This article originally appeared in issue 228 of PC Gamer UK.
Of the 20 waves of enemies that make up Dawn of War 2: Retribution's Last Stand mode, wave 16 is the most important. In every other wave your team of three heroes face overwhelming odds. In wave 16 there are only three enemies, but they're the most powerful opponents you could ever face. Exact clones of you.
The solution is to intentionally build weaknesses into your own team – which is why I've teamed-up with two friends to take two poorly armoured Chaos Sorcerers into battle alongside one rock-hard Space Marine captain. Trust me, it all makes sense.
The Space Marine captain can punch the air so hard it sends out a shockwave that makes nearby enemies explode. He can summon a 12-foot robotic behemoth from orbit. He is officially a badass.
The Chaos Sorcerers are not. Their showy armour may as well not be there and their melee attack wouldn't bother a dog. But, they can clone enemies. If films and TV have taught us anything, it's that cloning things never ends well. Come wave 16, we're planning to clone our own enemy clones. In the grand list of things you should never, ever do, this definitely falls into the Very Bad Shit category.
The early waves pass without a hitch. The Space Marine's Dreadnought protects our Sorcerers while the captain deals all the real damage. Every time the stone gates around the arena descend, more powerful foes emerge. Eventually, it's wave 16.
Our doppelgangers charge toward us. We're shouting over voice chat. “Clone the captain! Clone the captain!” Both Sorcerers clone the captain. There are now four Space Marine captains. Drop pods crash down from orbit, one after the other. They explode, unleashing their deadly cargo. There are now four Space Marine captains and four Dreadnoughts. Voice chat is filled with our horrified gasps. “What have we done?” one of us cries, “what have we done?”
We have to act fast. If we don't kill everything in the arena in the next few seconds, their Chaos Sorcerers could clone our captain, and those clones in turn would summon more Dreadnoughts. This is the Very Bad Shit I mentioned earlier. Our Chaos Sorcerer doppelgangers need to die, and they need to die now.
Our captain charges into combat with the nearest enemy Sorcerer. Our clones of the enemy captain do the same. Seconds later, everything is dead, except for the enemy Dreadnought.
Our three Dreadnoughts punch it to death.
Our cheers abate as the gates lower again. One minute later wave 17 is a charred paste on the arena floor. Our Dreadnoughts waddle around looking pleased with themselves. Wave 18 comes and goes, leaving more than a hundred dead Orks in its wake. In wave 19, our Dreadnoughts go down, but our cloned captains just summon more. We're on the verge of wave 20. We might just do this.
There's a thunderclap. It starts raining blood. A mighty Chaos Lord emerges from a ring of fire in the centre of the arena and demons attack from every gate. Our Dreadnoughts are swarmed, our cloned captains fall in seconds. Our survival now depends on one simple question. Is it possible to clone the final boss of the game?
The answer is yes. In the space of approximately three seconds the tide of battle is turned. Our two newly recruited Chaos Lord clones smother the battlefield in searing warp fire. The demons are all dead. It all comes down to a fist fight between the enemy Chaos Lord and two more powerful clones of himself. It's a battle he's never going to win. We've done it. We've beaten Last Stand.
Our reward? A text pop-up. “You are victorious!” it says. It feels like the greatest prize in all gaming.