Games Gazette Logo

 

IRONCLADS is a 2-player tabletop miniatures battle game conceived by Robin Elliott and designed by Robin Elliott and David J Mortimer with Paul Wade-Williams adding material and ideas as required. It is not a revised game based on any of the Totem Games computer games or the Yaquinto board game. It is a new tabletop miniatures game where space ships are a combination of Science Fiction, Victoriana and Steam Punk.

I was introduced to IRONCLADS at UKGE 2017 as a great new idea in gaming;  the idea being that you buy the templates and then use them with a 3D printer to create your own models. To to get you started TRIPLE ACE GAMES have designed a LAUNCH PACK with FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling - FDM is a filament-based technology where a temperature-controlled head extrudes a thermoplastic material layer by layer onto a build platform. A support structure is created where needed and built in a water-soluble material.) 

 

The six Spaceship models in this pack are excellent and deserve to be painted accordingly, which is why mine currently remain grey. The detail is fine and I love the unique idea of adding modules, such as weapons and shields, to them by having mini magnets implanted in the ships and the modules; this means that at a later date you can change the ship's characteristics and dimensions - the additional modules are also FDM creations. The creators must have a great deal of fun ensuring that they had put the magnets in the right way round so that they attached to the main ships using the fact of magnets that opposite ends attract. The detail on the models is exceptional, though from what I have read about 3D laser printing it should be, but I'm not too keen on what is given to represent an asteroid - it looks like a half-eaten Cotton-Candy (aka Candyfloss) complete with the stick; it is ging to take super skill with a paintbrush to make it look even half-reasonable.

The Command Tokens, one set for Germans and one for the British, are chosen by each player to assist with their tactics - each token has usually three different actions on it's flip-side, sometimes more than one of the same type: Action, Barrage, Bombardment, Engage,  Fleet Command,  Full Steam, Manoeuvre and Repair. The Movement Tiles are Octagonal. In the set I have there is only one of those shown in the rules, the others are also octagonal but are of card (rather than plastic) and also different in design, plus they are double-side printed; it makes no difference to the game whichever Movement Tokens you have, as, being octagonal like the bases of the spacecraft, they can  be aligned to the ship base to show direction and distance of your next movement. NOTE: Each ship has its own Information Card with an ID number in the bottom right which indicates which ship is fitted to which base.

 

The ships are designed along the lines of the popular 'Steampunk in the Victorian Aether' genre, pitting the English against the Germans in inner-space skirmish battles (until you get into the 3D campaign scenarios available on Kickstarter and create larger battles). In the LAUNCH PACK there are sufficient rules to allow you to play out a couple of Missions or to simply fight Country v Country across the tabletop (or better still any dark, grey/black scenery you might have available), allvery simplistic but at least you'll get to learn the basics.

With the game come 5D6 which are used in accordance with ship, weapon and shield modifiers to damage (or prevent it) the opposition, damage markers are thoughtfully designed FDM models of Monkey Wrenches and Spanners, although to be honest both of those tools remind me more of Repair equipment than any form of damage. The components are as follows, some have been mentioned already; 3 English Ships and 3 German Ships each side having two Detroyers and one Fighter with cards representing each. 2 Reference cards - 1 for Objectives (Missions) and the other for Ship Identification. 3 German Torpedo Launchers and 2 Heavy Shields against 3 British Naval Guns and 2 Steel Nets. The other main piece of equipment as yet to be mentioned is the Range Ruler; this being an 8" length of laminated card with 4 x 2"clearly divided sections in Green (Close Up), Yellow (Short Range), Orange (Medium Range) and Red (Long Range).When you think you have moved into combat range you may declare that you want to fire at a specified target. Then and only then may you use the Range Ruler to see if you actually are in range for your weapons to reach the target. The Range Ruler must be placed with one thin edge against your ships Base (within the firing arc) and any other part of the Range Ruler touching the Base of the target ship. The colour of the Ruler where it touches the Base of the other ship determines the number of dice rolled: Red = 1 Die, Orange = 2 Dice, Yellow = 3 Dice and Green = 4 Dice. Combat rules are the standard dice roll mechanic where 4's and 5s equal a hit and 6s are Critical Hits. The Defender is allowed die rolls to deflect hits if their ship has shields.

 

There are 3 steps in each Round of Play: 1 Command the Fleet. 2. Activate the Fleet.  3. End of Round/Check for Victory. In the first step each player gets to select their Command Tokens and place them anywhere near their own ships or in the play area. Those placed close to their ships will be activated by those ships (or single ship dependent on placement) those placed in the play area are dependent on ships moving within close range of them for activation.

Most of the rules for this LAUNCH PACK follow standard skirmish combat mechanics, but what makes IRONCLADS stand out, apart from the super quality models, are the Command Tokens and the way the players use the actions on them. This Launch Pack is a fun set and a terrific introduction to both the full game which you can find more out about at: www.tripleacegames.com and to tabletop miniatures skirmish gaming in general.

The £40.00 spent for this Launch Pack is good value because what you are really buying is not just a collection of beautifully designed Ironclad style spaceships, and some accessories, you are buying the beginning to a new way of games playing. With new templates/blueprints available from either TripleAce Games or on Kickstarter as long as you have access to a 3D printer you will be able to build yourself the largest battle fleet you could possibly ever want. Okay so the game rules are fairly basic - there are, as I mentioned, some interesting complexities that extricate the game and the rules from the masses of  'roll a die, hit on a 4, 5 or 6' games.

The only drawback as I see it is that you need a 3D printer to get the most out of the IRONCLADS game, but as an alternative to other miniatures based tabletop games, IRONCLAD is great for all ages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015