So... I don't want to say I've been off the radar for a bit, but TWO-AND-A-HALF MONTHS AGO now is when I went to vist the marvellous Zzzzzz at his gaff in order to take part in a massive apocalypse game.
Now, what I cannot do is do offer any justice at all to the scope of the game. Instead - if you've not already done so - I'd implore you to swing by his blog, Devos IV, and check out his four-part post about the game.
All I can offer, really, is something of a minor insight into what can make a good apoc game for three fairly old, slightly hoary and very occasional players.
I was discussing this game with an opponent just the other day, and trying to pin down just what it was that made the day's game so very enjoyable. Hre are my further thoughts - in no particular order - punctuated by photos of the day's climactic smackdown. I hope you enjoy...:
> Good company. I know this seems both trite and obvious, but actually, when you're travelling to spend an entire day with just two people (one of whom you've never met before) it helps if you can talk to each other.
> Lots of miniatures. Yeah - lots. I had charge of the defending army: including some 30-odd tanks (mostly Leman Russes), two or three infantry companies (yup: companies - I must've been pushing a small battalion there), an artillery battery and two super-heavies. And they were ALL owned by Zzzzzz - and all painted too.
The opostition side was also mostly owned by Zzzzzz. This man LOVES his collections of models.
> Great miniatures. Seriously, there were some lovely, lovely minis on the table. Pride of place in terms of visual impact had to go - of course - to the late-arriving titans, but Col Corbane's regimental aid post was astonishing in the flesh - as were all the models he brought along from Corbania: beautiful.
> Not really knowing the rules. Okay, we have a vague idea, but a year after its release none of us had much of a firm grasp on 6th Edition rules...nor the specific rules for the pieces we were playing with, even though they were pretty simple by GW's standards. No: this was probably the best part of the day for me - the fact that rules were fudged or guessed at to help along the narrative (although the others were undoubtedly better at this than me - I blame the bewilderment of being suddenly alone in charge of 15billion points' worth of traitrous Guard) worked really well. Plus Zzzzzz takes a disturbingly meglomaniacal joy in this approach...
> Narrative gaming. Those of you who aren't familiar with his material, trust me: Zzzzzz has a backstory to Devos IV that would make Tolkien burn with shame. And he feeds this into the game with the breezily encyclopedic knowledge of th best kind of Gamesmaster.
> Bacon. There was a lot of this. I may or may not have consumed most of it. I am not proud...but in my defence, Mrs Drax is a confirmed vegetarian, so it's a treat.
> Tea. Yup.
> Playing outside. PLAYING OUTSIDE. In the UK. Yes, folks - despite being about 11hrs long, this was easily the most comfortable game of 40K I've ever played. As a kid I played in under the sloping eaves of our loft or - worse - on the floorof my brother's bedroom (I remember having our huge Epic armies battling across the horrid 80s carpet), and as a tall adult I've suffered many bad backs from tables that are 3" too low...but to play on a 12'x6' table in the middle of a quiet, pleasant, SUNNY enclosed garden really was a smashing experience.
> Escalation. The last time we had an Apocalypse weekend at Zzzzzz's we played a lead-in game (which was brilliant) but this left us short of time, so the 'second' game(!) merged into an Apoc game. This time, Zzzzzz had planned for this, so put simply the game started big and just kept on escalating, with literally a new wave of tanks arriving every turn (see the photos), and titans strolling on in the endgame. Wonderful.
> Scenery. Zzzzzz also had hand-made a selection of defensive lines and fortifications. Just brilliant (when you're the defender!).
> Cinematic moments. Like when Marbo turned up for the forces of good, realised my command bunker had been modelled with the blast doors left open(!), and rightly enough lobbed in his demo charge with grave results.Genius! Art wins over life.
> And finally, the look on Corbane's face as case after case after case of painted tanks and minis rolled out of Zzzzzz's garage. Absolutely priceless.
If you ever get the invite, go: you won't regret it, that's for sure!