Blast from the Past: Revolt on Antares, a TSR minigame

Blast from the Past: Board games of my youth, from Monopoly to JAWS
Blast from the Past: The Micronauts
Antares main
Cover of the Revolt on Antares rules book, a minigame by TSR, original publishers of D&D.

TSR will always be remembered as the company that created Dungeons & Dragons and kicked off role playing games, but it’s sometimes forgotten as the publisher of other types of games besides D&D, such as Revolt on Antares.

For a period in the early 1980s, microgames (also known as minigames) were all the rage, no doubt started by the success of Steve Jackson Games’ Car Wars and Ogre. What were microgames? Smaller, relatively simple games that usually came packaged with all necessaries, such as dice and maps. Usually these games were not role playing games, but war games or some other tabletop board game.

Jumping on the bandwagon, TSR released a number of its own microgames, such as Vampyre, They’ve Invaded Pleasantville!, Saga and more. Revolt on Antares is one of these games.

Revolt on Antares, the game

Released in 1981, Revolt on Antares is a simple war game for two to four players that takes place on Imirrhos (also known as Antares 9), the ninth planet of the Antares solar system. Three scenarios are available for play, the main one allowing a player to act as leader of a rebel force against another player who is the leader of the Terran empire. The other two scenarios involve fighting back against an alien invasion, or a war between multiple royal houses of Imirrhos.

The action takes place across 10 combat turns, with reinforcements ready to be called up to service, alliances to be made, Galactic Heroes to hire, and powerful Artifacts just waiting to be unleashed. Each turn consists of 9 different sequences of play, allowing the various sides to move, attack, replace troops, recruit Galactic Heroes and choose an ally. Imagine all that, and all you need is a map, two 6-sided die, the basic rules and the cardboard playing pieces. Movement rates and combat factors are based upon numbers on the bottom of the playing pieces, but combat is also affected by dice rolls.

Antares map
The map for Revolt on Antares.

Then there is the terrain with which to contend. Not every combat troop can cross water, for example, so Jump Troops, Hovercraft, Airjet Squadrons and some of the Galactic Heroes and Artifacts are needed.

Antares inside
Inside the Revolt on Antares rules book.

In a lot of ways, it’s like playing a simplified, sci-fi version of RISK, but the action goes a lot faster, and is a lot more fun, in my opinion, especially as the games won’t drag out for hours upon hours.

Revolt on Antares, the collector’s dream

To boot, Revolt on Antares was designed by the late, great Tom Moldvay, creator of numerous TSR, D&D and other gaming products. It also features art from some classic TSR names like Erol Otus, Jeff Dee, Jim Roslof, Dave LaForce and Bill Willingham.

Antares counters
Cardboard counters for Revolt on Antares, just waiting to be punched out.

Minigames like Revolt on Antares don’t seem as common today, which is a shame. They make great time fillers while waiting for others to show up for a role playing session, and they’re perfect for those nights when not everyone can make it but there are still a few players who can. Still, Revolt on Antares is kept alive by collectors and those who love the minigames, so there’s still some life left in the old TSR products. If you are interested, Revolt on Antares and other minigames are often available on eBay or sometimes on Amazon, so keep looking, though be prepared to pay a collector’s price, usually $50 or thereabouts.

But the price can be worth it, if you love the game, and loving the game is all important.

And while you’re loving your game, always remember to “Stay Nerdy!”

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A former newspaper editor for two decades in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, Ty now earns his lunch money as a fiction writer, mostly in the fantasy and horror genres. He is vice president of Rogue Blades Foundation, a non-profit focused upon publishing heroic literature. In his free time he enjoys tabletop and video gaming, long swording, target shooting, reading, and bourbon. Find City of Rogues and other books and e-books by Ty Johnston at Amazon.

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