For a Game About Quick-Paced Customization, “Ironclad Tactics” Seems Set in Stone

SpaceChem is one of my favorite games ever, and perhaps Ironclad Tactics suffers slightly from unfair comparison. After all, one is a methodical programming game in which you oversee and manipulate the efficient creation, bonding, and delivery of molecules, whereas the latter bills itself as a fast-paced deck-building game of tactics. But as you’ll find from my review on Slant Magazine, it isn’t the core conceit that I have a problem with. It may take a moment to get used to the amount of luck-of-the-draw chance that’s infused throughout this otherwise strategic game, but it’s fun to maneuver Ironclads from one end of a five-by-five grid to the other, scoring points for each robotic soldier that crosses into enemy lines. Parts cards provide a variety of armaments for the Ironclad units, Infantry characters allow you to gain terrain bonuses (action-point-boosting gold mines; victory-point-earning mortars), and Tactics provide much-needed maneuverability and buffs once you’re actually on the board. Even the steampunk setting, while ultimately irrelevant, is charming. The real issue is that the game doesn’t feel complete: complex strategies are unnecessary (and too hard to execute, most of the time), and the brevity of the main campaign means that it spends most of the time introducing new mechanics without ever really expanding upon or testing your mastery of them. Two DLC expansions are already in the works, and I’m hoping they’ll remedy the majority of these issues–but you’ll probably want to wait until then to pick up a copy.

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