Sometimes, you have a favorite book or movie that never really catches fire. It’s brilliant and engaging, but despite a small core of enthusiastic supporters, it never becomes popular. Still, you love your hidden gem and try to introduce it to friends when you can. That happens in the board game world, too. Most notably, with Earth Reborn.
Earth Reborn is a tactical miniatures game pitting the NORAD forces against the Salemites. Hundreds of years previously, mankind laid waste to the planet with nuclear annihilation. Some were able to escape into government bunkers and have lived in relative comfort. That NORAD faction now exits to explore the world above. Meanwhile, the Salemites never made it to the bunker. In the radioactive wasteland they survived and even harnessed new technologies, like zombifying the dead to do the menial and dangerous labor.
The setting is great fun and luckily the game is so much more than mere combat, especially considering the innovative interrupt system. The first time an enemy character crosses your line of sight, you can interrupt them by asking for a Duel. At that point, both players bid action points for the round. Choose wisely and even bluff to get your opponent to waste their points, because if you win, you get to interrupt their turn and complete a single action.
Characters do more than just move and attack. They can travel throughout modular complexes searching for weapons and equipment, or if lined up properly, they can execute a combined action for maximum damage. The Salemites can even capture and torture NORAD characters.
The game includes nine pre-made scenarios along with an entire system for generating your own. The initial phase of the game has each player collectively building the layout and choosing starting equipment. Then they each draw missions which might task players with acquiring certain equipment or killing specific members of the other team. Fulfilling those objectives is how you win, not merely decimating the other side. The whole experience is just phenomenal. With so much excitement and an unlimited replay value, why didn’t this game explode like your average minis-filled Kickstarter?
Earth Reborn was traditionally published in the days before Kickstarter, so there was no sure method of gauging demand. When it hit shelves, the game came with a price tag of $80. While that’s completely appropriate for what comes in the box, that sum definitely puts it outside the range of an impulse purchase. So there weren’t as many “day 1” sales as the publisher may have hoped.
And then, there was the ruleset. The game tried to compensate for the expansive ruleset by having each of the nine scenarios layer on a few systems at a time so that by the end you’ve learned the whole game. While it’s actually a great way to become acclimated to the system, it meant that players weren’t getting the full experience in the first play. Combined with its lengthier play-time (the full game can take three to four hours) and it just didn’t hit the table much.
Because it didn’t initially sell well, you can generally find Earth Reborn for a steal at $50 or less, especially on eBay. That’s the good news. An amazing game is available at a crazy low price. The bad news, though, is it can be difficult to teach to new players and you basically need someone who can commit to multiple plays just to learn it. It also means that expansion material, which the rulebook even references being planned, is unlikely to materialize.
Still, Earth Reborn is simply phenomenal and perhaps the best and most immersive complete tactical minis game. If you like shooting your opponents, laying clever traps, throwing timed explosives, and completing objectives in the face of hostile fire, then you owe it to yourself to try out this amazing title.
Have you played Earth Reborn? What are your favorite tactical miniature games?
Featured Image Credit: Z-Man Games
All other Images: Ludically