I can’t imagine that I’ve kept my love of Warhammer 40,000’s Crusade Mode a secret. The chance to play narrative games with a growing roster of units that can accomplish glorious feats or be shamed into the annals of obscurity? Sign me up! Games Workshop are doing well to cover Crusade across all factions that have thus far had a new Codex. The Death Guard can make custom plagues, Drukhari players seek monopoly within Commorragh and Ork Waaagh!bosses kick ten bells out of each other for leadership! Within Warzone Ocatrius Book 1 we get a feast of new campaign rules and even rules for a campaign master that appear to work brilliantly with Crusade forces. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Games Workshop sent a copy of Warzone Ocatrius Book 1 to me for free for the purposes of this content. The book is very similar to the other narrative supplement releases that we’ve seen. In fact, Warhammer Community already showed off the entire table of contents, as can be seen below.
What’s in the book?
Upon reading this, I immediately leapt to “Campaign Rules” on page 38. Here begins the explanation of the Pankallis Assault Campaign which can be organised as a campaign for a group of players to undertake as two alliances vying for control of the Pankallis sub-sector. The campaign can be run with games for Matched Play or Crusade games, which allows players to be as competitive or as narrative-driven as they’d like.
There are seemingly very few restrictions in regards to the composition of alliances. It does recommend that, for thematic purposes, the attackers do not have the Imperium keyword whereas defenders should all have the Imperium keyword. This isn’t essential to follow, but there’s even a segment on Allies of Convenience that justify why some of these factions may choose to work together temporarily. Overall, it lays down a nice guide as to how you could run the alliances to be fitting for narrative. Yet, it does nothold you at gunpoint to do so.
Structuring a Campaign
In Warzone Ocatrius Book 1 a campaign is broken down into phases. Players play a series of games that make up a phase. In playing games you gain Planetary Assault Points which determine which alliance is victorious at the end of the phase. Winning phases gains your alliance Strategic Points. By the end of the campaign after the third phase, whichever alliance has the most Strategic Points wins! This means that a campaign could be broken down into 9 games played by each player, but realistically they can be as long as you like. There are even additional rules suggested for longer campaigns that could span months as opposed to those that could be played over a weekend or two. At the back of the book, there is a blank campaign tree that you can photocopy to setup your own campaign phases, should you wish.
There’s a crucial role included in the new campaign rules, and that is the role of Campaign Master! The Campaign Master’s responsibility is to run, organise and track games across a campaign so that all players can focus on playing the games themselves. This is likely not necessary for a smaller campaign of a few players, but among larger groups I could see it as being vital! Else, these things inevitable spin out of control into disorganised havoc.
The Campaign Master also has a handful of rules to help deepen the campaign even further within Warzone Ocatrius Book 1. The Campaign Master may choose to allow players in the campaign to harness concealed deployment rules. This is very similar to Genestealer Cult deployments where units are deployed on the table as numbers counters, to be revealed once deployment is over. This would certainly add an element of unpredictability for players whose armies may be fighting under certain conditions.
Rewards for Battle
Crusade rewards are also an option, should it be a narrative campaign. There are wonderful options here including underdog players receiving XP to help bring them back to the fight. My personal favourite is that should a player defeat an opponent who defeated them previously in the campaign, they can give an additional unit a Mark for Greatness.
A particularly enticing option for the campaigns includes Shadow Missions. These are secret tasks that your units can try to accomplish during a battle. It means they can’t be on the board for the first few turns, but the benefits can be quite substantial. There’s even a chance you could deny your opponent battle forged command points or even make their stratagems cost more command points to use! The risk is in this as it means you’ve got less than your full force on the battlefield, but it could make for an exciting twist mid-game.
The versatility of this campaign system is exceptionally appealing as it means your campaigns can be as long or complex as needed. If you’re organising a matched play event for a weekend, the content in this book could make it phenomenally easier. If you’re looking to have a big narrative campaign over the course of a month with your gaming circle, there are definitely some terrific rules in here that will keep your players invested and thirsting for glory.
Warzone Octarius Book 1 is available to pre-order now. If you’ve been aching to run a Warhammer 40,000 campaign and just needed the framework to do so, this is your best chance yet. I for one cannot wait to participate in a friendly narrative campaign with my friends and look to conquer the Pankallis sub-sector with my Orks!
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