Studio writer Phil Kelly has always been a big fan of thematic games and campaigns, so we were keen to get his thoughts on the new Planetary Onslaught book (available for pre-order here). Here’s his take on the supplement:
Phil: Sometimes you just click with a fellow gamer (or group of gamers if you’re lucky). It’s typically after a really good game with a like-minded soul that plans start to appear, sometimes over a cup of tea or perhaps even a pint in Bugmans. Conversation grows animated as you and your gamer friends plan to leave the basics of Warhammer 40,000 behind and to delve into ever more exciting and narratively-driven events – and perhaps even experience the gaming nirvana that is an entire campaign.
Planetary Onslaught is a book devised to help these people achieve their ambitions, or indeed help anyone that has ever wanted to bring a cinematic 40K spectacle to life. It’s a book of three parts, each designed to showcase a stage of war in the grim dark future of 40K, but there are a few other exciting angles and additions as well.
The first part of every invasion is a Planetstrike, the initial attacks on the world that pave the way for all-out war. The defender gets to set up a fortified position, complete with anti-aircraft guns, bastions and aegis lines should they so desire. There are datasheets for twenty-nine types of fortification included. The invader opens hostilities with firestorms of orbital bombardment, which can tear a hole in these defences – then he attacks from above, or from landing zones just ‘off camera’. Planetstrike has a strong vertical aesthetic to it, with lots of deep striking, bombarding, flak churning the skies and desperate gun lines hammering their own hail of steel into those who dare trespass upon their territory.
The second part is Stronghold Assault. The invader’s troops have established a beachhead, and they are moving out from there to take the defender’s most valuable – and hence most heavily fortified – locations. This is essentially siege war in the 40K universe, with marksmen firing from over battlements and parapets, vast macro-cannons roaring their defiance, and demolitions teams bravely charging into the fray to bring down the walls. Much of the Warhammer 40,000 scenery bristles with guns – whether there are Imperial, Chaos or Xenos troops defending them. Those strongholds aren’t going down without a fight!
The third part is Cities of Death. With the invaders having broken through, and running firefights rife in the streets, the battle for supremacy is more desperate than ever. Prepare to fight dirty as booby traps, urban minefields, snipers and even sewer-crawling ambushers come into the fray. Every possible tactic and weapon is brought to bear in the climactic battles that will finally determine the fate of the world.
As well as bringing these elements together, the Planetary Onslaught Campaign provides a campaign system that allow you to link all three phases together. Do well in one battle, and you will gain an advantage in the next. This is the pinnacle of gaming for a lot of people, allowing for weeks or even months of following their evolving armies through a single compelling story.
Once the dust has settled on this triathlon of disaster, you can find out who is the true master of Warhammer 40,000 games in your group – will you be a Planet Killer, a World Butcher, a World Sentinel, or a Supreme Castellan? The only way to find out is with some truly nail-biting games!
Not going to lie, all that made me want to ransack a planet… what about you?
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