Better Maelstrom Missions– Schemes of War

With Chapter Approved on the way, I thought it would be a great time to talk about a mission from White Dwarf that I hope gets reprinted in it. Introducing (or re-introducing, if you’ve read the issue); Schemes of War.

The full rules are in this issue

Originally published in June’s White Dwarf this year, Schemes of War is a Maelstrom mission. I know many people aren’t fans of Maelstrom missions and the Tactical Objective cards. I can hear the groans of “Random cards are terrible” and “Harness the Warp plus T’au is an auto-lose” already, but hear me out. What if I told you that this mission fixes those problems and brings fun back to the mission type?

How I look when I’m deck building. Or army building. Or whenever I think I’m being smart really…

What really makes this stand out from regular Maelstrom missions is the changes it makes to the Objective deck. Rather than simply grabbing your usual deck, you actually use those cards to build yourself an eighteen card deck. Running a Black Templers list? Don’t put in Harness the Warp. Fragile, yet mobile units? Don’t take the Defend cards.

You get the point. The deck customization removes a lot of the cards you can’t normally score. My regular opponent plays Necrons, so I know I can safely remove Witch Hunter. He also knows that I field vehicles maybe one game in twenty, so Big Game Hunter is a safe bet to take out. It’s led to much closer scoring on our games, with victory feeling a lot less dependent on the cards you draw. I’ve tried different deck configurations for different armies, and only had a couple of bad moments. Sometimes you gamble on keeping a card in and your opponent doesn’t field any units it affects. Other times, you draw the Secure objectives in the wrong order.

I don’t actually have a funny comment for this one

There are a couple of things to help with those problems though. Firstly, you maintain a hand of five cards and only choose three to make active at the start of each turn. This gives you even more control over what cards you play. You can even play one facedown, leaving your opponent guessing your plans. This alone has been key to scoring the Defend Objective cards as your opponent can’t easily work out which one you are going for, assuming good positioning. Re-drawing once you have the three in play, allows you to start planning for the next turn as well.

Secondly, it has a few mission-specific Stratagems. These allow you to manipulate both your hand and deck, at the cost of precious Command Points. You probably won’t feel the need to use them often, especially at the cost of your other Stratagems, but their existence is nice for when you still manage to get the worst possible draw. It’s more opportunity to minimize the usual Maelstrom variance.

This tried to be fun but missed the mark

I guess at this point, if you’ve made it past me extolling the virtues of this mission, you are wondering why you should try it over other game types. If you want tournament practice, then ITC missions are a better bet. Maybe you prefer playing the Eternal War missions, as they are your local Tournament Organizers preference for events. So why should you try this game type?

Where this excels is less-competitive games against your friends. For your regular, weekly game. ITC has a lot to track, although there are Apps/score sheets that help. Eternal War missions can punish certain army builds. The classic Maelstrom decks are too random. And as for Open War…

The Open War deck was a nice idea, but the games can be ruined by some of the Twist cards. Have you ever taken out your opponent’s key unit, only for them to play their Twist and put it back on the table, at full health? Or gotten the Twist that incentives you to get your Warlords killed, so your whole army gets +1 to Wound rolls? Being on the wrong side of those can be very unfun, especially if the difference in Power Level between the armies wasn’t that great.

For a simple extra set-up step of building a deck alongside your army, this mission gives a lot of fun and replayability. It’s become the default way I play with my friends unless people are looking for specific tournament practice. Hopefully, it sees a reprint in Chapter Approved so that people that missed the magazine can have a chance to try it out.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About Judge Lando

A dashing man, with a dapper cape, yell "JUDGE!" and he will appear to answer your rules questions. Or, more likely, check arc and range...

11 Responses to “Better Maelstrom Missions– Schemes of War”

  1. Michael Corr
    Michael Corr December 4, 2019 7:03 am #

    I love the new schemes of war rules. Have been using them in a few games since they were released and they are a big boost for maelstrom (one of my favourite ways to play anyway).

  2. Faitherun
    Faitherun December 4, 2019 9:05 am #

    I love what these cards do for the game play. It’s a fun alternative way, and I refuse now to do maelstrom any other way. Been wanting to try a few itc style missions with them, using the deck to replace all the secondaries but keeping the rest the same. Needs more playtesting thoguh

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    Dakkath December 4, 2019 12:55 pm #

    This actually seems like a fun war to use maelstrom

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    WestRider December 4, 2019 2:45 pm #

    Yeah, the Scheme of War rules are a great modification to the Maelstrom Missions.

    One thing I ran across that has helped greatly with the Open War Missions, tho, is to draw three cards for each category, and then each Player nixes one of them. We do the same thing in WarCry as well, and it really helps weed out some of the unbalanced games. Also, there are a few that we’ve just pulled from the decks, because one Player or the other 86s them every time.

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      happy_inquisitor December 5, 2019 10:17 am #

      Open war is a really good way to learn to play the game as it throws up all sorts of unexpected challenges to push you out of your comfort zone.

      I am 100% with the idea of drawing 3 cards and each player gets to discard one – then if you really want to push yourself you discard whichever card would be in your favor and try to play in hard mode.

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        WestRider December 5, 2019 5:08 pm #

        Yeah, we’ve definitely had times where it was “I’m going to toss this one, even tho it would make the game easier for me, because it’s going to be a more interesting/fun game with the other.”

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    winterman December 5, 2019 9:54 am #

    Based on Chapter Approved reviews, not only is Schemes of War in the book, the 6 new Maelstrom missions are all built as schemes of war variants. Source: goonhammer

    Sounds like a cool mechanic, haven’t played em but seems way better.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr December 5, 2019 11:35 am #

      I’m looking forward to seeing what the new missions entail. Big fan of the previous missions and hope these continue to improve them.

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    abusepuppy December 5, 2019 10:21 am #

    It seems like an awful lot of nested rules to try and fix something that wasn’t actually very good in the first place.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr December 5, 2019 11:33 am #

      You may not be a fan of maelstrom games, but a lot of people enjoy them and love playing the game that way. These are just some additional rules to give you different ways to play the game.

      Just because they are not ITC missions, doesn’t mean they are bad.

    • Faitherun
      Faitherun December 5, 2019 2:22 pm #

      I actually find it to be less nested rules than ITC. It is a different way to play, and I feel actually would lend itself to a more competitive setting with the new way of playing. I was very interested in this when it came out in June and have been thinking a lot about it since

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