(Special to Warlord Games by Lieut. Col. Sam Wilson, Jr., USA (Ret.))
Wildwood Crest, NJ (March 14, 2017) — An unusual but highly effective allied military force of Isorian, Freeborn and Concord military elements conducted a hard-hitting and well-coordinated strike on the Imperial Ghar city of Gharlopolis this past March 11th at a meeting of the Sourth Jersey (USA) Gamers Association (SJGA) club in Cape May Court House, NJ, USA.
Gharlopolis sits astride the boundary between the Ghar Empire and the Isorian Shard in Antarean space.
Using the internationally popular game system, nine club members came together to explore how the combat system could engage with a large urban setting on a four x six foot gaming mat.
Allocated force ratios were deliberately large: the Alliance of Isorian, Freeborn, and Concord combined for 2700 points (at 900 points each). The Imperial Ghar army (IGA)—under the command of Karg 12-40-9—totaled 2300 points (a deliberate offset due to the military benefits of defending urban terrain).
The Imperial Ghar city itself consisted of acrylic-painted cardboard insulation pieces and carry-out drink holders to portray futuristic 12 urban blocks serving various administrative, residential, military headquarters and important industrial functions. This city’s layout was supplemented by surrounding “green” areas of trees and bushes, contrasted by noxious plasma overflow pits to complete the combat environment in which the invasion would unfold. The allied invasion was restricted to attack zones from south, southwest, and southeast of the city on axes that were to run S-N in parallel. (See Photo 1).
The IGA—supplemented by Army of the Ghar Rebellion (AGR) forces which was being leveraged to participate in the city’s defense (their leader, General Fartok, having been captured and closely guarded in the city’s fortress-like prison) — occupied the city in both visible and hidden positions using a “defense in depth” strategy. Because it was a “Ghar” city, building occupancy by armored IGA and AGR infantry was allowed; however, any MOD 2 figures were not.
Victory conditions awarded points to each side for: (1) each figure destroyed, (2) additional points for reducing respective military elements by at least 30% or for the resistance of same, and (3) for the capture or successful defense of key city buildings, i.e., the military headquarters, Karg’s palace, and the critical, industrial multi-building complex that produced munitions, armaments, and rehabbed or newly fabricated armored Ghar fighters. Furthermore, (4) Alliance points were to be rewarded for successful egress of alliance forces off the north edge of the board.
A special condition also was established: the successful rescue of General Fartok by alliance forces would prompt the AGR to stand-down and no longer support the IGA in its defense of the city. This condition called for the use of either Freeborn or Concord C3M4 Combat and C3T7 Transporter drones in a mission to be determined by the Isorian commander in a “Black Hawk Down” rescue type mission.
The IGA was given the ability to plant munitions charges in a small number of selected buildings to be command-detonated upon their evacuation and or successful assault by Alliance forces. Additional transporter pads linked key buildings for rapid Ghar redeployment. (See Photo 2).
The IGA set up first with the capability of placing selected units on an automatic “ambush order” from the outset (to replicate the defensive lethality of offensive assault in urban warfare). Effort was made to establish effective lines of site and hidden placement in key buildings. Surprisingly, the IGA/AGR overall commander elected not to use the “ambush” order option. (See Photos 3 & 4).
The IGA—supplemented by Army of the Ghar Rebellion (AGR) forces which was being being leveraged to participate in the city’s defense (their leader, General Fartok, having been captured and closely guarded in the city’s fortress-like prison)—occupied the city in both visible and hidden positions using a “defense in depth” strategy. Because it was a “Ghar” city, building occupancy by armored IGA and AGR infantry was allowed; however, any MOD 2 figures were not.
The Alliance set up last with the options of advancing multiple columns onto the board, either in whole force or echelon. Alliance factions could not interpenetrate, however. (See Photos 5 & 6).
Finally, the total number of order dice for each army was determined, including any MOD2 figures, and then deliberately halved, to speed up turn play. This is an alternative technique used by the club from time-to-time to represent that perfect command and control over all available units was rarely achieved taking into account the “fog and friction” of war, even in science fiction combat. The scenario was optimistically designed to last six turns.
Well, the game lasted two long, complex, and highly dramatic turns. In the process, city blocks were rubbled either by Alliance compression cannon assault or Ghar demolition. (See Photo 7).
After initial advances with minimum losses, the Isorian commander directed his Concord player to conduct the pre-planned raid on the prison to liberate General Fartok. This was launched after Freeborn and Concord both C3M4 combat drones blasted entry ways on the south side of the walled prison.
A Striker Squad was then airlifted by the Concord C3T7 Transporter Drone to the prison entry ways where it aggressively assaulted into the prison. Alas! Poor General Fartok was wired like a suicide bomber and was quickly dispatched when his Ghar captors exited the prison. The blast also took out several Striker Squad members. What was left was rubble. (See Photo 8).
Immediately Ghar assault forces closed with the Concord Striker Squad now on open and exposed ground. However, previous accumulation of fatigue points on the hard-fighting but decremented Ghar forced drew down its Resistance Levels to the point of risky probability survival. They lost. (See Photo 9).
Of special heroic note was the devastating accomplishments of the Isorian sniper who successfully took out two separate Ghar Outcast elements: a roof-top disrupter cannon and its crew, and a squad of Outcast Infantry that had emerged from a barracks. Both accomplishments were achieved at critical early moments of the invasion. (See Photo 10).
At the end of Turn 2 ( and three hours of play), the Alliance had secured a N-S corridor into the industrial complex, over-watched by its Freeborn C3M4 combat drone that had fought its way through the city. The end was clearly in sight. (See Photo 11).
The final victory point calculation? Alliance 53 points and the IGA, 42. The Ghar managed to hang on to its vital facilities but its heavy combat losses coupled with its ability to inflict only light casualties on the Alliance spelled doom. Furthermore, the Alliance’s victory was on the cusp of a crushing defeat with the arrival of the Freeborn C3M4 Combat Drone near the northern edge of the city in protective over watch of soon to be streaming Alliance forces in its wake.
This round of gaming was the culmination of a series of five monthly gamed scenarios designed with progressively added complexity to develop player rules familiarity and skill in many of the nuances of this richly imagined and compelling game system. The exploration of urban warfare was inspired by urban warfare in the Middle East. Urban fighting, with its provision of cover for the defender and complex demands on the coordination of attacking forces posed an interesting challenge to club members.
Warlord Games, through its principal U.S. agent, Jon Russell, provided prizes of Antares sprues and other items for participants both as a reward to newcomers for learning the system and further to encourage interest and possible investment in the game system.
The SJGA meets monthly year-round in at the Cape May County Senior Center, for game playing by retirees (including military) and by members of professional, business, or service enterprises. All are war game aficionados with a wide-interest of tastes and interests, but share a largely historical focus.
The club’s predominant interest in historical wargaming notwithstanding, the Beyond the Gates of Antares now has won an secure place in the schedule of featured games over the club’s annual game playing cycle.