Deathbridge Warhammer

Deathbridge Warhammer

Monday, June 14, 2010

Apocalypse and things I've learned!

The local, 40k Escalation league end Apocalypse game, all eight hours and 40k+ points of it has come and gone.  It was a long but VERY fun day playing with a good group of guys and friends.  Club mates even came to watch.  However, since then (and with discussion with others) I've come to realize some things that would improve my next big game experience.   Let's discuss a few of these.


When you come to a game, prepared for months, you should be 100% completely prepared.  Your models should be assembled and painted.  Your lists should be planned and finished well ahead of time.  If you are given the choice of stratagems, then pick them ahead of time.  Every single game book is available online in PDF form for free through torrents so there is really no excuse.  Of course, you bring your dice, models, templates, books and pens, army books, rule book, army lists, etc.  Arrange that you have apocalypse templates available through one of the players possessing them.  Mark your stuff too!  Simple initials on your templates and dice cubes, for instance!


Other then bids, you don't need to hide ANYTHING in the game.  Your army lists should be public.  Special characters should be public.  Datasheets and formations should be public.  Even stratagems.  Why?  It avoids arguments.  For example, and this isn't a slag on ANYONE, but one team in our big apocalypse game had 2 players with the same stratagem.  There is mention in the Apocalypse rule book that no two players on the same side take the same strategem or formation.   Both having it actually hurt the game somewhat (this for another discussion) and having made it public we could have changed things and made the game much more spectacular.   If you're hiding things, you're either cheating or ONLY playing to win.  Use Army Builder!  It's cheap, way cheaper then any models or kit in the hobby and frankly, the best thing to happen to mini's gaming.


Going into this game, the players should be prepared.  There should be a discussion ahead of time in which the general lay out of the game is discussed, what is and isn't allowed, etc.  This will take away a LOT of problems during the game and allow for more play time.


Unlimited size armies just do NOT work.  You can try and discuss what you can/can't take, but with unlimited points, the game is practically unplayable.  Take our game (again) for instance.  There were armies where every vehicle had all options, benefits, extra armor and hunter killer missiles.  Every model had every single upgrade possible.  Every unit has every addition and is full sized  It basically becomes, pardon the expression, a dick wagging ceremony.  Who can bring the stupidest, biggest, baddest units and models.  It also make people bring stuff that does NOT belong in their army.  They play a certain army, yet bring a SINGLE model from another army ONLY for their powers.  They don't bring a force from that, just the single model.  Because "they have it".  Bull.  It's for the benefit of the army, pure and simple.  Limiting the points disallows this and makes players only bring their actual armies.  We aren't saying 3000pts only.  4k, 5k... as long as there is a strict limit to stop the overbearing chaos that is unlimited points.  Going with this, play ONLY what you can reasonably play.  If it's going to take an hour JUST FOR YOU to finish a shooting phase while your team mates sit around with their hands on their laps, maybe you have too big an army. HOWEVER, if you _are_ going to play unlimited points, the group needs to discuss what they can/can't upgrade.  Can/cannot add.  Again, full disclosure (2) and pre-game discussion (3).


You can buy orbital bombardements (for now) from the Witch and Daemon hunters books.  Do an unlimited point game and you can basically buy as many as you want.  There are other instances like this in the game.  Just... don't.  If there is no model to represent it, it should not be on the table.  It's cheating min/max free points.


Formations allow some armies to gain stratagems.  There is no reason I can see to give away a free stratagem to a player just for showing up.  The counter argument is it adds flavor to the game.  My take is that there are only a few stratagems that are ever taken.  These are usually game breakingly powerful, hence being taken.  I would say if you don't get them from formations, you don't get them.


In playing a FULLY PAINTED 40,000 POINT GAME, we proved that we all have very big armies locally.  There was no reason you shouldn't play a themed army.  If you are going to play Apocalypse, don't just take every random model you have (or only your favorites) to make up your point total.  Have theme.  For instance, Green Feevah brought ONLY Biel-Tan Eldar.  Players bring ONLY Ultramarines and Imperial guard painted to represent the Macragge PDF.  Nid armies are usually painted in a similar scheme.  Have some story to your army, not made up powergaming.  The game is so, so, sooooooooooooooo much more interesting like this.  There is an inherent, instant flavor to the battle that invests more interest, emotion and fun.


Everyone is probably guilty of this.  Know the rules for apocalypse.  Know the rules for your army.  Use Army Builder!  Don't look for your codex for every stat every fight when you can simply print out an army builder sheet.  You are playing Apocalypse, know it's special rules.  This goes for Planetstrike, Cities of Death, whatever.  Heck, this weekend proved I need to read more myself!


While part of the game is to team pick objectives and random deployment zones, why not choose all this?  Why not have a more thematic feel to the game by discussing the storyline, picking storyline objectives and picking a deployment that makes sense with this.  Again, it's then not a random game.  You're playing something that has a background, has texture and has something to invest in.  Trust me, this will be so much more fun.  You need to defend the chapel as part of the game, you'll defend it as much as you can!  Putting some marker down in your deployment zone just because you can?  Meh.  You'll get it later.


Again, not to hark on this, but Army Builder is SO AWESOME!  You have every stat and weapon for every model in your army on a sheet of printed out paper.  Your team mates can reference these!  Not everyone will take the same length in each phase.  If you're playing a huge army, delegate!  Ask your team mates to move, shoot, assault with certain models if you aren't finished and they are.  They look on Army Builder... bam, done.  This speeds up the game, allowing for more turns, allowing for more moments.


People are going to disagree with me on this, but Apocalypse is meant more to be a fun exercise of social interaction, then a game you are going out 100% to win.  What happens, and what happened in our club's game, is everyone worried about winning and played WAY too conservatively, leaving stuff behind so they could do a last second dash for the objectives.  We deployed some eight feet apart, basically limiting the first turn to 10 minutes of moving and that's it.  A Bloodthirster literally flew and ran THE ENTIRE GAME and didn't get to the enemies lines.  Tanks with 72" range couldn't shoot for two turns.  That's just ridiculous.  As Privateer Press says you gotta play like you've gotta pair.  Line up and FIGHT.  You have lots of models, let some die.  Believe you this... it's as much fun to watch my stuff blow up in spectacular fashion as it is for me to see yours do the same.  It's NOT a defensive game.  It doesn't work when it is.


My FAVORITE part of the entire game was when a Straken led squad jumped into a Belial led squad.  Big names fighting big names.  Big tanks shooting big tanks.  A mass swirling battle over an objective!  A single monster taking on an entire gun battery and surviving!  THIS is what the game is about.  Play for those.  Play like you've got a pair!

I'd like to hear what other people think about Apocalypse and their views of the game, their experiences and what makes a good game to them.


Thomas said...

Our groups plays an Apocalypse battle when one of our players returns from deployment. Sort of our celebration that he's back.

I cannot agree with you more that planning, planning, planning....say it again....planning is essential to an Apocalypse game.

We play with a back story. All of the players work out the back story, we pick our teams and then the teams converse for weeks before the game comparing our forces, discussing stratagems, deployment, what the other side may bring, what tactics to use based on the forces we are bringing. Pre-planning solves so many more problems....

Doompickle said...

Hey there Walls, great article!

I have to agree, it was allot of fun and have learnt many things from this Apocalypse game (this being my 2nd ever game of this type).

I have to say that I am guilty of your 1st point, come prepared, as I did not know the apocalypse rules good enough and little things here and there. I think what could have helped for some of the points was to have a get together before the day of the battle to hammer out some of the issues before hand to eliminate some of the issues that came up and to possibly catch things that might have been missed, ie the flank march stratagem amongst other things. This get together could have ironed out lists and questions about characters/rules/issues as well.

Maybe we should write down some of the issues that came up during this game that we didn’t expect and hang onto them with the ruling or answer for the next game we do?

Size limits... I think it’s up to the organizer, the players (the number of players/the type of army they play etc) & and the amount of time we have to actually play a game. I wouldn’t want to limit/tell someone you can’t play your army because you have too many figures etc. After all it’s supposed to be fun for everyone right? and I know what you’re about to’s not fun for those waiting for the person to finish their turn, I like your idea about your team helping each other out (extra army sheets for team members etc.) Perhaps a solution to this would be to assign a point limit per side and let the sides sort things out?

Scenarios and pre-planned games... I like what you’re proposing here. It would give the game a bit of purpose I think and could prod people in the right direction ;) I guess it would be in the hands of the organizer or group how they want to play it.

PLAY LIKE YOU GOT A PAIR... BUT DON'T PLAY TO WIN! Well you know me, I am an easy going guy and like to play for fun win or lose. Hehe I guess I should model some brass balls to my landraiders after what my deathwing did in this latest apoc game...deep striking into an elder formation with tau hammer heads, chaos units and a shadow sword and baneblade surrounding me. Well they took heavy casualties but accomplished their task by contesting an objective. I think that battle and a similar battle which involved my landraiders, Belial and his unit vs. Wall’s unit was the highlight of the game for me, touch and go all the way, up close and personal! That being said I think at the other parts of the board both sides was hesitant. I think it’s inherent to play to win and thus to play defensive (depending on the army you play). Part of the problem in our game was that the board was physically too big (in my opinion) and couldn’t reach the centre easily. Perhaps different table configurations would help with this?

In the end I think we had a successful game and had a lot of fun playing it. Sure there were issues and things that arose but if we remember those for next time perhaps the next game might run smoother. After all it’s supposed to be fun and if it wasn’t, what needs to change to make it fun.

Thanks for organizing this last game!

Court said...

Can't really comment without first apologising for my lack being there. Not saying if i was playing off the hop there would have been alot less problems but it might have heheh.

But seriously i think it all comes down to what Thomas said.....plan plan plan plan plan. Let everyone know what can be used in advanced, what's not allowed, points, teams, etc etc etc.

Deffinately a learning curve here for the bigger games and think everyone had a good time especially after when we got to fall out and start things on fire hehe.

Joe Kopena said...

Re. playing to win: I'm not sure what you expected if you really deployed that far apart. Even with Apocalypse, if you're beyond ~36 inches apart or so, it's going to be kind of a dull game. Below 24 and it'll probably be kind of a dull game the other way, rapidly bogged down in assaults everywhere.

My club's been pretty successful with Apocalypse games so far, though the mindset and available models has prevented some of the problems you mentioned, without an official ruling (e.g., no one's trying to buy Orbital Bombardments from the Inquisition...). We don't declare stratagems up front, but each team has a commander who picks all of them so the issue you had doesn't come up as long as the commander follows the rules. Similarly, we declare super-heavies but they have to fit into the points limits each team has. Teams can freely allocate player points within that limit. Titans and flyers are negotiated outside that point limit to be balanced.

Lots of details like that are available on the planning page for our last game:

Scott R said...

I have a marker for my orbital bombardment...

John Whyte said...

A few things that I've always found useful for apoc
1) A houserule that only painted models will count as scoring. Unpainted models will not even be able to contest. The implementation of this ensuringed 90%+ of models were painted.
2) WYSIWYG fully enforced. For team games this is a must, it means your teammates can make your saves, do basic shooting, etc for you and that speeds the game up.
3) Regulating scratch built models. Hours of time + greenstuff + spare bits + paint job = good. Spare bucket + tube + no paintjob = bad. shoebox flyer = fire lighter.
4) Get good scenery, make it true to the game, this is important, I'm not fighting over card and markers, it's defense lasers and batteries etc.
5) All strategies requiring a model/scenery/something else must be adequately represented. No coin doomsday devises. No Tau drones for disruption beacons. If players do not bring it, they can't use the asset. Insist blind barage is represented by a wall of cotton wool and tell players to make their own well in advance.
6) If the player does not bring the rules for it, they can't use it.

Just some additional rules our group has found very handy.