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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

MERCS: Recon - First Look

by Dirty Jon

Mercs: Recon is Megacon Games latest Kickstarter shipping out to supporters.  You all may know them as the guys behind Myth.  I just got in my base games, with all the stretch goals to come later.  In this article, I will take a look at the contents and talk a little about the game.  This is NOT a full review, as I have not played the game - this is just a quick look with first impressions.

So, the game is all about competing entities using special forces teams to accomplish certain objectives in a concise mission.  The players take on different roles on the mission - Leader, Heavy Weapons, etc.  - to cooperatively accomplish the objective(s).  Each of the teams has a different flavor and abilities, with appropriate miniatures provided.

The game takes place on a floor in an office building, with the players inserted among the regular employees and security forces.  The team must approach the mission carefully, as killing innocent employees will raise the threat level, resulting in a more dangerous response by the security forces.

The box art is fantastic and done in the same style as the Myth set.  I have to admit that most of my decision to support Myth and Recon came from the great looking graphics. We'll see if I regret this approach.  

The game comes with a bunch of counters for use in the game, along with some card decks and tiles to build the office floor.  The tiles are fairly small, so the arrangement combinations are pretty endless.  The game provides a frame to fit your office in and some fairly simple guidelines for building it.  There are example layouts on the web as well.

The included dice are custom and represent heavy, light and collateral damage by color.

The player cards are very nicely laid out and easy to read.  The game employs a command point (CP) mechanic to take actions with your character.  An interesting mechanic in the game is being able to combine CPs between two of more characters to do specific actions at a discount.  For instance, two characters could combine for a Move and Cover action at a discount and take those two actions at once.  It is a pretty neat feature and I look forward to using those combos in the game.

Also, there are basically two types of attacks - Sweeping and Focused.  One is basically a quick spray for low CP cost which can damage other targets and the building.  Focused attacks cost more, do not do collateral damage and put more hits on your target.  Like most things, this is summarized well on the player card.

The four decks represent Missions, Opposition Force (OpFor), Movement and Events.  These decks combine to give you everything you need to run the AI and the mission for the game.

The tile above represents a Breach and Clear.  This is a special action that you need at least 3 Mercs to do and may be necessary depending on the mission.  This is almost a little sub-game that can serve as the climax to a mission, but I do need to read up a little more on this.

The tiles are double-sided, have good artwork and are quite hefty.  The circles represent areas and be occupied by the players and the OpFor.  Each area has details on how much damage it can take, etc.  The circles also have orange and white sides that help with moving the OpFor.

Events tend to bring in more OpFor in response to your actions.  As time passes, areas are damaged and employees killed, the Security Level rises, meaning that the AI will be sending in more and better equipped Security Forces (SecFor) to deal with the players.  Each of the colored dots is moved on the board and the players do not know exactly what they are until they are seen.  This is a neat mechanic and is kind of like blips on radar - something is there, but you don't know what.  When revealed, the game tells you what to put down on the board.

The above is a mission card.  This mission is a sneaky one, as the 4 Collateral Damage Disc (CCD) limit seems quite low -- shoot the place up, lose the game.

Above, see employee and SecFor cards.  The employees can be interrogated to earn extra advantages for the players - it take some time, but is much better than killing them.

Simple movement cards are used to move the blips around.  Once revealed, the employees either cower or flee, while the SecFor engages.

The player cards look great and seem quite well organized.  The game also includes...

...reference sheets for each Corporation.  This will allow the players to quickly flip through and pick the Corp they like.

The rule book was a source of anxiety for me, as the Myth v1 rule book was a disaster - so bad, that I have not even tried the v2 game.  I am pleased to report that the MERCS: Recon one looks pretty straightforward and I have been able to understand pretty much everything so far.  The game does seem a bit complicated, but I think a play-through is required to actually comment intelligently on that.  So far, seems detailed but I understand everything I have read.

The rule book provides a lot of sidebars that show examples of the rules just explained in action.  This was very helpful to see exactly what to do with the rules just read.  Nice work here.

So, the storage leaves a bit to be desired.  There was basically a box with this in it.  I managed to store the stuff back in the box, but this is underwhelming.

The miniatures included - 2 Corps in each box - are pretty good, but not insanely great.  The plastic seems ok, but kind of slick.  I will paint these up and let you know how the paint holds.  There is an assembly guide in email that I think is making its way to the web site.

So, there you go!  A quick look, indeed!  In reading through the game, there is certainly enough to make me want to paint some stuff and get some guys together to try it out.  This was very much NOT the case with the last offering - Myth - so I am very, very hopeful.  The game looks fantastic and the game-play seems interesting and repeatable.

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