I did a play-test game to show off what the game system plays out like. I took notes, and snapped some photos using one of my HD video-cameras because it happened to be bolted to the tripod. Sadly the images came out pretty poor, but good enough for government work. Disclaimer 1:
I am using my "first run" action card decks. I have since significantly changed them to even out the game, and add a bit more variety/spice.Disclaimer 2:
I am using some 1/72 scale model rail-road terrain...simply because I have zero N-scale terrain done up.Disclaimer 3:
I somehow managed to have possibly the worst rolling in the history of gaming throughout this play-test (yes I'm playing both sides!). Many turns passed with tons of dice rolled, with little result. While this was mostly luck (it conflicted with the previous playtest) I am also looking at some minor rules modifications. The Forces:
ZENTRAEDI: The Z in this scenario have a Officer's Battle Pod (Hardened Veteran), three fighter pods (confident soldier), and six battle pods consisting of two recon pods, two light artillery pods, and two heavy artillery pods (all confident soldier). In the even that they draw their reinforcement card, another Officer's Pod (confident soldier) is available.
UN SPACY: UN Spacy start a bit on the backfoot in this game (intentionally). They have two spartans, two defenders, one tomahawk and two VF-1A Veritechs (all confident soldier). If they draw their reinforcement card, they received a VF-1S, and VF-1J which enter the board in guardian mode (both hardened veterans).The Table:
This is interesting to me. I originally thought the game would simply need a 6x10' or larger board. Most of the mecha can shoot over 36-48" and units can fly 24" in a turn (some even faster in space). I've been playing on this simple oval dining room table, and thus far it's been more suitable than I'd imagined. This is encouraging because it means the 4'x8' normal gaming table will be perfect - whereas larger tables can be used for serious scenarios.The Game Mechanics:
The game mechanics consist of a very simple base set of rules, with numerous specialties added, depending on mecha/scenarios/conditions. For the purposes of this review, here are the simplest terms: Each side has an action deck. This action deck consists of 55 cards, 40 activation cards, and 15 specialty cards (this has been changed to 40/20 for the new decks). Activation cards let you move/attack with units, where specialty cards represent unique circumstances/tactics/bombardments. Each side draws an initial three cards. Initiative is rolled, and players take turns drawing a single action card from their deck and then playing or discarding an action card. Each unit in the game is assigned a morale/skill level based on four tiers, ranging from D6-D12. The "fighting fives" system is called that because when taking any test, or doing any weapon damage etc., the goal result is always a 5+. Each unit has X-number of hit points, and a full detail sheet covering weapons, movement, special rules, etc.
(The rest of the battle report is done in a quasi-narrative to skip over most of the gaming details, and show the flow of the game)
The UN Spacy started the engagement by bringing in an AWACs unit to attempt to highlight enemy Zentraedi on radar. This managed to only lock onto one fighter pod. (Radar locks allow missiles to ignore all negative modifiers). The Zentraedi were already on the move though, fighter pods rocketing forward, missiles streaking in on one of the Defender destroids. Battle Pods moved forward behind them. The Fighter Pods knew they needed to eliminate the Defenders which were purpose built anti-aircraft units. The Fighter Pods also pushed maximum throttle, hoping their speed would protect them from enemy fire.
While one of the Defenders suffered damage, it managed to inflict an equal amount of damage on one of the fighter pods. It's heavy autocannons easily able to track the Fighter Pods due to the Defender's advanced anti-aircraft radar. The Zentraedi continued to swarm forward, one of the scout pods highlighting two more destroids with its radar. All the way across town a single heavy artillery pod launched one of its deadly missiles at an unaware Veritech. The Veritech pilot attempted to dodge, but failed and suffered severe damage (Skill level dropped due to damage suffered).
The Tomahawk destroid moved forward, firing its lethal particle beam cannons at one of the Fighter Pods, but its speed was too much for the pilot to counter. The beams speared off into the sky without effect. (At full speed, a fighter pod causes its attacker to lose -2 skill levels when trying to strike it) The Fighter pods fiercely attack the damaged Defender destroid, inflicting damage, even setting off one of its ammo drums. The Defender is a flaming, smoking wreck, but still able to avoid the last few missiles, and remains in action. It stumbles forward on smoking servos and fires into the sky, hitting one of the fighter pods. The fighter pod is immobilized and crashes into the ground, exploding.
Next to the Defender, one of the Spartans hoses the sky with its Gu-11 gun pod and mini-missiles...inflicting minimal damage on one of the fighter pods screaming past.
Above the UN Spacy forces, the clouds disappear as an orbital bombardment of heavy lasers erupt from the sky. Massive explosions damage one of the Veritechs, both Spartans, and both Defenders, finally destroying the damaged, crippled Defender. Moments later, two Veritechs bearing the familiar Skull Squadron livery scream onto the field, and transform immediately into battloid mode, taking a position near the advancing battle pods.
Immediately after arriving, the pilot of the VF-1J hears the tell-tale warning of a missile lock. He turns his head just in time to see a heavy missile bearing down on him. He takes the blast, and shakes it off, suffering on minimal damage. Behind the Veritech, the remaining Defender churns into life, auto-cannons raking the sky, inflicting seemingly insignificant damage on one of the fighter pods. Across the town, the lead Spartan again unleashes a flurry of Gu-11, missiles, and defensive lasers at the other fighter pod, dealing it serious damage.
The VF-1J barely has time to check himself before a swarm of missiles engulf him. His Veritech is rocked by explosions, armor and materials ripping off. His missiles ignite under the explosion, tearing off his wings and doing severe damage. His cockpit lights up with warning lights as he struggles to keep his Veritech upright. Nearby, his Skull Squadron wingman is firing his Gu-11 into the midst of the enemy battle pods, scoring little damage.
Nearby, one of the remaining fighter pods pulls hard into the sky, trying to avoid enemy fire. A Veritech on the ground is gunning for him. Moments later two bright beams pierce the fighter pod, incinerating it instantly. The Tomahawk pilot has found his mark. The remaining Zentraedi fighter pod aims skyward and punches his thrusters - blasting into the sky, beyond sight. (this fighter pod is using the "Fly High" card, allowing a flying unit to leave the table until the player activates it to return in a future turn)
Watching the action from a distance, the Officer's Pod sees a number of small missiles fly past his cockpit. Pesky humans. (This was a failed attempt to use the "UEDF Commandos" card, which represents commando teams firing rockets from any location you choose). Next to him, more missiles go skyward, aimed at a distant enemy mecha. They miss. Nearby, one of the scout pods falters under a barrage of Gu-11 gunfire, smoke pouring out of its cockpit. The Officer gives the command to advance, and charges ahead. He sees a nearby Veritech, smoking, yet still firing. He calmly fires his particle beam, incinerating it.
Immediately the Officer's battle pod is rocked by enemy fire, as he sees a Tomahawk and Spartan moving toward him, unloading their weapons.
Near him, the VF-1S is having a bad day so far - enemy radar lock and missiles are taking their toll, slowly whittling away at his armor. He hears a frantic cry from one of the other Veritech pilots that he's run out of ammunition (the Gu-11 is prone to running out of ammunition if you use it unwisely). The veteran pilot turns and engages the Officer's Pod nearby, riddling his machine with gunfire. Inside, the Officer howls in pain, as a Gu-11 round strikes him in the arm. Just as the VF-1S grins, a fighter pod roars into view, missiles streaking from its launchers. The pilot holds his arms and Gu-11 up to protect himself from the blast, and his gun pod is blown to pieces. He watches his cockpit light up with warning lights. He is on borrowed time.
There is a rushing sound, like that of a heavy locomotive, as heavy artillery rounds scream in from over the horizon. In an instant the Officer's Pod and Scout Pod near him are turned to ash and debris. UN Spacy artillery spotters shout "good hit on target, good hit!" to the Monster destroid who is 10 miles away.
Missile fire in the middle of town is frantic. One of the Spartan pilots reports he has been immobilized, and that he's been radar locked. He's having a bad day.
With his Gu-11 destroyed, and his veritech on the verge of collapse, the Skull Squadron pilot charges at the nearby Scout Pod. He enters a frantic melee with the mecha.
A distant fighter pod roars above the battlefield, and engages the last remaining Defender destroid. The Defender takes the brunt of missile strikes, and explodes, debris and wreckage scattering around it. (This was a Zentraedi special card, allowing an off-board fighter pod attack - NOT the actual on-board unit). Around the exploding Defender, destroids hammer the sky with weapons, trying to strike the remaining Fighter Pod who is artfully speeding through the buildings. All around, missiles and cannons are scoring damage on destroids, and Veritechs alike.
One of the Tomahawks responds by blasting a heavy battle pod to oblivion with its particle cannons.
In the melee, the VF-1S pilot handily destroys the damaged Scout Pod. The nearby artillery pod is kicking at his Veritech, inflicting minor damage. One of the Veritechs behind him pops into Guardian mode to attempt to get more speed to engage the remaining fighter pod. The fighter pod hops on his tail immediately, trying to shoot him down.
The Veritech pilot punches his thrusters and spins his Veritech in mid-air, grabbing onto the Fighter Pod, punching as best he can, inflicting damage. (The veritech in this case used the "Push the Limits" card which allows you to activate a unit two turns in a row - something that is normally not allowed. Because the Fighter pod has zero hand to hand capability, the Veritech is able to score free hits on it).
The Fighter Pod goes full throttle and tries to flee the Guardian mode Veritech. Below them, the remaining battle pod in hand to hand with the Veritech attemps to flee, but is caught as he tries - and the Veritech rips out his pivot-joint, destroying him.
As the remaining two battle pods were now out of missiles, they closed in together, hoping to use their remaining guns to whittle down the UN Spacy forces. Above them, the Guardian mode Veritech chased after the fighter pod, shooting it down. The Battle Pods immediately opened fire, crippling the Veritech who crashed into the building, and exploded. Immediately following this, the battle pods retreated, unable to face the 6-2 odds facing them. (this was a conscious choice to end the game, since there was zero chance of the battle pods being able to counter the remaining UN Spacy forces).END OF GAME
So, that's a sample game of Battle Cry. It took about 2.5 hours (mainly because I was taking pictures, and copious notes). Playing both sides is tough, and removes a lot of the tactical/strategic enjoyment of the game. (ie. setting up cards and tactics several turns in advance, etc.). Overall though, the game play becomes incredibly smooth, and simple once you get into the swing of things. Each "turn" can take only a minute or two. The game I just detailed played out over 49 turns. That may seem like a lot, but you are playing very rapidly. All in all, still very happy though I may upgrade the Zentraedi battle pod cannons, as they are pretty weak by comparison to many other weapon systems.
Sorry for the crap photos. Cheers.