A review by
Firefly, Dark Matter, Killjoys and Star Trek. What do they all have in common? You and your crew are piloting a spaceship on an adventure. Every week is a new adventure while there is an overarching story running throughout the series. Space battles, Heroes, Villains, loss, Love and Friendship. Now welcome to the new kid on the block and in cardboard form at that. Ironclad. Take on missions and Take Sides. Your decision in one game affects the later decision making and of the overall campaign.
As this was a preview prototype copy components were not final. You will have modular space hex cluster which will be used in a variety of layouts for the campaign. Lots of chits, Hero cards, Intel tokens, upgrade modules. Dice, Ship cards Damage trackers and exhaustion tokens to name just a few. The artwork that is on show is beautiful and very thematic.
NB. All images are of prototype components and subject to change
Even though the rulebook was an early copy I was impressed at the clarity and ease of access. Where many games have a simple set up image and you need to work it out from there. Here we have not only a comprehensive set up guide but also a step by step tutorial to learn how to play. When I say step by step I mean it. The tutorial even had the die roll results needed for the information to be clear. Not only that, you have not one but two tutorials. The first gives you a basic understanding of the core rules. The second tutorial goes into more depth dealing with combat etc. It is titled “Mutiny” Also included are reference guides, Quick play guides, Intel guide sheets. In fact all the info you could need, nicely laid out. Yes there are some minor errors here and there but that is to be expected in a preview copy and will not be evident in the full release copy. There will also be a full campaign book as well containing progressive storylines. The decision you make in one mission will affect options and available actions in later missions. I only had access to the first 3 of these and they showed a huge amount of promise. This really does have the potential to create a boardgame that emulates the feel of the aforementioned sci-fi epics.
Enough of the excitement hows the play? You start by setting up the space map according to the current scenario. Each player is assigned System Orders for the weapons, bridge or hanger. Players set up the Ship Status board, Intel tokens and any other required information is placed onto the space map. Heroes are assigned to the various ship systems. In a two player game the extra system will be controlled by either or both players (it is a Co-Op after all). Your Ship miniature is placed onto the starting sector and your ready to go. The available actions each turn is based on the available heroes and crew morale. Your options each turn will be chosen from the following,
- Recon: Reveal an Intel token from an adjacent sector.
- Move: Move to an adjacent sector. You will then have to resolve the Intel token and also deal with any environmental actions depending on the sector (hint most are not good see below).
- Rest: Rest up to 2 heroes to remove exhaustion tokens.
- If you manage to add the correct upgrade modules you will also have access to.
- Heal: Heal wounded Heroes.
- Repair: Use Salvage to repair ship damage.
She canna’ take much more.
As you would expect being in a metal can in the violent vacuum of space can be a bit dangerous what with Solar Flares, Super Nova, Black Holes and Geomagnetic Storms to name just a few. Then you need to factor in the basic homicidal nature of just about every race of aliens. Space Combat and Space Pirates. If you manage to survive all this you might just dock at a friendly Spaceport to spend your hard earned credits.
Undertake missions for the Cartel or the Federation, side missions from the corporation. Decisions you make will gain or lose you reputation until you reach a point where you are forced to choose a side Who will you work and fight for?
All of this on its own is enough for me to recommend you seriously looking at Ironclad when it becomes available to buy. But if none of that has convinced you yet, There is more. Yes even more than a twelve part space opera with side missions and decisions causing long lasting consequences. Having looked at the various component options already included. Your story does not stop there. Just like the best Sci-fi series you can have a season 2. This with just individual missions you can make up yourself. Want to run some smuggling operation, Bounty Hunter or Gun for Hire? If you can think up a premise for a mission you can build it in Ironclad. The possibility for invention is very promising indeed.
Space exploration, Heroic actions, decisions that count, Continuing Story Arc, Campaign and potential for inventive play. All of this makes me say Look out for this and get ready to buy it. The only negative is that it is only for 3 players.
IRONCLAD successfully funded on Kickstarter November 2017. It should be available for pre-order soon
I was provided with a copy of IRONCLAD to preview as part of the BGE group. I have now passed this copy on to another reviewer in the group. This has no bearing on my review or my final thoughts on the game.