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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Heavy Gear Blitz - War for Terra Nova

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

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Hello there! As I mentioned in my Future - 2015 post I jumped on the Heavy Gear Blitz - War for Terra Nova - Miniatures Starter Set kickstarter in November and I thought I might talk a little bit more about it.

Although my first contact with Dream Pod 9 was when I saw and fell in love with the cover of the first edition of the Jovian Chronicles rpg, I soon also discovered their Heavy Gear line of games as well. I hadn't seen Armored Trooper VOTOMS at that time, but I had seen Robotech/Macross and Gundam so although I thought Heavy Gear looked cool (and bought a bunch of the rpg books - the setting is awesome!) JC was what I was really aiming for - both the roleplaying game and the miniature game, Lightning Strike.


Still as time went on it became more and more clear that Heavy Gear was the DP9 flagship and although there was for a long time murmurs of a rebooted Jovian Chronicles/Lightning Strike (colloquially known as Lightning Strike Blitz), that would either unify the the scale of the ships and EXOs or get rid of the ships altogether, it never materialized and a couple of years ago the Lightning Strike line of miniatures was officially retired. The molds do come out of storage once every six months so real enthusiasts can still get the minis, but it doesn't seem like we'll have a new edition in the foreseeable future. Still, I recommend checking out the original Lightning Strik for some very cool space combat. Delta Vector has a nice introduction to the game.

When I realized that JC was in stasis back in 2009 I decided to go ahead and get myself an army for Heavy Gear instead. I painted most of it but as I didn't have anyone to play against it kind of stalled and even though I was planning to get a Southern force as well, so I could actually play the game, something else always popped up to throw my money at instead. It has also been a matter of correctly scaled terrain and not wanting to take up valuable storage space with terrain for only a single game. This has now changed since I've decided to invest in Dropzone Commander which uses the same 10mm scale. And if I ever decide to get into Robotech RPG Tactics after all the 10mm terrain will work for that as well, even though it's actually 6mm. You might remember me giving up the Robotech kickstarter in favour of Deadzone a couple of years ago, but now that the game is out and I read peoples thoughts on it I kind of wish I had done it the other way around. Oh, well...

My recon squad and some infantry. Considered rebasing the infantry for the new system, but I don't think I'll bother.
Anyway, fast forward to 2014 and Heavy Gear is getting a great big overhaul and preparations are made for a kickstarter to produce a proper two player starter box with plastic minis. I mostly like what I see of the rules changes and even though I'm used to working with metal minis, having plastic gears will make assembly, magnetizing and converting a lot easier (and cheaper!) so good stuff there to! I hesitated for a while but in the end I felt the deal was simply to good to pass up for an old gear enthusiast like myself. Not only will I get a substantial reinforcement to my existing Northern army (tripling my current gear stable), but I will also get that Southern army I've been clamoring for (including a King Cobra!) plus starter forces for CEF and Caprice!

Having two main armies in the North and South and then two smaller forces to able to lend to friends and allow myself to try something different is something I'm really looking forward to as it means I will finally be able to properly play the game! The rules, that have gone through small-ish revisions over the past decade, is now up for an almost complete reboot. While I liked the old rules in theory I could definitely see how they would seem off-putting to some players, probably several in my group included. However it seems like the new edition is not only aiming for making a smoother game for the same old crowd, but also making sure it's modern and flexible enough to actually attract new players. Although this is me mostly speculating, I think that DP9 has got most of their income from pretty much the same small group of people for the past ten years or so. Having a loyal and invested fan base is great, but it can also lead to shortsightedness and vicious feedback loops. The kickstarter has certainly helped the company get the name Heavy Gear out there and the great rush of new players who are confounded by many of the quirks in the rules that are leftovers from the old rpg days. Getting fresh eyes and fresh feedback I think is a great thing and the beta rulebook (that can be downloaded for free here), which is already quite different from the old Blitz rules, is going through additional revisions based on this new feedback and a new living rulebook should be made available within the next few weeks.

I've read through the Beta rulebook and I liked what I saw. While things have changed most of them seem to be for the better and I'm optimistic about the gameplay. There are of course more changes on the way as head designer Dave McLeod has stated that the release of the Living Rulebook Beta will be pretty much a complete re-write. While I do think the game needed a revision to bring it up modern gaming standards I really hope what make Heavy Gear unique - margins of success, combined arms, electronic warfare and a high-ish level of detail - remain in the game. I really don't think I need to worry, but it's still a balance act that need to be performed, keeping the unique gameplay while making the rules smoother. You can follow Dave's designer diaries over at the DP9 site.

Bottom line, I'm happy to see the game evolving and look forward to getting my hands on the miniatures later on. While DP9 has November as the stated shipping date, miniature and board game kickstarters are always (in my experience) delayed so I'm not really expecting to get my stuff this year, although... there's a first time for everything. Hehe! By then I'll have my Dropzone Commander battle board from Games & Gears ready, hopefully with additional cheap N scale terrain for extra detailing. Although the badlands is the classic setting for a Heavy Gear showdown, I'll make due with an old dilapidated cityscape until I actually decide to make an extra table.

For those of you who find this intriguing and curse yourself for missing the kickstarter in November, fear not! You can still get in on it by way of the pledge manager. You can get the basic core box for $80 CAD but I highly recommend going for the $115 CAD level which also gives you all the stretch goals, meaning the miniature count suddenly jumps from 16 to 51 and includes a bunch of extra conversion parts. While there are certainly kickstarters out there where you get more minis for your buck, but seeing as these are multi part poseable plastics I'm satisfied. Also, for about the same price as three Infinity starters I get 51 minis instead of 15. The next stretch goal is the Northern Kodiak (see left) in plastic at $160k CAD which I dearly hope gets unlocked as it's one of my favourite Heavy Gear models.

Well, those are some of my thoughts on the matter. I'm really happy to finally have pulled the trigger and invested in that second army I've thought about for so long. That it comes with a bunch of extra minis is of course a great bonus! Now I just need some tanks and striders...

2 kommentarer :

  1. Interesting to hear about Robotech...I haven't heard many good things, and around here game stores are selling the minis and core rules for bargain prices just to clear stock.

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    Replies
    1. Well, I haven't done any extensive research. But of the half dozen reviews I've read only one was negative while the others ranged from ok to great. Still, I'm actually not expecting all that much from the rules (although they seem to capture the Robotech flavour!) but I do like the minis which I can use even if the rules aren't all that good.

      As for not moving stock, I've found this to often be a problem for kickstarted miniature games. While the kickstarter certainly builds up a frenzy of expectations and people keep throwing money down the pit, it's not really good for building a stable long term community. When there are no monthly releases and nothing really to talk about than the Big Drop it's hard to keep the community positive and on track. Then when everyone finally get all their goodies they either have to wait a year for the other half to drop or wait for a regular release schedule to be worked out before they can see any new units.

      This is one of the reasons I think this Heavy Gear kickstarter might work out better - they already have a line of miniatures and although the release schedule is erratic there still is a strong core community and there's no lack of interesting units to add to your army after you've got the kickstarter package.

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