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  GKR: HEAVY HITTERS FROM CRYPTOZOIC ENTERTAINMENTS & WETA WORKSHOP It's bold! It's bright!  It's brash! Is it Ameritrash? W...









It's bold! It's bright!  It's brash!
Is it Ameritrash?
Well, as no one will probably give you the same definition as to what Ameritrash is, that might be difficult to answer that question.  But here goes.

 Giant monster robots stomping over Earth's abandoned cities in a combative sport linked in to mega corporations vying for highly lucrative advertising power.  Bags of theme is ramped up with fantastic graphics, whether in the artwork on the many decks of cards or the super-size models of the titular Heavy Hitters!

Ready painted, they look even better on the mounted game board and each is supported by three smaller Support robots that have been shaded, though not gloriously finished like the four mega robot miniatures. The hand of Weta Workshop, the multi Academy Award winning design studio and physical effects manufacturing facility, can clearly be felt in all aspects of the components and their artwork. Everything hangs together brilliantly.  So, A* for sheer looks and once you set up it looks even more stunning.
The only criticism has been levelled at the buildings that are assembled from a plastic base, cardboard tower and plastic cap.  If you intend to try to store them back in the original box, then I'd suggest you really will have problems.  As the caps very easily come off in play never mind storage, my personal solution has been to glue the caps and towers together.  The base cannot be dealt with in this way, as it's possible as part of gameplay to destroy a building, leaving just the base.  Still, kept separate and partially assembled has proved very easy.

At first sight, the rule book looks underwhelming by comparison with all the other physical goodies. But this is mainly because it is small by the side of everything else in the game and has been given a deliberately retro look with a black and white cover.  The moment you turn the first page you know you've got quality here too, with glossy pages and  coloured illustrations and examples on nearly every single page.

The rules are clearly and methodically detailed and are very accessible.  They produce a fast and fun experience both for newbies and grognards alike.  Each of the four player factions has a separate deck of 38 cards from which you will select 25 to use in a given game.  These cards are not only the basic motor of the game, but your choice defines both your GKR and, to some extent, your intended game play. 

The cards include first and foremost the GKR's primary and secondary weapons.  You start by choosing those for operating one Primary Weapon and two Secondary Weapons, followed by Deployment cards for your Support units and finally the remaining cards to make up your play deck of 25 come from Manoeuvre, Reaction and Orbital Strikes [think very powerful artillery].

Above are a typical 6 of those selected for my first game.  All the data on the cards is well laid out, thoroughly explained in the rule book and rapidly becomes second nature.  Each player has a solid display for the cards with a numbered column running down the right edge with a vertical slot and plastic sliding marker to log the vital energy usage.

The latter -energy usage- is probably the single most important factor in the game.  Moving your GKR, using its weapons and deploying your Support units all cost energy and each round you have 5 free energy points.  Beyond that, you must sacrifice to the Damage pile one of your precious 25 cards for every extra energy point you use!  What's even worse is that for every hit your GKR suffers, you must also discard a card to the Damage pile.

The basic sequence of a turn is Deploy, Move, Combat, Tag Buildings and Reset. 


This couldn't be simpler.  Play one of your Deploy cards and spend 2 of your precious 5 free Energy o points and place a Support Unit on the board or place a Support Unit without playing a Deploy card and pay a whopping 4 Energy points!


Pretty obvious.  The main concept is the order of movement is Heavy Hitters, Support Combat unit, Support Repair unit and finally Support Recon unit with each player moving alternately.


Players simultaneously play face down Weapon cards and cards for Support unit attacks.  These are then revealed and Energy costs paid for and then sequence of fire is determined by the speed number on each card - the higher the number the earlier you fire.  

Additional card play may affect fire, including preventing an opponent's weapon from firing - nasty, because not only don't you get to fire, but you still lose the energy you spent to allow it to fire.

Typically various factors are covered such as full and partial cover from buildings, flank attacks, range, LOS [line of sight], spotting for Indirect Fire and, one I particularly like, Alley Shots in which a GKR can squeeze of a shot between two adjacent buildings.

2D6 are rolled with +5 needed for a GKR to hit and +7 for a Support unit.  The damage caused by a single hit is then checked and it can be massive and then the target gets to roll save dice for each point of damage.  To quote a famous film title - There Will Be Blood! And remember, each point of damage is the loss of one of your 25 cards that you started with.  In a simple 2 player game, that is the main victory condition, kill your opponent's GKR by causing him/her to have no cards left.

With 3 or 4 players, victory is different and will be discussed later. 

Tag Buildings

Following Combat. each unit adjacent to a building may place a tag on one building.  GKRs have the added advantage of being able to replace another player's tag with one of their own.  Each building has slots for 4 tags and the player who manages to place 4 tags on a building destroys it and gains permanent control of the ruin.  For a player to demolish and so control 4 buildings is the other victory condition.   

Tagging buildings isn't just useful as a game-winning goal.  Each turn, a player gains a Support card for each building tagged that turn and a player can hold up to 5 Support cards in their hand.

The photo above shows the Support Deck and just a few of the typical cards you make gain from tagging buildings.  Also, a player who destroys a building gains a Pilot upgrade that brings new benefits.  A single board records the progressing upgrades that each player's human pilot of their GKR achieves in the course of the game.
Pilot upgrade Achievements Board

Simplicity itself.  Reset your Energy back to +5 on your player board, as seen below and then replenish your hand back to 6 Faction Cards.

The final section of the rules provides a range of pre-generated maps for 2, 3 and 4 player games to get you quickly underway.  All that I've described so far applies to all number of players [sorry, no solo rules] and the only detail to add is that for three or four players the game end condition [other than being first to demolish 4 buildings]  is when one player's GKR is eliminated.  At that point, the current Turn is played to its end and players add together the number of undamaged Faction Cards plus the number of spaces their Pilot has moved along the Achievements Board.

This last detail has come in for some criticism with the claim that a player who has sat back and kept out of harm's way could win the game.  My reaction to that is not very sympathetic.  All I would say is that, if the rest of the players have let that happen, then make sure you play to avoid it happening ever again!

My final summing up is that here you have a fast playing, easy to learn, slam bang action skirmish game.  Great components, lots of colour and atmosphere, investing a post-apocalyptic setting with a gaudy, almost cartoonish style.  

So, for me this is Ameritrash at its best - but be warned it does come with a price tag that matches the HEAVY in its title, especially if you're having to buy it on the second-hand market where I've seen it at up to the $230.

Alley Shot

Tagging a Building