After what seemed like a long drought with regard to releases, June was a busy month, giving us both new Maelstrom rules that we really like, and also new Apocalypse rules that we’re big fans of. While individual battle reports don’t normally merit a full post, I thought it might be good to combine a few of them into one big post talking about the new game systems and our experiences with them. Also, if One_Wing can post a bunch of tournament reports, I may as well post a few reports about the games I played between beers in various basements and game stores.
To start off, I’ll talk about a game I played using the new Maelstrom Rules. We’ve already talked about these and how to play with them, and then we talked about how to build decks with them. The game itself was pretty short, but was a lot of fun overall and I felt like I got a good feel for the new rules. They whip ass, and they’re a huge improvement over the original rules in the core rulebook. Games Workshop, if you’re listening: Make these the default Maelstrom rules for 9th edition. Thanks.
Game 1: World Eaters vs. Necrons, 1,500 points
Mission: Maelstrom of War – Decapitation Strike
The interesting thing to note with the Decapitation Strike mission is that every time you lose a Character, you have to discard an active tactical objective.
Detachment – World Eaters Battalion (5 CP, 2,000 points)
- HQ: Daemon Prince with Wings and 2x Malefic Talons, Talisman of Burning Blood
- HQ: Kharn the Betrayer
- HQ: Exalted Champion w/Power Axe
- Elites: 5x Terminators w/3x Lightning Claws, 1 Reaper Autocannon, 1 Power Axe
- Troops: 9x Berserkers w/Chainaxe + Chainsword, Icon, Power Axe
- Troops: 9x Berserkers w/Chainaxe + Chainsword, Icon, Power Axe
- Troops: 10x Cultists w/Autogun
- Dedicated Transport: Rhino
- Fast Attack: 8x Bikes w/Meltagun, Power Axe
- Heavy Support: Land Raider
I’m not trying to get fancy with this list. I’d already played all my campaign games for the round and so wanted to get away from my Black Legion for a bit. In times like these, I like to mix things up and just use fightmans to punch things to death. Hence, the World Eaters. With +1 A on the charge, Berserkers come in at 4 attacks each, 3 with axes and 1 with the sword, and fighting twice just doubles that pain to hilarious lengths. The Land Raider was a bit of an afterthought: I originally wanted it as a transport for the Terminators, then realized I’d be better off using them to deep strike onto an objective or get Linebreaker, and couldn’t afford a second Rhino, so I put Kharn and his Berserkers in the Land Raider instead.
My Maelstrom Deck
For my Maelstrom deck, I decided to heavy up on as many of the “kill” objectives as possible. We were using the faction cards, which gave me a few more options, and allowed me to cast aside the “hold objective” cards that otherwise wouldn’t benefit my strategy with regard to surging forward and murdering everything in close combat. I also took everything that rewarded me for getting out of my deployment zone and into the opponent’s.
- Secure objective 1-6
- Overwhelming Firepower
- Blood and Guts
- No Prisoners
- Scour the Skies
- Big Game Hunter
- For the Dark Gods!
- Rise to Glory
- Claim and Despoil
My Opponent’s Army
Detachment – Sautekh Battalion (5 CP, 2,000 points)st
- HQ: Autekh the Unfading
- HQ: Cryptek
- Troops: Immortals x10
- Troops: Warriors x10
- Fast Attack: Destroyers x6
- Fast Attack: Wraiths x3
- Heavy Support: Doomsday Ark
- Heavy Support: Doomsday Ark
- Flyer: Night Scythe
Dan was never big on capturing objectives, and so opted to take Secure 1-6 followed by everything he could that asked him to kill something.
- Secure Objective 1-6
- Hold the Line
- Overwhelming Firepower
- Blood and Guts
- No Prisoners
- Area Denial
- Witch Hunter (He didn’t know I was bringing World Eaters and that they had no psykers)
- Big Game Hunter
- Endless Legions
- Dust and Ashes
- Age of the Machine
- Slaughter the Living
Objectives: This is surprisingly important with the new Maelstrom rules! Because I was planning on running forward with everything, I put all three of my objective markers outside my deployment zone. If I did draw “Advance,” I wanted to make sure it was easy to get and in-line with my strategy of “run forward and smash face.”
The Armies: I lost the roll-off, which meant deploying first and (hopefully) going first. I put the Terminators in a teleporter and dropped everything on the table. I decided I’d have the bikes advance and claim the objective on the structure to the right, and I’d have the Daemon prince claim the objective mid-left. The cultists would advance and take the objective right in front of them, depending on what I drew.
Dan dropped his Doomsday Arks where they could catch anything in the crossfire, then hid his Destroyers (like a coward) and placed his Wraiths on a collision course with my bikes. That was gonna suck. Dan tends to overrate the survivability and killiness of his Wraiths, and underrates the output of Berserkers, so I was counting on him not being cautious enough with his army.
The good news is that Dan did not successfully seize the initiative, which gave me the opportunity to race out and wreck house.
I drew a grip of five objectives and played Scour the Skies, hoping to take down the Night Scythe, Secure Objective 1, and Big Game Hunter face-down. I figured if I couldn’t take out the Scythe with the Land Raider, I’d want to keep my BGH objective secret. If I could, I’d score both of them at once.
I advanced the bikes up the middle of the board to capture Objective 1, and pushed the Land Raider up alongside them. I put the Daemon Prince and the Cultists in cover where they could be on objectives in case I needed them, and then pushed my Rhino full of Berserkers up as well, popping smoke to make it harder to hit. This is where things went very right for me – the Land Raider popped off 4 lascannon shots at the Night Scythe and scored 4 hits, resulting in 3 wounds that went unsaved and did 15 damage, blowing the thing out of the sky immediately. Turn 1 and I’ve already scored all three objectives. I also score a point for killing a unit on my first turn. Nice!
Dan, to his credit, was annoyed but unfazed by this. Night Scythes are notoriously fragile. He plays his objectives – an Endless Legions and Age of the Machine face-up, plus another face down. That’s fine, I’m not planning to let him have many Reanimation Protocols rolls this game if I can help it. It turned out to also be Big Game Hunter.
Using his Destroyers, he takes out 5 of my bikers, then brings his Wraiths to clear out the rest. He also brought both stationary Doomsday Arks to bear on my Land Raider and clears it off the board, but I’m lucky enough that it doesn’t explode. I lose a Berserker in the incident, but manage to get the disembarking unit into cover. This will be his downfall. He charges the bikes and the Berserkers. I “heroically” intervene with Kharn.
Kharn manages to only kill 1 Berserker and between them fighting 4 times, they wipe out the three Wraiths with little issue. They proceed to consolidate forward, and now the Destroyers are pretty much screwed.
End of T1, Dan scores Age of the Machine and Big Game Hunter, plus he wiped out a unit on T1 so the score is just 4-3 right now.
The slaughter continues. I draw new cards and play Advance and Blood and Guts face up, then play Kingslayer face down. I want to kill Dan’s Warlord anyways, but I don’t want him to know that I’m gonna get VP for it yet. The other two are basically gimmes, though. I charge forward with Kharn and his merry band of shitty thugs. The key to doing combat with Kharn the Betrayer is to get him away from your Berserkers, then either use his second pile in or consolidate move to get within 1″ of them before they fight, so you can impart his re-roll hits aura onto them without risking them dying every time he swings. I deep strike my Terminators to a corner of the table they can reach, hoping to wipe out the Immortals and take on the Doomsday Ark. I can’t stop it from shooting since it has fly, but I can make its shooting really bad by forcing it to move. I also pop the other Berserkers out of their rhino and move them to charge the Necron Warriors, and I advance my winged Daemon Prince behind Dan’s Warlord, Autekh. The DP has a relic – the Talisman of Burning Blood – that lets him Advance and Charge in the same turn.
Things go well. The Berserkers and Exalted Champion wipe out the Warriors and Cryptek, Kharn and his Berserkers lose a model to Destroyer overwatch but take out the Destroyers by fighting a third time, and the Terminators hit their charge, kill the Immortals, and consolidate into the Doomsday Ark. The only thing that didn’t go to plan was Lord Autekh surviving, but he’s tougher than a regular Necron Overlord thanks to the campaign special abilities he’s got (wound rolls of a 1, 2, or 3 always fail against him). Turn ends and I score Blood and Guts and Advance for my trouble.
Dan’s turn and there’s not much left for him to do. He plays Blood and Guts and No Prisoners face up, picks off a few Berserkers with his Doomsday Ark, fails to do much to the Daemon Prince and, with Kharn and his Berserkers bearing down on him, concedes. It’s 7-3 at this point and there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to table him anyways. A short game, but we both agree the new Maelstrom rules are way better.
There’s not a ton to say here. Dan’s an aggressive player and likes to overestimate his Wraiths’ durability, particularly when he forgets that I can come in and swing with a bunch of S6 attacks. By not keeping me at arm’s length and using the Wraiths to tarpit rather than act as agressors, he gave me an easy path to sweeping through his mans and paid the iron price. Rest in Peace, robot fuckos.
Game 2: Apocalypse (4,000 Points Per Side)
Mission: Race to Destruction
Coming into Saturday, we had a campaign event day planned for my lads in the Astradus Campaign. We were gonna bring 1,000 point armies and kill teams down to Third Eye Games in Annapolis (an excellent game store, would highly recommend. Good people, good tables, clean space) and play a Kill Team narrative event (that’s a topic for another post), and a bunch of 2v2 team games. Unfortunately, it turned out we were bad at planning, and an AoS tournament was using all but one of the tables that day. So instead we said “fuck it” and decided that with eight of us, we’d play one big 4,000 point-per-side game of Apocalypse 40k instead using the new rules. Big shout-out to pwong for buying a copy of Apocalypse there for us to use.
OK so this wasn’t ideal in a few ways. For one, we had to split the cards. That wasn’t too bad, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Second, we didn’t build lists for Apocalypse — we just took our 1,000-point armies and used those and assumed they were roughly equal (I have no idea if they were, but that’s why this says “4,000 points” instead of “400 power” or whatever). Third, this was our first game of Apocalypse, and we weren’t quite 100 percent on the team rules, so we did one-at-a-time detachment activation, instead of activating one detachment per player on each team at the same time.
OK, all that said, the game was a total blast. We paired up as Imperials vs. Chaos and Xenos scum, so on one side it was Guard and Custodes, Deathwatch, Space Wolves, and Dark Angels. On the other side it was my Black Legion, two Ork players running Deathskulls, and a Tau player. Each of us tried to split our forces up into multiple detachments, so we could avoid order mismatches, which would be likely to happen if you had a melee unit in the same detachment as a shooting unit.
Building the Command Asset Decks
In team games of Apocalypse, players use a shared Command Asset deck, which means that you need to make sure you’re building with all of your players in mind. What we did was hand the faction decks to each player and say “pick the cards you want to have,” with an eye toward balancing based on number of players. For example, our Tau player got to pick up to 6 Tau cards, but the Orks could have up to 15 of our 30 since those could get used by two players. We built a deck that went heavy on combat buffs and light on psychic powers, since I was the only player with a psyker, and I only had one.
We only had an 8×4′ table, so we opted to make deployment zones only 6″ in to compensate for the lack of width, since Race to Destruction calls for 36″ between starting forces. We started off pressing forward with everything, while the Imperial players mostly watched us walk over and shot us up. In retrospect, this was not the best strategy.
Something that immediately became clear was that the Apocalypse datasheets are not the best at communicating what units have, which led to some moments where one of our Ork players only shot half the guns on his Gorkanauts because he didn’t realize they had twice as many guns as the stats listed (the full list of guns was at the top of the sheet). That’s something to keep in mind.
There was a lot going on in this game, so I’m going to just recap some key moments and thoughts from the game:
- The Combat Pile of Raptors and Berserkers
My Raptors managed to survive some first-turn shooting by rolling a 6 on one of their two big blast marker saves, then I was able to heal them with a Command Asset at the start of the following turn and charge in with them against Felime’s Custodes. This was neat, but didn’t go particularly well. My Berserkers, on the other hand, mulched a unit of Custodes. Getting 4x for the Attacks count is really good. Basically a reason to bring Spartans and Mastodons. Just load those bastards full of Berserkers.
Also, note that units can’t assault out of vehicle using a Move action in Apocalypse. That is, when you disembark, you can put the unit within 6″ of the vehicle and that’s their move. If that puts them into base-to-base contact with an enemy, then they can fight that unit with a melee attack. So Assaulting out of a vehicle is doable, but requires a bit of planning since the vehicle can’t have moved yet and you can’t use the Order to give them double movement.
- Morale is Crazy Powerful and Cost Us a Gorkanaut
Holy shit morale is a big deal in Apocalypse. As you remove blast markers from a unit, you roll a D6 and add the number of markers. If it’s above your unit’s Ld value, you take another wound. Most units have Ld 5 or 6, which means it’s really, really easy to take an extra wound and lose a unit if you have to remove multiple blast markers. Turn 1, we lost a Gorkanaut to morale. It survived the initial volley of shooting with 1 wound left, then we rolled a 5 for its Ld test and lost it. This is also a big reason to bring massive infantry blobs and max out those 20-man Chaos Marine squads.
- The Chaostodes Spawn
My favorite moment of the game was when my Sorcerer cast Gift of Chaos on the Custodes Shield-Captain. Gift of Chaos is a Psychic Power Command Asset and allows you to turn an enemy character into a Chaos Spawn if you roll a 10+ on a D12. I didn’t, but I did have a Divine Intervention Command Asset, which meant I could turn one die roll into whatever I wanted. So that Shield Captain suddenly found himself turned into a writhing, angry Chaos Spawn. Eat shit, Custodes!
On a deckbuilding note, Divine Intervention probably belongs in every single Command Asset deck you make.
- Dwindling Command Assets
Warlords matter. A lot. Both sides started with enough Warlords to draw up to 10 cards per turn, but the Imperial players were able to pick off a bunch of our Warlords early, cutting us way down in how many Command Assets we drew. By turn 3, they had a full grip and we were working with 4 cards. Not great!
- The Gorkanaut Switcheroo
We had a pretty fun moment at the start of Turn 3. SD47’s Space Wolves Land Raider only had a couple of Wounds left and was in easy Advance-to-fight range of our last Gorkanaut, giving us the ability to issue the Advance Command to let it charge the Land Raider and destroy it in melee while the detachment’s two Deff Dreads cut up some Custodes. We also had the Initiative, and were ready to rumble. But wait–! Our enemies played the Enemy Vox-Net Subverted Command Asset, allowing them to change the Orders of any one detachment that hadn’t acted. They chose to change the Gorkanaut’s detachment orders to Aimed Fire, meaning that it couldn’t move but would get +1 to shoot. BUT WAIT! We had the Signal the Advance Command Asset, which let us change the orders of a detachment to Advance, letting us switch them back to continue our charge. Fuck that land Rai–BUT WAIT! They then played the Seize the Initiative Command Asset, allowing them to well, seize the initiative for the turn, letting them activate the Land Raider and move it out of charge range for the Gorkanaut.
This was an incredibly fun, cool exchange and it was neat to see several cards flying. This was an ideal interaction for the new Command Assets, as far as I can tell. Though it does raise some questions about order of operations and how to handle responding to assets with other assets.
- Barbatos Getting Murdered
ANAmal.net’s campaign warmaster was recently killed by his own Plasma gun (again) and he asked to re-roll his warmaster. I’ve been letting players do this for Round 4 since some of the warmasters are pretty bad and so I agreed, but on the condition that he had to make Barbatos into a Chaplain Dreadnought. Well, Barbatos made his debut in our game of Apocalypse, and was promptly murdered. Though he did wreck some Ork vehicles.
- Movement Trays are Cool and Good
The only player who didn’t use them was our Custodes player, cause he had like 9 dudes. Also I took one of my squads out of theirs to garrison the wall of martyrs trench line. Otherwise, they worked great and helped speed things up immensely. I’m very pro-trays and the GW ones give you enough per package as to be competitive with other options, which is good.
Overall, the game took us an hour to set up, including punching out tokens, sorting cards and building decks, plus 3 minutes to deploy, and then about 2 and a half hours to play 3 turns, after which we could have played a fourth but decided to call it. 2.5 hours for a 4,000-point game with eight players where we were using the rules for the first time! That is amazing. I am incredibly on board for the new Apocalypse rules and plan to have many more of them for the players in my campaign. There’s definitely some wonky, random stuff (some of the cards seem crazy overpowered and I don’t love rolling for warmaster traits), but overall I really liked the system and I’m excited to dig into the strategy of the game a bit more and try some 1v1 and 2v2games.