Type: Area Control / Euro
Time to play: 60 – 90 minutes (Teaching 10 minutes)
Best played with: 4 Players (1-4 Players)
Gamelyn games have a good track record now of building small box games that pack a punch. For me the stand out game of the series is Tiny Epic Quest, but I was really pleased with this addition and I think it makes it’s way to second in the list. Why? Because I think it’s incredibly challenging to build a good multiplayer pure combat game and yet this small streamlined game is exactly that.
Okay, so starting with theme – a combat game can feel very abstract, but this mech based combat really appealed to the old arena combat mech cartoons of the 2000s. The mechs deploy turrets, deploy mines, gear up and take weapons to fight their way to victory. This game could be seen to be as cold game of brutal combat, but with these small parts of the format make the game about the pilots. About the drivers of the mechs who are fighting their way through a sporting championship.
This game then is a six round tournament where you prepare, plan and fight when you feel you can win. This is not a luck fest of dice rolling, but instead a tactical combat game where you position for victory. Every step to victory is planning and player determined. The use of programming actions each round, the use of “rock-paper-scissors” weapon types, and the use of the turrets / mines adds a lot to the purposeful nature of the game.
Okay, so let’s go to the mechanics. This is a programming game – you post your actions in a hidden format and then you reveal turn by turn the action posted. Four actions posted at a time, which means that for a bit of down time the play then moves quickly. Well that is, until the players turn out to have hit each other’s space at the same time! This programming ends up with accidental fights, intended fights and the times when players dodged each other!
This feels great. This is the thrill of the chase in this game – planning to go for the right hook and hitting the block. What’s more is that game doesn’t let up then. Once you are in combat you have real choices, you have the opportunity to pick the weapon you will use. This really matters, because the structure of the game means that each weapon has a counter, a counter in a rock-beats-scissors, scissors-beats-paper but paper-beats-rock. This picking between weapons, choosing the path of the fight, using the bonuses of the weapons; this is what continues to build out the purposeful nature of the game. Not a luck fest, not a game of chance but a real battle for superiority.
There’s more around the edges; the way you get income, the way you build through the suits and the way that the weapons are bought. These add to the above, and will leave you coming back to the game.
If however you find yourself not coming back then it’s probably because the game can feel relatively similar time to time. It’s a great game, but a small set of options. Players will go through the rush to the big mech, or through buying the weapons they think will win. It’s true to say the game is balanced and that many strategies can win dependent on how other players react / how the board is set. However, it’s still true that there is not much variation game to game.
For me, there is enough in this small box to justify (and some) the price tag and cupboard space, but I can see players seeking more from their collections.
- If you like tactical combat, then this is a great and easy to teach version
- If you hate that involve direct player interaction, this is still the core mechanic – you must fight to win
- If you win, try again and see what combination of weapons come up