Released on Good Friday by our friends Project Good you’ll be forgiven for thinking that Tiny Robots, Big Explosions is based on a somewhat silly premise. But beneath the humorous trappings lurks something really quite clever…
The very small remote control robots that we control in the game wage war on distant planets for an incredibly powerful new mineral Tyridium. Coporations and governments will stop at literally nothing to get their hands on it, unleashing possibly the most destructive force known to man, the TRS. These Tiny Robot Systems are equipped with armaments that not only destroy the enemy but also quite a lot of the battlefields they fight across!
Anyone who has played Good: the Battle (which you can win at Salute) will realise that Ryan and co struggle to take games really seriously but that they really enjoy games and want you to as well. TiRoBEx is a more serious game in a way but still littered with the touches of humour that are I feel are Project Good hallmarks. It would be easy to dismiss this game though as another ‘beer and pretzels’ game for the end of the evening but that would I feel be incorrect. Instead I would recommend setting aside an evening and doing some linked games using various combinations/forces of TRSs.
Here’s why; the game focusses on a pretty simple set of rules. Essentially it’s part bluff, part sensible manoeuvring, part blowing everything up. At the start of each turn all Tiny Robots generate power that is secretly divided by it’s controller, this affects how far you move and shoot, how accurate your weapons are and how many attacks you can make. You also can bring up shields to protect your machine from damage and charge up your ‘Area Impact’ weapons in order to truly flatten everything! The fact that this is done in secret and that the points are not revealed until after you’ve moved can make a gamble pay off or a safe play be a waste of points. Do you risk putting less points into range to roll more attacks hoping that your enemy closes the range or charge up those big guns and run and hide?
The game mechanics are simple enough to grasp immediately but there are some flutes and whistles that need some time to really understand how to get best use from though. The Area Impact phase for example was a real stumper for me to start with because I’m quite aggressive and like to be directly attacking where possible but it’s fairly subtle. Not only does it land an enormous blast template on the field but it also removes any scenic elements it lands on and remains in play steadily shrinking whilst providing cover. It means that barrage attacks can mask your hasty retreat, knock out your opponents hiding places and create problematic routes for your enemy to move through as they don’t just stay in play they remain active and burning whilst they do!
The rulebook is well thought out with good examples and clearly explained rules. Eight pre-defined TRSs await you within from four factions all with varying special rules and a unique flavour. Panjapchi Mega Corp control the Akushitsuna Saru a fast flying machine with loads of attacks and the Sensaina Hana, the only truly close-combat robot. Interestingly it has a skill that allows it to tar-pit enemy robots so combos very nicely with robots that focus on barrage tactics! The Imperial French Republic own the Magie-Cousteau a tough little machine capable of enormous blasts destroying much of the country side and T-Linking with it’s friend the Guetta-Bardo V the best sniper TRS available. The Central African Alliance have two good little mid-range machines, the 5pr1ng80k and the Du5ty W4rtho9 which have interesting abilities particularly the warthog which steals power from nearby machines, allowing it to be overcharged! That leaves the Russian Federation who unsurprisingly make tough machines designed to wear down the enemy and flatten everything in sight. The Stalin-Gagarin and Bolshoy Ushanka are the toughest and slowest machines but pack big punches!
Ryan did say that you can play with multiple machines from various forces and I can’t see any overly broken things you can do with combinations of machines but I quite like the idea of having a force from one particular corporation. Something to bear in mind is that you probably don’t want to go for too many Tiny Robots per side because it’ll bog the game down. Perhaps four per player should be the cap at least until you get used to it!
Now if I had to say there were a couple of downsides I would choose the blast markers themselves which I found to be fiddly. I think I’d probably recommend making more permanent hoops to place around the field and the lack of a reason to keep playing it’s great but the lack of investment (£3 for the book and £1.20 for a whole force) makes it feel a bit throw away? Perhaps some form of campaign or additional units might make all the difference here? Also whilst I enjoy the principle of a 6mm Robot on a 40mm base I think a 10mm or 15mm machine might actually look smarter plus you can lavish some more attention on the figures?
All told this will probably be well worth the £5 to £10 you spend on downloading it and grabbing some figures. I’m certain that you’ll enjoy the game and whilst I have concerns on replay ability I’m sure there will be more to come to expand the game. I know I’ll be painting some figures up in the near future to get a few games in and I recommend you do too! -Mark
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