vrijdag 14 december 2012

Studs...

Real life has been taking precedence quite a bit lately...
I've been looking at my Warmachine again, but have yet to seriously start work on them.
However, earlier this week I stumbled across something called Mobile Frame Zero and my interest was piqued.

Big stompy robots, Lego's and wargaming rolled into one? I had to check this out.
So I took out the family Lego stockpile (I'm lucky, all three of us love the stuff!) and started building some bots, called Frames in the game.
I took the instructions for building the "Chub" Frame, and improvised where I couldn't find matching parts.
Here's what I built:
A Free Peoples force*, consisting of an Officer and two troopers, the latter using militarised construction bots.

 
The Authority* strike force, again, an officer in the middle, flanked by two troopers.

The next day, I built some filthy mercenaries*. (I was out of co-ordinated colours, and just bashed these together with whatever came to hand...) amd bashed some rudimentary scenery together.
I built all three groups with similar equipment: one heavily armoured officer, with a both melee and ranged weapons, an all-round soldier with some armour (the shield), a melee and a ranged weapon plus a "heavy" trooper with an artillery piece and spotting gear (only the merc heavy got extra armour instead of spotting gear).
(During the test games, giving the artillerist spotting gear turned out to be less than optimal, as sensors are medium range, but the artillery is long range only....)

*: I must admit I didn't read the game's accompanying setting background, but just built and named as I felt like.

These similar load outs caused some fudging when I ran some solo test games, as the rules work on the premise of the various parties not being equally matched... :P

The rules are quick, and once you get your head around them (the rules are very concise, and I feel they could be more elaborately explained to be more readily grasped.) surprisingly fun.
They work based on dice pools of sorts: Each Frame gets 2 generic dice that can be used for anything, plus each extra system installed (additional movement, defensive measures, sensors, etc.) gives you a number of extra dice for specific purposes. Damage is expressed in lost systems and corresponding loss of dice.
Which is extra fun with Legos because you get to physically rip the destroyed system from the little robot!
You can even damage terrain! (Isn't Lego's brilliant?) By the end of the game, your table will be littered with loose bricks and bits of robots, really showing off the mayhem that occurred.

I found I really like the way they handle turn order in this game.
As I mentioned earlier the game relies on asymmetry between forces. It  features here, in turn order, as well as the role you play in the game (defensive or offensive). Essentially, the number of Frames and systems each player has are calculated into a score. The stronger your force, the lower your score.
Getting the highest score means you will fight as the defender, allowing you to start the game in an advantageous position. You also get to go first and take the initiative each turn. Loosing Frames or objectives costs you points, capturing enemy objectives gains you points. The highest score at the end of the game wins.
So the weakest party also get a leg up towards victory by starting higher up the ladder.  Really nice.
The high level of integration of this system into the game seems to make it less flexible with regards to playing scenarios, but I don't have enough experience with the rules yet to judge this, I could be mistaken on this point.

Though the rules are written with Lego's in mind, they could be very easily adapted to any kind of fast paced Mecha warfare such as Gundam. You just need to adapt the measurement stick to the size of the models you're using. Once grasped, the rules are easy to explain, so I expect they would do well as a participation game on conventions too.
They've certainly got me thinking again about some Appleseed conversions I was working on a few years ago. :)

So, in conclusion, if you have a stack of Lego or a collection of Mecha kits gathering dust I can heartily recommend these rules!

As a farewell, a pic from the opening stage of a test game I played with my 8 year old son:

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