Outpost Gamma Review
Review by Bruce F. Webster
The Space Gamer #44 (October 1981)
OUTPOST GAMMA (Heritage)
Designed by Howard Barasch.
Boxed, with 12" x 14" cardboard playing board, 154 die-cut counters, 1 die and 24-page 4" x 7" rules booklet.
Playing time 1-2 hours.
OUTPOST GAMMA is a far-future version of an all-to-common conflict from the last few centuries: a handful of colonists/explorers with high-tech weapons facing an overwhelming number of natives with more primitive arms. In this case, ten (count 'em) Legionaires have been sent to Irda, a harsh, wind-swept planet, to protect miners from constant raids and sniping by disgruntled Irdans. There are two scenarios. In the first, the Legionaires must hold fortified positions against waves of angry natives (l05 counters, representing some 472 locals). In the second, the pride of the Empire must evacuate the miners (by crossing the map) without being picked off or overwhelmed by the Irdans. In both cases, the Legionaires have to deal with very complex terrain (the terrain effects chart lists 12 types) and violent electrical storms which wreak havoc with their advanced weapon systems.
After what has seemed like an unending number of cute or gimmick-laden microgames, OUTPOST GAMMA is a refreshing return to nuts-and-bolts tactics. When I first opened the game, I was a little put off by there being only two scenarios. However, the tactical richness of the game is such that those two scenarios can keep you going for a long time. And the rules are simple and straightforward enough that you are free (and forced) to,think and plan without worrying if your opponent is going to drop a planet-buster or release a hoard of voracious mega-gnats. And the components! The map is a gorgeous, full-color piece of artwork that looks like terrain and is a far cry from the rather dull and even crude maps found in many microgames(e.g., Olympica and even Ogre). The counters are equally colorful and have the same quality (though not as detailed) artwork.
My complaints with the game are few. The rules get fuzzy in spots, though most questions can be resolved or guessed at without too much difficulty. I have a hard time getting the board to lay flat, and I am worried that constant folding and unfolding will wear out the center crease all too soon. And the physical scale/time elapsed per game turn/stacking limits combination doesn't seem to be very well coordinated (how come only 4 Legionaires can occupy a single hex when as many as sixteen natives can fit into the same space?).
I recommend OUTPOST GAMMA without reservations. Like Ogre and GEV, you will get far more than your money's worth.
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