Thursday, April 2, 2009
40,000 Points of Apocalypse: Table Layouts
The three big Apocalypse games I have played in (24K, 36K, and 41K) organized by our GW Club, League Subterranea , have all tried different table layouts. Our table layouts are complicated by the fact that our FLGS, Labyrinth Comics and Games, is located in a high rent region of Ann Arbor, MI(literally across the street from U of Michigan main campus). To make the business viable, the owners located it in a basement that is long and narrow. In the widest area where you would put a giant Apocalypse table there are support posts for the building above.
Table space is very important in Apoc games. The rulebook wants essential 1 square foot per 125 total points (3000 points total on standard 4*6 table) so for a 40K point game they are suggesting 14 4*6 tables or 320 square feet. Coming up this this much table space is hard and arranging it into something where you can get to the models is going to be also challenging. The Apoc book talks about floor wars but this would not be something I would recommend for a many player game. If you and a few close friends(2-3 more) want to try it, that is fine but for a general game with 14 people you do not play with often, the risk of damage to 150 dollar forge world flyers is too high. We have in general played on less than half the recommended table space. This makes direct surface movement harder since units are played close together giving more advantages to armies with skimmers and more usage of deepstriking and flank marching. It also makes things with Apoc templates and blasts even better.
Table layout is also important. Consider if all regions of the table can actually be reached to place the models. Assuming normal reach levels of about 3 ft every point needs to be within 3 ft of an edge. You could rig up a harness system to float players over the table but that is getting pretty extreme. Also consider depth issues. Are there places on the board where you can be a foot from no mans land and also 2 ft from any edges? Otherwise there is no where that shooty units can be deployed without needing a assault screen.
O Shaped Table
In the first game, we tried an O shaped table around one of the poles. We used 6 by 4 tables for the top and bottom and 4 by 4 for the sides. This game had 8 players with 3K each, Imperial(2 SM, 1 Sister, 1 Guard) vs Xenos (1 Eldar, 1 CSM, 1 Tau, 1 Nid). We called the space in the center a volcano/warp rift that was both impassable to all and LOS blocking. This table setup had the advantage that no point was more than 3 ft from the outer edge and you could go under the table to the center to move unit near the middle of the table. The problem we had was that the deployment zones ended up very close the table joints which happened to have narrow region of the table with about 2 feet across on both side. This created 2 bad choke points that were hard to get through. The game only lasted 3 turns due to time limitation but the only things which got through the line were a Heirophant which could just destroyed SM squads holding the line with its 16 Ap3 shots and assault attacks equal to or greater than the number of enemies in base contact and Flyers (Cloudstrike Squadron and Barricuda) which just flew over the battle line to Lance Pulsar the Armorcast Reaver to dust. The choke points were probably a bigger problem since the Imperial side did not have many units with special deployment rules allowing them to come in behind the enemy. This was an Apoc game back in early 2008 so no one had played a game this big to know that you must have Flank Marchers, and Deepstriking Drop Pod forces if you lack the skimmer transports of the Eldar and Tau.
Long Line Table
The second game was done on a single long table which was say 26 feet by 4 feet. This setup fit well in the long narrow space. This game was a drop in game published in white dwarf so the organizer really had a limited idea of who was coming. Everyone showed up and turned in their points, any super heavy or flyers and he did the best he could to make up even teams on the fly. With the narrow no mans land and very long table it made every point on a close range killing field. This layout also led to a more you verses who ever lined up across the table. We did not have anyone lining up in one spot then redeploying some or all their units way down the table since the time involved walking back and forth between different parts of the battle would have been excessive. The layout also caused me a problem when the opponents placed a disruption pod on my part of the table where my drop pod battle company was supposed to come in so they got scattered to the winds and picked apart one isolated squad at a time. I should have spent my first turn destroying the pod with my deployed units and held the drop pods and deepstrikers all to turn 2. A single long table is probably a standard for many Apocalypse games, but I would recommend making sure it is 6 feet across. You probably have to stretch but any point can probably still be reached.
+ Plus Sign Table
The most recent game had a main table that was like a plus sign with two 4*4 tables making the center with an additional 4*4 on each side. This is similar to the O arrangement but with the center closed off to eliminate the choke points. This table had 10 players on each with 3K points so if was incredibly densely populated. When a Tau players Tigershark came in from reserves he had to proxy its initial location since he had yet to build a flying base and there was no were to set it down due to its size. Both sides had considerable forces in reserves to fill up the space emptied due to the apocalypse sized destruction leaving the table very densely occupied past the 3rd turn of the game. I believe that the edges were called impassible terrain but you could fire over the gaps. I did not play on the main table so I am not sure what the exact rules were. There were also 2 4*6 side tables operating with 2 players each at 3K. These tables certainly allowed for more total points but they had there own problems which I will discuss in another post. Overall the layout seemed to work pretty well, their was enough depth that shooty units could be placed where they were likely free of assault danger for a turn or two. The models were close enough to the edge to position properly. I am not sure if any unit moved very far that were not flyers but there were enough flank marchers and deepstrikers such that nothing on the table was safe.