STEAMWATCHERS Kickstarter Preview
Mythic Games is live and funded on Kickstarter with their new miniatures board game of epic proportions, Steamwatchers! A strategic “dudes on a map” type of game with a cool theme and deterministic combat.
The game comes with a video-game vibe, making it appealing for me right off the bat. I love the detail on the art and high quality miniatures, letting me crave for more. Let’s take a deeper look into the theme, gameplay and the Kickstarter campaign itself!
Steamwatchers takes place in a hostile environment, a new Ice Age due to centuries of global warming. You, as a clan leader, must protect your people and help them survive! Many clans have emerged though, with the same goal.
Immense columns of steam mysteriously appear, giving you the opportunity to operate geothermal farms. This ray of hope comes with deadly disease, the Bane, with no known cure. A high-risk, high-reward miracle of nature that becomes a necessity for maintaining a future.
Your goal as a clan is to have the most resources by the end of the given scenario(game). An alternate game end condition is reaching 10 resources at any point in the game. This will grand you victory prior to the final turn, sweet!
You will follow the steps below to start a game of Steamwatchers:
- Place the main board at the center of the table and choose a scenario card for this game. A scenario card depicts some special rules for the game along with its duration in rounds.
- You will choose, in order, your Clan and a Title to start the game. A Title grants you a specific benefit and depicts your turn order, so you have to choose wisely!
- Starting from the last player that got to choose a Clan, you will all be deployed on the map. Unit placement will take place along with each Clan board setup.
- Create the Archon and Steam Column decks and apply any necessary setup rules according to the chosen Scenario card.
If you work together, you will be ready to start the game in no time!
A Game Round
- Conclave Phase
Determine the turn order according to each player’s Title choice.
- Thaw Phase
Each player with the Watcher title will choose a Steam column card that spawns a steam to the specified area.
- Order Planning Phase
Simultaneously, you will all place an order token, face-down, on each area with at least one of your units. These will depict the type of order given, with the ones available being: Move, Defense, and Decoy.
Then, all orders are reveled!
- Resolving Orders Phase
In turn order, you either activate an order token or pass for that phase. This continues until all players pass. When you pass, you can no longer activate any order and choose a new Title (thus, turn order as well) for the next round.
- Whiteout Phase
A steam column can have multiple level, and during this phase all columns decrease by 1. Before a lvl1 column decreases to nothingness, you get to build a Farm there, if you control the area. Each Farm adds 1 Geothermal resource for you! Also, each steam column you control counts as a resource, one for each level.
This is where you will determine your current resource amount and refresh the play state to proceed to the next round.
You initiate combat as soon as your units enter an area with opposing units. You have two types of units, Soldiers and Elite Soldiers. During combat you follow the steps below:
1. Initial Strength
Each Soldier has a strength of 1, while Elite Soldiers have a strength of 2! The interesting aspect here is that each adjacent area with an Order token can support you in battle. Simply discard its Order token and your Army Strength of the area will be added to your total in battle, awesome! The attacker always takes these decisions first.
Apart from that, the Defender can have additional strength by using Turrets and Defense tokens. Each Turret adds 2 Strength and each token adds 1 Strength to the defender’s total. Turrets can be built by using a Defence token during one of your turns. These tokens are quite handy as they also add to your defence and also let you spawn new units.
2. Battle & Winning
This is the most interesting part of combat for me, where psychology comes into effect. Both players secretly bid any number of their available algofuel. This is a limited resource you have each round. The exact amount bid will be added as strength to your Army, by spending it.
The Army with the most total Strength wins the battle!
3. Combat Outcome
The loser kills a unit and has to retreat. Any of their tokens in the area are discarded and the Army has to flee if possible. Each area also has a maximum capacity of 5 units, and exceeding that number might lead to losing excessive units. All fleeing units become demoralized, which is as bad as it sounds!
The winner takes (or keeps) control of the area.
Battle is deterministic and that’s a big plus for anyone who doesn’t like dice-based combat. I personally like both ways as they offer quite different experiences. In this case, you will come across multiple difficult decisions during battle and the most important element will be good planning prior to battle.
The Game Ends either at the end of the last round or during a Whiteout Phase where at least one player has 10 resources. The leader with the most resources brings victory to his clan!
There are plenty more elements that I didn’t write about, like how Movement works on different terrain types, what benefit each Title offer, and more. These micro-mechanics make the game tick and bring strategy to a deeper level. It reminds me of games like Scythe, Kemet, Lords of Hellas, Cry Havoc, and more. Nevertheless, understanding the flow and goals of the game is the most important part for me, giving me a good idea of whether that’s a game for me or not.
The right mood to play the game
You must be in the mood for a 1+ hour game, where you will use your brain to prevail. There are a lot of things going on, and to prevail you have to pay attention. Play some epic post-apocalyptic music and you are ready to join the battle to survival. As most games of that genre, conflict is definitely there and you must be ready for that. Stay calm and enjoy the ride, and if this is your first game focus mainly on your clan instead of spying on your opponents. After a couple of plays you can definitely pay more attention to your opponents’ progress.
Who is this game for?
If you like strategy games with a lot of conflict this might be your next game choice. The theme, in case you like it (I love it!) will definitely add to the experience. Steamwatchers rewards careful planning and tactical decision. Thus, even though it has a straightforward flow, you will have to manage everything at your disposal very well to prevail. Another interesting aspect for those who like programming is the Order Tokens. As the order of activating them is exactly that. So, is this a game for you?
Mythic Games is already an experienced publisher and Kickstarter campaign creator. Their campaign reflects that, with an amazing animated video, beautiful graphics and an easy to follow structure.
The campaign offers 3 Expansions that add new mechanics to the game along with more content seen in the base box. A stitched neoprene mat is also available as an add-on, which is an awesome choice to have. Lastly, there is pack of KS Exclusive free gifts for backers, such as plastic inserts and miniatures.
More gifts and surprises are scheduled for this campaign, with only a few days to go! Make sure to check it out for more details and support it if it’s the right game for you!