The Ghar are one of the pivotal factions in Antarean terms: not-quite-human, a mix of genetically degenerate yet advanced and focused, warlike, understandably confused and, aesthetically striking. When learning, they can be difficult to face yet, after playing the game for a while, opponents get the hang of things and they can be difficult to use!
I love ’em. I love the models, the feel, the “Rebel-but-ideologically-loyal Fartok”/”Loyal-but-twisted Karg” backstory and the simple, existential dilemma they are now facing. It makes for solid narratives and stories in each game – and it’s that about Gates of Antares that really appeals.
However, Ghar break or add exceptions to almost every normal rule. From the distort dice to Plasma Amplifiers, to their Reactors and to the refusal of Outcasts to take orders, they add things that can become easily forgotten.
Amongst the most easily forgotten are the uses and dangers of the Ghar Plasma Reactors and Amplifiers.
This is what powers a lot of Ghar kit. The description is not in ‘Equipment’ but on p.136 under ‘Special Rules for Units’, probably because it affects the unit. Normally, it has no effect on play. However, if an opponent scores a lucky hit (a ‘1’) on a model with a reactor, then things can go haywire.
When a model equipped with Plasma Reactor receives a lucky hit and then fails the subsequent Res save (after rerolls, of course), then the reactor explodes. Every other Reactor equipped model in the unit makes an immediate roll on a D10 and if a ’10’ is rolled, then that model’s reactor explodes.
This isn’t a Res test, though, but sheer luck: will the Ghar reactor become overheated and explode? If the ’10’ is rolled then the model affected is either a casualty if a trooper or scutter-based vehicle (removed) or, if a vehicle or heavy weapon, it rolls on the Damage Chart.
The vehicle whose reactor initially exploded is still removed as a casualty or rolls on the Damage Chart as appropriate. Ghar battlesuit equipped troopers and scutters, for example, are just removed; Command Crawlers or Bombardment Crawlers roll on the Damage Chart. This means that the latter could keep limping on, no doubt hastily repairing what they have left of their reactor and hoping they don’t get another hit!
These temporarily boost a Ghar’s plasma reactor so, when activated, the Ghar unit gets an extra dice, possibly becoming a MOD unit for a turn. All you do is state the unit has activated its amplifiers and put an extra dice in the bag. As such, they are recovered like every other MOD unit at the end of the turn (p.125).
Well, almost. They are Ghar, after all!
It’s important to note that the dice added by the Amplifier is activated turn by turn and are always switched off (or burn out – we’ll come to that) when recovered in the Turn End Phase (p.12). We’ll come to that, later.
Using the MOD dice from Plasma Amplifiers
It’s just a MOD dice, used as normal. Take it out, select an order and give it to the unit! As with all MOD units the most recent Order gives the units current state, too (p.17, also key for Recovery, below).
However, when a Plasma Amplified unit gets to use its extra dice (the last drawn and applied to the unit) it may run into problems. If it has to take an Order test with this dice and fails on a ’10’, then the Amplifier overcooks and is destroyed. The extra dice is removed from play immediately, the unit takes D5 pins from the vicious heat and the Amplifier cannot be used again in the game.`This is something that Ghar players would prefer to forget but which their opponents should always remember!
Recovering MOD dice from Plasma Amplifiers
It’s the term ‘recovered’ that’s key. Not all MOD dice are recovered in the turn end phase as some are automatically recovered, whilst others require a Recovery Test whilst others may be retained, so the dice not recovered.
This order retention is key to the recovery of Amplifier dice. Voluntarily retained orders are listed on p.16 and can be either Ambush, if it the most recent order, or Run, if the unit’s Fast and it’s the most recent order (not that such a state applies to Ghar units!). Though not explicitly allowed, many players also allow Down to be voluntarily retained simply because it’s an automatic reaction to being shot at. This does reduce the number of order dice in the bag, though, so should be considered carefully.
BUT, that voluntary retention has a knock-on. At the end of the turn, a Plasma Amp. equipped unit recovers and retains its dice like any other unit: if a dice is Down, a Recovery Test is taken, as normal; if the latest dice is Ambush, then it can be retained, and so on. Order dice in other states are recovered as normal, ready to be placed back in the bag.
However, the first dice actually recovered, that is, successfully picked up off the unit to go into the bag, instantly becomes the Plasma Amplifier dice. It doesn’t matter if it was the last dice placed or whatever: it was picked up, so becomes the Amp dice.
This recovered Plasma Amplifier dice instantly triggers a check to see if the Plasma Amplifier burns out. A dice is rolled and on a result of 1-5 the dice is removed from play completely and the Plasma Amplifier is burned out, is unusable for the rest of the game, and its dice is removed from play competely (p.125). On a roll of 6-10, however, the Plasma Amplifier is okay and the dice is set aside ready for use again.
A useful mnemonic I use here to show what dice are treated as the Plasma Amp dice is ‘last on, first off’. That is, the last dice placed on an Amp’d-up unit is the Amp dice and then it doesn’t matter until order dice are removed, in which case it’s the first taken off.
Amplifier on and off
Some players keep an Amplifier active permanently once it is switched on, but this is not absolutely necessary. It is switched on turn-by-turn, so a unit can turn the Amps on and use the dice for a turn, recover it successfully at the end, turn off their Amps for a turn, then turn the Amp on again in a subsequent turn.
Or any combination. It can be useful to provide that sudden, tactical burst for a turn and then leave it in place to try and make a damaged trooper unit more potent in a subsequent turn. The tactical uses are interesting, but unreliable.
Which just about sums up the Ghar!