The lights are on
Way back at PAX East this year, Airmech game director James Green hinted to me that an officially licensed tabletop version of the popular MOBA might be on its way. Tomorrow, a Kickstarter for Airmech miniatures will go live with a modest goal of $50,000 and a ruleset that evokes the spirit of the digital source material.Airmech Miniatures is being developed by Eric Reasoner and StuntKite Publishing, along with board game veterans Mike Elliott (Magic: The Gathering, Quarriors) and Ethan Pasternack (Arcane Legions, Star Trek: Fleet Captains). The systems in place are designed to mimic core elements of the digital MOBA. Carbon is providing Stuntkite with source files so the miniatures look just like the in-game versions, so your Striker, Neo, or Helix Airmech looks like the one you play online with.For those that haven't played Airmech, it's a MOBA that leans much closer to the genre's RTS routes. The player controls an aircraft that transforms into a robot. In vehicle mode, the player can shuttle infantry and vehicles around the battlefield. The robot form is used to fight ground forces.Players vie for control of centrally located outposts while defending their fortress. The first player to eliminate the enemy stronghold (or in the case of the tabletop game, reach an agreed upon experience threshhold) is the winner.The map design is smart, allowing for shorter distance ground troop movement and faster aerial conveyance without confusion. The design of companion cards representing the ground and aerial forms, Airmech upgrades, and pilot abilities appear easy to use thanks to a layering aesthetic (shown in the video below).
The system in place for carrying vehicles and infantry around the battlefield in aerial mode is a smart solution to a complex problem. When your mech card is flipped, it has space for four different units from your build queue that can be picked up from your fortress or friendly outpost. Acquiring one of these costs a movement point (representing the time it takes to sit at base and scoop up minions in the video game). It's a thematically correct solution.The sculpts look to be high quality (though they are still in grayscale, prototype form), and if you've played the video game, they'll look familiar. The base set (at the $100 backer tier) comes with two Airmechs (each with robot and vehicle models), sixteen soldiers, and an assortment of thirty-two vehicles in six different varieties.Two additional expansions will be available at launch for $40 each. One includes another Airmech, four soldiers, sixteen vehicles in five varieties, cards, dice, and more maps. Another includes a different Airmech, four "runner" infantry units, and twenty vehicles in five varieties. It also comes with dice, cards and maps.
Stuntkite is considering a longer arc of support, but Reasoner tells us that the decision hasn't been made yet. The company does have distributor relationships around the world, so if the Kickstarter does succeed, there's a chance you'll find Airmech Miniatures at your friendly local game store.
There have been a number of successful tabletop versions of video games, and Airmech Miniatures seems to have the thematic hooks to make a strong go of things. I'm eager to see how the game develops over the Kickstarter campaign. We'll update this story with the link when it goes live tomorrow. Should the community support the project, Stuntkite expects to deliver the game in July 2015.
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