You used to be proud to tell your friends and family you lived in San Lazaro. As the epicenter of a huge cybernetics revolution, you felt like you lived in the middle of all the action. After the city fell thanks to a virulent techno-virus that sent screaming Cyber-Memetic Sociopaths, and local gangs took root and are tearing apart this lawless land, you wish you were maybe a little less in the middle of all the action. But you've joined up with likeminded folks, and you've got weapons, gear, tech, and gumption. The question remains: will all that be enough to survive? This is the world of Omicron Protocol, a brand-new miniatures skirmish game developed by Dead Alive Games out now for sale. Dead Alive sent us a preview copy to check out after we playtested it at PAX Unplugged this winter, and now that the game is official for sale, we put together our thoughts in our official Preview.
How Do You Play Omicron Protocol?
Omicron Protocol is a miniature skirmish game for 1 to 4 players where players build a roster of characters all aligned to a single faction. Along with battling against your opponent's faction, you also have to face off against the CyMS, people once infected with a techno-virus that has turned them into crazed killing machines. Included in the Core Box are a number of different scenarios, which could see your faction trying to make it out of the area alive, download important materials onto a central computer, and other tricky win conditions.
Though there's plenty to dive into, the core mechanics of the game revolve around spending a pool of action points distributed among the characters in your faction. You can spend them to run, forage for useful materials, administer first aid, attack at melee range or from a distance, and more.
Perhaps our favorite aspect of all of Omicron Protocol comes into play when a character attacks another character. To attack, a player rolls dice equal to their attack value and attempts to score higher than their target's dexterity value. But each hit doesn't equal a set amount of damage. Instead, you "buy" damage as shown on your character card with your successfully rolled attack dice. You can only buy damage once, and can spend leftover attack dice to choose other additional effects relevant to your character. After you've "gone shopping" you convert any unused dice into luck tokens, which allow you to boost future rolls, evade danger, and ignore conditions. It's a simple, elegant battle system that still feels a bit like a "game inside a game," and it meant that every time one of our characters attacked we were presented with tons of fun options. I've never seen another mechanic like this in a game, and it really wowed us at the table.
What's Included In The Omicron Protocol Core Box?
To play Omicron Protocol, you'll need the Core Box, which comes with everything required for two players to jump right into the action. The Core Box contains twelve character miniatures divided by two different factions. There's the Survivalist faction, a group of hardened individualists all banding together to survive the apocalypse. And then there's the Peacemakers faction, a group who all, in one way or another, serve to keep the peace. Along with those miniatures, the Core Box includes 24 CyMS, those deadly techno-zombies out to get everyone, in six different poses including a punk rocker and a woman swinging a designer handbag, among others.
Also included are reference cards, scenario cards, four rulebooks - the game does a nice job of splitting the rules up between a Quick Start Guide, a How To Play Guide, The Rules Reference and Scenarios Guide, and a special rulebook for single player/cooperative play. Also included are a double-sided hex-grid board, hex-shaped terrain tiles, all the dice needed to play, and various other necessary tokens.
How Do Each Of The Two Starter Factions Play In Omicron Protocol?
The two factions included in the Omicron Protocol Core Box - the Peacemakers and the Survivalists - each have their own unique playstyle and synergies. To start, the Peacemakers truly play like a unified team who are skilled at long range weaponry. The two faction-wide special abilities support this theme: Marksmanship grants all friendly characters a +1 to their ranged attacks, and Squad Tactics (a once-per-game ability) allows each friendly character to move one space for free if they're near their allies. Their extraordinary tactic (once-per-game) is called Firing Line, and it allows all friendly characters within six hexes of each other to, one by one, immediately perform a ranged attack. In essence, they're the law, or what's left of it, and they can work together to create a hail of bullets against all enemy threats. The individual characters in this faction are all great shots, and stand firm in the face of danger.
In contrast, the Survivalists thrive on surviving on their own, but have banded together to make it out of this nightmare alive. Their special ability, Danger Sense, means that each character in the squad can ignore 3 damage from CyMS attacks. Their extraordinary ability, Everyone for Themselves, allows each character to move five hexes for free, outside of their normal activation. These characters, individually, are much more slippery. They forgo the benefits of teamwork the Peacemakers enjoy to do things like hide, lay traps, pickpocket, and even get drunk.
New factions are on the way for Omicron Protocol, including the Animals, a literal group of animals who have gained sentience, The Creators, a group of innovative hackers, Cynfo Tech, a cybernetics startup who will likely be able to manipulate CyMS, and The Red Dragon, a cut-throat street gang looking to consolidate power.
To learn more and pick up your own copy, check out Omicron Protocol at Dead Alive Games.
The copy of Omicron Protocol used for this preview was provided by Dead Alive Games.