Hungry, Hungry Gulpers! by David Horobin
If the IMTel can be described as one thing, inquisitive would certainly be a leading contender. With the landing on Xilos successful, the opportunity to learn more about the planet jugged at the binary circuits a whole Builder world to explore and learn it’s secrets. Biological algorithms returned as unacceptable the risk of leaving the secrets of the planet behind should they need to evacuate. Military level intelligence passed from the Algoryn to the Concord indicated the higher activity density regions of the new enemy, the Ghar.
As with the majority of information shared to a shard, it was not long until a decision had been made for a couple of survey teams to be dispatched. The small number of troops being dispatched reflected the current tactical situation as only limited number of armed Strike Teams could be made available.
With news of Ghar movement the small force was recalled. Limited information was recovered, but even a little information can lead to an advantage this small success was due to one of the recon drones returning alone. Along with many mundane pictures of vegetation, rock formations and small mammals, it carried back a shocking image.
Telemetry patched through from the missing survey team’s recorder probe suggested the ‘creature’ had been moving underground with reasonable velocity. Once the beacon within the probe had become stationary the IMTel had a decision. Retrieve the probe and risk further casualties. Or risk the data collected from the probe from being exploited by the recent arrival of mercenary Freeborn or Boromites. As risk adverse as the IMTel is, the risk to not collecting the survey probe was too great, the loss of vital information could not be permitted. A small team was assembled and dispatched to make the recovery.
However this was not before wind of the potential bounty had fallen on inquisitive ears…
Running a game
This game is a variant of the ‘Recover at All Costs’ scenario and can be played between two players without an umpire, in which case the players resolve the movement and attacking for the native fauna as necessary.
Forces of any faction can be used, as all factions have become aware of the survey probes plight, by fair means or foul, or perhaps inadvertently.
Such a game is recommended for 500 point forces, although players may choose to increase this to 750. If such a decision is taken it is recommended to not permit Strategic Options from any of the army lists, just have a go and adapt to your flavour.
Place three craters (no larger than 3” in diameter) at the centre of the table. For each crater roll a D10 and move the crater a number of inches equal to the number rolled and in the direction made by the D10’s natural arrow. Repeat this for all craters. If two or more craters end up within 5” of another crater, repeat this process of scattering the crater again, until all the craters have a gap of at least 5” between themselves. These craters are nests made by the Gulper and act as the crater rim obstacle on page 57 of the main rulebook.
Set up the rest of the terrain as described in Setting Up the Terrain page 139 of the main rulebook leaving the area within 5” of each crater clear as Gulpers do not like to have their nests cramped. Ideally, the rest of the terrain should afford each side the opportunity to approach the objective nest craters without exposing themselves to too much enemy fire. Forces will have to advance in the face of enemy fire, so it is a good idea to have a good spread of obstacles and/or light terrain to allow troops to hop from cover to cover.
A distinctive Dangerous Fauna order dice is required to be put in the order dice bag from the beginning of the game and used throughout, until the Gulper is destroyed. Three numbered counters need to be randomly placed (with number hidden) on each of the nest craters. This way neither player knows which numbered counter is on which nest crater.
Example showing the ‘scattering’ of the third and final nest 8 inches to the right. The 5 inch area around the crater nests shows the exclusion zone for other scenery or nests. The rest of the board is then added to with the rest of the scenery.
The two forces enter the table from the opposing short table edges. Roll randomly to determine which player starts from which edge. In the first turn both sides can bring up to half of their force onto the table as described for Moving onto the Table on page 140 of the main rulebook. Remaining forces can be brought on at the same edge from the second turn, making a Command test to enter. The Gulper is not placed on the table at the start of the game.
The objective is to reach the nest craters, and roll to discover if the Concord survey drone has been deposited there. If found it can be carried by a unit, much like Relics on page 29 of the Xilos expansion book. Then to recover the survey drone back to own table edge.
Secondary objectives are to take the Gulper eggs for research/trade purposes.
We do not normally fix a time limit for this game, instead the game ends immediately if either side carries survey drones to its base edge. However, if time is pressing the game can also be played until one side reaches its break value or until six turns have elapsed, then roll randomly to see if another turn is to be played as described under Game Duration page 141 of the main rule book.
If one side gets the survey drone off its own base edge the game ends immediately and that side wins. If neither side achieves this by the end of the game, total up the number of victory points as noted below. The player with the highest accumulation of Victory Points at the end of the game is the winner. If neither side can claim victory the result is a draw.
- Have the survey drone in possession at end of the game (but not off table edge): Concord/Isorian = 5VP; Algoryn, Freeborn, Boromite, Isorian, Rogue Ghar = 3VP
- For each Gulper Egg in possession at end of game: Freeborn, Boromite, Rogue Ghar, Ghar = 2VP; Concord/Isorian/Algoryn = 1VP
- Being responsible for the death of the Gulper: Concord/Isorian/Algoryn/Freeborn = 3VP; Ghar, Rebel Ghar, Boromite = 2VP
- Each enemy unit destroyed = 1VP; Ghar 2VP
Special Scenario Rules
There are a couple of special rules for the Gulper, Eggs, Hatchlings and crater nests.
Discovering the survey drone
The first time a unit crosses into the centre of a crater nest (the crater rim being an obstacle) roll a D3 and note the result. The player turns the numbered counter in that crater nest over. If the number on the D3 matches the numbered counter the survey drone has been discovered, place an appropriate marker to represent the survey drone, then remove the other two numbered counters. If the number on the D3 does not match the numbered counter, remove that numbered counter.
The next time a unit crosses into a crater nest with a numbered counter, show that numbered counter to all players, if it matches the recorded D3 roll the survey drone has been found, then remove the remaining numbered counters. If the survey drone has not been discovered after two numbered counters have been revealed, place the survey drone marker in the third and final crater nest and remove the remaining numbered counter.
The remains of the survey drone are carried in the same manner as a relic, noted on page 29 of the Xilos expansion.
A unit with at least one model within the boundary of the crater rim of a crater nest may announce it is “Recovering Eggs”. This involves a successful Rally order being given to the unit and the unit caries out a complete Rally action before rolling to Recover Eggs. Make the usual Cmd test if the unit is suffering pins. Once the Rally action is complete the unit makes an Ag test as part of the Recovering Eggs action. Add 1 to the Acc of the unit for each and every member of the unit that is completely within the crater nest (so if a unit of 5 Concord have 3 members within the crater nest = Ag 5 + 3 = 8. If the test is successful the unit has found a Gulper egg. Gulper eggs are carried by a unit in the same manner as relics.
Dangerous Fauna Dice
When the Dangerous Fauna order dice is drawn, the players roll off to determine who gets to control the Dangerous Fauna that turn. D10 for each player, LOWEST score wins control. Note that when rolling this D10 for the Dangerous Fauna test, players add the number of Recovered Eggs currently in their forces possession to their D10 roll (remember that you can’t drop the eggs until a unit is activated). Taken 6 eggs? Add 6 to your Dangerous Fauna roll. Mamma don’t like it when you steal her babies…
- If the result is a draw, the Gulper momentarily retreats back into the ground and performs an immediate Ground Burst Attack as noted for the Gulper.
- If any player rolls a natural 10 for the test, place a Hatchling in a random crater nest. The Hatchling acts this turn, immediately after the Gulper.
If a Dangerous Fauna dice is drawn immediately after a Ghar Distort Dice, the Gulper burrows underground for this turn, ready to re-emerge next turn with a Ground Burst Attack as appropriate. Any Hatchlings will just stay stationary for the turn.
You may note that having control of the Dangerous Fauna probably doesn’t feel like you are actually controlling them, but that’s alien intellect for you.
A Gulper is a massive predatory subterranean beast found on Xilos. Killing the Gulper in this game is not mandatory, but may help your faction win the game. Players may feel inclined to assist each other to kill this mighty beast, but such informal treaties are oft short lived fleeting affairs.
|Humungous Beast Unit||Ag||Acc||Str||Res||Init||Cmd||Special|
|1x Gulper||5||–||10||15||7||7||3 attacks SV3, Large, Ground Burst Attack|
Gulper Special Rules
Refer to Xilos expansion book ‘The Battle For Xilos‘ page 70 for the rules for Gulpers.
Ground Burst attack: For this scenario, the Gulper may make a Ground Burst Attack. If the Gulper is not already on the table when the Dangerous Fauna Dice is drawn, then the Gulper enters play using this Ground Burst Attack Method. First, check to see if any of the crater nests have any players unit’s in them. Any that do are considered to be under threat from a Ground Burst. If none of the crater nests have any player’s units in them then ALL crater nests are under threat. Randomise between the crater nests under threat in a mutually agreeable manner. D3/D2 or if just one, then that automatically is attacked.
Place the Gulper model on the direct centre of the attacked crater nest, or as close to the centre as possible where player’s unit models permit. Measure 5” from the edge of the Gulpers base. Any unit with a model within this distance take D3 automatic pins as the ground shakes beneath their feet and the ferocity of the surprise attack. Suspensored units ignore this effect. If a unit is within contact with the Gulper, this takes D6 pins and is immediately forced into a round of Hand to Hand fighting (the unit may react with a Down reaction if permitted, taking half the number of pins in keeping with being Down). Note that no Point Blank Range firing takes place for this assault, as the beast is upon them immediately.
If the Gulper does not win the round of Hand to Hand combat it will immediately burrow back into the ground and prepare for a Ground Burst next turn.
Normal movement: If the Gulper is already on the table when activated, it may only be given a run order. The player that won control of the Dangerous Fauna may move the Gulper up to 10” in any direction, even launching an assault against a unit. In this situation, where an assault is launched while the Gulper is already on the table, the usual round of Point Blank Shooting precedes the striking of blows in Hand to Hand combat as normal. The Gulper ignores all terrain, but may not pass through buildings etc as noted on pages 72/73 of the Xilos expansion. If the Gulper is destroyed, the unit that caused the killing blow scores the appropriate Victory Points.
Throughout the game there will be chances where a Hatchling may appear. Hatchlings have the following stats:
|1x Hatchling||5||–||7||10||6||6||Small, Dig in, D3 H2H attacks SV1|
Hatchling Special Rules
Small: Any unit that makes successful Hand to Hand Str tests to his the Hatchling in an assault must re-roll the hits scored. And successful hits after the re-roll require a Res test as per normal.
Dig In: Any shooting attack suffers and additional -1 Acc as the Hatchling has the natural instinct to attempt to burrow into the ground. If in H2H the Hatchling makes a random number of attacks resolved at SV1. If the Hatchling fails any break test it is removed from play. Killing a Hatchling scores no Victory Points.
(The Snapper figures make great Hatchlings for this scenario).
Any Hatchlings that are on the table fight back if struck in H2H, otherwise they are activated when the Dangerous Fauna dice is drawn, after the Gulper completes its actions. The player that won control of the Gulper also wins the activations of the Hatchlings. Hatchlings may only be given Run orders and they will always attempt to engage in assault the nearest unit (controlling player chooses if there are two units equally distant).
The hatchling does not participate in Closing Fire, but may be fired at as normal.
Gulper young are tiny compared to the mature versions. Gulpers have to lay their eggs near the surface so the young do not get trapped in the tunnels. This was recorded as unusual behaviour for a subterranean creature, leading some experts to believe that the Gulper has been genetically altered at some point in the past.
Further creature rules for you to try out within your games of Antares can be found on pages 72 & 73 of The Battle for Xilos.