FNT100The Ultimate Guard Flip ‘N’ Tray 100+ is Ultimate Guard’s second edition of Ultimate Guard’s successful Fliip ‘N’ Tray single deck box line the question Nerdvana Gaming is looking at today is just how good is the Ultimate Guard Flip ‘N’ Tray 100+ and does it deserve the premium price it commands? To assess this we will be looking at a number of different factors including; build quality, protection, usability, aesthetics and overall value for money.

The original edition of the Ultimate Guard Flip ‘N’ Tray was fairly groundbreaking in its design, a deck box with a unique minimalistic styling whilst including several features not often seen in a deck box up to that point which included a removable tray for your cards to sit in and a second remove able tray for counters and life spin down die (d20), these 2 trays were easily and individually accessible from the 2 magnetically sealing flaps on the main body of the deck box. The whole box was externally stitched and wrapped in Ultimate Guard’s patented Xenoskin whilst the interior was coated with a smooth plush microfibre surface which gave a fantastic feel of luxury, however the original Flip ‘N’ Tray was let down by its capacity meaning that double sleeved decks over 80 cards could not be stored in the Flip ‘N’ Tray reliably.

Build Quality:FNT 100 U2
Ultimate Guard pride themselves in the quality of their products and the Flip ‘N’ Tray 100+ is no exception to this, the individual external flaps are stitched securely and feel strong enough for hundreds of opening and closings, the entire exterior (including the flaps) is stitched with Xenoskin which has a premium feel the box structure itself is solid and strong including the shelf which separates the accessory tray from the card storage slot, the interior is coated with a premium feeling microfibre to keep your cards in a safe scratch free environment. The removable accessory tray and card tray are also externally and internally coated in the same way as the box structure and like the box itself have a strong structure.

Protection:
The Flip ‘N’ Tray 100+ has got a solid base structure which will easily survive everyday knocks and bumps and even stuffed in a packed bag the Flip ‘N’ Tray will easily survive being packed in tightly although if you are regularly tightly packing your deck case into a bag or rucksack then a solid deck case like the Ultimate Guard Monolith deck case would probably be a better option. The magnetic opening of the Flip ‘N’ Tray 100+ is of a very high quality, it is capable of extremely vigorous shaking without loosening or opening even with a full heavy accessory tray and a 100 card double sleeved deck! The fastening mechanism is of such high quality we’ve never seen it in a magnetic closing deck case and in fact the Flip ‘N’ Tray 100+ performs just as well as many of the more traditional deck cases without scrimping on build quality.

Usability:FNT 100 P2
The simple design of the Flip ‘N’ Tray 100+ makes it very user friendly, the individually opening flaps for access to each removable tray mean that you can access whatever part of the deck case you want without having to expose the part you don’t need, once open the removable trays are a tight enough for so as not to slip around whilst still maintaining the ability to easily remove the tray, the removable trays also mean that you have a place to store your tokens, life counters and any other small accessories you carry along with any sideboard or token cards, keeping them out of the play area neatly and securely

Aesthetics:
The new Flip ‘N’ Tray 100+ keeps the same look and feel of its predecessor, still externally stitched with the patented Xenoskin exterior and internal microfibre the premium feel of the Flip ‘N’ Trap 100+ is just as good as ever, the Flip ‘N’ Tray also keeps the ability to separately access either tray by keeping the 2 magnetic sealing clasps which as mentioned above are more than capable of standing up to even the most rugged and abusive testing. The major difference between the original Flip ‘N’ Tray is the size, Ultimate Guard have looked to fit the magic 100 double sleeved cards into the Flip ‘N’ Tray without increasing the size drastically and they have succeeded with some very lateral thinking, rather than just widen the original Flip ‘N’ Tray design they have turned everything sideways meaning that the rather than the slightly rectangular form factor of its predecessor the Flip ‘N’ Tray 100+ has a much neater cube shape to it.

FNT 100 B1Overall Value for Money:
The Flip ‘N’ Tray 100+ has a recommended retail price of £18.99 (or £16.99 here at Nerdvana Gaming saving you 10%) and Ultimate Guard have proven once again that the build quality and styling of their case makes it well worth every penny, from the premium feel of the Xenoskin exterior, microfibre interior combination to the sturdy construction and secure magnetic closure, the Flip ‘N’ Tray 100+ proves on every level that it is a premium product that commands its premium price and is thoroughly deserving of its higher price point especially for the player who wants to make a bit of a splash on their next card gaming meet up.


Dropzone Commander is the beauStartertiful epic (10mm) scale miniature battle game from Hawk Wargames, Dropzone Commander burst onto the scene at Salute 2012 to unparalled praise for the exquisite and intricate miniatures that had been crafted for such a small scale war game when traditionally detail levels suffered. Now 4 years on Nerdvana Gaming will take a look at Dropzone Commander and see whether it scratches the 10mm itch for us.

The story of Dropzone Commander centres on the fight of the United Colonies of Mankind or the UCM to retake Earth and the Cradle Worlds back from the Scourge, a race of  vicious aliens who invaded Earth and the Cradle Worlds in the 25th Century, this invasion decimated the human race during the golden age of their evolution reducing them to nothing more than a collection of outposts on the frontier planets, Over the next 150 years (taking us to the year 2670) the frontier colonies have expanded and united under the banner of the UCM putting aside historical human differences to fight for a common goal: the annihilation of the Scourge one planet at a time and the reclamation of Earth and the Cradle Worlds. This will not be easy, Mankind has lost much of its advanced tecnology during the time of Scourge’s occupation and there are other that may (or may not) be willing to unite with the UCM to aid them in their mission

Dropzone Sabre

The UCM Sabre, backbone of the UCM forces

The Races of Dropzone Commander are:

The UCM: The United Colonies of Mankind are a force forged out of desperation in the face of The Scourge. Colonial Legionnaires are well trained and equipped, and form the core of UCM forces. They are backed-up by legions of Battle Tanks which join them in huge Dropship deployments, backed-up by air support in the form of their infamous airpower to land decisive blows in their fight against The Scourge.

The Scourge: The Scourge are a horrific race of Neuro-Parasites, that thrive on the conquest of other species. The forces of the Scourge go to war with legions of Puppet Soldiers controlled by their Alien masters, supported by their horrific Grav Tanks and Walkers All of this with the single purpose; to Conquer and enslave the Galaxy.

The PHR: The Post Human Republic turned away from Mankind in the last days of the Golden Age. They follow the guidance of an enigmatic Alien Sphere that fell to Earth before the Scourge Invasion. They have transcended their frail human origins, and become a race of Cyborg warriors. They fight for survival, and forces are composed of heavily armoured infantry, or faster light infantry supported by Bi-pedal Battle walkers and artillery.

The Shaltari: The enigmatic Shaltari Tribes have traversed the stars for millenia. Their advanced technology has enabled them to transcend even the limitations of Death. Their infantry go to war in their impressive battle-suits, secure in the knowledge that should they die, their consciousness will inhabit a new body to continue their existence. backed up by graceful grav-tanks and warstriders. The Shaltari do not use primitive drop-ships like the other races; they use sophisticated Gateways that teleport their forces to the very heart of the battle.

Dropzone Commander uses a familiar D6 (6 sided dice) system to run the core of the game and miniature wargamers of most systems will find playing Dropzone Commander intuitive and familiar from deploying armies before the game start on opposing sides of the battlefield to traditional statlines for individual models and weapons, the main difference with Dropzone Commander is that the unit types you want to take are firstly merged into battle-groups for purposes of activation order and the limitations that the group receives. These battle groups consist of HQ, Armour, Infantry, Special and Fleet, these battle groups have a maximum points value, however no single battle group may be worth over one third of the total army points value helping to avoid the dreaded ‘death star’ unit many other games suffer with. Battle groups also have a minimum model count depending on the point size of your game (i.e: in smaller skirmish level games players are allowed to field a maximum of 5 battle groups, 1 of which must be of the Armour class).

Starter 2

Dropzone Commander 2 Player Starter Set

Hawk Wargames’ detemination to not re-write the book of miniature wargaming is what I feel gives Dropzone Commander it’s major strength, the rules are so fluid and intuitive that rather than concentrating on how rule A works with rule B or how a weapon is going to damage your vehicle you can actually immerse yourself in the battle, placing yourself in the shoes of a general commanding his army on the field of battle a major factor helping this is Hawk Wargames’ beautiful minis meaning a painted army of Dropzone Commander really is an impressive sight on even the most basic of games tables. However Dropzone Commander’s biggest strength also helps to create its biggest weakness, I refer to the price point of Dropzone Commander, the beautiful ships and tanks that make Dropzone Commander so epic on the table mean higher production costs which in turn means that they command a higher price point than most of their contemporaries, also many wargamers will not have 10mm scale terrain suitable for a game which can lead to many gamers interested in a casual try of Dropzone Commander will pass it up. Hawk Wargames have listened to these issues and the Dropzone Commander 2 player starter set attempts to address them to a certain extent by creating a bundle that not only includes good sized UCM and Scourge starter armies but also the rulebook, quick reference sheets and a massive number of other goodies including 10 Dropzone Commander scale cardboard buildings of a very good quality.

Dropfleet

Dropfleet Commander Coming Soon

Overall at Nerdvana Gaming we wish we hadn’t waited so long to try out Dropzone Commander, the simple and intuitive mechanics mean the game offers a great experience with epic visuals once your army is out on the table. For those of you thinking about a flutter we strongly recommend that the 2 player starter set, the contents offers good value for money whilst not scrimping on the model count for some nice sized games which can easily be built on to increase your army size. Dropzone Commander definitely is a game worth playing and with Hawk Wargames now working on producing Dropfleet Commander after a hugely successful Kickstarter here at Nerdvana Gaming we’re waiting for a copy to be available for us to salivate over because if it’s anything like its big brother it’s going to be a blast to play!

 

 


Antares 1Today on Nerdvana Gaming we’re taking a look at Beyond the Gates of Antares the latest sci-fi tabletop miniature wargame designed by Rick Priestly (of Rogue Trader and the original Warhammer fantasy game for those of you old enough to remember!) and ask the burning question…is this a good miniatures game or does it blend in with so many of the other sci-fi miniature games on the market?
Let’s start with a brief introduction to the universe of Beyond the Gates of Antares.

Beyond the Gates of Antares is set in the distant future, during the seventh age of Antarean Space, a vast network of inter-dimensional gates around the star of Antares were created by an ancient race. This network has allowed the human race to expand across billions of worlds, over these countless millennia the human race has splintered into factions with each having their own quirks and style, they are:

The PanHuman Concord: The most technological race of all the the Antarean factions the PanHuman Concord are the combination of man and machine, the pinnacle of their achievements is the IMTel system which has linked the entire faction through the NuHu Mandarins – rulers of the Concord.

The Isorian Shard: Once part of the PanHuman Concord the Isorian Shard encountered an alien intelligence which fused with their IMTel network corrupting and enriching the Isorians with the inhuman technologies they were exposed to. The infection left the IMTel of the Isorians incompatible with that of the Concord and left the 2 rival systems locked in an eternal war for supremacy.

The Freeborn: Proud and independant the Freeborn are a space faring race of traders who travel the galaxies on their huge spacecraft, purveyors of the finest goods and high end military technologies, the Freeborn are the greatest mercantile power in all of Antarean space.

The Algoryn Prosperate: Centuries of endless warfare on all fronts have hardened the Algoryn race surrounded by rival factions the Algoryn are ruled by the mightiest of warriors as they’re race fight day and night, the young growing up on the battlefield just to maintain the independance of their people.

The Boromites: The Boromites are a highly secretive race that are seen by many  wanderers, a technology shunning race of nomads and miners, their cities built on decrepit technology, but the Boromites harbour a dark secret within their hierarchy, darker than anyone dare suspect…

Antares 2

The Ghar use their giant Battlesuits to dominate their enemies

The Ghar Empire: The Ghar were bio-engineered to fight, built for one purpose – distruction of all those who stand in their way…engineered in the aincent past their origins have become lost in time all that is know about the Ghar is that they can not deviate from their primary directive and that their blind hatred for anything other than other Ghar is unerring.

Beyond the Gates of Antares takes Alessio Calvatore and Rick Priestly’s tried and tested Bolt Action game system, tweeked the way the rules work and thus created the rule set for Beyond the Gates of Antares. The rules for Beyond the Gates of Antares function in a similar fashion to those of Bolt Action in that players have 1 dice for each of their squads, each turn all yours and your opponent’s die are placed into a blind pool and then each player takes turns to draw from the pool – if a dice of your corresponding colour is pulled by yourself or your opponant then you get to use that dice to activate one of your squads with one of their various actions (Down, Ambush, Rally, Run, Fire or Advance) this is repeated until all dice from the blind pool have been removed and so all units have been activated once – at which point the die are returned to the pool and the turn re-starts. This random activation actually helps to balance the game as you find yourself constantly questioning which unit to activate when so as to maximise a squad’s effectiveness whilst minimizing the number of pins they can potentially take from your opponent’s firepower.

The Different options to use on the order dice correspond to the different orders you can apply to your squads within the game, put in a simplified way:

Down (Your squad hits the dirt, they can’t move or shoot but they are now harder to hit),
Ambush (Your squad lies in wait for the enemy to move into their firing line and then opens fire on them),
Rally (Your squad steady their nerves to fight on by removing X number of Pin Markers),
Run (Your squad run towards the enemy but can no longer shoot),
Fire (Your squad aim their weapons and fire but do not move),
Advance (Your squad march towards the enemy and open fire)

Each squad has a stat line which gives you the figures for the ability level of your squad to carry out the corresponding order, to be successful you must roll below whatever the applicable stat number is on a d10 i.e: Your general purpose drone is shooting at your opponent’s unit, the drone has an accuracy of 5, to score a hit you must roll below a 5 on a d10…

This simple yet satisfying use of the d10 system flows through all aspects of the game, from the fast and fluid combat which ends after a single round with a clear winner (who can only opt to continue combat for 1 further round) to agility tests for moving through one of the various types of terrain listed in the rulebook the simple d10 system makes Beyond the Gates of Antares feel different enough from its historically themed cousin whilst keeping Bolt Action’s easy learning curve.

Beyond the Gates of Antares is a very enjoyable game distinguishing itself just enough from it’s historical wargaming cousin Bolt Action to make it more than simply a science fiction iteration whilst keeping the intuitive nature of the system making it easy to pick up and learn. The rules and backstory are simply wonderful to read and the rulebook has many interesting pieces of artwork and digital blueprint images in full colour to illustrate the rules, aside from a few minor issues overall such as the rulebook’s lack of a comprehensive glossary section we found very little wrong with the mechanics themselves and with a little digging using the contents most in game queries can be found in the rule book.

Antares 3

The mighty warriors of the Algoryn

Overall here at Nerdvana Gaming we have had tons of fun playing Beyond the Gates of Antares and at the moment the special Launch edition of The Xilos Horizon 2 Player Starter Set proves great value for money as it includes the hard back edition of the rulebook, an exclusive miniature and plastic tokens, templates and pin markers, however the launch edition of the Xilos Horizon is only available for a limited time so grab it from the Nerdvana Store while stocks last! For us Beyond the Gates of Antares has proven itself a strong sci-fi battle game capable of play from skirmish level to large scale epic warzones and we here at Nerdvana Gaming are definitely going to be adding to our collections from the entire Beyond the Gates of Antares range whilst waiting with baited breath to see what new units Warlord Games have in store for this interesting new franchise.