Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Long time away, but back with Gears

Sorry all for being away for such a long time. Between waiting for orders, working different schedules, and life in general just have not had much time to write up much. Not saying I haven't been playing games, as they are very much a part of my life, but no real painting or anything done recently.

Anyhow, biggest news from my front is my recent purchase of the Heavy Gear Blitz PRDF and Black Talon starter kits. The folks at Knightfall Games got the order in with no issue and I had it within a weeks time, and was able to tear into the package at their store. Now before I get into the contents, mini building, and whatnot I should make something very clear.

I have played Heavy Gear before, shortly after it was released, and actually kept up with the story up until the Activision game Heavy Gear II where Peace River was destroyed and the Black Talons were formed. I stopped playing shortly after, just because I was simply lured away, but I always remember DP9 as a world I absolutely loved for it's rich background and one of the few mecha types I really attached too. Anyhow, that was years ago, so the minis have changed, the story has moved forward, and the rules better rounded out.

Fast forward back to present day, and here I am with a new box set of a couple Heavy Gear starters. Both these starters are ~800 TV (Threat Value, more or less point value you find in other games) worth of miniatures. The one exceptions seems to be the NuCoal Starter set which comes with a much higher TV army worth of minis. You also get a set of dice and a Heavy Gear Blitz tape measure, but the real kicker is the rules. If you get starter set, you get the rulebook associated with that faction when it was released. My PRDF came with the Locked and Loaded core rulebook, while my wife's Black Talon's came with the Return to Cat's Eye expansion book. On top of this, they both also came with the Field Manual book (a condensed version of the core book). Not at all a 'bad' haul for the price. I will admit, the Black Talon's seems a bit overpriced compared to the PRDF since they were the same exact prices, and yet I got more minis, and the Dark Naga in the BT set was plastic.

Of course there is some draw backs to the starter boxes, and the most obvious is the price point. When people think of starter boxes, they think of cheap boxes with enough minis to get you off the ground, the Privateer Press WarmaHordes is a great example. It's obvious that looking at the various 'Starter' boxes that this isn't the case, especially with the $115 price point for most of the boxes. however, greg from DP9 did make a comment on

The “starter” label is on the box because it includes the rules and army lists. If it was just an army box then we’d just put “Army Box.”
Maybe “Deluxe Army Box” would have been better. :(
In this case I can understand the price, but the name does throw off many who might be interested if the 'starter' force costs double what many normal starters cost.

The other thing about the start that may or may not be a negative for purchasers is that fact that out of the two starter boxes that I bought, only the Dark Naga was was in plastic/resin cast, all other minis were in metal. Of course if you love the feel of metal minis, then this is great, but those people who prefer plastic will be in for a shock at the weight of a force of mecha. For me personally, I was more taken back that the Heavy gear line has been around for many, many years, and yet still is mostly metal. Just find it odd there has been little motion forward when compared to GW, PP, or even Mantic in this regard.

On to the rules for Heavy Gear Blitz...

The rules in general are not very hard to understand, and even people new to the tabletop hobby should find it easy enough to get a grasp on everything going on. This does nothing to hinder the tactical options available to you on the field, as the game is set up very well to handle tabletops with tons of terrain and miniature interactions. Of course, as you might imagine, the more terrain you have on the table, the more brutal and closer ranged fights you can expect, as cover in Heavy Gear Blitz can greatly hamper your ranged effectiveness to close to nothing very fast.

Most turns are done in 60 degree increments, thus the need for the hex bases you see coming with most of the DP9 minis. However it isn't as simple as merely moving and turning. You can be walking, or using your secondary movement system, or even stationary. Each of those types of movement affects your abilities as well as your opponents ability to hit you. So a gear hauling along at max speed won't be able to turn as often and wouldn't be as accurate as one that's stationary and taking its aim, that fast moving gear also covers more ground and is much harder to hit. Obviously the size of gears affects just how fast/slow each can move and the bonuses attached to that.

I won't go into all the rules here, but I will say the Locked and Loaded rulebook was easy to read through and each to understand. The hardest part of the Heavy Gear blitz rules I found myself questioning was the actually force creation, as there is simply so many options available for most units, it is very each to drown yourself in un-required upgrades and weapon loadouts.

So, in general I would say Heavy Gear Blitz as a whole has gotten a ton better, the story has gotten amazingly deep, and the price point is actually really good when you compared the size of forces you'll actually use. On the flip side, the 'starter' boxes are great in terms of forces, but the price may be too much investment looking for their first dive into the Heavy Gear world. It could actually be cheaper to buy separately in some cases (such as the Black Talons) then it is to buy the boxes.
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