+ inload: Getting started with Horus Heresy in 15mm +

+ Where the Stone Oxen and Lions Stand +

+ Getting started with 15mm Horus Heresy wargaming +

+ Pic of Bob Hunk's glorious (and LED-enhanced) Imperial Fists +

+ As outlined in this inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], our gaming group is adapting the freely-available Antares 2 ruleset for our Horus Heresy wargaming. This inload is intended as a primer, so if you fancy doing it yourself, you should feel free. +

+ First steps +

+ To get started, you'll need to download and read the Core Rules that are available here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. You'll also need:
  • A second player(!)
  • A measuring tape
  • Around a dozen D10 dice
  • A D6, a D8 and a D4 dice
  • Something to act as pin markers
  • Order Dice – one for each unit – and a bag or box to draw them from.
+ You can use pretty much anything for most of these, but if you want a one-stop shop, Skytrex (a subsidiary company of Warlord Games) produce a set of blast markers; and an Antares dice pack. +

+ The Order dice are the one thing that can't easily be substituted. You can buy different colours from Skytrex here, or search second-hand sets. The important thing is that each side must have a set of dice of a different colour to the other. If you don't want to buy as set, you can either use stickers to mark up some D6s you have (make sure both you and the other players use the same size), or use the handy table for reference:

1 – Rally
2 – Advance
3 – Run
4 – Fire
5 – Ambush
6 – Down

+++

+ 'I've never played a wargame!' +

+ First off, welcome to a fun new hobby! The Antares 2 rules are written nice and clearly, and there's a handy quick reference sheet here that I recommend keeping to hand while you find your feet. If possible, find someone on the Gates of Antares Facebook group to talk you through. It's a thoroughly friendly community. +

+ 'I already play Antares 2' +

+ Great – tweaks have been kept to a minimum, so if you're familiar with Antares 2, you'll be ready to play. The key changes are:
+ If you want to play in 28mm scale, then feel free. The only tweak I'd suggest for 28mm play is to reduce the Movement stat (M) of the marines and tanks back down to 5. +

+ Note that this army list is not intended to play against the factions and creatures of the Antares setting. You can, of course, do so – there's no difference in the mechanics, but I don't think it'll really reflect the comparable capabilities of either side very well. +

+ In terms of models, you can use any of Games Workshop's Space Marine models, if you're playing at 28mm scale. If you're doing as we are, then I suggest you scour the noosphere for Epic-scale STL files, and print them out at 187%.

+ 'I already play Horus Heresy: Age of Darkness' +

+ You'll be familiar with the background, and with the sweeping battles of Space Marines. The modifications we've made to the rules are designed simply to reflect this background. +

+ First off, you'll need the rules. Happily, these are available for free here [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. Antares 2 is a brilliant game, designed by Rick Priestley (of 40k fame) and Tim Bancroft. +

+ Secondly, you'll need either to apply the adjustments to the scale (noted above, under I already play Antares 2) to use your existing models, or source some 15mm models – again, as described above. +

+++

+ Lucifer216's Night Lords clash with my Emperor's Children +

+++

+ Playing space and mission +

+ Now you've got all the rules and models to hand, you'll need a table – we  used 30 by 44in for Battle of the Mirror Plains. Conveniently, that's twice the size of a GW Kill Team board, so if you've got one hanging around, that's all good. The game scale nicely, and for a larger game, I'd suggest that you use a 6 x 4ft table, as in Meeting Engagement on Gundrun Prime. +

+ Next, you'll need to create a mission. Both Antares 2 and AoD are unapologetically narratively-leaning, and that's also the attittude I'd encourage here once you get into the swing of things. Come up with a cool story and work together to write a mission around that. Because Antares 2 has really clever morale mechanics, you can play an asymmetric game that remains fair and engaging. +


+ My Emperor's Children +


+ When starting out, however, I'd encourage you to use mirror forces (so you can get used to the mechanics and learn the strengths and weaknesses of various units together) and one of the missions from the 'Playing the Game' booklet here. While these missions are Antares-themed, a lot of them can happily be played in another setting. They're been thoroughly playtested and  all those I've tried are great fun. +

+++

+ Gathering an army +

+ With all those in place, gather your forces. The rules for doing that are also in the 'Playing the Game' booklet listed above. The game does scale well, but I'd recommend trying it out with about six or seven units a side to start. +

+ The Army list and weapons stats (at time of writing, we're at v0.3) can be downloaded from the Files section of the +Death of a Rubricist+ Facebook group. Do feel free to ask there if you can't find them. +

+ At the moment, we haven't got any Army Options for the Space Marine list, but we're going to playtest allowing each side a one-use Order Re-roll per Force Level (FL) – that is, if you're playing a FL2 game, each side should be given two tokens that they can spend at any point to re-roll critical command rolls. That should help to ameliorate any 'feel-bad' moments. +

+++
+ At this stage, you're ready to play – good luck! Please do feel free to comment here or on the +Death of a Rubricist+ Facebook page if you've got any feedback or ideas. +

+++

+ Designer's notes on version 0.3 of the army list +

+ Changes made since the last game have included:

+ Weapons +

  • The boltgun now has two firing modes: Deliberate and Burst
    • This change means that players can either choose to fire one accurate and more deadly shot, or go for weight of fire. I don't anticipate this slowing the game down much, and it will create some fun tactical choices.
    • I'm leery of adding additional complication and granularity to a battle-level game, but this change is made to ensure that Tactical Marines remain at the heart of the experience, and an enjoyable, exciting and interesting unit to use.
  • Power sword renamed to Power weapon; it felt too granular to have swords, axes, mauls etc. SV (Strike value – basically armour modifier) increased to SV4, to make them more worthwhile in combat.
  • Power Fists likewise were bumped up to SV7, making them a credible threat to tanks.
  • Increases in SV to krak missiles
  • Increase in SV to autocannons, and replacement of RF to Not RF, allowing them to fire both shots without a penalty to their Acc.
    • These changes were made to differentiate them from Heavy Bolters (which fire a greater number of less powerful and less accurate shots), and make them more attractive in comparison to Missile Launchers.
  • The Autocannon's bigger brothers, the Predator Cannon and Accelerator Autocannon (from Sicarans) have appeared. The former is basically a four-shot autocannon, while the latter is shorter-range and slightly less powerful, but fires six shots.

+ Units +

  • Veterans – The granularity of the D10 system allows slight increases in Acc, Co and better Init when compared with Tactical Legionaries. A limit of 0–FL means that you can't just take these over Tacticals; and their Sergeant also has 'Follow', which allows him to take charge of a section of the battlefield.
    • This unit is intended to stand-in for everything from Legion Veterans to specialist units like Terror Squads and Noise Marines.
  • Terminators – Similar stats to Veterans, these benefit from improvements to Storm Bolters (addition of Not RF means they fire at full Acc) and Power Fists (increase in SV makes them able to take down tanks in combat). The Res value has been chosen so they'll only die on criticals against small arms fire. Slower than other Marines, they'll need more careful use than the more flexible other units. 
  • Command Squad – officers weren't really thought through before, so I've created a unit. While the Centurion is fairly tasty in close combat (and the squad can be armed with pistols and swords to help), this isn't really a game that revolves around it, so the idea here is to provide a strategic rather than tactical advantage:
    • The officer has Command 15, which allows units within 15cm to use his Command value; and Follow, which enables multiple units to activate, allowing you to concentrate force on a critical area. This helps the unit to shore up a critical part of the line, and generally act like an officer, rather than simply smashing face.
    • An optional Ancient allows your Centurion to be accompanied by the Company banner. This model has 'Hero', which means other units can use his Init (allowing Tactical Marines to react better, for example), representing the inspiration they draw from their Company colours. 
    • The Veterans here have Loyal bodyguard, which allows players to reallocate hits on the Officer (or Ancient) to them.
  • Predator – Cheaper than a Land Raider, better armoured than a Rhino (but losing self-repair and transport), this is a nice all-round tank that I hope to see more of. The armour is at the sweet spot that makes infantry heavy weapons meaningful against it (in a way that they're not against the Land Raider).
  • Sicaran – Very much designed as a 'side-grade' to the Predator, it's a hint more expensive, but a little faster and tougher. See the notes on the guns above.

+ Plans for v0.4 +

  • Further refinement of units
  • Addition of krak grenades options to units
  • Addition of specialist options (e.g. close-combat veterans)
  • Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield options for Terminators
  • Further weapon variants on tanks
  • Apothecary
  • Dreadnoughts (including Leviathans)
  • Consider Rhino and lighter tanks becoming single order dice units; modify speed up.


Silver Stars on the painting block +



+ Further thinking +



+ In short, the initial idea was a whim as much as anything. TrojanNinja and I had enjoyed a fantastic day out playing the new version of the wargame Beyond the Gates of AntaresLucifer216 had found some wonderful 15mm models, and enthusiasm was high for Horus Heresy (HH) gaming, with the release of Games Workshop's updated Age of Darkness (AoD) game. +

+ We could very easily have started playing the new AoD with our existing HH armies, or simply played Antares 2 itself. In fact, I'd thoroughly encourage you to do both. Let me emphasise that this isn't intended as an anti-GW thing, nor as a rejection of the Antares background and universe. As a group, we very much enjoy both! This is simply a nice way to scratch a few different itches in combination, and make the most of our limited gaming time together. +

+ If you do decide to dive in, I hope you'll find this engaging with this as simple as possible. +

+ The 'elevator pitch' for the Antares 2 ruleset is that it's manufacturer-free, so while there is an extensive (and awesome) range of models, the core rules can explicitly be used elsewhere – which is what we're doing here. +

+ The resulting game is slightly more stripped-back and grubby than either the high sci-fi of the Gates of Antares universe or the space opera of the Age of Darkness. If you think of it a bit more like old war films, you won't go too far wrong. +

+++

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