Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kicktracker: Counterblast Adventure Battle Game!


     So, anyone who's seen my movie collection knows I have a thing for old, bad, b-rated movies.  Classic retro monster flicks and scifi (much to my girlfriend's dismay).  If you're a fan of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Rocketeers, and the like, then this is a great game for you.  But time is running out, you only have two days left to save the earth... erm, I mean, make a pledge.




     Counterblast is a unique setting taking place in an alternate Earth where aliens noticed the human testing of nuclear weapons and made contact.  Humanity then quickly took to the stars, becoming all at once a source of new defenders to the galaxy, and a new threat to other species.

    Counterblast is a 28mm skirmish pulp scifi game, where you field a crew of models from one of (currently) five factions:  The Galactic Defense Force, the Lancers (freebooters, rebels, or pirates as you see fit), the evil Edofleini, the Amazonianly impressive Neiran Empire, or the all-robotic Mekkus.  Each faction is well described on the Kickstarter and in its updates, so go there to take a look!

     Visually and contextually, Counterblast is well entrenched with the tropes of pulp-era scifi.  The models are "genre appropriate" straight down to available bubble helmets for spacesuits.  The Amazon Women of the Moon are 40mm bases and a savage militaristic-yet-sensually-diplomatic race. The Mekkus are driven to eliminate (dare we say... exterminate?) all non-robotic life, and incorporate living and machine into their constructs. This isn't a grimdark darkgrim future... this is a world of cliffhangers and rocketpacks and rayguns which will delight and inspire.

     From a rules perspective, Counterblast balances simple mechanics with the variety of actions and abilities you need to be able to keep small model count games interesting.  Gameplay isn't about "to the death!" all the time, but is more about succeeding in objectives that fit the tropes of the genre: stealing a McGubbins, rescuing a hostage, making repairs under duress, and all the exciting aspects of mid-century scifi.  Rules are also designed to allow a fully functional Campaign format, where models will gain gear and/or abilities as games progress.

     This isn't a mass combat game, where you'll want to field the Galactic Army against the encroaching tentacles of an Edofleini armada.  This is a game where every model you field will have a name, a personality, and a story trailing back over several games of heroic (or nefarious) deeds.


     It's fair to say Airlock Games is a new company without a proven track record, but it's more fair to say Airlock Games is the next evolution of Bombshell Miniatures (and perhaps not even it's final form!- sorry, couldn't resist the gag).  Bombshell has delivered a few smaller yet successful kickstarters to date, and never with long delays or missed delivery windows, so there's actually a good history there. 


     Airlock Games has access to the entire back catalog of Bombshell Miniatures.  So, while a great deal of the models for Counterblast are new and being released through the Kickstarter, there is also a sizeable catalog of existing pieces to base your order on.  Which is good, because I know a lot of people prefer not to buy off of concept art, but want to see finished models first- and you can.  Also, a large number of robots are playable as two of the three factions, meaning you can "powerbuild" forces using a lot of overlapping figures.  Additionally, most of the Bombshell line is available as discounted add-on packs during the kickstarter.  Not only will you save the shipping, but you'll get an up-to 20% reduction in the list price, which isn't a bad way to go!

     This Kickstarter is a little different in that I really can't find a "sweet spot" pledge that's the bee's knees.  The $1 pledge level allows you to by any add-ons you want, which is unusual and wonderful.  The $60 pledge is the first to allow freebies, but really I think you're better off going with the $95 pledge, and getting two factions instead of one.  I mean, you need something on the other side of the table, right? Probably the closest thing to a sweet spot is the $170 Ultonium pledge- choice of five $45 faction boxes and the rulebook, that's a nice savings, but since you only get one of the freebies with it, it's not a "lock solid' sweet spot either.  Let's keep in mind though that this isn't a big company trying to expand an already existing product line, this is a new launch- what Kickstarter is supposed to be about- and as such the freebies will be a little lower.  If you're unsure, I'd say drop in with the $95 pledge.  You get all the freebies, the rulebook, and two factions to play games with.  $95 isn't a bad "beginner's box" price for two forces, let alone one that comes with a whole rulebook. 

     With only about 2 days left, this one is guaranteed to fund, but needs some help to hit spectacular levels.  It's a stone's throw away from a $60 pledge (which is already a $10 savings off list) including $31 worth of add-ons, with two of those being Kickstarter Exclusive models.  Hit up the kickstarter, and rally your friends for some classic, high-flying cliffhanger action!

     I'll see you on the other side of the table.
     The Second Class Elitist.

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