Welcome to Antares 2, the new edition of Rick Priestley’s Beyond the Gates of Antares (BtGoA).
As background as to how this edition of the rules came about, try this news article which explains the current future development of Antares 2.
As requested numerous times by players and the community, the Antares 2 rules are primarily a development and streamlining of BtGoA and not a radical departure from, or simplification of, the original. We are aware it is a rich, and in places complex, ruleset, intended for armies a little larger than the current tastes.
Changing that to make a simpler set of rules would inevitably mean a totally different game (try Incision Shard for 4-8 models a side).
So, for Antares 2, we’ve pulled out specialised or detailed rules and put into their own PDFs or sections rather than constantly interrupt or over-complicate the core rules. We’ve also tried to make the rules more easily understood and this may have expanded the text a little, but we hope it is for the best. Whilst we’ve incorporated changes arising from substantial amount of play experience, the feel, approach, tactics and game play remains the same.
New army lists have been written for each army, all released after being tested. The intention is that as many of the existing models can be reused – again, as requested by the Antares community – though some have had to be dropped for a wide range of issues (production preferences, usage, balance, and so on).
Antares 2 is available free in a largely black-and-white PDF format for players to download and print. The main rulebooks are:
- the Antares 2: Core Rules, which can be used for non-Antares games.
- the Antares 2: Arms & Equipment Guide, which provides rules for all the common technical wizardry on the Antares battlefield. We’ve stripped out specialist weapons for each faction and put them in the faction army lists.
- Antares 2: Playing the Game, which explains how the army lists work, how to play the games and contains a dozen scenarios (some new, some old). More scenarios are available, here, on the Nexus.
- Antares 2: The Universe, which has a lot of the background. This has a little colour in it as it is intended to be a reference. Nonetheless, we provide it in several different formats.
All these can be downloaded from Rules Central.
Rick and Tim will now be developing Antares 2 on a hobby basis.
What this means is that we can also allow players to have their own columns on the Antares Nexus and even encourage the use of STLs and player-built models, such as specialist vehicles we cannot produce. In short, Antares should become more focused on players – it’s original intention.
What’s changed in Antares 2?
It’s worth reading through the rules carefully to spot the differences as the vast majority of changes are minor. The changes you may notice are:
Low is good for the roller throughout. For example, the attacker rolls on the Damage Tables and a ‘1’ means a devastating result; similarly, 50:50 results are 1-5 = good for the attacker/roller and 6-10 = bad.
We now have 4 sizes, each size able to shoot over smaller sizes. Some models that were previously Large, such as Ghar Battlesuits and Tsan Ra, have been moved into the broad, Medium category.
Whilst the base movement (M) of 5 remains the same, we have removed or altered the Fast and Slow rules. Every type has their own potential movement rate in inches, such as Move 4 for the Lavan Brood Mother and Boromites, and Move 6 for Tsan Ra, who can now also sprint because they are Medium sized. Do try sprinting Boromites as it works a treat without the double pin penalty! Some capabilities based on Fast, such as rerolling hits or being able to hit-and-run after PBS, are now listed as separate, special abilities but the rules remain the same. This has also allowed some variety between factions in the capability of fast-moving skimmers and lighter combat skimmers now have a speed advantage over their heavier partners.
Sprinting and movement has been consolidated into Advance (M), Run (2M) and Sprint (3M). Sprints and movement through or over terrain no longer have the special cases on 1 and 10. As a result, some creatures have had speed increases to compensate (just keep out of the way of Rock Brood!).
There are now some basic, simple rules for obscuring terrain: LoS can be drawn through up to 4” of what was Light terrain and obstacles. Oddly, we found that this makes terrain both simpler to handle but more interesting! We’ve added a list of example terrain in a terrain summary at the back of the core rules, but these are guidelines as we just do not know what terrain players may have available: there is no lengthy terrain section.
Line of Sight
We were constantly dismayed at the questions on line of sight due to the way it was explained in the first edition. LoS hasn’t really changed (bar terrain), but we have added in a lot of examples and explanations and made it clear that we cannot account for everyone’s terrain – players will have to state what each their own terrain actually does. The trouble is, expansive explanations and examples take up a lot of space, so we hope we will be forgiven to trying to be clear on what is a straightforward rule: LoS is blocked by something in the way.
1’s and 10’s
In shooting and hand-to-hand, only a single ‘1’ counts as a lucky hit. However, that lucky hit and any ‘10s’ are never rerolled. The defender allocates all the non-lucky hits first according to the distribution rules (basically the same as V1) but then the shooter allocates that lucky hit to any valid target model in the squad – by which we do mean any, even one which already has a hit allocated, or is equipment or a buddy drone. The allocation decisions have proven to be really fun for attacker and defender!
We’ve changed and removed a few modifiers but the main one is that all Rapid Fire has -1 to hit. Mind you, not all weapons must shoot and weapons which are purely RF (Mag Repeaters) can now fire a single shot without suffering the RF penalty. Overhead shooting also only suffers a -1 to hit but on a miss does so by the ‘miss’ dice roll; misses from rushed overhead shooting whilst moving (Advance) miss completely – the intention was never to have fast-moving units snapping off highly accurate overhead shots.
We’ve removed the hand weapon bonus as we’ve also had to adjust the weapon tables in general. It’s worth noting that many Boromite infantry units can take a pair of Rock Dogs as either security patrols or useful equipment they’ve brought up from the mines and that the Brood Mother is now quite nasty in H2H.
There have been a few, minor changes in the provision of the Countercharge reaction.
The Damage Tables for Drones, Vehicles and Humungous Beasts have been consolidated into one with a few more discrete results such as armour field failure. This makes weapon drones much tougher. Heavily Armoured targets now add +5 to the dice result rather than halving it so are very likely to get a ‘no additional effect’ result on the chart, which makes heavily armoured Damage Chart models tougher, too! When rolling multiple results from a single attack, only the worst of all the results on the Damage Chart are taken as we’ve found that this reduces the effectiveness of mass light weapon fire on armoured vehicles.
The logically obvious Support (not light support, now) and Heavy weapons can shoot in PBS, su ch as mag light supports. Twinned weapons are now one size larger (twinned plasma carbines are support, for example). We’ve also consolidated the various special effects. Frag and Fractal weapons are a little more potent in general but much more potent in a Breaching role and plasma cannon are firmly the baseline, ‘nasty’ weapons, going along with a greater differentiation in Heavy weapons in general.
The biggest change is probably in the layout and removal of special rules to their own, specific section such as the Probe rules in the Probe section in the Arms & Equipment Guide. This is to help make the rules easier to understand and update but is very much a judgement call. We know that the original BtGoA has some grumbles over layout and structure but these were, interestingly, based on original tester’s requests!
Lists: The Biggest Change
Before we explain anything, we should stress an important concept about BtGoA v1 and Antares 2: unlike other games such as 40K, they are not list-building focused but play – and especially narrative play – focused, with the key mechanic being order dice and pins. The aim is to produce a semblance of balance to produce a good game, not to build a killer list to dominate another force within a few turns. This is not meant to be a criticism at all of 40K (remember, Rick created 40K!), merely a reflection on its key dynamic.
Despite this, because of the points and rule changes, in general, the changes have meant Antares 2 is a little more forgiving when used in tournaments.
We’ve simplified the point system so a basic, core unit in each faction is worth 10 points (except for the Ghar but, well, they’re Ghar!). Each unit also has a sensible set of equipment rather than allow for every single optional extra. Infantry units have grenades or explosives, for example; most vehicles have self-repair.
As in BtGoA V1, the point size of the force also gives some restrictions as to whether or not a unit can be taken at low point levels, frankly to prevent a heavy combat drone being deployed to an infantry battle (50 points). But a scenario with a lone tank defending a strong point being beset by a flood of infantry can be quite fun…
The selectors are now much more free-form. Basically, an faction has one or two selectors (three for Boromites) that represent the main types of forces they field. There are a few, core units in each selector to represent the main focus, and the restrictions after that are on a unit-by-unit basis within that selector (see Playing the Game). So a Concord Drop Force has to take drop troops, and may take loads of them, but it can also take more ST500 Interceptors than a Strike force.
In playtesting, we found that players quickly abandoned the lists and counted up their armies using just the selector table in each list – many just memorised the simpler points and the few upgrades they wanted (yes, there are some, still!). This was simply because the units came with what they should have: no more adding in a lance, spotter and slingnet to every phase or strike squad!
Of course, there is nothing wrong in ignoring the lists completely. 🙂
Given the changes in the lists, we’ve also managed to enable something else that players have been asking for: more balanced character stats so they can be used as the characters they are meant to be without upsetting the game. Many characters now have specific entries in the army list unit descriptions that match the model perfectly or also have their own stats in the lists (a Councillor-General and Tar Es Janar in the Algoryn list, for example). We’ve also given army lists entries on the character pages, here on the Nexus, for something with a little more flavour – but still balanced.
The story remains the same…
Finally, all we can say is that one thing remains the same: narrative gaming is a co-operative interaction. As players, we need each other to create a shared space in which we can have the most enjoyment. Neither Rick nor Tim nor the playtesters can foresee every situation or every oddity that happens on a free-form table, so when hiccoughs happen, just sort it between the players (or on a die roll) and get on with the game.
Most of all: Have fun!
Tim & Rick, 2022