Robotech RPG Tactics: An Utterly Unqualified Review
So I suppose introductions are in order. My name is Sabot. As in the tank main gun round, not the french word for shoe. Which is odd as they’re the same word. My buddy BushCraft introduced me to the House of Paincakes a few months back, and I took a notion to write an article. I’ve been painting minis and gaming for about 25 years. I’m old, I know. Now, I don’t play 40K (not knocking, I just don’t play it) but I’ve dabbled in Malifaux (fantastic models), Infinity (also fantastic models) and a few other miniature games and collections (Editor’s Note: By “a few” he means “everything under the sun”, and hasn’t even mentioned RPGs yet… -BC).
When I heard about Palladium games doing a Kickstarter for a wargame of one of my favorite childhood TV shows, I jumped. Seriously. I jumped. An enormously successful Kickstarter by any measure led to the production of Robotech RPG Tactics.
For those that don’t know, Robotech is the brain-child of Harmony Gold, who took three separate anime series from the early 80’s (Macross, Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospedia) and blended them into a (relatively) single cohesive series. In Robotech the earth is being assaulted by an alien force made up of gigantic humanoids called Zentradi. Earth is defended by the valiant forces of the United Earth Defense Force, or UEDF, using advanced, transformable mecha. Show me the gamer who doesn’t like mecha.
Now, I feel I must say a few things:
There has been an enormous amount of hate-filled vitriol spewed toward Palladium Books, Ninja Division, and everyone in between regarding the fact that the delivery of said Kickstarter was nearly 18 months late. Palladium and Ninja Division were forced to divide the delivery into two separate waves, and even put the issue of selling the game at Gencon up to a vote of the backers. The second wave is still in development, and should ship this year.
I’ve seen less hate spewed back and forth mid-firefight.
That being said, Palladium has not done the best job of keeping to a schedule, or keeping people informed as to what is going on. The rest of the world is still awaiting shipment of their games as of this writing.
Fast forward to the present.
So, I received my rather large box in the mail around mid October of 2014. My first thought was naturally “It’s HERE!”. My second was; “Holy god that’s a lot of plastic.”
The basic game contains:
-112 page, full color, softcover rule book. Includes an index and a comprehensive color guide for all Macross mecha in the series.
-24 Battle Dice (12 UEDF and 12 Zentraedi)
-53 color game cards (unit cards, etc…)
-5x VF-1A Valkyries (each comes with Fighter, Guardian, and Battloid modes for a total of 15 minis)
-1x VF-1J “Officer” in all three modes (3 minis)
-4x Destroids (2 Tomahawks and 2 Defenders, two modes each for a total of 8 minis)
-12x Regult Zentraedi Battlepods
-1x Glaug Officer’s Battlepod
-1x Quel-Regult Recon Battlepod
-1x Quel-Gulnau Recovery Pod
They’re 1/285th scale, all the bases in the pics are 40mm.
All of this is info is available straight from the game’s website. There is one part in particular that should be mentioned. This one: “Small parts and some assembly required. Game pieces come unpainted”.
They are not kidding.
The design of the sprues is somewhat lacking. The parts are not labeled, nor are the instructions particularly up to par. The quality of the materials is good, the details are crisp for the most part, and the minis are really good once you get them assembled. But here’s the rub: There were questionable decisions to split large, bulky assemblies like arms and legs down the middle, and use multiple parts where single parts might have been easier to assemble. This further complicates construction, and leaves significant gaps which must then be filled.
I’m no plastics engineer, but the choices made in how to provide the most detail (which was mouth-breathingly demanded by some exceptionally outspoken Kickstarter backers) clearly influenced the decision on how to split the models into the various component parts. The poses for the mecha are a bit limited out of the box. Those with creative minds and/or the will to do so can re-pose and kit bash things into alternate poses with relative ease.
Overall, the miniatures are good, and very detailed. I’m fairly certain Battletech players will see some old favorites (WHM-6R Warhammer anybody?). The plastic is strong, and takes paint well. With a modicum of work, they can look fantastic.
As for the game itself, I had set a low bar for my hopes. Palladium was producing their first war-game, after all.
I was wrong.
The gameplay was meant to imitate the anime upon which it is based. If you’ve ever seen a single mecha anime you know what this means. Things dying by the bushel. It succeeds on this note.
|And they shall know |
The game plays well, and rapidly. There are no charts to memorize, no range bands to worry about. You are either in or out of range.
Army List building is squad based, with extra points being spent on extra weapons, or reinforcements. A typical list is 300 points. The Zentradi lists are built on large numbers of cheap, disposable, thinly armored mecha. The UEDF forces take a more qualitative approach, featuring heavily armored, hard hitting mecha in far fewer numbers.
The gameplay consists of two phases: The Command phase and The Action phase.
During the Command Phase the characters determine their command point pools. Command points can be used to do things like fire additional weapons per turn, or attempt to dodge incoming fire. Initiative is determined, and pre-action effects take place.
The Action Phase is where most of the game takes place. Using alternating activation movement and combat is resolved, and things get blown up. A lot.
A few things are done very well: No roll can be re-rolled more than once. Period. The game uses few stats, but lots of special conditions for weapons and abilities. Die rolls are easily calculated, and combat is resolved rapidly. The rules are a bit ambiguous in places, and a FAQ is being produced by Palladium.
The game is simple enough to pick up and play quickly, but has enough depth to provide for long term game play. The available models tend to favor the good-guy UEDF, but when the second wave delivers game balance is likely to be better.
So in summary:
The game is good. It’s not a 40K killer, nor is it meant to be. It’s more like a specialist game. If you like that style and want to play a fast, dynamic, action oriented game, this is a good one.
Basic Set MSRP is $99.95 USD.
Much, much more pics at the Robotech Facebook page.