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.