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.
1. COME PREPARED!
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!
2. FULL DISCLOSURE!
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.
3. PRE GAME DISCUSSION!
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.
4. SIZE LIMITS!
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).
5. NO MODEL? NOT IN THE GAME!
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.
6. NO FREE STRATAGEMS!
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.
7. THEMED ARMIES!
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.
8. KNOW YOUR RULES!
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!
9. SCENARIOS AND PRE-PLANNED GAMES!
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.
10. TEAM MATES MATTER!
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.
11. PLAY LIKE YOU GOT A PAIR... BUT DON'T PLAY TO WIN!
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.
12. PLAY FOR THE MOMENT!
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.