Stage Managing the Apocalypse: Mega Battles in 9th Edition

Hi All,
Recently I organized my club’s first apocalypse battle in 9th edition. As we get started I must note that we elected to use the 9th ed rule set (although somewhat modified) rather then the specific Apocalypse rules.

The following is a synopsis of the event, alongside my reflections on what worked well and what did not. Also here is a gallery of the pictures from this event

Set up:
The game comes at the mid-way point of our crusade campaign. As such, I allowed all players to include crusade units in their 5K rosters (though they needed to pay a 10 pt per crusade level tax). The board set up was a 16″ long board roughly 5″ wide with three objectives spaced out evenly. The goal of each team was to take the other’s home base and control the middle objective which represented a vital bridge (15 for controlling your opponent’s base, 10 for the bridge, 2 for your home objective and 2 bonus options). One wrinkle to this game is that the deployment was a hammer and anvil deployment with each team setting up 24″ away from the central objective. The teams were also allowed to outflank any unit that was in a non-titanic transport up to 40% of their army (units with no transport could outflank any unit but only up to 30% of their total force). In order to make things easier players did not start with CP and could not generate them except through crusade relics or other abilities. There were a few mission wrinkles for the game as well. I created an option for people who only wanted to come part of the day to participate by completing a strikeforce mission. These players would deepstrike or outflank their army and then they chose 2 of the 3 options and if they completed them then each player on their team would gain 1 CP. At the end of the round they would pull their army and get to choose to play another round or go home if they didn’t have time. Additionally, I also created a series of fun bonus mission cards for the players. There were a total of 24 cards with 2 of each kind (you can see them attached) these represented the personal desires of their commanders and would serve as a tie breaker if there was no clear winner. I have attached them below feel free to use them yourself or to comment on any you think are great or terrible!

I tried to balance the teams as best I could given both narrative limitations and the super heavies present (which is difficult when someone brings a phantom titan haha).

The teams rolled off and took turns deploying, each team had 15 min to deploy per player with excess time being rolled over into the next team member’s deployment allotment (I encouraged people to help their team members deploy to speed things up.

The Game:
I tried something some thing a little different for the turn order for this event. Each player donated a die to their team’s activation bag which were rolled at the beginning of each side’s turn. The two dice that rolled the highest would indicate which players would conduct their turn. I adopted this to mitigate the ones-side-goes-and kills-half-the-enemy-army syndrome common apoc games and because players submitted dice of different sizes meaning that someone could choose who went next if they were drawn from the bag. A few hiccups arose when the one player who was completing a strikeforce mission decided to play for the whole event (thus unbalancing the teams) and another player showed up late. For the first issue I resolved it by having this player switch sides for each turn thus balancing out his impact. For the second (since the board was so congested) the player suggested he become a third faction of all-bike orks just causing havoc, I also offered to join him in this role with my Eldar and DE and everyone else agreed to this situation. In order to account for us we outflanked our entire forces and were allowed to come in within 6″ of an enemy unit (more reflections on this later). We also ruled that any titanic units that were slain on the first round before activating would get a full turn of activation regardless as they were too awesome not to contribute.

All told the event lasted from deployment at 10:00 AM to the end of clean up at 7:45, with breaks for lunch and dinner. We were able to get 3 rounds in and the game was pretty much decided at that point. Everyone seemed to have a good time, we did have to adapt to one player leaving early (I shuffled the strikeforce player onto the team losing their player and another player subbed in 2 of his extra knights to compensate for ones that were in crucial locations). We ended up abandoning the random player turns in the second round as it was taking too long but I have some ideas on how to adapt it. During the first turn, the armies were too far apart for many units to have a major impact and so we adapted an “all units move twice” rule that also allowed units to deepstrike and then move, which was a little wacky.

Post-Game Reflections:
What worked well: Overall everyone had a good time and the game was very close until the final round. The players seemed to enjoy the bonus missions a lot, the Tau player hung out on the imperial void shield generator to learn about it’s tech, two players were hunting for parrots and two players eulogized their losses via haiku. The strikeforce missions seemed balanced and while they were never achieved, the player came close and was playing more to kill things then to score them. While it did cause some jankiness, the unaligned third team did a good job disrupting backfields and evening up the teams (including a crucial kill on the Phantom Titan) since players did not outflank many units and the phantom wrecked a lot of super-heavy vehicles. At the end of the battle there were roughly 4 titanic units on the board, one scorpion tank I forgot to bring on until turn 3, two knights and one very battered Seraptek Heavy Construct. Also I want to thank one player: Alan for his tremendous generosity loaning out the Seraptek, two knights, the scorpion and offering players (including his opponents) many other units for the game. I think such camaraderie is a big reason the day went so well.

What didn’t work well: Well no one is perfect, and there are a few things that I tried with little success. Firstly I had the armies deployed way too far apart, I was thinking 24″ from each other was a good distance but accidentally said 24″ apart from the objective. This caused the team who went first to not be able to shoot much and instead charge right into the enemy gun range. It also allowed the Phantom to easily pop enemy superheavies while they were too far away to engage. The random player activations ended up slowing things down a bit and caused a snafu where one player deployed a screen of poxwalkers out front and then went last bottling up his entire team’s movement. The creation of a third team was also awkward as it became an almost “we decide who wins” faction. In order to combat this we mainly focused on killing each team’s superheavies and trying to even up the game. This became even more necessary as the phantom titan was taking over quickly and the opposing team had no way to deal with it after turn 1. This third team also slowed down the game too by adding in extra inefficiencies.

Moving Forward: So for my next event in February I decided to make some modifications. I will keep the bonus missions and strikeforce options as I believe that worked well. For the turn order I will have teams move as one but randomize the shooting between players (eg. Team 1 moves, Team 2 moves, T1 random player shoots, T2 random player shoots ,etc, Team 1 Assault and fight phase, Team 2 Assault and fight phase). I also plan on removing any third teams as I am optimistic we can get 4 rounds in without them. I also plan on starting the teams 18″ apart to mitigate the T1 shooting range advantage.

All in all, the key thing is people had a great time and we set the stage for future apocalypse events. As a treat here are the Bonus-Mission haikus submitted by the players in honor of their most valuable units lost during the game

Justin mourning the loss of his Command Barge Overlorad who fell to Chaos Terminators
Peter’s Ta’unar was consumed in a single turn

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