Us humans love a dystopian future. We are fascinated with ruined cities, bleak landscapes, civilisations turned to chaos, with society’s prevailing traits being violence and greed. And sports. Oh, and big, stomping mechs! Bring all this together, add some corporate sponsors and package it in a TV show and et voila! Giant Killer Robots – Heavy Hitters.
GKR – Heavy Hitters is the first tabletop game created by Weta Workshop, a design production company that has worked on some huge films, such as LOTR, Mad Max and Thor: Ragnarok.
Set in a post-apocalyptic future, players take the role of a pilot at the controls of a huge mech, or Heavy Hitter, sponsored by one of four corporations who are competing for salvage rights within a destroyed city. The victor is either the last Heavy Hitter standing, or the one who claims four buildings for salvage rights first.
As soon as you open the impressively large box, there is an instant wow-factor. The Heavy Hitter mechs are fully painted and gloriously detailed. They are the first things you will pick up, guaranteed. The support units (Recon, Repair and Combat), are more basic, but match the colour of the Heavy Hitter.
Each Heavy Hitter comes with a deck of cards that presents a fabulous choice of weapons systems, deploy, special movement and defensive reaction cards. The artwork is excellent and presented in a comic book style that works very well. Additionally, there are sponsor cards, obtained from tagging buildings and doing cool things in front of the TV cameras.
Buildings are made of card with plastic bases and caps, with slots at the top for where tags are placed during the game. There are several six-sided dice, for combat and armour rolls, and a pilot advancement board, which provides experience points and bonuses that can make all the difference.
The board is a neatly folded city landscape that provides a good sized playing area onto which buildings stand and mechs stomp. The player boards are hard plastic and have inlays for cards, as well as a small energy bar on the side.
Overall, the presentation is excellent, with a very simple to follow rule book. This core set will give players everything they need to enjoy the game.
Players select the corporation they want to represent, choosing from the four available. With these comes a Heavy Hitter and each one has its own advantages and offer different strategic options. For instance, one is clearly set up to be a toe-to-toe type, with powerful shorter-range weapons, while another offers better long-range options.
There is a range of pilots that can be selected from, each bringing his or her own advantage during play.
A deck of up to 25 cards is chosen from the 50+ on offer, specific to each mech. These are the Heavy Hitter’s life points, that are put into a damage (or lost) pile when hit. It’s a great feature that when damage is taken, systems go offline, presenting a headache for pilots.
Players select one type of primary and two types of secondary weapon, deploy cards to activate support units and a range of other features such as reaction cards (i.e. missile defence, jump jets, etc). Now the mech is ready to rock and roll.
Players take a hand of six cards from their draw pile. These are the systems and weapons available that turn. During the game these can be accompanied by sponsor cards.
Turns are split into phases – Deploy, Movement, Combat, Tagging and Reset. Every Heavy Hitter is given five energy points, with which various things can be done, such as movement and combat. Overspend and the mech takes damage, so it can be a gamble between playing safe, or attempting that all-out devastating attack at the cost of overloading systems.
The deploy phase allows players to place support units on the board that will help the Heavy Hitter and provide greater building tagging options. These come in the form of Recon, Repair and Combat and can offer valuable help.
Movement costs one energy per hex, with a fire arc dictating viable targets. Buildings provide partial or complete cover, making a shot harder or even impossible – except from an orbital strike that ignores cover. Boom.
In the combat phase, players place, face down, weapons systems cards with which they wish to bring the pain. When used, these will go into discard to be re-shuffled later. Cards are revealed simultaneously and energy is expended by the cost stated on the weapons’ stats.
Each weapon has an initiative score. What shoots first is determined by this number, going down the list in turn as the initiative value decreases. This is great and simple mechanic and helps define each Heavy Hitter as unique.
Combat is resolved using two D6 to hit and defenders roll the same number of dice as stated on the weapon’s damage rating for an armour save. Hits that get through are damage, translated by being removed from the player’s hand or the draw deck and placed on the damage pile.
Sponsor cards can be slapped down at certain points, which are essentially event cards blocking weapons, providing bonuses and even dishing out food poisoning! Grins and groans imminent.
In the tagging phase buildings are marked by Heavy Hitters, or support units, adjacent to them. A coloured token is slotted in at the top of the building, or can replace a competitor’s. When four of the same coloured tags are placed the building collapses and the ruins are claimed by that corporation.
The reset phase is simply returning the energy marker to five, while cheeks are blown and damage and strategy are contemplated.
I love this game, pure and simple. It’s highly thematic, gameplay can be quick and the mechanics are excellent in their simplicity. It can be as strategic as you like, or more of a fast and furious smash-up on the steps of the ruined Mayor’s office.
It’s good as a 2-player, but great with three or four. There are solo rules and potentially more add-ons available (and hopefully expansions), from Weta Workshop in the future.
Of course there is the downside, which is cost. It is an expensive game to buy. Bear that in mind when you are chewing over whether to part with your cash, but for me this is a keeper.
I’m giving this a very big Giant Killer Robot-sized thumbs up. Buy it, or play it if someone else owns a copy, and enjoy some great destructive fun!
“As soon as you open the impressively large box, there is an instant wow-factor.”
- Competitive, sports, combat, skirmish
- Players: 2-4 (solo available)
- Age: 14+
- Playtime: 60+ minutes
- Setup Time: Average
- Publisher: Weta Workshop and Cryptozoic