Playing more Antares
The weekend before last I was in Newark for Hammerhead 2016. On the Sunday I was offered a game of Beyond the Gates of Antares with none other than the author himself, Rick Priestley. As more and more releases are available for the game, I’m becoming a bit of a fan which is strange… since I gave up playing Science Fiction (in the form of 40K) over a decade ago. I’m even looking out for the latest releases… darn that Rick, his ‘magic’ is working on my imagination again…!
My host had an excellent games room and table ready set up for our game. I was offered a choice of two armies, Algoryn and Boromite. I’d previously played with the high tech Concord with their Plasma Carbines, so playing a lower ‘tech’ race to see how they played was very appealing. Naturally, I opted for the Boromites. I had a Boromite Combat Force plus a Heavy Frag borer. My opponent had an Algoryn Combat Force with the infiltrators replaced by a Concord squad of mercenaries and the Mag Support replaced by a Heavy Plasma. Let battle commence!
The Boromites are futuristic mutated humans who specialize in mining. Their weapons are fairly primitive compared to other races (Mag Rifles) but they also field a number of industrial tools adapted to warfare, such as the aptly named Frag Borer and Mass Compactors. They also have tamed an alien race called Lavamites to ‘sniff’ out raw materials. Lavamites are coincidentally fearsome foes in close combat. The scenario was simple: capture the downed alien spaceship - whoever controlled the vessel at the end of the game would win. The ship dominated the centre of the table and naturally restricted our fields of fire.
Our game opened with some poor moves on my part. I foolishly advanced my commander forward first, only to see him disappear in a cloud of plasma fire as a heavy plasma cannon found its target with a lucky shot! He was, in fact, the first casualty of the game! Thankfully the Boromites are a stubborn lot and they were completely unmoved by this demoralizing turn of events. After that, I decided to use tactics! My Boromites suddenly remembered their Janet and John combat manual training and started using terrain to cover their advance. Meanwhile the close-combat elements rushed forward to the ship, using its mass to shield them from enemy fire.
I found the Frag Borer a very useful weapon against fixed targets (such as field weapons), but wasted against infantry. The Lavamites however proved to be ‘alien of the match’ when they successfully charged and defeated two units in close combat in successive turns, but bounced off a third (they must have been pretty full at that point). My opponent Rick had fought honorably, but luck on my part (rather than good tactics) had seen the Algoryn retreat to fight another day.
I like Antares. It has a smoothness of play I like - not too much detail but lots of character. I suspect my Boromites might have been over-pointed with the Frag Borer, so I was happy to call it a draw. I think it’s a slow burner - little by little as more becomes available for the system, I can see its popularity grow and grow. I liked playing the Boromites but am holding off collecting them just yet… I have a Concord and Ghar army to finish first. My sincere thanks to Rick, it was handy having the author there when I had a rules query!