Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Conquest Campaign for Dummies! - Part 2: Playing the Campaign

So now that you've Setup up your Campaign, it's time to start playing games!

Most of the heavy lifting is out of the way, and at this point there is only some minor, ancillary maintenance and bookkeeping required to make the campaign run smoothly; this is all managed in what are called Campaign Turns.

The Campaign Turns have 3 phases; The Mustering Phase, The Conflict Phase, and The Consolidation Phase.

Most of this process is easy enough to conduct over email or via a blog, wiki or forum; or even just with a notebook as long as everyone can access it.

Here's how the Campaign Turn phases work...

The Mustering Phase:

Where players from both teams take turns spending Reserve Points to Attack any of the Strategic Objectives (a roll off determines who goes first). Remember that Reserve Points represent your teams' pool of resources (men, tanks, ammo, supplies, etc...), and each team will start with an equal number. On page-168 there is a table to help you choose how many Reserve Points and how many Strategic Objectives would best fit your campaign depending on the number of people involved.

As long as there are Reserve Points to spend, any Strategic Objective can be Attacked, by either team, and as many times as desired (or until all Reserve Points have been exhausted). It's important to note that the team spending the Reserve Point to Attack a certain Strategic Objective is known as the "Attacker" in that game, and the opponent is the "Defender", because only the Attacker can score Control Points.

The Conflict Phase:

Where players from both teams play the games arranged during the Mustering Phase. All games in which the Attacker (having spent a Reserve Point) wins, gain his team a Control Point for that Strategic Objective; and all games in which the Defender wins denies any point for that game.

The Consolidation Phase:

Where both teams tally up all of the Control Points for each Strategic Objective. If either team has any more Reserve Points to spend then a new Campaign Turn can begin. If all Reserve Points have been exhausted, then the campaign ends. The team with the most Control Points on a Strategic Objective has "control" of that Strategic Objective, and the team that controls the most Strategic Objectives wins the Warzone; and if there is only a single Warzone, wins the Campaign.

Sample Campaign from Start to Finish!

Let's now apply this to our sample campaign from the previous post on Warzone: Terra. We have 4 players (2 per team), and each team has 5 Reserve Points to spend, which means that this campaign will be a total of 10 games. We'll be able to go through this entire campaign in this post - it's really that easy.

Campaign Turn 1

On the first meeting all 4 players show up to play and decide that they'll play 2 games a piece. To keep things simple each player decides to play one game as the Attacker and one as the Defender; so that a total of 4 Reserve Points (2 per team) will be spent during this day of gaming. We'll make them Team Red and Team Blue...

During the first Mustering Phase Team Red wins the roll off and decides to spend a Reserve Point to Attack Strategic Objective 1 (North America), which uses Zone Mortalis boards. Team Blue then decides they will Attack Strategic Objective 3 (Eastern Europe). Team Red decides they will counter by also Attacking Strategic Objective 3, and finally Team Blue copies this idea and they will also Attack Strategic Objective 1. Each team has used 2 Reserve Points.

During the Conflict Phase all 4 games are now played. In three of the games the Defender was able to win, denying any Control Points to the other team, but a player from Team Blue was able to win their Attack on Strategic Objective 1, giving Team Blue a Control Point for that Strategic Objective.

Now in the Consolidation Phase we tally up all of the Control Points, which at this point is only 1, for Team Blue at Strategic Objective 1.  Note the results down for future use. As both teams still have Reserve Points to spend, another Campaign Turn can begin - but that's for another day of gaming.

Campaign Turn 2

Another day of gaming comes the following weekend, and this time just 2 opposing players decide to duke it out over a couple games.

In this Mustering Phase Team Blue (after winning the roll off) decides to double down on Strategic Objective 1 and spends a Reserve Point to Attack that location. Team Red decides to Attack Strategic Objective 4.

During the Conflict Phase these 2 games are played over beers. Team Blue wins the Attack on Strategic Objective 1. Team Red also pulls out a strong win on Strategic Objective 4 in a game using the "Cities of Death" Maelstrom cards; the city ruins helping to shield his infantry from the harsh "Frozen Wasteland" Trait.

Remember you're not limited to any specific mission or point restriction. You can play whichever types of games you like best - with your applied Traits to tie them all together thematically.

In this Consolidation Phase we note that Team Blue now has 2 Control Points on Strategic Objective 1, and Team Red has 1 Control Point on Strategic Objective 4. Each team has 2 Reserve Points remaining, so the campaign is not over yet.

Campaign Turn 3

A long weekend comes and all 4 players get together again to wrap up the campaign. In the final Mustering Phase Team Blue wins the roll off and not knowing what Team Red might do, they decide to make sure Strategic Objective 1 remains theirs, so they spend a Reserve Point to Attack it yet again (or maybe they just really like Zone Mortalis). Team Red then presses that fear and spends a Reserve Point to also Attack Strategic Objective 1. Team Blue now realizes that they should try to win control of another objective so they Attack Strategic Objective 2. Team Red then sees an opportunity to control Strategic Objective 3 and Attacks that location. All Reserve Points have been spent.

The last Conflict Phase has some bloody matches and both teams win their Attacks on Strategic Objective 1. Team Blue was denied at Strategic Objective 2 as the "Ferocious Storms" and bad dice wreaked havoc on their jetbikes and skimmers. Finally Team Red was able to win their Attack at Strategic Objective 3 after deciding to play a "Kill Team" game on a 4x4 table - the "Frozen Wasteland" Trait really hurt both teams but the "Endless Forests" cover was crucial to the victory.

In the closing Consolidation Phase we can count up all the Control Points at each Strategic Objective and determine who has control at each location. Neither team has Reserve Points left so the campaign will end here. Team Blue solidly controls Strategic Objective 1, but nothing else. Team Red controls both Strategic Objective 3 and Strategic Objective 4, giving them control of the Warzone (2 to 1) and thus making Team Red the winner of this campaign.

And that's all there is to it! This was an example of a fairly basic campaign, but you can see it essentially has a built-in narrative and room for any type of game/mission.

There are several more "Traits" that I left out, as well as tons of other options in the book for building your campaign just the way you like it, there are also so many great missions to try; I would definitely recommend buying, or at least borrowing the Conquest book if you can.

The only other thing I'll talk about are Strategic "Campaign" Warlord Traits just because they're really cool. The Strategic Warlord Traits for this campaign work similar to the Warlord Traits you already know, except that they only affect the Campaign Turns rather than the actual battles. For example, the "Logistician Prime" (Strategic Warlord Trait) comes into play during the Consolidation Phase and gives you a chance (4+) to also gain a Control Point for a Strategic Objective when your opponent has actually earned it... and so forth. Really all of the Strategic Warlord Traits seem fun and can potentially have a major impact on the overall campaign.

The Campaign Turns and especially with the Strategic Warlord Traits you can add an entire new layer of strategy to your games. If you're playing 30K Legions you can even tie-in your Strategic Warlord Traits to specific Primarchs.

I'll just mention that there is also a Campaign Character Generation system that, while obviously very geared towards 30K, looks impressive.

Anyway, go out and play Campaigns! ...and please leave comments and/or questions.

See also: Setting up the Campaign.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Conquest Campaign for Dummies! - Part 1: Setting up the Campaign

I'm not going to spend too much time on the why... at this point you've heard the Conquest Campaign system is totally awesome and maybe you want to try it with your friends or club. It certainly is the most thorough campaign system that's existed for this game to date.

If you've been thinking about running a campaign, this system is so flexible that it can accommodate the tastes and pace of most gaming groups. The core rules are in the Horus Heresy Book Four (Conquest), which is worth getting, even if just for the Campaign system. Here I'm going to go over setting up a very basic campaign in this post.

The system is designed to work best with two teams, using specifically 30K armies, but again that 'flexibility' makes it really easy to adapt for 40K armies. 

Setting up your WARZONE

So you have your teams and backstory, now you need to create the stages of war that best fit your narrative. It's helpful to think of the "Warzone" as a single planet for now, containing various battlegrounds (Strategic Objectives) each with some shared, and some unique “Traits”. If you've played 40K as long as I have the word 'objective' is already a loaded term but here it has a new meaning.
Let's say your Warzone is Terra, and there are four locations, on Terra, that will host your battles, also known as “Strategic Objectives”.
  • Strategic Objective 1: North America
  • Strategic Objective 2: South America
  • Strategic Objective 3: Eastern Europe
  • Strategic Objective 4: Northern Africa

Let us say that Global Warming has finally caught up to Terra and the planet has entered another Ice Age... we're going to apply the “Frozen Wasteland” (p172) Warzone-Trait to the entire Warzone: Terra. This means that ALL of the Strategic Objectives will inherit this Trait. I'll give a vague summary of what the Traits do later, but you can guess from the name that some sort of environmental condition will affect your games with this Trait.

Let us also say that North America (Strategic Objective 1) was nuked and the only remaining civilization is living underground in bunkers. So to this Strategic Objective we will apply the “Concealed Bunker Complex” (p173) Trait, which essentially means all games are played on Zone Mortalis boards (underground).

South America (Strategic Objective 2) is still standing and all of the fighting will be above ground as normal, so it will inherit the “Frozen Wasteland” Trait. However, nuclear fallout from North America has caused even more chaotic weather at this location and so we'll apply the “Ferocious Storms” (p170) Trait. Keep in mind that these Traits will add new conditions and tests to each game but you are still free to use any mission, from any source. All of your games could be Apocalypse for example; or Kill Team, or Cities of Death... or just Eternal War missions or any combination you so desire, as long as you apply the Traits of this Strategic Objective (using common sense of course) to each game played at this Strategic Objective.

Eastern Europe (Strategic Objective 3) inherits the “Frozen Wasteland” Trait, but let's say that forests persist here, and so we will also apply the “Endless Forests” (p170) Trait.

Northern Africa (Strategic Objective 4) has no additional unique characteristics but still inherits the “Frozen Wasteland” Trait.

So far we have:
  • Strategic Objective 1: North America - “Concealed Bunker Complex” (Zone Mortalis)
  • Strategic Objective 2: South America - “Frozen Wasteland” and “Ferocious Storms”
  • Strategic Objective 3: Eastern Europe - “Frozen Wasteland” and “Endless Forests”
  • Strategic Objective 4: Northern Africa - “Frozen Wasteland”

The Traits are a fun way to add common themes and/or variety to your games. The book has a really nice selection of Traits but it's easy enough to even create your own. I'll go over briefly those we've selected for Warzone: Terra. The Concealed Bunker Complex is Zone Mortalis, however there are some additional bonuses to the side that already has control of this Strategic Objective. The Frozen Wasteland Trait forces non-embarked units to make Toughness tests or suffer penalties, it also affects Gets Hot rolls, Difficult Terrain tests and even close combat attacks. Ferocious Storms brings fierce winds that will affect movement, and the Endless Forests Trait makes all woods/forests/jungles into Tangled Forests which grant “area terrain” cover and have some other unique characteristics.

So without too much effort you have a flavorful and thematic Warzone. Depending on the number of players in your group and the intended length of your campaign you can add or subtract Strategic Objectives. You can also add more Warzones. For example if you wanted to add the 'Warzone: Mars' to this sample campaign, and you decided to give it the “Rad Wastes” (p171) Warzone-Trait, then all of the Strategic Objectives on Mars would inherit that Trait and so forth.

Now I'm only going over 'Setting up the Campaign' at this point and the last thing to talk about here is setting your Reserve Points. In the next post I'll talk about the specific method for spending your Reserve Points and actually 'Playing the Campaign'.

So Reserve Points represent your teams' pool of resources (men, tanks, ammo, supplies, etc...), and each team will start with an equal number. On page-168 there is a table to help you choose how many Reserve Points and how many Strategic Objectives would best fit your campaign depending on the number of people involved.

For our sample Campaign on Warzone: Terra, let's say we have 4 players and each side has 5 Reserve Points to spend. Reserve Points are spent to initiate an "Attack" on any of the Strategic Objectives in your Warzone.  So this campaign will be a total of 10 games, and it doesn't matter which of the 4 players plays which game. The side spending the Reserve Point is known as the "Attacker" and the opposing side is the "Defender". As long as there are Reserve Points to spend, any Strategic Objective can be Attacked, by either team, and as many times as desired (or until all Reserve Points have been exhausted). In this way there is no locked-in "fixed map" scenario that can tie up a lot of campaigns; you can always choose where you want to Attack.

Lastly I'll just mention that 'wins' ("Control Points" - more on this later) only count for the Attacking team, and if the Defending team wins they will simply deny; but the specific way this works will be discussed in the next Blog post.

Hopefully this helped, the campaign is definitely worth the effort. Feel free to leave comments or questions!

See also: Playing the Campaign.