White Dwarf 459 Review: The Argovon Campaign, Phase 3

Between the Core Rules and Beyond the Veil, there are plenty of missions for your Crusade campaign to play through. But what if you wanted something different? The Argovon Campaign is the first of Games Workshop’s new Flashpoints, which are campaign rules designed to help you set your battles in a particular battle somewhere in the Warhammer 40,000 galaxy. This month’s White Dwarf brings us the second part of the Argovon campaign – if you missed our review of parts one and two of the campaign’s rules, you can find those here:

You can find these rules in White Dwarf, Issue 459.

The Fall of Argovon

In this third and final month of the Argovon campaign, the campaign comes to a head and players are able to really do something with their Xenotech points as they fight the last, desperate battles to hold on to the system.

What Did All Those Xenotech Points Mean?

If you’ve been playing along or started before this issue came out, you’ve noticed that your armies and alliances have been accumulating Xenotech points up to this point, and starting in phase two you were even able to spend them and wager them on interesting effects. Well now their full utility has been made clear: Extra stratagems you can use that represent your faction using that Xenotech to build stuff.

At the start of phase three, each alliance in the campaign is given a title – with the team with the highest Xenotech points total getting the title “Xenotech Hoarders,” and with other titles for the second most, third most, and least totals. Then, starting with the team with the most Xenotech points, each team picks one of 6 Xenotech rewards Stratagems to have access to in their games. It’s a draft-style format, so once a team picks a Stratagem no one else can take it. 

These are… well, they’re pretty good, but your mileage will vary based on your army. All but one of them costs 2+ CP, and some of them are stupid good for certain factions. Take Orbital Targeting (2 CP), which lets you nominate an enemy unit in your Command phase and until your next Command phase units in your army get +1 to hit it with ranged attacks. This one is an amazing fit for T’au and Necron armies and really other army that has lots of decent shooting but lower BS or limited access to re-rolls. Shield Hubs lets you give a unit in your deployment zone a 4+ invulnerable save, making it ideal on cheap hordes/swarms. Matter Converter lets you teleport a unit across the table once per battle. There’s something here for everyone and enough good stuff that you won’t feel screwed picking fourth, but your team may disagree on which buff you want. Picking first is a minor but decent bonus and the only major downside to these is how much CP they cost.

That’s not all your Xenotech points will do, though: there’s also a set of four Crusade Relics that you can give to your Characters, with alliances who had more Xenotech having access to more of the relics: the Xenotech Hoarders can choose from all four, while the Xenotech Scavengers can only choose one.

Thankfully, these relics are pretty cool. For example, the Xenotech Recycler, which is available to all alliances and is probably the least interesting of the four, lets you use the Xenotech reward Stratagem your alliance picked for free once per turn. On the other end of the spectrum, the Hoarder-specific Pariah Crown has you roll a d6 whenever an enemy Psyker Character makes a psychic test within 18” of the model with the relic, and causes them to suffer Perils of the Warp if the die you rolled matches either of their dice.

 

Ending the Campaign

The rules for ending the campaign introduce Crusade Campaign Commendations, which let you pick a Character unit from your army that performed particularly well during the campaign (and is Blooded rank or higher) to receive the Hero of the Argovon Campaign Battle Honour, which lets them make one hit or wound roll per battle automatically successful. 

This is a pretty neat, if somewhat generic, bonus and a cool way to mark that your group has completed a particular campaign. While this particular bonus is just kind of blah, we do like this as a portent of things to come.

The Missions

Of course, no campaign’s climax is complete without some unique missions, and this month’s installment of the Argovon Campaign gives you two more to play. The first, Argolish in Flames, has the defender deploying in the center of the battlefield while the attacker can deploy along all four table edges. The Defender gets some control over the terrain, as they’re allowed to place some additional Obstacles to slow down the attacker and gain some cover against incoming attacks. Additionally, the Defender adds 1 to Combat Attrition tests for units within range of an objective marker, making them immune to morale until their units drop below half strength. Other than that, it’s a straight up objective control mission with both progressive and end game scoring.

The other, The Collapse of Argovon, has one force trying to cut down a bunch of trees while the other side cosplays as the Planeteers and tries to stop them. The Defender sets up 3 “Deforestation Devices” (these are your objective markers), and can activate them to cut down trees, which has the effect of removing the “Dense” tag from a piece of terrain. Each round, the Defender gets points for keeping the objectives alive, while the Attacker can score 15 points for taking an action to destroy one.

These missions are a nice change from the usual “here’s a couple ways that you can take mortal wounds, but this time, with a theme” that you see in so many narrative maps. They’re definitely asymmetric and each player will be approaching the map differently due to the differences in objectives and deployment. However, either of them would make a great capstone to your campaign and provide an excellent backdrop for your group’s final battles in the Argovon System.

Final Thoughts

So with the Argovon Campaign completed now, how do these rules stack up, and what do they mean for long-term play?

Rob: Overall, I like the attempt. I think this is exactly the kind of stuff I want to see out of White Dwarf – rules that add a lot of narrative heft but don’t become “must haves” for competitive play. The split nature of the campaign was a bit weird since it meant you could be accumulating and spending Xenotech points in part 3 with no idea how useful they’d be later or what they’d be used for, but no one played this over the last 3 months anyways. 

There are some really solid ideas here – splitting your playgroup into alliances for a short period can help build stronger narratives, and the idea of running smaller campaign arcs for your group’s Crusade armies can make for some cool long-term storytelling as your accumulate veterans of X war or Y crusade. You can also have shifting alliances, pairing up players differently for new campaigns. And the idea that you’d be building xenotech points (or some other resource) mid-campaign with an idea that they’d pay off later was cool.

On the other hand, the payoff itself was pretty lame; the Xenotech points just didn’t matter enough and despite a cool draft mechanism for stratagems there wasn’t  a big enough payoff to convince me not to spend them all (though the things you could spend them on were also just so-so). You also can’t spend your collected points in Round 3, so it doesn’t pay to keep more points than you need to win the top title. 

Condit: I honestly really liked the idea of collecting Xenotech points with no clue of what they would do, and kind of regret not having gotten this to the table a few months ago, especially now that I’ve seen what the effect of those points actually was. Unfortunately, their effect is really underwhelming, which takes away some of the tension that might have been there.

While this campaign has had its ups and downs, I think the real takeaway here is a bit more abstract – these supplements have shown that GW is willing to try some new stuff with Crusade rules that will give you a different experience than you’re probably used to. I don’t know if I’ll ever run the Argovon Campaign front to back, but there are definitely some tools in here I could use to add some spice to my own games, and this only has me more interested in what’s coming down the pipe in future installments.

Rob: Yeah, same. I’m interested to see what’s next and what, if any of this, is indicative of what we might see in Plague War or other campaign books.

That wraps up our look at the Argovon Campaign, but we’ll be back in a month to review whatever White Dwarf #460 throws our way. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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