With Warlord Games imminent release of Beyond the Gates of Antares, I thought I'd put something together to describe the game based off my experiences of playing the Beta version, as well as a sneaky game of the final product a few weeks ago. Hopefully this will be helpful for those who are unfamiliar with the game, and for those who are on the fence about getting into another new system. In the interests of full disclosure I have been lucky enough to do some stuff with Warlord involving the game, however I can hand on heart say this is a fantastic product, that's shaping up to be a very exciting game indeed!
What is Antares?
Probably the most fundamental question, Beyond the Gates of Antares is a science fiction skirmish game set far into the far future, and is the brain child of the legendary Rick Priestley. Hoorah! That was a nice short article. Tune in next time folks!
Hmm, I suppose I should expand on this a little more. Antares's universe has been in development for years, and so far contains 6 factions, all of whom are evolved forms of humanity (more or less), some more recognizably so than others. The game plays as a large skirmish game, and seems to fit at around 20-30 models, at least going off the currently released starter forces. At the moment all the models are metal, however the starter set is introducing the first of the plastic models to the range.
How does it play?
I'll give a brief overview, and describe some of the key points of the game, without getting into to many of the specifics.
Each player has a force consisting of several small squads of typically around 5 models, though some are more, and some are less than this, backed up by a few support teams and drones. Units are deployed according to the scenario being played, and then Each unit in a players army generates an order dice, and each player places all their order dice in the same bag.
This works so that say player one has 5 units, they'll put 5 red(For example) order dice in a bag, whilst for this example has 5 units too, places another 5 dice of a different colour in the same bag. To decide who goes first, a player reaches into the bag and pulls out an order dice, and the owning player can use this to activate one of their units, to move, fight, assault, over watch etc. Anyone who has played Bolt Action will recognize this mechanic. Once a unit is done, another dice is pulled from the bag, and another unit activates, And so on until every dice has been pulled, and the turn is over. All the dice then go back in the bag, and the process starts again.
Ranges for weapons, as well as movement are potentially very long, and this results in games feeling very fluid and punchy, your rarely fighting against the game mechanics to do what you want to do, and instead are able to focus on out foxing your opponent.
Shooting works by rolling a D10, and attempting to roll under the required score with modifiers applied for range and cover. When and if hits are scored, the target gets to make a resist roll, by attempting to roll under their resistance value, again modified for cover, armour etc. If the target rolls under the required value all is well, however of you roll over the value, it's time for that model to fill in a sick note.
A key concept of the game is pinning. Certain actions call for an agility test, which if failed causes a unit to gain something called a pin. Shooting hits also cause pins, as can a few other circumstances.
The more pins a unit has on it the less effective it becomes. A unit with pins wishing to activate must pass an orders test, and the more pins on a unit the harder it is to activate. Pins also affect a units accuracy when it tries to shoot, and as such pins can render a unit ineffective as quickly as casualties can, though they are far easier to get rid of than in Bolt Action.
This barely touches the surface of the game, but does cover a few of the important points of the rules. The activation system and pinning mechanic prevents devastating army lists that destroy their opponent before a player can activate, and in my experience both of playing Antares and Bolt Action result in a game that is very tense, and forces you to be on your toes constantly.
At present, there are 6 faction. These range from the fighting forces of vast empires, to armed mercantile collectives.
The Concord are a civilization whose lives are guided by a benevolent artificial intelligence, shaping society in the way most beneficial to it's people. The Concord troops are very heavily armed and armored, and arguably have the best equipment in the game. They are the force I've played the most, and work best at long range, dishing out very accurate and dangerous fire. The effectiveness of their armour decreases at close range, so it's always best keeping your opponent at medium to long range.
The Ghar are a mutated, spiteful and vicious race that goes to war in large armoured battlesuits to over come their physical weakness. Not seen rules for these yet, but they appear to be very resilient and heavily armed, and I suspect we'll see something to represent their unstable and un predictable technology.
The Algoryn are a militaristic society, who have been locked in a long war with the Ghar empire.The troops of the Algoryn are well armoured, although they don't have the heavy fire power of the Concord, and don't have as much of the fancy technology and drones. They tend to be very mobile, and excel in close range punishing fire fights.
Another faction that we've yet to see much of. They are another AI guided civilization like the Concord. Unlike the AI guiding the Concord however the Isorian AI was altered by the introduction of alien bio-organic technology, giving them a very different appearance and tactical doctrin, even though they carry equally heavy weapons.
From the beta rules though they use stealthy armour rather than the outright force of their Concord counterparts, and from the models seen at Salute this year, the range is going to be stunning. I can't wait to see more of these...
Bormites are biologically altered to work in mines, and as such are heavily muscles with thick scales on their skin to protect them. They work as mercenary gangs, as well as being involved in more nefarious activities. They tend to be unarmoured, however their thick skin and high natural reslience provides them with solid protection. They carry lighter weapons, but are physically strong, and have access to a variety of beasts as well. Like the Algoryn they are a closer ranged faction, and are very effective in close combat, especially when supported by units like lavamites.
The Freeborn are the merchants and traders of the Antarean universe. They operate mercanry forces to protect their interests, and until the full army list comes out for them in the mainbook, there isn't much know on these. They seem to be fairly lightly armoured and agile, with most units being lightly armed, however at least one is packing big guns and heavy armour, whilst also looking very awesome. These are a force I'm slowly building up, and collecting myself a band of pirates with lots of conversions.
I hope this helps to throw a little more information onto Antares, and all the models and photos in the article are from my own collection. You can read more about Antares at the Warlord page Here And as ever can check out my work at Volley Fire Painting