Card-based Secret Mission Scenarios

Personal ShardsDavid Horobin devised this system of random secondary objectives scenarios some time ago. Whilst we are aware of a number of different approaches already made by players, we thought it was worth putting this one up as a Personal Shard example of what can be done.

A similar system is the ‘Critical Point’ Multi-Objective Missions, also on Personal Shards.

David put together a PDF we pulled into one file, including and introduction and all the cards: Dave Horobin”s Antares Mission Cards. We’ll hand it over to David…

Antares Mission Cards

This is a way of dynamically creating highly narrative scenarios whereby both sides are aware of each other’s mission but both sides have a number of secret secondary or exploratory objectives they can attempt to bolster their primary objective. This card based system encourages movement around and across the table for both opponents.

Antares Mission Cards Summary

Each player has an Antares Mission Deck and their own own Exploration Deck, a minimum of 15 cards and a maximum 30 cards. No deck contains duplicate cards.

Arrange scenery in a mutually agreeable manner.

Take it in turns to place five Objective Markers on the battlefield, each on a 25mm base and numbered 1 to 5. The Objective Markers cannot be placed within 10” of a table edge or 10” of another Objective Marker. Roll off to decide who places the first Objective Marker.

Players each randomly draw 3 cards from Mission Deck and place them on the table for inspection by both players. Each player then carries out any activities noted on the card. Then each player selects one mission. Players randomly draw a number of Exploration cards depending on the points value of the battle. Deployment is different for each force.

A game lasts 6 turn before rolling for a 7th turn, unless notified on a Mission Card, or until only 1 force remains unbroken.

Objective Markers/Scoring Units

Some Mission Cards refer to Scoring Units. Any unit that is either not a probe unit (i.e. Micromites/Targeter Probes), or not a sharded unit (i.e. Tectorists) is a scoring unit. If a player has a non-probe or non-sharded unit within 3” of the Objective Marker and the enemy does not, that side is considered to have captured the Objective Marker. If both sides have a unit that could potentially control the objective within 3” of the Objective Marker then neither side can claim control.

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Antares Mission Cards

So you’ve got a set of the Antares Mission Cards, your opponent also has a set of Antares Mission Cards and you’re ready to play. Here’s the information needed to use those cards. Note: the Antares Mission Cards are not meant to replace the Scenarios in books or online. They are
an alternative to provide variety, in a semi-random manner, to the standard scenarios. They are also mutually exclusive with scenarios, so that either play a scenario from a book or online; or play with the Antares Mission Cards – Don’t try both at the same time, unless you’re really brave.

The intention is to facilitate relaxed playstyles and ‘friendly’ games. The random nature of the card draws and the ability to select which cards are available in the decks will make it difficult to have a true balanced tournament style games. These cards aid narrative play, storytelling and mini-campaigns.

The following is written for games with only two players. However, there are notes nearer the end about multi-antagonist battles.

Decks – Basics

First of all, both players will require their own Mission Deck and own Exploration Deck. Both decks have a minimum size of 15 cards and a maximum size of 30 cards. This enables players to have a level of control over their missions. Neither deck can have duplicate cards, that is to say, that each card in the Mission Deck must be unique and that each card in the Exploration Deck must be unique. The control a player has over their decks enables them to tailor certain missions that suit their playstyle. When new scenery items are made or new supplements are released, more cards will be added to the general pool, along with more specific faction cards.

Many players will know the faction they will be using for the game. Some Mission Cards have restrictions as they are faction specific. For example, if you know you will be using a Freeborn force you cannot include any Mission Cards that are restricted to Ghar only in either deck.

There is also little point in including a Mission Card that refers to a Transmat scenery feature, if there is going to be no Transmat scenery feature available to play. Should remiss players fail to remove these cards prior to the Mission Selection process, then when the three potential missions are disclosed to the opponent it will be immediately apparent the mission is impossible. The player may discard and randomly draw a different Mission card so long as the total number of eligible cards is 15 or more. If the player only has a 15 card Mission Deck and pulls an ineligible card, there is no redraw. The player will have to pick one mission from the three cards in front of them.

There is an additional limitation for the Exploration deck.

The minimum 15 cards must include 5 Analyse Site cards, 5 Recover Artefact cards and 5 Research Site cards. Any Exploration cards available to your faction can be included, to a maximum deck size of 15 cards.

When the time for the missions to be drawn, players each randomly draw 3 Mission cards and place them on the table for inspection by both players. If at this point any of the missions from one player matches the other player’s mission by name, then both cards are placed at the bottom of the deck and a fresh card is randomly drawn. This happens until there are six unique missions on the table.

Each player then carries out any activities noted on the card relating to being revealed at Mission Selection (When shown to opponent…), placing of extra terrain etc. Then each player secretly selects the one mission they will be tasked with completing and placing the other two mission cards out of the way. You had your chance to sort your missions prior to the game!

Should a player draw a faction specific card and not be playing that faction, then the player must discard that card and repeat the process, but only drawing two cards.

If the omens are so bleak that by discarding the ineligible card (or cards) drops the player to less than 15 cards in the deck, then the player draws a SINGLE card. This is presented to the opponent in the normal manner. Your poor planning has meant that the enemy have uncovered your mission. Then players randomly draw a number of Exploration cards depending on the points value of the battle. This is noted in the Mission Selection section below.

Before play

It is presumed that players will have agreed a point limit based on the points battle of the game before arriving at the agreed venue. This points value of the game will be important for determining the number of Exploration cards later.

Before setting up, make sure you and your opponent have arranged the scenery on the battlefield in a mutually agreeable manner. Lots of scenery always works well in Antares.

Objective Markers

Players then take it in turns to place a total of five Objective Markers on the battlefield. Objective Markers are represented on a 25mm base and numbered 1 to 5. Regardless of what is depicted on the base, other than being an Objective Marker, they do not have any effect on movement, shooting or Assaults. They are effectively ignored during play.

The Objective Markers cannot be placed within 10” of a table edge or 10” of another Objective Marker. Roll off to decide who places the first Objective Marker.

Objective Markers form a basic for a force to gather Victory Points (VPs). The further away an Objective Marker is from the player’s table edge, the more VPs the Objective Marker will be worth. For a force to acquire the VPs, they must capture the Objective Marker as noted on the Exploration card. If a player has a non-probe or non-sharded unit (i.e. any unit that is not a probe or sharded) within 3” of the Objective Marker and the enemy does not, that side is considered to have captured the Objective Marker.

Capturing the Objective Marker can take place at different times. Some Victory Points are awarded when a player captures an Objective Marker, for example a Research Site where Victory Points are awarded each end of turn. Or for a Recover Artefact Mission, to enable the placement of the Artefact Marker.

The battlefield is now complete. Time to select table edges. Players roll off to decide who gets to pick which table edge will be theirs, long or short edge; the player gets to choose. The loser is assigned the opposite table edge.

Mission Selection

Now that the scenery is fixed in place along with the objective markers, and players have their table edges, it is time to determine what missions the forces will face.

There are two decks in the Antares Mission Card set. Mission Objectives and Explorations. Each player ought to have their own decks, no duplicated cards in the deck, minimum 15 cards per deck and no restricted faction cards if not using that faction.

Firstly, players randomly draw three cards from the Mission Objective decks. Once drawn, each player presents the opponent with the cards they have drawn, enabling the opponent to review the information on the cards. If the card has a “When shown to opponent…” instruction, perform that activity now. It may be adding a bit of extra scenery or something far more exotic.

Once both players have inspected the six drawn Mission Objectives and the “When shown to opponent…” activity is completed, each player take back their three Mission Objective cards and secretly discards two of the cards.

This leaves each player with a secret single Mission Card from a known choice of three. Any item/object/thing that was brought into play during the “When shown to opponent…” will remain and perform precisely the activity noted on the cards, even if the card was discarded. Note that all the items or additional activities from the “Reveal” happen BEFORE the player picks their mission. So if some marker moves too far to give a viable win, the player doesn’t have to select that mission. The item stays on the battlefield and some cards have an effect even if they are not selected to be the player’s mission.

With the Mission Objective card selected for each player, they now select the Exploration cards. The number of Exploration cards to be randomly drawn be each player is based on the points value of the game:

Points Value of Game Mission Cards per player
750 or less 2
751 to 1250 3
1251 to 1750 4
1751 to 2000 5
Over 2000 6

Players announce their Army Commander. The figure with the highest ‘Leader’ rating from the Tactical Options or has the ‘Command’ special rule from any option.

Each player randomly draws a number of mission cards based on the points value of the game as
noted in the table above. Unlike the Mission Objectives, these cards are not shown to the opponent. They remain secret and only you will see them.

All cards have been drawn. Each player will have a single Mission Card and a number of Exploration Cards.

Deployment

Players are welcome to set up their forces in an agreeable manner. There are rules for deployment on page 140 of the main rule book about placing units 1 standard move distance (1M) from the player’s table edge.

If no agreement, or as a mechanism to add more fun, roll a D5 on the below chart:

1, 2 – All units are available to be deployed 1M from the player’s table edge.

3, 4 – Half of the force is available for deployment 1M from the player’s table edge. See half a force
on page 140 of the Rulebook

5 – No units are deployed. All units roll a Command Check to enter play each turn, as if it was the
second or subsequent turn (See Moving Onto The Table, page 140).

During the deployment, this is perhaps where your opponent will first see your figures, it is a great opportunity to announce who the Army Commander is. Army Commanders are a feature in these Mission Cards, as a focus for the important personality to perform a feat or act of military genius or might.

There are a multitude of options for picking an Army Commander, and as new units get released this method may become more complex. Essentially, the Army Commander ought to be the most logical unit that could be a commander of the force. Chose from the figure with the highest ‘Leader’ rating from the Tactical Options or has the ‘Command’ special rule. Each player must declare who their Army Commander is before deployment.

Deployment is generally done by drawing dice out of the bag and placing on the table, unit by unit. Once forces are deployed, the game can begin.

Controlling Objectives – Scoring Units

Some Mission Cards refer to Scoring Units. Any unit that is either not a probe unit (i.e. Micromites/Targeter Probes), or not a sharded unit (i.e. Tectorists) is a scoring unit.

Many of the cards, especially the Objective Markers, refer to an objective being controlled. If a player has a non-probe or non-sharded unit (i.e. any unit that is not a probe or sharded) within 3” of the Objective Marker and the enemy does not, that side is considered to have captured the Objective Marker. If both sides have a unit that could potentially control the objective within 3” of the Objective Marker then neither side can claim control.

Artefact Markers

Note that the Recover Artefact Exploration cards refer to placing and moving Artefacts. Objective Markers to not move, it stays where it is. The Artefact Marker moves with the appropriate unit. Only non-sharded Infantry or dismounted infantry can carry an Artefact. This allows Ghar in Battle Armour to collect Artefacts, but not Tectorists.

Rules for moving Relics are on page 29 of The Battle For Xilos supplement. These rules apply to moving Artefacts (save that the Ghar are interested in Artefacts).

Multiple Players

If the game is to have more than two opposing forces (allies ought to work together as a single large army) players should restrict their deployment to table corners, with an equal distance along the table edges as “neutral ground”, but treating the portion attached to their corner as being their table edge.

Players randomly draw the same number of Mission and Objective cards as they would for a regular 1 against 1 mission