Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NOVACALYPSE at the 2011 NOVA Open - Feedback Requested

Guys, this is a thread for input ... I'll try to in-depth go over the basics of what this is shaping up as ... and then hit up some key questions I have at the moment. Though any input is welcome, anything that directly addresses the actual questions is of more interest to me at first.

Basically, here's the plan ...

1) It'll be a pay-for event, so people who want to play in it actually want to be there; it'll be fairly nominal (thinking ~$20 at present) and if all goes as planned, will include free beer from a brewery sponsor. The key part here is that people playing it will want to be there, and will be 21+ in age.

2) The event will focus on "apocalyptic" ancillary events that affect all tables in some capacity, but otherwise "team 40k" at each individual table.

3) The tables will all be linked, and kept close together in probably a circular type formation. Each table will represent a sector of an planetary war. Each table will have a variable number of objectives to capture, whose capture will influence the entire event.

4) The planned numbers for this are 52 --> 26 teams of 2; players will sign up as a team, as a club to be randomly divided into teams, or as free agents to be paired up with people as a team.

5) The event will run from 8PM - 11:59PM on Friday and Saturday nights, as a casual unwind after a day of gaming / seminars / etc.

6) Overall Commanders (an earned position based upon your performance during the day's events) will begin the event by accessing a large graphic map with the various sectors(tables) laid out on it, and with a "game piece" for each of their teams. They will take turns in a mini-strategy game applying apocalyptic effects (such as orbital bombardments) to each sector, and assigning their teams to fight in each sector.

7) Once assigned, teams will head to their assigned sector for 2v2 40k games, using 1000 points per player. The individual sectors will not be APOC battles. Players may bring Superheavies, but they will be used by the Overall Commanders in ancillary action either with each other, or by targeting the board with "markers." More on markers next.

8) Apocalyptic effects applied to tables, D or apocalyptic blast/template shots sent at tables by Superheavies under the control of Overall Commanders, and similar things will never be resolved the moment they are applied, and will never be able to affect a small radius around sector objectives. Basically, imagine you are playing your 2v2 game in Sector 1 --> the Overall Commander has assigned an Orbital Bombardment to the board; at the beginning of the game, it is centered on the table, and scattered a random distance (avoiding objective radii), upon which will be placed a series of markers. Each of these markers will be hit with an Orbital Bombardment at the END OF THE GAME (or at a predetermined mid-point / turn). The same will happen with D Weapons or super-heavy mega blasts/templates fired at any given sector by superheavies under the control of the Overall Commanders. The point of this is to ensure that people have fun and fair games ... and avoid the "suck factor" of a random massive attack coming from somewhere else in the room / battle in the middle of their assault phase or turn, and annihilating their units with no recourse (in other words: stuff that sucks to have happen). The effect will be both marginally influential, and comic in intent - units racing to get away from targeted sections of the game board before their timer ticks off and a D blast or orbital bombardment blasts it.

9) The intent is to complete a specified # of turns and then resolve whether or not objectives have been accomplished in each sector, which will influence the overall narrative of the event. On the 2nd day, teams will be reassigned to new sectors and the battle will recommence.


1) It's important to establish the fashion in which people can/should build their armies, whether any special rules will apply to make peoples' armies all fight more heroically as imagined centerpieces of each sector's conflicts, exactly how many points and what FOC will be in use, etc.

2) re: #6) above, who should be the Overall Commanders (high competitive performers for the day, high narrative performers for the day, random draws, special guests, etc.?)

3) Should it be two nights of full games (4 hours per game) or much longer and more relaxed game turns of only 3-4 per night, with it being one connected battle.

4) Who will have time every now and again to help playtest and brainstorm? :)

The overarching goal here is to have an apocalyptic feel but avoid a few key things that make "mega battles" and apoc games suck.

1) Points overload on a given table
2) People with big superheavies ruling the day with D weapon spam
3) Everyone fighting in one connected game and so waiting forever to resolve each phase, and generally just dealing with a ton of screaming and yelling across tables and weapons being fired across absurd distances, etc.
4) Mega slow, crappy feelings
5) Apocalyptic events, formations, strategic assets and such "ruining" the game for individuals who are unfortunate enough to bear the brunt of their impact

This should in practice be a series of team small 40k games (2k points per side) played over 12-14 tables (14 if everyone is simply assigned, 12 if each overall commander gets a team to hold in reserve and "reinforce" a beleaguered table), with apocalyptic events being overarching and slow-developing (i.e. the timed arrival of marked orbital bombardments, d blasts, etc.) so as to influence the feel of things, but not - again- "ruin" peoples' nights.

Input, or just thoughts/initial reactions, all welcome :)


  1. One thing you could do is require players to build their 1000 pt lists to certain templates. Such as an all Heavy Support list being a Fire Support Unit, or and all Elites list counts as a Special Forces Unit. That way the commander could deploy specific forces needed to achieve an objective, and give your players guidelines for building their lists.

  2. Mike, I think you need to either stick to Apoc and the Apoc rules or make this a linked regular 40K event. I worry that adding some Apoc elements to 40K just doesn't work, especially in the manner you described.

    Keep it simple. It will be a lot more fun that way.

  3. I think Jay is right, you're over-thinking this. KISS. Timed turns works fairly well for controlling the chaos.

    Likewise I could see some 'strategic' actions, say firing Vortex DeathStrike etc s/b coordinated by the overall commander of the asset. I do like the idea of a reserve force to come in on the table that's been taking on the chin etc.

  4. By 'strategic' actions, I mean inter-table actions.

  5. The current notional has the tables interacting in basically straight on 1k each 2v2 2kv2k 40k. Nothing complicated or wild. Turns will be timed, but each table will be operating independently. The apoc component would be in the overall commanders being able to "apply" orbital bombardments, and shots from D-weapons/titans to various sectors ... but these would be marked on the board as "hitting" at end-game, not interrupting play with apocalyptic events.

    Agreed on keeping it simple; structure is important, however - apoc fails miserably when you just throw people on tables and say "go." This isn't really apoc, as much as it's a linked 40k event (if you can't tell from the initial description).

    We also may have some very well-known guest authors playing as the overall commanders, writing the introductory material, and writing the narrative.

  6. You might want to consider a different name. The name infers a game of Warhammer 40K Apocalypse. I think if you are going for your own brand(t) of mega-battle, you should name it accordingly.

    Overall I like the idea, but I agree that it has to presented as simply as possible. Not only are you talking about the later hours of the evening, but you are talking about free beer at a casual event.

    I almost think I'd raise the points value a little if you are talking one game per table a night over the course of 4 hours.

    Only gamers casually unwind with more gaming!

  7. I generally like it.

    I agree with Matthias that you should consider raising the pts limit -- you're talking a 4 turn game over 4 hours. Even allowing a generous 20 min / player turn brings you to a 160 min -- a bit under 3 hours. A 2v2 at 1k each feels a bit smallish for Apoc,

    I wouldn't necessarily leave the Apoc events completely to the end-game, since you're removing the ability to use those events to shape the battle. But definitely put them at well defined points. It might look something like this:

    Turn 1 (both teams play as normal)

    Drop the Apoc Events markers for T3

    Turn 2

    Adjudicate Apoc Events for T3
    Drop markers for T4

    Turn 3

    Adjudicate Apoce Events for T4
    Drop markers for End Game.

    Turn 4

    Adjudicate Apoc Events for End Game.

    By putting the markers down a turn before they're revealed, both teams have a chance to react. This reduces some of the suck factor of having events happen that you can't react to (like prelim bombardments immobilizing half you're vehicles before the game even begins; been there, done that)

    Of course not all the markers need be for something bad like an orbital strike; some could be for some buff like a supply drop of tank-hunter rounds, combat drugs, etc. giving the commander the opportunity to bait the opposition into running towards it.

  8. In general, I think it's a fine event. It could use some fine tuning, but you're already working on that.

    1) If you are going to for a 40K Drinking Game, then you should really commit to it. Drink when you lose a combat, everyone drinks when any player fails a morale test, if you have a deep strike mishap you can make any player drink, etc.

    2) Paying for an event doesn't make players want to "be there" more than a free event. It just raises their expectations. I think it's fine to charge for an event, but make sure that you are charging to mitigates the costs of the event, not to motivate players.

    3) Be cautious with your "apocalyptic ancillary events that affect all tables". I really recommend a "game master" that helps balance the event and keep it on track -- instead of following a script or leaving the exciting things up to chance. This is clearly a fun event and it should be managed like a narrative event.

    4) I agree that you should try to keep the tables together and linked, but try an "S" shape over a circle. A circle generally benefits one side over another -- generally benefiting the inside the circle (as does a "U" shape).

    5) Why put a cap on the number of players? Why not leave it open and see how many register?

    6) This is a pretty big game for 4 hours -- especially since you have some sort of strategic phase. Unless a complete "strategic turn" can be completed in an hour or so, you won't really be able to do much on the strategic map.

    7) I wouldn't call it an APOC game unless you use the APOC rules. It would probably go faster if you used the APOC rules with timed turns. The way Bigred handles the narrative events at WGC is to time the turns -- if you run out of time, then you are ES-OH-EL.

    8) If you decide to give the Overall Commanders Superheavies, then force the Superheavies to fight each other (i.e., Titans fighting each other above the battlefield -- the men in their shadows nothing more than insects to the war machones). Nothing sucks more than getting your 1000pt army destroyed in a single phase because of D weapons and super heavy fire.

  9. Okay, I'm going to approach this from a totally different direction than a lot of people here. This isn't 40k. It's a game that's tied to the 40k rule set, and is very different in several ways. So we need it to meet 3 criteria.

    1) Be fair-ish. That is to say, no one should sit down at a table and know they're going to lose (like having vehicles count triple for determining victory points for winners or something)

    2) Be fast enough that it's fun - things that scale poorly (in terms of game mechanics) in 40k should be eliminated.

    3) Avoid the 'balance issues' (issue: there's no balance) inherent in Apocalypse without destroying the feel.

    Okay, so how would I go about doing this?

    For #1, the games should seriously not feel like games of 40k. In fact, I'm going to say that their feel should be as follows - you're a small part of a VERY large conflict. Therefore, while you should never actively feel screwed because you got unlucky, there should be some sort of event system that feels like, as you said, incoming stuff from outside the table. (cont)

  10. Ways to make the game faster.

    Note that for these ideas I am throwing things I have thought of out there. Some may be incompatible with others, some may be designed to work with others.

    Disclaimer: You (Mike Brandt) are free to use these ideas as you wish for any purpose related to the 2011 Novacalypse open or any event you personally hold, as inspiration for your own ideas, or for other purposes related to warhammer 40k tournament events, with or without credit to me. This permission is extended exclusively to you and anyone holding tournaments using your freely published rules.

    [Yes, that's actually necessary. Believe it or not. As Mike can't legally use anything that anyone publishes here safely without that]

    BTW, the following I would all implement with an upped point count. 1500+ per person. Most of these work well together. For this, I will label movement phase speed ups with (M), shooting with (S), and assault with (A). Note, many of these change balance somewhat, please don’t throw that at me, I’m in a whole world of not care when it comes to Apocalypse.

    1) Swarm squads (M) – any squad of 6 or more single wound models are taken normally (on ArmyBuilder), but treated similar to swarms on the table. You deploy half the number of models that you normally would, and each model requires twice as many wounds to remove. WYSIWYG applies to any special weapons on the squad (missile launchers, etc.). For number of attacks, all special weapons that cost additional points (missile launchers, lascannons, Power fists, and the like) are treated as having the normal number of attacks they would receive. Any standard squad equipment (Laspistols, Bolters, Deffguns, etc.) are treated as having double their standard number of attacks (so bolt pistols would fire 2 shots). Any effect that increases attacks increases it by twice the normal number (rapid fire bolters would fire 4 shots). All models in this squad have eternal warrior (since instant death can’t kill 2 models). See point 2 and 3.

    2) (S)(A) Wound allocation is removed. All wounds on a squad are applied to the lowest cost model in the squad, as if the squad was homogenous. This ties into point 1, as wound allocation becomes very dicey in a world where many things have multiwounds. It also just speeds up the game.

    3) (none – required for 1 to work) Independent Characters in assault may reroll a single failed save per round of combat. This helps alleviate the problems with excessive numbers of attacks being in base-to-base with ICs.

    4) Running flat out (S) – runs are declared at the beginning of the units movement phase. The unit rolls the die, and adds d6 to the squad’s movement. This prevents the squad from shooting during the shooting phase, similar to moving ‘flat out.’

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  12. By the way, blogger is full of fail and lose.

  13. Implies, not infers. lol

    Also, I hate the idea of a 40k Drinking Game.

    I don't get the appeal in letting people lose all bodily coordination near the models I've painstakingly spent hours building and painting. :/

    Horses for courses I suppose.

  14. TKE,

    Similar to the seminar notional, this won't appeal as much to "hardcore competitors." When something is ill-received by all, it never shows up. When something is only ill-received by some, but well-received by many ... well, it belongs at a convention that is attempting to cater fairly to all.

    Not quite "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," but constructive input or silence are the two most valuable things ... silence for an event you don't care to creatively shape, and constructive input if you would enjoy participating were it to more effectively meet your desires. :)