The Starter Set for Beyond the Gates of Antares, Strike Vector One – The Xilos Horizon, Rick Priestley’s new sci-fi game is here!
Beyond the Gates of Antares first attempted launch was a cancelled Kickstarter in 2013, which I briefly talked about on my fifth post. After some time working behind the scenes, Warlord Games made the Alpha rules available late 2014, followed by the Beta rules and the first metal miniatures.
And now here we are. With Strike Vector One – The Xilos Horizon, the Gates of Antares are officially open to the public. It’s so exciting!
Warlord Games really want to push the game, having plenty of new kits planned for the near future already. No doubt, Bolt Action is their most successful game and they’re giving it all to put Beyond the Gates of Antares on the same level.
If we’re talking about the design, I believe they’ve done it. I’ve always found Bolt Action’s design very elegant, using two blocks of solid black to frame the pictures and also keep them free of text. With Gates of Antares they’ve almost mirrored the design, changing the black to white and giving it a slight sci-fi edge. Black works very well for a classic theme like WWII and the white is perfect for the hard sci-fi feel they’re going with Antares. And having them side by side it’s easy to tell they’re two product lines by the same company. Great work.
The Launch Edition of the game includes the hardback rulebook and an exclusive miniature. Later on the hardback will be substituted by a softcover edition (with the hardcover available separately).
And let me tell you it’s a lovely book. It’s a big, big book full of really good illustrations and lots of inspiring photography of the miniature range in different environments. The rules are built upon Bolt Action, using the random Order Die activation mechanic, but expanding it. Once I’ve been able to play a game or two, I’ll give my opinion on them.
The smaller miniature you see on the right side of the picture is Fartok, the exclusive pre-order miniature. That’s how the Ghar look when they’re outside their hulking battlesuits.
Besides Fartok is Kai Lek Atastrin, a Concord Strike Leader. This metal miniature will only be available with the Xilos Horizon starter set. But it’ll be in every starter set, not only the pre-orders.
Both miniatures are nice sculpts and very well cast. I find it funny that in both cases they’re standing in a destroyed Ghar Battlesuit. For Kai Lek it’s the suit he just destroyed (in my picture it’s missing a hand that comes as a separate piece, holding the head of the battlesuit), in Fartok’s case it’s his own destroyed battlesuit (poor fella). It’s a nice little detail, it’s easier to blend with the base and it looks way better than the ugly metal tab all of Warlord’s metal minis come in.
One of the first things I did when building my Bolt Action miniatures was switch their bases for the more traditional (to me) GW style bases. I found Bolt Action’s bases too simple, not as cool. But I liked that once you put the miniatures on the table, the lower bases help them better blend with the scenery.
For Beyond the Gates of Antares, Warlord Games have introduced a new style of base that I think it’s awesome. I first saw this base style (or a very similar one) used by Dreamforge Games. It has a rounded lip in the style of the bases used for Warmachine or Malyfaux, for example, but with the same low profile of the Bolt Action bases. It’s the little things, but to me it’s a base that gives that elegant touch to the model, without stealing any attention away from the model. Love them!
Each Concord plastic sprue, which you get 4 in the box, allows you to build 5 soldiers. The torsos come in two parts and all are exactly the same. You get 5 sets of legs, 1 standing still and the other 4 in walking/running poses.
You´ll find 6 heads per sprue, 5 with closed helmets and 1 with a raised visor. It’s a nice touch that you have the option to build all of them with closed helmets if you want. Some other extra bits on the sprue allow you to upgrade one soldier with a Plasma Lance and another to Sergeant (pointing hand and all!).
You then get 4 pairs of arms with Plasma Carbines. Both hands are modelled on the carbine, with a handless right arm you’ll have to align properly. If you use plastic cement you won’t have much trouble, as it allows you to slightly reposition the arms. But personally I prefer when the arm comes with the hand and you glue the gun-holding arm second. Actually resting the weapon on the hand. I find it a little less fussy.
The mold lines are easy to clean off for the most part, as they don’t run over any fine detail. You might have some problems reaching the interior of some of the legs, as there’s not much space to access the inner mold lines. But it won’t be more than a slight speed bump on your cleaning process, if at all.
Building the troopers is quite straightforward. The torsos come in two pieces, once glued together you glue it to the legs and then the arms. Lastly, you glue the head (unless you want to paint it separately, like I will) and done. You could also paint the arms separatelly to better access the torso area, but I don’t think it’s worth the hassle.
Once you’re done building the five troopers you’ll only have a head and a pair of hands left as extra bits. Taking into account that the poseability of the kit is limited, you might end up with very similar looking models if you’re not a fan of more involved conversions.
That being said, they’re all faceless troopers. The Bolt Action plastics have a little more flexibility and the GW Space Marine kits have a lot of flexibility thanks to all the bits they have. But when you’re playing, the troops with regular weapon all blend together anyway. So you could argue that the simplicity of the Concord kit is an improvement because it makes it faster to build.
Personally I’ll only care about making the Sergeants different from one another (and maybe the special weapon).
Besides the troopers, each Concord sprue allows you to build a Support drone with two possible loadouts and a pair of Spotter drones.
To fight against the Concord, the box also comes with 6 Ghar Battlesuits. Allowing you to build 3 Ghar Battle Squad walkers and 3 Ghar Assault Squad walkers.
The two battlesuits are exactly the same, only changing the weapons they use. And there’s only one option of arms for each variant. But it’s a really nice kit.
Each sprue comes with 3 head options for the battlesuits. The pieces are easier to clean of mold lines compared to the Concord and they go really easy together. The arms and legs can be easily posed to build three distinct poses for each Battle Squad. If you’re going for more extreme or dynamic poses, you might need to do some cuts and gap filling but it doesn’t look like it’ll be complicated.
The only possible problem with the battlesuits you could have is building the legs. If you glue the two parts together before attaching them to the body, you might not be able to pose them in a way that the 3 are touching the ground as it was my case.
Oh well, I wanted to have some of their bases decorated with debris and the suits walking over it anyway. So no problem for me. But if you plan on using resin scenic bases or so, take your time before gluing the legs.
Rounding up the package, The Xilos Horizon comes with a couple of dice bags and some counters. Not much to say about the dice. One bag has the order dice you’ll need for the units in the box. Beyond the Gates of Antares uses d10 as their core dice, but you’ll also need d3, d6 or d8 in some cases. This second bag comes with all of these (including a funky d3!).
On the other hand, the counters are rather nice. You get some blue counters for the drones and an explosion marker. But the real winners are the ones on the red sprue.
You have some red pin markers with dials to count from 1 to 12 pins on a unit. The numbers are not easy to read, but they’re raised so they’ll be easy to pick up with a brush. Really, really cool pin markers! And just after I made my custom Bolt Action pin markers… oh, well.
One thing I’m missing from this box, and I would never have guessed I’d miss something like that, is a scenario or two for the included forces. You know, those things you never use. But in this case, seeing as the forces aren’t equal (you get about double points of Concord) it would come handy. Specially since the outnumbered faction is the Ghar, and at launch there isn’t any Ghar model available outside the starter set.
Warlord have published a scenario on their website that while isn’t exactly made for the box (it’s the Algoryn vs. Ghar) it includes some notes in the end to easily play it as Concord vs. Ghar. The problem is, it’s based around the exclusive pre-order miniature so late comers won’t have the key miniature for the scenario.
All in all, Warlord Games have delivered a product of great quality. The presentation is top-notch and I’m really excited to see what’s coming next for Antares. A worthwhile purchase.