Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: ‘GKR: Heavy Hitters’ Brings Giant Robot Action to the Tabletop

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Technopunk, giant mechs, and evil megacorporations? Sign. Me. Up. (Image Credit: Weta Workshop/Cryptozoic -prototype components shown)

I have a challenge for you – make it to the end of this description without clicking the GKR: Heavy Hitters campaign link.

In the dystopia that survives after the megapocalypse, corporations battle for salvage rights in the bones of our ruined society. But don’t fret! While we might lose things like comfort and safety, we gain an epic spectator sport: cheering for demolition crews as they use giant mechs to rip the cities, and each other, down around them in the GKR League.

OK, OK – so it sounds a bit bleak, but in the best way.

GKR: Heavy Hitters is a standalone, miniature combat/deck-building tabletop game for 2–4 players. It combines drool-worthy collectible robots with dice-rolling, deck-management, and tactical play. You pilot your Heavy Hitter (an oversized mech that dominates the board) and a squad of three support units through the ruins of an abandoned city, competing to either wipe your opponent off the map or reduce four skyscrapers to rubble.

The game combines the master visual world building of Weta Workshop with the vast tabletop acumen of Cryptozoic (one of our favorite game developers here at GeekDad). The minis alone could have been their own Kickstarter even without the game. Not unsurprisingly, given Weta’s pedigree, they look more like miniature props for some amazing science fiction movie than game minis. The world Weta Workshop created for GKR has a rich backstory told through the distinctive look and feel of each Heavy Hitter. Each one represents a different salvage company, complete with logos and sponsorship decals. The unpainted drone minis are just as detailed (though sadly lacking the amazing paint jobs of the Heavy Hitters) and manage to strike the balance between real-world practicality and sci-fi charm.

These might be renders, but the real minis look just as good. (Image Credit: Weta Workshop/Cryptozoic)

Gameplay is a combination of tactical combat, using line-of-sight rules and special attacks to dominate the board and take out your opponents’ Heavy Hitters, and resource gathering as you try to tag enough buildings to gain sponsorship bonuses and salvage rights to the city. Matt Hyra, designer behind games such as the DC Deck Building Game, is the lead designer and, as expected, there are strong deck management elements to GKR. You start off with 25 cards in your deck. You draw 6 cards each round and use them to perform attacks, maneuvers, or reactive and defensive moves. But your cards are also your mech’s health. When you take damage or incur it by pushing your mech too hard on your turn (you have 5 points of energy, but can earn up to 5 more if you’re willing to sacrifice), you have to discard cards to your damage pile. Lose enough cards and you’re offline for good.

Fewer components to keep track of than your standard FFG game. I consider that a win already. (Image Credit: Weta Workshop/Cryptozoic – prototype components shown)

But there’s more to GKR than shuffling cards. In addition to the four (ridiculously detailed) Heavy Hitters, each team gets three unpainted support units, molded in the team color. You’ll deploy and move these figures around the board, grabbing cover from the ruined skyscrapers where you can, and placing units to take out your opponents, scout the terrain ahead, or repair your Heavy Hitter.

The attack round is a bit more involved than taking turns back and forth. Initiative follows the player with the highest weapon speed marked on the card, allowing for a fair bit of strategy. Which type weapon to choose is a consideration as well. You might not be able to hit another player’s Heavy Hitter through a building with your beam weapon, but if you can get eyes on it with your scouting drone, you can bank a missile around the building to chip away at its health. Most attacks are settled by opposing dice rolls. You roll a handful of dice to determine if you hit your target, and the defender gets to roll to see if their armor soaks up any hits (assuming they have armor).

After all weapon cards played have been resolved, you can tag adjacent buildings. Tags get you sponsorship cards – power ups (with dramatically drawn artwork) that let you hack other players, get extra moves, and generally prove that there’s no greater weapon in your arsenal than your audience’s approval. Tag a building four times and you can claim it as salvage. The positive – you only need to salvage four buildings to win the game. The negative? Once you salvage it, it’s off the field of play, so there’s less cover for your Heavy Hitter the next round.

Weta Workshop put together a quick demo of how all this comes together:

Play continues until someone has claimed enough salvage or all opposing Heavy Hitters are destroyed.

A diverse cast of characters that doesn’t rely on gender/race tropes? Pinch me! (Image Credit: Weta Workshop/Cryptozoic)

The pilots that command your Heavy Hitters are a diverse crew, refreshingly eschewing gender or race stereotypes and instead going the shocking route of creating characters that are real people. They each have their own abilities that can be upgraded throughout gameplay in real time by successfully executing difficult moves like flank shots and alley shots. Pledge high enough in the Kickstarter and you can get exclusive figurines for each pilot (which don’t do anything for gameplay, but will be more satisfying to move around the Achievement Board).

You can get the base game for a $99 pledge, which honestly seems a bit inexpensive for the quality of components you’re getting. For $125, you’ll get the Kickstarter exclusive pilot miniatures. And for $150, you’ll get the game, the minis, and four extra unpainted Heavy Hitters to deco however you please! Shipping looks like it’s going to be on the pricey side, which isn’t surprising for a game this large, so keep that in mind when pledging. The target ship date is December of this year, which is aggressive (if you’ve ever backed anything on Kickstarter before, you know how manufacturing is the Achilles’ Heel of most projects); but Weta is very familiar with manufacturing and shipping product. They’re well-established, so I trust them a bit more here than I would otherwise.

The campaign funded in its first day and is already heading toward unlocking one of four additional pilots. If you like deck-building, tactical combat, or just think every game is better with mechs, GKR Heavy Hitters is the game you need on your shelf. Weta Workshop and Cryptozoic have done more than create a game; they’ve crafted an entire world for you to play in. It scratches just about any gaming itch you could have, and it’s got giant robots demolishing cities – do you really need more? Pledge now!

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