Month one and my first 500 points made for an interesting kick off to the Tales of Antares Gamers. First and foremost I didn’t really get the full month for the biggest chunk of the force. Leaping right in to 500 points knowing full well I’d be in for a couple of weeks lost to delivery was bold, but in the end I managed to squeak it in.I really wanted to get the Tale off to a good start, and while Lastakodo (the organiser) graciously allowed myself and Ratt more time, I was dead keen on sticking to the original plan.

The Miniatures

The first to arrive was the X-launcher team. This was a bit of an impulse buy as the starter set more than adequately covered my first 500 points. In fact, it goes well beyond that, but I knew there would be delays and I wanted to paint something.

It took a little bit of web reference to get these guys assembled, but largely they were free of flash and easy to assemble. My only real complaint about this team was the spotter drone. While I like the weight of metal, the fact the tail was a separate part seemed unnecessary, and likely to break.

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The Strike Squads were next off the production line, and I feel much about the same for these guys as I do Warlords Bolt Action kits. For models that are not really multi-pose they seem to have a lot of components. I think the kits would benefit immensly from a few extra weapons or arms, allowing you to mix it up just a little more giving each trooper a slightly different variation. The armour doesn’t help much either as the huge shoulders leave little room to move when it comes to head position. Otherwise these guys went together well, just be careful about doing one weapon set at a time, as I imagine those arms are not all compatible with each other. Spotter Drones for these guys are 1 piece plastic mono block (so why the 2 piece metal?!)

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The NuHu rounded out my 500 points. Again this kit was pretty clean of flash. I was a little worried about the IMTel staff as any join with one contact point and a long attachment is going to be under stress, but I managed to position it for a 2nd contact point. The leg was a little tricky to position but a nice indent in the cloak for the heel helped. The NuHu drone is quite heavy for its size, and I wish I had positioned the stand a little further back as it’s a little front heavy. If it becomes a major problem I may re-base it.

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The Game

My first couple of games got off to a bad start… I won both… but then I also didn’t work out my army list property and had 125 points more than my opponents. I read my list that I had posted to the forums at the start of the month… three tactical squads, so put together three strike squads. Alas in my haste I was thinking WH40K terminology (old habiots die hard as I haven’t played 40K in a half decade!), and the NuHu is one of those Tactical choices. So that was kind of embarrassing, and also means I hammered out 125 point more painted models than I needed to. Half of next months allocation is already done.

My first game was against Isorians. I had watched them play earlier and was a little concerned about the fire power put out by the Isorian Sniper. However, opening shot of the game my X-Launcher dropped a round smack on the sniper and took him out! Problem solved.

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My second game was against Ghar. Here I was concerned with my ability to deal with heavy armour. As it turned out laying down a lot of fire was enough, and the pin markers cranked up enough to break the units.

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First impressions, Gates of Antares is most definitely not Bolt Action in space. There are a lot more rules, and while the order dice mechanic is there, the effects of those order are quite different. Both games progressed at a decent pace and post game rules review turned up a few errors, but everyone is learning so that’s to be expected.

I think one of the biggest differences to Bolt Action though is the ability to mess with your opponents orders. In these two games this didn’t really play a huge part other than the Ghar distort mechanic, which seems to impact the Ghar as much as the opponent, and a round of Scoot ammo I used to try to flush out the Isorians. None of us took Army options which can have an impact on orders. There is also options like the Subverter matrix, removing a dice from the opponents pool and dicing off to see if they get it back. Once games get larger enough for a few of these options to be included its going to get very interesting indeed.

Pins play the same kind of role as they do in Bolt Action, though it seems much easier to clear them, with even failed order checks removing a pin marker. I think this backs up my plan to increase my squad size above the minimum.

Hand-to-Hand combat also didn’t really happen. The two attempts I made (both with the NuHu) ended in the first exchange of point blank shooting. Clearly one man and his Drone isn’t really the best choice to charge down the enemy, but I wanted to see how the mechanic worked. I never really found out beyond point blank shooting.

Overall, I feel that once we all get a decent handle on the rules and start playing to scenarios rather than engage and destroy, there are going to be a lot of tactical options available, and Gates of Antares is going to prove to be a really enjoyable sci-fi game. I am quite looking  forward to the next few months of gaming.

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