Giant Fighty Robots

This weekend Rick and I went to Dreamation, a gaming convention in nearby East Brunswick. On Friday we played in a couple of excellent indy RPGs (Primetime Adventures and Mortal Coil). Saturday we met up with a bunch of the excellent nerds of NerdNYC, and in the afternoon we played Mechaton.

Mechaton is a wargame of giant fighting mechs – BUT – everything (the mechs, the scenery, the ruler) is made of Lego! We were lucky enough to get into a game run by Vincent Baker, the creator of the game. (He’s also the man behind the indy RPG Dogs in the Vineyard, which I didn’t find out til later!)

We were joined in the session by Gaming Steve and a young woman whose name I have unfortunately forgotten. When we arrived Vincent had already set up an array of sweet-looking mechs and vehicles, bristling with weapons, for us to choose from. I immediately yelled out “I want that red one with the axe!” I wish I had brought my good camera – the pictures I took don’t do justice to how cool the mechs and scenery looked. Once we had selected our forces, we placed them amid the ruins and got down to the business of smashing each other’s robots to pieces.

Vincent explained the rules as we went along. The first turn was a little bumpy with all the different kinds of dice flying around, but once everything clicked I realized what an excellent system it is.

To summarize, you can have up to 4 attachments on a mech: weapons with various ranges(red dice); movement like wings, jump jets or wheels (green dice); defensive like armor, ECM, or camoflage (blue dice); and communication like radios and spotlights (yellow dice). Every mech also gets 2 white dice which are “wild”. As you take damage, you lose attachments and the dice that go with it. As the mechs get damaged you break the pieces off and scatter them around the battlefield. If you lose your 2 white dice, you are completely destroyed.

The game lasted several hours. It was a blast as we tried to hold our objectives and take each other’s away. The system held up to everything we tried to do (and of course having Vincent there made it a breeze). I just barely squeaked out a victory. I’m really itching to play again so of course the next day I was scurrying to BrickLink looking for the perfect mech-building pieces.

For the full rules, download them from the Mechaton site above, or even better, support indy gaming by buying a printed copy from Indy Press Revolution!

Upcoming Games from Fantasy Flight and Days of Wonder

To me, Fantasy Flight and Days of Wonder are two of the best game companies out there; their games are top quality and have great components. I’m definitely looking forward to some recently announced titles.BattleLore command cardMost exciting to me is Days of Wonder’s BattleLore. This is a light fantasy wargame in the vein of the WWII game Memoir ’44 (and before that, the Civil War game Battle Cry). Each commander has cards that describe what types of orders he can give to units in each area of the map. Some people don’t like this system, saying it is too random (ie, if I want to attack the right flank, I don’t want to wait for a card that tells me I can do it). I felt that way when I first started playing Memoir ’44, but then I made the mental adjustment that it represents the “fog of war”, the lines of communication and so on. In real life you may have the perfect plan but be unable to enact it for one reason or another.

The game is played on a map with modular tiles so many different situations can be set up. It will come with a large number of miniatures. Expansions are planned (of course) with more minis, terrain, and scenarios. They’ve done a great job with Memoir ’44 and this is a great way to expand the mechanic into fantasy.

I’m not sure of the release date for this one.

Marvel Heroes from Fantasy FlightFantasy Flight has a page up for their new Marvel Heroes game.

This is not a “collectable” HeroClix-type or a miniatures HeroScope-type game, but a straight up board game. According to the website:

In MARVEL HEROES, 2-4 players each take on the role of a popular super-team straight from the pages of Marvel comics, including such well-known heroes as Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, and the Fantastic Four. Simultaneously, they take the role of an evil Mastermind, whether it’s the Kingpin of Crime, Dr. Doom, the Red Skull, or the mutant terrorist Magneto. They will fight crime and progress their story as super heroes, and work to complete their villainous plans as Masterminds, all competing to be the most successful at both tasks.

The action unfolds in New York City, on an impressively detailed and accurate map depicting Manhattan Island as well as Brooklyn and Queens. Players will respond to dangerous and crimnal events, represented by Headlines, that crop up across the city, sending members of their super hero team to rescue citizens, fight crime, and battle super villains. Meanwhile, the dastardly Masterminds work to their own purposes – and especially to defeat their Nemesis super-team!

Marvel Heroes figuresThe figures look really nice, and I like the mechanic of each player playing both good guys and bad guys (similar to Monsters Menace America). It’s good to see a self-contained superhero game instead of the whole HeroClix thing.

The game is supposed to release in November 2006.

Street Soccer

StreetSoccer boardStreetSoccer is a great little 2-player board game I stumbled across on BrettspielWelt, the German boardgaming portal.

The rules are pretty simple. Each “coach” has 4 players and a goalie. A roll of the die determines how far the ball is kicked. You must use the entire die roll. You can “hook” a kick by having it change direction (orthagonal to diagonal or vice-versa) once along its path. The ball can move one additional square each time it comes into contact with a player. Except for some technicalities on where players can end their turns and so on, that’s about it. There is a turn “clock” that counts down, and games last 50 turns (25 per side).

With these simple rules, the game does a decent job of “feeling” like a game of soccer. It is a bit luck-heavy, since so much depends on the die roll, but keeping a good formation so your passes will be able to connect is very important too. It’s a game that you don’t have to be capital-G Gamer to pick up, so it’s a good “gateway” game.

I wasn’t able to find it locally, so I ended up ordering from Boulder Games. Good price and quick shipping – I would definitely order from them again. (But do support your local game store when possible!)

StreetSoccer boardIf you don’t have a copy of the game, you can try it out on BrettSpiel Welt. Little Golem also has a great (fully authorized) web-based version. It’s turn-based, not live like BSW. They have player rankings, and several tournaments are always running. Send an invite to me (yacullo) over there if you’d like to give it a try!

Lord of the Rings Miniatures

Over the past few months I’ve been getting into Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings miniatures game. The rules are flexible enough to allow everything from small character-driven skirmishes all the way up to sieges. I’ve only played a few times, but I’ve got quite a pile of figures waiting to be painted. (It never entered my head, until a random comment from my brother’s girlfriend, that I could play with unpainted minis!)

I picked up the new Fellowship of the Ring supplement this weekend, and it’s very very good.
It has 18 scenarios to take you through the whole book/movie. It also notes where the two diverge, which is nice – for example you can use Arwen or Glorfindel in the “Flight to the Ford” scenario.

GW’s site has a list of the scenarios and some battle reports.

The terrain-building section alone makes it worthwhile to me, and helps you create good re-usable terrain. The modular Moria terrain is outstanding; you create scenery that can be used for Balin’s tomb, the Dwarrowdelf, and the bridge of Khazad Dum.

Now I’m all fired up, working on my Moria Goblin army.