Robotech RPG Tactics Final Thoughts

Robotech RPG Tactics is in the box. The lid is on the box and the box has been moved to the “play this later…maybe” closet of games.  Yes, we have a closet just for games and that closet is divided into “never again,” “maybe later,” “this box is too big,” and “yes” sections.  So there is something to be said for “maybe later.” That something to be said, is the following:

  • If the rules get rewritten by anyone for miniature wargaming purposes.  At the moment the rules are overburdened, need trimming, and the balance needs to be addressed (see below).
  • If the various and numerous cards that are supposed to aid play get redesigned to be functional and on fewer cards.

To be clear, we have played a dozen games now and have had the same results regardless of who is playing the Zentraedi side.  I had no more success with the Zentraedi than our boy or wife did.  Our girl refused to play them, primarily because of the “ugly gray” color.  The UEDF side is too powerful. Now this is in spirit of the television show and the novels (yes I have both), however, from a war gaming perspective this is not a good thing.

Wargames rely on balance.  Balance ensures that both sides can be competitive.  Balance is what keeps players playing.  Unbalanced wargames go away.  Role-playing games are unbalanced in favor of players, this is a good thing, nobody wants to be the hero who always gets their butt handed to them by every gang of goblins and ruffians.  Wargames, live and die based on balance.  In a dozen games, 0 wins for the Zentraedi with a close to 100% casualty rate.  The UEDF obviously won every game, with our  modification the casualty rate was around 30%.  I don’t know about anyone else playing the game and would love to hear from people who have played the game.

Outside of balance, the reliance on abilities for everything is annoying.  I should not have to learn punch, kick, body block, and so on for melee combat in a wargame.  This should be a simple roll with simple modifications that affect the roll to hit or the amount of damage done.  A jetfighter should not have to have the special ability afterburner, that should be written into the movement.   The list goes on.  For every ability that is in the book, I can find a place where that ability could have been written into the rules.  This makes for a slimmer rulebook, faster game play, and makes those reference cards easier to use and functional.

Finally, the writing, style, and layout.  I have spoken about these issues before and I stand by them.  Robotech RPG Tactics could use a  rewrite, edit, and eye towards making the rulebook functional first.  Once that is accomplished then add the fun stuff.

Did we find any good? Once the miniatures are assembled they look good, however that comes with the caveat that someone is willing to go through the hassles of assembling them.  The miniatures, like the rulebook, could use a second attempt.  Make the miniatures user friendly to assemble, unless the target audience is die-hard model builders.  In which case, detail and pose-ability will have to be upped. Assembly instructions, detailed with step by step and showing all of the variations must be addressed sooner rather than later.  A sheet with a diagram is not assembly instructions.

The rules as written do work.  They are, from my point of view and experience, clunky and unnecessarily burdened, but they do work.  Do they capture the feel of the television show, yes Zentraedi blow up left and right.  Is that good for a wargame, no.  The inability of anyone to win or even come close to winning as one side was the final nail in the coffin for us.

If anyone has played a few games and would like to share their experiences I would like to hear them.



15 thoughts on “Robotech RPG Tactics Final Thoughts

  1. Fean Arnailes

    I don’t own the product and seems that I wont get it for the rules. Anyway, It could be fun if you played a campaign, with finite amount of troopers on the UEDF side and unlimited on Zentraedi side. Then play through the various battles from the tv-series and see if the Macross ever gets back to the earth.

  2. Mike

    Here are a few game reviews from the Facebook page

    Battle report by PliskinAJ on the Proboards

    We managed to play 3 games and since they were the first 2 missions of the learning campaign they weren’t exactly points even but they were designed to show the mechanics of the game.

    Game 1 (mission 1): I played the Zentraedi with 2 squadrons of 3 pods against 2 Veritech squadron. The other player flew in thinking he could wreak face and I sat there and have him 2 broadsides of pod shots. It was a quick game.

    Game 2 (mission 1): I played UEDF this time and attempted to learn from the previous game put my Veritechs in guardian mode to outlast the initial onslaught. It would have worked just fine if I didn’t move forward. I managed to do damage to the pods but I was wiped in 4 turns.

    Game 3 (mission 2): I played UEDF again and had a 2 flights of 2 veritechs and the Zentraedi forces had 2 6 pod squadrons but importantly we had COVER this time. The larger game was very even and Battloid GU-11 gunpods are amazing. Most of the time I was in Battloid mode and occasionally changing to Guardian for the defense bonus. I did eventually loose but it was a very close game.

    What I learned from the 3 games. The Zentraedi might be a little bit more new player friendly but as the points went up and there was terrain added it quickly evened out. The alternating squads makes it you will get into situations where you have to choose, save a squad or kill an enemy, which I like that dilemma as I don’t normally see that in tabletop games. Both sides were worried about being eliminated which is good because it means both sides felt evenly matched.

    Orders are amazing and you will burn through them fast. UEDF can be orders hungry as those gunpods want to fire twice a turn. Its also important to leave a few for defense.

    Fighter mode probably should only be used for quick redeploys. The base distance a fighter can go without boosting is 24 inches due to afterburner, this will help you out a lot so you don’t get overwhelmed. Pods also can move 10 inches native due to the jump ability so they can also cover a lot of ground.

    Finally you need to have unit markers on the models damage tracking can get a bit confusing when models start jumping across the board.

    Bottom line is I think it is a very fun game and I’m looking forward to a larger game this next weekend.
    Now after sharing that most players complaints are that the ZEN are overpowered. Not sure how you were playing but proper tactics employed the Zen usually win. In an open field with little to no terrain the UEDF SHOULD win every time. They are designed to take advantage of that type of terrain.

    I have seen few complaints on balance from the many people who have played and posted on the FB page, including myself.

    The rules are a bit muddled in that you have to know where to look for a few things. The cards are not what I prefer so someone made ones to replace them and they can be found here

    Most people think the rules are extremely simple and quick to learn. They have flaws but that is not unexpected and errata is forthcoming.

    Now the minis, the Zen are great, the UEDF are adequate.

    Sorry that you have not had any luck playing. I would suggest checking and making sure you are activating by squadrons and not playing like 40k where one side goes and then the other. That is key to proper play with these rules. I would also make sure you have some terrain on the table if you did not. Other than that feel free to post more. Maybe there are a few more things that are not being done per the rules or things that you may have forgotten that could change how you play and hence the balance in the game.

    Good Luck

  3. Mark

    @Mike how were you able to do anything with the Battlepods with no Command points? since you need command points to move or shoot and the Battlepods come with no command points? also you had 8 Veritechs versus 6 Battlepods ? and the Battlepods won, regardless they had no command points to fire with, I still find that a bit hard to swallow, furthermore me and my buddy been playing several games, we have yet had the Zentraedi win any games and we each have had turns playing the Zentraedi.

    1. James

      Mark – You can do nearly everything without command points (e.g. move and shoot). Command points allow you to go above and beyond allowing additional attacks and special defensive maneuvers. You can definitely survive without them, but they come in handy.

    2. cclark777

      Are you using the quel-gulnau in your squad? If not try this with the Zen regult attack squadron as the core squad with a quel-gulnau and a regult squad as support. This will give you more body’s to work with and up the range of the glaug’s reinforcement ability from 8in to 12in. Making them vets will also help with atacking. Keep a few pods as meat shields for the glaug and quel-gulnau while the rest attack. Make sure to keep the attackers within 12in of the glaug so that he can call them in as reinforcements next turn. This makes it so that you will have to shoot through the pods to get to the glaug or move around behind them and get in close to attack which will leave the attacking unit open to being swarmed. See if that helps playing the Zen any.

      1. Ankoku1331

        We had a couple of games using the recovery pod. The recovery pod became a priority target. The theory is sound, but for our games did not pan out.

  4. cclark777

    Ankoku1331 did you try keeping a meat shield around it also if it becomes the target then that will open up a lot of possibilities since they are not targeting the glaug which should be the primary target. Also what was the UEDF player using? A valkyrie squad or a destroid squad. For the valkyrie squad surround the recovery pod with a meat shield you will be getting the units back next turn though tactics against a valkrie squad depend on the loadout of the squad. The destroid squad is much easier to deal with line tactics should work against them.

    1. Ankoku1331

      It is interesting to me that “meat shields” are a suggested strategy, you are not the first person to suggest this tactic, for a wargame, especially the Robotech universe where most of the battles take place in outer space with lots of maneuvering. For our games, there were no meat shields. We favor maneuverability and position over using units as an additional form of armor, which is the purpose of a meat shield.

      All of our games, after the first couple, were two squads on a side affairs. If I remember correctly, two veritech squads for most of them with the occasional destroid squad in place of a veritech squad. I imagine, had any of us decided to place battlepods as a meat shield and stay within two inches of a board edge, the zentraedi player may have had a better time until the command pod (s) were killed off, which was usually unit number one to be taken out. Not our style of play, but I can see that as a strategy.

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  7. robbo44

    Granted the Zentradi have only 3 to 4 unit types available right now until wave 2 comes out, which vastly limits what they can do. (Once they get the female power armors, they will be able to put pressure quickly) That being said, in 300+ point games, Zentradi can hold their own really well. They should have the advantage as far as number of units on the board, more command points at thier disposal vs he enemy, and a superior leadership rank. Rank comes into play in the case of a tie on iniative rolls, and with the Glaug having a monsterous leadership of 4, Iniative can fall to zentradi more often that not. A lot of this game is based on who wins iniative for the turn and choosing the correct squad to counter your opponent before their first squad moves.
    If the Zentradi splash some short range artilary pods into thier build you can kiss you UDEF mecha good bye after 1 round of a heavy volleys. Also keeping your glaugs surrounded by battlepods, making them very hard to kill unless you use cheese phalanx with blast. Always keep that glaug’s back up against a building so your opponent cant get rear arc on you when at all possible.
    Remember, you have to declare all of your attacks at the same time, so if there are pods in the way, they cant target the glaug until those are cleared away. You can fire through your own units if they are in the same squad, so putting glaugs knee deep in pods still allows them to fire on enemies with friendlies infront of them. Keep that meat shield up as long as possible.
    As the zentron player, always keep that spare command point at the ready to buy back any lost pods each turn. Try and get the glaug into light / heavy cover which moves them into a def 9 range… when you win initative burn those command points with the glaug and fire 3 to 4 of its weapon systems at single targets. Turn on your scout pods to add +1 bonus on to hit rolls with ranged and then stack that with a few flanked battle pods with crossfire and rear fire bonuses and you eat through mecha quickly needing mostly 2+ to score hits. The zentradi are a lot harder to play than uedf that true, but they can win just as many games if run tightly and take full advantage of thier never ending numbers!

    1. Ankoku1331

      A lot of what you wrote has been suggested by other players. Our/my experience with the game even using some of the suggestions, did not result in anything other than an win for the Earth player. The game does a great job of reflecting the show, Zentraedi blow up left and right. Only after we played with the stats did the Zentraedi have an equal footing.

      If Wave 2 is released, then I will give Robotech RPG Tactics another look and try. I will even write about my experiences with the game. Hopefully, by that time (if ever-2 years late now), the rules will get a good look at to streamline them. Unfortunately, since writing this post (over a year ago), I have not played Robotech RPG Tactics.

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