I’ve been looking for a Sci-Fi skirmish level game (quick games of 10-15 models, taking an hour or two to play) for a few months now. I thought that BattleTech would fill that role, but it’s anything BUT skirmish style thanks to the detailed record keeping and slow-pace of the game (a game of lance on lance can take 2 hours pretty easily). BattleTech is analogous of land-battleships than a skirmish game.
I’ve been looking pretty hard at two systems right now (we have plenty of Fantasy genre skirmish games that we play & don’t play at the FLGS: Confrontation, Malifaux & Warhammer Skirmish) and 40k USED to be a Skirmish game, now it’s more of a army vs army scale battles using quasi-skirmish rules.
I’m looking for a Sci-Fi game that’s portable, playable on a small area, has nice looking miniatures (unfortunately BattleTech minis are hit and (mostly) miss), and has a really cool mechanic.
The two systems that I’ve looked closely at are: Heavy Gear Blitz! (a 12mm big power armor on big power armor infantry style skirmish game) and Firestorm Armada (an epic space combat game).
I chose Heavy Gear for a couple of reasons: mainly it’s more the level I want to play. Don’t get me wrong…Firestorm Armada looks freakin’ sweet in the online YouTube videos, but Heavy Gear won out for me for playability and expandability. Firestorm Armada appears to be a game that I’d play for a few months and get bored with the mechanic. I feel the same way only with the QuickStart rules of Heavy Gear Blitz. The Locked and Loaded rules add LOTS of neat stuff, including the necessity for each squad to have a specific mission to complete–which I thought was a very cool concept. Also in the main rules you can spot for artillery, call in airstrikes and a whole slew of other options.
I like that every gear is identical, yet for your veteran and elite you just get to throw more dice which you subsequently take the highest number, if you have multiple 6’s in your roll you get to add +1 to your total roll. This is compared to a Defense roll of the same type…then you throw a bunch of modifiers (range, movement, cover, natural defense, etc) and then compare the result. The result is a Margin of Success, which you’ll multiply with the attacking weapon’s damage rating. That multiplied value then compares to the target’s armor. If it’s equal to less than the armor, it’s a PLING (the shot bounces off). If it’s greater than the armor, it’s 1 Damage box off the track (of usually 3 boxes). Double the amor, 2 boxes are marked off. If the damage from the weapon is over three times the target’s armor it’s an OVERKILL and the model is completely removed (as opposed to being left on the table and counted as rubble).
The game is not quite model per model I go you go like most skirmish games. You break your army up into 3-4 model units and then move that unit, then your opponent moves his/her units, then you move your next unit… a nice compromise.
My Wall of Text really doesn’t do nearly as well explaining this as the videos I’ve been watching at all: Basic Mechanic Introductory Video
I’ve also downloaded the Quick Start Rules (which are VERY thinned down compared to the full rules) here: Download the Heavy Gear Blitz Quick Start rules from Dream Pod 9.
The models are nice, each are in separate pieces so they’re designed with multiple weapons and poses in mind. Keep in mind that every model of Gear has MANY weapon and equipment options to keep the game fresh as well. A good intro to the models themselves is here: Heavy Gear Miniatures and Game Introduction
Right now I have one local ready to play as well (but I’ve only approached one).