Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rivet Wars is a cute Chibi-style Dieselpunk neck-and-neck gotcha slugfest..

I sat down with my friend Jeff yesterday to play two games with all the Kickstarter goodies for the game Rivet Wars by Coolminiornot and the horror-themed Fireteam Zero by Emergent Games. The former is Weird War 1 and the latter is Weird War II. Jeff acquired the two games from two different people who Kickstarted the games but sold quickly afterward.

I've heard of Rivet Wars before, but was put off by the ridiculous Chibi/ Animé style sculpts and never looked into it. I don't know why my friends Jeff and Jim insist on such cuteness, but I am not a big fan of Chibis. Sure, they are kinda cute, but too cute for their own good. I never watched Animé, so such things don't resonate with me. However, of all my friends, I am the biggest fan of Weird War, parallel dimensions and alternate history stuff.

Though the cover of Rivet Wars looks like a Saturday morning cartoon...

...I was still willing to give it a shot, as yes, even the sculpts got a begrudging smile from me after Jeff showed them to me...

 Clockwork troops and Chibi-style Zombies as well.. lol.

What caught my eye were the Mechs though.. very stylistic in a bizarre WW1, Interwar dieselpunk and some WW2 Weird War thing going on, *on top of* the cute Chibi styles. That alone made me smile.

The further gravy were the Generals on top of the Mechs that look like 19th Century caricatures of Colonel Blimp, what with the ridiculous headwear..

..and let's not forget the twirling mustaches and epaulets as well..

The Red Baron too is not immune..

What was confusing at first was that the game is called Rivet Wars: The Eastern Front, even though they look like cartoon versions of the Western Front, but Rivet Wars is set on an alternate Earth..

Jeff managed to get even patches for this game representing the Allies and the Blight (Germans)..

The Blight it seems will stop at nothing to win, using dirty tricks like poison gas and such, while the stalwart Allies are more by-the-book...

The stats of the various troops are in cartoon-style symbols, and gives one the further impression this is a light silly game..

While the rules are fairly simple, you quickly realize that your troops are very much cannon fodder, just like WW1..

We started off in an early scenario trudging along (Jeff managed to also get the expansion that has 3D terrain, which is great, as I dislike 2D terrain)..

,,but my guys quickly come up against barbed wire, which infantry and heroes can't pass...

Once we get into machine -gun and artillery range, we both started losing guys like flies, which kind of annoyed me at first. Not much flanking in this game, so at first I thought this will be pure attrition, which is not fun at all..

However, I quickly realized that the heart of this game is the secret mission cards, which allow you to have extra goals to allow you to get extra victory points... well as the Action cards, which can really screw up the other guy, allowing you to do extra things the other guy doesn't know is coming (extra move, pop up unexpectedly in No Man's Land, etc)..  The look of surprise in deploying these gotcha moves and have the other guy scramble/throw off his plan, is what makes this game. These action cards and secret mission cards continually throw both you and your opponent off balance. Everybody has a plan until the other guy deploys an action card out of the blue..

Just when you think you're winning, a card or two later, you start losing, and vice-versa.. Jeff and I were neck and neck in the victory points at almost every turn..

There are some tactics though.. Jeff had artillery, and he usually pounded my guys from a distance, while I had more dirty tricks up my sleeve, deploying gas, sniping select troops, etc. Gas is represented by this yellow marker, and drifts around a bit, even back toward your lines for a while before dissipating.

Infantry usually gets killed with only one hit, but the mechs and some heroes have more health. Damage to them is represented by these red things that slot in the back of your base.

Both Jeff and I used our monowheels and rocket bikes to move in quickly where there were gaps in the line, or made gaps destroying barbed wire, destroying the enemy in places. My monowheels and Jeff's mech, the MT-1 Ostrich for instance, have the ability to move during the combat phase, which precedes the movement phase, which caught each other off guard at the beginning.

My machine gun, the MG-08 Schlitten, is deadly from 3 sectors away but so is Jeff's artillery, which can destroy all infantry in one sector, at a distance of 4 sectors away..Since only infantry can take bunkers (which was the objective in the scenario we played), we both had to move our Mechs and heroes up to knock each other's long distance menace out. putting them in danger in Mech vs Mech action..

All in all, this was a light game with a bit of tactical gotcha, masked behind cute Chibiness. I enjoyed the first game and willing to try it out again..

From what I understand, the creator of the game has the Russian expansion ready to go, but Coolmini is not interested, as the game did not make whopping heaps of cash like Zombicide did. That is too bad, as it would be nice to get even more WW1 dieselpunk contraptions from further expansion, but that is not to be.

We continued our evening, with the more serious and dark Fireteam Zero, by Emergent Games, a horror Weird War II themed game..

It's set in WWII, but from what I can tell, you fight monsters, not the enemy...

Eyeballing it, the sculpts seem to be 54mm or so.. The heroes are of average quality sculpts...

but the monsters are really nicely sculpted..

The game has high production values.. nice thick boards, glossy cards,

...even a CD and downloadable mp3 that give you mission briefings and such and musical ambiance. Jeff played the audio briefing for the mission (no doubt from professional voice actors) and it set the tone nicely.

The event cards that we played were nicely written as well.."insidious whispers", "voices from the future" etc

However, after the fun but light Rivet Wars, we both found this game was lacking something.. It was too dark and required more serious thought than anticipated.

We were overrun by the monsters in both games we tried.. they kept spawning and coming after us and we lost both times.. Reacting to spawning monsters just isn't my thing. It gets old after 10 minutes..

This game is not a simple shoot-em-up as you really need to study which monsters you will be up against, and pick the hero that will get the job done. Also, since it's cooperative, you really need to be working real close with the other players, helping each other at the drop of a hat, communicating at all times.. I can see why this game is rated highly on Boardgamegeek, but neither Jeff nor I found this game fun at all...

I won't go into too much further detail.. As I said, we got overrun and overwhelmed both times in the same basic scenario.. A good serious game, but I'd rather play Rivet Wars to be honest even though I love love love Weird War II stuff..

All in all, a good gaming day today....

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cry Havoc, and let slips the Trogs of War!

Now that I've done my Buck Rogers in the 25th Century space battle, on to more contemporary and less corny sci-fi.

My friend Jim brought over today a game he just bought, called Cry Havoc by Portal Games.

I thought it had something to do with the computer game Halo, but apparently not, though I'm sure the game publisher is trying to appeal to Halo fans given the similarity in the powered-armour look.

The game's premise is that on some planet with rich resources, depicted as "crystals" in the game, four factions are fighting it out for dominance.. machines, Humans, 4-armed snake-like Pilgrims and the local natives, the Trogs.

In a 3 player game like we had, the Trogs are more of a nuisance than anything else. 

The mini quality is okay to be honest, with no real variety in sculpts.. 

However, the card art is nice and to a high standard..

Each card has about 4 uses, but you can only use 1 activity per game round.. to move troops, build your troops, build installations or have an advantage in battle.. 

Each arrow, for example, allows you to move 1 trooper to one adjacent area.. but you can use as many cards as you want to move however far you can..

In the example below, I had 4 arrows, so I used it to move 2 of my robot troops to a locale two areas away.

Each faction gets its own unique buildings. My robots for instance, had nice Orbital Snipers and shred drones where I picked off enemy troops at my leisure, usually at a distance.. This prompted my friend Jim to come hard at me to keep me from using my installations (You can't use a building facility when that area is locked in combat).

The game, as you can guess, is an area control game where glass markers in different colours (green for 1 crystal, yellow representing 3 crystals and red representing 5 crystals), act like magnets to draw in troops and battles. If you control an area with such crystals, you see, you score victory points every time scoring is done, so there is incentive to not only acquire but to hold key rich areas.

Like most modern games, Cry Havoc takes up a modest amount of room.

The most unique aspect, which I have never seen before, is the battle mechanic. There are no dice, just the use of cards. However, the cards are used to move troops from one battle objective to another, not to directly attack the enemy.

For every battle, you and and your opponent are seeking to have the most troops in 2 of 3 objectives: to win control of the area, take prisoners, or inflict casualties, or all of the above. The way to win in area domination or the prisoner objective is to have more troops in that battle objective than the other guy.. if for example, you have more guys in the take prisoners box, you take prisoners (for victory points), even if you lose that area control and/or the other guy inflicts casualties on you. The way to inflict casualties is to have troops in that objective on a 1:1 basis. 

There is a battle once you and the enemy are in the same area..

You place those troops off the map and on to one to three objectives like I said, area control, prisoners or attrition..

Then you take turns moving your guys back and forth between objectives if you have cards that allow you to do so.. if you don't too bad..

An example:

A very interesting Euro mechanic that works, as you get a certain pleasure in outwitting your opponent in battle, such as pretending you are going for one objective, but then using cards at the right time to shift them to another objective, hoping to catch the other guy off balance.

The only thing I didn't like was just as you were getting started, the game is over after just 5 turns. It felt like, in the both times we played today, the game had a premature ending.

All in all however, this was a fun game and hope to try it out again.

Thumbs up!