Friday 23 January 2015

Robotech RPG Tactics: Miniatures Review

For those surprised by my somewhat benign review of the Robotech RPG Tactics rules (verdict: unnecessary hitpoints but mostly fine), you may be asking - is it worth diving into this game?

My response:
Do you enjoy doing 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles?
Would you enjoy doing that same puzzle a dozen times in a row?
Do you enjoy doing Tamiya model kits without instructions?
Do you find having missing/poorly sized pieces a "fun challenge"?
Do you enjoy using tweezers? Were you a legend at playing "Operation?"
Do you like the texture of copious dried superglue encrusting your fingers?

If your answers to all of the above is "Yes!" then you will enjoy the Robotech RPG Tactics models.

Basically, the miniatures are all like mini 1:300 versions of 1:48 Revell kits rather than wargaming pieces.  It's like they have no idea who their target audience is:
Hobbyists - who enjoy assembling stuff are better off with large, detailed kits?
Wargamers - tend to view models as playing pieces, and don't want to spend 12 hours assembling?
Boardgame/RPGers - who tend to have even less patience for assembly than wargamers?

Basically, they've made a product that combines the worst of all worlds.  It's too tiny to be a good display model, and too hideously complicated for a gamer.

There is a ridiculous amount of parts for such tiny models - a Valkyrie battleroid (the same size as a 28mm mini) comes in 16 pieces.  Heck, I've seen 1:300 jet models that had similar detail - cast in ONE piece.

*The sprues are not numbered, and they really, really need to be
*Many fine details (antennae, guns) were damaged on the sprue due to their layout
*The instructions are vague and do not cover all layouts clearly; there's a lot missing
*Some weapons/arms must be assembled in a particular way (this is NOT explained)
*Most of the multi-part pieces are completely unecessary. They split things into 3 bits where one would do. It's a 1:48 model shrunk to a super-fiddly 1:300 scale
*It's obvious the parts were designed by computer software, by someone who has never played wargames (or even assembled a model)

These dozen miniatures took about 5 hours to assemble....  
I'm not a talented modeller, but reasonably experienced.  That said, I could probably work a bit faster with proper instructions

I calculate the models take ~20 minutes each to build (and I'm not very pedantic/particular) - which means I have another 10+ hours to simply assemble the rest of the starter set.  The fact each Veritech comes in 3 "modes" means you have to assemble 3 models for one playing piece simply compounds the issue.   The only upside to the models is they look about right to go with Battletech models from pictures I've seen around (I only have converted clix at the moment so I can't post a scale photo sorry).

The dice, unit cards, and counters (there isn't enough for the UEDF who need more than 10) are pretty mediocore quality so don't add a lot of value to the box. 

Although value wise, it isn't that bad.  My starter box cost $110.  If we subtract the quite decent rulebook ($30 is about usual) and the rather poorly made dice and cards ($10 is very charitable) - we are left with $70 for 34 models - about $2 each which is very good, actually.    Ignoring the rules and stuff makes the pieces worth $3 each which is still good, although expansion boxes seem priced much higher at 4 for $35 ($9 ea mini) which would make adding to your army a tad pricey.

Whilst the value in the starter box is quite solid, whoever designed the minis deserves to be locked in a cell, and forced to assemble them for the rest of his life.


  1. This seems to be vastly overcomplicated for little reason.

    1. This^.

      I just can't figure out what "audience" it was supposed to appeal to...

  2. You want to hear twisted? I bought some of these to use for another project ...your right they were a beast to assemble but, they did turn out good...)

    1. I have a feeling people might also get them to use for "Unseen" Battletech mechs.

  3. Yeah, I've heard a lot about this. Apparently it was not really (only?) the fault of Palladium but the licence holder who kept requesting more detail on the models - clearly not understanding that making modelers models and gamer models are two completely different things. Of course, this doesn't explain what you say about the weird design and bad layout. :(

    Glad to hear the actual rules seem decent enough though. I'm sorely tempted by this and will probably pick it up if I get some extra play money to spend. Then again I have the MERCS Recon kickstarter coming in April-ish and I think that might take all my painting time. Oh, and I need to get my Yu Jing remotes painted... and then there's Dropzone Commander that I've been wanting to get. But then I promised myself to paint enough 15mm to test No Stars in Sight (hi Ivan!)... argh...

    1. MERCs seemed interesting but never really took off. I notice quite a few online stores clearing out their stock - was tempted to grab some as the minis look nice.

      I think the competition with Infinity hurt it a lot.

    2. Absolutely! They were trying to edge in on a style that Corvus Belli had very well cornered - small scale skirmish with fairly detailed rules. I think the two main problems Mercs encountered was that, while their minis are good and also dynamic, they simply can't measure up to the sculpting and painting quality of Infinity. Also, the movement system using cards (which might be awesome for all I know) SEEMS very gimmicky. I haven't really read the actual rules so don't know much about them, but have generally heard positive stuff.

      I jumped, head first, into the kickster for the board game part alone. Having a kind of Syndicate the Board Game just seemed great to me, and the minis are good enough to own a bunch. Then, upping my pledge to include the MERCS (the skirmish game) rulebook and cards for that just seemed lika no-brainer.

      Although Infinity is my go-to skirmish game I think MERCS might be better for casual games with people who don't have the game themselves. Just tell them to pick out five minis they like the look of, pull out the 2' by 3' Zuzzy mat and you're good to go! :D

    3. A lot of mechanics seem gimmicky - I think most game designers want to make their game stand out with a cool mechanic.

      My "gimmicky" one is the "no measuring"rules - it always seems like the designer was making it based on a bet, rather than providing a specific gamestyle that could only be implemented through tape-less movement and firing.

  4. From my understanding it had to do with legal stuffs that they had to produce "models" not miniatures (which they don't have the licence for) thus had to go with a model manufacture and other restrictions to satisfy the legal end of things.

  5. For me the pleasure of assembling the models is part of the hobby. Still, I agree that these are not really wargaming models.

  6. Well the problem with the minis is legal, and dates back to the 91 lawsuit between FASA and HG.
    1. it was found that neither company had the rights to Macross mecha (they were owned by Studio Nue not HG Partner Tatsunoko Studios, and were also not owned by Twentieth Century Imports FASAs Partner.
    2. Tatsunoko Studios was found to have the rights to anything already in production and items derived for that directly (which give HG the right to make the game, but not to create the minis for it without Studio Nue permission.
    3 HG has the rights to Models that have been produces to this point and any veneration on said model, so HG took said models and scaled them down to mini size and here is the results.

  7. here is the writeup on the legal actions by both sides
    what will be the final out come is unknown as its still going on in both Japanese and american courts :)