In Action Point 1 for Attack of the 50 Foot Colossi! from Tiny Battle Publishing, we examined the various actions and attacks available to the 124th Galactic Marine Raider Battalion. In this Action Point, we will take a look at their reluctant enemy the Colossi.
But first, why are these Marines picking on these peaceful behemoth rock creatures anyway? Well, it is really a series of bad luck and unintended actions by some miners on the planet Graviton Prime. An unfortunate mining accident caused some explosions at the Interstellar Mining Corporations (IMC) mines that “hurt” some Colossi children referred to as “Pebbles” by the locals. This upset the mother and father Colossi who tunneled up from the bowels of the planet to teach these interlopers a lesson. This led to a distress call to be sent out by the miners which was intercepted by the 124th who were simply enjoying some well earned R&R in this region of space. They then land on the planet and attempt to rescue the besieged miners before they can be killed.
So, now that you have the background to the events on Graviton Prime, you can understand why the Colossi, creatures that are made up of a living boulders from the planet itself, are upset and why they decided to teach the intruders a lesson.
With the focus on this Action Point being the Colossi, I think the best place to start is to take a look at their anatomy and their Order of Action process.
Anatomy of a Colossi
No need to blush. We are not interested in how the Colossi Tribes reproduce. In fact, I really don’t care. But, I think it is important for you to understand how these things are put together and how this effects their attacks.
First off, a Colossi is nothing more than a collection of varying sized and strength boulders. These boulders come together to form a fully developed 50 foot Colossi randomly. When you place a Tribe on the board, you simply grab all of the available counters for that Tribe (each has a different number) and randomly stack them up. Here is a look at the weakest Tribe, the Whitestones, as compared to the most powerful, the Redstones. You will notice that the Redstones have a total of 5 counters, which means their stack will include 5 levels that have to be destroyed to defeat the creature as compared to the Whitestones Tribe that only has 3 counters. You will also notice that each Tribe has different strengths for Combat Factors and Defense Numbers. While the Redstones have more counters, their average CF is only 3 (15 total CF divided by 5 = 3.0) as compared to the average CF for the Whitestones which is 4.33 (13 total CF divided by 3 = 4.33). Each of these Tribes has an average Defense Number of 4. This is key for you to understand which of these Tribes is your greatest threat.
You also will notice on the individual counters that there is a two letter code. On the stacks to the left here you will see the Redstones have two of these codes, MS and PE. The Whitestones have only one code and it is BS (not what you think!). These codes relate to the Tribal Special Attacks that we will discuss a little bit later. That is the major difference in the Tribes and their anatomy. Size doesn’t always matter, but in this game, size is important but more so is what they can do with that size! The size of the stacks really comes into play in the area of their Rolling Thunder attacks. When a Colossi Tribe stack is adjacent to an enemy counter, they can perform a Rolling Thunder attack. They will get to roll the number of dice per their Combat Factor number plus +1 die for each counter in their stack beyond the top counter. So, in the above picture, the Whitestones Tribe stack would get to roll 4d6 (base CF) + 2d6 for two counters in the stack above the top counter for a total of 6d6 whereas, the Redstones Tribe would roll 4d6 (base CF) + 4d6 for a total of 8d6! That is a huge difference and can lead to serious damage to the Marines.
Order of Action
The hallmark of a great solitaire game is the AI mechanic, or, how does the AI opponent select its actions and what is their priority? As is the case with Attack of the 50 Foot Colossi!, the AI mechanic is simple, actually much more simple than I expected, but also makes sense and creates a challenge. How does it work? Well, the AI mechanic has some very simple priorities given to it.
The first priority is during the initial part of the Colossi turn. Each Colossi Tribe stack will always move one hex closer to the nearest enemy unit. Simple. The Colossi are not sprinters and will simply move one step per turn toward the nearest enemy unit. Think slow and steady. I really like this element as it actually allows me to plan for the movement of the Colossi, much like when I lived on the farm growing up and we could drive our hogs into the pens we needed them to go in by anticipating where they were going to go. This is the case with the exception of the one Tribe that is unpredictable, the Blackstones, but I will cover that a little later.
The main focus of the Colossi Order of Action is the card that is drawn at the beginning of the round. This card is the key to the choices made by the AI, and is the unpredictable part of the design. As you can see from the card picture above, there are two parts to the Order of Action. First, will be a listing of all the tribes that will act this round. You can see that there are 5 Tribes listed on the card. In the game, there are actually 7 Tribes so there are always at least 2 Tribes that could be on the board and in play that will not act because they are not listed on this Order of Action card. The player will simply activate each of the listed Tribes in order and perform their actions and attacks. I will cover these a little later. So, using the card in the above picture, the Tombstones will act first, followed by the Blackstones, the Whitestones, Greystones and finally, the Brownstones. That is it. Pretty simple and this part is very unpredictable. You might get lucky and have only 3 or so of the 5 listed Tribes on the board so you will have an easy round. You might also see that the Tribes that are on the board attacking you, are not listed on the card. Very unpredictable but a part of the design that I really enjoyed.
The second point of focus on the card is the Tie Breaker listed at the bottom. This is very important to the design. This Tie Breaker will tell you what will happen if the Colossi has two different enemy units that are the closest, or when there are 3 different targets that are in range of their attacks. You will simply refer to the bottom of the card and see whether you will break that tie using the lowest numbered hex or the highest numbered hex. Simple. I like simple and this game has a lot of these type of simple design elements that make for a very reasonable and logical playable game.
Now that we have looked at the AI decisions, lets take a look at the different Tribes and their Tribal Special Attacks.
There are seven different Tribes in the game, including Blackstones, Brownstones, Greystones, Redstones, Tombstones, Whitestones and Yellowstones. Each of these Tribes will perform the same during their activations, by moving one hex toward the closest enemy unit, and then doing their patented Rolling Thunder attack if they are adjacent to an enemy unit. But this is where the similarities will end. Each of these Tribes has their Tribal Special Attacks that are generally specific to their Tribe, although there is some crossover. These Special Attacks each are terrible in their own right and I would like to give you a look at a few.
Blackstones – The Blackstones Tribe is very unpredictable and their Special Attack is the reason why. They have a Special Attack called the Fault Tunneling. When they do their Special Attack after their initial movement and Rolling Thunder attack (if there is an adjacent Marine or Miner), they will then get to roll 3d6 in order to determine a random hex that they will then tunnel through the planet to reach. At the hex where they reappear, if there is a Marine/Civilian unit, it will be displaced to the nearest lowest numbered hex and suffer one hit. In addition to this displacement, all adjacent Marines or Civilian will be Paralyzed. Paralyzed is not good as you cannot move away from the Colossi nor attack it. You are simply frozen, ready to be beaten into the ground.
Tombstones – The Tombstones Tribe are made up of the phantom souls of past Colossi Heroes and as such are the most mysterious and unpredictable of all of the Tribes. They will act as other Tribes do with their movement and subsequent Rolling Thunder attacks upon adjacent enemy units but they have a random Special Attack. When their Special Attack is to be executed, you will roll a d6 and consult the above pictured table. They will then gain the rolled Special Attack for that round. As you can see, these are all of the Tribes Special Attacks, with the exception of the Pumice Ejection of the Redstones. This can make for a very bad situation if the Tombstones roll the wrong Special Attack for the situation. If they are in the middle of a lot of Marines units, and happen to roll the Piledriver Stomp (PD), which attacks all adjacent enemy units, it can be really bad and end the game prematurely for sure or at least take away your power to have a realistic chance of winning. These guys are nasty and are best avoided!
Redstones – The Redstones Tribe are the biggest Tribe with the most counters. But they also have two Special Attacks that are both bad for the Marines. The Medusa Stare (MS) is the worst of the two but is more random as to whether it will hurt or not. What happens is that you roll a die and consult the compass on the map to determine the direction of the attack. This is where the hope comes in. If your Marines are all on the right side of the Redstones Tribe and they roll a 5 or 6, which means the ray is shooting to the west, you will totally avoid any negative damage from the attack. So after the roll and direction determination, the damage happens as a ray of energy in a straight line to the edge of the map or until it encounters blocking terrain. The unit closest to the ray will be immediately Paralyzed. If it is already Stunned or Paralyzed it will take a disruption. Also, every unit located in this corridor and within Line of Sight of the Redstones Tribe is Stunned. Nasty!
Then comes the final Special Attack, the Pumice Ejection (PE). Only on odd numbered game turns, the Tribe will spew out a Gravel Counter that will land in a direction determined by a d6 and the distance it travels will be determined by a d3. This is ammunition for later rounds during the Aura of Our Ancestors Phase, when these Gravel Counters can turn into new Colossi Tribe stacks using eliminated counters that you have killed. So, this is a way to get them back on the board and also take away your victory points as each killed counter is worth a certain amount of points as dictated by the scenario.
So, as you can see, Attack of the 50 Foot Colossi! is a well designed game that has a lot of variability and variety in its design. I have really enjoyed my plays of the game and look forward to future plays. Both scenarios are extremely challenging and have a lot of tough decision choices for the player. I recommend that you give this game a try.