Wednesday, March 4, 2015

First impressions: Torn Armor

Having played a couple of "test games" just to get a feel for the rules, I cannot help comparing Torn Armor to Zombicide. Both games have good production values, and place themselves somewhere in between miniature games and board games, presumably to cater to a greater audience. They also use similar solutions:
  • area-based movement, thus avoiding measurement;
  • unit and equipment cards, for ease of setup and reference;
  • simplified action resolution mechanics;
  • maps or tiles for table setup, avoiding the need for crafting or buying terrain pieces.
While Zombicide is a scenario-based cooperative game (although Season 3 added the option to have competing teams of survivors) Torn Armor is a scenario-based competitive game. The rule book has a collection of scenarios meant to be played sequentially to form a small campaign. The provided set of maps allows for the creation of many more scenarios.

Force creation is point-based: players have an amount of gold that can be spent recruiting pre-made units and buying equipment and spells. There are three types of units, infantry, assault and heroes. Heroes may act alone or attach to infantry units. There are no rules for the creation or modification of units but I guess enterprising players might use the provided units as a reference when creating customized ones. The game comes with one unit card for each unit type, even when there are enough cardboard miniatures to make two units. Therefore, players may need to create additional cards to track their units.

From a mechanics standpoint, Torn Armor uses relatively simple systems, which in my opinion fit with the fantasy theme and the overall sense of this being a "light" wargame. Turns are played with alternating activations, and each activated unit may perform up to two actions. Attacks involve rolling a number of dice per figure. Dice are color-coded with different levels of efficiency -- for instance, white dice have one face showing a "hit" result, green dice have two "hit" faces and so on. The number and type of dice per figure will depend on the weapons of the attacking unit and the protection of the defender. Cover allows for "saving rolls" against hits. Some units require tracking wounds and ammunition.

I believe this game may be playable solo, although it will require some thought, based on the scenario, to define which units should be activated first, what actions should they prioritize and when to use limited equipment and spells. In any case, this has made me think again about miniature/board game "hybrids" that could be set up and played quickly solo.

To sum it up: Torn Armor feels like a "light" wargame and I hope I can use it to present miniature gaming for people used to board games. Those are my first impressions, and I might add more after I have played with friends.

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