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Analyzing a New Way to Play (Part 2)
Armies and Battlefields
If you haven’t gotten the point yet, this section of the book then provides more examples of Apocalyptic armies (James Karach’s nicely-painted Mentor Space Marines; Richard Kemp’s Tau; Marco Schultze’s Tyranids), and mentions that special characters are perfect for these games. Yes, yes, we get the idea! Several pages offer suggestions on how to model objectives and strategic assets, paint and mark tank companies and xenos vehicles, and build command vehicles. More pages are devoted to pretty pictures of Baneblades and their cousins (the Hellhammer, the Chaos Plaguereaper, and the Ork Skullhamma), Titans, other super-heavy vehicles, and gargantuan creatures. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, as the King of Siam says in The King and I.
If you’re new to 40K, this is all well and good. If, like me, you’re a veteran gamer, there’s precious little meat in this section. My hopes rose when I flipped to page 62 and found the section, “Scratch-Built Models & Creating Your Own Datasheets”: at last, I thought, something really cool! Perhaps this section would contain revamped Vehicle Design Rules that would allow one to build custom vehicles, determine point values off some formula, and use them without your opponents’ permission.
But nooooooooooooooooo. This section’s message can be boiled down to: “If you want to make some funky models and come up with rules for them, go ahead, but don’t make what you create too powerful.” Gee, like I couldn’t have thought of that myself. And the Necron Super-Monolith on page 62 is one of the ugliest models I have ever seen in 20 years of playing 40K.
More useful (for me, anyway), is the section on battlefields. The book offers several ideas on how to build or combine several game boards to stage Apocalyptic battles while allowing players access to their models: there’s no sense in building a table so huge that you’d have to have arms like an orangutan to place models in the center. If you can’t get a large enough table, move onto the floor: Apocalypse offers several excellent suggestions for staging battles on floors (and how to avoid damaging models that might otherwise be trampled underfoot).
The “battlefields” section provides suggestions on creating terrain for Apocalypse games—given the scale of the game, one can really go to town on making some simply huge terrain pieces. The book also suggests applying themes to Apocalyptic games, such as an all-tank battle, or Eldar-vs.-Dark Eldar. The section then concludes with some really inspiring photos of Apocalyptic scenery.
For me, the only interesting thing to note about this battle report is that it was apparently done using the 3rd Edition Chaos Codex. For example, it mentions using :
Gargantuan Creatures (think Tyranid beasties or Ork Squiggoths). Apocalypse provides rules for using them in the game, but not—damn it!—any rules for making your own (a la the “Tyranid Monstrosities” rules from the 2001 Chapter Approved compilation).
Still, this section is very, very cool. Gargantuan creatures move 12" (some can move faster under certain circumstances—details to follow); can fire all of their weapons at once at different targets; and can assault a target they can reach but didn’t shoot at. Woohoo! Like Monstrous Critters, they get all kinds of hoopy bonuses to moving through terrain and smashing up vehicles. More fun, though, is that they can use a “stomp” attack against every model in close combat with it. I’m having Godzilla-inspired visions of ginormous beasties squashing whole squads under foot….
Super-Heavy Vehicles. The big differences between super-heavies and regular vehicles are that super-heavies can fire all their weapons at once at different targets, and have Structure Points that act like Wounds: you might be able to take down a Monolith with one lucky shot from a lascannon, but that’s extremely unlikely (though not impossible) to happen to a Baneblade.
This section also discusses super-heavy transports, which can carry more than one unit. Remember that scene from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace where the grav-tanks unload dozens upon dozens of droids? Yeah, like that. They can also carry units, such as Dreadnoughts and bikes and jump packers, that regular transports can’t.
The super-heavy section concludes with a damage table for these vehicles, and a cheery little thing called the “Catastrophic Damage Table,” which one uses if one’s super-heavy loses all its Structure Points. As you might imagine, rolling a “6” is bad. Very bad. Like “don’t-cross-the-streams” bad from Ghostbusters (everything in 3d6" takes a Strength 9, AP 2 hit).
Flyers are “attack craft that are employed in close support of friendly troops on the battlefield,” as page 94 explains. Flyers start off the board, in Strategic Reserve, and thus will come on at the start of Turn 2 or Turn 3, whichever the owning player prefers (the Careful Planning strategic asset can have them show up on Turn 1, if you so desire—but we’ll get into that later). Flyers are fast—really fast, moving anywhere on the table at least 36" away from where it started, making them ideal for countering fast armies (like Dark Eldar and Tyranids), or ones with a propensity for “popping up” where you don’t want them to (drop pod Marines, daemon-bomb Chaos, Necrons with Veil of Darkness).
Flyers have an easy time of shooting at folks (always count as stationary, always target side armor, ignoring terrain that might block lines of sight for other units), but are very tough to shoot at (always need a “6” to hit unless the weapon has an anti-aircraft mount; flamers and other template weapons can’t hit; ordnance weapons can’t hit; etc.). This is a good thing, as most of the flyers presented in the book (Imperial Thunderbolt, Ork Fighta-Bommer, Eldar Nightwing, etc.) have AV 10: one good hit, and they’re toast. Flyers can never be assaulted, not even by gargantuan creatures, so it’s really no surprise that King Kong lost that fight with the biplanes.
Depending on what you bring, your flyer may be able to make two funky attacks: “bombing runs” and “inferno!” Bombing runs drop a cluster of explosives on targets, using a clover-shaped template. Inferno attacks use a teardrop template that’s much bigger than the kind you use for flamers and such. Both attacks are capable of hitting and taking out a lot of dudes at once, but the rules are a little tricky. If you’re going to invest in a flyer, make sure you read page 95 carefully to get the most from your warbird.
Special Rules. This section (pages 96-97) covers features that some Apocalyptic vehicles have. A weapon with an “anti-aircraft mount,” for instance, uses its normal Ballistic Skill to target flyers instead of needing a “6” to hit. “Destroyer” weapons automatically penetrate vehicle armor, add 1 to damage rolls, and auto-wounds non-vehicle targets. Ouch. “Primary Weapons” hit really hard (always counting as ordnance for armor penetration and damage) and are harder to knock out. And so on.
This section also describes the various energy shields that certain vehicles (Titans and the like) use. It concludes with a very important page (page 97—earmark it now) that describes how one uses each of those oversized Apocalypse templates. I’ve mentioned the “Hellstorm template,” which looks like a supersized flamer template, and the “Apocalyptic Barrage template,” which looks like a huge, plastic clover (perhaps it’s an “unlucky charm”: if you find it on top of your guys, you’re Sorely Outta Luck).
There are also the “Massive Blast marker,” with a 7" diameter, and the “Apocalyptic Blast marker,” with a 10" diameter. At my local gaming store, the 5" blast marker used for Ordnance in regular 40K games is referred to as the “Pie Plate of Death.” Perhaps that name should be transferred to the 7" diameter template; the 5" can be renamed the “Saucer of Slaughter;” and the 10" can be the “Dinner Plate o’ Dooooooooom.” Regardless of the clever nicknames, prepare to see lots of guys pulled off the board whenever these things get used.
Aside from the additional rules we just discussed and the funky templates you’ll need for many of their weapons, legendary units are pretty straightforward. Battle formations are also easy to understand, but note three things:
1) A battle formation typically costs the point value of the models plus some kind of extra amount for the benefits you gain. For example, if you take a Space Marine Armored Spearhead (page 115) with three Land Raiders, you’ll pay 750 points (250 points per Land Raider) + 50 points (for using the formation) for a total of 800 points.The book then provides datasheets for every current 40K army, in this order:
Next up is the Fortress of Arrogance, the modified, personal Baneblade of Commissar Yarrick: if he’s a favorite of yours, you might want to pony up the 846 (!) points for him and his ride. What are you getting for your additional 346 points? The character of Yarrick himself, a hunter-killer missile, a pintle-mounted storm bolter, Leadership 10 (and the ability to re-roll failed Morale checks) for any IG unit within 24" so long as Yarrick is aboard, and the ability to force Orks to take a Morale check if they want to assault the Fortress. You tell me if all that is worth 346 extra points. The datasheet for the Fortress says that Yarrick must start the game inside the Fortress, but I suppose you can have him disembark whenever you want.
After that is the Hydra Flak-tank, an anti-aircraft tank which is a relative steal at 200 points. If your opponent isn’t bringing flyers, you can train the two twin-linked long-barrelled autocannons (12-72" range, S 7, AP 4, Heavy 2) at ground targets.
Next up are some IG battle formations. Ever since 2nd Edition, 40K has had some version of the IG “Armored Company,” and another version rears its head with the “Emperor’s Fist” Tanks. You can field this as a squadron (three Leman Russes or three Demolishers) or go whole-hog and take a company of three squadrons (that’s nine tanks) plus a command tank.
The benefit of the squadron is that the tanks can ignore “Crew Shaken” results so long as the command tank is mobile and the other tanks are within 6" of it. The tank company also benefits from the ability to ignore “Crew Shaken” results, and if all the tanks in the company are within 24" of the command tank—and the command tank is still mobile—they each count as scoring units even if they’re immobilized.
The weasely, Bill Belicheat-metagamer within me chortles and rubs his hands at the thought that purchasing extra armor for the tanks would reduce “Crew Stunned Results” to “Crew Shaken,” which the formation allows you to ignore. Thus, if a tank gets damaged, it will still be able to move and fire unless your opponent rolls a “Weapon Destroyed,” “Immobilized,” or “Destroyed” result—and honestly, what IG player really cares much about having a Leman Russ immobilized, anyway? As long as the big guns keep pounding, you’re good. And remember, if you take the Company, immobilized results won’t affect your tanks’ status as scoring units so long as the command tank is still mobile.
The squadron costs you 25 points in addition to the cost of the tanks; the company costs you 50 points plus what you pay for the tanks. Lemme see here: 50 points for the ability to keep 10 tanks firing? If I’m an IG player, I’m placing orders for more tanks.
Perhaps you’re the kind that would prefer to lob ordnance at the enemy. Then, my treadhead friend, the “Emperor’s Wrath” Artillery is for you. Similar to the “Emperor’s Fist,” the “Wrath” formation allows you to take a squadron of three Basilisks at the price of the models + 25 points. And what does your 25 points buy you? Only the ability to fire “spotting rounds,” which allows the other Bassies to hit the exact same spot, with no chance of deviation.
So, let’s say there’s a Havoc Squad in some serious cover, giving the rest of your IG a hard time. You fire one Bassie’s Earthshaker cannon and it hits spot on: in addition to hitting and wounding the Havocs, it also releases a “spotting round” right on the little hole in the middle of the template you just dropped on them. Now, suppose those Havocs make a bunch of their cover saves: no worries. Your other two shots from the rest of the Bassies in your squadron will land in the EXACT SAME SPOT. Sure, a squad in good cover might shrug off one Earthshaker hit—but three? I don’t think so.
The company version is three squadrons of three Bassies each, plus a command Chimera, for 50 points + the cost of the models. You still get spotting rounds, and each tank counts as a scoring unit even if immobilized, so long as the Chimera is still mobile. Nice, huh? In an evil, blow-up-everything-on-the-other-side-of-the-table way.
How about a similar formation for Sentinels? The “Emperor’s Talons” Recon Troop doesn’t come in a squadron package—you have to take a command Sentinel and three squadrons of three Sentinels each—but it offers two nice benefits, for only a 50-point markup. Benefit #1 is that “all models, controlled by the same player, that have line of sight to a model in the Recon troop count as having the Recon strategic asset.” Meaning that they can re-roll dice throughout the game for difficult and dangerous terrain checks (see page 187 for details on the Recon strategic asset).
Benefit #2 is that “once per game, any models controlled by the same player (including those in the Recon troop itself) may make a Strategic Redeployment move, which “allows any of the player’s units that are currently able to move…an unlimited distance in the Movement phase, as long as no part of the move takes place within 12" of an enemy model. Units that strategically redeploy may not shoot or assault in the same turn” (page 187). Enemy getting a bit too close to your gunline? VOOP! Redeploy everybody back to safer ground. All for 50 points more than just taking the Sentinels alone.
I don’t know how effective this next formation is, but I like it just because I have an irrational fondness for Ogryns. For 25 points + the cost of the models, the Ogryn Auxilia formation allows you to field squads upon squads of Ogryns, led by a human Command Squad and a Commissar. Better still, the Ogryns get the Scout ability, allowing them a free move before the game. The other IG formations kick butt, but the Ogryn Auxilia is just pure fun.
Space Marine Datasheets
And what good stuff there is. First up is the Thunderhawk super-heavy flyer, weighing in at 900 points. This thing is a beast, with front and side armor of 12 (a rarity for flyers, most of whom have AV 10 all around), 3 Structure Points, and enough guns to take out a small army all by its lonesome (my favorite is the Thunderhawk cannon: 72" range, S 8, AP 3, Ordnance 1, 7" blast marker—and it’s a Primary Weapon, making it difficult to take out). Not to mention that this bad boy can transport 30 models and has an assault ramp, meaning that troops can assault on the turn they disembark. Sweeter than Mardi Gras at the Playboy Mansion.
That’s it, though, for Space Marine super-heavy vehicles (although, if you have a Thunderhawk or two, what more could you ask for?). Besides, let’s be real, how many Marine players are going to hesitate to include Baneblades or Titans if they want to get some super-heavy goodness?
Next up are several battle formations, the first being the Armored Spearhead. To field this, you need at least three Land Raiders, of any kind (standard, Crusader, Helios, whatever). Similar to the IG “Emperor’s Fist,” one LR is designated as the command tank, and so long as the command tank stays mobile and the others remain within 6" of it, all of them ignore “Crew Shaken” results. Combine it with extra armor (which comes standard on the Crusader, anyway), and you ignore “Crew Stunned” results, too (hmmmm…this sounds familiar for some reason…).
This formation works best, methinks, with having 3+ Crusaders, which can slog forward, unleashing all kinds of righteous firepower on the enemy before disgorging assault troops. All for 50 points + the cost of the models. I don’t know that I would bother using this with regular Land Raiders, but then, I’ve never been very impressed with regular Land Raiders. While on the subject of Land Raiders, you can find the Terminus Ultra LR datasheet on the GW Website. Equipped with three sets of twin-linked lascannons plus two more, you could get five lascannon shots per round. Boooyah! While my initial instinct is to complain that the additional datasheets weren’t included in the book, I am excited about the prospect of more datasheets being added to supplement the existing ones.
Next is the Suppression Force, a less expensive formation than the Armored Spearhead, but comparably nasty. To field this, you need a Land Speeder (any kind) and 2-5 Whirlwinds (this is one of the few formations that puts an upper limit on how many vehicles you can bring). For 25 points + the price of the models (85 points minimum for each Whirlie, 50 points minimum for a Speeder), the formation allows the Speeder to act as a spotter for the Whirlwinds. In game terms, if the Speeder has line of sight to a target within 36", the Whirlwinds can fire on that target (at an “unlimited range”) and can re-roll Scatter dice for hitting it.
It’s not entirely clear what shooting options the Land Speeder has: the text doesn’t say that the Speeder can fire on the target as well, but I would assume so; perhaps it works like a searchlight lighting up an enemy tank. The text also doesn’t say that the Speeder can’t shoot at a different target from the one the Whirlwinds are going after, but this rule-lawyer interpretation wanders into “Don’t Go There” territory: when in doubt on a rule, I prefer to “don’t go there,” and instead use a more conservative interpretation.
Like Vindicators? I know a fellow who uses three in his army and named his chapter after them. If you’re like him, you’ll love the Line Breaker Squadron: three or more Vindies, at 100 points + the tanks themselves. And what do you get for your money? The “Combined Fire” benefit: if three or more Vindies fire at the same target, use the 10" “Dinner Plate o’ Dooooooooom” at S 10, AP 2 to represent the blast. This also does all kinds of bad things to terrain features (see page 117 for details). Nice.
Page 117 also has a curious textbox that says:
The page with the text in question
Uh, huh. This makes me ask the following:
Anyhoo. Moving along, we come, as I mentioned, to the Masters of the Chapter formation, at 200 points + the cost of the models. To field this, you need a Chapter Master: if you play Ultramarines, you’d use Marneus Calgar; if you play Blood Angels, you’d use Dante, and so on. I assume that if you’ve made your own Chapter, you just use a character you’ve designated as your Chapter Master, and that this person need not be a “special character” like Marneus, et al.
You also need four Masters, senior leaders in the same chapter. The Masters have the stats of Space Marine Commanders “or equivalent,” the books says. I assume (there I go, again) that examples of “or equivalent” would be Black Templar Marshals or Space Wolf Wolf Lords, not Librarians or Chaplains.
The organization chart on page 118 indicates that a Command Squad must be attached to the Chapter Master; the text under “Formation” simply says that one Command Squad or Terminator Squad must be present. Presumably, if your Chapter Master is in power armor, he takes a Command Squad; if he’s in Terminator armor, he takes a Termie Squad (not a Terminator Command Squad?). The book doesn’t say you can’t mix and match armor styles, but in the spirit of “Don’t Go There,” I would stick with what you do when you field Marines in regular 40K games.
The Masters are then attached to this unit, making a “super-unit” of the Chapter Master, his bodyguards, and his four subordinate officers. Again, I don’t know if it’s kosher or not to mix power armor and Terminator armor: if I ever use this formation, everyone in the “super-unit” will have the same type. At the very least, it will prevent questions about majority armor saves, movement after winning close combats (consolidate, or sweeping advance?), etc. Keep it simple. You have enough to keep straight in a game this size. Also bear in mind that clumping all these guys together into a “super-unit” presents your opponent with a nigh-irresistible opportunity to fire great big guns (possibly with the “Emperor’s Wrath” Artillery) at your main guys in an attempt to take them all out at once.
So what does all this get you? So long as these guys are alive, you gain the Ambush, Precision Strike, Orbital Bombardment, and Surgical Raids strategic assets. I’ll examine each strategic asset in the last article in this series, but for now, trust me when I tell you these are Good Things: Ambush alone could be worth the points you pay. If you can’t wait for the last article in this series to come out, go see pages 187 and 189.
Finally, the Space Marines have the Battle Company formation:
And what does bringing these guys, plus chipping in another 200 points, get you? The strategic assets Hold at All Costs, Careful Planning, and Orbital Bombardment. Orbital is nice, but the other two alone are worth the price. Trust me on that: Wicked Uncle Kenton will explain in further detail in the last article.
If you have the figures for it and you really want to put a hurt on someone, I suggest you take the formations Masters of the Chapter and Battle Company in the same fight. It’s a lot of points, to be sure (especially the 400 points “overhead” you’d shell out), but you would have some nasty, nasty strategic assets at your disposal (seven more than you would normally).
The trick to taking both formations is that you’d want to be facing off against someone with about the same amount of points to spend. There’s no use in jacking your point total into the stratosphere if that means your opponent will gain heaps of assets because of the difference in points. But if you’re bringing, say, 8,000 points and he’s bringing 8,000 points, you may want to go for this.
Next time out, I'll go through the datasheets for the Orks, the Eldar, and the rest of the Imperial forces.
Posted December 2007. Apocalypse images are copyright 2007 by Games Workshop or Forgeworld and are used for review purposes.
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