The 'traditional 40k game' is played between two sides, but this isn't set in stone. When 5th Edition rolled out the official rulebook included a special scenario in which three armies set about each other, able to fire into combats and a rotating first turn, which I suspect has something to do with preventing armies ganging up on the last one to go and neutralising it early. Normally I don't need to go this deep into the rulebook, however something has come up to make it relevant.
It's my birthday on Saturday, just after I've finished not caring about the Royal Wedding. Since two regular opponents of mine are moving to London after exams, I'm planning a last battle. However, as a rule I hate, hate, hate three player games. This is for many reasons.
Reason one; most tables aren't build to accomodate them. My game table, and all the tables of my LGW are standard 6 by 4 rectangles. This makes deployment biased in most cases, as an equal distance between all armies that allows them to shoot either army is near impossible. The Rolesboke here suggests the idea of base camps, all at least 30" apart and not within 18" of the centre. This inevitably leads to a sort of triangle forming, with two sides in one table half. These two will then attack each other and the third can relax for a while, unless one side is super-mobile, which isn't always going to happen.
Reason two: the player skill needed to win diminishes. In fact, it could be biased against the better general, as the weaker players could end up forming an impromptu alliance. Now, I'm a tea-and-biscuits gamer (underage and no access to pretzels I'm afraid), but I like to put in an optimal tactical performance. In a three way the main tactic becomes 'hide until the firepower goes away', and your excellent assault unit is always exposed, something you want to avoid.
I haven't a clue how to fix three player, but I do know what extra ingredient I need for a better last battle. A fourth player.
Four-way is in many ways a better system on paper. Table quarters can be utilised, giving equal deployment distance, with some no-mans land between adjacent quarters. Ganging up is a less profitable tactic, as there are still 2 sets of guns pointing at each player afterwards, and if two 'teams' naturally form, it's still more equal.
The hurdle I face is that I haven't done it before. So any help I am given beforehand would be great. So, here's the basics.
Deployment: Each player deploys in their own table quarter. They cannot deploy within 12" of the board centre, nor within 6" of the long quarter boundary (on your table edge) and 9" of the short quarter boundary (up the short edge).
Right now, I've set up a central rectangle, at the corners of which are an objective. Any unit may hold an objective unless its rules state it can never be scoring. The objective furthest away from the player's army is their Vital Objective and is worth 2 points to that player only.
Reserves come in from your own table quarter. Armies are 1000 points.
So, how can I improve this? For a practical analysis of how this game goes, wait a few days and then I shall post it over on Bryssling. Possibly Monday. Go there now for more shots of previously shown games table.