You know what’s crazy? We’ve never had a Transformers miniature game. We’ve had Robotech and Voltron, but no Transformers mini game. You would think that their design and easily defined “good vs. evil” ideas would translate right into a tabletop mini game. Well, it turns out they do but not officially. That’s where Bot War comes in. I like to call it 80's IPs: The Miniatures game.
Bot War is a tabletop miniature game where each player controls an army inspired by various shows from the 80's and do battle on a tabletop. It can be played with two or more players and is based around a variety of missions with objectives to complete. I only came across it last week after the upcoming Kickstarter for it showed up as a recommendation and I immediately fell in love with the miniatures. The line is full to the brim with tons of models inspired by popular characters from 80's shows like Transformers, GI Joe, and even some Dinoriders in there.
I fucking love Transformers. Loved the toys as a kid, some of my best friends are because of a mutual love of the toys growing up, and I’m able to enjoy Rescue Bots with my youngest, which is fun. So, how does Bot War stand out from regular Transformers?
The setting is kind of weird. I’m not gonna lie but it is a weird take on the “good robots vs. evil robots” concept. Everything takes place in an alternate 1980's Earth where the US is called “The Democracy,” the Soviet Union is called “The Red Star Nation,” and the Autobots and Decepticons are angels from space called the Valiants and Deceivers, or something? I think? I’ll try and explain.
So, check it. Bot War Earth was basically our Earth until Atlanticans (Atlanteans) invaded the surface world. As they are wont to do. While this is going on, The Democracy was secretly being run by a cabal or rich assholes who weren’t really concerned with actually winning the war. This leads to folks around the country fighting the Atlanticans themselves until a space prison crashes into the Earth. In this prison were a bunch of incorporeal space demon things who possess people to build them robot bodies, which they then hop in to. These are the Deceivers. Guarding the prison and servants of The One (God?) were the Valiants. I guess, like, robot angel Transformers. They quickly teamed up with Democracy citizens and drove off the Atlanticans while the corrupt leaders of the country were exposed and driven out. These assholes formed Snake Corp to take over the world or something. The Valiants shared some of their tech with The Democracy until relations soured a bit due to the Deceivers, but they still sometimes work together, and now The Democracy has some cool high tech toys. Snake Corp has their own connection to Deceivers, so they have cool toys too.
The miniatures all look to be well designed and nicely sculpted. I haven’t actually gotten my order yet, so I can’t truly speak of their quality just yet. Their sizes range from 8mm (infantry) to 120mm (combiners). Yes, they have combiners in the game.
The setting currently has a ton of factions, and I suspect more planned down the road.
Valiants (Autobots) - The average faction. Tough enough and good at range and close combat.
Deceivers (Decepticons) - The fancy faction. They’re good at speed and manipulating the abilities of their enemies. Kind of reminds me of my old Dark Eldar army.
Democracy (GI JOE with some MASK) - The ranged army. Able to move fast and far into enemy territory, they’re all shooting things with tanks and other vehicles.
Snake Corp (Cobra, duh) - Similar to Democracy, in that they are vehicle focused but they have a few bots they can use to mix things up. Their bots are basically the Combaticons, so fuck yeah.
Infestors (Insecticons) - The “undead” faction. Like the Insecticons, they can have cheap clones of their named characters flood the table.
Beastlords (Dinobots) - Short ranged but insanely tough. They seem to be all about getting up close and fucking your world.
Trashers (Junkions... OK) - Even less range than the Beastlords. Their description reminds me of the old slayers from Warhammer Fantasy.
Overlords (Quintessons... OK) - I don’t know too much about these guys, and they’re a not fully fleshed out army yet. It seems to be a bunch of tough asshole shark monsters supporting their single master.
Red Star Nation (Soviet Dinoriders) - Fuckin’ Soviet cyborgs and armed dinosaurs.
Atlanticans (Atlantis?). Not sure about which 80's IP the Atlanticans are based off of but they look cool. They seem to be the jack-of-all trades of the game. They can run a little bit of everything, but won’t be as good at it as other armies.
I was able to buy the PDF already and I really like what I see. It looks to be a combination of a resource management game and a typical skirmish tabletop mini game. Each round you get a certain number of points to spend on the various actions and special abilities of your army. Special abilities are usually only once per game but can sometimes be maintained with upkeep. Special abilities seem to be how the game simulates “transforming” for the Bots in the game, among other things. For example, there’s a special ability called “Ram” that most Valiants have that gives you a sudden burst of speed and a bonus to a close combat attack if you end your turn next to a target. That’s you transforming into a truck, car, whatever and running some poor dummy down. Easy peasy.
The rules don’t take up a whole lot of space and it feels like something I could easily teach my oldest how to play, which is a nice bonus. The rules also state that most games shouldn’t take more than an hour, which isn’t too bad. I could honestly see them going a bit faster once you really get into a groove with the game. I was pointing out on io9 how there’s a Kickstarter coming up for this soon on the 20th, and I’m pretty tempted to spend a little money on it. I’ve already ordered some minis from the store to see how they are in person, so I figure if they look good, I’ll go for it.
Also, here’s a nice unboxing video.