Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Review: Voltron Battle Miniatures Game

I never watched Voltron as a kid. I'm not sure how it managed to pass me by. It was only within the last five years or so that I went out and bought all the DVDs and sat and watched it all (well, some of it - there are a lot of episodes!). Not having that nostalgic connection, I not a huge fan, however I do enjoy the giant robot combiner on monster action and my kids love it. I've since bought the vintage Castle of Lions and the Mattel lions they put out a couple of years ago.

More recently I found out there was a Voltron miniatures game, which has proven to be a right ****** to get hold of for a reasonable price. The online reviews I looked at weren't that great, but I was undeterred and finally a nice chap in Germany listed one on ebay and I pounced.

The game is base on Monsterpocalypse, so if you've played that you'll know more or less what to expect. If, like me, you haven't encountered it before I'll quickly run over the premise.

It's a two player game, with one side taking control of Voltron and the good guys and the other Lotor and the baddies. Blow up both separated and combined forms of your enemies robot/monster and you win.

There, told you it'd be quick.

Since I currently have huge backlog of game miniatures that need painting up, I am eternally grateful that those in the game are pre-painted. There're not amazing paint jobs, but there're more than good enough for gaming pieces. On the base of each model are a number of symbols indicating the amount the model can move, its attack range etc.

The battle takes place on a gaming mat. In the centre is an area of space where the miniatures move about and then around the edge are places to store dice and summaries of the special abilities of the miniatures.

I'm far from being a fan of the mat. It's a piece of paper and, since it was folded to store in the box, when you open it up it doesn't lie perfectly flat and there are big creases running across it. This is going to sound like such a small and picky thing, but I was amazed at how much it took me out of the game being unable to play on a quality board, so much so that I'm thinking of making my own. I just didn't feel like I was part of the game flying my ships around this cheap bit of paper.

Just look at how things improve when I throw all the miniatures onto a nice space background...

The other annoying thing is that the models interact with various elements illustrated on the board, however when you stick a model on top it covers this up and this is easily forgotten about. It would have been better to have slightly larger squares for the miniatures to sit on than the miniature base size, thus you'd still be able to see/be reminded of what the model was parked on.

Attacking is based on dice rolls and I would heartily recommend (if not insist) buying a second set of dice so that both players have their own. Otherwise you have to mess about recording how many dice you have in which section at the end of your turn before handing all the dice over to your opponent for his turn. Thank you, previous owner of my game, for investing in the second set!

The game is relatively simple to play, far simpler than you might think upon first seeing the rule book. There's quite a lot of waffle in the instructions which, I suppose, ensures all the rules are clear, but does add a lot to the reading time. Each player's turn is quick to complete (as long as you have 2 sets of dice!) which meant that my 8 year old never got bored when I played him (though inevitably he got upset when I blew up his ships).

Despite mentioning my miniature backlog and the amount of games I've backed on Kickstarter in the past 6 months, I'm not really a big miniature gamer. I've had a copy of Warhammer sat unplayed since I was 12 because the rule book was so long. So keep this in mind when I say that, despite the reviews I read, I enjoyed playing the game. Simple rules and fast-paced turns which I like, the big let-down being the board you play on. I'd love something a bit larger, both in size of squares so that you can see what's beneath when there's a model in the space, and total number of squares to make for a bit more movement of the models before engaging in battle. And of course a map that was printed on something other than a piece of paper. I'd take card, but I'd love a vinyl one or similar!

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