c. Games Workshop
“The False Emperor spread his corruption one hundred hundred years ago, tearing down the true idols amongst the stars. We are here to undo that wrong, make right the galaxy again. We shall sanctify the soil of Vigilus with the blood of the those who champion falsehood. We shall purify it’s cities of the Corpse-God’s lies, fill the hearts of the worthy with the Primordial Truth. We shall Crown this continent with the black of the void and in doing so consecrate this world in the name of my lord, Warmaster Ezekyle Abaddon, the Great Visionary. Fear not my friends, for you too may be in black and gold reborn.” – Dark Apostle Khaunt, First Confessor of the Masked Lord, shortly before the mass sacrifice at the base of a Noctilith Crown
During the War of Nightmares, the forces of Chaos raised at least eight Noctolith Crowns, fell structures designed to summon the raw power of the Warp. These were constructed along geomantic psy-lines across Vigilus, their zenith centred upon the Storvhal hivesprawl. A coven of Inquisitors realized the importance of Storvhal before it was assailed by the forces of the Warmaster, and they managed to marshal the Imperial forces to hold the city even as traitor marines were storming the gates. The Ordo Malleus feared that if the ninth Crown was raised at the zenith, the whole planet may be lost to the denizens of the warp…
(fluff written by game organizer)
So a while back, I attended an Apocalypse battle being held at my local GW (Yonge and Lawrence in Toronto), that was being held as a grand finale to a weeks-long escalation league themed around the events of Vigilus Ablaze. While I had not participated in the league itself, I am always a sucker for a large-scale game, and as I hadn’t used them in a while, I brought my Sisters of Battle and Imperial Knight out to play.
The battle itself was organized by Ian C. of the Wrong Side of the Maelstrom podcast, and he was participating as well with his Black Legion. As this battle was fought well before the release of the newer Apocalypse rules, we were playing the battle with standard 8th edition 40k, with some special rules that Ian had added in.
SCENARIO AND RULES: (copy and pasted from the event Facebook page)
There are two teams: the forces of the Imperium and the Forces of Chaos. If your army does not neatly fit into one of these groups, you will be placed to balance teams or where it makes narrative sense (the enemy of my enemy, etc.).
If your army does not appear in the Vigilus narrative, that’s fine: they will represent a particularly esoteric division of a force (i.e. Necrons might represent a Warpsmiths damned robotic army, Tau might represent Skitarii equiped with prototype wargear, and so on). However, the army will still use the regular rules and datasheets.
Each side will select a player to be the Warmaster: Warmasters will be responsible for any team rolls offs and for ensuring their side proceeds with play (they do not have control over other players’ armies, but may provide suitable motivation!).
Each team secretly bids (in whole minutes) how much time they will take to deploy, between 1 and 20 minutes. They reveal their bids at the same time. The side that bids lowest deploys first. If there’s a tie, each side rolls off.
The first team will deploy their entire force. Units must be completely deployed (i.e. all models in the unit must be standing upright in coherency following deployment rules: they may not be dumped in a pile on the table). Units that are not deployed may be held in reserve.
The team that deployed first has the first turn. There is no seizing the initiative.
The game lasts 5 battle rounds with two breaks. The lunch break is after the first battle round, the second break after the third battle round.
All models must have ALL upgrades and weapons modelled appropriately. A player must be able to tell what a unit is and what it is equipped with easily: there’s no time for an army breakdown and explanation during the apocalypse! Proxies are not allowed. If you have a cool conversion or counts-as and aren’t sure if it’s allowed, contact an organizer, but generally the rule of cool prevails.
Objectives & Victory Conditions
The team with the most Victory Points wins. Certain terrain pieces will be marked as objectives, control of which will award VP.
Objectives are worth 1 VP at the first break, 2 VP at the second break, and 3 VP at the end of the game.
Each Warlord slain is worth 1 VP.
Each TITANIC unit destroyed is worth 1 VP.
Reserves: Units held in reserve may be deployed at the end of the player’s first movement phase after a break. Unless deploying by special rules on their datasheet (i.e. teleporting), they must be set up within 12” of the player’s table edge, at least 3” from an enemy unit. Units arriving via rules on their datasheet follow those standard rules instead.
Army Composition and Command Points
Armies will be no more than 150 Power Level and need not be battle-forged. Each player will begin the game with a set number of command points. When they spend a command point on a stratagem, their opponent will receive one command point and vice versa. Abilities, relics, warlord traits, etc. that allow players to gain extra command points (whether at the start of or during the game) are ignored.
Command points will be tracked with tokens called “crowns”. When you spend a command point, give a crown to the opponent across from you. Crowns are shared amongst a team, so feel free to pass them along to a teammate. However, if a teammate is spending the lion’s share of their team’s crowns, feel free to starve out that teammate.
Movement – 10 min
Psychic – 10 min
Shooting – 15 min
Assault – 10 min per side (see below)
Time limits will be strictly enforced. As the day progresses, turns will likely speed up. If you run out of time and haven’t moved/shot with/fought with a unit, it does not get to! Build and play your army list accordingly.
You may use any number of custom characters using the rules from Chapter Approved 2018. However, for each custom character, you must pay PL as follows:
Mighty Hero +3PL
Legendary Hero +4PL
You may use battle honours as per the “Battle Honours in One-off Games” on p. 21 of Chapter Approved 2018. As per the rules, you must pay PL for these battle honours.
Starting with the team whose turn it is, each engaged unit will pile in at the same time. Then each unit will fight with all it’s models (regardless if they are within 1″ of an enemy model or a model within 1″ of an enemy model).
Then the other team will attack in the same manner, including with models killed earlier in that phase. Then both sides remove casualties.
If a unit charged (or has an ability that allows them to fight at the same time as charging models), they gain +1 A. If a unit would attack twice, roll their attacks when the team activates.
Each psyker may only cast or deny 1 power per psychic phase. For each power they could cast/deny after the first, they gain +2 to their cast/deny roll.
Auras do not affect allied players’ units.
Roll once for the number of Mortal Wounds and apply this to each unit in range.
Random Damage weapons and multi wound squads
If a multi-shot weapon with a random damage characteristic (i.e. Heavy 6, Damage D3) targets a multi-wound unit (i.e. terminators), or a unit that has a second save (i.e. disgustingly resilient), roll once for damage and apply the number to every failed save.
Players must leave spare PL in their list as a summoning pool if they wish to summon units.
Note: in addition to all of the above rules, Ian had also printed out cards for a special stratagem called Last Stand:
(Note: I apologize in advance for the poor quality of some of these pictures. Note that I will try to take better-quality battle report pictures in the future).
FORCES OF THE IMPERIUM:
Carcharodons (using Blood Angel rules)
Cadian Shock Troopers (complete with a Baneblade, a Shadowsword and a Stormlord)
Order of the Blessed Damsel (using Bloody Rose rules), with a Knight of House Wynngarde (using Hawkshroud rules)
Stygies VIII Mechanicus (along with a pair of Knights from House Krast)
FORCES OF CHAOS & XENOS:
Black Legion (led by Abaddon and Haarken Worldclaimer)
World Eaters (led by Kharn the Betrayer, and including a Lord of Skulls )
Iron Warriors (including a Renegade Knight Castellan)
Bad Moon Orks (featuring a Kustom Stompa)
Cult of the Rusted Claw
The battle was fought across two boards. On one, there were four objectives– a Mechanicus generator, the unfinished Noctolith crown, the city gate and the Imperial aquila. On the other table, there were two more objectives– an assembly of large crates, and a skull-shaped hill.
BATTLE IS JOINED
The massed firepower of the Traitors is brutally, felling many Primaris Marines and sending a Cadian Vulture plumetting from the sky. On the left flank, meanwhile, Orkish ordnance rains down on the Imperial forces, heavily damaging Knights and felling several Skitarii. Most painfully of all, the Kustom Stompa’s guns roar to life, annihilating an entire 15-woman squad of Battle Sisters with a rain of gatling fire!
In the end, the final score, at the end, was close: both sides held an even number of objectives, and both sides had destroyed a large number of Titanic units and slain a good number of warlords. However, in the end, the Imperium had a narrow lead on victory points, and came out victorious after a long, hard fought and incredibly bloody battle.
RESULT: IMPERIAL VICTORY!
Holy crap that was an intense game! Like almost every other Apocalypse game I’ve played, this one was wonderfully destructive: vast swathes of infantry were being removed from the board each turn, vehicles were pulverized, Titanic units went up in vast explosions…what was there not to like? The special “crown” system for the command points, though, helped to manage some of the chaos of the battle, making sure that players couldn’t spam stratagems as much as they liked. However, we found that stratagems were still being used quite liberally in this game, which meant that crowns were passing back and forth across the table regardless.
Some highlights for me in this battle included:
-The stubborn Ser Laertes cutting a swathe through the left flank, gunning down Grot Tanks, crushing Genestealer Cultists and tanking a ridiculous amount of firepower and damage, before finally meeting his valiant end to an Ork Warboss
-Celestine, doing her usual Celestine thing and carving through any Genestealer Cult units she ran across
-The World Eaters Daemon Prince, scoring the biggest kill of the day by cleaving apart the Knight Porphyrion
-The gigantic melee on the left flank. I lost track of how many units were going into that mass melee, but because units were allowed to strike back before dying, the casualties started to pile up pretty quickly. I’m impressed at how much of a fight the Carcharodons put up: thanks the Blood Angel rules they were using, they were wounding most of their Traitor opponents on 3s, and were striking back after death thanks to their nearby Standard of Sacrifice. Between that, a Captain sporting a lot of custom upgrades, and plenty of Hellblaster support, they inflicted a huge number of casualties on the traitor forces in melee…though, fittingly, they died almost to a man in return.
-Speaking of custom characters, the Ork Big Mek was almost an army unto himself. Thanks to his ridiculous number of defensive upgrades, he was extremely difficult to hurt, and no matter what the Imperial side threw at him, our combined firepower could barely even scratch him. He was still alive and kicking by the battle’s end, and I doubt there was anything on our side left that could feasibly have hurt him.
If there was one thing I would have done differently in this game, however, it would have been to deploy some of my stuff closer to the enemy. I had deployed the bulk of my forces in the center near the gate, but castled almost everything around Celestine and my Indomitable Belief Canoness to make use of a 4+ invulnerable save (not that that helped my big Battle Sister squad). However, this meant that most of my stuff was too far away to make an impact on the game: any time any enemy forces showed up near the gate, the Cadian super-heavies would promptly obliterate them in a storm of firepower before my Sisters could even do anything. In retrospect, I think I would have been better off putting more of my forces on either extreme flank– I think my Exorcists, in particular, would have been handy dealing with all of the Ork armour on the left flank, while my Arco-Flagellants and tricked-out Canoness would have been more likely to see action on the right. Then again, without my Sisters, I am not sure how well the Imperial forces in the centre would have dealt with the Genestealer Cultists.
Still, all the same, it was an incredibly fun game, and Ian deserves props for organizing the event as well as he did. I am very much looking forward to the next large-scale event…though next time, that may very well be done with GW’s new Apocalypse rules…
Captain Auguston sank to his knees, his master-crafted gladius stabbing into the dirt next to him as he fought to keep himself upright. Deep wounds in his abdomen and chest sent hot knives of pain stabbing deeper with each breath, and his muscles burned from over-exertion– his super-human biology had just been pushed to its limit after eight full hours of furious, non-stop melee. His cobalt blue armour was now almost black from the blood and spatter it had collected, and ochre warning runes flashed in his lenses, warning of intolerable damage that his armour had taken.
He knew, grimly, he was one of the lucky few to have survived: he was presently kneeling amidst a sea of Astartes dead, some wearing the cobalt blue of his brother Ultramarines, others wearing the slate-grey and ebony of the Carcharodons. Many others wore the hated lineage of the Traitors, particularly the black and gold of the Black Legion. He did not gaze for long on the bodies of the slain heretics: he did not want to look at the horrible ways in which the Warp had twisted away their humanity.
He glanced up, pulling his helmet off and sucking in air polluted with the acrid tang of fyceline and smoke. In the distance, the enemy was retreating, pulling back into the red-hot inferno that Storvhal had become. The Imperial defenders had suffered horrendous losses in the past few hours, had buckled and even broken in places against the sheer savagery of the enemy onslaught…but they had held. Here, against the full power and hatred of the Great Enemy, they had not only held the line, but they had also laid low the Arch-Traitor himself–
Auguston’s train of throught was interrupted when a nearby pile of rubble suddenly exploded outwards. A massive shape suddenly loomed upright. Auguston’s heart sank when he recognized the dread figure. He was standing. The Despoiler was standing.
It was impossible. The bastard should have been dead. There were terrible, smoking rents in the giant’s ancient Terminator armour, much of his plate was fused beyond recognition, half of his pale face has been burned off by plasma backwash…but even as Auguston watched, that armour began to seemingly re-shape itself, the terrible rents in it closing. The burn-scour across the Despoiler’s face disappeared: the hated Warmaster of Chaos smiled an unmarred, leering smile at him as he stood to his full height, the wickedly curved talons of his clawed gauntlet clacking while the greatsword he held in his other hand writhed and glowed with unholy power.
Auguston found the power to speak, his voice hoarse from shouted commands. “It is over, Traitor,” he spat, even as behind him, his battle company took up firing positions. “You will not activate that Noctolith Crown today. You have failed.”
The Despoiler, damn him, simply smiled. “Foolish Ultramarine,” Abaddon said, his voice like a distant thundercloud. “”Did you really think that Storvhal was the only place on this planet linked to the Warp?” He opened the Talon of Horus outwards, as though in a beckoning gesture. “But you are right about one thing: I will not activate the Ninth Crown today. You have merely delayed the inevitable.”
And with that, the air around Abaddon suddenly shimmered in the unmistakable glow of teleport activation. Auguston screamed the order to fire. Around him, the air lit up with bolter-flares and crackling plasma bursts, and the area where Abaddon had been standing was obliterated in an explosion of dirt and dust.
When the smoke cleared, Abaddon…and with him, the unfinished frame of the Noctolith Crown…were gone.