Continuing from Part One, this is the post all about the mission rules and the deployment (and boy was there a lot of that!).
The mission we were playing was the Exterminatus mission, which is number 6 in the apocalypse rulebook. It’s meant to represent two warring sides battling over a planet so ferociously that they are willing to tear the planet apart in order to wreak their wrath on the enemy. To reflect this, the rules are fairly brutal!
Firstly, as with all apocalypse games, there is no maximum table size. The only restrictions on deployment are that an invisible line runs through the centre of the table, from long edge to long edge. Each team places 3 objectives; one in their own deployment, one in their enemies, and one in the middle. Usually, these would use the ‘Mysterious Objectives’ rule, but we decided that would be too much to remember.
Secondly, there’s a rule called “It’s The End Of The World!”, which is as devastating as it sounds! Every turn, we roll a dice and add the turn number. The lowest (2-3) result on the chart is a series of player-placed Orbital Bombardments (Strength D/7/4, AP:1/4/-, Apocalyptic Mega Blast!(15″)), which is scary in itself, but that’s just the bottom end of the chart. It only gets scarier from there.
3-5 is a Virus Bomb attack, which means all non-vehicle unites suffer a number of S:3 AP:- hits equal to the models in the unit. That’s around a 33% chance to kill a Guardsman, a 10% to outright kill a Space Marine, or a 5% to kill a Terminator! Certainly enough to thin the ranks.
6+ is the scariest one. That’s the Incendiary Atmosphere, which is the same as Virus Bomb with a few noticeable exceptions. The first is that it hits every unit, including vehicles, buildings, fliers etc. The second is that it’s S:10 and AP:2. Suddenly you’ve gone from a 5% chance kill a Terminator to an 83% chance to instakill anything T5 or lower, regardless of armour! That’s also a 100% chance to remove a hull point from anything AV11 or below (on side armour), a 15% chance to explode anything AV11, and a 5% to Explode a Land Raider outright! That’s scary. Invulv saves can be taken, but man was that brutal.
Let’s just hope we rolled low..!
Strategic Assets were used in this game, too. Assets are simply extra bonuses in the form of cards that each player has access to. You pick a number for each team equal to the number of players on the larger team, so we each had 2 per team. They are usually very powerful, so it was worth incorporating them into our plans.
Also, each player has access to what is called “Divine Intervention”. Divine Intervention can be activated by the player whenever certain criteria is met, and that criteria varies based on the armies. The armies of the Imperium can activate theirs when half of their units have been destroyed, and for a turn they all get Furious Charge and Rage. The Chaos armies activate theirs when half of the enemy’s units have been destroyed, and for a turn they get to treat any 1’s rolled as 6’s(!).
Finest Hour is another rule for Apocalypse. Once per game, each Warlord can call upon their Finest Hour which grants them a 3+ Invulnerable save, Eternal Warrior, the ability to issue an All Out Attack (designate a friendly unit, and that unit can move triple speed in the movement phase and can charge, but not run or shoot) and the chance to roll on one of three powerful tables of bonuses, with results ranging from tripling your attacks to having T:10 and a 2+ Invuln, to giving everyone within 24″ Feel No Pain, to getting a Strategic Asset. Useful! Though some are relatively pants, like the Warlord getting to reroll hits for a round. Hardly earth shattering!
Apocalypse scoring is done each Scheduled Break, which for us will be after every 2 turns. You get 1 point per held objective in the first break, 2 in the second, etc. Everything is scoring in Apocalypse, and it’s all about which model is closest. Even if the nearest model is a zooming flier 40″ away, that player will still hold that objective.
The player with the most Strategic Victory Points at the end of the game wins. They can be gained by the following methods:
- Holding Strategic Objectives during breaks,
- Destroying the enemy Warmaster (each player has a Warlord, each side a chooses a Warlord to be Warmaster),
- Stopping a Finest Hour (ie killing someone during theirs),
- Destroying a Super Heavy,
- Certain Strategic Assets grant victory points for additional criteria.
We also decided to add an objective of our own, based on the long-running history between the Thousand Sons and the Space Wolves.
- If the Thousand Sons player is able to kill the Space Wolf Warlord, his team will score an extra Strategic Victory Point.
- If the Space Wolf player is able to kill the Thousand Sons Warlord, his team will score an extra Strategic Victory Point.
The only stipulation is that it had to be the player’s models that did the killing, so if, for example, George used my models to kill Ahriman, that doesn’t count, or if Marcus used an Orbital Bombardment asset to kill Logan, that wouldn’t count.
In Apocalypse, it is possible to ‘spend’ Strategic Victory Points, too. If a Strategic Asset is particularly powerful, it might cost a point to activate. Additionally, each side may bring back one Model in each break (with 15 or less Hull Points/Wounds) at the cost of a Victory Point.
Now, with the lecture over, we got to deployment. We lost the roll, but the Chaos team elected to deploy second. This mission didn’t use Seize the Initiative per se, but after deployment a dice is rolled and on a 1-4 the team that deployed first goes first, and on a 5-6 the other team does. It means that no one can choose to go second, which is potentially powerful.
We set up our side with as many tanks as we could, sticking them in one solid wall off AV14 goodness. The only things we had in reserve were 3 Drop Pods with Dreads, 1 Drop Pod with my Masters of the Chapter (with an Astra Militarum Priest with them), 3 Sentinels, the Stormtalon and some wolf Scouts. Everything else was on the table.
Our plan was to basically speed down the centre and grab alll the objectives, as most were easily accessible to us. There were two close together in our edge, one right in the middle up a tower, and one more on the near side of the opponent’s edge. The 6th was waaay back in Chaos territory, but that’s why we have Drop Pods, right?
After our deployment came the Chaos Team’s.
They, as you can see, had relatively little armour and many bodies. All of the cultists were kept in Reserve, as were some Thousand Sons and Thousand Sons Terminators, along with a crazy Daemon Engine or something! Basically a Dreadnought on Steroids.
Before turn 1 could start, there were a few more things still to do. Firstly, Infiltrators. Not mant to set up, and not much space for them to go! I stuck my scouts in the centre, ready to claim the objective in the tower and my Ratlings in a little room where they might be safe.
The helldrake formation also allows them to start on the board, then lets them make a 60″(!) move, and then make a Vector Strike attack before the game even starts! So right away they zoomed down the table and destroyed a Chimera. Thankfully First Blood isn’t a thing in Apocalypse.
Stay tuned for Turn One!