Learning Curve Part 16

Antares (1)Hi again, this week in my ever growing collection of sci-fi games I’m talking about my first impressions of Beyond the Gates of Antares by Warlord Games.  I picked this up as a steal on ebay a week or so ago after my club was not chosen (sad face) by Warlord to participate in their ‘start for free but blog about it’ event (pretty sure they had a snazzy title but that sums it up).  So am I glad I splashed some cash?

I purchased the Xilos Horizon starter box for a snip and let me tell you it’s worth all the pennies I paid for it.  A proper hardback rulebook, all the templates dice and markers you need plus 26 ‘proper’ figures and 12 drones.  That’s quite a hefty starter set.  I’ll level with you here though I’m not that impressed by the figures but they are slightly cheaper than what amounts to their closest ‘big sci-fi game’ competitor Games Workshop.  But they’re functional and each faction is clear and distinct.

Antares (3)The rules seem pretty straight forward to be honest which is normally I good thing in my mind.  I much prefer games with a straight forward ‘dudes do this’ rules set that deviates in special occasions.  Revolving around orders and pin-markers the name of the game seems (note that I haven’t played yet) to be divide and conquer.  Lay enough pin markers into a unit and they’ll evaporate from the battlefield quick sharp so out manoeuvring your opponent and bring down the might of multiple units should force them to at least think twice about returning fire effectively.

The orders dice mechanic is a real double edged sword, especially when you consider that units can attempt to react to opposing units.  By having more units you have more orders and are consequently much more likely to act first in any given turn but having less units means you can react to your opponents actions more effectively especially in light of the fact that you will almost certainly have better quality troops.  The game will boil down to choosing run over advance or rally over fire when you have the chance I think and as a result it seems to me to be a really player intensive affair.

Antares (2)What do I mean by that?  Well as I think I’ve mention before some games can be won and lost at force selection.  That is their nature and to an extent as a TCG player I see merits in that system.  I prefer to be challenged on the field and be able (to a certain extent at least) to pick and choose what I would like to field.  The combination of orders, reactions and pin mechanics look like they should mean that as long as play well you’ll do well and that looks great news to me.

Is this any good?  Well the proof of the pudding is in the eating so stay tuned for a battle report coming up in a few weeks time but first impressions are great.  The game itself is compact but with room for expansion and clear with consistent rules throughout (well I haven’t read any that shine as ‘whoa-whoa-whoa’ yet).  Is it better than 40K?  That’s a tough call for me; I dearly love the forty-first millennium and all of it’s flawed races, I know the background and the immersive nature of that is always enough to drag me back to the gates of GW.  Antares is a different beast entirely in my mind a skill based game first with models and background second.

For that reason I’ll say this: Beyond the Gates of Antares is the kind of game that one could become very passionate about and gets the main thing a game needs right – the rules.  All in one book and with little over complication and not too many exceptions.  Sure the background isn’t as deep as certain other IPs and maybe the figures aren’t the best on the market either but what other company has that and at such affordable prices?  There isn’t one that I can think of.  The final verdict?  Buy the Xilos Horizon starter box between two of you or even for your club because you won’t be disappointed with your purchase!

Check back on Sunday because I’m hoping to have 1000 points of Concord finished and table ready, until then happy gaming! -Mark

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