by Tim Bancroft
Finally, I was able to put on an Antares tournament at my home club, Boscombe Down & Amesbury Wargames Club (BDAWC). I’d only just posted the advert when it became almost full and a few days later I was having to purchase more tables for the club! Nonetheless, I wish I’d kept a reserve list as we had a few last-minute drop outs.
Players came from around the South Coast, many delighted they could take part as they’d been unable to attend the Nottingham event this year. So we (that’s Rik Baker and I – thanks for your help, btw, in transport, setting up, offers to ref, and everything else!) decided we’d run the Yu HamNu Campaign. It’s a fun, fast format that enables three decent and varied games to be played in a day.
Even the players who had come to the Nottingham event chose different factions, taking the opportunity to have a bit of fun. Some chose their big tanks as the bonus ‘PLUS’ option whilst others went for more sneaky units such as extra skimmers or extrainfantry. The great thing was that I was finally able to bring out my Ghar; the extra unit for them – apart from Outcasts, who barely count – was a large and scary squad of assault-battlesuits (insert horror emoji here). Mind you, they were unable to prevent Simon Perkin’s Isorian phase sniper sneaking off with an artefact from under their noses!
It’s worth mentioning that we had a preponderance of Isorian and Algoryn players, which more than made up for the lack of both during the Antares Campaign Day. In the end, the only two factions who could have had more players were those that should probably have been underrepresented anyway due to the narrative: Boromites and Virai!
A Personal Story
I can’t comment on most of the games other than that they all seemed to go along quite smoothly, with few hiccups and, as ever (and marvellouosly) players just checking they had something right. The overall attitude was fantastic, laid-back, chilled, smiles… loved it. The reason I can’t otherwise comment is that, for once, I was able to play!
So, out came my Ghar. Two battlesuit squads, a pair of Outcast squads and some tectorists. And the PLUS option more tectorists and the above-mentioned nasty assault unit. Their sole purpose in the affair was to steal some of the artefacts the humans so desperately wanted and find out what all the fuss was about.
They first landed on Dilexyon and faced some Isorians in the jungle – a light, panhuman infantry troop with two squads of pulse skimmers and a phase sniper. The sniper deployed waaay onto the table and she and the skimmers very quickly identified some of the artefacts as being useful. Unfortunately, one set of skimmers got bogged down in the face of the Ghar assault suits and were unable to identify the items quickly enough, whilst the second found a dud. Eventually, the first fell to a desperate charge by a bunch of Outcasts who had run out of ammunition, the artefact they had found being stolen from them.
Meantime, and after slowing down the Ghar battlesuits, the phase sniper was legging it towards the Isorian rear with an artefact in tow. The large infantry squads protected her superbly, blocking access by the suits, and making life difficult for the Ghar who had to let yet another Outcast squad retrieve an artefact whilst they acted as mobile terrain! The net result was the two surviving Ghar Outcast units recovering an artefact each whilst the Isorians pulled back with one in their possession.
Next, it was on Shamasai where yet more Isorians – Ian Ackerman’s 66th Nomads, no less – were pursuing a group of Ghar through a valley in an attempt to recover the artefacts they had whilst the Ghar were trying to see if they could locate one more artefact. One group of Outcasts (the rearguard) were bogged down whilst another were quickly annihilated whilst they examined a signal source to see if it was something useful. Whilst one set of Ghar amplifiers burnt out early on, the other lasted a few turns, enabling the suits to pick up a spare artefact and escape from the table. Whilst they recovered an extra artefact, the Ghar were unable to do anything against the 66th’s command troop, Tsan Ra and Tograh who swept down one flank pouring fire into the Ghar defenders and forcing them to run. Whilst the rearguard made one last attempt to steal an artefact frm the Isorians, the combined fire of several units of infantry wiped them out. Like other games, this one went right down to the last turn…
My Ghar’s final battle was on the ice plains of Taskarr where Lea’s Feral hordes were trying to prevent the Ghar taking their ill-gotten gains off-planet via some hijacked transmats (the Ghar still don’t realy know how they work but can patch one through to another they stole). Random deployment played havoc for the Ghar: the two Ghar battlesuits with an artefact each were able to shift over to one flank in the shelter of ice floes and rock outcrops, but the unit of Outcasts with the last artefact were isolated, forced to play hide-and-seek against what seemed to be countless swarms of extraordinarily well painted ferals. Even worse for the Ghar was the destruction of their amplifiers before the start of turn 2! When one battlesuit squad began to suffer at the hands of combined feral mag guns, overload, overhead fire, targeters and grip (which luckily displaced itself), the other managed to sneak in front, protect it and activate the transmat to escape – takling some Freeborn targeters with it!
The final unit of Outcasts were stranded, eventually overwhelmed before a ship chancing overhead launched an orbital barrage and put them out of their misery.
Three really fun game in which new tactics were explored by all and the Ghar winning was never a foregone conclusion.
Like before, the atmosphere was fantastic. Everyone who came were really helpful and smiles, laughter and bonhomie were present throughout. We had two main prizes on offer plus secondary prizes thanks to Warlord’s event support, the top sportsman and best-painted army receiving an Antares mug as well as a store voucher. Every players also received one of the new event dice – silver – which can be used for special order dice or kept as trophies.
Best Painted army was for Lea Davidson’s Feral Freeborn – a heavily modified mix of Warlord plastics from the Indian Wars, Freeborn boxes, weapon sprues, Algoryn sprues and, possibly, some Freeborn! They were neatly done and looked fantastic – I was delighted to face them. Others also received store vouchers, including Nigel Bonds excellent, feathered Askar and Ian ACkerman’s 66th Nomads.
The nominations for Best Player/Opponent were well spread out, I was pleased to see, but eventually went to Rik Baker (Isorian) and Ross Aylward (Algoryn). Rik was also one of the top three individual players, too, the others being Nigel Bond (Freeborn with Mercenaries) and Matt Cross (an Infiltrator-laden Algoryn force).
Broadly, these were set up as at the Nottingham event as I used my own terrain. supplemented by a couple of mats from BDAWC They represented typicaly terrain on Shamasai (desert and boiling, tortured rock), Dilexyon (swamps and jungle), Tolek (a farm world) and Taskarr (snow, ice and tundra). We gave each table a numbered label plus a short overview and a reference sheet with all the penalties and bonuses for the terrain on that table. A summary of the worlds is already up on the Campaign Day planets article.
At take-down, everyone got involved, which was fantastic, as Rik Baker and I barely had to do anyhting. It meant I could focus on calculating the winning factions and counting the votes! Thanks so much, all!
The results this time were mixed. The Ghar did fairly well, but both the Isorians and Algoryn won half their games and came off with a goodly number of artefacts. Whilst the Isorians ended up with a few more VPs on balance, the Algoryn lost a fair few victory points to their opponents – a military failure which could begin to further undermine Ess Ma Rahq’s claim to successful leadership despite their recovery of artefacts matching the Isorians. The circumstances also look good for Hansa Nairoba in his hunt for Yu HamNu as he now has several Freeborn houses to approach as well as some Concord partners who may help him use the artefacts to find a path to the missing NuHu’s location.
The Ghar now have a number of artefacts they do not know what to do with… it is now back at Gharon Prime, no doubt, being examined by the few technologists they have.
The BDAWC local results were that the Algoryn won with, perhaps, a pyhrric victory despite some of their forces doing extremely well (particlarly Matt Cross’s excellent Infiltrator-loaded force!). These fed into the international results with the Algoryn, despite having a number of artefacts to rival the IMTel nations, tending to suffer Pyrrhic victories, with more VPs lost than gained. Perhaps this is something reflective of Ess Ma Rahq’s uncompromising style…
Overall, a really fun day, with some interesting tactical challenges and a variety of game play. I have to apologise for forgetting to not sprint my artefact-laden Ghar (sorry, Lea – good job we caught it in time!). Thank you all for coming along with such great attitudes and making it such a great event!