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Mechaton: Giant Fighty Robots» Forums » Reviews

Subject: My review after 2 "short" plays rss

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Fabio Calzolari
Italy
S.Lazzaro di Savena
Bologna
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I've bought this game 'cause i was courious about a "miniature" game using Lego for Figures and Terrains.

I've searching in the game forum and in the web, and i've found a good amount of entusiastic player, which proudly shows how their mechs are in various Lego related sites.
So, being the price 6$ only, i was convinced to try it.

The Premise
If you're a "rule-lawyer", or someone that wants ALL aspect of a game to be well ruled and explained, then forgot this game and look for somewhat else.
Mechaton works fast and easy 'cause it trusts in the player's common-sense and forgiveness.
To explain better: there's a rule which says that if you damage a Cover (a ruin in the battlefield, a wall, whatever) instead of your target, then you have to detach 3 lego bricks from that cover and lay them down as single pieces. End of the Rule.
Now, if you think at this rule, it means that you have to tamper wth the battlefield, picking a piece of terrain, dismounting it, and replacing it where it was. If you're picky about how much millimeters a thing is related to another, you start to burn from here.
How to lay down the dismounted bricks is not stated, as not is what bricks have to be dismounted. So, if you don't agre with a player that places the destroyed bricks just on your feets, 'cause it seems [cool][logical][funny] (use one or all of these words) you'll end to play Mechaton very soon.
If you don't stick with the rulebook Mech chassis design, and go to build your own (which is way more fun) you may discover that the minimum attack range (Hand to Hand range) can be smaller that the size of your mech. If you're picky again, this means that you can't ever throw a kick with your Mech, if you don't change the unit of measure you're using.

Mechaton works like a charm if you play just for fun. Is fast, easy and very funny. Blowing up the whole game map to have a better route or to remove the cover of your hated enemy is simply wonderful. But all players must agree with some degree of aproximation.

If you (or your player group) thinks that this means "bad-written rules", then go away from Mechaton.
Else you'll found in Mechaton a lot of fun.

The Game
Mechaton works, more or less, like a sort of Capture the Flag. Your objective is to seize the enemy Stations to make Victory Point, and to blow up the enemy's Mechs, to drop their Victory Points.
Being the game only a PDF of rules, I can't dig in the rules too much, or i'll become a pirate, but i can tell you what makes Mechaton very unique.

The Mechs:
You can build your Lego Mech and says. "Look at these wings: they allow my Mech to fly and go faster than normal. This protruded thing is a Mortar, and being my Mech so tall it have also a great Armor."
The rules allow you to convert these things in game mechanics that works very well.

The Armies:
You can have an army made by 5 of the powerfull mechs you can imagine, and play against someone which have just 2 pieces of scrap metal.... the rules have a point system that allow to balance the game, by telling you how much Victory points you have at the start of the game.
I have to try deeper this system, but in the two games i've played it worked very well.

The Turns:
A match ends in max 11 turns. But players can choose to accelerate it.
So, part of your strategy is trying to see "when" you'll have more Victory Points than the other players and try to make the game ends in that turn without making it ends too early.

These three points are the best thing you'll find in MECHATON. Some big company should learn from this guy how to make a game balanced and funny.

Dice (luck) plays an important role in the game, but you can flat a bit the luck factor 'cause you're usually able to throw more dice and choose what result fit for your purposes.
But if you throw 5 dice and the best result is 3, your turn and your planned strategy can be screwed up.

--

I've played Mechaton with my 9 years old son. He's used to play boardgames, so he managed to play Mechaton really soon, even if it is not the simplest game we have (Heroscape rules are easier, imho). He also managed to win the second match.
This to say that Mechaton is not a pain like some other games where you have to use a ruler and you don't have a grid (beside, Mechaton can be played also on a hex grid without changing a single rule!)

No Cons?
Yes, some.
You'll need a WHOLE LOT of d6 to play it. No, the tons of dice you already have in all your game boxes in the shelf will not help you so much. Even if you like to separate the dice for their boxes, the dice needs to be coloured, as each different color make pairs with each kind of action your mech will perform (and you have to throw the dice before doing the actions, so you'll use the dice as "markers" of what you will do). As in my city you can't find good stock of d6, you'll have to buy spares of them for 1 euro each. This can hurts a bit my pocket.

You'll need also a lot of that tiny Lego pieces, 'cause the Mechs will be not so big (well, if you have a whole garden to play in, you can build the Mechs at any scale you want, but then you'll need a loooong ruler ) I'm plenty of big ol' 4x2 bricks which, if you want that your Lego mechs look like Mechs, have no use at all. At least you can use that big bricks to build the ruins in the battlefield.
But buying Lego to build your Mechs can be expensive, even if you buy only the desired pieces from some online service.

Last cons: the rulebook itself. I've bought some thing at RPGNOW, which is a site dedicated to game and game modules in PDF format. They're usually plenty of art and illustration, at various level of quality.
The Mechaton PDF is a plain B&W book. No illustration, no art, no page packground, nothing. The only images you'll get are the explanations about how to build some Mechs... and they're hand drawn! Not realy techy, for a Sci-fi game.
The PDF itself have a strange layout and page size: two columns on a sort of landscape A5 that makes printing a booklet a real mess (if you want a sort of booklet and not a bunch of paper tied by a clip).
Now, sure the PDF is printer friendly. But some art just to add some "flavour" to the game, paired with a revision of some statement will not hurt for sure.


Anyway,i've paid 6$ for a set of rules about fighting Mechs, and that's what i've got; a damn hot fighting game that i want to play more and more.
And don't go to steal the Lego of your kids until you'll agree to play Mechaton with them!
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John W
United States
Sacramento
California
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The first thing that popped up in my head when hearing the boardgame name "Mechaton" is this song:


Just mis-hear it as Mechaton, and you've got a nice soundtrack to the game. thumbsup

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