40K: Apocalypse Primer – Part I

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So you want to play Apocalypse and don’t know where to start?  Well here is an introduction to big games of 40K and how to get the most out of them.


I play only Apocalypse (OK, I did play in the Adepticon team tournament in 2011 and that was an absolute blast).  And I play Apocalypse because of the unique aspects of Warhammer 40,000 that are present in a game where you can play lots of your army at once.  What are those things that make Apocalypse so entertaining?

1)  You can play a LOT of models  –  I mean, who hasn’t anguished over which models to take and which to leave off?  Well, in Apocalypse you can take them all!  Choose a point level where you can play all that cool stuff at the same time.

2)  The game is cinematic in its scope  –  Huge battles look great!  Play over 2 or 3 tables.  Our average table set up is one table per 2 players.  Lots of terrain, lots of models! 

3)  War Machines, Titans  –  That is right, in Apocalypse you get to bring the big boys.  Baneblades, Ork Stompas, Warhounds, Reavers, Revenants, Phantoms, Hierophants and all those HUGE Chaos Daemons!

4)  Way more fun  –  OK, this is subjective, but we all love to play with all of our toys and seeing big explosions blow up lots of stuff.  The games are way less competitive and I often laugh when my own models blow up and take out lots of my own stuff with them.  You can have important units die and not care so much because you have three more!

So, that is why you play Apocalypse.  Let’s take a look at HOW you play the big games then.


So how big is an Apocalypse game?  Well, if you aren’t talking 3,000 points, don’t even bother!  Apocalypse is about big games with lots of models.  I play in 3 different apocalypse groups, and we generally play 10,000 points a piece, but we are experienced Apocalypse gamers. 

So what is best?  That is up to you.  I know a lot of players who like the 3,000 – 5,000 point range as that is how many points an average player will have of any one army.  This is a good size to start.
The Big Game, the world’s biggest Apocalypse limits a person to 20,000 points, because it is very hard to play more points than that in a one day game and get 4 turns in.
Just consider, the more points, the longer the turns. 

One of the secrets to Apocalypse, is the more the merrier!  I have never played a one on one Apoc game.  2 on 2 is a good start.  But the more players you add, the more fun you will have.  Apocalypse is a VERY social game.  You will be playing for a long time and you will have a lot of fun, probably take a meal break and go grab a burger, and come back and finish.  

 3.  TIMING 

Setting a schedule and sticking with it is very important in Apocalypse.  This isn’t a pick up game that can just start at any time.  Apoc games take a lot longer than your average 2,000 point game…generally they are all day events.  If you are playing in the 3,000 -5,000 point range then expect a four turn game to take 4-6 hours easy.

So, set a strict arrival time.  Plan on an hour for set up and then four hours to play 4 turns.  Add in time for lunch and you are looking at 6 hours.  Players must arrive on time, because late players screw up set up.  In bigger games, we do allow players to arrive late and then we just add them in as reserves, following standard Apocalypse reserve rules (1/2 your models on turn 2 and the balance on turn 3).

So those are the basics.  In the next two installments, I will cover House Rules and the use of “D” Weapons.  Two big parts of Apocalypse.  And for more information, check out the Apocalypse 40K blog.

So now the question is, how many points do you play in Apocalypse?

Alec Peters

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