PLAYING ZEPHYR WORKSHOP’S A.E.G.I.S.
A.E.G.I.S, coming soon from Greenbriar Games! Not just an annoying as heck name to type, also a great game that was fun times when we got to play it recently at the co-working space Zephyr Workshop calls home.
So we’ve always been huge fans of tactical strategy games, on account of basically having thought we were secret geniuses since we were little kids. There’s something immensely satisfying about thinking about how you’re going to trick another person or best a computer and then seeing everything play out according to your plan. And since Chess seemed wicked boring every time we tried to play it we gravitated toward things that included magical powers or giant robots or huge wars.
The thing is, tactics games that aren’t on the computer tend to cost enormous amounts of money, require ridiculous amounts of time, and generally are closed off to all but the most invested players. And we’re fans of lots of games, which means that getting intensely into a single game kind of cuts into our desire to play literally everything. A.E.G.I.S. is a refreshing change from what we’re used to in tabletop tactics.
Without dumbing down the gameplay, A.E.G.I.S. provides a simple to pick up battle system that’s fast to play through. Our first game with it took about 30-40 minutes start to finish, including pauses for explanations of the rules.
The basic hook is this: it’s a strategy game where your team is Voltron or a bunch of Zords, depending on when you grew up. Or well, Definitely-Not-Voltron-or-a-Megazord-So-Don’t-Sue-Please we suppose. Each little robot on your team has a store of energy that it contributes to the entire team, as well as individual health points, attacks, and special abilities. In order to move or attack with your robots you spend energy, 1 for one to move and varying amounts for each attack. In general, you can basically only move or attack with a limited number of your team in a single turn. If your energy drops low enough, you’re out of the game.
Each class of robot is a pretty simple archetype, good at one basic concept with a little variation between each individual bot. G or guard type are tough little buggers with a bunch of health but no reliable attacks and plodding movement speed. E or evasive type are quick as heck and can usually fly over obstacles but are vulnerable and can be hit hard by anything with anti-air. Each class is useful for certain tasks, but comes with significant drawbacks.
But because you’re Voltons/Zords, at any time, you can combine two or more robots into a single bigger robot. The big robots usually have significantly more useful abilities, stronger attacks, fewer weaknesses, and can usually do something special the same turn you create them. The thing is, they contribute less energy to the team and have lower health total than the individual robots that combined to create them. Which means suddenly you’ve got a lot less room to maneuver when it comes to spending energy and getting hurt, so all your attacks had better count.
There’s a pleasant tension between the adaptability afforded to you when you’re fielding a full team of robots and the extra firepower provided by a super-bot. In particular the “on-combination” moves for certain combined bots give you a reason to plan your play a few moves ahead. If you can get a couple potshots off with these 3 robots this turn, then when they combine next turn their special ability will let them hit everyone at once and take out a bunch of bots at the same time!
We also got to see a fun effect of the various “push/pull” abilities that bots have, when during our game creator Breeze Grigas tried out a strategy of having one of his robots toss another into the middle of the map before having it zip back to the safety of the starting positions. It almost got us, but we were able to force a confrontation near a corner of some Line of Sight blocking mountains that allowed us to combine several bots, use the free activation ability to zip forward and attack, and then zip back behind the lines with our spare energy. And the best part was that it involved one of the robots damaged by his clever little opening gambit, so we got to negate that damage at the same time as zapping one of his bots! After that it was all downhill for him, probably mostly because he was taking it easy on us. Still, we felt like geniuses, which is the point of this sort of game.
We are excited as heck for this to get a wide release, and we look forward to a tactics game that doesn’t take hundreds of dollars and three spare hours to play. If you think this sounds fun too, why not take a look at the free print-and-play version?
FULL DISCLOSURE: Breeze took us out for a nice lunch, which may have powerfully influenced our opinion of this game in manners inconceivable to us.
Published by The Valley Nerd Watch on March 16th, 2016