Robotech Crisis point is the second Robotech board game from SolarFlare Games. It is a follow up to Robotech Force of Arms and expands on the system presented in that two-player Robotech card game.
Crisis Point is also a two-player only competitive card game. It is set during the Robotech Masters era and pits the Army of the Southern Cross against the Robotech Masters.
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What do you get with Crisis Point a Robotech themed board game?
Robotech: Crisis Point was designed by Dave Killingsworth and features artwork from Andora Cidonia, Andrew Cramer and Joel Lopez. It was published in 2019 by SolarFlare Games.
Crisis Point is a two-player, competitive card game set during the Robotech Masters era of Robotech, the second series in the Robotech franchise. This game is a follow up to Robotech Force of Arms released by Solar Flare games the year previous (2018). This game recreates a ground battle between the Robotech Masters and the Army of the Southern Cross. While it borrows a lot of the basic mechanics from Force of Arms, it expands on and improves many of them.
If you haven’t already done so, I do suggest checking out my review of Robotech Force of Arms, though I will be repeating the basic mechanics here in this review for those that can’t find the time.
In addition, I also encourage you to check out my Robotech Crisis Point unboxing video on YouTube to get a look at the components for this Robotech themed game.
The first thing you will find when opening up Crisis Point is that, unlike Force of Arms, this Robotech game comes with a board. It’s a fairly large six-fold board that features some great Robotech Masters artwork. The only real function of this board is to give you a place to put the cards, but since the grid created in this game is larger than that of Force of Arms I think it’s a great inclusion.
The main thing here though, as this is a card-driven game, are the cards. You get seventy-six cards, most of which are split over two decks with one deck for each of the two factions. Each faction has a base card, eight combat cards, eight secret objective cards, four command cards, four hero cards and eight-unit cards. In addition, there are ten strategic location cards. All of these are of decent quality and feature great looking Robotech artwork.
Along with the cards, there are two punch boards, one for each player, giving you a total of one hundred and fifty-eight tokens. There are sixty-one battle tokens per faction, plus sixteen victory tokens per faction and two special tokens per faction.
Finally, there is a rulebook that is ten pages long. While this is shorter in page count than Force of Arms, it’s a much larger book with a two-column layout and actually has significantly more rules. While easy to read the rulebook does have some ambiguity issues, more about that later.
How do you recreate a Robotech ground battle in Crisis Point?
A game of Robotech Crisis Point starts off by laying the board between the two players. The board features a four by four grid on it with spots at the end of each row and column of this grid to place combat cards. Players choose a faction and take all of the cards and counters for that faction. Each player will look at their eight objective cards and secretly pick two to use for this game. They then are dealt four random strategic location cards (the other two cards will not be used this play). Players can then set their command and hero cards aside to be used later in the game.
Starting with the first player (determined by a random draw of combat cards) each player will do the following steps in order:
Place a unit, base or strategic location card onto the battlefield. Players start with eight units, one base, and four strategic locations, They will end up playing only five of their units, two of the locations and their base each game.
Activate the card played and collect battle tokens. Each card type acts differently. Locations have an ability you read off and carry out, usually letting you assign battle tokens from the pool to cards already on the board. When your base is played you add a number of battle tokens to your pool based on the number of combat cards you have left (so the longer you wait to play it the fewer tokens you earn). Units all generate the player a number of battle tokens and often have some other effect. Many of these unit abilities are based on where the card is placed. For example, you may get extra tokens if you place a unit next to your own units, next to a strategic location, or they may let you place tokens onto specific enemy or neutral cards.
Play one combat card. These are placed at the edges of the battlefield. Each player has an identical set of cards (mechanically) worth two to nine battle points. These cards are placed face down and will affect all of the cards in their row or column once we get to the resolution and scoring phase.
Place one battle token (if you can). Tokens are taken from the player’s personal supply, not the central pool. Each battle token gives you +1 to your side for that battle, they can be placed on your cards, your enemy’s cards or on neutral strategic locations.
Play continues until the battlefield is full and all combat cards are placed and then the game enters the token phase.
Here players will take turns placing two battle tokens each onto units on the board out of the pool of tokens they earned in the previous phase. Players can also spend any special tokens they have earned. These are earned when certain cards are played and are very asymmetric. For example, the Robotech Masters have a dropship that allows them to swap out one of their units for a Bioroid in their hand and the Southern Cross have a missile launcher that damages a friendly unit while doing a lot more damage to the units around it.
Once all battle tokens are spent, players then will take turns playing either a combat card or a hero card. A total of two of each will be placed over four rounds. These cards mess with what’s already out on the board by moving units, swapping tokens, putting out new tokens, etc. Similar to Force of Arms, the powers of the cards are very similar between the two factions but not exactly the same. What may add battle tokens to their own units for one faction will add tokens to enemy units for the other faction. In particular, the Robotech Masters tend to have more defensive cards and the Army of the Southern Cross tend to have more offensive cards.
Once each player has played two hero and two command cards you enter the resolution and scoring phase.
In the resolution and scoring phase, you flip over all of the combat cards and do some math. You look at each card in the battlefield grid and add up the battle value for each faction. This includes the two combat cards in the row/column for each faction plus any battle tokens on the card. While it’s not actually mentioned in the rulebook, I strongly suggest you pair up the battle tokens, one from each side, and remove them from the board, leaving any leftovers on each card. This will make adding up the totals much simpler.
Whichever side has the highest total battle value for each card places a scoring token onto that card. Ties are awarded to the owner of the card. It’s not noted in the rules what happens with a tie for a strategic location as there’s no indicator on those cards who owned them. We went with whoever was dealt that card and played it, though I could also see having a tie leave the card unscored (borrowing the tie rule from Force of Arms).
Once all of the battlefield cards have been scored, players check the secret objective cards they chose at the beginning of the game. They score the completed card worth the most points. These cards include things like winning both base cards, capturing at least three strategic locations, owning at least three corners etc.
Players add up the point value of all of the cards they captured as well as one secret objective card and whoever has the most points wins. In the case of a tie, the game provides one of the worst tie breakers I’ve ever seen: play another game to determine the true winner.
What did we think of the Robotech Masters based card game Crisis Point?
The game as a whole is bigger and more involved. There’s a lot more going on and a lot more decision points involved at every step of the game, from going from a three by three grid to four by four to actually filing that grid one card at a time instead of having a randomly generated battlefield.
In Crisis Point strategically and tactically placing units, bases and locations is a big part of this game. Position matters a lot more than in Force of Arms and there is very little in the game that lets you swap or reposition units. Added to this, many of the cards give bonuses based on what cards they are played adjacent to.
Speaking of that, one important thing to note, that we got wrong on our first play, is that adjacency in this game counts diagonally. I didn’t expect that from a very grid focused game.
While many of the things in Crisis Point expand on Force of Arms other things are simplified making the game much smoother. The biggest one is the fact that there is no longer a difference between attack and defence, both in regards to units and the tokens. In Crisis Point everything is calculated using battle points. A battle point can help you defend your own units or attack enemy units or locations. These points are generated from combat cards and from the large number of battle tokens you will earn while playing. I really like this change.
Another thing that’s streamlined is that players only get eight combat cards and only one is played per each row and column per player, that’s half the number of the last game.
Now, I did note that most things were improved. I do have a couple of complaints. The first of which is the amount of ambiguity in the rules for Crisis Point and at least one printing error. As for the rules, the most egregious is trying to figure out where you get your battle tokens from. Clearly, you start with a pool of them, but then some cards specifically give you a number of tokens, which means there must be a central pool you can earn from and a personal pool of tokens you have earned. When you play a strategic location and it says to place one of your battle tokens on two adjacent cards, where do those come from? Your pool or the central supply? When you play a unit you gain tokens from the pool to your supply but then if the card says “when this card is played place a battle token on a non-adjacent unit” does that token come from the ones you just earned or the pool?
I tried to Google this and had no luck, actually, there is surprisingly little information about this game out there, even on the Robotech Crisis Point Board Game Geek page, and none of it is an FAQ or rules discussion. So to get through the game you and your partner are going to have to both read through it and decide how you want to handle these ambiguities.
Regarding that printing error. There is one obvious typo on one of the Southern Cross secret objective cards. It gives you points for capturing your opponent’s Battloids, the problem is that the Robotech Masters player doesn’t have any Battloids, they only have Bioroids. Now thankfully it’s pretty obvious what this card should say but it did make me second guess every other card that mentioned either Battloid or Bioroid.
My only other complaint about this game is the exact same one I had for Force of Arms and that’s the fact that this is basically a math-heavy abstract game that really doesn’t use the Robotech licence all that well. While the card art and names are all well-known mecha and character from the series there isn’t a lot here to really make you feel like you are playing out a ground battle between the Robotech Masters and the Southern Cross. Similar to the first game in this series you could easily re-theme this game to be any two-sided battle, either historical or fantasy.
Overall, despite a few flaws, both Deanna and I really enjoyed this Robotech-themed card game. While I actually quite liked Force of Arms, the first Robotech game from SolarFlare as a quick filler game, Crisis Point takes all of the good parts of that and improves upon them. This is a much more involved and strategic game. Building the battlefield as you play adds a lot of strategic and tactical elements and makes you feel like you have a lot more control over the battle.
While the combat cards still add a random element, especially since they go from two to nine, unit positioning and how you spend your tokens has a significant impact. I also greatly appreciate how the Force of Arms resolution system has been streamlined by changing attack and defence values to a generic battle value. Another great thing about this game is that you don’t use all of your cards every play. You only select two secret objectives, you will only play five of your eight units and you get a random set of four locations each game and only play two of them. This greatly increases the replayability of Crisis Point.
I found Robotech Crisis Point to be a very solid game. It builds on the Kniza like gridded math mechanics from Force of Arms and improves on them in many ways. Crisis Point is both more tactical and strategic and it feels like your decisions matter more. It also features more replayability. Now there are some ambiguities in the rulebook and until there’s an official FAQ or something out there, I do suggest discussing these before you play. Also, note the one card with a typo on it.
While I do recommend Robotech fans check out Force of Arms as well as picking up this follow up, I think Crisis Point may appeal to abstract game fans even without the Robotech licence. There’s a very solid game here and, to me, the nostalgic theme is an added bonus. That theme is not tied in all that tightly, but I dig playing with heroes and mecha I recognize.
If you are looking for a solid Robotech hobby board game, so far this is the best one I’ve played. It’s engaging, replayable and fun. If you enjoy math-based games like the type Reneir Knizia is famous for, while this isn’t one of his game, you may want to check this one out. For anyone that’s not a fan of abstract math-heavy games, you probably didn’t make it this far into the review but if you did, this is probably going to be a skip for you, unless you are a big Robotech fan and just want to collect all things Robotech.
So far Crisis Point has proven to be the best Robotech licenced game I’ve played. Are there better ones out there? If you know of one please let me know as I would love to try it. Tell me about it in the comments!