In readiness of Apocalypse being made available for pre-order, Games Workshop has published its Apocalypse sub-site and has released a video via its YouTube channel in which we get a good, if not completely clear, look at the way the game will work and I do suggest you go watch the video yourself.
Now I am old enough to remember the original version of Apocalypse, having been heavily in to the hobby at that time I took part in a number of all day and even all weekend battles as that is what Apocalypse v1 was all about, using the existing rules but trying to allow players to use all of their collections.
To this end, Games Workshop was surprisingly aware of the issues around this, different people had different sized collections and it recognised that some people would have 5,000 points of Space Marines whilst others might have 2,000 points of Imperial Guard and 2,000 points of Tau and maybe 1,000 points of Eldar. Thus the first real strong revision of the ally system was introduced (as far as I can recall), allowing you to field armies based on strong or tentative allegiances with other factions.
It also introduced, I believe, the first real system for using destroyed units as reinforcements arriving late to the battle, but I could be wrong there.
At its core though, Apocalypse v1 was still Warhammer 40k, just with large amounts of minis on the table and some larger weapon templates to cope with the increasing amounts of Titan-level units and models people were fielding.
With the all-new, shiny Apocalypse though, there are quite a few changes and Games Workshop are being quite clear in its explanations that it will be its own game. To stress this, we have the box itself. As you can see from the image above, it quite clearly describes itself as ‘The Mass-Battle System”.
Next, we have this introduction of a deck-building element. There is a fair amount of vagueness around this part of the system at the moment, either on purpose or due to an assumption that players will simply understand it, but the video explains that players will build a deck of 30 Command Asset cards. The host of the video later explains that you draw cards from your deck, whilst the video shows a selection of face-down cards, strongly implying that there will be a random element to the game and that some of the usual elements of a trading card game will now be in play. Not only will you have to prepare an army list before a game, but also pick the 30 Command Asset cards you think will best help you in the upcoming warfare.
Something that is on the surface a welcome addition is the element of a shared turn, and damage being decided once every order has been issued. The first turn in 40k is often a huge advantage, many times I have seen a favourite unit or model destroyed before it has even been able to contribute anything as my opponent has focused on it and this is certainly one way of dealing with it. I do however want to experience this first hand tough before I comment on whether it is a better mechanic or not.
On the face of it, Apocalypse looks like a good addition to the main 40k game, in a very similar way to Kill Team and I will always try to be welcoming of Games Workshop testing new game mechanics, having shown that they will reuse and tweak mechanics for use in later games and rule editions.
My biggest concern is the amount of gear I may have to carry with me. Admittedly, given how many models you will need to bring for an Apocalypse game any way you will have arranged the games beforehand, but as someone who goes to my local store where we routinely see who shows up and have a game, I already have a 40k rule book, Space Marine codex, supplementary rule books/White Dwarf issues, dice, tape measure and models to carry. If I also need to carry another rule box, card deck, tokens and 12 sided dice just in case then I will probably have to get a second locker at work and pay for two seats on the bus!
What are your initial thoughts on the new version of Apocalypse? Were you around when the first version came out? Have I missed something you think I should be talking about?!? Let me know below.
Until next time, peace out.