Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Assault on Evelyn Hive

We're going to be trying out a simple campaign for 40K at Castle House starting either this Sunday or next Sunday (just depends on feedback and if we have everything ready in time).

The goal is to give a nice narrative without restricting anyone's ability to play the game the way they want to. With this in mind there are no required point sizes or special scenarios, or anything like that. You just show up at the store, sign up to join a side and find someone on the other side to play against.

The background is that some malevolent Power of Chaos has set its eyes on an Imperial Hive World and launched an assault on its capital. Nearby Imperial forces have responded to its defense, while opportunistic xenos forces have thrown in their lot with the forces of Chaos in attempt to take the Hive.

The campaign will be three weeks long and will be played out over a map made of the Planetary Empires tiles, with a Hive City tile in the middle, and three tiles extending out from it in all directions. This results in a hex shaped map of three rings around the central Hive. The Chaos side will start controlling the outer ring which contains three scoring hexes. The Imperial side will control the middle ring containing six scoring hexes, and the inner ring containing three scoring hexes.

The first week of the campaign, the Chaos side will hold the initiative. This means that prior to each game the Chaos player will choose a hex to attack that must be adjacent to a Chaos controlled hex. The Chaos and Imperial players will then play a game of 40K at whatever point value they agree on. If the Chaos player wins, he will get to place a flag on the board indicating that Chaos has taken that hex. If the Imperial player wins, they hold the line and keep the Chaos player from advancing, and will be able to place a marker in that hex indicating that it may not be attacked for the remainder of the current campaign turn. In the event of a draw, the hex does not change hands, but may be attacked again during the same campaign turn.

Starting with the second week of the campaign, the Imperial side will have recovered from the initial shock of the invasion, and both players will roll off before each game to determine who is the attacker. The attacker will then get to pick the hex they are attacking as described above. If the Chaos player is the attacker the game is played out exactly as described above. If the Imperial player is the attacker then the only difference is that you reverse the roles and if the Imperial player wins then rather than placing their own flag, they will be allowed to remove the Chaos flag from the tile to show that the Imperial forces have re-taken it.

The only rules in choosing hexes to attack is that you cannot attack into a hex that has already been successfully defended that campaign turn, and you cannot attack from a hex that cannot trace a path of friendly hexes back to a supply point. For the Chaos side the supply points are the three scoring hexes they start with. For the Imperial side the supply point is the Hive City.

At the end of each campaign turn (which will either be Saturday afternoon, or Sunday before any games are played), the campaign points will be totaled for each side. Each side gets one point for each scoring hex controlled. At the end of three campaign turns the side with the highest point total will be declared the winner.

An alternative victory condition for the Chaos side is to successfully take the Hive City.

An alternative victory condition for the Imperial side is to successfully take all three scoring hexes in the outer ring.

If people enjoy this style of play we may try for something more elaborate in the future, but I wanted to keep things very simple and easy to use for our first attempt at this.

I started thinking about this campaign several weeks ago, pretty much right after we saw the previews for the Planetary Empires tiles. Around that time we were regularly getting in six to ten players, and had as many as six games going on at once in the store. For some reason things have slowed up a bit and we haven't had to set up an extra table since the day we had to set up three, which was about a month ago now.

The campaign idea was planned as a way to simply add some fun to what people were already doing, but now I'm hoping that it might bring some people back in. Unfortunately, I spent so much time thinking about the rules that I didn't spend much time on the fluff, which is a lot of what campaigns are about.

As to the time spent thinking about the rules, it was mostly spent thinking up more complex systems and then discarding them. This campaign framework was mostly a result of pruning. I should also acknowledge that it was inspired by the Firestorm campaign system from Battlefront. I'm not sure any of the ideas from that system ended up in the final version of this system, but it provided a good starting point for brainstorming.

One final note, the campaign title comes from the Evelyn Hills Shopping Center, which is where Castle House Games is located. Yeah, that's how little time I spent thinking up the fluff.

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