Heil Kortzfleisch! Get it through your skull!
Take down the evil Vrilmeisters armed with your Reichbusters rules summary and reference!
I have a lot of miniatures-on-terrain-tiles games (I suppose you’d still lump them all under the label ‘dungeoncrawlers’) and it’s one of my favourite genres. There’s nothing like well-painted miniatures engaged in heroic combat in atmospheric corridors and rooms, whether they’re in a spaceship, under the ground, or, as in this case, in a Nazi stronghold. Reichbusters: Project Vril is the latest game to go to backers from Mythic Games, and it looks amazing. Sure, the weird war theme is a well-trodden one, but the graphic design, illustration and miniatures here are all top-notch. Coupled with a game designed by ex-Games Workshopper Jake Thornton, and it’s a winner!
Well yes, but with a few large caveats. I’ve played Reichbusters four times now, and it’s a frustrating, if very entertaining, beast. This is not streamlined, simple game design and if you don’t like dungeoncrawlers with a high book-keeping element, this won’t change your view of the genre. The stealth element is fantastic, and I think rolling noise tests and then checking the results on a card draw really amps up the tension. Encountering the occasional random patrol and trying to deal with it before the castle is alerted is tense and fun, and the card action system allows for spectacular and heroic bursts of action from your heroes. All good! The problem comes when the alarm goes off, all the enemy tokens are converted to miniatures.
Just when the game should take flight and turn into a fast action-fest, it bogs down, and it’s because the enemies get a turn after every single hero turn. And when there are 30 miniatures on the board all moving and attacking, that leads to a lot of drudgery. By this time your heroes are a bit weaker and have less action card choices, and worst of all, you’re still rolling noise tests in the middle of it all, while the alarm is going off and the whole castle is awake.
I still really like the game and will continue to play it; it’s beautiful, exciting, atmospheric and frustrating in a way that challenges me. But I’m also going to start trying to find a way to house rule the post-alarm section of of the game, and I’m still confused why, after what must have been many playtests, it was kept the way it was. These are potentially big changes however: the enemies need all their individual turns consolidated into one, post-alarm reinforcements need to be determined by a simple system that obviates the need for noise tests, and the heroes need an opportunity to stay strong and heroic—and all while keeping the challenge level high.
Finally, Mythic still needs to give more attention to their rulebooks; this one is confusingly organised and has already seen a ten page errata and FAQ document, and it took me quite a bit of time and effort to make this summary as clear and succinct as I could. I hope this makes your games go smoother, and that you stick with Reichbusters. There’s so much good stuff here, and it’s still a lot of fun … it just needs a little bit more work to make it shine at the end, in my opinion.