Warhammer 40,000 (40K) is Games Workshops' hugely successful tabletop wargame. Currently, in its 9th edition that launched with Indomitus, it's currently going through a series of books that advance the narrative and introduces new rules and army lists in an ongoing campaign known as War Zone Octarius. In this article, we're going to take a look at War Zone Octarius Book 2: Critical Mass and also the Crusade Mission Pack Catastrophe.
War Zone Octarius Book 2: Critical Mass
Each book in the War Zone Octarius series presents new rules, army lists, and ways to play. Book 1: Rising Tide introduced the Octarius sector, and the huge battle going on there between the greenskin Ork hordes and the hivemind biomass army of the Tyranids, along with a new campaign to play through and new army list supplements for the Tyranids, and the Imperial Guard. This time, in Book 2: Critical Mass, it's the turn of the Orks to get some new rules. You don't need Book 1 to use Book 2, but having both will give you access to the complete story and new rules introduced through the series. To use either of the new books, you will need a copy of the Warhammer 40,000 Core Rules.
Critical Mass opens with a chapter introducing the war zone for those who haven't read Book 1, and introduces some new narrative elements, along with some beautiful maps and charts of the sector and the forces it contains, with a focus on the Ork planets and battlefields that the campaign included in the book takes place on.
The next chapter details the Octarius System Campaign, which is a series of five phases, each with four stages. Each stage is a game of 40K, and the next stage, along with any bonuses for the victors is determined by the result. Two different campaigns types are detailed, for narrative play, or matched play for those who want an equal balance in their games. Five new missions are also included, which are part of the campaign but can also be played separately as one-off games.
The next part of the book includes three different styles of army list which are:
- Index: Astra Cartographica - An Index is a supplementary set of datacards for units to use in your force. In this case, it allows an Imperium army to use the Rogue Traders and Voidsmen that were released with Kill Team Rogue Trader and Warhammer Quest Blackstone Fortress.
- Codex Supplement: Blood Axes - A Codex Supplement introduces a new way to play an army with a Codex. Here, it presents the warlord traits, relics, and strategems that turn your Ork force from the Ork Codex, into a Blood Axe clan. The Blood Axes are a unique Ork clan and sometimes think before rushing into battle. Their use of tactics and stealth and has led them to make use of Kommandos, which has brand new miniatures introduced in Kill Team Octarius.
- Army of Renown: Speed Freeks Speed Mob - Armies of Renown are unique army lists that let you build famous armies from 40K lore. These unique arm lists impose restrictions on which units can be taken but offer rewards and unique abilities in return. Here, the Speed Freeks Speed Mob are a clan obsessed with going fast, so their army list is restricted to using only mounted units with the Speed Freeks, Wagon, or Aircraft traits. In return though, they gain a 6+ invulnerable save, which increases to 5+ if they move along with some other abilities.
The book ends by introducing new Crusade rules, which work with the ongoing narrative way to play Warhammer 40,000. These rules are focused around the introduced units from Critical Mass, the Astra Cartographica and Orks, and includes relics, Astra Cartographica agendas, Archeotech Curiosity Relics, which are unique Rogue Trader upgrades, and the rules for looted vehicles, which lets the Ork cobble together their own vehicles using the captured technology of others, which is perfect for those wishing to do some crazy conversion to vehicles from other races.
Crusade Mission Pack Catastrophe
The Crusade Mission Pack Catastrophe is a mission pack for multiplayer narrative games of Warhammer 40,000. The mission pack comes in a spiral-bound format, which allows it to sit flat on the tabletop for setting up the mission and easy reading during games. The back of the book also features the full basic rules for 40K, which is handy for reducing the number of books you need to carry around.
The mission pack comes with twenty-one missions, spread across the four different sizes of 40K games. From short Combat Patrol games, through to the huge Onslaught games. Each mission is designed to be played with three or four players and works extremely well with the new treachery and honor rules presented in the mission pack. These rules allow you to make units treacherous or honorable, which then opens up unique traits, stratagems, and agendas as the campaign progresses.
There's also a new step in the game added to treachery and honor games, the Alliance Step. At the start of the game, players determine turn order, which remains in place for the duration of the game, and during the alliance step, players are allowed to barter favors and command points for other favors or to swap places in the turn order. There's nothing keeping you holding up promises made, but other players may see which side of the treachery or honor coin you stand within a few turns. At the end of the alliance step, players can gain Underdog points, this helps those going last in the round, or who are behind on victory points by awarding points that can be spent on abilities to give some of their units a boost, or a little more protection during the next round.
This mission pack only includes mission details for multiplayer games of Warhammer 40,000, so if you're looking for straight 1v1 games, then there are other mission packs available that offer different ways to play, like Mission Pack Containment, which was released alongside War Zone Octarius Book 1, and includes twenty-one missions under the planetstrike format, with a defender and an invading attacking opponent.
The copies of Warhammer 40,000 War Zone Octarius Book 2: Critical Mass and Crusade Mission Pack Catastrophe used in this preview were provided by Games Workshop.