Weekday rants and reviews of videogames, comics, movies, skateboarding, art, urban vinyl and even playground basketball.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tabletop Gaming: Part 11

You've probably had your fill of swords and sorcery, am I right? You might even be jonesin' for a system built around giant robots or battles in space. Well then today is your lucky day! Today we look at robots, spaceships and the tabletop systems that bring them to life.

The grandaddy of robot miniature systems is Battletech, created by FASA. I had gotten heavy into the tabletop gaming culture around when Battletech first came out, over 20 years ago. The system was probably better known for stealing the designs of early Macross anime, something eventually settled out of court. The game was fun and easy to play and you can still find models and rules for the system under the "classic" label. Battletech was eventually replaced by the more popular MechWarrior series, now owned by WizKids.

If you are not a fan of the pre-painted Clix designs there is a more traditional system called Combat Assault Vehicles (CAV) by Reaper Miniatures. Cav has a similar look and feel to MechWarrior. Both systems allow other vehicles to join in the combat, including tanks and bombers. However fans of fast and light anime designs like 5 Star Stories or Macross might not like these games. Heavy mechs still dominate the miniatures scene, probably because they are easier to cast. The closest you'll come to a middleweight / Virtua-On / Gundam-scale robots are in a third system known as Heavy Gear by Dream Pod 9 (DP9). These designs are very fluid, each of the factions adds something unique to the table. DP9 also publishes miniatures that are very much in the vein of Gundman for their Jovian Chronicles RPG. The Jovian Chronicles are the space opera version of Heavy Gear.

As long as we are in space then it's time to finally introduce space-based miniature combat! Of course the most popular IP has a game, I would be talking about Star Wars Starship Battles by Wizards of the Coast.

The closest contemporary from a television series would be Babylon 5, A Call to Arms by Mongoose Publishing. Both systems feature pre-painted minis and designs from their respective universes. Unfortunately the Star Wars models are not to-scale and you will see small fighters near the same scale as a Star Destroyer. The Babylon 5 ships seem to be evenly scaled. I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't remind you that Games Workshop had a similar system years ago called Battlefleet Gothic set in their Warhammer 40,000 universe.

Small company Monday Knight Productions also has an outer space system called Galactic Knight for which they also sell miniatures. People interested in finding what other miniatures-based systems there are for outer space can check with Starship Combat News. Of course what good are the outer-space battles without some decent terrain and scenery? There is a producer for just about anything you would need. From mini asteroids and planets to terrain maps set in outer space. As with any other game I've shown you it's all about using your imagination and having some fun!

That wraps it up for today. Tomorrow I'll (finally) start talking about historical wargaming. Be sure to come back!

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