Around two years ago (yes two years ago) I took part in the Robotech RPG Tactics Kickstarter. Yesterday the first half of my order arrived. I wasn’t sure I was going to say anything about this, beyond what I have said on Scrawlings, but after spending the day with my order I feel the need to say a few things.
I’m not going to say anything about how this Kickstarter was run, there is more than enough press about the numerous fumbles that Palladium Games made and encountered over the past two years. I will say, that because of this Kickstarter I have been very leery of taking part in any other Kickstarter. That being said, here were the things I was more interested in and concerned with:
- miniatures: quality and assembly
- rules: quality and ease of use
Honestly, I don’t care about anything else related to the Kickstarter or Robotech RPG Tactics. If those two categories were not met, then the game for me is a failure, as in I will not spend any more money on the game. That being said here is my thoughts.
When I opened the box I was greeted not with the sight of sprues of miniatures carefully laid in the box so that they would not shift around and get damaged. What greeted me, was sprues that had tossed into the box or they had shifted so much during the 1-day shipping that they resembled sprues that had been tossed in the box. Not a very reassuring sight. A simple solution would be to poly-bag the sprues together to prevent damage and shifting.
Once I pulled the sprues out and apart, I gave them a good look. The quality is good. Not great, but good. What stood out were the parts. As you can see in the photo, that is a lot of tiny parts and that is one sprue, for one miniature. The illustration below the sprue is the “assembly instructions.” If anything immediately had me in the not happy camp, the sight of those “assembly instructions” did. Notice, there are no numbers indicating a sequence or even a suggestion of a sequence of assembly. Also note, that there is no base illustration. Each miniature goes on a round base. There are two sizes of bases, how do I figure this out quickly? I don’t. That is a problem, especially for those new to building miniatures.
I decided to build some miniatures. As you can see from the photo I built a few from each side. The miniatures took around a half-hour to construct from start to finish. Without any direction from the “assembly instructions” I had to figure out on my own how pieces went together, as not all pieces go together well or in an obvious fashion. The legs of the grey miniatures are a good example, there are three styles of legs, one set is for a in-flight look, but there is no indication which ones and finding out is a pain in the ass.
For the most part, the pieces fit together well, resulting in a miniature that I am happy with. However, I must say that FASA made lead miniatures of many of these miniatures way back in the day and they were single piece body, arms, and accessory. In other words, much easier to assemble. Given that plastic parts are supposed to provide more detail and the ability to position each miniature, I would prefer less assembly in order for me to actually play my game quicker. I would be remiss if I did not point out the following items:
- these are not miniatures for the first time builder
- there are a lot of small parts that break (broke a few myself) easily
- get used to posing and fitting a lot before gluing
I cannot tell you how Robotech RPG Tactics plays. I cannot tell you this for the most obvious of reasons, I have to assemble a lot of miniatures first. Robotech RPG Tactics is not a buy and play game. This is a huge issue for me. There is no way that I want to spend money on a game and have to wait to play until I assemble over 20 complex miniatures. If I had not done this on Kickstarter, I would have been irked enough to return this to the store.
There is another reason I cannot tell you about how the game plays, the writing. I am a writer and I am close to having the degree that says I am a trained-educated technical writer. I mention these things because I feel qualifications are important before getting into the problems I encountered trying to reading the rule book.
Do not mistake Robotech RPG Tactics as a miniature game with quick rules for representing combat between large armies of miniatures. This is a miniature game using role-playing game rules, which means that many of the rules are bloated, overly complicated, and most of all not easy to pick up and play. What was more bothersome to me than rules which are not useful for the product is bad writing, bad page layout, organization, and repeated use of artwork.
Palladium Games needs to hire a technical writer to ensure that the writing is crisp, smooth, up to date, and not laden with wasted words. A professional document should not have the word it or more correctly should limit the amount of it and its to a minimum. There are a lot of it and its. There are entire concepts that could be reduced to two or three sentences for clarity. Just about every paragraph is bloated with extra words and sentences that serve no function other than to enlarge the page count. I kept correcting the text as I was reading, this is not a sign of a good manuscript, but a sign of a manuscript that could use another editing pass or two. The page layout is not designed with ease of reading or use in mind; two columns with lots of bolded text is not designed for the reader. The section on the various units is a mess of artwork, text, and stat blocks that looks very haphazard. The index which is supposed to aid use is missing a lot of information.
That was where my first impression ended. As you can tell I am not happy with a lot of the quality issues. However, from my experience all of these issues are easily fixed, if Palladium Games wanted to fix them for the next edition or printing. As the situation stands, I have a bunch of miniatures that I have to assemble, if I want to try out the rules, but the rules are written poorly enough that I have a hard time not stopping to fix entire pages of content. The biggest strike for me, is that I cannot play a game right out of the box.
Once I get some miniatures assembled I will give the rules a try and let you know how they work out.