There are so many Kickstarters these days that come and go, that it would be nearly impossible to write about them all. However, there are certain Kickstarters that catch my attention, and the newly launched Armored Core campaign is one of them. The reason this one caught my eye in particular is because it markets itself as an RTS game, a genre that, as far as I know, board games have not yet tapped into.
For the uninitiated, RTS games, or “real time strategy,” are a popular type of video game, where two or more players command forces against each other in real time, unhindered by turns, breaks, or time to sit down and think in general. There’s no pausing in these games, no time to tactically assess the battlefield, devise a cunning plan, and hit the “go” button when you’re ready. One of the most well-known RTS games is Starcraft, and old codgers like me will remember that before there was World of Warcraft, there was simply Warcraft, a brilliant RTS unto its own.
There are plenty more famous RTS video games that don’t have “craft” in their title though. And I’m sure that many of you reading this will recognize that Armored Core itself is one of them. Indeed, there have been plenty of Armored Core games released, and while I have not personally played any of them, I’ve heard only good things. And that brings up the second interesting part about this Kickstarter: it’s a licensed game based off an IP that has a pretty substantial following.
But enough about video games, let’s talk about the board game. Why is it so noteworthy that there is an RTS board game that’s coming out, and what on earth has caused such excitement as to reach $150k of funding in 24 hours? The answer is, in my opinion, simple: there’s never been a well-known RTS board game, and the mechanic could potentially lend itself well to board games if done right. There is all kinds of innovation in the world of board games these days, and I love seeing games that try to shake up traditional mechanics, such as the idea of having turns at all. I gave high praise to Galaxy Trucker for its simultaneous gameplay mechanic, and I think for many groups that have players that suffer from analysis paralysis, games that cut down on the downtime will be a welcome addition to their collection.
So I suppose the big question is this: can they pull it off? I have to agree I’m skeptical, as an RTS game done WELL could be incredibly innovative and fresh, but the problem is that it would just be so hard to DO it well. Fortunately, it seems like developer Bad Crow Games has addressed some of the difficulties. First of all, they are concerned about a game of this nature being overly complex. To this end, they’ve implemented a variety of mechanics to keep the game quick, engaging, and easy to set up and take down without being bogged down by needless complexity.
This officially licensed version of Armored Core™ has been designed to be fast to setup, fast to teach and fast to play. Featuring unique components like LED pointers built into each miniature’s base to provide instantaneous line of sight as well as physical buildings to provide cover and a rooftop level.
Between the 20 minute missions, players spend their hard-earned rewards on upgrading their mechs and equipment. Construct your mech according to your play-style and team role. Over the course of the campaign teams will strive to accomplish objectives for their faction in order to become the ultimate Ravens. Bad Crow Games
The biggest innovation is the LED laser pointers that are built into the bases of the miniatures that allow players to quickly and immediately establish line of sight. Many players who have played tactical games such as Descent or Imperial Assault know that “line of sight,” or the ability to know whether you’re legally able to attack your opponent from where your mini stands, can be a complicated, annoying thing to keep track of. Personally, I love the idea of being able to instantaneously judge your line of sight from a laser. I think that will go a long way in helping the game stay true to its console counterparts.
One concern I had about the laser mechanics were the price–sure, it’s a cool thing, but will it make the game overly expensive? Furthermore, would the high price deter people from funding the game, resulting in an overly ambitious, failed Kickstarter? Well, there’s a $150,000 worth of backers who don’t seem to have a problem with it. The game has already reached 200% funding of its already ambitious $75,000 goal. It is worth noting here that you’re likely to get the game cheaper if you back now. According to the developers:
“We are excited to bring this new game system to the public. This campaign has been designed to provide substantial benefits to the KS backers through dramatically lower costs, priority delivery and exclusive rewards. In addition this campaign will be used to improve the quality and content of the game at every turn.
Every non ‘Add-On’ stretch goal that gets unlocked during the campaign will be included in your pledge. Some of these will be exclusive to KickStarter backers as we feel the early investment should be rewarded with something special. These KS exclusives will be cosmetic however, in order to maintain game balance between retail and KS versions.”
This might be a turn-on or a turn-off depending on who you are, but it suffices to say that if this is a game that’s enticing to you, you’ll probably want to order now rather than later.
The last thing that catches my attention with this KS is the campaign style progression, customizable units/minis, and co-op expansion. I thought the mechanics were interesting enough to warrant an article about the game, but the game stands out as being extra ambitious due to a full campaign mode, as well as customizable miniatures that change the way the game is played depending on their upgrades and modifications. And finally, although it’s a paid expansion, the game also features a campaign mode, something that’s particularly enticing to me, who plays with a group that aren’t always gung-ho about conflict based gameplay.
Swap out your arm and weapon sets between mechs to better represent your load out. Remove arms when they are destroyed to represent damage. Legs in particular have a large impact on gameplay and so are represented physically with interchangeable models. Reverse jointed mechs for example, have bonuses to booster movement (and usually reduced armor) while mechs from the tank category can plow through buildings but cannot boost to the rooftop level.
These high quality miniatures have been designed by a team of sculptors led by Sergey Kolesnik and Galen Tingle using licensed source material and files from Armored Core V and Verdict Day. Bad Crow Games
Overall, I think Armored Core has a lot to offer. It’s one of those rare Kickstarter campaigns that sticks out to me and calls my attention. For better or for worse, they’re a dime a dozen these days, but Armored Core really stands out at the moment as something that’s truly ambitious. Only time will tell if the game lives up to its hype, but for the moment I’ll choose to be optimistic. Anyway, enough from me. If you want to read more about the game, I’ll let the campaign speak for itself.