4 Reasons to get into Godtear: Tactical Skirmish Miniatures Without the Crunch
It's rare that a game can grip the entire Vault Games team, but when it does, it's glorious to see. Godtear, while being around four years old already, has never really hit it big here in the land down under. But now we've got our hands on it, and by God(tear), we're converts. If you want a fast skirmish game that you can whip out and play with minimal setup but still scratches that tactical itch, here's a game for you.
1 - The sculpts are amazing
The first thing to critique in any miniatures game is the designs of the miniatures themselves, and Godtear does not disappoint. The miniatures from Steamforged Games have been some of the best in recent memory, particularly the Epic Encounters series for D&D 5E, and Godtear brings the heat with the same attention to detail and character design.
Each team of characters and followers oozes the story behind the hero, giving them a distinct yet unified appearance across both the team and the game overall. The added detail available in the scale that Steamforged chose to design in means the models are a joy to paint too.
2 - The game is easy to play
I know, I know, every game is "easy to play" once you've played a few rounds, but Godtear was easy to grasp right away. Everything your heroes can do beyond "advance," "rally," and "claim an objective" is listed on their cards, and the fact that a player always wins a turn means the game is always clearly moving towards victory.
If you don't want to give the rulebook a read (available on the Steamforged Games website at https://steamforged.com/blogs/resources), here's the rundown.
The first player to five victory points wins the game, which can be earned by winning a turn (having the turn marker on the battle ladder on your half at the end of the turn), with each turn being worth 1, 2, 3, 2, and 1 point consecutively.
There are four ways to move the turn marker: Knocking out a hero (4 steps); Claiming an objective hex (1 step); Knocking out a follower (1 or 2 steps); and Holding an objective at the end of a turn (4 steps). A hero's class can increase those steps by one if they are the hero that causes those steps to occur (for instance, if a Slayer knocks out an enemy hero, the marker moves 5 steps instead of 4).
A turn is played over two phases: Plot and Clash.
In the Plot phase, a player activates all of their heroes and followers at once, performing up to two actions each using the "Plot" side of the unit cards (Claim actions can only be taken in the Plot phase).
In the Clash phase, players take turns activating a hero or follower unit one at a time, performing up to two actions each using the "Clash" side of the unit cards.
Finally, you end the turn by adding steps on the battle ladder for any objectives you currently have a banner on, and determine who won that turn. The player that loses this turn chooses who goes first in the next one.
There's a bit more nuance to the game and how it handles attacks and skills, but at its core, you can just pick a scenario, set up the board, and start playing immediately.
The coolest element we've found while playing in-store is the Boon and Blight system the game uses for modifying abilities and stats. They can increase or decrease the numbers on a unit's stat by one, and only one, and cancel each other out if both affect the same stat. While this doesn't look like a massive change to a stat, the number of times I've ended up just one hex away from a really effective clash phase because my unit's speed was knocked back by a single hex is more than I can count.
I do have one gripe with the game, and that's the proprietary dice system. Rather than using a standard six-sided dice system, the game instead lists a one and two as no successes, a six as two successes, and the three to five as one success. This can make quickly calculating your probabilities difficult when you're new to the game, but given that it's still a relatively simple substitution, the game isn’t held back too much (though for some reason, I seem to roll a lot of ones... which I guess isn't really the game's fault).
3 - You can play however you want
You see all the different colours of the teams and you think “oh, they’re the factions you can choose from,” but you’re wrong. Those are the classes, and you can choose ANY hero to make up your force during a game.
That’s right. Godtear forgoes specific factions that you would normally see in other miniatures games and instead allows you to make a team from any of the twenty-six (at the time of writing) heroes and their followers. The only thing you need to consider is how the different classes (Slayer, Shaper, Maelstrom, and Guardian) interact with each other during the game.
But what if I want to build a Godtear team that has the same aesthetic/faction-look? Steamforged appears to have considered that, as in some cases, there is a hero of each class that matches an aesthetic. Do you want to play Undead? Well, there's Morrigan as a Slayer, Styx as a Shaper, Grimgut as a Maelstrom, and Mournblade as a Guardian. What about Dwarves? There's Maxen, Nia, Luella, and Rhodri.
There really are designs to appeal to everyone in this game, and more to come from Steamforged.
4 - It’s ready to play out of the box
You thought gameplay was quick? Try setting up a game. The models are all assembled when you open the box, the relevant information for each unit is on the cards included (and also available for free on the Steamforged Games website at https://steamforged.com/blogs/resources), and the rulebook lists a set of simple scenarios that each provide a different tactical element to the game. You're really one starter box plus a hero expansion away from playing a full game with everything you need.
Godtear stands out from other skirmish games because it's so easy to play out of the box. There's no crunchy rules like Battletech; no deck-building like Warhammer: Underworlds; it's not only easy to pick up and start playing, it's easy to rope your friends into it too.