I have to open this review with a bit of reflection. When Osprey publishing announced they were going to get into gaming (Warlord Games), I was skeptical. Osprey’s books are great, but it was a pretty significant leap to jump into gaming. Let’s face it, gamers are fickle. Then Warlord started to produce product and I was surprised (and delighted) at what I saw. Bolt Action was my first initiation and the game system was pretty good, on-par with Flames of War – and backed with miniatures to boot. In fact, Bolt Action rocks as a system. Some of their other products are good…not great, but they are now a force to be reckoned with. It makes you wonder if any other traditional publishers might go down this route.
Now then, onto Terminator Genisys. There’s always a risk when you tie your game product to film media that has not come out. What if the film bombs? As a game company, you have to hedge your bets and make sure it all comes down to solid game system.
Let’s be honest, the film version of the same name was not a stunning success. We’d all seen the earlier Terminator movies though and got some cool snippets of battle between man and the machines. Going after Skynet has a lot of appeal and while we really don’t have a lot of details about the war, it looked like something that would be fun to play. It seemed like a great universe to set a game in, despite the most recent lackluster film.
So, if you purchase this game, just think of it as Terminator and you’ll be just fine.
The game design was outsourced (apparently) to River Horse. You get a lot for your money.
- Full-color rulebook: 128 pages
- An exclusive metal Kyle Reese model
- 10 Terminator Endoskeletons
- 5 Terminator Crawlers – Machines with no legs
- 16 Resistance Soldiers – rocket launchers, guns, grenade launchers, all sorts of goodness.
- Quick Start rules
- A big bunch of card stock scenery and tokens
- A big double-sided gaming mat
- Rules reference sheet
- 13 color-coded dice and a “Fate” die
From a bulk standpoint – I think you get a lot for your money. However the real proof is what you can do with what is in your box.
I’ll start with the miniatures. They are plastic, some assembly required. The detail on the Terminator minis is pretty good. If you put them together right, they are even semi-articulated at the torso, which is sort of neat. I painted mine using my new airbrush and some quick touch-up with a brush for detail. The details on the Terminators is outstanding, almost to the point where you worry if they are fragile. So far, no breakage, so they are pretty durable. Total time to paint the machines was an hour and a half.
The humans took longer to paint. They came with a variety of weapons, flamethrowers, rifles, grenade launchers – you know, the usual stuff. I found it a little tricky to get the arms in place, and the poses are pretty limited, but the miniatures turned out pretty cool. Total time for painting these ran longer since there were more colors involved – total time was around two hours (and as you can see, I’m no miniatures painting expert – more like your typical gamer.)
I broke out the Quick Start rules – which is almost the entire set of Basic rules. Key to playing the game is your Stat-lines which covers Skill, Armor, Resolution, and Special attributes. Also each weapon has range, rate of fire, power, and special attributes. These are pretty basic concepts. The drawback…the Quick Start rules don’t have these Stat-lines in their scenarios or the rules. In other words, to play with the Quick Start rules you have to get into the big rules book. So my recommendation is – toss the Quick Start rules.
The rules book is pretty big and chock full of rules, art, and images from the film. The basic game is pretty easy to master. I really like where they give you tips for using the advance rules in the appropriate section of the basic rules. Great layout concept here. There’s some things I didn’t like. This is a game of blasters and bullets. If you hit a miniature, you can make it retreat, reel, but the only killing rules are a section called Hasta La Vista where you finish off injured (reeling) characters. This just seems, well, strange. I thought we’d have a lot more of a body count in my solo playtest, but what I got more of was troopers that fell back or froze in place. Terminators are, well, killing machines. (All hail Skynet!)
Now the advanced rules introduce vehicles, VTOLS, and other goodies. This is promising for the game, with hopes of additional minis and expanded play. Overall the rules are well written. The mechanics of the game are fairly simple, but with some nice twists. In the end, it’s still a move and shoot miniatures game (aren’t they all?) but there are some twists with the Fate Die that can have some unexpected outcomes in a longer fire fight.
One of the things I didn’t enjoy in the book was that a lot of it was dedicated to prep for the game. Pages 98 through 115 are all about painting miniatures and building terrain. It’s great stuff, but it should have been posted in a player forum or as YouTube videos. It seems like a waste of printed material to put it in the game itself.
There is a set of rules that allow you to send an operative back in time to alter a die roll, which is kind of neat. Likewise the other player can thwart your efforts by sending back one of their operatives.
If you’re going to play the game, I would recommend you play with both the basic and advanced rules. The advanced rules really give the game some depth that is lacking in the basic game.
So is Terminator Genisys worth picking up? Forgot the movie – the game is playable, though I recommend tweaking the Resolution Test Table to include “KIA” You get a lot of usable product with the game, with some nice cardboard barriers and some pretty solid miniatures. The double-sided map is a great add-on too. You get a good rubble map, and a base for the Terminators to infiltrate. There is some punch out terrain of ruined buildings you can add too, giving you some depth of play. It IS worth purchasing, if this is a gaming universe you have been waiting to play in.
Personally, I’m hoping someone runs a large scale game of this at GenCon. I think with the right miniature additions and a cool terrain board, you could really have something that is visually stunning.
Overall, I give this 3.5 stars out of five. If you’re a Terminator fanboy, pick it up. If you’re on the fence as to purchasing it, I’d wait and see if they produce some of the cool Hunter Killer minis and a greater variety of miniatures. If Warlords does this right, they have a long term IP on their hand and there’s a lot of fertile ground they can cover.