Campaign Review

The War Zone Octarius – Book 1: Rising Tide book has rules for a Campaign. They are, basically, a reprint of 8th edition “rules” for combining (linking) missions in a narrative fashion using a tree structure. However, this time they added some more “rules” and special features that make the idea even more interesting and narrative. The rules are presented in the context of an invasion of the Pankallis sub-sector, but they state that even though this campaign system is using the War Zone Octarius, it can be used for any War Zone from GW or even make your own.

Campaign Master

Let’s take a look at the Pankallis Assault Campaign section of the book. First thing is the “Campaign Master”, this is the person that organizes the campaign, sets up the mission tree, arranges the players into alliances, writes the narrative, and keeps track of the points. If there are only a few players in the campaign it isn’t too burdensome on the Campaign Master, which makes it easier for them to join in the campaign.

Players and Alliances

It is best to have an even number of players to divide into two alliances. The most common division in GW War Zones is to have Imperium vs Non-Imperium. While those are the most convenient alliances, the Campaign Master can have any kind of alliances that fit the story of the campaign. If teams are not even the Campaign Master can even them up using “allies of convenience” with minimum narrative to make it work. Allies of convenience is just a narrative way of adding either Imperium factions to a Non-Imperium alliance or vice versa.

Once the alliances have been set; one alliance is chosen to be the Attacker and one the Defender. Which is chosen for which role is dependent on the campaign setting; if the system being fought for in the campaign is an Imperial system being beset by Xenos or Heretics, then the Imperium is the Defender for the rest of the campaign. However, maybe it is the Imperium that is trying to take back a system from Xenos or Heretics, then they are the Attacker.

Once the alliances are set the Campaign Master distributes the Campaign Tree to all the players.

Campaign Length

Here is where things can get tricky depending on the meta (local group of players). Some meta are more into competitive matched play or even what I call, casually competitive matched play. If you have a number, preferably and even number, of narrative minded players that are willing to commit to playing a Campaign that is great. The book recommends keeping the number of Phases low, say 2 or 3 in order to make it easier to actually complete the number of games needed before folks loose interest or have life events take over.

What is a Phase you ask. A Phase is one or more games (if you have a dedicated set of players) that make up one discrete increment of your Campaign. For example, Phase 1 may be a Combat Patrol mission or missions that represent the very beginning of your campaign. In this phase one alliance will gain an advantage over the other by winning the single game or winning the most games in the time period allotted for Phase 1. Once one of the alliances has been determined the winner they are awarded a Victor Bonus to be used during rest of this campaign.

Campaign Stages

Here is where the games are actually played. Each player is responsible for reporting to the Campaign Master the number of Planetary Assault points that they earned for the current phase. Points are only given out for the first time the assigned mission from the Campaign Tree is played. The Planetary Assault points are dependent on the results of the game (win, loss, or draw) and the size of the game (Combat Patrol, Incursion, Strike Force, or Onslaught) See page 44 of the War Zone Octarius Rising Tide book.

In missions that instruct players to determine the Defender and Attacker they use their alliances’ designation. Once all players have reported in their Planetary Assault points and the victorious alliance has been determined the Campaign Master does the following:

  • awards Victor Bonus listed on the tree to each player of the victorious alliance
  • award Strategic Value points to the victorious alliance (page 45)
  • announces campaign moves to the next Phase.

Winning the Campaign

The alliance with the the most Strategic Value points at the end of the agreed number of Phases is the Campaign winner. Depending on whether the Attacker or Defender won, and the difference in Strategic Value points the Campaign result is determined. Results are Planet Killer, World Butcher, Bloody Stalemate, World Sentinel, or Custodian Supreme.

Victor Bonuses

There are 18 bonuses listed on pages 46 and 47, these bonuses are given to each player of the alliance that won that phase. They can be use for the rest of the campaign. For example, the Attackers alliance wins Phase 1 and each player is awarded the Victor Bonus Legendary Heroes which allows the players to use one Epic Deed Stratagem for free (no CP cost) once per battle. Most of the bonuses are nice, but not overly powerful.

Campaign Master’s Edicts

These edicts, or special rules, are optional and should only be used if the group is experienced at playing the Campaign framework or the Campaign is being played with Games Workshops Crusade Narrative Play framework. Rising Tide are 3 Edicts, I am hoping that there more will come, Concealed Deployment, Crusade Rewards, and Shadow Missions.

Concealed Deployment is very similar to the Genestealer Cults’ Cult Ambush mechanic. Players must pay the required CP according to the chart on page 50. Concealed units must be deployed once both players have deployed all their units, but before that actual end of the Deployment phase

Crusade Rewards allows the Campaign Master to give Underdog Requisition Points to each player of the loosing side. This represents the urgent request for more resources. This section also gives examples of criteria for the Campaign Master to award Experience points to players to be divided across their Crusade Order of Battle.

Shadow Missions is one that piques my curiosity. This rule represents special, side missions that a player can assign to one of their INFANTRY units (excluding CHARACTERS) that contains 10 or fewer models. It allows a player to place the selected unit into Strategic Reserves. This unit is operating behind enemy lines and must roll a d6 in your Command Phase, starting in Round 2, to determine whether they were successful. There are Shadow Mission Modifiers that are listed in the table on page 51 and are applied to the d6 roll, these modifiers are based on the Power Level of the unit preforming the Shadow Mission. Whether the unit was successful or not, they must come on the table following the rules for Strategic Reserves. When the unit is set up on the board, roll 1d6 for each model, for each result of 1 a model is destroyed. This represents that casualty or casualties taken while out on the Shadow Mission.

Conclusion

I like this framework for creating a more robust linked campaign from previous releases. I for one, plan to use this framework in my Crusades (using the Crusade framework). The plan is to use a campaign to represent taking of each planet or moon or orbital defense platform in a system. This will allow players to drop out of the Crusade or enter or swap factions every 3 or 4 games.

Each time I kick off a new Crusade the plan is to host a 3 game Campaign at the LGS.