System Selection: Heavy Gear

Thursday, 30. December 2010

Heavy Gear, 2E

Moving along to one of my more perennial favorites, Heavy Gear. It’s always good to be able to stomp around in mid sized gasoline powered mechs in the desert. The setting is pretty harsh, and there are a lot of ways to die if you take it as a role playing game rather than a pure tactical simulation. The system has a inherent simplicity within it, so it makes picking it up or running a game very easy. You can quickly focus on game play and the storyline elements, or run complicated tactical scenarios because of this without an entire manual of character sheets. It likewise plays very quickly, so everyone can get in on the action.

General Setting: Terra Nova, a desert planet in the future a couple jumps away from Earth. Left abandoned during hard times the colony survived and flourished. When Earth returned to reassert its control, the people of Terra Nova fought off the invasion using gears, smaller gasoline powered mechs. There is plenty of other vehicles, but the gears are what makes the system what it is.

Detail Focus: Tactical combat simulation over a hex grid system. The game has everything setup to be able to play as a proper role playing game, but no specific requirement to do as such. It can be played just as easily as a shoot em up. The role playing rules for creating a character are relatively simple, building the characters stats section and associated skills. The rest you’ll have to come up with on your own if you want background, looks, etc.

System Difficulty: Simple (4 of 10.) The game uses the same resolution mechanic for everything, and contested rolls against most combat checks. Most of the complexity comes from the modifiers for movement and cover, but they are still relatively simple on some small, condensed tables.

Kid Suitability: Pretty suitable. There is the issue of the violence inherent within the system if you play it as a tactical game but nothing is required to be particularly dark or sinister to make the game what it is.

Cost: $35 for a particularly solid core rulebook. You can do basically everything here, but the setting is rich enough to make it well worth picking up supplementary rules.

Other Notes:Very strong selection of miniatures, and several “versions” of the game as well beyond just the RPG portion of it. DP9 really has a gem here, and it stuck around popularity wise long enough to get 2 video games out, then sort of vanished. I’d be curious if anyone has some good reasoning as to why that happened because it looked like a contender. Steve Jackson games are apparently going to be publishing the 4th edition of it, so it’ll be interesting to see how much they muck around with the system. Hopefully it stays away from the Gurps style mechanics.

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2 Responses to “System Selection: Heavy Gear”

  1. Christian Says:

    What I love about games like Heavy Gear is that they offer the PCs and GM multiple avenues for adventure. Sessions can be based solely on mecha, on foot or a mix of both. I think “gear games” like Heavy Gear, Battletech/Mechwarrior and, say, Car Wars are so fun in light if the diversity they offer for session design.

  2. Grey Says:

    Aye, thats a good way of working it if you’re looking for something longer term. Short slugfests are another thing altogether, and relatively easy to setup.

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