Take your steampunk tank up against mechs, men and landmines in this dice chucking solo game based upon an award winning print and play called ….
The game itself is quite simple in that you outfit your tank and then try to make it against the three rows of enemies against you. You have a body, your cannon, and a little something on the side. There are no machine guns for fear, I assume of breaking the steampunk aesthetic, but feel free to have some sponsons or a squad of men flanking you as you go. You can always lose these as they go but should your body or cannon crumble before the enemy does then the game is over. On your turn you will roll your dice and assign them to the parts of your tank you still have standing. Each number on each part gives you a different thing. These could be an extra dice next turn, a shot at the enemy, or literally nothing. Once you’ve had your go the enemy gets their turn. You roll their dice for them, like a decent gentleman, and assign them in ascending order. You read off their results and assign the affects and keep going.
Things to bear in mind is that when the enemy is beaten their gaps in the line will be filled by those behind them with someone falling into space if there is an enemy left and a gap on the line preventing you from just firing at a long congo line. This placement will also be important to who you can attack with some affects targeting those on your left flank, some on the right, and some will hit any on the front line. This may sound simple and it is.
I think there is some question over the balance of the game. The intro scenario it comes with is pretty good at not being too hard while still feeling like a challenge. From there you can easily work the game up or down the challenge factor by either picking better part for your tank or harder enemies to fight. The problem is that I get the feeling that there will be a fair bit of trial and error in figuring out this balance. This will lead to a lot of games that are a bit too samey or a game that is way too hard. Bearing in mind that the enemies come out random each time and the dice can either go your way or really hard against you for a game. This means that you’re not going to be sure if the difficulty, or lack of it, was due to your selection of cards or just the luck of the game. Now the game does have some way to control this with each card given a score and a suggestion of what an average game should equal. But considering their trial game didn’t quite equal this and there seemed to be a load of random decimals for no real reason. It’s hard to work out what you should be playing at.
Now at this point I feel I should talk about the literal, physical, quality of the game. This is not the smallest game in my collection but it’s still not big by any definition of the word. The box is just the right size to fit everything in without playing Tetris while still just being the right size and no more. The artwork does feel a little cropped as though they are all taken from a large picture and thus they aren’t quite as clear nor as easy to make out as they could be. This is especially true for the dull grey mechs on a muddy brown background. On the positive though the cards, that this art is printed on, are very hefty stock which is nice to see considering they are one of only two components in the game. I’ve called out games in the past for skimping on the components when they only have one or two. Here however the cards are some of the thickest I have seen and the dice are a decent number and decent quality.
Speaking of the number of the dice you may think there are a few too many when you first open the box but the game comes with a two player mode and while you may not use all the dice on a co-op run you will see how you could. You play with only two dice each; instead of the usual three. But considering you can both get an extra dice next turn considering how you play there are more than enough. The little red dice mark out the enemy health for each card and considering the two player mode has a row of four, instead of three, and there is always the possibility for troops to shift back a row and swap out with the guy behind them, then you once again have enough so that you are never really left scrambling for dice. Considering the big budget games that don’t include enough dice in their starter sets, choosing to hold them out for expansion you need to buy, this was nicely appreciated. Especially when they are, at the end of the day, just D6 you can easily round up from other games around your house.
Despite the aforementioned small size the game comes with a lot of enemies to face meaning that you get a fair bit of variety out of it. The same holds true for the commander cards; who give you a one time use ability in the game. The same isn’t true for the driver cards. Now I think they are classed as an expansion but considering they are including in the base game and you only get two they feel a little short compared to the other myriad of options you get for every other aspect. Overall though this is a fifteen quid game and can even be grabbed for less now and again. With this in mind this is an easy recommendation for me to any solo gamer. It’s able to balanced to most tastes and doesn’t take up much table space or time for those looking for something to fill their lunch time at work.