I’ll take games I hate myself for not playing sooner for $1000, Alex. A.E.G.I.S. is a game I’ve had sitting in my “play this right away” pile for much too long. Tactical Wargames are a genre that not many of my local players are into. Frustratingly, the players who are, also tend to be some of the busiest of my friends. But eventually, I found someone willing to try something outside of their own box.
Spoiler: even though they haven’t liked the wargames they’ve tried in the past, they had a great time playing this one.
In A.E.G.I.S. players control a team of giant robots from one of five nations. The backstory of the planet Sigea and the Five Nations War is fascinating, but aside from putting some restrictions on building your team it doesn’t really impact gameplay, so I’m not going to focus much on it.
For beginning players, there are four premade teams of robots to choose from. Those teams include a Commander, five recommended Level 1 robots, plus two more that can be subbed in once a player starts to understand the rules better, and a few options to combine into Level 2 and 3 robots. As players get more comfortable, the Core Box includes four expansions that add new Commanders and Robots, with a fifth expansion available separately that contains variations on the Core robots, allowing them to use the existing game parts. Not counting that last expansion, there are 100 robots available to choose from when building your team.
Gameplay is surprisingly simple. Every robot in play contributes a specific amount of energy at the start of a turn. The player spends that energy to activate their robots and take actions. Movement, for example, costs 1 point of energy for each hex-space moved (up to that robot’s maximum). There are all sorts of different action types, but they all resolve similarly and are all well explained in the rulebook. Most actions and attacks have a specific cost, which also dictates how many six-sided dice will be rolled. Depending on the type of action, every die that lands above the target (accuracy) number for the action is a success and deals damage (or whatever the effect is). The turn ends when each robot has been activated, when the player is out of energy, or when a player simply decided they are done. Again depending on the scenario, the game ends when one player has no robots or can no longer take actions with the robots they have left.
Earlier I mention different Levels of robots. This is where some of the fun starts happening, robots can be combined. Level 1 robots are “Basic Robots” and are classified by a single Class. A(ssault) Class, E(vasive) Class, G(uard) Class, I(ntel) Class, and S(upport) Class). A.E.G.I.S., get it? Each of these Classes have a set of common traits and abilities. When you combine two Bsci Robots, you get Level 2 “Duo-Class” robot. These are classified by the pair of robots that combined (AE or GS, for example). When a Level 2 robot adds a third Level 1 robot you get a Level 3 “Trio Class” robot (AEG or GIS). Add a fourth and you get a Level 4 “Quadra Class” and finally a Level 5 “AEGIS Class”. You can never combine more than one of any given robot type, and there are advantages and disadvantages to having higher level robots.
The art style of the game is very cartoonish, but that is intentional. The game is meant to feel more like Voltron than it is Pacific Rim. Once you realize this, the art is great. This game could easily have been a giant game with a ton of huge miniatures and 3D terrain pieces. The choice was intentionally made to go with cardboard components, to keep the game affordable for more people. I would have liked to see the Level 2+ robots maybe have a different size or visual template to make them easier to spot, but having them the same as everything else isn’t the end of the world.
All things considered, A.E.G.I.S. does exactly what it set out to do. It’s a great homage to Mecha cartoons like Robotech, Gundam, Voltron, and more. It’s also a great introduction to tactical wargames. The lower retail cost and the reasonable simple rule system makes it a great option for both new and experienced players alike.