Skip to main content

Binning the Apothecary Biologis' rules for narrative gaming

Today's post is about just straight up ignoring official rules, in the right context. In this case, the rules were ignored during a GM'd 40K campaign, so no actual players were harmed by my tinkering. More on what I changed later, first: some context as to why I so enthusiastically painted up Bulbus McThew (PhD) in time for said campaign.*

Some months ago, Tom came up with the idea that noted wraith-fancier Drew and my own infrastructure fetishists the Cobalt Scions should fight a four-day war against some Tyranids. GM'd 40K is something we've done before, and is, for me, the absolute Bentley of 40K playing. Louchely flicks engine grille with the seductive power of a walrus in a party hat. 

Given that I already had over 3,000 points of marines ready to go, I strongly didn't need to paint anything else for my army. But the format of these narrative campaigns - where all your units get split out into battle groups in each phase of the story - means that you are rewarded for painting more shit. And paint I did. Tom started planning the campaign in June/July this year, and it absolutely lit a motivational fire beneath my posterior, tempered only by the amount of time I was putting into writing Fury of the Swarm. Once Swarm was finished, I doubled down on the painting. Tom and Drew were subjected to all sorts of messages like the one below, which was my way of communicating how excited I was.

My willpower made manifest.

Look, I did also paint the Terminators (enthused rant here) and Ballistus Dreadnought (claustrophobic short horror story here), plus these idiots:

What I'm saying is, deadlines and narrative campaigns are my rocket fuel. Painting the Apothecary Biologis was done last week in a bit of a rush in the days before the campaign kicked off on Thursday, and as such I used pretty standard methods and colours. For the armour I started with a Grey Seer spray prime, followed by brushing on a few zenithal layers of Corax White, then highlighted with the Army Painter's Matte White.

The other colours were the same ones I use in the standard Cobalt Scions process. Admittedly I should probably write an updated version of the process, since a few colours and methods have changed since I started work on the army.

Now on to the point: I also painted the gravis apothecary from Leviathan even though his rules are stupid, because having more apothecaries in our campaign system helps your troops recover from injuries, and I love my precious blue boys, and wanted to minimise the chances of having to retire any miniatures from active service due to being dead in the story world. Note that's not the same thing as not wanting to put them in harm's way, because the tension is delicious. Scary, but delicious.

Now back to the stupid rules. I get that the studio decided he should walk around the battlefield shouting "dammit Jim I'm a scientist, not a doctor," but the problem is that frag grenades are not improved by knowing your enemies' armour is weak at the neck and beneath the arm (his ability is to give his unit lethal hits, and if they kill a unit in melee, he gets OC9). I was excited for a gravis apothecary, and instead we got a silly special rule due to the tenth edition policy of everyone having to have a unique rule, a decision which simultaneously made the game needlessly complex and forced non-thematic outcomes like this one.

Suffice to say, since we were playing against a GM, Tom ruled that he'd work like a normal apothecary, but for Gravis units. Is that balanced? Maybe not; Gravis dudes are nails. On the flipside, Wraithguard are significantly tougher at T7 and Sv2+, and Spiritseers can bring one of those back in each Command phase.

I will concede that citing the 10th edition Eldar index as evidence of something being balanced is an... intrepid move.

Ultimately, though, when you're playing games with your mates and you're not hurting anyone, just have things work the way you want them to. And that's why we also had the Phobos lieutenant's combi-weapon shoot flames instead of mortal wounds while we were at it. And guess what? GW definitely don't care when someone does this.

*He has subsequently been named Arkadios Herodion for increased immersion.


  1. If you listen carefully, you can hear the GW rules enforcement team sawing an entry point through your roof.
    Don't run out the back or front door, they will have those covered. Your safest bet is to hold a non GW ruleset and claim you were playing an unrelated game with your Citadel miniatures. Use the momentary confusion to slip past them, emptying a bag of D4s on the ground as caltrops to discourage pursuit.

    I hope the people I play against are cool with plasma combiweapons shooting plasma. I groan for the rules bloat, especially when it doesn't make any narrative sense.

  2. I should add, I'm fine with the idea of R&D apothecaries, and not medics. It's one of the new Primaris units that makes total sense in Lore terms.

    1. I completely agree that Astartes chapters would be into R&D, it just feels like you wouldn't get to do much of it on a battlefield. That said, I could maaaybe get behind his unit generating a CP if they destroy a unit in melee, since he gets to take samples or something. 🤷‍♂️

  3. So effectively, he's converted the PhD to an MD?

    This sort of thing is all well and good in my book. My arch-rival and nemesis is currently working on one of the newest Primaris Leftenants, and since absolutely nobody we know has committed to the six limbs and chittering school of warfare, we have transferred his abilities into Anti-Necron. I don't think the Sworn need the help, personally, but I'm happy for MITHRAC BORS, VETERAN OF THE DEATHWATCH to have some expertise that's actually relevant to the narrative at hand.

    1. 100%, anti-[relevant faction] works better than "angels of (the wrong kind of) death" 😁


Post a Comment