2021 Top 10 Solo Skirmish Games Countdown : #4!

#4 - Gates of Antares

"Hang on", say the 2 faithful readers on this blog. "Antares is an anomaly on this list. It’s a 2+ player squad based game!"

Very true, but... it's my list 😁

Actually it's on this list because I've been able to successfully solo it due to the dice activation mechanics and also clear cut narrative scenario objectives. It's also because despite my best efforts I've not been able to get face-to-face games in this year... but I have played a bunch of games solo.

(Note: there are some solo rules and scenarios that came out last year but they are scenario specific using only one faction and don't give you the full flavour of the game.)

That said, you can have fun games with the minimum 500 points which typically gets you 5 units a side. Around 25 minis a side. And due to the random dice draw activation, quite solo-able. I’ve had many games where I wasn’t able to do what I wanted because I couldn’t activate my units, leading to their destruction before I could even do anything, forcing me to revise my plans.

Antares has 7 factions to choose from, with a promised 8th hopefully in 2022 accompanied by a more streamlined 2nd Edition. You can play from a minimum of 500 points all the way to 2000+ points. 

Personally, I’ve found the sweet spot to be 750-1000. You get some interesting flavour units at that point (flying units, infiltration units, assault units), and the model count remains manageable… typically less than 50 a side. And since you manoeuvre as a unit anyway, it boils down to 8-10 units a side… about the same as a typical skirmish game.

I like Antares because it gives me hard sci-fi action with nary a skull or eagle in sight… unless it’s the skulls of Ghar battle suits hanging off the hands of your troopers. The games are quick, and you do NOT roll buckets and buckets of dice. Neither do you roll to hit, roll to damage, roll to save. Just roll to hit, roll to damage. Some exotic rules and units may add a bit more to that sequence… but those are the exceptions.

Tactics matter, as does cover. You need to make decisions, take advantage of terrain, and best of all, firepower matters. Units don’t get blasted off the table to the last man. Sometimes being hit by weight of fire with nary a man lost can see a unit break and run off the table. It does provide an alternative method to killing each model as that probably isn't realistic, as in units don't typically fight to last last man unless in exceptional circumstances. (Are we really talking about realism in a game with suspensor tanks, space Jedi and black hole ammo?!)

So if you are looking for exciting, narrative driven SF battles that are not set in a grimdark future, take a look at Antares. (Oddly enough, some of the plastic starter kits that Warlord sells don’t necessarily give you 500 points to start your first game with. Go figure.)


Star Breach

There are so many great solo rules sets available now that Star Breach has not gotten any table time in 2021. That's in part due to the fact that Star Breach is primarily a 2 player game that is solo-able due to the random dice draw à la Bolt Action/Gates of Antares but mostly due to 5 Parsecs From Home which is [spoiler alert] that it totally pushed my #2 from last year all the way into Honourable Mention territory. 

Star Breach is still a great game when you’re looking for a in your face fight, or you want to level up your war band Necromunda style in a series of campaign games. 5 Parsecs just gives you more to work with in terms of narrative... but the tabletop combat itself is a bit lacking. For straight up no-holds-barred sci-fi skirmish tabletop combat it’s hard to beat Star Breach.

And that's it for Honourable Mentions for 2021. 

From tomorrow onwards till Dec 31 it will mainly be my top 3 solo skirmish games for 2021. Can anyone guess what they will be?