Heavy Gear intro, Q&A


Gang Champion
Oct 1, 2018
West Greenwich, RI
So as @Biggle_Bear requested I'll be posting an intro to Heavy Gear. Hopefully this isn't against any Yak-rules and I won't bore anyone. I'll be making several posts over the next few days so as not to break the Forum. LoL

A bit of background on my involvement with the game. Around 2008 a friend of mine from our gaming group came back from GenCon with the Heavy Gear: Locked and Loaded rulebook and a few minis. After a couple demo games I was hooked. Come to find out one of my other friends from the group had been heavily involved with HG when it first came out and knew all the creators and head of the company, Dream Pod 9. Skip forward a few months and I was one of the "Pod Squad" (I still am) going around the southern New England area holding demos and running tournaments.

During a tournament at a mini-con I was introduced to the head of the DP9 and we started talking. I became a playtester for them which grew into being offered a position as an assistant line developer (There were three of us who worked under the lead developer). We came up with new rules, clarified current ones, and created new units based on direction from the head and lead. I ran a group of about 20 playtesters during this time from all over North America.

I did that, and still did demos and ran tournaments for about 4 years until I quit. Several factors were involved. I was putting in over 30 hours a week in addition to my regular 40 hour a week job and I just couldn't do it any longer as I was burning out. There were also some conflicts with the lead that contributed to my departure.

Skip forward again to earlier this year when my friend brings up Heavy Gear again. New Lead Developer, new rules, new minis and sculpts. It caught my interest again. So currently my gaming group is getting back into Heavy Gear after a long hiatus, and so far we're pleased with what we see.

My next post will go into setting background and factions.

Feel free to ask any questions you have, comments are also welcome.
Okay, on to the next part. Fluff.

I'll keep this short as the game does have a very rich and detailed story that would be easy to go on about for pages and pages and pages..

Basically Earth went out and colonized several planets. Events happened that caused Earth to abandon those colonies to their own devices. After issues were resolved Earth went back out to reclaim the colony worlds. Most of them were having none of it. A few were conquered, a few spanked Earth's behind saying, "Don't come back."

One of those, and the focus of the game is the World of Terra Nova. Earth has invaded it twice, being soundly routed both times. Terra Nova now is venturing out to the other colonies to help them get Earth off their respective lawns.

Terra Nova also has had wars between the two main governments along with some civil wars (much like our own real life world). All of the colonies have also had various problems either from outside agencies or self-inflicted.

Here's a synopsis of the main factions.

Terra Nova has: Confederated Northern City States (kinda North America-ish), Allied Southern Territories (somewhat totalitarian, similar to Eastern bloc), Peace River (capitalists), New Coalition (a bunch of outliers that banded together, the newest faction), Leagueless (independents, mercenaries, pirates, etc) and Black Talons (combined governments Special Forces dedicated to causing Earth problems).
Terra Nova militaries utilize infantry, vehicles and are the originators of Heavy Gears (mecha)

NEC - New Earth Coalition/CEF - Colonial Expeditionary Force. Earth is the overall "bad guy".
Earth uses hovertanks, Frames (reverse engineered gears) and GREL (Genetically Recombined Experimental Legionnaires, basically test tube soldiers)

Caprice - a corporate mining world, under Earth control.
Caprice uses infantry and Mounts (multi-legged walkers that can climb like spiders)

Eden - feudal world, under Earth control.
Eden uses infantey, vehicles and Golems (more or less powered armor/mini gears).

Utopia - high tech dictatorship, under Earth control.
Utopia uses infantry, drone swarms and Armigers (gears that act as drone controllers)

There are a few other worlds but they either don't have any military or they've kicked Earth out and/or are isolationist.

Next up I'll go into the rules.
I like the way the available units fit the back story. It feels very organic from your description. And the naming convention feels right too. Even without knowing anything the names give a good impression on the backstory. A little like calling the Necromunda muscle men Goliaths.
Ok, the rules.

Heavy Gear is heavily influenced by the anime "Armored Trooper VOTOMS" and the rules have tried to reflect the way combat is portrayed in that series. Fast and brutal.

Most of the technology and weapons are believable, there's no "Destructo-Beams", "Zap-a-tron Rays", or "Obliteration Missiles". There's autocannon, mortars, rockets and many other modern day equivalents. Lasers as weapons are used (but not much), and the only weapon that I question is particle cannons. Whether you believe 15' - 20' tall mecha are believable is up to you. Personally I find them much more credible than the 100 ton 50' giants of another mecha game, or even the walking city block 'titan'-ic mecha of yet another system.

I haven't yet played the current Heavy Gear (3.1) rules, but I have gone over them a few times, and I have extensive play time with a previous version.

I'm not going into great detail, as those of you that might be interested can download the current rulebook FOR FREE off Drivethrurpg or Wargamevault.

I will touch on the key mechanic, which is opposed dice (D6) rolls. You want to do something, roll. You're opponent doesn't want you to, they roll. Compare results after modifiers to determine what happens. Obviously there's more to it, but that's it in a nutshell.

I happen to like opposed rolls as to me it's more interactive between you and your opponent.

The game is alternating activations of units (combat groups), with each individual model having a number of "Actions" which can be used to move, shoot, etc. Larger models (with more crew) tend to have more Actions.

A standard game takes about an hour to an hour and a half with two players familiar with the rules, and is played on a 4' x 6' area. Smaller games can be played on a 4' x 4' area.

I'll finish up on the next post with a bit about the models, and why I like the game. I'm sure everyone is getting bored with my posts by now. :ROFLMAO:
That definitely not boring me. It looks like the rules and tons of other books are given for free in pdf and sold for physical copies. I like that marketing tactic.

So the scale is really small.
Scale as far as.. ?

The miniatures are 1/144 scale.

A standard game is 150 TV (Threat Value, ie. points) which is enough for three Combat Groups (squads). Depending on the models that's around 8-12 models. Some extreme army builds can be more or less than that. 50 TV is a "starter" or "learning" game. 100 TV is considered a "skirmish".

One thing I forgot to mention, each model has a "role" (Fire Support, Recon, etc). A combat group consists of models with all the same role, say for example, Recon. The role of the Combat Group(s) dictates your choice of objective(s). The most successful forces chose multiple roles across their combat groups.

Heavy Gear is objective driven. You can - and I have on many occasions - have your force totally destroyed yet still win the game because you achieved your Objectives and your opponent didn't.

Using model roles is something new for this edition of the rules and I think it's excellent. It gives you so much flexibility in force creation.

I'll post either later today or tomorrow to finish up.
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That's cool. I downloaded the pdf for free from Wargames. Theres also printable terrain and stuff for free too. I know what I will be reading during lunch tomorrow.
I hope you enjoy the read.

Okay, last part. A bit on the minis and why I like the game.

The miniatures for the game are honestly not the most detailed, but they're good solid sculpts that I enjoy painting. Most of them are still metal, with some resin and a few plastics.

Disclaimer here, I'm a die hard metalhead (in all ways) so I do have a bias.

The minis assemble easily, and many are quite magnetizable. They don't however have a whole lot of poses. They do have a wide variety of bits for customization, which can be ordered individually from the company online store.

I do like the less detailed sculpts as for me too much detail can detract from the model and the paint job.

The game itself I enjoy because of the fluff, artwork, miniatures and of course the rules. As I've mentioned I haven't had a chance yet to play the current 3.1 rules but I have read through them. They're much more streamlined than previous versions yet keep the overall feel of prior editions. For me at my age easier rules with faster play is where I'm at with gaming. I can play a casual game with a dozen minis in a couple hours with minor record keeping, rather than two days for the same amount of models with a ton of tracking the minutiae.

Once I do get a chance to play I'll add my opinion and observations.

That concludes my presentation. I'm open for questions and comments here or by private message if you like.
Ok, so I am trying to read through pdf of version 3.1 but I am struggling a bit. From what I understand the base mechanics are...

Armies are broken down into groups. There is alternating activation but instead of activating single minis you activate an entire group, resulting in a system halfway between u-go-I-go and regular alternating activation.

Models move and perform actions, but extra actions can be gained by how you build your mechs (eg. one pilot shoots one gun, another pilot shoots the other).

Shooting and most actions are...
Each player rolls 2d6 (modifiers add or subtract to the number of dice rolled)
Take the highest dice and plus one result for every other dice that passes the difficulty (often indicated by the unit's stats). Then compare who got the highest.
In shooting, the defender rolls to avoid the attack. The strength of the attack is the difference that the attacker won by.

And the other rules are basically lots of exceptions and specific circumstances that deviate or modify that process.

Is that right? This reminds me of the advice I heard that the best way to learn a game is by being taught in game by an experienced player.
This is all very interesting. I remember working at a New England game store in the late '90s and dabbling with Heavy Gear with a group of friends who were all about to go their separate ways post college. We didn't really get to far with it before we were scattered to the winds but we did have some fun with it. It sounds like it's worth another look.
@Biggle_Bear that's all essentially correct. One thing to point out about activations is that it's not totally a "you activate a group, I activate a group" as you can interrupt an opponent's activation.

For example: it's my turn and I activate a gear to take a shot at one of yours. If you haven't spent your Action(s) and have a weapon with "React" you can choose to spend it and shoot back.

There's multiple ways that even if it's not your turn to activate that you can interact in the battle, and not by just making your defense roll. Electronic Warfare is a big one. You can shut down Commands, counter an opponent's EW (if you have ECCM), or put up a defensive electronic screen to screw with your opponent's sensors. The game is definitely more fluid than "You move and shoot everything while I'm bored and roll my saves".

@cronevald I'd say it's worth a second look, but I may be - and probably am - biased. :ROFLMAO: One of the great things is you can download the rulebook for free. Use proxy models and give it a try to see if you like it. It doesn't cost you anything but a bit of time and if you like it then you can dive in. If you don't, you haven't spent any money on a game that you don't like.
So a bit of thread necromancy as I had mentioned in one of my posts that I'd give my view on the newest rules after playing a game.

Unfortunately the end of 2022 hit both my wife and I over the head HARD with the loss of both our mothers. 2023 was trying to take care of two estates AND find a new place to live and move into it. Things have FINALLY calmed down and gotten back to a semblance of normalcy.

So my "brother from another mother" and I sat down yesterday to play. We're both burnt out on GW stuff and I made mention I missed Heavy Gear. He - as usual - was thinking the exact same thing and so we set up a day to play.

We played with 30 TV (Threat Value aka points) which allowed us to play with one basic squad of four models to learn/re-learn the rules.

A couple points, I DO love the game, setting and models. I'll try not to let that bias show. I'm not associated with the company officially - as of right now - but that may change in the future.

The rules were simple to understand and after figuring out some things that had been changed or tweaked my friend and I felt like we had a solid grasp on the basics again. We both felt that the changes made were for the better, streamlining and speeding up play.

My one complaint is that it was difficult - for me at least - to find certain specific rules points. I think a slightly better layout with either bullet points, highlight boxes or similar would help. Where certain details were placed seemed a bit disjointed or counterintuitive to me.

Other than that I'm quite pleased with the current - version 3.1 - rules, which again are FREE to download off Drivethrurpg and Wargamevault. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
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