I think the title says a lot but it’s even better than cool mech models built out of everyone’s favorite creative toy. Mobile Frame Zero: Rapid Attack is a full blown in depth tactical tabletop game. What more could you ask for? Well, frankly, a lot! So here are the answers to your inevitable questions.
Are rules free?
Yes, and what you get for free is amazing. A 219-page downloadable PDF that includes a thorough and compelling overview of the universe the game takes place in, which I thought was intriguing by the way. More practically it explains differences in factions and custom building your own pieces to create a balanced playable company of LEGO mechs. Really, all that you need is contained in the free file. How to field your company and turn sequence as well as resolving attacks and all the other details you’d expect from Warhammer or BattleTech are thought out and explained. There is also guidance on creating in house rules, factions, mechs, custom scenarios and even campaigns. I recommend taking a closer look for yourself, here.
Of course you can donate ten dollars for the file if you want to support the developer, and you can even buy a book version of the rules for twenty, which seems like a steal.
What if I don’t have legos or I don’t think I’d be very good at figuring out ways to build these?
These aren’t really valid obstacles to the determined player either.
The game’s home page does not directly sell custom LEGO kits, but promises that other parties are doing so in support of and in conjunction with the developer. A link provided to one such site was under construction at the time I reviewed it. If you are interested in getting your hands on these kits directly you can sign up to be notified by email about progress and availability for the time being. However, you’d really do alright going to Walmart and buying random clearance sets of legs to get started.
I suspect most players interested would want to customize their own models anyway. The free rule book linked above provides sufficient instructions for building official game pieces to start with, and they aren’t overly large or complicated, but look fantastic.
In addition their are several sites offering suggestions and inspiration for additional mech frames that are supported by the developer and able to be naturally added to your collection. I found so much on Flickr alone that I had a hard time pulling myself away so that I could write this article. There is really a huge variety of mech styles as well as complexity level, from the beautifully simple to the profoundly detailed pieces, and lots in between. So whether you prefer Mechwarrior- or Gundam- style mechs there is something, (and lots of it) for you.
But who am I going to play with?
Always the BIG question for any tabletop game. In the case of Mobile Frame, it helps to remember we are talking about LEGOs, even though that might be hard to believe after seeing how thoroughly developed and polished the game looks. The fact that this is a LEGOs based games makes it hugely accessible to kids. I’m a Dad, and I can’t wait to share this with my two oldest, Isaac and Sam (ages 9 and 7). Will their creations be show room quality to start with? No, but I will get to share one of my pastimes and interests with them without breaking the bank and without stressing out over whether they break a model I just finished. My oldest just got into building LEGO micro towns and this is going to blow his mind.
As for adults, I think most tabletop gamers could get behind at least experimenting with some “test runs.” If you can get your friends to play Warhammer 40K despite the rollercoaster ride Games Workshop puts fans through than this should be a no-brainer for that kind of group.
Last but not least, this game has the signs of a healthy and growing community that is ready to take off. The Forum, called Mobile Frame Hangar has some really helpful sections, one of which includes threads to coordinate games with other players.
The bottom line is, that if you are a mech fan and a gamer, (even just a little) you owe it to yourself to check this project out.
I’ll be testing Mobile Frame Zero out for myself as soon as I’m able. If I hadn’t just moved I’d already have enlisted the boys as my target practice, um… I mean allies. The creative flexibility inside such a simultaneously well defined setting really warrants further investigation. Now, let me see where the boxes of LEGOs got buried…