Gears of War – Belly of the Beast Buster?

Gears of War boardgame

We played GoW shortly after it came out (2-player). There were a lot of things I loved about this game when we first played it…and some things I hated. So after playing it through way back then (Jan. 2012…like that was so long ago!) we put it away. Mostly out of frustration I imagine given our current attempt.

So… I was poking around the geek for a good co-op romp and re-discovered GoW. Oh right! I own this, I realized…oh, and look! there’s an expansion. I ordered it and when it arrived thought we had better start from the beginning.

Emergence went well. Cole went a little bananas (“it’s all about the mission”) and took off like a lightning bolt. I was mopping up as Baird and things worked out well.

China Shop was a slap in the face. We were doing well baiting the berserker along but neglected to seal up the emergence holes along the way. Eventually, a wretch swarm caught up with us and that’s how we bled out there.

On to Belly of the Beast. Learning our lesson from China Shop, Cole and I were very careful to seal up those emergence holes and deal with threats as they come. All the while moving toward the next level. Things were progressing very well actually…with the exception that we were now out of grenades and one of the AI cards (General Event) kept opening Emergence holes! I, Baird jumped on the Troika at one point and quickly found it to be an almost useless piece of kit! Sure I got a Drone but big deal, there was another wretch swarm brewing…and these ones were Lambent!

Well…needless to say, we got overwhelmed yet again and soon found ourselves bleeding out. I started to recall this happening when we played the first time. So what was wrong?

Well…unless we are playing it wrong (and I don’t think we are) here are some areas where the game is just too dang hard!

– AI Cards : They just keep cycling! Drawing a new AI card upon new AI card upon new AI card upon new AI card ad naseum… then reshuffle! So as we progressed, new emergence holes are being opened…dropped weapons being cleared…losing ammo…oh, and did we mention now there is a wretch or a drone or a theron! Heaven forbid if one of us bleeds out (keep drawing those AI cards!) It just gets to be too much!
Solution – Limit the AI cards to 2 on each CoG turn.

– Grenades : Grenades are essential to the emergence hole as every good CoG knows. So Cole and I did the right thing (and honestly, got lucky by sealing each one with an Omen…doubt that would happen again). So we can close 4 of them if we get the same break that we did…then hold tight until the 3rd level is unlocked for more grenades (thanks but we’ll be lucky to get there with all these new emergence holes opening up all the time!).
Solution – Pick up any equipment/weapon, get a grenade token

– Ammo : Again, like grenades we were careful with when we used them and found ourselves down to a pistol in no time. The General Event card that strips you of an ammo token (oh, and takes any drop weapons off of the board) doesn’t help. Oddly though, I can live with this one if I could pick up weapons before the cycle of AI cards sweeps them from the board.
Solution – live with it.

– Troika : Like some evil Locust inside joke – “Hey look CoG, we left a Troika here for you to use” snicker. Hop on and blast away – at the start of your next turn…one shot (mind you, 6 dice) then good luck as there is no cover and you’re the most likely candidate to be attacked next. Why is there no cover on this thing?! In the video game, I had to flank it or throw a grenade to have any chance of not being shredded by this thing. In the board game I put all of my shots into one locust and hope for the best while my Baird ass is hanging out there!
Solution – Troika should be like any other cover…but it’s hard without the dot/arrows to show. Too bad there isn’t a token with a cover symbol, then the Troika could be pivoted each time it is used to attack and that could be the cover. I actually happen to have a Troika! So I’ll adopt that concept. Further, it should have some “blast on” ability. First attack at 6 dice, next at 5 etc… until either it a) rolls all blanks on any one attack or b) runs out of dice or c) has no more targets. So for example, Baird is on the Troika and there are 2 Drones (in two different areas but on the same tile) and 2 wretches in a different area on the same tile. He could fire at the Drone in best cover at 6 dice, resolve the attack then if he doesn’t kill it, fire again at 5 dice or if he does kill it, fire at another target at 5 dice. Keep firing at reduced dice until one of the three conditions above is met. I’ve decided to adopt an existing Bulletstorm rule (from the Mulcher) instead of the above. So when an Omen is rolled – ‘after this attack you may attack a different locust with this weapon. Limit once per turn’ Note; if you do use the cover rule/ make your own token, be sure to pivot the Troika each shot…wherever the condition stops the firing is the position the Troika is in until it is activated again.

See, here is Baird in his custom Troika (actually, this is from Warzone that I painted a long time ago, it just happens to match Baird’s colors! Handy…or did Baird plan it that way?).

Gears of War boardgame

Ok, well…that about covers our complaints about this otherwise absolutely awesome game! Corey is one of my favourite game designers and this game is one of the reasons why…I just think it falls a little too heavy to make it enjoyable. So I’m hoping with these tweaks we can have a chance of making it through one of these missions!

One final note; We tried a new concept once we bled out the first time and called it the ‘Re-spawn’. We put our CoGs back to the last are of the 1st level tile and started out with full ammo/health. We reshuffled the order and AI decks and set the Locust figures on level two as per the area cards removing any excess Locusts. We really just wanted to play through the mission and used this to see how many times we would need to re-spawn. We ended up bleeding out again so it didn’t work as well as expected and hopefully after implementing the above, we won’t need to use this method but thought it was worth passing on to other players.

Cheers! – Brummbar44

Bonus – Grab the Troika token I’ve made for those of you who don’t have a Troika. 
–> Troika (1021 downloads) <–

To use: Place the blue base circle so that it covers the question mark symbol on the tile.  It is pivoted from there.

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