Gates of Antares

//Gates of Antares

Image © Dark Space Corp

Not even a week into the new year and already there’s a Kickstarter campaign surfacing for another new miniature game, “Beyond the Gates of Antares“. This time it may be something a little special though as the principal designer behind it is none other than former Games Workshop guru Rick Priestley. Over the past few decades Rick has been the force behind some of my favourite games of all time, most notably Epic: Space Marine, Warhammer 40,000, Necromunda and Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle to name but a handful. Unlike a few of the previous Kickstarters I have backed, this is much more a true grass-roots kickstarter. This isn’t an already finished and polished boxed product looking for pre-order backing like Dreadball or Sedition Wars, but a literal start up in every sense.

Not unsurprisingly, Rick isn’t approaching this alone with a back of a napkin design and an empty coin purse, there are some quite serious industry heavyweights behind it, not least amongst them John Stallard, former old school Games Workshop Director. Clearly they have thought through their business and projects plans and come up with a sensible funding goal. Something that might well deter a few early backers being a far from paltry £300K.

That doesn’t deter me one bit however, it just suggests they have thought this through from a risk perspective and estimated what it would take to realistically deliver the game. It also appears production and fulfilment will be handled via a partnership with Warlord Games (the guys behind WWII game Bolt Action, another one of Rick’s games funnily enough).

There is a working design for the game, clearly, and it is probably this which has most engaged me. For years I have harped on about how I feel Warhammer 40,000 has been held back as a game. Where it should have been evolving it has simply been periodically re-cycled ad-nausea. 40K for me is a game tragically encumbered by the weight of its own success. It seems unable to move forward in any meaningful way or adopt more dynamic gaming mechanics beyond its rather tired you go I go roots. Rick, on the other hand has already hinted at a more refreshing approach for “Beyond the Gates of Antares”. Partly he enthuses about a continuously evolving universe where the players themselves have a deep and meaningful impact on the future direction and form of the game and its design. Laudable goals for sure, but that’s not the part that excites me. It is reference to the fact the game is intended to be scalable I find intriguing.

The Kickstarter pitch also hints strongly at a more dynamic multiple action/reaction style of gameplay, with unit activations and a more interactive turn structure. This immediately ticks all my boxes and much reminds me of what I loved about Starship Troopers as a game. By comparison 40K’s I move, shoot, assault then you move, shoot, assault comes across as very metronomic. Clearly this is only my opinion and is based entirely on the limited information available on the Kickstarter overview. However it is sufficient enough to convince me this is worth backing. The names of Rick Priestley and John Stalland alone suggest that there is enough industry experience between them to see there should be a credible business plan behind it.

Image © Dark Space Corp

There has been no shortage of miniature gaming Kickstarter campaigns the past twelve months, not all necessarily that successful. This one however I have a good feeling about. Good enough to put my money where my mouth is?



By | 2013-01-03T17:41:27+00:00 January 3rd, 2013|News|8 Comments


  1. Iain January 3, 2013 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Having Rick as designer is a great asset, but what really interests me is that both Bob Naismith and Kevin White are sculpters. The problem that I find with mini games on KS is that there is usually a relatively high price of entry. But this looks like one to keep my eye on. Good find.

  2. Carl Woodrow January 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    I did reference both Kevin and Bob in the first draft, but wanted to keep the post short and sweet so dropped it. The danger with Kickstarters is the temptation to keep upping the pledge and adding more and more extras. Hopefully, having a relatively high funding target this one won’t be quite the feeding frenzy Sedition Wars was spend wise.

    I am of course referring solely to my own guilty behaviour by the time the total was reached 😉

    Naturally I am very keen to see this be as successful as it has the potential to become.

  3. Audrey January 3, 2013 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    Yeah, this one caught my eye as well and has me considering, but I am still on the fence. There is very little info right now on the direction of the rules. Granted they are taking input from players/backers, but that doesn’t mean they will listen. But I do love some of Rick’s games. Plus Kev White is doing some of the miniatures, so they should look nice. The other thing that makes me hesitate is getting people in my gaming group to play it. My group has a horrible track record for play testing other than Epic Armageddon a number of years back. But I still have 56 days to decide :).

    • Carl Woodrow January 4, 2013 at 9:06 am - Reply

      Hey Audrey, great to hear from you again. Like you say there is plenty of time on this to see how it shapes up.

  4. Gilbear January 3, 2013 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    My issue is that it looks like “40k without religion/fantasy”; I simply don’t have the time/space/interest any more to paint up giant 28mm armies that rival those of 40k in size, despite the fact that I still like 28mm sci-fi models and games.

    The £25 and lower pledges all seem like the best bet for those of us with big existing model collections, and frankly for a peek at the rules and a chance to steer them, even the £1 pledge is tempting.

    Gates of Antares (GoA) seems like it could be good, but we know so little about it, that I’m reluctant to commit at all. In fact, so little has been set down, that I’m not even sure what the pledges will get model-wise (and nor do DSC for that matter) nor even enough about the setting to know if it will really appeal to me.=0/

    • Carl Woodrow January 4, 2013 at 9:32 am - Reply

      Totally understand where you are coming from Gilbear, details are very thin at the moment and I agree that may make a lot of backers hesitant as you don’t know with any certainty at this stage exactly what sort of game you are buying into.
      Interestingly my appeal of GoA is probably the reverse of yours; I like the sound of it because it has virtually no similarities with 40K other than the miniature scale and the fact it is sci-fi. Whereas 40K is a “You go, I go” format, GoA from what Rick is saying will be based more on dynamic turn mechanics (unit activations, multiple actions, integrated combat phases). Basically all of the things that I like in Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle, Epic Armageddon and Starship Troopers.

      The other reason is because you don’t have to collect a big army like 40K keeps driving you to do. One of the parts I found most interesting is Rick’s mission to use scalable game mechanics (using D10s and D100s). This means the game should have sufficient levels of detail to play as a skirmish game or even role play as well as ‘big battle’ 40K style. Given Rick’s history with the likes of Necromunda and Warhammer Fantasy Role Play this is of huge interest to me. The ability to collect a few character miniatures for role play or small detailed ‘gang’ style fights, but still be able to use them as part of a much bigger force in a more classic tabletop battle format as well is a big draw. Scalability is the feature in GoA I am most interested in.

      I am also not really all that bothered about the lack of detail regarding the background and setting. I think Rick has purposefully set the canvas with lots of white space, setting out only the most basic of frameworks. By letting the backers input into the design process it potentially taps into some original ideas. In many ways I see this game having the potential of delivering a universe more in keeping with something like Mass Effect than 40K. That is what interests me the most and I would love to see some of those ideas start to seed through the design.

      It is very much different strokes for different folks though, that’s what is great about fantasy wargaming; we don’t all have to share the same tastes. In fact it would be a pretty dull hobby if we did.

      • Gilbear January 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm - Reply

        I think that you’ve brushed on some of the things that Rick mentioned that left me feeling unsure; scalability and and background design.

        The scalability of the rules shouldn’t be on whether you are using a D10 or a D100; the fact is that at different levels of play, different actions are relevant. So I don’t expect to be wanting to hack open a door at 6mm scale with troops, but I do expect something quite detailed at 28mm scale where each player has something around a dozen models. What dice you use doesn’t really seem *that* relevant to me in that context, and I’d rather something like D20s were used simply for the range of results (and the fact the they roll well without having to crash them across the table).

        Background-wise, Rick says it’s “hard sci-fi”. But that’s about it! And in the same way that the term “Steampunk” has become very flexible over the last five years, so has “hard sci-fi”… I think that what I loved so very much about Mass Effect was that not everything was dark, grim and heavy – there was lots of clean, white, hopeful contrast. And despite the protagonist Shepard, humans are not at the top of the tree at all – in fact, we don’t even get a say in how things are done as we are not part of the Council! I liked that a lot (it was refreshing), but the snippets I’ve seen so far for GoA do seem to indicate dark, heavy and oppressing background. I could well be wrong, but I’d like to know more so that I can judge for myself. Starting with a blank canvas and no info is a lot of hard work, and if I’m going to commit to something like that, I’d almost rather it was my *own* game!

        Finally, another comment on something you and Rick mentioned; new and challenging game rules that don’t follow the old I-go-U-go of 40k et al. Since I mostly stopped playing GW games (about 10 years ago, despite keeping my hand in a little with “Specialist Games” – which I still love), I have come across many varied and original games and rules. And he best simulation of near-ish future warfare (like Mass Effect) is Infinity. Shooting is king, and it is lethal. Even when it’s your turn, your opponent still gets to activate, move and fire with his troops, so the turns do somewhat blend together quite a bit. In fact, not only is it quite futuristic and airy, but it is also one of the most lethal miniatures games I’ve ever played, and one where strategy and tactics are simply *crucial* – in a game where anything can kill nearly anything else, you have to box clever! And until such a time as Bioware release a ME RPG or TTG (I keep hearing rumours!), then it fills the gap very well. I know that’s the second plug I’ve given Infinity, but when I see statements like Rick’s about gameplay, I do sometimes wonder if he’s even tried other games properly (like Infinity, Warmachine, Malifaux, Mercs, etc). Because they’ve all broken the WHFB/40k mould already and have done very well.

        As you say though, the pledge levels are sensible (or seem so!), and the game will appeal to different people – which is great. I guess I’ll wait and see how I feel in six weeks’ time however.

  5. […] probably read about it on BoLS (part 1 and part 2) or elsewhere, but I happened to skim this article here, on a blog that looked eerily familiar, so I decided to throw them a link as […]

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