IRON SKY is a combat based boardgame from REVISION GAMES. It is designed by Juha Salmijärvi. There are 24 pages of full colour, well illustrated rules in English (+24 in German) Player Age is 12+
IRON SKY is (very loosely) based on the comedy drama movie set in 2018. The two protagonist forces are the Fourth Reich and the UWC (United World Confederacy). Both sides are vying for Victory Points, the winner being the side with the most VPs when the game ends.
The game is meant for 2 - 6 players which would be two sides of three facing each other over three separate territories that are part of a complete battle arena - they don't actually butt-up to each other to form a whole map but you can travel from one to the other. Pieces that do transcend across the maps are then under the command and control of the player which that map portion is in front of. Unfortunately in the sealed copy I received there were only two map boards instead of three, thus we could only play and review this from a four player perspective.
The Combat boards is where the action takes place. Players move their units along the lines connecting the seven territories on the board where they try to take control by defeating any opposing forces already there. If there is no opposition the units are moved to the left side (the territories are split into two) where they now form the defence. An army marker is placed in the central spot to show ownership. When the opponent moves along the lines to this territory from their side of the board they will be entering the space where the controlling unit(s) are positioned.
Each player has their own deck of Command cards. The UWC cards may have a cost in $ or Political Points to use whereas the 4th Reich player pays with Command Points. The central area of the Command cards show what its action or ability is. Sometimes there is a diagonal line through this area showing an action either side of the line. These cards offer the choice of
which action the player takes.
Combat occurs whenever an opposing force takes a path that leads to an occupied territory. Combat is conducted by the playing of cards. Each player selects a card secretly and both are revealed att he same time. The cards are positioned end to end so that the Red and Green blocks butt against each other. Red blocks are Hits and Green are Defence. If a Red block
butts against an empty block then the Hit kills one of the opposition units. If it butts against a Green Block then it misses. Combat then ceases. If one side has eliminated the other that side controls the Territory. If both sides still have units there the attackers are placed into the left side of the box to show that ownership of the territory is disputed and now in doubt.
By controlling Territories you gain resources which you use to make forward progress in your quest for victory. IRON SKY has a gazillion tokens for all manner of actions. I could spend 100's of words explaining and describing each of these fully but that would be more of a summary of pieces than a review/summary of the game. Therefore they're for you to discover if you play/buy the game.
One of the good things that I really appreciate about IRON SKY is that the sides are relatively balanced yet they are not exactly the same (with different Unit names, as some combat games are) nor do the two forces begin with the same components. After combat the UWC units that were destroyed are returned to the Unit Pool, whereas the 4th Reich casualties are taken by the UWC player who gains a bonus resource for every three 4th Reich units captured as Trophies. At the game end each stack of 3 Trophy 4th Reich units are worth one VP.
On each combat board there is a Blitz-Meter which has two tokens placed on it - one is a small square and the other is X shaped. To begin with the square fits into the V part of one side of the X but as the game progresses so the pieces move independently. The square pieces has an arrow which points to the Red side of the meter, the X has an arrow pointing to the Blue side. The number these arrows point to are the resources available to the players; Red (Command points) for the Reich and Blue (Money & Political) for the UWC. During the game these tokens are moved up and down the scale changing the amount of resource points for each side according to just taken actions and their results. This is a very neat and unique idea which although a trifle fiddly works very well in the context of the game.
There are several scoring possibilities that build up during the game and are finalised at the game end. Victory Points are noted on each Territory - the controlling force gains those VPs. The Blitz-Meter scores VPs for both sides, for the UWC it is for Occupation and for 4th Reich it is for Destruction. Trophies are scored by the UWC as previously described. VPs are also gained from Secret Operations - an optional rule that is of value including in the game - the requirements for a Secret Operation are shown on the bottom of the S.O. cards.
Players units come in from the edge of the board closest to their controlling player. Once placed these units can move sideways, even onto the next board if there are 4 (or 6) players involved, at a MP cost, to get to the correct lane to move along towards a territory.
There are few Optional Rules, such as Secret Operations and Black Ops. From our times of playing we have added these in for each game and found that together they make what is already a very fine combat game a much better overall experience.
The rules booklet does look daunting to begin with, but I have to say that this is the best English rules translation, as far as being able to read and understand the rules, I have yet seen of a Finnish production. Every card is described in detail, along with a superb glossary of terms to ensure the fluency of play. Throughout the game you will rely on your ability to recognise identification symbols. These are to be found on cards and tokens. On page 23 of the rules there is a description of each symbol alongside the rules book page associated with it's use in the game.
IRON SKY has a fairly simple mechanic that runs the entire game, but it has many and varied bolt-ons in the way of resource management and tactics. Played once it's satisfactory, played the second time it's like it is a totally new game. The more you play the different your tactics
and strategies become. I won't say that no two games are similar because there are always similarities, but for the first half-dozen or so games you play you will always be searching for a new strategy, much the same as Chess is always the same but may also always be different.
Having recently watched the IRON SKY movie I cannot say that the occurrences in the game are exactly matched to occasions in the film, but there are definitely likenesses in the names, artwork and illustrations reminiscent of the movie.
Overall this is an enjoyable and extremely playable (and replayable) tabletop strategy and tactics experience. It is very well produced (if not quality controlled) with components in it for the long haul. There are no dice but there is still a luck factor; this is in the choosing of the combat cards. There is an element of bluff about which card to select and it may be worth taking a hit playing a low value attack in the hope that your opponent selects their best defence card - then the next time you attack you may perhaps have an advantage. We haven't played a duff game yet every one has been a tight, tense challenge.
Blurb from www.revision-games.com
Iron Sky the Board Game
From a secret base built in the Antarctic, the Reich spaceships were launched in late '45 to establish the military base Schwarze Sonne on the dark side of the Moon. This base was constructed in order to build a powerful invasion fleet and return to take over Earth once the time was right. In 2018 they come back with a vengeance! Get ready, for the Fourth Reich is about to land on your table! Attacking from the orbit, the armies of the Reich attempt to seize as many Territories as possible before the game ends, while the United World Confederacy, UWC, tries to fend off the surprise assailants. Players try to do their best for the team. Every player is responsible for a single continent, in which his or her armies operate. Helping a second Commander is, however, necessary at times.
Middleweight strategy ・Game length 90-120min ・ Simple game mechanics with focus on the player's decisions and team work ・ Innovative game play eliminates downtime・ Includes Optional Rules to enhance the replay value and to satisfy experienced gamers.