Review – Earth Reborn from Z-Man Games
Designer – Christophe Boelinger
Art – Christophe Boelinger, David Goujar, Paul Mafayon, Thierry Masson, Jean-Charles Mourey, Antoine Racano
note – thanks to Boardgameclub for providing a copy of this game for review
Yep, another game with dice and miniatures hit the table. This one is a heavily SciFi themed beast called Earth Reborn from Z-Man Games. There are quite a few SciFi themed games out there and it can be tough to stand out. This is another set in the post-apocolyptic Earth (hence the name…) and is basically a miniatures skirmish game between 2 factions – NORAD and SALEMITES. The closest game in style that I have played is Space Hulk so that should give you an idea of the scale. Having said that, Earth Reborn is a very different game.
In the box you get a load, and I mean a LOAD of stuff. The first are the very special miniatures representing the NORAD and SALEMITE characters and a Mech Walker. They are simply excellent. Perhaps the very best sculpts I’ve ever come across in a board game and demand to be expertly painted. Then there are a ton of thick tiles of various shapes representing various rooms, halls and exterior ground by which you create the various battlegrounds from the included scenarios or generated by yourself. Lots of other cardboard pieces are provided representing various obstacles, markers, equipment, etc. There are also character cards with all the information needed to track health, movement, and lots of other capabilities using easily seen icons on what are very “busy” cards. There is a lot here and it may seem overwhelming but the rules are structured sequentially so that as you play through the scenarios, more complexity and components are introduced.
The rules and artwork are very well laid out with clear examples and lots of visuals which is a great aid to learning the game. Make no mistake, there is a very rich game. There is a lot to it. The background and scenario booklet is well thought through and gives you a lot of theme to sink your teeth into.
The set-up of the maps is quite onerous as well. The pieces don’t fit together like a puzzle so you need to carefully look at the maps in the scenario booklet and then hunt for the right bits. All VERY time consuming. Add to that all the other bits to organize and its a real chore. The storage insert in the box is key but you really need to organize well. Apparently there is video on youtube that shows you how.
Each scenario is clearly laid out and takes you through just enough learning to play. The turn sequence is pretty straight forward with three phases – Initiative, Activation and The Final phase.
In the Initiative Phase, order tiles are drawn 5 maximum, Command points (as indicated per scenario) are allocated to each player and the initiative is assigned by the scenario.
The Activation Phase is where you activate or reactivate a character and Orders are executed. Very small command chits are placed upon the appropriate icons on the Order tiles. The core engine is in the issuing of orders using tiles and this works well but I think its all quite fiddly. The Order icons should be larger for this system to work more effectively. Perhaps the character cards could have been much larger and the orders tracked on them for a cleaner process.
The Final Phase is pretty much for administration where you check against victory conditions, disengaging characters, readjusting order tiles.
Of course there are loads of rules for movement, close combat, Line of sight, Dueling for initiative and Dueling for interruption (where you can interrupt an enemy character’s action and if you win the duel, you can take an action immediately) equipment, shooting, special abilities, Missions and Morale, Spy/Searching and much, much more.
The programmed instruction approach helps you learn but I simply think there is such a vast amount of information and things to do, although interesting, make the game more difficult to play the deeper you go. This is a very complex game.
Did it work for me?
I have to say that although I think that Earth Reborn is fun at the fairly basic level, I am otherwise disappointed. It looks good and the miniatures are awesome but There is far too much to take in even with programmed instruction to take you through a learning curve. The theme is good if not terribly original, as post apocalyptic stuff including a couple of the obligatory zombies has been done relatively to death. Its a very ambitious game and perhaps too much of a good thing. The set up is difficult and too time consuming. The background, although interesting is no where as rich as the galaxies of the 40K universe. The mechanics are very bitty and when compared to the streamlined playability of the likes of Space Hulk there is just no comparison. Yes, there are more free form options here but for me, its all too much. This one is only for the very dedicated fans of this style of detailed tactical miniatures game who will stick with it. Shame that its not more accessible to a broader audience.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 5 out of 10
Not aimed at the family audience.
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