Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wow... back log much?

Okay, so it's been close to a month. Getting ready for that Apoc game really took it out of me, combined with several issues at work it wasn't an easy time leading up to the game itself and I didn't get a chance to rest or recover from it right away either.
Enter the Apocalypse!

But I've been able catch up at work, rest and recover. And now that I've got the time to do I'm back to talk about the apoc game. So it was a fairly straight forward setup with 2 teams of three players each, wielding approximately 17,000 points each.

Team Imperium


Team Xenos

Team Imperium came out to a solid 17,000 points while Team Xenos came in a bit lighter at about 12,000. To help shore up the difference I gave Team Xenos a selection of an a combination of any of the Apoc stratagems or any of the 5 super-heavy/Gargantuan creatures I brought which included a pair of Scratch Built war hound titans, a Shadow sword Super-heavy tank, a Greater Deamon of Khorne, and a Maurader bomber. They selected 1 War Hound, the ShadowSword, the Maurader and 2 additional Strategic Assets. So with teams more or less evened up, we began. There was simple too much happening  to go through the entire length of the game so I'll be posting  pictures of the high lights.

I had several surprises in store for the players. The first of which to be revealed revolved around a glowing rock in the middle of the field. Imperial Gaurdsman Marbo was the first to come into contact with it, though he was killed by Tau cannon fire in the process, his life energy was still used to awaken the entity that resided with in it:

A vengeful C'Tan construct emerges to wreak havoc on the battle field!
The C'Tan was fast to unleash its wrath on the closest targets, a trio of Dark Eldar Raiders. Though one of them were able to avoid the worst of the blast, the first two were wrecked and the embarked sadists were sent to their feet amidst the wreckage. The Dark Eldar quickly unleashed all their poisonous fury on the C'Tan and killed it though it's exploding body sent out an energy pulse that ravaged the near by Orks.

Across the battlefield a group of Ratling Snippers were quickly pinned down as they inadvertently activated an ancient store house of Combat automatons that burst free, their targeting optics searching the battlefield for any movement, not caring who the movement was from. Realizing that staying still was their own hope for survival the Ratlings froze where they were and preyed that the ancient constructs would find another target to engage.

Slowly, and with a ponderous certainty they began to track on the fast moving Dark Eldar and began to move away from the Ratlings. But the match was ill-suited to the lumbering machines as the quick footed warriors of Commorough simply danced around them until they were able to destroy the offending machines.

Hoping for force the Imperial forces away from their point of honor, Team Xenos then deployed their Maurader Bomber and dropped a monstrous payload of 6 bombs on the imperial forces holding the Cathedral, the bombing run inflicting serious casualties in its effort.

With both Dark Eldar forces and Tyranid forces behind their lines, Marneus Calgar himself stepped up to meet the threat and supported by squads of Terminators and Devatators engaged a monstrous Trygon in combat while high overhead Dark Eldar flyers and Space Marine Storm Talons engaged in combat.
The Tau attempt to follow up the destruction wrought by the Marauder by inserting a strike team.

Through out the game I had feed information to select players about "Army objectives". These were objectives that ONLY certain armies could claim. One example of these army Objectives were given to the Dark Angels. I supplied a model to Team Xenos and explained to the Dark Angels player that he is a Fallen and if you capture him you gain 6 victory points, but ONLY the Dark Angels player could claim that objective. If he was killed by anyone else there were no victory points from it. Annoyingly fate seemed determined to thwart the Sons of Caliban effort to capture the fallen as it wasn't until very late in the game that he was even able to get forces to the side of the board where the Fallen was hiding.

Look under the rock!

With a timely intervention from an Orbiting Chaos battleship, the Reaver titan was destroyed as a lance strike came crashing down through the skies to obliterate the machine god.

At the end of the day the Imperial forces held and the Xenos threat had either been eliminated or driven off!

Thoughts from the game:

It was a lot of fun to run, a royal pain to organize and overall a trying experience, kind of like climbing a mountain. You spend months training for it, which you hate. You get to the mountain and look up and think "Holy crap! What made me think this was a good idea?" and then you start climbing. A few hours in your huffing and panting as your muscles ache but you keep pushing on. It's not until you get to the top of the mountain and are able to look out that you can really appreciate the achievement.

Pretty similar situation here. "Hey it'll be cool to run an Apoc game!" turned into "Oh wow, I've got a lot of work to do for this." which became "oh god, why are Apoc games so much effort to put together?" which then became "Good lord, what made me think this was a good idea?!" but once the game actually got going and I got to see titans stomping across the battle field, and heroes making legends for themselves as they battled across the board I remembered why I had wanted to run an apoc game.

In short: I got bored with the battle missions in the rule book. I'm not necessarily interested in a fair fight, I want a fun one. And thats what Apoc gave me the chance to provide. While this was by no means the largest Apoc game I've ever seen seen (I know this years Apocalypticon clocked in like 600k points) it was a huge difference to a normal game of 40k with lots of thematic elements popping up, heroic charges, vain glorious defeats, and outrageous occurrences you won't see in a normal game.

I did manage to do two things that I feel made a big difference to the game and it's expediency though.

Firstly there were the Kill tokens. These were just 25mm bases with "1" painted on them. I made about 200 of them.
I then provided a cut to each player. So whenever that player earned a victory point, I tossed a counter in their cup. This made it easier to keep count of kills as the game went on, and turned out to be another benefit when the teams realized that they could use their victory points to bring back units (The Tyranid player brought back his hive tyrant like 4 times or something). So they just removed the number of counters they needed to bring back the units they wanted, handed them to me and I dropped them back in the box. No counters? Sorry, can't bring the unit. End of story.

The other thing that helped make the game work better, and I admit I wish I had done more with this idea, was the use of burning wreckage markers.

These helped the game for a couple reasons. Firstly they looked really cool, but they were also very useful to help keep track of what the effects were on various vehicles, which ones were wrecked, and which ones were destroyed outright.

I had mentioned I wish I had gone further with this idea. I mean there are lots more effects that I could have created for the game that I see in hind sight. One example would be during the 2nd turn when the Xenos team captain used the smoke barrage stratagem. It's basically a wall of smoke that lasts for one turn providing a cover save to everything on one side of it that is shot at from the opposite side. It would have been simply to make a dozen 6" segments of smoke that could have been laid across the line where the effect would be in effect. Another option would have been for vehicles with Smoke launchers. It's these sorts of extra efforts that can really help a game come alive and really make a difference.

One thing I did learn from running this game is never assume the players will know what needs to be done in prep for the game. I don't know how many times I said "I want to start the game at noon so I'm asking people to show up between 11 and noon ready to play" figuring that people would understand that I meant for them show up with a understanding of how many points worth of models they had. But apparently that didn't translate to "showing up with points totals" for the players. As they had to sit and figure out lists and total up points till after 12:30. So if you want to start at 12, you need to list out what the players need to have done to be ready to start at 12.

Another thing I learned is that if you can avoid it, don't put all the young people on one team while having all the not-young people on the opposing team. When I did the game I separated teams based on armies being played. Imperial Guard, and Space Marines on one team. Xenos and Chaos on the other. Which would up with 3 teenagers on one side, and 3 adults on the other putting team xenos at a noticeable disadvantage. If I were to do this again with the same teams, I think I would swap The non-Ultramarines Space Marine player with the Chaos Player to help balance out the teams a bit more.

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