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Here’s how Rivet Wars: Reloaded plays

Steamforged Games reboots the strategy miniatures board game Rivet Wars with Rivet Wars: Reloaded on Kickstarter - here’s how it plays

Rivet Wars: Reloaded how it plays - two Rivet Wars Allied Forces minis sip coffee

Rivet Wars began life as a 2013 Kickstarter campaign, and it returns to the crowdfunding platform for its revival, Rivet: Wars Reloaded. The original dieselpunk WW1 miniatures game from Ted Terranova won a solid audience back in the mid-2010s with its unique rolling deployment mechanics, Grimdark humour, and jelly-bean-looking infantry minis – meaning the new edition has some big combat boots to fill.

Steamforged Games is hoping their new version, launched on Kickstarter on September 6 and crowdfunding ’til September 16, will measure up. The ‘all-in’ Kickstarter pledge boasts around 200 plastic minis in the core box and five expansions on offer (all for $399 / £345). There’s even a ‘Veterans’ option that allows returning players to make their original Rivet Wars minis backwards-compatible – in hopes of keeping players of all experience levels happy.

While Steamforged seems to pride itself on Rivet Wars’ easy setup, streamlined rules set, and potential for all-ages fun, an army of minis typically comes with an armada of accompanying rules. Lead designer Jamie Perkins and game designer Steve Margetson showed Wargamer the ropes in a Tabletop Simulator demo – so we can give you the gist of how Rivet: Wars Reloaded plays.

Rivet Wars: Reloaded how it plays - Tabletop Simulator setup for Rivet Wars board game

What is Rivet Wars: Reloaded?

Rivet Wars: Reloaded seems to be a very careful reboot of its predecessor, as the bones of it remain the same as the original. Two players bring an army each to the battlefield, but rather than set everything up in advance, they’ll need to spend deployment points (or the scarce but powerful rivet points) to send their tanks and soldiers into the trenches. The deployment points you have to spend will depend on the scenario you’ve chosen.

Movement and combat take place on a gridded map, with the latter relying on dice as well as individual infantry stats. Players can use action cards to gain short-term advantages, and they can customise their troops with ‘plugs’ (additional minis that literally plug into the original models) during the campaign. These are typically turrets that offer extra firepower or heroes with special abilities. Additionally, the layout of the battlefield and the combatants on it are changing constantly during play – barbed wire appears, terrain tiles may be added or removed from the field, and strategic objectives change position – meaning strategists need to stay on their toes to survive.

A game of Rivet Wars (or Rivet Wars: Reloaded) is largely driven by a desire to gain ground, as victory points are scored when players move their minis onto a strategic objective. Destroying powerful units can also grant victory points. Do enough damage and push your front line far enough, and you’ve won a game. Completing enough of the game’s Mission cards offers an alternate path to victory. For example, you can score victory points for having units on at least five different No Man’s Land tiles.

Rivet Wars: Reloaded how it plays - Tabletop Simulator Rifleman card

What’s new with Rivet Wars: Reloaded?

Rivet: Wars Reloaded isn’t just an update to the game’s graphic design, though; there’s a battalion of new and tweaked content inside the box. For example, there’s a new solo mode that pits you against an ‘AI’ player whose moves are determined by cards, and there’s also a cooperative version to play.

During the demo, Perkins seemed particularly proud of the variety of terrain tiles on offer in Rivet Wars: Reloaded. “The original game only comes with three-by-three tiles with different artwork on it”, he says. “You’d have this very square playing surface every time”.

While movement in Rivet Wars: Reloaded still relies on minis being able to move from square to square, terrain tiles now have varied numbers of squares. You can place a single, small square, several clustered in a rectangular shape, or your plain-old-fashioned three-by-three. And, like all the other features in the game, the shape of the battlefield can also change midway through a game, as certain scenarios see you pushing the front line forwards or backwards during play.

Rivet Wars: Reloaded how it plays - old versus new Rivet Wars miniatures

Steamforged has also added an entirely new faction to Rivet Wars: Reloaded. New and returning players can also command the Jules-Verne-inspired Nemoan forces – these are available in a Kickstarter-exclusive expansion box. Not much was revealed about how Nemoan forces play during the demo. However, the Kickstarter page says the Nemoan commander is a “close-range specialist” – so perhaps this hints at what to expect from the army overall.

Perkins made it clear during the demo that Steamforged has “a lot of respect for the existing game”, and this informed some of the new design choices. “We’ve tried to be observant of how [fans] think and feel about the game and what changes they think should be implemented – and we’ve taken that into account.”

For example, Perkins says the changes to Mission cards are based on fan feedback. “A bit of a complaint from players of the previous version of the game was they felt like a bit of a ‘gotcha’ mechanic because there were Secret Missions that let someone get a win out of nowhere”, Perkins says. The original cards were concealed in a player’s hand, while the new versions are played in the open and become ‘open’ for any player to attempt to complete during a campaign.

Aside from big overhauls, new factions, and tiny tweaks, Rivet Wars has also had a visual makeover. Perkins says card layouts have been upgraded to be more readable, and the entire tone of Rivet Wars: Reloaded has been changed to be more “family-friendly”. “We’ve changed colours with factions, we’ve brought our own materials and visuals into it, and we’ve leaned in terms of messaging slightly away from Grimdark”, Perkins says.