Saturday, April 30, 2016

Battle Beyond the Gates

More than a year now after I started painting figures for Beyond the Gates of Antares (and nearly a year after I completed them all), I managed to play a game. Mike Lombardi and I talked it up some time ago and finally scheduled a game for the end of April.

We managed to get four 500 points forces on the table:
  • Mike ran his Concord, which consisted of two C3 strike squads, a C3 command squad, and a unit of two light support drones. 
  • I ran my Algoryns, which consisted of two AI squads, one AI command squad, one AI assault squad, an x-launcher, and a mag light support weapon. 
  • Troy Wold ran his Isorians, which consisted of two senatex phase squads, a senatex command squad, an x-launcher, and a nhamak light support drone. 
  • Pat Clifford ran John's Boromites, which consisted of two gang fighter squads, an overseer squad, an x-launcher, and a batch of lavamites and their handler.
We just lined up on opposite sides of the table, reusing the terrain from an earlier game of something else. The point of the game was to get a first play of the rules in. Mike and I have played a lot of Bolt Action (which probably hampered us more than it helped) while Troy and Pat were entirely new to the Bolt Action/BTGOA system.

Algoryns ready for battle
Much of the game revolved around control of the hilltop ruins that dominated the center of the table. We each ran our squads right to the hill to get the best position possible.

Running for the hill—Troy's Isorians are apparently drunk
The game was a learning process. Warlord Games took the basic Bolt Action mechanics and supercharged them. Everything seemed to work just slightly different, which made for a lot of confusion. Overall, though, the rules seemed more polished than Bolt Action. There is also a lot more variety and subtle aspects of the weaponry. Beyond far beyond lead bullets and explosive charges, the weapons of the BTGOA system will take some time to learn: mag guns, plasma carbines, x-slings, micro x-launchers, weapons drones, etc.

One interesting aspect of BTGOA are the "buddy drones" that can be used. Buddy drones are attached to a unit and provide a kind of support for it. We only used spotter drones in our game. These drones allow a re-roll of a missed shot and can be used to patch drone-to-drone indirect shooting: basically a drone in line of sight to a target can patch to another drone for a unit that doesn't have line of sight. The chain of patching can go on and on.

Algoryn AI assault squad with its buddy spotter drone
The rules also provide other small drones that provide shielding, electronic camouflage, medic services, etc. There are also probes, that are like drones, which can be used for targeting, scouting, etc. Probes are "sharded" into groups that act independently of a unit.

The game mostly saw Troy and Pat duke it out on one side and Mike and I on the other, though there was some crossover. My initial die rolling was classic. BTGOA uses D10s for its system (rather the D6s in Bolt Action). These allow for a lot more modification of the die rolls and seem to work better—even though I'm still a sucker for the classic D6 in gaming. The thing about D10s is that in nearly every game I play rolling a "10" ("0" on the die) is something bad for me, and I have a strong tendency to roll "10"s.

Troy's rolling was near perfect. I think we were well into the game before he lost a single figure (or maybe he never lost one at all). His shooting was pretty effective as well. He pretty much beat up Pat, who could never seem to do Troy any harm. The Boromite x-launcher (think "hi-tech mortar") either drifted off target or rolled a "10" (which is a dud shot).

The remnants of Mike's Concord; worse for wear, but still deadly
My rolling improved a bit, but I took a beating from Mike's Concord. The Concord have the best technology in the game. The drones were wiping me out at one point, or forcing me to go down (and thereby forfeit an activation for the turn). It wasn't until the last turn of the game that I managed to get enough pins on the drones to render them potentially ineffective. These were only light drones. Some drones are much heavier and would take more firepower than I had to hurt.

Pat ran his lavamites into one of the buildings, but they got no farther. Troy spent most of the game pouring plasma fire into them, which whittled them down, but kept the Isorians in place shooting at the same time. The lavamites hung on 'til the end, even though they were pinned beyond any hope of recovery. Lavamites are rock-eating critters that can spit lava and are mostly effective in close assault.

The Isorians advance (finally)
I managed to run my AI assault squad into the big building/ruin and held off fire and one assault by Pat's Boromites. Lucky for me the AI assault squad is tailor made for close combat, so I managed to hold on. They had earlier won a shoot-out with another of Pat's Boromite gangs and had survived a lot of shooting from Mike's C3 squads and the nasty weapon drones.

Holding the ruins
I also managed to do some damage with my support weapons. The x-launcher is effective when it hits, though you need to roll "2" or less on a D10 for a direct hit. Unlike, Bolt Action, however, misses drift and can still do damage if their shots fail to drift far enough or drift onto another unit.

We called the game after about five turns. It looked like the Algoryn-Isorian pact would win the day—though maybe just barely. I was pretty shot up, but Troy was looking pretty with no (or almost no) losses. Pat had just his lavamite handler in the ruins and an x-launcher that had so far managed to miss or flub every shot it took.

We all agreed that we liked the game, so my time and money spent painting Algoryns wasn't a waste. I even bought more after the game. Look for a unit of intruder scout skimmers soon.


  1. That did look quite fun. I had reservations about trying it, but you've swayed my conservativeness. The drones sound great.

    Everyone's minis were painted beautifully.

  2. Interesting comment you made about BA and BTGA, David. Never played BTGA, but wonder if I could use BA for the few Space Marines I have :) Oh, and as James stated above, great looking minis and games, as always!