In early 2015, Andy Singleton and Jez Allum paid a visit to Warlord HQ to tour the premises and get a flavour for the Beta Edition of the Beyond the Gates of Antares rules set. This is a report by Sam Phillips of how things went.
Andy: After an early start and a long train ride out of the Volley Fire Painting Services paint mines and into Nottingham, I met up with Rich, Sam, Jez and Andy for a day of gaming. After a quick tour round it was straight to business for the first of two awesome games of Beyond the Gates of Antares using my Concord Strike force. The first game saw me pitched against Jez’s Algoryn, and was my first ever game of Antares.
Jez: Recently I was invited to Warlord Games HQ to take part in a playtesting battle report. I had to bring my Algoryn and I was to play against none other than Volley Fire’s very own Andy Singleton. He was to be using his beautifully painted C3, and I was a little upset at having to blow them up. Quickly getting over that however, we set to battle.
Sam takes over…
The game itself was an experimental form of the ‘Recover at All Costs’ scenario, with Andy in control of the Concord, and Jez at the helm of the Algoryn – each had 6 Order Dice. The forces lined up evenly – for the purposes of playtesting, we balanced them quite simply by picking even and opposing units for both sides.
The Concord Plasma Cannon fired upon the Algoryn lines, but failed to hit anything, unlike the Strike Group who activated next – who shot and killed one of the opposing Algoryn Infantry.
The Algoryn then received two Order Dice – and Jez elected to move up his first A.I. squad – giving them a better firing position – he then activated his X-launcher, which lobbed a high velocity round way overhead, deep into the heart of the Concord lines – but failed to hit its mark.
The Concord retaliated by firing their own X-launcher at the nearest Algoryn Infantry squad, reducing their numbers by one. The Algoryn Heavy Plasma Cannon, X-Launcher, and Command Squad then opened fire upon the Strike Squad – killing two, which triggered a Command Check, and sent the Strike Squad running from the board.
The turn opened with the Concord X-launcher landing a shot squarely on the plasma cannon and crew, wiping them out instantly! The Concord Command Squad fired at the advancing Algoryn Infantry squad, but failed to inflict any damage. The Algoryn combined their fire upon the looming plasma cannon but their weapons were unable to even scratch it – they did however inflict two Pin Markers which would reduce its effectiveness.
The turn was characterised by bad luck for the Algoryn – a second A.I. squad (who had come under fire the previous turn) failed to carry out their orders, and the X-launcher missed its target – the shell landing far wide, slamming into a wall.
One of the Concord Strike Squads also fell prone to Morale issues – failing their Command Check, helplessly watching an approaching Algoryn A.I. squad move into a prime position…
…it seemed however that Jez had not realised the lethality of the Rogue Drones – and as his troops approached the Drone (which was on Ambush) with hopes of capturing it, it opened fire and gunned down one of their number.
The turn began with the Algoryn Command Squad opening fire upon their opposite number, picking off one of the Concord troopers. Elsewhere, firefights broke out across the board. On the Concord left flank, a Strike Squad (with supporting fire from their X-launcher) faced off with an A.I. squad, the Strike Squad killing a Concord trooper and the X-launcher’s shot took out the Algoryn squad leader.
One of the Rogue Drones then activated and moved towards the Concord Command, who then seized the opportunity, rushing head-long towards the Drone, in an effort to take control – however, with the Drone still on Ambush, it was a risky manoeuvre – the Drone opened fire,and wiped out the entire squad!
Unperturbed by this – on the other flank, one of the Algoryn Infantry Squads launched themselves over the hedge behind which they’d been taking cover and took control of the other Rogue Drone, and – in the same move – manoeuvred back towards their own lines.
The Algoryn A.I squad with control of the Rogue Drone sprinted towards their own table edge in an attempt to escape with the drone. They ended their movement a mere 6 inches from the table edge.
At the other side of the board, a Concord Strike Squad attempted to clamber over a wall to head towards the remaining unclaimed Rogue Drone, but ended up shot to pieces in a heap on the other side (much to the amusement of everyone in the room – aside maybe from Mr Singleton!)!
Elsewhere on the battlefield, shots rang-out from behind hedgerows and walls – with models being picked off – however, the board had become a stalemate – and, with the Algoryn sensing victory, it all came down to Turn Five – who would receive the first Order Dice?
The Algoryn received the first Order Dice – and with that, Jez ran the squad with the drone off the table edge, making the Algoryn the victors!
The battle between Jez and Andy proved to be great fun – Jez had previously played a few games of Antares through the Alpha and into the Beta stages, so had an idea of the rules – however it was Andy’s first foray into the rules set. After just a few activations, the game flowed smoothly – with only a few minor breaks in the momentum for a quick flick through the rules to check some of the more in-depth details.
We asked Jez and Andy for their thoughts on the battle, and the day.
Andy: I found the rules to be easy to pick up having played Bolt Action for just over a year now, and it flowed well – our game took around an hour at most, even with Jez’s creative renaming of units. Special mention has to go to my squad who tripped over a small wall, then got shot to pieces by Jez’s army… Needless to say it was a hard fought loss!
The firepower of C3 forces was quite spectacular, being both accurate and hard hitting. C3 also felt quite resilient, but you have to maintain a bit of distance with your enemies! A great day’s gaming and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next for both the C3 and the other forces of Antares!
Jez: A thoroughly entertaining game was had by all! The mechanics of the Beta version flow much more smoothly than the Alpha version, and the addition of new rules and units as we go along the Antares journey is very exciting. A five dice game is now very quick and easy to follow, and at an hour or so to play, allows time to get a couple of games in during an evening.
The game is really quite unique with the D10 system, and although it shares some similarities with Bolt Action (author, order dice mechanic, pin markers) the game is so much more than ‘Bolt Action in space’, it retains that fantastic unpredictability and fog of war generated by the order dice and the fast paced slick gameplay that defines the Bolt Action system, but is unique in its own right.
The hospitality shown by the spiffing chaps at Warlord Games was marvellous, as not only did we get to play the battle report game, we also got to have a tour of the premises from the casting rooms, through mail order to the design room where glass cases full of beautifully painted model soldiers sat, and the incredibly talented sculptors resided.
So it’s a big thanks to all at Warlord Games HQ that allowed me and Andy to intrude on their time, Sam for stifling laughs over alternative X Launcher names, Richard Dando for guiding us through the game and giving us food and drink and Andy Singleton for allowing me to blow up all his C3!