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40K: Bring On The Chapter Approved Apocalypse

8 Minute Read
Nov 27 2017

There is nothing like the spectacle of a game of 40K when the Apocalypse rules are in play. Let’s take a look at what Chapter Approved is bringing to the table!

All this week we’re going to dive into Chapter Approved 2017 and today we’re starting with the end – It’s time for the Apocalypse!

Apocalypse Gaming – What Is It?!

Apocalypse Games are a variant on Open Play. The major differences are covered below, but on a super high-level, it’s just the scale of the game. Ideally, Apocalypse Games aren’t just a one off game, but a gaming event of sorts. It’s Epic: 40,000, but at the Warhammer scale!

These games tend to be more for the pure spectacle of the games and almost absurdist firepower. Hopefully, everyone who is joining you in these games is not here for balance/tournament play but rather the pure joy of hanging out, rolling buckets of dice and watching entire units get evaporated in table-shaking explosions! It’s an excuse to bring ALL of your toys to the table and play with them in a fun environment. If you do it right, you’re going to have lots of stories to tell for years to come.

If you’re looking for a different kind of Warhammer 40k experience than what Matched Play has to offer Apocalypse games might be for you. If you like the idea of taking 5 Knights vs a Tank company, legions of Daemons vs a Space Marine Chapter, or if you want to see if your Orky Green Tide can smash the un-ending Tyranid Swarm then Apocalypse is DEFINITELY for you!

Apocalypse – Rules Changes & Concepts

Apocalypse does have a few rules tweaks and suggestions. Many of these are thematic adjustments to help you manage your game and player experiences. At the heart of these is the idea that this is a GAME and people are there to enjoy themselves. At the same time, there are rules to the game and these tweaks will help enforce them.

  • “Team Play” vs “Two Players”

While Apocalypse can be played in a 1v1 setting, it really geared toward a Team vs Team mentality. Those two teams might not have an even number of players, either. That’s because when you’re setting up your game, you need to have it arranged so that it’s balanced by the “Sides” and not the number of players. Theoretically, you could have more than 2 sides facing off. I, personally, don’t recommend that simply because Apocalypse games are already lengthy and can be confusing enough with two sides. Trust me, it’s going to be crazy as is so do yourselves a favor and just stick with two sides.

  • Use Power Levels to “Balance” the sides

Because the number of players can fluctuate, you need to have a standard that both sides can agree too – and that’s Power Level. GW flat out says that you want to START at 150 Power Level in the Chapter Approved. I think this is a good baseline, but Apocalypse can (and should) go much larger. If you had 150 Power Level per player, now you’re talkin!

  • “All units on the same side are considered friendly towards each other.”

This is a quote from the Chapter Approved. Now, I know some folks would like to interpret that in different ways but I think a simple interpretation is best: Don’t Shoot Your Team Mates. For the most part, rules that have aura effects will only impact those units with the correct keywords anyways. If you’re organizing a game, you’re going to want to figure out how you want to address this before you start – trust me. Once you settle on how those things work, make sure everyone is on the same page and you’ll have a much smoother time.

  • Many Warlords, But ONE Warmaster

Each player will be allowed to nominate a Warlord for their army. Those Warlords will have Warlord Traits and all that implies. However, there is another position of power that comes with the title of Warmaster! The Warmaster is the tie-breaker/decision maker/representative of that side of the table. They get the final call if the team disagrees but with all that power also comes a massive target on your head…The different Apocalypse Scenarios do have rules for slaying the enemy Warmaster!

(Side note: If you’re playing with the Warmaster, I would also suggest giving them something special. Either an extra Warlord Trait, a special piece of Wargear, or some other appropriate rules for the game. You don’t have to do this – it’s not even in the rules, but this represents another facet of Apocalypse I really like: Mission Customization. Now, if it’s your first time, maybe don’t do this. But if you’ve played a lot of Apoc, you’ve probably got a better gauge of how this can be implemented. User discretion is advised.)

  • Table Size Matters

GW doesn’t have any hard or fast rules in the Chapter Approved, but they do bring it up so do consider it. 6′ by 4′ is probably a good start. But each game/group will have to determine how much space you’re realistically going to need and how dense you want it to be.

  • Time Limit, Not Turn Limit

Apocalypse Games/Events tend to be all day commitments. Because of this, you’re going to want to plan ahead (the players will thank you). Bake in some breaks for food/refreshments and have time limits for things. From my experience and depending on how many players/sizes of the games you’re going to want to have time limits on turns – or even specific phases within turns! I know it sounds draconian, but it’s the most fair way to do it and actually finish. Then again, that’s only if you want to finish at a particular time – maybe that’s not an issue! In that case, go nuts. But if you’re running an event or playing with folks who can’t play an entire weekend, stick to a time limit.

  • Use a Schedule

GW has a suggested schedule in the Chapter Approved – we liked it. That’s probably a good baseline to start from depending on the size of your game and the number of players.

Apocalypse – Three New Missions

Included in the Chapter Approved are three new missions that are a good starting point for your Apocalypse Games. Let’s take a quick look at all three:

Race to Destruction

Race To Destruction is just like it sounds. Players setup pretty close and then the throw down commences. Above is an example of how the first part of the missions is laid out. You can see it’s got a pretty standard setup for all the typical mission rules.

Night March

Night March emphasizes the chaos of combat. As you can see this scenario uses a custom deployment that can get pretty crazy! The special mission rules are a hoot as well.



Here you can see the special rules for Exterminatus! – Each one of these scenarios has different ways to score VPs. Notice that Slay the Warmaster is a VP!

Apocalypse – Just The Beginning

The world of Apocalypse Games is wide open for players to experience a whole slew of different experiences with 40k. Included in the Chapter Approved is a section that is devoted to modify your games with different variants of play.

Story-based Objectives – These are for games with a more Narrative slant. These objectives can represent something more than just a point on the board. Maybe the objective is a terrain feature like an entire factory! This opens up the game for some really fun and thematic moment.

Objectives, Personal Objectives, Secret Orders – I have seen these used to great effect in past games. The idea is simple, each player isn’t JUST trying to complete the over-all mission, they each have their own personal mission they are trying to accomplish. These can be worth bonus VPs, but they could also just be used as a point of pride! Your side might of lost, but did you complete your personal objective? I loved these in my games because they add an element of uncertainty to your allies – which often lead to some humorous or exciting moments in your games. These are the moments that players will talk about for years to come.

The Umpired Game – Having a Game Master or Umpire for your game is FANTASTIC. Dan and Glenn of The Narrative Guys are two of my favorite Wargamers. They travel to different cons and events throughout the year and host Narrative (aka Apoc) games. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with these two as my GMs and they run an awesome event. Their goal is to keep the games moving and make sure everyone is having a blast. I can’t think of a better example of an Umpire for your Apocalypse Games. Go bug them for tips!

Multi-Table Games – There is a section in the Chapter Approved about how to run with linked tables. I have played with these types of rules before and they can be great. Just keep in mind that not all tables will be running at the same pace so this can lead to some wonky situations where one table is on turn 2 and the other is on turn 4. But that’ when the GMs come in handy! There are lots of different ways to implement rules for this that aren’t covered in the Chapter Approved – but that’s another article.

Apocalypse It’s About The FUN, Man!

If you’re looking for something different in 40k, no matter if you’re just wanting to bring all your toys, play with all your friends at once, or just have an excuse to roll dice, Apocalypse Gaming Events are a ton of fun. If you haven’t gotten to play in one, Chapter Approved does have some tips on how to organize them. They can take a lot of work and a commitment to pull off, but if you do, it’s an event unlike any other!



Chapter Approved 2017 – $35


Bring on the Apocalypse!


Author: Adam Harrison
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