highlights from the second turn.
- The entire Ravenwing waiting to deploy as a force awaiting the third turn to sweep in and destroy.
- A 10 man unit of Space Marine Honour Guard being shot apart before touching a thing
- Tank Commander Pask being 'Dominated' into failing his uber-shooting
- An entire 3 Riptide formation dying in a single turn of Vanquisher Beast-hunter shell slugging.
- An Imperial Guard Executioner finally killing itself with the new 'Gets Hot' rule.
- A massive unit of Chaos bikers being scared off into the ether.

By the time two turns had passed, the night was setting in, and the benefits of exterior gaming were being roundly questioned by those who treasured their models.

Without the ability to continue into the second day, we called it after the 11th hour of gaming.

End results
The Bad       5 Victory points
The Good     7 Victory points

However, we concluded that due to the losses incurred already, it would be very hard for the Bad guys to have pulled it back in subsequent turns.

A couple of things I would advise from things I learned over the weekend.

  1. Scale back your ambitions, no-one really managed to enjoy the fury of Apocalypse as they were focussed on the amount of troops to play as. Start smaller and work upwards.
  2. A fully painted force should get a god-damn medal!
  3. Have your referees ready, so that they can manage everyones expectations for time and whether they can move, or they have to wait for those with more troops/more complex phases.
  4. Always have Manthony on the barbecue
  5. Have a Psychic General, someone who can look at all the powers available and vary them across the table so that the vast warp pool feels suitably Apocalyptic.
  6. Remind people to use the benefits of the Apocalypse system; spend a point and get some Riptides again!
  7. Make the slower phases quicker, send in a referee and move onto movement if Assault is taking too long, get people doing shooting whilst the Psychic phase finishes.
  8. Consider venue and times carefully, are you likely to get a large amount of turns, is every player going to get a chance to get suitable game time?
  9. Come prepared with sheets and templates and more dice, always more dice.

So a lot of fun was had, we learned a lot and felt like we'd at least tasted Apocalypse, hope you've enjoyed the run-down. 

For the wee hours of the night we started a speedy (2 hour) six-player Killteam game which was almost as fun as the Apocalypse game due to the foibles of Space Marines vs Guardsmen, pop, splat. Ramraiding Rhino's and ganging up galore.

 This guy literally killed about 6 people and survived a ridiculous number of turns, wiping out many a person.
In the end, the Sons shot his face inside out, and their bike capped the final objective.

Always end on a high!

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