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.