As we were approaching the end of summer, a question came up in the Beyond the Gates of Antares Facebook group by the Antares Co-Ordinator at Warlord Games, Tim Bancroft: “would anyone be interested in a second Antares game day this year?” The response was an overwhelming “YES!”
And so it happened that our small but active Antares group in Bratislava (known as “Pressburg” in Habsburg-times), Slovakia, decided to participate once more. In March this year, two of us (Rudi and myself) have already attended the first Antares Day in March this year and it was a blast! Just like then, the event was again classed as a faction league with a narrative campaign, so the result of each battle would impact the fate of the game’s 7 currently available major factions (Algoryn, Boromite, Concord, Freeborn, Ghar, Isorian, Virai) and drive the game’s story forward.
The date was set for October the 5th (Saturday) in Nottingham, so it was time to prepare everything: transportation, accommodation, but most importantly the ARMIES! Knowing my abilities I knew I wouldn’t be able to paint up my Boromites in time, so I stuck with my Ghar Empire army. Rudi also decided to bring his C3 again instead of the Algoryn he started collecting not long ago, while our newest member Ondřej was more than happy to test his newly bought Algoryn.
We’ve arrived to Nottingham on Thursday in the evening, which meant we had a whole day to spend on whatever we wanted before the big day. Oh, and did we have plans! Friday morning we visited Warhammer World and Bugman’s Bar for some light money-spending. Although all three of us have visited their Exhibition Centre in the past, we simply couldn’t resist to go in again and slobber over the truly marvelous dioramas. We did make sure to finish around noon though, for we had a very important meeting scheduled early in the afternoon at Warlord Games HQ: a demo of the soon-to-be-released Black Seas with the game’s creator himself, Gabrio Tolentino (a huge THANK YOU! to Tim Bancroft for arranging this for us)!
The demo was absolutely amazing! All three of us knew we wanted Black Seas, but the game with Mr Tolentino just further strengthened our decision. The gorgeous models, the simple but not dumbed-down rules and Gabrio’s personality made sure that we are going to buy into this game as well 🙂 Just to summarize the demo itself: us three took control of 4 privateer ships against Gabrio’s 4 ships and the two fleets were tasked with looting a merchant ship. Gabrio quickly realized that the objective was not important for our team and even though he was quite successful in looting the merchant ship our shenanigans ultimately made the game end in a draw (or rather a loss for both sides). Rudi set fire to the merchant ship and half of Gabrio’s fleet by sailing close with his own burning ship, I managed to set fire to my ship by constantly trying to fire hotshots with my cannons and Ondřej made sure all the looted treasure ended up on the bottom of the sea by sinking Gabrio’s escaping ship. Thank you to Gabrio for his time and patience in dealing with us unruly buccaneers! 🙂
After this experience it was time to help Tim with setting up the tables for Saturday’s games in the ballroom above the store. Tim brought an unbelievable amount of terrain in a dozen large boxes, plus game mats. It was absolutely incredible to see how organized everything was as each box contained more than enough terrain to fill a table of a certain type: desert, rural, jungle, tundra, volcanic, star-port, arctic… We spent most of the time just marveling at Tim’s superbly handmade terrain pieces 😀 Eventually, with the help of Warlord staff and Jan from Germany, we’ve set up all 12 tables, each of them representing a unique battlefield. In addition Tim prepared a helpful info sheet for each table, with fluff for the planet/battlefield and a simple reference sheet for the attributes of the terrain (does the terrain block line of sight, is it difficult terrain, what Res bonus does it confer?). Very well thought out! We ended the day with a couple of pints at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem 🙂
Antares Day 2
And so, Saturday came! 22 players were ready to begin the hunt for “Yu Hamnu artefacts” on various planets. The event was global, and a couple of clubs from Australia and the US joined in to help their factions’ expedition. In Nottingham, each faction – except for the Virai – was represented. About half of the players brought Concord armies and so they were the opponents most often faced throughout the day. There were 3 narrative scenarios created for the event: the first was about two armies trying to discover and identify Yu Hamnu artefacts, the second was about one army fleeing from a larger army with the artefacts they found (possibly finding more during their escape) and the final scenario was about two forces trying to reach transmat ports in order to beam up the artefacts they found to their ships waiting in orbit.
Sadly, I took no photos of any of my games, but I’ll try to make their description somewhat entertaining. I wish you all a happy “death by wall of text”.
My Ghar army
As per the player pack, I’ve prepared a 600 army with a PLUS option (either a Support or Strategic unit with no point limits or up to 2 Tactical units for a maximum of 350 points):
- Battle Squad (3 suits with plasma amplifiers)
- Assault Squad (3 suits with plasma amplifiers)
- Outcast Command Squad (3 outcasts with maglashes)
- Outcast Squad with Disruptor Cannon weapon team (6 outcasts plus the weapon team)
- Outcast Squad (6 outcasts)
- Tectorist Scouts (4 tectorists)
- my PLUS option was a Command Crawler (with plasma dump, plasma amplifier and High Commander upgrade)
Scenario 1 – Identify and Recover
Unsurprisingly, my first opponent was a Concord player, Brett (a gamer I’ve already faced back in March and had tremendous fun with, so I knew it’s going to be a fun game to start the campaign with). He brought a pretty standard C3 list with 4 squads of infantry, an X-launcher team, a C3M4 tank and medi-probes for support. The battle took place in a jungle/marshland.
I tried to spread my forces out evenly on the board, since there were 5 objectives on the table and only 3 were Yu Hamnu artefacts, but we would only know which once troops got close and identified them. By “I tried to spread my forces out evenly on the board” I mean I sent the Battle squad and the smaller Outcast squad to the left. The right flank was stormed by the Assault squad and the larger Outcast squad, covered by the Command Crawler. This left the Outcast Command squad with the task of spearheading the assault in the centre… Yes I am a tactical genius 😀
Carnage began around the second or third round when I switched on all the amplifiers. It was quite obvious that the right flank will be the most successful, although the Assault squad did take some punishment from the C3M4 shooting at them from a safe distance. Nevertheless the larger Outcast squad got to the first objective and identified it as an artefact. This exposed the outcasts to enemy fire from a Strike squad, but the Command Crawler got between them and the enemy just in time. On the left flank, the Battle squad also got close to an objective and once again luck was on my side, for it too turned out to be an artefact. Not only that, but the battlesuits stripped the C3M4 of almost all its buddy drones (bar one shield drone) with some lucky disruptor shots. Behind the battlesuits the smaller Outcast squad was running towards the yet unclaimed objective on the far left, while the Outcast Command squad sneaked closer to the central objective.
And then, DISASTER struck! The C3M4 was evidently saddened by the loss of its buddy drones, so it aimed it’s plasma cannon at the Battle squad while its plasma light support was pointed at the Outcast Command squad. Two of the three angry little Ghar fell. Only the leader was left alive and he spent the rest of the game just hugging the dirt, close – but not close enough – to the central objective. The Battle squad was hit by the plasma cannon and not only was the leader unable to resist the shot, but the boss’s death proved too much for the other two battlesuits and they simply ran (ungracefully limped on their short crab-legs) from the battlefield (I magnificently rolled a 10 for the unit’s casualty test that I had to take, because the unit now had two pins and only two models).
The only reliable unit left on the left flank, was the small Outcast squad. They almost succeeded in reaching their objective but were outrun by a Strike squad. The outcasts got gunned down pretty easily, but the leader survived and turned out to be a Rambo of sorts because he refused to die for the next 3 turns and kept annoying the Strike squad who as a result had a hard time identifying the objective they were standing next to. Brett and I agreed that the objective was probably covered in too much slime and his troopers found it too repulsive to touch 😀
In the end I managed to retrieve the artefact from the right flank (my outcasts ran off the table with it). I almost succeeded in destroying the C3M4 with my Command Crawler after it wiped out all C3 infantry targets in its vicinity, but while I was busy doing that, Brett cunningly sent his X-launcher team to fetch the artefact my Battle squad previously discovered. Finally, his Strike squad on the left managed to identify the objective they were sitting on as an artefact and with that all the turns have elapsed. It was an absolutely fun game with loads of exciting moments and crappy critical rolls 😀 A real treat!
Scenario 2 – The Chase
To my amazement, my opponent for the second game was Ruben and his Ghar Rebels! This was the first time I’ve ever faced Ghar of any kind due to the simple fact that I’m the only Ghar player in Bratislava at the moment (Ondřej just bought Ghar Rebels, so this is about to change soon 🙂 ).
The battle took place in a desert and the Ghar Rebels were supposed to run away with the artefacts they found during the first game (Ruben had 2), while my objective was to try and stop them while carrying my own artefact I’ve previously found. The table also had 2 objectives on it, one of which was an additional artefact either side could add to their tally. Most importantly, the “hunted” in this scenario were limited to their 600 points army, while the “hunters” could field their PLUS option.
The Rebels’ army consisted of Outcast squads, Black Guard, a Command squad, Attack Scutters and an Assault squad. It seemed that only the Scutters were tasked with covering the army’s retreat as the Assault squad ran with the outcasts towards the extraction point. And then my forces arrived. And it was a massacre. Part of me really felt sorry for Ruben, because not only was he absolutely outgunned, but the dice didn’t favor him either. He managed to roll a 10 for the casualty test of his Assault squad, so they abandoned their brethren already in the first turn (this reminded me of my own atrocious rolling in the first game). However, the other part of me thought: death to the rebel scum! They dug their own graves when they joined Fartok.
In short, only 1 of Ruben’s Outcast squads managed to escape off the table with an artefact. The second one also got very close to escaping but was pinned by my outcasts and Command Crawler, just in time for my Battle squad to run up to them and politely ask them for the artefact they were carrying. Plus my second Outcast squad managed to find the additional artefact. My army turned out to be full of experienced explorers 😀 The Rebel scutters left behind to cover the rear did nothing unfortunately and were dealt with by my Assault squad. The final score was 1 artefact for Ruben and 3 for me.
Scenario 3 – Escape to Victory
For my third and final game that day, my opponent was once again a Concord army, led by Benjamin. He brought three Strike squads, a Freeborn leader with a batter drone, a Mag Cannon team and a Light Support Drone with Subverter Matrix. Unfortunately for Benjamin, Ghar are mostly scramble proof, so his light support drone was of little use. The random deployment in this scenario made things difficult for the C3 as they were mostly bunched up on the left with only a lone Strike squad covering the right flank. I’ve given my 3 outcast squads one artefact each and thanks to some lucky dice-rolls they all got deployed in the centre, covered by the Assault and Battle squads on both sides. And so the battle on an icy wasteland began.
It didn’t take long for two outcast squads to reach one of the transmat pods, using the bulky frames of the Assault troopers as cover and beam themselves (and two artefacts) to safety. The C3’s leader quickly perished to gouger gun fire and in an effort to unleash carnage, I sent the Assault troopers straight towards the bulk of the Concord forces. Benjamin cunningly avoided my assault and lured my suits between almost all of his units where they opened fire at them from all sides. Needless to say, the Assault squad couldn’t resist all the shots and were annihilated.
On the right flank, my outcast command squad tried to run towards a transmat pod, but were caught by a cleverly placed ambush. They got shot to pieces by plasma carbines and the artefact was dropped. Nevertheless my Battle squad ran up to the valuable equipment and during their next turn, picked it up and beamed themselves up to their ship.
A rather funny moment was when Benjamin got a bit tired of me re-rolling some shots thanks to my Tectorists, so at one point he activated a transmat with his light support drone taking three of my four Tectorists with it (yes, I’ve placed them too close to the transmat previously). I can only imagine their confusion when the screens in their helmets suddenly lit up showing only enemies around them 😀
In the end, I’ve secured all three artefacts for the Ghar, foiling the Concord’s efforts like a good Ghar should 🙂
Antares Day means happiness to me. I loved the event in March and I loved this one even more! I love the fact that I could somehow contribute to the evolution of the Antares story and I’m thankful to all my opponents and horrified onlookers who suffered my shrieking without reporting me to the authorities. It was great meeting so many friendly Antares-enthusiasts!
The format of the armies was definitely refreshing from what I’m used to back home and the scenarios provided inspiration for arranging a small event of our own in Bratislava. And of course I saw many-many beautifully painted armies, that just made me envious 🙂
So thank you again to Tim and Warlord Games for a truly awesome Antares Day! Looking forward to the next one 😉