GKR: Heavy Hitters (GKR stands for Giant Killer Robots) is a beautiful production from Weta Workshop. Weta Workshop is a movie special effects and prop production company who have an incredible history, having worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Blade Runner 2049, Godzilla, Pacific Rim Uprising, the live action Ghost in the Shell, and most notably tied to this release in theme, District 9, Elysium, and Chappie.
The first thing you will notice about GKR: Heavy Hitters is the size of the box, as it's a monster in size and weight. It will stand beside every other game in your collection, like a tower, mocking any attempts you make to display it on a shelf or store in a cupboard. If you wish to transport it to a local store, club or friend's house, you will almost certainly be breaking it down in order to fit it all in a bag, as the dimensions are simply crazy for what could be considered a boardgame. Don't take that as a criticism, though; there's a huge reassurance in the weight and size of the box. It has a higher than average price tag, but just by picking up the box and feeling the weight, you will feel safe knowing in your heart that this is a worthy product.
After opening the box, you are presented with the magnificent miniatures for each of the four factions, which you can see along with the other products in the gallery below. The production value is stellar as would be expected of the production company involved.
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GKR: Heavy Hitters takes place in an apocalyptic future where huge corporations sponsor teams of Giant Killer Robots to battle in the Earth's ruined cities.
The game itself is a mixture of a tactical miniatures board game with a deck building aspect. There are four Heavy Hitters to choose from and eight pilot options. Each pilot adds a slightly different ability, as detailed on their cards—nothing game changing, but it's enough to make changing your pilot change your experience slightly. The Heavy Hitters themselves don't have stats, but each has a unique deck of cards, with each card containing the Heavy Hitter's attacks and abilities. There are 59 cards for each Heavy Hitter, from which you need to chose 25 to create a deck. This available selection gives you several varieties of deck for each Heavy Hitter to choose from. The deck is also your Heavy Hitter's health, which has more meaning than simply a timer ticking down to your Heavy Hitter's destruction, because you lose cards and, in turn, access to those attacks and abilities as you take damage.
Each turn you're able to deploy support units—of which each Heavy Hitter has access to three: Repair, Recon, and Combat—move, or use attacks and abilities from their hand of cards. Each one of those uses energy, which you have five of each round. Going over that five energy damages your Heavy Hitter, meaning that pushing a round for that extra damage or movement comes at a cost. Movement costs one energy per hex moved, so positioning in GKR: Heavy Hitters is huge, as minimal movement allows you to access more attacks and abilities. The support units are also extremely important, as they offer extra abilities and advantages for free after their deployment is paid for. For example, the Repair unit allows you to put cards from your discard pile back into your deck, giving you access to those cards again and effectively healing your Heavy Hitter. The Recon unit has a high movement range that allows you to spot units behind cover and attack them with indirect fire attacks.
There are two ways to win in GKR: Heavy Hitters. The first is to destroy your opponent's Heavy Hitter, and the second is through area control, which is achieved by placing four tag markers on four buildings. Any of your units can tag a single building they are adjacent to in the tagging phase, and as soon as a building has four of your tags, the building is destroyed and your sponsor gains salvaging rights to that building. During this phase, you also draw cards from the sponsor deck for each building you tag, which gives you access to free attacks and abilities as rewards from your sponsor.
In GKR: Heavy Hitters, there is also an achievements board, which advances when you meet certain criteria like demolishing a building or having all three of your support units in play. As this progresses, achievements are unlocked that make hitting opposing units easier and improving armor saves.
Also included in GKR: Heavy Hitters is an advanced rule book, which gives you access to alternative modes of play, including alliance matches, a king of the hill style match with restrictions and bonuses depending on where your units are placed, and rules for AI Solo play.
The products for GKR: Heavy Hitters are of an extremely high quality and that holds true throughout, with very polished gameplay. Games can take a while, especially if players are extremely tactical and move around the edge of the board, avoiding damage and not committing until they have a perfect shot. Most games of more than two players can take around an hour and a half to two hours, and two-player games where opponents go straight for each other are much faster. The gameplay is fluid, and players take turns during phases, which means no-one is waiting for too long before taking an action. Once attacks are declared, they are placed in a line depending on their attack speed, which gives a great feel to the game, as you can see exactly which attacks are coming up.
GKR: Heavy Hitters has a lot of depth, but it can be a quick access game to play with friends. There is also room for an extremely competitive tactical tournament game. Gameplay is very well-rounded, and there isn't much room for rules to be discussed; actions are pretty clear, and there aren't any timing ambiguities. Simply striding in and unleashing on your opponents is a viable option, but it feels amazing when you line up the perfect alley-shot—firing between two adjacent buildings, giving your opponent no cover, and you full cover—or use your support units to out-maneuver your opponent and rain down missile attacks. The combination of card draws and dice attacks make it fun and varied, and while you can draw the perfect hand, it gives a lot of variety to each game and doesn't allow games to be clear cut.
There is a small variety of deck builds for each Heavy Hitter, which gives a limited scope on different ways to play each Heavy Hitter. So, while there are options for change, it might not keep players who are looking for an ongoing competitive game. The options to expand are there, though, and it wouldn't be a stretch to introduced new GKR factions and cards. It must also be noted that while the product cost is high, it does contain everything four players need to play—no further purchases are required.
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The Bottom Line:
GKR: Heavy Hitters is an extremely well-produced game that is a lot of fun, has a good amount of variety, and can be extremely tactical. The solid price tag means that it might not be for everyone, but the products are of a very high quality and players will get a lot of hours of enjoyment out of this. The available deck options aren't infinite, but the game is extremely straightforward rules-wise, and the enjoyment comes from the gameplay itself and the variety caused by the random card draws during play. GKR Heavy Hitters is a very accessible game and great for bringing players in to a possible competitive skirmish game environment.
Get this game if:
You enjoy deck building skirmish games.
You're looking for a new competitive skirmish game challenge.
You enjoy extremely tactical games.
You love Mechs and giant robots.
Avoid this game if:
You don't enjoy deck building skirmish games.
You don't enjoy tactical games and want something more straightforward.
This copy of GKR Heavy Hitters used for this review was provided by Asmodee UK.
GKR Heavy Hitters has a stellar production value and solid gameplay. The deck building element adds a randomness that keeps games interesting and increases the longevity. It has a heavy price tag but comes with enough products for four players to access this great competative skirmish game.