There’s something about arena battle boardgames that simply brings the fun in. CMON’s latest offering, Gekido Bot Battles combines Pokémon style arena fighting with really nicely painted robot models to create something that’s rather nifty.
It’s a 2 to 4 player game in which robots beat each other up in a rather small arena. It’s a pretty quick game; ten to thirty minutes at the most and can be best described as an appetiser; the sort of thing you play a couple of times in a gaming session before getting stuck into something longer and meatier. It’s dice driven, using custom dice. It’s similar in a few ways to dice & power-up monster smashing game King of Tokyo, but more nuanced and more focused on hitting things.
Each bot is different but they’re all fairly well balanced; thematically each combatant has its own look and feel. The models look very cool, with everything from an anime style robo-knight to a cutesy cat creature. There’s a sort of mecha-pokémon style going on here and it makes the whole thing more fun. The board is stark in design, the pieces and the dice are bright. This works and lends a real cartoon feel to the affair.
As per usual for dice games, you get three rolls of the dice, locking in ‘good’ dice with the sort of results you need. This means that some of your strategy will shift and mutate as the dice gods decide what you’re doing next. This combination of push-your-luck mechanics and strategy makes for an engaging game with rapidly shifting strategy. Different areas of the board change this as well; do you move to a place with a defence bonus? Or risk a less defendable area for more attack dice? Do you move to that power-up, knowing full well that everyone else will and you’ll get a smack.
As the robots get hit, they lose dice. As they lose dice, you can unlock more devastating attacks, abilities and upgrades. This means that the tempo of the game speeds up quickly; the bots become more deadly and more able to zip round the board, smacking into each other to great effect.
The two-player game is tighter with less rules (and a smaller board). It’s a quick and nice starter whilst you’re waiting for people to arrive. It’s not enough to be the sole focus of an evening, but as a way of warming up your risk assessment and dice rolling skills, it’s excellent.
GEKIDO: BOT BATTLES / DESIGNER: FEL BARROS, ROMULO MARQUES / PUBLISHER: CMON LIMITED / RELEASE DATE: UK RELEASE DATE TBA