Hello again! This is a follow-up to my last post, wherein I talked about the big ending to the campaign I’ve been running and the game setup. If you’re interested in the mechanics of this five-player game and the thought process behind setup, I’d recommend checking out that post before you dive into the big battle report here. That said, it’s not necessary to read that one first or anything.
To celebrate the end of the Paulus campaign, we played a bigass game of APOCALYPSE. Five teams, each with between 6k and 8k points, vying for supremacy on a battlefield set on a 10×4′ table. There’s a lot to cover, so I’m gonna try and keep it brisk and readable.
Because we needed to get more than 6 players on board with the game in advance, everyone knew about this big finale more than a month out. So everyone had time to prepare for the game. It hadn’t really occurred to me that people would buckle down and get shit done for the game, but they really did, prepping and painting up until the last minute, which led to a very cool armies-on-parade feel to the game before we got started. Also, mad props to BuffaloChicken for putting out the order to have all minis assembled and primed for the game–that really helped, I feel.
Anyways, let’s run through the armies:
Chaos (Chaos Space Marines, Questor Traitoris, Daemons, Chaos Titans) ~ 8,000 points
The Chaos army was a mix of titans and daemons, mostly. I brought a Warhound, two Renegade Knights, a pair of armigers, a Hellwright, 3 Helbrutes, a Sicaran, a Vindicator, a Heldrake, two Forgefiends, and a Fire Raptor. The Daemon portion had a pair of Great Unclean Ones, a Bloodthirster, a Lord of Change, 4 Daemon Princes (2 Nurgle, 1 Tzeentch, 2 Khorne), a Burning Chariot of Tzeentch, and a Renegade Knight (Cthulu there in the photo).
Of note here is Brandon’s second Great Unclean One, which is made from the leftover parts of his other GUO and a wraithknight. Lore-wise, Brandon is making his daemon army primarily Nurgle, and his daemons are all visualized as the corruptions of other units or beings. So the concept here is a Wraithlord corrupted and possessed by a Great Unclean One that’s slowly expanding out from its wraithbone corpse.
Imperials (Adeptus Mechanicus, Knights, Dark Angels, Salamanders, and Titans
ANAmal.net brought a warhound he just finished assembling and priming plus a knight and some Dark Angels that included a couple of land raiders, some terminators and two jets, The Admech brought a bunch of knights and a pair of dunecrawlers, and BuffaloChicken’s brother brought a land raider full of terminators, a predator, a levaithan, a knight, and a dreadnought. Oh, and also Guilliman, but he uses Vulkan for his counts-as. Dude did a great job on the Vulkan model, too:
The smallest force of the game was the Necron entry, a mix of Merton Blask’s Necrons and those of our friend Dan. They were behind on campaign points, but made up for their handicap with enthusiasm. Oh and also a pair of Gauss Pylons. Those too. Their army also included a Tesseract Vault, a bunch of C’Tan, some Catacomb Command Barges, and quite a few destroyers.
The campaign leader, the Tau player brought a goddamn Tau’nar, 3 riptides, a Y’Vharna, a bunch of broadsides, a bunch of hammerheads, a Tiger Shark, a Ghostkeel, a Stormsurge, a pair of Crisis commanders, and a bunch of drones. This was the list everyone was terrified of before the game and brother, lemme tell you: The shooting that army could put out was goddamn insane.
BuffaloChicken’s forces used a mix of tyranids and cult guard, plus a knight. His list included a lot of godzilla bugs, including a shitload of Carnifexes, Hive Tyrants, Exocrines, and Venomthropes, plus a Dimacheron. There was also a Barbed Heirodule in there, which, along with the knight and the valkyrie, would come back as reinforcements during the game. It’s just a lot of meaty bugs ready to put in some work.
As the campaign leader, Tau got to choose deployment zone first, taking one of the corners. Imperials, ever the cowardly lot, took the opposite corner 10 feet away, while Tyranids opted for the middle, Chaos took the side closer to Tau, and Necrons were stuck next to the Imperial side. This suited the Chaos team just fine, because we had already negotiated a 3-turn cease-fire accord with the Necrons prior to the game, mostly to ensure that their goddamn pylons would be pointed elsewhere on turn 1.
Deployment zones were essentially semicircles with a 12″ radius drawn at various points on the board. Anything that couldn’t deploy would only arrive as reserves at the end of the Movement Phase on a D6 roll of 3+ on turn 1 or 2, and automatically arrive on turn 3. Anything that deep struck couldn’t arrive until turn 2, and anything that couldn’t fit on the table but still was able to arrive would automatically arrive the following turn. This ended up being a good way to keep the table from getting too crowded on turn 1 and bogging the game down with more models, and ensured that turns went by pretty briskly. Immediately after we finished deploying, the Ghostkeel infiltrated to the top of a building and the Necrons used Deceiver magic to move their Pylons into a (presumably) safer position.
The Deployment Map
So to recap from the last post: Because this is a five-player game, we’re using a blind bidding system for turn order. Everyone playing received a set of colored tokens numbered 1 to 6 (we’re using Killteam objective markers). Each turn, players bid by placing one of their tokens in a jar. Then the tokens are removed and turn order goes from highest bid to lowest, with ties resulting in roll-offs. Players don’t get their bid tokens back, so bidding early to get first turn with high numbers will result in going last more later on. Also, any player who goes last in a given turn got 1 victory point. My strategy early on was to bid middle tokens to not get last turn but to save my 5 and 6 tokens for turns 2 and 3, which I thought would be more crucial. As it turned out, most other players had that idea and we ended up with three players bidding “3” on turn 1. As a result, the order went: Necrons, Imperium, Chaos, Tau, Tyranids.
The Necrons immediately put their Pylons to use to blow up an Imperial Knight, followed by putting some hurt on the rest. At this point, I think the Necrons made an early mistake by not relying more heavily on our ceasefire accord and relocating the Pylons to mid-table. As major underdogs, they were outgunned by the Imperium and struggled with their Reserves rolls. In retrospect I should have let teams pay CP to guarantee that D3 units arrived from Reserves on a given turn. That might have helped smooth things out a bit. Anyways the Imperials responded by mashing their knights into the Necron forces, leading to the destruction of one pylon and this badass moment when a Knight reached into the Tesseract Vault and squeezed the C’Tan inside with its fist. The C’Tan resisted, but would stay locked in combat.
On my turn, the Warhound showed up. I’ve played against Tau before many times, so I didn’t bother with the Riptides right away, opting to take drones off the table. Also we killed a Ghostkeel and the Stormsurge. Not as good as I’d have hoped, but not terrible either. Most of the daemons in the army had not shooting, and we needed time to get there.
But then the goddamn Tau’nar showed up. Fortunately, it didn’t do too much, and we were able to weather a turn of its bullshit shooting, mostly since we’d already killed a lot of the markerlight support it needed to be inevitably lethal.
The Tyranids, owning the middle of the table, branched out in both directions, with BuffaloChicken primarily gunning for Ethan’s Tau’nar, having been fucked up by it in a previous campaign game. That helped us a bit, as it put extra hurt on the Tau’nar for us.
Turn 2 was when everyone suddenly got desperate to drop their 6 chips. Because obviously, the name of the game was deleting your opponents’ goddamn titans as soon as possible. We dropped our 6 along with Tau and Imperium, resulting in a top roll-off. Unfortunately, we lost that one, so the turn order ended up being Tau, Chaos, Imperium, Necrons, Tyranids. That was pretty bad news for us, really. Ethan opened up by returning a squad of markerlight drones and put 5 markerlights on the Warhound. Then he used he opened fire with his Tau’nar, and between it and the tiger shark and riptides, managed to destroy my warhound in a single volley of shooting. He also took out both of my knights, causing the second one to explode, but I lucked out on it with a 5″ radius and only getting 3 total mortal wounds on nearby units. Welp.
We decided to retaliate on our turn by sending everything at the T’au. Fuck those guys. That meant all the daemon princes and a fuckload of smites, plus the heldrake and the bloodthirster. Our goal at this point was to ignore the Tau’nar in favor of the Tiger Shark, Riptides, and Broadsides. Don’t get me wrong–the Tau’nar is dangerous–but it’s better for us to take out as many guns as possible and we get more mileage if we can completely destroy multiple smaller units rather than degrade a bigger unit once. This led to one of my favorite moments of the game, which was our Bloodthirster jumping onto the Tiger Shark and tearing its wings off, causing it to crash and burn.
Sometime around this point, ANAmal.net and the Imperial players made a deal with the Necrons to fight other opponents. Then, ANAmal.net decided to double-cross them and just started wailing on them during the Imperial turn. He got a real kick out of this sick double-cross, but given that it happened before the Necrons got to have a turn of not shooting Imperials, I don’t think it was as sick a double-cross as he thinks it was. It was more like a cross, really. Anyways, the Imperials fucked the Necrons up proper, destroying their Vault and the second Pylon, ensuring they’d basically spend the rest of the game getting dunked on. Also, the Imperial Warhound showed up.
The Tyranids continued to branch out, throwing Hive Tyrants, Sporocysts, and a Malceptor at the Tau, and putting about a dozen wounds on the Tau’nar with various tank shooting. At this point they were still kind of flying under the radar, but starting to get dug in with both Tau and Imperials. Hilariously, BuffaloChicken’s knight charged ANAmal’s, got kicked twice for a couple of wounds, and then failed to do any damage in return. It would be blown off the table the following turn.
This is also the turn when we ate a bunch of pizza. Fun fact: There are 15 restaurants in the northern New Jersey town that BuffaloChicken lives in, and 14 of them are pizza places. The other is a Chinese food place.
OK now shit was officially getting real as fuck. The Necrons were almost wiped, but Tyranids and Chaos were closing in on the Tau. I really wanted to kill Ethan and his stupid goddamn Tau’nar, but the problem was, I also wanted Ethan to kill the fucking Imperial Warhound. Begrudgingly, I made a deal for a two-turn ceasefire in which we’d clear some of the Tyranids off the Tau in exchange for it pressing forward and shooting the Warhound.
Turn order on 3 went: Tyranids, Necrons, Chaos, Tau, Imperium. Tyranids opened strong by charging into the Imperial lines with a shitload of Carnifexes. I think they ultimately killed a Land Raider and a bunch of Deathwing Terminators before getting fucked up by Warhound and Knight shooting.
They also pushed toward Chaos and Tau, meaning they were fighting a war on three fronts. That would end up being a mistake. This game could have gone way different if Tyranids and Necrons had allied but alas, there was no such succor to be had. Instead the Necrons dropped in their Destroyers and made quick work of another pair of knights (but god DAMN the Imperials had a lot of fucking knights).
On the Chaos turn we swept upfield and began to press the Tyranids. This included sweeping Helbrutes up the middle of the table. And let me tell you, those Helbrutes ended up putting in some goddamn work. They started off by killing a Trygon and a Hellhound, then swept up the middle of the table with a Daemon prince to fuck more shit up. They’d eventually kill a Swarmlord, an Exocrine, Sly Marbo, a Leman Russ, and another Taurox. Also our final renegade knight arrived to fuck some shit up (represented by the large Cthulu model with purple wings on the right here).
The Tau turn was less eventful, though his Crisis Suit commanders and Y’Vharna finally showed up. It was at this point that the Tau player revealed that he couldn’t reach the Imperial Warhound, basically making him useless to us for alliances purposes. So we decided to fuck him over the following turn. In the meantime, he took down some more Tyranids, including the Cult Valkyrie and a Malcador tank.
The Imperium continued to shit on the Necrons, whittling down their forces and wiping out their destroyers. The highlight of the turn (well, a lowlight for the Necrons) was an Imperial Knight squeezing their Transcendent C’Tan to death with its robo fist.
Necrons were basically done at this point, and Merton Blask’s teammate had gotten real salty and pretty much ragequit after losing his pylon in turn 1, but now started to declare that he was “DONE” after every new unit death. Anyways, Necrons went first in turn 4, in an attempt to spoil as much for the Imperium as possible. In the end, it mostly worked, preventing them from branching out much and capturing victory points. Turn order for 4: Necrons, Imperials, Tyranids, Tau, Chaos (We bid a 1, planning to attack Tau after their turn in violation of our agreement).
The Necrons took down another knight on their turn, but by this point just didn’t have the firepower to do much more. The Imperials made them pay for it, crushing most of their units and leaving only a Cryptek and a Catacomb Command Barge. BuffaloChicken turned up the heat though, using his strategic asset to return his dead Barbed Heirodule, Valkyrie, and Imperial Knight to the table. This in turn meant that he had the resources necessary to take down the Imperial Warhound, which he did, charging in to finish it off with his knight. After 5 fucking turns of hiding, that big fucking idiot finally dies, and the explosion puts a real hurt on a bunch of nearby Imperial units.
The Tau take more shots at the Imperial force, destroying the Valkyrie and the Hierodule (thanks a lot, assholes!). Then, we turn on them, shoving a bunch of Great Unclean Ones down their throats to soak up the damage from Overwatch. Between the pair of them, they rip the last of the wounds off the Tau’nar, send its dumb ass back to the dumpster where it belongs. We also cut down on the Riptide infestation plaguing the table and press forward, leading to a little salt from the Tau player about how he wasn’t a threat at that point anyways. I am eating this shit up as he says it. At this point, we’re also spreading out to capture Objective Markers. No one else has any outside their deployment zone, and we’ve got 3, with designs on another 2.
Also this is the turn where we ordered a shitload of Chinese food and ate it. I’m pretty sure BuffaloChicken is still eating the leftovers from it.
Ah turn 5, the thinking man’s turn. At this point, we pre-emptively decide that unless shit gets real close, there won’t be a turn 6. It’s already about 9pm and while we’ve made good time, it’s pretty clear where things are going. Turn order is: Tau, Chaos, Tyranids, Imperials, Necrons.
The Tau open up trying their damndest to re-castle and prevent getting tabled. It kind of works. They don’t kill much (they take down my Fire Raptor though, which sucks but whatever), but they force us to re-charge them with a lot of units and take more overwatch fire. We spend our turn crushing the rest of them, wiping out the remaining Riptides and Yvarhna and leaving them with a pesky pair of Crisis Suit commanders, a trio of Hammerheads, and a couple of drones. We spend the rest of our turn killing our way through the Tyranid lines, taking out a pair of Exocrines, a Leman Russ, and a Taurox with my Helbrutes, who are good, beautiful bois and deserve much praise. We also take the Tau objective, giving us 4 objectives total. We didn’t quite make it to the Necron deployment zone objective.
The Tyranids follow suit by using their remaining knight to press into Imperial ranks, and in the process destroy another land raider. The Imperials spend their turn wiping out the Necrons, including this sad, glorious last stand by the Necron Cryptek.
At the end of the game, Chaos, the only faction sitting on multiple Objective Markers, was the winner. We had 4 markers, plus 1 point from going last in a round, 2 points for destroying TITANIC units, and 1 point for killing a warlord. That gave us 16 VPs, to the Imperials’ 13 (they only had 6 points for objectives, but 7 for TITANIC kills). Necrons scored 7 but were tabled, Tyranids had 6, and Tau had 5. With the victory, Chaos scored +10 Campaign Victory Points, meaning that the late Molloch’s Black Legion forces, now under the control of his Sorcerer Kaervek, and dominated their foes and claimed victory on Paulus! Woooooo! Hail Satan!
Overall, this game was a blast. I had more fun than I’ve ever had playing Apocalypse games before, and beyond that, it was a genuinely fun game. We started around 1:30 and finished playing turn 5 around 9:30, and 8 hours to get through a 5-sided, 27,000-point game is pretty damn good! Here are some notes from the game:
- The turn bidding system was great. We gave everyone 2 minutes to decide how to bid as a team before each round, and I think it added a nice touch of strategy.
- Keeping things monstrous helped a lot. Not having to push around a bunch of tiny models definitely helped keep things quick.
- On that note, we generally gave players about 25 minutes to finish a turn, and if we could start a new turn in the middle of that, we did. There were times when one team would be done interacting with another, usually when the players were too far away to really affect each other.
- The smaller deployment zones also helped. They kept us from having too many models on the table at once, and ensured some players would still have units later. We also added a rule that players weren’t tabled if they still had units in reserves.
- I think the scenario worked as well. Everyone had a chance to win, and there were some cool twists during the game.
- BuffaloChicken’s “only assembled and primed” rule was solid, and I think motivated people to finish things for the game. The end results were great–the table looked awesome as we played on it.
What Could Have Been Better
- The points disparity was hard to overcome. While I helped the underdog factions with additional help in the form of reinforcements, CP and free stratagems, it just wasn’t enough for the Necrons. I should have pared down some of the points on the larger forces, and allowed the Necrons to bring back at least one Pylon. As it was, I think the game was still fun, but a little more lopsided than I’d have liked.
- The table might have been better off as 8×4. I’m not sure. I think the size was fine, but I kind of regret that the Tau and Imperial players couldn’t really reach each other all game.
- I should have added a few more ways to score Campaign Victory Points, to give the Tau a way to win without winning the battle, albeit an unlikely one. Choosing zone and deploying last was a big advantage, but possibly not big enough.
Overall, the game was a blast, and I’m looking forward to running the next campaign. That one may not be for a while, but it’ll likely pick up a few threads from this one. I had a blast running this one, and I’m looking forward to the next one.