Sunday, 6 March 2016

MERCS: Recon - First Impressions

Sunday, March 06, 2016

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MERCS: Recon

It finally happened, a large box was delivered and it contained the two core MERCS: Recon boxes - Counter Threat, containing EU and CCC, and Assassination Protocol, containing KemVar and Keizai Waza. There are of course a lots of stuff still missing as MegaCon elected to send out the core games as soon as they were ready to get people playing. The second wave, containing everything else, is on its way from China as we speak and if the European distributor is not as slow delivering it as it was with the first wave and the MYTH 2.0 stuff (more than a month in their warehouse!!) then it should be with backers during April at least.

MERCS: Recon Assassination Protocol gameplay (KemVar)
This is how it starts, nice and quiet with just a couple of SecFor I and some scared workers cowering in the corner. It's deceivingly calm.
While I have yet to play a complete game with other actual humans I have played it a few times solo, something it is exceedingly suitable for. It's not that it simply works solo, but it is actually loads of fun solo! I played my first couple of games as KemVar and actually managed to win the very first one as my team went in, secured the objective through a breach and clear and proceeded to exit to a waiting hovercraft. The Shock Trooper bit the dust in the final to last turn (although I had forgotten all about the KemVar active camo) but I guess that's simply the price of success.

MERCS: Recon Assassination Protocol gameplay
Then you find yourself being chased down a corridor by EVERY GUY WITH A GUN!!
The second mission ended horribly in an ill planned B&C where I needed to destroy the objective. I could probably have done it if I had managed my resources better, by trying to interrogate more special workers and interacting with some of the useful non-objective items. Instead I went in way too early and got my butt kicked.

MERCS: Recon Assassination Protocol gameplay, B&C
Here's that catastrophic B&C I mentioned above. 
Game number three we actually had to abort early due to time constraints, but both Nicke and Jacob enjoyed it and would like to play a full game. Even though they both had a bad experience with MYTH and Jacob thinks it's basically the spawn of the devil (yes, he's obviously both mistaken and delusional, but there's a kernel of truth there as they tried playing MYTH 1.0 and I wasn't there to help with the rules). The game itself went quite well for us by the time we packed it in though.

MERCS: Recon Assassination Protocol gameplay
Burke's Law is very much in effect. When you have three guys covering a corner to nail that nasty SecFor IV don't be surprised if two mooks with shotguns just walks up behind you and unload all they've got! Should have had my heavy covering the other direciton.
In the fourth game I switched to Keizai Waza for another objective destruction mission. This game was more tense generally as the Waza simply aren't as sneaky as KemVar and not as good at handling civilians, so the security level kept moving up and I had uncontrolled workers running about. At one point I simply had to make a cold blooded decision and simply executed a bunch of civilians to free up my movement. The future is a bleak and horrible place. In the end the B&C was a failure as one point was missing to destroy the objective, but I decided to keep playing anyway since it would be my last game until I'm back in Sweden in May (currently in Japan by the way). The retreat to the extraction point was a really close affair with SecFor crashing in through the windows to get at my, at this point in time, rather battered MERCS. All of them did make it, but this was of course purely a tangent as I had actually already lost in the B&C.

So the game is lots of fun, make no mistake. It might perhaps become a bit samey if you play it often enough, even with all the built in modularity. But I'm not really worried about that as I have lots of expansions incoming which not only expands on the core game but adds another game on top of it, called Lockdown, where you switch side and try to pour your security forces at some invading MERCS! And even if these two core boxes were all I had it would be a great addition to the collection as I really don't have anything quite like it. You might compare it to Space Hulk or Level 7 or some other sci fi game with dudes on a board, but as far as I'm concerned the experience of trying to keep a low profile during a slowly growing tornado is unique enough to have it sit comfortably next to any of those games.

This is what my first office complex looked like. Different every time.
As for the quality of the physical game - I've read a lot of comments on the KS page and the MegaCon forums to know that there have been many issues with the printing of the tiles and MegaCon are taking measures to correct this. It seems like I've been one of the lucky ones as I really haven't had any trouble besides some small scuff marks, that I can live with. I am a little worried about how durable the tiles are and if they might split further down the line, as you can clearly see the different cardboard layers making up the tile, but so far so good. It's something to keep an eye on though.

I have also seen people complain about the minis and this I actually have a hard time understanding. Yes, they are not as good as "proper" wargame miniatures from the likes of GW or Corvus Belli but they certainly hold up if you compare them to many other wargame miniatures. If I recall correctly MegaCon said that the minis would be of MYTH quality or better and that is pretty much what we have - same quality level as MYTH. They look good put together and some paint will make them look even better. What I think might be a problem for many who buy this game in retail is the fact that the minis come unassembled and in need of some (quick) cleanup. For a modeler it's a breeze but pure boardgamers are in for a surprise as theres nothing on the back of the box saying it requires assembly! Slap on the fingers there for sure. Oh, and sorry for no pictures of the minis, I simply forgot to take any good ones before leaving so use your google powers!

The rulebook in the box is also in dire need of tightening up with many things poorly explained, explained wrongly or simply not explained at all. It's certainly not as bad as the first MYTH rulebook and the game is playable but will leave you with some questions. However, MegaCon Games have been on the ball with this issue and have answered questions on their forum and made tutorial videos. Just the other day they released an extensive updated FAQ and an improved rulebook in PDF form which takes care of all the questions I've run across so far. So my advice is simply to print the new rulebook and FAQ and you'll be all set.

Bottom line: this is a very neat game with lots of different ways approach the mission and lots of freedom on how you set it up. The minis and board look great and the gameplay usually goes from tense to straight out stressful! Oh, and it's bloody hard as well! You might have noticed that I lost two of my three completed games, and this is just how I like my co-ops - if you manage to win more then 50% of the time the game is probably too easy and simply not as fun. So far so good on MERCS: Recon.

Now I'm eagerly looking forward to all the extra stuff! Like new MERCS teams, special OpFor characters, new missions, Lockdown mode, zombies(!), drones and piles and piles of figures!

What I have to look forward to. Plus the MERCS 2.0 tabletop game and some other stuff!

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