Hemera’s End – A 40K Campaign League

Sometime last year, I raised the idea of setting up a regular ‘league’ at my FLGS here in Hong Kong.  There are many regular gamers here, representing the whole spectrum of power levels from the WAACineers to the Fluff Bunnies, and everywhere in between.  To my surprise, there was no interest in a plain old league. Absolutely none.  The main reason for this was that leagues were a bit boring.  What people really wanted was a ‘Campaign League’ – something with a bit of narrative that they could sink their teeth into.

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Narrative campaigns and regular leagues are notoriously hard to mix. In a lot of ways they are like trying to mix oil and water – you can try as hard as you want to meld them into a cohesive mass, but as soon as the initial energy is lost they will separate out into their distinct parts.  Most of the time, it is the mismatch between trying to write a flexible ‘fluff’ that accommodates all the factions in a ‘believable’ manner, while trying to keep the games at a ‘reasonably’ competitive level without going over the top (i.e. protecting the delicate Fluff Bunnies form the circling WAACineers).  It also needs to try to avoid the classic negative feedback loop, where winners keep winning as they generate more bonuses from the campaign system, while losers are put in increasingly harder positions until they get fed up and leave the campaign.

As if that wasn’t hard enough, they also wanted to make it team play, with two players per Alliance. And it had to be flexible enough to allow players to miss games if they couldn’t make it one week.  And  of course, it had to be fun.

Well, I have always enjoyed a challenge, and this is what I came up with.

The full Campaign Booklet can be downloaded from my blog here.

The Fluff

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‘The Hemera cluster is a cauldron of suffering and strife. Its planets are constantly wreathed in smoke and ash, its space lanes filled with the wreckage of a thousand wars, its world’s abject pits of misery and anguish. The poor, beleaguered citizens cling onto life in a perpetual state of conflict and upheaval. The region lies along the north eastern limits of Imperial space, straddling the ever shifting borders of the Ultima Sector and the Ghoul stars. It is an interstellar cross roads or rival empires, all fighting for dominance.

But it seems the Chaos gods are not without their dark, incomprehensible humour. A ferocious warp storm has broken over the region, trapping its belligerent occupants behind its impenetrable barrier. With no warning, the rival forces – as well as the hapless citizens that all this system home – have been cut off from the support of their empires.

The frantic scramble for what meager resources exist in the system has begun, with each faction vying for supremacy in a battle that has now become about survival. While some factions fight bitterly for sole ascendancy, uneasy alliances between former adversaries have been hastily cobbled together in an effort to tip the balance in their favour. The poor suffering citizens of these region’s hellish worlds may have though further strife was not possible, but the escalation has only just begun…

This was truly the beginning of Hemera’s End.’

Campaign System

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The campaign is made up for four alliances doing Battle.  These alliances are made up of two player, or ‘partners’. Every two weeks, alliances will play each other according to the round system.

The rounds are pre-determined to ensure everyone battles everyone an equal number of times (i.e. like a league) and will also ensure that attacks are fairly spread among each alliance so that no single alliance gets ‘ganged up on’ by the others.

Related Reading  Mission: Defensive Onslaught v2.0.0 (Updated)

Alliances can decide to either fight the two battles separately or a single battle together (to give flexibility to what can be organized by participants). If one member of the alliance cannot make it for some reason, his partner can fight his battle for him. If neither partner can make it, a forfeit may be taken (automatic loss).

Points levels for battles are determined from the number of territories your alliance controls, as well as a partner’s position in the League (See the full booklet for more details). FOC slots available to your alliance (as well as formations, special detachments and other items) are determined by the territories your alliance controls and the bonuses those territories give you.

For each battle, a random mission is drawn from the custom set created for this campaign (See the full booklet for more details of the missions)

The result of a battle has two main effects.  On the Campaign Map, when an alliance ‘wins’ a round, they may select an adjoining territory from the losing alliance and take control of it, gaining any associated bonuses. If the round is a draw, no action is taken. If an alliance loses the round, they transfer a territory selected by their victorious opponents and lose any associated bonuses.

In the league, a partner is awarded two points for a win, one point for a draw and zero points for a loss, with the league positions being updated after every round.

The Belligerents

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For the purposes of showing how the schedule works, we will use alliances A, B, C & D.  You are encouraged to come up with something a bit more exciting for your alliance name!

The game schedule is based around a two week period. During this time you can organize for your alliance to play your drawn opposition in either a single 2 vs 2 battle or two separate 1 vs 1 battles.  If one member of the alliance cannot make any games in the two week period, the available partner can either organized a single 1 vs 2 battle, or fight two single 1 vs 1 battles (effectively standing in for his partner).  There is no stipulation as to which partner plays which partner – this is solely based on who’s availability to play matches who.

Round A

Alliances A vs Alliances B
Alliances C vs Alliances D

Round B

Alliances B vs Alliances D
Alliances C  vs Alliances A

Round C

Alliances C  vs Alliances B
Alliances A  vs Alliances D

Once Round C has been played, the schedule restarts at Round A. This cycle continues until the campaign is won (when one player has subjugated all others)

Campaign Map

The campaign map determines the makeup of armies fielded by an alliance.  A Hi-Res version of the below map can be downloaded at my blog here.

Model

The Hemera Cluster is made up of four regions, and each region is made up of four systems. Systems are then made up of various numbers of tiles, Each of which offer various bonuses, as described in the Key of the campaign map. As alliances expand or decline, so do the number of tiles you control, and any associated bonuses.

When a round has been concluded, the league standing are adjusted.  A partner is awarded two points for a win, one point for a draw and zero points for a loss. Bonuses from the league positon are awarded and can be used in the next mission.  This league is a reverse bonus system, in that players at the bottom get the biggest bonus. This is to help balance the overall campaign and give those players who might be losing on the campaign map a better chance of staying in the fight.

Related Reading  Battle Report: Chaos vs Ultramarines

There is no elimination of alliances, only subjugation. Capital tiles may not be attacked until all other tiles belonging to that Alliance have been conquered. When a capital tile is attacked, the defender receives two fortification slots. Furthermore, fortifications purchased for these slots are free.  If the defender loses the battle for the capital tile, the capital is subjugated. No bonus is received by the conquering Alliance for this tile.  The defending alliance will once more attempt to end the subjugation in the following round.  If the alliance that is subjugated wins the round, they can pick an adjacent enemy tile to take control of in the normal manner.

Veteran Instincts

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As the campaign goes on, some of your units may start to become more noteworthy for their consistent battlefield prowess. When a unit performs well by scoring mission VPs, you can choose to record it. Note, you can take note of as many or as few of your units as you like (e.g. you might not care about those gretchin or those nurglings – or maybe you do!).

Victory Points not only decide mission success – they represent how much experience a unit has acquired. When a squad gains enough VPs, they can spend it on any of the skills below which have a VP cost. When you write down a new skill for your unit, reduce the number of VPs they have stockpiled on your unit roster.  A full List of available skills is contained within the campaign book.

Casualties of War

If a veteran unit is destroyed during a battle, it still gains experience but must roll on the following table:

6 – Rise from the Ashes: The unit was knocked out or otherwise left for dead, but has miraculously regrouped with little permanent damage. The unit suffers no adverse effects.

4-5 – Severely Depleted: The unit has not been completely destroyed but is in severe need of reinforcements, medical attention or replacement crew. With the loss of these veterans, the unit has also lost some of those hard earned skills gained through battle.  Lose all but one skill associated with the unit.

1-3 A Hero’s Death: The unit is utterly destroyed, remove it from your roster.

Summary

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So there we have it!  Sorry it is a bit of a dense document, but naturally it is quite complex as it needs to meet all the criteria set out by the FLGS players!  If any of you are looking for a ready made campaign league to run at your FLGS, please feel free to go ahead and download the booklet and map and give it a go – just make sure to come back and let me know how it went, and whether there are any suggested improvements to be made.

It also certainly doesn’t have to be as complex as this one is, so if you feel like cherry picking the bits you like (maybe just the campaign an not the league, or individuals rather than teams, or even teams of more than three in each, etc.) I think you will find the format very adaptable to being customized.

Enjoy!

  • I love campaigns, but they can be tough to pull off. Not only do you have to try and create something balanced, but you have to hope it keeps the interest of the players to they actually complete it. I’ve participated in more campaigns that died half-way through than I have completed.

    Still, it looks like you have a good setup here, and you’ve made a lot of considerations. I’d love to hear how this progresses.

    • jack shrapnel

      We’ve recently just started a storewide campaign as well. I echo your point about most just dying off midway through. This seems like a good system Iapedus posted and I hope it works out well!

      • iapedus

        Good luck with yours – my next post will be about how it went!

    • iapedus

      Thanks Thor, it was tough to get the balance right on this one as there were so many disparate views from the players involved on exactly how they wanted it to play. Not all of them were incorporated in the end as it would have just been bloated and unplayable – one of the key things I learnt from this is as the organizer was knowing when to say no to your players.

      • Very true on learning to say no.

  • Brooks Call

    Wow, thanks for the info dump! I’m looking to start a campaign and there’s lots of great intel in this packet. Great idea with the reverse bonus, definetely nabbing that one.

    • iapedus

      Glad to hear it was of some use to you – hope yours goes well!

  • I like campaigns a lot but it’s really hard to get them working. We’ve played a couple in the club starting with the old Vogen campaign that GW released back in.. maybe 3rd edition? It’s not perfectly balanced but we had a blast playing it. I think we ran it twice.

    After that we had a very big and complicated campaign that had both Inquisitor and 40k games in it. It worked surprisingly well even if we over complicated things. But we were two GM’s which helped a lot.

    The last one we had was another big over complicated 40k campaign that worked well but too many players dropped out.

    Your system looks good, and I would love to play some more campaigns here but I doubt it will happen, maybe in Bolt Action but not in 40k.

    • iapedus

      Yes I think keeping the initial momentum is very difficult in campaigns, especially when one side or individual inevitably starts loosing more games than they win. People dropping out is often the death knell of a campaign, and seems to happen so often that I am inclined to believe the magic number of players in a campaign is two :D

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