We’ve been pretty quiet lately due to new babies, new jobs, new houses, etc, but we’ve continued doing hobby and playing games! We were lucky enough to be granted an interview with Rick Priestley of Warlord Games, creator of the brand new science fiction miniatures game Beyond the Gates of Antares!
You may recall Rick Priestley from such games as Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer Ancient Battles, Warhammer 40,000, Necromunda, Warmaster, Warmaster Ancients, Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, Black Powder, Hail Caesar, and Bolt Action. I may have left out one or two there – but Rick has been prolific in creating or co-creating some of the most well-loved wargames ever.
We have checked out Antares and we’re really enjoying it so far – the box set is a great value and the setting is very well fleshed out, with tons of new ideas. The rules are pretty comprehensive with plenty of room for story building and campaigns. Without further ado, let’s get to the interview!
Q. How would you describe Beyond the Gates of Antares at a basic level? The story and setting seems a lot different from what we may be used to – what are some inspirations for the story? What would you compare it to from movies, books etc?
A. The setting is deliberately expansive and open ended – because it does have to support a game and for that matter a series of games. Creating something that is credible and which has its own internal logical is part of what makes it interesting and enjoyable! Influences – a lifetime of reading probably – but others have made comparisons with Ian M Banks Culture novels – and there are some shared ideas certainly.
A. Well I’d say that many games have strange aliens that are to all intents and purposes human and which look as if they evolved from earth-like creatures – the 40K pantheon of aliens are simply humanoid fantasy races ported into a different setting, for example (Tyranids excepted I suppose). I just wanted to create a background that was more credible – more realistic if you like – without the fantastical undertones of ‘space elves’, ‘space magic’ and ‘space demons’ that you get with the gothic style setting. But there are aliens in Antares space too – and the ones we have mocked-up (no firm designs yet) are very, very alien indeed!
Q. Can you talk about some of the defining characteristics for each race for those who are looking to start this game?
A. I did just that in a series of You Tube videos that you can access via the Warlord website and that’s probably the best way of getting an idea of how these things work. Obviously the ‘big one’ is the Panhuman Concord – which is my main faction for purposes of driving the story – with the Isorians as an alternative breakaway group with a more sinister look for those who enjoy that kind of aesthetic. The Freeborn are a bit of a ‘sandpit’ in so far as they are very variable and folks can impose their own idea on them very easily whilst staying true to the background – they are a space going race divided into countless independent fleets – the traders and explorers of Antares. The Boromites are big, tough, close-knit and semi-criminal itinerants – there is an element of brutality about them and they tend to fight closer up than the other factions. The Algoryn are a minor power but fiercely independent people with a strong martial culture – and their chief foe are the Ghar – a left-over genetically engineered army from eons ago who continue to wage war from their armoured battlesuits.
A. I’m not sure – it has an internal logic and scientific elements that are a bit like ‘hard SF’ but really it’s probably closer to what you might call space opera – i.e. it’s a big setting with whole races waging wars on a vast scale. In many ways that’s like Star Wars isn’t it – I don’t know, what kind of sci-fi is Star Wars J
Q. Some pretty popular games have taken on social issues / politics / world problems in the past – are there any that you think are present in Beyond the Gates of Antares? Any parallels to current problems in our world? Are there any historical parallels in the story and setting?
A. Not deliberately – though the idea of a ‘perfect’ society in which no-one takes responsibility or troubles to think about anything that is either serious or important is a fairly recognisable trope isn’t it!
Q. This game, as one created by Rick Priestley, will inevitably draw gamer comparisons to Warhammer 40,000, a game create by Rick Priestley. Are there any legitimate comparisons between the two?
A. I guess so – although 40K evolved over a long time and many others contributed too – the feel of Antares is quite different to the modern 40K though. In many respects Antares does come from the same place as the original Rogue Trader edition of Warhammer 40,000 – it’s a similar scale of game and it has the same ‘open ended’ approach. Both were created as games to be played by myself with like-minded comrades – they are both either skirmish or semi-role-playing wargames first and foremost. The current 40K is very different and its development has been driven by wholly commercial concerns for a long time – so I wouldn’t say there’s much to compare. I always say – if you really enjoy playing 40K – play 40K! I’ve built a new game and I hope it’ll find its own audience – one more in keeping with the kinds of games I also happen to enjoy.
Check back later this week for part two of our awesome interview with Rick Priestley!