Update: The Kickstarter campaign has been pushed back a little. Visit this link to see what’s up and how you can help.
The copy I received of Kaiju Conquest was a prototype version that I had to send back. What is it like to play Kaiju Conquest? Well, we’ll get to that, but there’s a lot to unpack before we do. First, the premise: humans are going about their day not worrying about a thing and have bits of military industrial complex spread around as the United Nations Reaction Force(UNRF) and then the pesky Sazzarran (Kaiju) start showing up wanting to kill everyone. You can play with 2 or 4 players. That is simple enough, but let’s take a look at what’s in the box!.
Whoa, buddy! Like I said, a lot to unpack. Literally and figuratively. Huzzah!
The UNRF has army, navy, air, marines and evac tokens. The Sazzarran side has land, air, sea, reaper, and drone tokens. Both sides also have bases and garrisons! What are you going to do with all of that? Well, first, make sure it’s all separated into baggies, clearly. Ha! Boardgame humor. But wait, there’s more. You also have Resource Cards and Command Cards and Target City Cards (optional) and portals! And don’t forget the dice!
Alright folks. I need you to grab your reference sheets (pictured above and below the game board in the previous photo) and hang on because we’re about to jump into the deep end. Well, not the really, really deep end, because I’m going to simplify things for the purposes of this review.
Set up. The UNRF puts pieces on the board first, but not any mechs-not yet. What? Yes, there are mechs! Each side has big guns, as it were; military forces that get their very own cardboard standees and accompanying cards with stats about strength and defense. The UNRF player grabs 16 resource cards (excluding mechs for now) and places those in at least eight territories along with base tokens and water base tokens. The Sazzarran will draw two target city cards while the UNRF is busy setting up. Once that is all done you are ready to play.
Gameplay consists of six phases: World Event Phase, Resource Phase, Movement Phase, Battle Phase, Re-Deployment Phase, and the Control Phase. I’m not going to go into detail about each phase; partially because it would be lengthy and partially because the names say it all. I will state that during the World Event Phase both players roll dice and then reference the, what else?, Reference Sheet and resolve the result. For the UNRF this can mean gaining or losing resources and for the Sazzarran it means gaining resources and maybe portals. Portals! Because how else are the Kaiju going to arrive to destroy your pathetic little human enclaves! Die, puny humans!!!!
Where was I? Ah, yes. So, now you have the basic outline of play, but there is so much more. Both players remove their forces from the main board to a battle board for the battle phase. The rules are simple enough: roll the right number or higher and you damage your opponent’s forces. There are some rules regarding levels. For example: a level 6 cannot attack a level 8. You get the idea. Once all battles are resolved you may redistribute your forces, whatever forces remain and then use the garrison tokens to claim territory. (Correction: a Command 6 unit could attack a Command 8 unit if it is alive long enough to make the attack when it is its turn.) (Additional correction: Some of the rules are still being finalized and should be ready for the Feb 2016 Kickstarter launch) These are important for victory points. Because, it’s all about victory points. Points for garrisons, points for bases, points for enemy units you destroyed. First player to 120 points wins
Back to the original question: What is it like to play Kaiju Conquest? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. There is a lot of good here. There is a lot here, period. The good: mechs, kaiju, portals, air, land, and sea forces. Dice! Battles! Then there are the things that are not bad. Not really. I’m just not sure they are necessary- like Garrison tokens and Evac tokens. And, while the battles are cool, they can drag on if you both get bad rolls or if you have a lot of UNRF and Sazzarran tokens, which can happen.
I still haven’t answered your question. Wait, my question. Not really. When playing Kaiju Conquest I felt like I was playing a niche war game that I was unaware of. I kept thinking “Wow! This is a style I have never played before” and I thought it was something that existed and I had never come across. But, others in my play group felt the same. Kaiju Conquest is not in production yet and the version I received is different from the version that exists as of the time of my typing this review. There are cosmetic changes that are currently being made and I feel they are for the better.
I want to like this game. I want to like it a lot. And I think I could with just a few minor tweaks. And I have been informed by the designer, Warren Loewen, that he is indeed making some of these changes. This makes me very excited to see how it turns out once it hits Kickstarter in February of 2016.
What would I like to see if/when Kaiju Conquest hits Kickstarter/production? I’d
like to see a stripped down version. Give me the air, land, sea, and mech forces. Give me the bases. But, then do give me all of that stuff I want pulled out in expansions! Let me get settled in and used to this world and this game and then hand me the Evac units.
Find Kaiju Conquest at these fine locations: