This photo was taken just after I had finished deployment at the bottom of turn 2. As you can see the board is littered with all sort of models and combats and firefights are raging everywhere. This brings me to part one of figuring out how many points to play. In my experience, a person can handle roughly 3 to 4,000pts of models effectively and still play in a reasonable amount of time. To be honest, neither of us know exactly how many points where on each side, but Chris's was using 3 Battle Companies and 2 Reserve Companies (1 Tactical one Assault) plus a good number of supporting vehicles and Dreadnoughts. I was using components of my Blood Angels, Bloodwing, Howling Griffons, Renegade IG, Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Daemons, and Ork armies. By our estimates is was close to a 30K vs 25K and Defenses planet strike game, pretty cool is you ask me.
To get back on topic, this is a pic of what the table looked like after chris finished his deployment on turn 1, which took more then 2 hours I might add. The important thing to note here is how much time do you have to play the game. When chris and I were setting up we thought we had all the time in the world, and took it very easy and talked and did not really focus on deploying. This made turn 1 take 4 hours to play. Chris finished deploying at 4pm and turn 1 was over at 8pm. Obviously we let the shear scale of the game get away from us and did not budget our time well.
Now if that is what you want, to just through all your models on the board and see what there is to see, cool, do it. That is what this game very quickly became as we realized we were not going to get to finish the game as midnight got closer and closer and Chris's wife began to text more and more frequently. So lets go over what you should plan for.
- Plan ahead, figure out how much time to want to spend playing and pick a point sized based on that. A 2K game should take about 2 hours, with each additional 1000pts adding on in my estimate an additional 1 hour of play time. So a 3K game should last 3 hours, a 5K game 5 hours, etc. Also note that the you can divide the game size by the number of players and apply my 1K to 1 hour formula. Just for every 4-5 players and 4-5K of stuff add +1 hour. So 5 player per side playing 20K should take (20/5=4) 4 hours +1 hour for the number of players and +1 hour for the size of the game which is roughly a 6 hour game.
- Budget your time, keeping an eye on the clock and setting time limits for turns or phases of turns can get games moving faster. In big Apocalypse games, with many many players per side I suggest 30 minute turns. This forces players to do what is important and not let the game get bogged down by finishing every little thing. Often times in mega games, the important thing to do is the stuff that will have battle sweeping effects and leave those 200 lasguns firing at 5 tactical marines alone.
- Stick to your plan, every plan is going to change once things get going, but except that. That said, you should still try to stay on plan as much as possible, if you just throw it out then you are garunteed not to finish your game.
- Play for Fun, not to win. Often times players do not understand what these big games are about. They will take the nastiest, meanest, craziest army the can come up with and end up not having fun because the are worried about winning the whole time. Big games are ment to be a fun time where you and your opponent can pull out your armies and show off those models you do not get to use that often in regular games. For example Chris had 28 tactical squads in our games, 28. 3, 4 yeah that is all you usually see in a normal game of 40K, but 28 on the table all at once, and an additional 12 or so assault squads is a sight to see. Remember, you and your oppenent want to have fun, use some stuff you haven't used, and just fill up the table with stuff. If you keep that in mind you will have a great game.
- Rules are not as important in big games as they are in smaller ones. Do not nitpick as much as you would in a normal game. Cool things can and will happen in big games, let them even if to do so isn't quite in the rules, the game will be more memorable that way.