On Wednesday evening we gave Gates of Antares a bash. It was probably the first Science Fiction game I’ve played in a while. I used to be a big Warhammer 40K fan, but that was over a decade ago. Nevertheless, I’ve kept my ear to the ground and every time there’s a new ‘thing’ (ruleset, codex or otherwise) out for 40K, I’ve taken an interest and had a read, but it’s never been enough to tempt me back. Imperial Guard were my favourite, they helped me win a Gamesday competition once… but that’s another story, for another day.
Our scenario was simple: both sides had to capture the Power Control Nexus (the building) in the middle of the board. Each force contained approximately 400 points. The Concord had 3 strike squads of 5 men and two light support drones. The Ghar had one battle squad of three machines with Scourer cannons and one assault squad. Mal took the Concord and I took control of the Ghar (yes I did Dalek voices for them…).
The game uses the Bolt action activation sequence, which makes things nicely unpredictable. There is also an extra dice for playing Ghar which causes disruption on the table (forcing the next dice to be drawn to be a ‘down’ result - or no action). Sadly, even though the Ghar only had two dice to the Concord’s four, as often as not my unit would be affected, meaning my assault team didn’t really do much movement during the game. We soon got used to using D10s as well. Combat consists of two steps: hit and resist (armour ‘save’), modified by the weapon. So Concord resist (‘save’) on a 7 or less, but the scourer cannon reduces this by two to a 5. Simple!
Every hit causes pins - which affect orders and accuracy. The mechanism is refined from Bolt Action and works better in my opinion. Namely, if you fail to order a unit, it receives a ‘down’ order and loses a pin. So units can slowly recover even if they do nothing and the pin removal is resolved immediately, not at the end of the turn. I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly the basic mechanics worked. The game went quite slowly, but at a good pace as we got the hang of it. With hindsight, the Concord lacked the heavy weapons to really hurt the Ghar (and kept missing with their lance weapons which could do damage) while the Scourer cannons steadily took their toll on the troops.
It was a close run thing - two battle suits were destroyed, but the attrition on the Concord units reduced them from four units to a single one. Had they concentrated their fire, and not ran to the objective first, it could have been a Concord win. Presumably, the Concord would have played very well against less well-armoured opposition, but against the Ghar they needed some Plasma cannon support (or me to actually fail some resist rolls).
I do think the game has potential and I’ll be arranging another game soon, probably with some Plasma Cannon support drones! Gates of Antares has me playing and enjoying Science Fiction gaming again. I think I’ll stick by my comment in my last blog - “The Force is strong in this one…”