Focus articles look at particular items of equipment. Here, we look at the heavy overhead weapons of the x-howitzer and mag mortar and suggest some rule variations that didn’t quite make it into Antares 2.
The X-Howitzer is a large magnetic artillery piece and as such it is the sort of thing we might expect to see in bigger games, positioned well to the rear from where it can pound enemy positions with impunity. With a maximum range of 250 inches – over 20 feet – you’ll be doing well if you have a table large enough to exploit this machine’s potential! On a more modest tabletop you will find yourself within effective range in most situations. Be mindful of the minimum range though – 20 inches.
Like all overhead shooters, X-Howitzers are not always the most accurate of weapons, but precision attack is not what these monster-machines are all about. Massively effective with a Blast value of D8, and ignoring Res bonuses for cover, they can be used to force enemy out of positions practically invulnerable to lesser weapons. Their range is so long that on smaller tables mnany targets are in effective range but it is on longer tables and in massive games that they really come into their own.
As well as shells with an explosive blast, X-Howitzers have the usual choice of special ammo. In smaller games X-Howitzer positions can make good and not entirely helpless objectives for an attack/defence scenario, where their distinctive appearance makes for a splendid looking tabletop too!
The Mag Mortar is a very large calibre magnetic launcher built to lob a heavy shell at relatively short ranges (up to 60″). Requiring 3 or more crew, they not only infict D10×SV2 hits on a target, but can also launch the faction’s special munitions – such as Scrambler, Arc, Blur, Scoot, Suspensor Net (1D5+1 pins) or Grip – which allow the crew to tailor each shot depending upon the target.
Like the x-howitzer, the mag mortar is large and cumbersome to move (M3), so it is best to position them well and safely (the batter buddies help!) and use them with a scout probe shard for patch-sighting.
These are a few options of overhead fire that you might like to try in your own games.
Variable Template sizes: One option that might be interesting to try is to use different sized templates for each type of shot to determine whether or not a target is hit. For micro-x’s and x-launchers, use the standard 3″ blast template; for x-howitzers, use a 5″ round template; and for mag mortars use a 6″ round template. An 8″ template should be reserved for ortillery (orbital artillery) fire.
Zeroing in: this takes a little bit of tracking from turn-to-turn which is partly why it wasn’t included, but reflects a shooter gradually zering in on their target. In this variation, all OH shooting is targeted at a point on the ground rather than a model. If an OH fire weapon shoots on a Fire order, it gains a +1 bonus (accumulative) on subsequent order dice each time it shoots at exactly the same point with a Fire order. This bonus is cleared as soon as the shooters move, or the shooters receive a different order. (Note that the shooters could still target a model in a unit but then in testing we got into interesting complications with the target moving on an Advance and back – as STAA probes – or moving away and another unit taking up the same position, and so on.)
Blind Fire in huge games: When used in really huge games, many shots will be Blind Fire. Rather than use the Blind Fire rules in the core rules, always designate a point on the ground as a target but use the templates as above. Make an Acc Test, as normal, but:
|1||The shot hits the spot exactly.|
|Hit||The shot diverts by 5+ the number rolled|
|Miss||The shot diverts by 10+ the number rolled|
|10||The shot misses the table entirely|