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     " If simple is good then Mechwarrior: Dark Age is great. "

      Title: Mechwarrior: Dark Age by Wizkids

      Format: Collectable miniatures game

      Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo

      The Hype: Battletech is back. Though it's been a little while, tabletop gamers can again march 100-ton behemoths across the landscape and melt opposing forces with man-made lightening. It's a new re-launch from new owners, but those new owners are actually the creators of the original Battletech in their new company- Wizkids.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Playability: Wizkids has incorporated Mechwarrior into their landmark "Combat Dial" system (the same system as Heroclix and Mage Knight). Basically, rather than have paperwork for each unit, the figures stats and damage are all incorporated into a rotating dial on the base. The system itself is phenomenal- simple math, easy to use stats, and the coolest damage recording ever. It is, however, one of the most rudimentary of game sets and, for any of those like myself who played the old, highly detailed Battletech, will come as much the same shock as wet pooh to the face. You have almost no control over your offensive options, there is no mech customizability, and the high-strategy of advanced facing and complex movement-to-fire patterns are all but forgotten.
          Still, once you get past the deviation from the old school, it doesn't play half bad. As a matter of fact, considering how long Battletech used to take to play, I can definitely say it has some really strong merits. Games are blissfully short and uncomplicated, there is almost no paperwork or records involved, and there's no extensive calculating to find target numbers or heat. It also has a much shorter learning curve, which makes it much easier to involve non-wargamers and kids.
          So, all that being said, what do I really think of it? I think it's a fun system but one that can only fill a very specific notch in my gaming life. It's fun, it's relatively fast paced, but it's also incredibly antiseptic. When we play it here in the office (and believe me, we do), we go grab the tackle box the minis are kept in, bring it down, and just sort of randomly assemble the forces for the battle. There's no real need to pre-plan, no push to strategize, and no incentive to put together any kind of cohesive force. And while those negatives certainly can be positives when you're in the mood for a no-stakes game, it doesn't end up being satisfying enough for constant play. 3.75 out of 5

      Layout and Presentation: When you buy a Mechwarrior starter pack, you'll get a mech, some infantry, and a couple of tanks. Included with it is a brief (and boy, howdy, do I mean brief) overview of the Mechwarrior timeline, an instruction book, and a special abilities card- that tells you all the bonus things your units can do. That's both good and bad. The good is that it's everything you need to play presented in a nice, orderly fashion. The bad is that there is absolutely no "atmosphere" included with it. There's no real story (despite the inclusion of the background), no cool comics to get you in the mood, no good or evil impetus to get behind, no nothing. And while that's understandable for a set of rules, I always like it when my war games play more like movies than like chess. 3.75 out of 5

      Value vs. Cost: A typical starter includes rules; enough minis to play a decent battle, dice, and a measuring tape. While not awesome in its value, it does let you get playing for a mere 20 bananas. Add to that a $10 booster and a buddy willing to spend the same any you've got a nice game going for 60 bucks total. Compare that to a lot of the other miniatures games on the market and you won't be too sorry about the get for the give. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       If simple is good then Mechwarrior: Dark Age is great. If simple is only okay, then this game is fun but not essential.

      The Good: Easy to learn, fun to play, and fast on the field.

      The Bad: Lacks depth and strategy is kept to a minimum.

      The Overall Ugly: The word "fun" keeps coming up in this review for good reason…and some times "fun" is all you need.

      What it's Worth: Market

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