Not with a bang, but with a whimper.”
T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
Sometimes, a regular 2000 point-per-side Warhammer 40K battle just won’t cut the mustard. Sometimes, you just want to show off all those models you’ve accumulated, and built, and painted, but haven’t been able to shoehorn into your everyday army. Sometimes, you just really want to spend an entire day battling your friends on a giant tabletop. What to do?
Apocalypse, my friends. Apocalypse is official Games Workshop scenario rulebook that allows giant battles, consisting of armies 10 or 20 times larger than regular size, and containing special ultra-points-heavy models that cannot normally be fielded due to their prohibitive points count.
This past weekend saw an Apocalypse battle in the store, featuring a Chaos Space Marine army of some 17,500 points facing off against a roughly-equivalent force of various factions from Space Marines. Now, 35,000-odd points of Warhammer won’t fit on one standard 4×6 foot playing surface. It won’t even fit on two pushed together! No, what an Apocalypse battle needs is three normal tables pushed together. Seventy-two square feet of terrain, just waiting to be filled with models.
Of course, it’s not just the massive size of the armies that makes an Apoc game different: the flexibility in rules means that natural “enemies” can ally themselves, that a super-sized weapon produces a super-sized blast radius that can wipe out an entire unit of 10 or 20 infantry grunts, and that orbital weapons are possible (although sort of imaginary, naturally, since there’s no
way to actually suspend models over the table. In orbit).
The combatants spent Saturday afternoon setting up the tables and troop placement, and the battle started at 9 o’clock sharp on Sunday morning. Match organizer Andrew Galway had prepared meticulously, providing
custom-made “smoke clouds”: white clouds for camouflage, and red to indicate a hit vehicle. After two turns, it was already time for lunch, and neither side was ahead. The third and final turn did not end until well into the afternoon.
The game was finally called at dinnertime, each side having endured a truly marathon battle lasting some eight hours, and requiring lots of coffee (the number of empty Tim Horton’s coffee cups and cola cans in the recycling box was truly staggering).
As so often happens in real life, the battle was won by the forces of evil, represented by the Chaos Space Marines. The whole thing came down to a final hand-to-hand combat action, in which the Chaos Lords’ kill team managed to dispatch Kaldor Draigo, the Supreme Grand Master of the Space Marine chapter known as the Grey Knights. This ultimately broke the tie and eked out a one-point win for the Chaos Space Marines.
Apocalypse, on this one occasion at least, was awesome. Many thanks to all the players who participated!