It’s that time of year again! Chapter Approved has arrived, with a whole load of extra stuff for games of Warhammer 40k. Always an exciting time of the gaming year! This year’s book has landed, and is a bit of a curious fish in comparison with the previous two, my thoughts on which you can read here, and here!
As per usual, the book is broadly split between the three systems of play – Open, Narrative and Matched. Open Play includes a few pages that discuss various ways of using the Open War cards – one of which is a variant that we use quite a lot at my local store, whereby three cards are drawn for each of deployment, mission and twist, and one is picked to be the one. Interesting way of looking at things, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing necessarily. There is also a sort of open war generator, where you roll to see what type of units you compose an army from. There’s a D66 table that includes stuff like “1 troop unit” and “1 champion or 3 troops or 1 elite or 1 heavy support or 1 fast attack”, which seems like a very flexible and open-ended way to go about building an army to play a game with! Not sure if that would be for me, but there we have it! I’m not going to say that the Open Play section feels thrown together, but it does feel a little bit more haphazard than previous years.
Narrative Play, as usual, includes what I think of as a true expansion for Warhammer 40k. Spearhead is a game variant that uses armies comprised of the big guns – tanks, obviously, and their analogues across the other factions. There are the main rules, three missions to play, and two pages of stratagems specific to the game mode. Even if your army doesn’t have tanks, you’ll have something in here that will allow you to interact with them – for example, Tyranids can benefit from a stratagem if one of their synapse creatures is in range of an enemy vehicle. It’s much like the Cities of Death rules that came in last year’s book; it feels like a real, self-contained expansion that doesn’t really require a standalone book release, but it’s really nice to have a different way to play the game like this.
There are also rules within the Narrative Play section for linking games – not in the traditional sense, but rather how to play games of Kill Team, Apocalypse and “regular” 40k and tie them all together. It’s an interesting conglomeration of looking at the three different systems, and there are even rules for what the designers call “parallel games”, where you break off partway through one to play the other, the outcome of that then influencing the remainder of the original game. It’s a very interesting way of playing, and if I were to ever have the time to play 40k for, say, a weekend, it might be worth a try!
The third aspect of the Narrative Play section is Challenge Missions, where one player has a clear advantage over the other at the start of the game. There are three missions to play through, with their associated stratagems, along with narrative ideas for why one army might have the advantage.
Finally, we come to Matched Play, and the main focus for me, at least! We get more missions to play under the Eternal War banner, and more Maelstrom of War missions that use a variant of deck construction whereby you build a tactical objective deck consisting of only 18 cards (half the usual number), and have a hand of five that you play from throughout the game. Feels very different to the usual way, but I suppose it helps to streamline things by removing those cards that you don’t like to go for (thinking of Domination here!) or those that you have no hope of achieving if you know the army you’ll be up against (Witch Hunter when going against Drukhari or Necrons, for instance).
The Appendix has, in previous years, been where the defining meat of the book has been found, though this year that does feel a little like things have changed. Whereas in 2017, we had the additional rules to help those armies who hadn’t yet had their Codex released, and in 2018 we had the beta-Codex for Sisters of Battle, 2019 is a much more muted affair. There are the datasheets for the Slaanesh daemons that have previously been released in the assembly instructions for each model, along with some more updated datasheets for additional Chaos daemons.
Fortification datasheets are also included, and there are some rules for some battlefield terrain that, I think, we have previously seen in the 2017 edition.
The big selling point for this year’s book, however, is the Munitorum Field Manual that is included as a separate book in the bundle. Previously, we’ve had pages of lists of models and wargear that have seen points changes for Matched Play, making it a fairly difficult process to build a list, as you’d first need to check if the unit (or its weapons) has had a change, before then referencing the tables in the Codex to work out the cost. Well, no more! Chapter Approved 2019 brings us all the points for every model and piece of wargear across the entire 40k range – including Forge World models! It’s a fairly hefty tome for a saddle-stitch softcover, but it makes it so much easier to build an army now, knowing that everything is in there, whether it has changed since the Codex came out, or not!
Major takeaways seem to be that Grey Knights and Necrons have seen the best army-wide reductions overall, though I’ve done some research into Tyranids and Genestealer Cults, and I think I’m going to need a lot more models to fill my lists now! Look out for upcoming blogs where I take a look at the impact of CA19 on my current armies!
There are some fairly insistent rumours doing the rounds at the minute, predicting 9th Edition to be launched in the summer of 2020. Whether it’s a significant overhaul, or whether it forms something more akin to a v8.5, people seem to differ on, but the prediction of the new edition is nevertheless gathering steam, and some of that seems to be using the bloat that we’re seeing from stuff like Vigilus and now, Psychic Awakening, as the reason. I always assumed that Chapter Approved was the way to ensure the game stayed fresh enough that we wouldn’t need another edition for a while, but I suppose nothing can get in the way of the capitalist machine!
It would possibly be useful to have the Codexes updated with those new models that we’ve seen in recent releases, and while I do love a good campaign system, I think Psychic Awakening stuff would be better off being inserted into the relevant Codex as a second edition (as happened with Space Marines and Chaos Marines following the Shadowspear stuff). Is that what will happen? Who knows. I do hope though, whatever the plans for 40k as we move forward, that Chapter Approved continues to be an annual feature for the game!