It was more than a half decade ago I first came across MERCs.

At the time I noted I enjoy gaming with miniatures, an area of the hobby which has a long and proud tradition.

As pointed out then people have been re-playing the great battle of history with small lead soldiers for decades enjoying every minute of it.

As a gaming option miniatures offer more than just game play as many find equal enjoyment in the painting of the pieces often going for historical detail in the paint scheme.

Today there are a wide variety of miniature gaming options, some, over time leading to massive armies of miniatures and requiring large tables on which to battle. Those battles can take hours.

There are however options which require fewer miniatures, reducing costs, and lessening the time and space to play.

And that was the area of the hobby MERCs, to be further reviewed over the next two weeks, fits into as a game played in a future earth setting where corporations control large areas of the world.

“MERCS is designed with the idea that a miniatures combat game should look and feel, on a table, like real combat. It is logical in its associations and what it chooses to make important in combat. It places a premium on good, sound tactics. This is not a game where players sit back and shoot at each other from across the tabletop. Victory has everything to do with the choices you make on the table,” details the introduction in a recently released updated rule set.

“Learn to think tactically. Suppress and move. Maintain squad discipline, but control the table. Create firing lanes, and punish those who move through them. Combat begins and ends with movement. Everyone can shoot; survivors know when to shoot and when to relocate.

“Each MegaCon plays extremely differently, having intrinsic strengths and weaknesses. Learn them, then create tactics and adapt in the flow of battle to take advantage of the MegaCon you play.

“If you learn to marry solid tactics with MegaCon strengths, you will become a formidable player in the world of MERCS.”

The game is designed to be played with a small number of miniatures per player and that is to start, its greatest strength.

In the earlier review Brian Shotton with MERCS said while there are many miniature game options their new offerings is one player’s can get into easily without a huge cash outlay.

“MERCS is a small model count game that is easy on the wallet. There is no escalation of participation; those MERCS you buy today will be viable members of your team for the duration of the game,” he said via email.

The game launched with eight factions and six miniatures per faction.

From those six minis a player chose five, and undertook ‘missions’ facing off against their opponent’s crew.

With the up-date of the rules, the game has grown in scope as well.

There are now a dozen factions, and each has 10 distinct miniatures, each with its own range of weapons and skills.

But a player still only choses five miniatures for a particular session. That is a huge aspect of the game. Protecting your base you opt for a certain mix of skills. Having to rescue a hostage in hostile territory, the skill mix will be different.

Shotton said back in 2012 he felt the game worked because the factions each had something to offer.

“The game is very balanced. It is tactical in a way that makes sense in a ‘real world’ sort of way. A game of MERCS is fast and fun. The models are amazing, as is our fledgling community,” he said.

Obviously that initial interest stayed as the game has grown with the MERCs 2.0 Rules.

Most miniature games end up with a rules update. The nature of the games has players finding little issues within the rules that are discovered by repeated play. The loopholes which are discovered must ultimately be closed.

“I think we’ve done it. I think 2.0 feels and plays like MERCS, but is better in every way. We are very proud of it,” said Shotton in a recent email Q&A.

“It was a goal from day one. And without equivocation I can say we are very happy about it.”

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