Privateer Press Monsterpocalypse VOLTRON Battle Miniatures Game
Two player miniature game pits Voltron Force vs. Robeasts...
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The world of miniature gaming has seen a major resurgence in recent years, and no one represents that better than Privateer Press. While they had already been known for their "traditional" (unpainted, unassembled) miniature lines, they've reached a whole new level of popularity with a line called Monsterpocalypse. With cues from modern collectible miniature games like pre-painted and preassembled miniatures in blind boxes, the Monsterpocalypse game brought together classic sci-fi, giant robot, and kaiju elements in a fun, fast paced battling game that was easy to learn and a blast to play. Five expansions later it's more popular than ever, and even Hollywood is getting involved. But for some fans the real critical moment was when Privateer Press announced their first licensed Monsterpocalypse product: Voltron!
For those of us who grew up in the '80s, Voltron is a piece of nostalgia that will never go away. Sure, there have been attempts at bringing back the Lion Force over the years, but nothing beats the original. Way back in 1984, five heroes piloted giant mechanical lion robots to battle the predations of King Zarkon, Prince Lotor, Haggar, and their evil forces. In every episode just when the situation became really dire the lions combined to form the most powerful robot ever, Voltron! It was a simple formula, but it worked. Every week the bad guys would come up with a new robeast, but they could never stand up to Voltron’s Blazing Sword. For many it was the first introduction to the world of giant robots.
Privateer Press' Voltron Battle Miniatures Game takes the Monsterpocalypse framework and simplifies it a bit for new or casual players (and there will no doubt be many who are attracted just by the name Voltron!). Instead of blind boxes the Voltron set is a complete two player game in and of itself, while still being compatible with the larger world of Monsterpocalypse.
The Voltron set is unique in the Monsterpocalypse line and as such has a brand new packaging theme. It comes in a sturdy cardboard box completely decorated in a Voltron scheme. The front and side panels have a background star field with large art of either Voltron or one of the lions. The front panel is surrounded by a border representing the five lion colors, and inside that is a huge Voltron logo and smaller ones for Privateer Press, Monsterpocalypse, and WEP.
The back of the box gets into the nitty gritty with a list of the contents, photos of all of the included pieces, and an exciting "call to action" description of the game. Inside the box you’ll find every single piece in its own individual bag as well as a larger sheath containing the rulebook, map, dice, and tokens.
The heroic Galaxy Alliance is represented by Voltron, the five Voltron Lion figures (black, red, green, blue, and yellow), and five Galaxy Garrison Cruiser units. On the opposite side of the field of battle is the Drule Empire with Lo-Tron, four robeasts, Lotor's Command Ship, and five Skull Ships. Each figure besides Voltron and Lo-Tron are about an inch and a quarter long or tall and come mounted on square bases that correspond to the spaces on the battle mat. The larger figures are about three inches tall on bases that cover four map squares. Flip over any figure to see additional interesting info on the bottom of its base!
Even with their small sizes, Monsterpocalypse figures are known for their sculpts and the attention to detail that's put into them. Whether it's mechanical or organic, a large monster or small unit, chances are it's going to look very cool. The larger figures have great sculpts, and there are lots of interesting things to see if you look up close. Voltron's lion components are recreated with all of the details fans have loved since the very beginning, with particular attention paid to the lion heads on the feet, hands, and of course the head. The heroic robot's Blazing Sword also looks really good.
On the other side of the table is Lo-Tron, who benefits greatly from having such varied components as the different robeasts. Each part of its body is different with regard to sculpt: the shoulders are bulky armor, the lower arms smooth and insect-like, the tail segmented and serpentine, the wings banded, etc. On the small scale figures there's a lot to appreciate as well. Again, the lions are very well done, with lots of sculpted details on their joints and heads.
The robeasts, being the components of Lo-Tron, have all of those interesting design elements spread across the five figures. Finally, you've got the Galaxy Garrison Cruisers and Skull Ships. As the lowest ranking units they're "generic" in that they all share the same sculpt respectively, but even these look great. As a collector of spaceships of all varieties I was really pleased to see the unique design of the Skull Ship so accurately done, and the Cruisers are just cool!
One of the great things about Voltron that really appealed to kids was the fantastic color palette. You could immediately tell the good guys from the bad just by the colors, and the different lions were even named for them! Any Voltron product, therefore, has to be faithful to those hues. Monsterpocalypse's versions hit every mark. The lions are bright and vivid, with all of the appropriate accent colors like metallic silver on the legs and markings in blue, red, black, and yellow. Voltron itself combines all of those colors and adds the intricate chest symbol and more silver on the robot's face.
As with the varied textures of the robeasts, so are their colors different. The individual robeasts are mainly solid two-tone (Lotor's Command Ship is gray and red, the beetle robeast is black and red, etc.), while the scorpion adds a third color for highlights on its bright yellow claws.
Meanwhile, the Skull Ships have purple hulls with red underbellies and bone-colored "skulls," and the Galaxy Garrison Cruisers are bright white and blue.
The Voltron set has everything two people need to play the game, with full armies on both sides. The included game map is double-sided, each with a different scenario consisting of a space battle with obstacles and special terrain features. Unlike some other miniature games, in Voltron everything happens on the board. There are graphical tracks representing health and other changing values (with included chits for you to keep track of where you are). Clearly defined boxes around the sides hold your spare units as well as the different dice, making things very easy and transparent.
In simple terms, the Monsterpocalypse game involves large monsters and small units battling each other with slam attacks, blasts, and other destructive powers. Monsters can upgrade to more powerful versions, or, like in the Voltron set, smaller "morphers" (like the lions or robeasts) can fight individually or team up to combine into the larger Pentamorphs. The game gives players tons of freedom with regards to recruiting units or attacking, with all actions based on the number of dice you want to allocate.
It's actually way easier than it sounds, and the handy rulebook will guide you through the process with ease. Basic examples teach you how to move and attack, but when you get more comfortable there are all sorts of special actions that let you do cool things like pick up your enemy and smash him into his own units! Like the rest of the Monsterpocalypse game pieces, the relative strength of all monsters are pretty close (same with units), so no one will easily overpower his opponent. Instead, winning comes from good strategy, utilizing special attacks, cunning allocation of resources, and of course luck with the dice.
Monsterpocalypse was already based on a brilliant storyline involving different factions fighting over Earth (and beyond). Humans, monsters, aliens, and more slug it out for dominance, all at your fingertips. And so it seems perfectly natural to add two more factions into the mix: the Galaxy Alliance and Drule Empire. Whether Voltron is going up against Cthugrosh and the Lords of Cthul or the robeasts attack Mucustos and the Savage Swarm, the Battle Miniatures Game is perfectly compatible with the larger Monsterpocalypse universe. Attendees at San Diego Comic-Con had the chance to expand their Voltron collections with a convention exclusive Mega Lo-Tron, and participating comic and gaming shops received golden Mega Voltron figures to promote the game!
Whether you're a nostalgic Voltron fan, a casual miniatures gamer, or a hardcore Monsterpocalypse tournament winner, this set is a lot of fun with a bunch of great figures and a system you can learn quickly. For more information, check out the Voltron Monsterpocalypse page at Privateer Press.
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Sample Courtesy of Privateer Press