Monday, 7 January 2013

Heavy Gear Mecha Style

It should come as no surprise that after getting caught up with lots of VOTOMS goodness last year that my eye has been drawn to Dream Pod 9s Heavy Gear Blitz. DP9 admit that their two games, Heavy Gear and Jovian Chronicles, are heavily inspire by VOTOMS and Gundam Universal Century respectively. I like some of the Gundam anime, but much prefer VOTOMS and the other seminal real robot series from the 1980s Fang of the Sun Dougram, which inspired FASAs BattleTech game.

Anyway, I searched for, and managed to get hold of, a second hand copies of some Heavy Gear books.  In my case it was copies of  Life on Terra Nova, and the Heavy Gear Blitz Field Manual.  The first at Dragonmeet, the latter from eBay.   I also took advantage of Dream Pod 9s PDF downloads through the DrivethuRPG site, which meant I was also able to grab Locked & Loaded Rev 1.1, and the L&L Quickstart Rules.  I'm not yet a big PDF rules fan, because I don't have anything other than my main monitor to read PDFs.  As and when I get uplifted to an iPad, I'm sure that this will change.

Getting back on track, I have been reading Life on Terra Nova, and I was really impressed with the background setting.  LoTN is not essential to being able to play Heavy Gear Blitz, but it didn't half wet my appetite for playing games of HGB, which I think is a pretty good result.  Certainly if I were running an RPG campaign then would be an essential resource for the HGB universe setting.

The Heavy Gear Blitz Field Manual is the current, and therefore most up to date version of the HG rules.  My understanding is that Dream Pod 9s Heavy Gear rules have evolved from an RPG skirmish game, then became became a hex map boardgame, and have finally morphed into their current incarnation as a tabletop miniatures wargame.  Something that I woud have liked to have seen happen with BattleTech, but that we won't see happening anytime this side of the apocalypse, because the business model of the two firms are entirely different. The difference being that Dream Pod 9 own their IP, whereas Catalyst Games Lab has a licence from Topps to publish rules for the game, but not the miniatures.

Since acquiring the LoTN source book and HGB rules, I've been on the look out for more stuff at the right price, as my budget is very tight at the moment.  What I little have I want to spend on the iconic miniatures that DP9 produce, and only buy the books that are absolutely necessary to play the game.  However, I do recognise that eBay only takes one so far, and I prefer to buy the miniatures directly from DP9 to support them as best I can, by at least putting what little spare money I have in their hands.

So this leads me to my recently acquired eBay bargains when I acquired the two books above. Namely Black Talons: Return to Cats Eye and Shattered Peace: The War for Terra Nova Book 1.

Interestingly, SP:TWfTN is in colour, while BT:RtCE is black and white it is also available in colour, which for begs the rather interesting question of why do this?  I can only imagine that there is sufficient sales for the colour version that make it worthwhile for them to publish it.  Certainly the illustrations look better in colour, but to be honest they look pretty good in black and white, and knock most BattleTech illustrations into a cocked hat.

Though this isn't an in-depth review of any of these books, what I will say is how impressed I am with the presentation and content of all the books I've read, and as a result I'm quite happy to contemplate buying further books as and when I have the money.  I now see that both the NuCoal and Southern Army sourcebooks will provided hours of entertainment and reading pleasure.  


  1. I bought some Heavy Gear stuff ages ago when it was new to the market. I was so impressed by their books and presentation that I actually took the time to write them and let them know. Pity no one else in my gaming circle wanted to play with me at that time.

    1. Did they say why? It seems a bit of a shame that this happened.

    2. No one else would come off their money to try a new game... cheapskates. Maybe they all saw it as a Battletech wannabe? We were pretty heavily into WH40k back then (late 1990's) and trying to get people to spend their money on new games was a pretty big ask.

      I traded all my HG stuff seven or eight years ago for store credit at the local game shop. It was all still near-mint. :'(

  2. I always liked the DP9 background material and prdocution values (and still own quite a few HG 2nd edition books) but I am a bit leery of their Blitz line because the rules and army selection are still in flux even after about 6 years. I'd like to see them finally get their act together, but I won't hold my breath.

    1. I can see that the new army books are changing the army formations, and now that two are done I assume it is only a matter of time to get the others out. Of course the matter of time looks to be over several years, which could I imagine be quite frustrating for long time players of the game.

    2. Pretty much, which is why I haven't bought any of their stuff in a long time. Just wanted to make sure you won't regret spending any money on the game. ;-)


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