Warhammer 40,000 Apocalypse, a review
I've managed to have my first game of apocalypse, and barring getting rules wrong (which I did a bit) I'm just putting my first thoughts on the game.
The game rules really smoothly in terms of design, tbh it feels better than 40k for that. Removing no models till the damage phase heavily shifts the dynamic of the game, and also makes the damage phase truly terrifying, (I went from yay! I'm winning! On the first turn to “oh god I have screwed this!” by the end of the first turns damage phase.)
The card system for command assets I think works really well, it has randomised the buffs you can get in a way that means that overwhelming overlapping buffs is somewhat difficult.
That said, you need two sets of cards really to play, I felt rather hampered by having to share and overall deck of cards.
In my game it was Chaos Space Marines vs, Imperial Guard and Grey Knights. My initial takeaway was Guard are good in apocalypse for one reason: Command assets. Like 40k and CP, they can easily max out their command assets, which makes Imperial alliance (and likely other alliance, e.g. Chaos, I won't use “Soup” as it's not really accurate at this scale) rather strong. I suspect this was because we played 200 power, at higher levels their ability to affects things will decrease, but at that size the Imperial size maxed out their hand to 12 cards a turn while the Chaos Space Marine side struggled. I would say at game smaller than 300 power it might be an idea to limit the size of the Command Asset cards players can hold at one time, but that's an initial impression.
Nothing in the sides felt rubbish, there were no units that felt dispropotionately powerful. The Grey Knights took Paladin Terminators, which combined with the “Force” card made them insanely powerful for one turn (their SAP becomining 2+). However this didn't feel bad, and certainly didn't feel cheesy; it felt like they had the impact that their sudden arrival would have, it felt thematic. At 25 power they are on par with an Imperial Knight and so they were a scary unit. In general, Terminators feel much better than in 40k, they are bricks. On that note, larger units generally feel better than smaller units, MSU perform poorly from game experience.
Garrisoning troops; well we did the rules slightly wrong in our game, but on re-reading the rules, it seems like a largely elegant system. The one thing I wouldn't bother with is their suggestion to place each individual models. We as players knew by eyesight how many models could fit in the terrain piece, so rather than mess about with indivdual model placement, we simply declared it and that was that, otherwise you're dealing with removing 40 models from their movement trays and putting them in terrain.
The major downside of the game I would say was that of characters. I don't the game accomadates characters very well; they are very fragile and very easy to snipe out with regular weapons. Their -1 to hit on light characters offers no protection whatsoever in real terms as taking an aimed fire order negates this from what I could see. Daemon Princes as they don't have this benefit had their life expectancy measured in seconds as they were immediately sniped off the board by artillery. On that note, characters vs artillery reminds me of 7th edition as barrage weapons are the best thing to pick out characters that are hiding, which seems bad and counter intuitive to intent. The oddest part is characters when they garrison, as you measure from the base of the structure regardless who you target, characters were immediately sniped out, as if everyone could immediately hit the character with their shots when they were hiding in ruins. The Warmaster of the Chaos side was sniped out when garrisoning in this way, again by sniper Basilisks.
I would personally house rule Light characters to not be able to be targetted if they are garissoning with other units and flat out not be able to be targetted if they are not the closest target, like 40k.
Overall, save the issue with characters, I like the rules of apocalypse, the activation system preferential to the normal “I-go-you-go” of 40k.