A Custom Warhammer 40,000 Mission: Killer Ground

When the Warp envelopes a planet, nothing is ever as it seems. Even ruined buildings can suddenly come alive and go up in arms against the unsuspecting armies that were fighting nearby. The eldritch howls coming from their sealed walls are a promise of death to whoever dares to approach.

The armies

Both players choose their armies as described in the Prepare for Battle section of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook, up to an agreed point limit. No player can include Fortifications in its army.

Battlefield

Use the deployment map included in this mission. Place four Imperial Bastions (from the Fortress Assault supplement) at the four angles of the table to represent the Possessed Fortresses. Then set up the terrains as described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.

Deployment

Before deploying any model, the players must roll for their Warlord Traits.

First turn

The player who deployed first has the first turn, unless the other player manages to Seize the Initiative.

Game Length

The mission uses the Variable Game Length special rule.

Victory Condition

At the end of the game, the player who has scored the most Victory Points is the winner. If both players have the same number of Victory Points, then the game is a draw.

Primary Objective

At the end of the game, each player gains 1 Victory Point for each enemy unit which has been completely destroyed.

In addition, each player gains 2 Victory Point for each Possessed Fortress (see below) to which his units inflicted a Total Collapse or Detonation! result.

Secondary Objectives

Kill the Warlord, Linebreaker, First Blood.

Mission Special Rules

Reserves.

Possessed Fortresses: the Imperial Bastions have been possessed by daemons of the four Gods of Chaos and are hostile to every living being. Even if they form a sort of stand-alone army on their own, they have the Sentry Defence System special rule, so there is no need for a Games Master or a third player in order to play this mission.

The Possessed Fortresses have BS 3 and they consider the units of both players as enemy units, so they always fire on the nearest unit. The Possessed Fortresses fire in the Shooting Phase of both players. They also have the Daemon special rule.

Each Fortress is devoted to a different Chaos God (randomly determined after deployment). Depending on its patron, the weapons of the Possessed Fortress has one of the following profiles:

Range S AP Notes
Khorne 36″ 7 4 Heavy 3
Nurgle 36″ 5 Heavy 1, Blast, Poisoned (4+)
Slaanesh 36″ 6 4 Heavy 2, Shred
Tzeentch 36″ 6 3 Heavy 1, Blast, Soul Blaze

If attacked in close combat, a Possessed Fortress will strike back as if it were an Monstrous Creature with WS 3, S 7, I 4 and A 2, and equipped with defensive grenades.

Possessed Fortresses - Deployment map

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A Custom Warhammer 40,000 Mission: The Summoning

The Games Master

When three players want to play a Warhammer 40,000 game, but they cannot find a fourth opponent, most of the times they simply deploy three full armies and playing a free-for-all match, or allying two smaller armies against the third, bigger, one. Those approaches can result in wonderful games, sure, but there is another approach that is worth to try: one of the players becomes instead the Games Master, as if you were Roleplaying (or playing Wharhammer 40,000’s first edition, Rogue Trader). A Games Master is essentially a referee, whose main task is to judge on the doubts about the rules that might arise in the game, but he can also create unconventional game events, establish rules for situations not covered by the rulebook and, if the situation requires it, also to run a “NPC” force, that usually cannot win or lose a game, but is only there to add flavour to the scenario and hinder the armies of both players.

The following mission is written considering the presence of a Games Master.

The Summoning

An enormous concentration of energy appeared in the middle of no-man’s land, and it is so incredibly powerful that you can feel it inside your body, without resorting to any instrument. Your army reaches the point to investigate at the same time of an enemy force, and they both discover that the anomaly is due to a horrible ritual aimed at summoning a powerful Daemon on the planet. Stop the servants of the Ruinous Powers and prevent your opponent from taking possession of the dark temple.

The armies

Both players choose their armies as described in the Prepare for Battle section of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. The Games Master chooses an unbound army with half the point value of those of the players, composed only by Daemons and Cultists from Codex: Chaos Daemons, Codex: Chaos Space Marines and/or Codex: Khorne Daemonkin. The Games Master’s army must include at least one Herald, but cannot include any Daemon Prince or Greater Daemon, and all his Daemons must have the same demonic alignment.

Battlefield

Use the deployment map included in this mission. Place a temple or other suitable terrain in the middle of the table, then set up the terrains as described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.

Deployment

Before deploying any model, the players and the Games Master must roll for their Warlord Traits.

The Games Master deploys first, placing all his models within 6″ from the middle of the table. The players then take turns to deploy their forces as described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.

First turn

The player who deployed first has the first turn, unless the other player manages to Seize the Initiative.

The Games Master’s turns happen before the turns of the other players, but in his first there is only the Psychic Phase.

Game Length

The mission uses the Variable Game Length special rule.

Victory Condition

At the end of the game, the player who has scored the most Victory Points is the winner. If both players have the same number of Victory Points, then the game is a draw.

Primary Objective

The temple in the middle of the table follows all the rules of an objective marker. At the end of the game, the player that controls the temple gains 3 Victory Points. If the Daemon Prince is summoned (see below) and then killed, the player that killed it gains 2 Victory Points.

Secondary Objectives

Kill the Warlord, Linebreaker, First Blood.

Mission Special Rules

Night Fight, Reserves.

The Summoning: The Herald(s) controlled by the Games Master are trying to summon a powerful Daemon Prince. During their Psychic Phase, any Herald with the Psyker special rule can try to manipulate his Power Dices for the summoning as if it were casting a psychic power: each success adds 1 Summoning Point to the pool. The controller of the nearest enemy unit can try to Deny the Witch: each 6 reduces the successes of the Herald by 1. The Herald suffers Perils of the Warp as if it was trying to cast a Psychic Power, but if there is any Cultist within 6″ from it, the Games Master can sacrifice one of them to avoid the Perils of the Warp before rolling on the apposite table. In addition, each Wound dealt by a ranged or melee attack of a Herald adds 1 Summoning Point to the Pool. When there are 10 or more Summoning Points in the pool, a Daemon Prince (chosen from Codex:Chaos Daemons or Codex: Khorne Daemonkin and without any point limit for its options) appears on the temple as if it was Deep Striking, but without rolling for scatter. The Daemon Prince is added to the Games Master’s Army.

The Temple: The temple has its own datasheet, that you can download from here.

EDIT: If you want, you can download this mission as a .pdf from here.

The summoning deployment map

A New Game Mechanic – Strategy Cards

The Original Idea

When we play Warhammer 40,000, most of the times we do it in a “balanced” way. Same point limit for each army, same mission objectives… many of us even try to arrange the battlefield so that both the table halves have the same amount of cover. In the real world, however, war is not fair nor balanced and, above all, when two armies clash in the no-man’s-land, is it uncommon that they are both going for the same goal. Seeing it as an open and interesting field to explore with new mechanics, I started developing a set of rules for asymmetrical games, based on a deck of “Strategy Cards”. Some weeks later, it turned out that I was right, it really was an interesting field to explore: as soon as I finished writing the first draft of the cards, Games Workshop released the seventh edition’s rulebook. The new Tactical Objectives and Maelstrom of War missions immediately caught my eye, being an egregious way of “colonising” that unexplored field I was thinking about (better than mine, almost surely). I must admit that I was happy to find out that I was looking at the same blank spots that someone in the fabled Design Studio had pointed out.

Well, those spots had not really always been blank. Back in the days of second edition we already had asymmetrical missions, as the primary and secondary objectives of each player were determined by a card picked at random. It had been seventeen years, however, since when the third edition, with its strong focus on balance and simplification, removed them.

Mission cards from Warhammer 40k second edition

From the top, their English names are: The assassins, Guerrilla, Take and hold, Engage and destroy, Dawn raid, Witch hunt

The Design Principles

What I was trying to do, however, was not a simple revamping of an old mechanic. I wanted something less predictable and which implied at least some degree of choice for the player. So I wrote down a small list of principles to guide my inspiration, but which were not compulsory:

  • Each card must feel unique, and not like a slightly modified copy of another card in the set;
  • In the real world, the commander on the field receives orders from the HQ and is up to him/her to chose how to implement them, so each card, if possible, must let the player free to chose between two different effects;
  • Usually a general does not know what the goal of the enemy is, but must guess it by reading the actions of its army on the battlefield, so the picked card must be kept secret, if possible.

With those in mind, I started designing both the cards and the general rules to use them in a Warhammer 40,000 game. In this post I will present the cards both as images and in PDF format, so that it would be easier for you to download and print them, if you want to try them. I would be most grateful to hear your opinions and playtesting experiences with them!

The General Rules

When playing an Eternal War mission (or any other kind of mission – it is up to the players), the players can use the Strategy Cards. Each player must have their own Strategy Cards deck.
Before rolling to see who has the first turn, each player draws a card from its Strategy Cards deck, without showing it to its opponent. After reading the card, the player usually has two options: reveal it immediately, to gain the bonus specified in the Revealed section; or keep it secret until a later moment (usually the end of the game) to trigger a special effect during the game or to change his/hers mission objectives or the way he/she gains Victory Points, as specified in the Secret section. Note that not every card grants this choice: some of them must be revealed or kept secret, as specified on the card itself.
Some cards have a Special section that explains how to deal with peculiar situations.

The Cards

And, to make it easier to download and print them, here they are, all of the above strategy cards collected in a single file.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I used the amazing and highly customizable (and free) Magic Set Editor software to make these cards.

A Custom Warhammer 40,000 Mission: Rescue the Prisoner

In Warhammer 40,000 there is never such thing as too many missions to play. I constantly try to come up with something unique and different from everything else, but, be warned, I do not care too much of balance. What I want from my games is mainly to create a good war story, and in the real world, war is never fair. Rare is the battle in which the opposing generals have roughly the same forces on the field and the same goals to reach. So I think that a wargame, even Warhammer 40,000, should represent this, and be a tactical challenge where both players must try to do their best to reach their objectives, regardless of the starting conditions.

This is an example of one of the last missions I wrote, followed by an alternative version with a different deployment map and some rules tweaking.

One of the high-ranking commanders of your force has been captured the enemies, and you cannot leave him in their hands. They might discover precious information analyzing or torturing him or, even worse, they might us him for strange experiments or sacrifice him to their dark gods. You cannot allow it. Save him, no matter the cost.

The armies

Both players choose their armies as described in the Prepare for Battle section of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. The army tasked to rescue the prisoner will be the Attacker, and the other army will be the Defender.

Battlefield

Use the deployment map included in this mission. Set up the terrains as described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.

Deployment

Before deploying any model, the players must roll for their Warlord Traits. The Defender deploys first, placing a model or a marker to represent the Prisoner within 3″ from the center of its deployment area and attached to one of its units, but not embarked on a Transport Flyer or Super-heavy Flyer. The Attacker deploys second.

First turn

The Attacker goes first, unless the Defender manages to Seize the Initiative.

Game Length

The mission uses the Variable Game Length special rule.

Victory Condition

At the end of the game, the player who has scored the most Victory Points is the winner. If both players have the same number of Victory Points, then the game is a draw.

Primary Objective

At the end of the game, if the Prisoner is still on the table, the player that controls it gains 3 Victory Points. If the Defender manages to bring the Prisoner out of the table from the Attacker’s table edge(see below), instead, it automatically wins the game.

Secondary Objectives

Kill the Warlord, First Blood.

Mission Special Rules

Night Fight, Reserves.

Prisoner: At the beginning of the game, the players must choose an Infantry (Character) model from the Codex of the Attacker. The Prisoner follows all the normal rules of that model, but it cannot do anything but move, and it cannot move more than 4″ in the Movement Phase, as it has been drugged or is constrained by some xeno parasite, psychic powers or a strange archeotech device. The Prisoner is counted as having no faction. The Prisoner cannot voluntarily leave the unit it is attached to, and it is controlled by the player controlling that unit. If the Prisoner is not attached to a unit at the beginning of any Movement Phase, then the Attacker controls it; then if the Prisoner comes within 2″ from a unit (friend or enemy), in any moment, it is automatically attached to that unit (this means that its controlling player can change during a turn). No model can shoot to the Prisoner or attack it in an assault, and Wounds cannot be allocated to the Prisoner, but it can be normally Wounded and killed by scattering Blast weapons or the Vehicle it were in suffer an Explodes! result on the Vehicle damage table. If the Prisoner is attached to a Defender’s unit, that unit can leave the game from the Attacker’s table edge. To do so, the movement distance of all the models in the unit must be enough to cross that line. Rescue the Prisoner

Designer’s note

The Defender has many options on how to reach victory. Will it place a Fortification in the centre of its deployment area and defend the Prisoner with hard walls? Will it move as fast as it can to avoid the enemy attacks? Or will it bring to the field many pieces of ordnance to annihilate the enemy before it can come too near?

An alternative: armoured convoy

The enemy is transferring the prisoner to their HQ. Ambush its convoy and rescue our commander. The rules for this alternative version are the same as above, except for the following:

The armies

Players cannot add Fortifications to their armies. The attacker divides his army in two halves, with roughly the same number of units in each. The Defender’s army must include at least a Transport Vehicle and, possibly, as many Vehicles as possible.

Deployment

Before deploying any model, the players must roll for their Warlord Traits. The Defender deploys first, placing all his models in his deployment area. Only the models that must begin the game in reserve, like Flyers, can be kept in Reserve. The Prisoner, and the squad attached to it, must begin the game embarked on a Transport Vehicle. The Attacker must keep all his models in reserve. Half of the Attacker’s army (he chooses which) enters play from the Reserves at the beginning of the first turn. Each of his units can enter play from any Attacker’s table edges.

First turn

The Attacker goes first. The Defender cannot try to Seize the Initiative.

Victory Condition

In this alternative version, the Defender wins automatically if he can bring the Prisoner out of the “escape table edge”, instead of the Attacker’s table edge. Armored Convoy

An alternative special rule

In both of the variant mission above, you might decide that, when it is not attached to a Defender’s unit, the Prisoner may move and act normally, as he managed to break free to whatever was restraining it. In this case, enemy units must assault it and inflict it at least one “fictional” Wound to attach to it and make it their prisoner again; note that these wounds are not removed from its profile real, for the enemy is just trying to subdue it, and not kill it. To represent its enfeeblement, however, you might decide to apply a -1 modifier to all his characteristics (to a minimum of 1), or something more elaborate. If you think that it would be cool that the Prisoner lost a hand, you might reduce its WS, T and A without changing its BS or Ld, for example.

Forging a Campaign: Experience

In the previous posts of the “Forging a Campaign” series, I proposed some home rules to integrate Heroes and the Serious Injuries that they can suffer in battle. Today, as promised in these occasions, I will try to give some guidelines about how Heroes can gain Experience from the battles they have fought in and how they can become stronger.

After each battle, determine the experience gained by each Hero using the following rules: Continue reading