On the evening of Wednesday 10th September 2014, some of the Mail Order Team descended upon John Stallard’s Gaming Den to sample the latest incarnation of the Gates of Antares.
Different staff-members have been involved in the playtesting process at different stages, so there was a mixture of new players, players who had perhaps played an earlier form of the game several months ago, and a lucky few who were up-to-date with the latest version of the rules set.
With new models fresh from casting almost every day, we are slowly but surely phasing out the amount of proxy models being used – however we’re still in the thick of playtesting, so there was a novel mixture of miniatures in action that evening – from Gates of Antares, Bolt Action, and other systems – the Algoryn vehicle harked back to the original Rogue Trader playtesting!
The evening’s objective was to test-out some new Vehicle Rules which had been in development behind closed doors for a short while – we lucky few were to be the first group of playtesters to put them to use! Each vehicle would receive two Order Dice – allowing them two activations per game turn. This should ensure that they are at the heart of the action in no time!
As is customary in these situations, we began the evening with beer, pizza, and banter – once the giggling (and indeed the beer) had settled – we took sides across the gaming table, and prepared for war!
After a brief introduction by gamesmith Rick Priestley, our resident Games Master Andrew Chesney outlined the evening’s scenario, objectives, and victory conditions – there were two neutral drones on the board – which would each have one Order Dice, and move at random (their direction and distance to be determined by dice roll). If a player-controlled unit got in base-to-base contact with them, that player would then assume control of the drone, and could determine it’s direction of movement. If either team managed to get a drone off of their side of the gaming table, they would win – if not, the team who had managed to move a drone nearest their side of the gaming table would win.
The first activation of the game saw an Algoryn A.I squad move up into cover in a wooded area at the centre of the Algoryn lines – shortly followed by a big gun, and another squad in support on their right flank…
On the opposing side, a team of Lavamites appeared on the right flank, amid the Boromite habitation blocks – and two Work Gangs moved up on the left flank, careful not to attract any unwanted attention from the Algoryn forces.
The first of the drones in the centre of the table moved backwards, in between the buildings – and on the Algoryn left flank, Andy’s A.I squad advanced onto the rooftops. Unfortunately in doing so, they alerted the second drone to their presence – and it opened fire with a Plasma Light Support – wiping-out the squad leader.
Toward the centre of the Algoryn lines, a Plasma Cannon appeared in the ruins – taking a commanding position that gave the crew a view across the majority of the board, and good lines of sight.
From among the buildings, two further Boromite Work Gangs emerged – and to their left flank, a Boromite vehicle made its way onto the board, unleashing a Plasma Support blast at long range, hitting an Algoryn squad, killing one man. The presence of the Boromite vehicle attracted an equally vehicular adversary – the Algoryn vehicle returned fire at the Boromite vehicle, landing two hits and compromised its shields.
The Algoryn vehicle then used its second Order Dice to fire back – its main cannon and support weapon hit, resulting in 3 Pin Markers being dealt – another Algoryn squad then emerged and moved-up to support the vehicle.
Both sides received reinforcements – another Boromite squad emerged from the buildings, another A.I squad moved-up to reinforce the unit pinned-down on the rooftops, and another moved-up in the centre to reinforce the squad in the central woods.
Turn two began with the two A.I squads in the central wooded area advancing up through the woods – still in cover, they now had much better line of sight across the centre of the board – and had their sights trained on the drones. The turn progressed with small advances from both sides – posturing and seemingly waiting for each other to make a decisive move toward the drones… one of which opened fire – this time on Rick’s Repeater Squad, stalling their advance toward the objective.
The two vehicles continued to exchange fire – hits here-and-there, but no damage to speak of. The Boromite vehicle came off worse, with a seemingly constant collection of Pin Markers reducing its effectiveness. Later in the turn, the Algoryn tank’s main gun blasted the Blatter Drone from in front of its adversary – stripping away another layer of shielding – meanwhile the Boromite vehicle sat stationary, attempting to repair damage.
After 5 Algoryn Order Dice being picked from the Dice Bag in a row, the action in the centre began to hot-up…
Regular playtester Nick took the opportunity to try out a new mechanic – giving an order to his command squad, which could automatically then be taken by squads within 6 inches – unfortunately his command check failed!
On the Boromite right flank, the units emerging from the buildings advanced tentatively towards the drones – and unwittingly into the sights of the Algoryn Plasma Cannon. It hit an entire squad and the adjacent Mag Light Support team, but both shrugged off the hit, and the Mag Light Support immediately returned fire in an attempt to deter any further fire.
The Boromite squads advancing from the cover of the buildings opened fire on the A.I squads among the trees on the Algoryn left flank – and with the supporting fire of an X-launcher in the barrage, they soon became locked in a bitter firefight with both sides sustaining casualties.
Another Boromite squad emerged from the left flank, and exchanged fire with the pair of A.I squads taking refuge in the woods at the centre of their lines – one of which emerged, running forward into the open, toward the Drones – right into the path of Wojtek’s Mag Light Support – and into range of the Lavamites. One Lavamite was killed in pre-combat close-quarters fire, but this did little to falter their charge – five Chomp Wounds and two Electro-Lash hits saw the Algoryn squad wiped-out! The Algoryn squads taking cover in the central woods open fire on the Lavamites – causing multiple hits both to the Lavamites themselves, and to the Packmaster – however the dice gods were on Wojtek’s side, and the Lavamites only acquired one Pin Marker!
Dave’s other A.I squad then emerged from the woods, and opened fire with a Micro-X-Launcher, 3 Mag Guns, and an X-Slinger – killing the Packmaster and freeing the Rock Dogs – they would now run wild in the centre of the board.
Nick’s Boromites charged around the building, and into Daz’s insertion squad… as they charged in, the Algoryn managed to kill two in pre-combat close range shooting… and in return, the Algoryn lost one squad member. The Boromite squad leader then unleashed his electro-lash – but after a flurry of flying fists and tumbling dice, the dust settled and only two Boromites managed to survive the scuffle.
In the centre, Wojtek’s squad armed with Compactors emerged from cover in an attempt to secure control of the drone – and once more, the watchful crew of Andy’s Plasma Cannon spotted them – unfortunately their aim wasn’t as effective as their spotting ability, and the blast thundered into a nearby building.
The Algoryn tank continued its barrage on the Boromite vehicle – inflicting two more pins.
The Boromite gangs among the buildings continued to advance into the centre of the board, and managed to take down an Algoryn X-Launcher – by the close of turn two things don’t look promising for the Algoryn forces – with several Boromite units around the Drones, and a number of attempted assaults failing to make an impact.
At the end of turn two, and after roughly three hours play – we called time. The Boromites had managed to move one drone 6-inches or so towards their board edge, and had a number of units among the drones in the centre. The Algoryn forces had launched several assaults but not broken through he enemy lines, and we all agreed that the Boromites should be hailed victorious!
The point of the evening, however was twofold – to test the new vehicle rules, and to throw some dice – and a quick de-brief from Rick, followed by a resounding cheer from all involved, confirmed a resounding success.