It Felt Like the End of the World

The apocalypse happened yesterday.

No, not the real apocalypse. There are no zombies shambling the streets, or gangs of mohawk bikers riding through a dusty wasteland (more’s the pity).

Instead it was a game of Warhammer 40,000 Apocalypse – whereby eight ubergeeks turned up to a church hall in North London carrying a ludicrous 80,000 points worth of miniatures between them and attempted to all play 40K at the same time, on the same 24′ x 8′ table.

It’s a special game variant with official rule sourcebooks and everything, designed so that players can all rock up and field all their stuff – including superheavy walkers, titans and that sort of thing – in an anything-goes apocalyptic showdown.

WH40K Apocalypse - January 2010

Now I’ve found that a normal 2-player game of 40K, at around 1,500pts each side, takes me around 2-3 hours. So it was hardly suprising that after a few hours of play we still found ourselves on turn one! There was no real fixed deadline, other than “let’s just see how long we can play for before we all collapse”. Which for me worked out to be around eleven hours (lightweight). Unfortunately I was so exhausted that I had to duck out an hour or so before the others finished up, taking the few scattered minis I had remaining on the board with me.

WH40K Apocalypse - January 2010The game itself was “good” versus evil, with good being a load of marines, some Imperial Guard and also some allying Eldar. My team – team EVIL – consisted of tons of Necrons, tons of Thousand Sons, a load of Tyranids, and my Emperor’s Children (plus a few squads of borrowed traitor marines to make up the numbers).

We arrived early to find that the tables and scenery were all set up – Kudos must go to Mike and Richard among others for their sterling efforts in arranging the whole event. We then did some bidding for deployment and team evil got to deploy and go first. We hurriedly laid out our forces before handing the table to our opponents who left the table bare – playing some dirty trick which meant they wouldn’t bring their troops on til the start of their turn.

This tactic pretty much did for my Emperor’s Children as Jamie’s Eldar arrived en masse from a table edge near me and pretty much decimated half of my force by the end of turn one before I could shoot a single thing. Gah!

WH40K Apocalypse - January 2010After this, things got rather chaotic with battles breaking out all over the table and me having to scuttle around the table, rolling shooting dice here, armour saves there, orbital bombardments over there, and so on. There was a break for lunch at a nearby pub, but otherwise it was pretty relentless. And when all was said and done, we had only managed to play three turns in total!

I don’t think I was particularly effective at all (to be honest I hadn’t really expected to be), though late on I did start to make some revenge kills and Slaanesh finally began favouring my dice-rolls. But by then it was too late and our team’s performance mostly hinged on the Thousand Suns and Necron performance.

But you know, it occurred to me that the game really wasn’t about winning or losing – it was too freeform for that – but rather the taking part. Cliché I know, but especially true here. Rather, it was something to be part-enjoyed and part-survived.

As my tiredness started to set in late afternoon, and my knees started to complain that they were not used to all this standing up malarkey, it really felt like an endurance test. To be fair I think my fatigue was partly due to my unfamiliarity with the game and even small battles had me referring to my rules Codex, querying dice target numbers, etc.

So to conclude – while it was lots of fun, I just don’t think I was quite ready to play in a game of that size, for that long. I think I will wait a while before I sign up for another game on such a gargantuan scale.

But hey, that’s the nature of apocalypses right?

They don’t happen very often…

WH40K Apocalypse - January 2010

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~ by Max Von Deadlock on January 31, 2010.

2 Responses to “It Felt Like the End of the World”

  1. Looks like it was epic, but I think its more about the spectacle than the game. I would imagine it just stretches out the time between meaningful decisions. I think its the sort of thing I’d like to watch for half an hour then move on.

    Gamewise, I would think a large table (maybe not that large!) would be interesting with more normal sized armies – a chance to really take advantage of the mobility of a mechanised force, and for long range weaponry to matter more. A square table would be best, avoiding the artificial linearity imposed by a narrow board, though I guess there’s only so wide you can make things without it becoming unpractical.

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  2. Yes it was very much about the spectacle. The arbritary end point meant that it was impossible to determine who the victors were. I believe when they called it a day at the end of turn three the good guys had 2 objectives to our 1, but that seemed like an afterthought.

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