What is the Bot War game all about?
In this article I hope to go below the surface of what Bot War is all about as a game to help explain some of the finer aspects. I am assuming that most people are aware of what it says on the tin. For example – that it’s a skirmish game. But how does it work and what else beyond it being a skirmish game defines it.
Really within Bot War I see it as two games. There is the game you play tactically which I think most people would recognise as a tabletop war game. You know, moving pieces around on a board and rolling dice etc. However, in Bot War there is a resource game as well. As a game designer this gives an additional lever in the game for balancing and fine tuning and I think this is visible in Bot War.
Each model adds resources in the form of energy cubes to the total energy pool of your force. These cubes can be shared out among the various models in your force by placing a number of cubes on each of the stat cards you have. Everything your model does in bot War requires payment in energy cubes. So as each of your models activates they spend their cubes to do so.
This means that you must plan what you want to do in advance. In addition to this, cubes may also be used to bolster an attack or support your defense. There are limits of course and dangers built in to power boosting too much. The power boosting option is an important dynamic in Bot War as it means that with almost every model activation both players are playing the game. The level of engagement between both players in Bot War is higher than some other games where you have to wait for your opponent to move all their models and do whatever else they do with little to no input from you. Bot War is not like this.
The mechanics in Bot War are a little different from some games in that there is no order with which to make various activations. You may only make 2 activations per turn as a standard rule, but those activations can be in any order and can be duplicated. For example, a model can shoot twice, or move then shoot, or shoot then move, or close attack twice. This creates an amazing amount of tactical choice per model and makes for quite a difficult game. Add to this that all models must activate in ascending strategy rating order regardless of what force they belong to. While its possible that one opponent could activate their whole force then the other opponent activate their whole force its much more common for models to activate each side until all are activated. For example, you may activate a model then your opponent may activate 3 in a row then you may activate 2 and so on. It all depends on the Strategy Rating. Strategy ratings are listed on the model Stat cards. The higher this number the later the model will activate in the game.
This means that building lists is a very important and fun part of Bot War. Building a list not only affects the power of your force but also when your force will be available to attack or counter your opponent. For example, it is hard to counter a SR 5 model with a SR 2 model because the SR 2 model will have to wait an entire turn to counter and by then the SR 5 model may be completely powered up again.
A common issue in Bot War for beginners is energy starvation. Not only do you need to consider SR when building a list but also whether you can power your force. You will find in Bot War advantages to taking physically weak models because they provide additional energy. This means that its hard to find over powered forces in Bot War. Almost everything does have a counter or a drawback.
It is not uncommon to have cubes ready for an activation and then having to use them to boost defenses leaving your model with no cubes to activate at all. This is why careful planning is needed.
Ranged attacks and close attacks are still resolved with dice. These are dice with custom values. There are 3 main types of dice in Bot War. These are Purple Attack dice, Red Shield dice and Black Critical dice. The Black Critical dice are used for a few different purposes for both offence and defense however the other two are specifically for Attack or Defense. A D6 is included in the Starter Set but this is mainly for just rolling certain rolls in the scenarios.
For the most part the combat resolution system in Bot War is super simplistic because the game is played mostly in the Strategy Rating/ Activation phase. Yes, Bot War is a dice game, however it is not as reliant on dice that many other tabletop war games are.
There are various different types of models in Bot War but essentially they behave similarly within the rules of the game. Usually the type of model will have something that they are good at. Bots represent a standard model that performs within a scale on each activation. Other models such as vehicles are skewed slightly off this centre scale. For example, vehicles will usually have a good ranged attack for less points than a Bot. Likewise, Infantry models require very little energy to activate but generate good energy, so they are very useful powering up your force. I often call models that do this “batteries”.
Special Rules and Super Abilities
In Bot War almost all models have a single Super Ability assigned to them. There are only several types of Super Ability available in the game. These abilities cost cubes and an activation, and are once use only per game. So use your models Super Ability wisely. Also, many models in Bot War have Special Rules. These are much more varied and numerous than Super Abilities and can range from the very powerful to the mildly beneficial. Super Abilities and Special rules add a whole new exciting level of play and theme to Bot War.
Bot War has 10 scenarios but there is no reason why you can’t make your own as well. Scenario play creates multiple victory conditions, and this means that in most games of Bot War there are 2 or even 3 ways to win. This is yet another balancing option in that physically weaker forces can still win by completing the scenario goals.
Anyway, I do hope this helps some of you understand the gist of the Bot War game.
Please feel free to send through any questions you may have to the Traders Galaxy or Bot War Facebook groups.