OverDrive Board Game Review – Mantic Games

I think there should be an exclamation mark at this point, maybe even two but definitely one. It should be OverDrive! maybe even OVERDRIVE!! I’m currently still considering whether to deface the box with some coloured crayon. You see OverDrive is a half time show spectacle of a game that slots in between the main Dreadball games in the Mantic Universe, it deserves a bit of shouting but I’m not sure how much at this point. I’ve got a soft spot for Mantic. I like how they just get on with their games, don’t come round your house and drink your expensive coffee and take three gluten free biscuits when you offer them two. When you play their games you kind of get the feeling that they really like what they do and they want you to know how much they like what they are doing. 

OverDRIVE! isn’t meant to be narratively about good versus bad or even Good Versus Bad. In fact OVerdriVE is all about being a leftover from the main Dreadball circuit, a has-been shunted off to the bench because the Meta in the main Dreadball game changed to a passing game, and your lumbering tackling based frame was simply not up to the challenge of changing. You can’t dance and you’re not good at singing and handing out snacks, so in order to raise the ratings you’ve decided to join OverDrive and Slam your way to points and victory. 

OverDrive isn’t pitching itself as some kind of rule complicated dish that will take ages to learn though it expects you to know some fundamentals before you start to play. Open the thin cardboard outer carton and your greeted with a surprisingly straightforward brown cardboard box. Opening that will reveal a mixture of complete and incomplete models that require some gluing in order to attach them to the bases, though there seems to be no instructions within the rules themselves on how to put the figures together or more importantly how they should be glued to the triple hexagonal base that each model will attach to. It’s a bit of an oversight considering the way your Giant is facing is fundamental to potential modifiers that will effect your attacks and movement. So be wary that if this is your first foray into a miniature skirmish type game, then you’ll need a steady hand, and if your like me, learning how to use a spoon with only two fingers while you wait for your others to become unstuck. I think a simple beginners guide would be useful in that respect. We’re not looking at dozens of models to stick together here, but still if this is meant to be towards the more entry level in terms of skirmish game, it wouldn’t go a miss.

Once you’ve managed to get your board set up, have your chits sitting at the side and decide what mode you want to play out of a choice of several which include fan favourites like Capture the Flag, Kill Streak and more the more inventive Dodge Brawl and Invade. You’ll take turns picking Giants to form your team of three, and from then on you’ll play ‘Rushes’ or rounds to score points. The game ends when one team reaches the maximum eight points or has the most points after eight rounds. Similar to GodTear the scoring track works on a tug of war basis, with points through eliminations pushing the track in your favour. It means that during a round you can often see the tide turn between players. It’s a dynamic I very much enjoy as it keeps you focused on the centre of the board, pushing for your own advantage and forcing you to make every move count. 

OverDrive could have taken the easy way out here, with simple rules and relying on frustration dice to win the day, pushing lucky dice rolls in order to score points. By bringing in threat zones in front of the Giants, and having them modify the dice rolls of those trying to Slam their opponents or Evade, you end up moving from a simple war of attrition to a proper tactical fare. It really reflects the fact that each of the Giants are literal behemoths and shouldn’t be taken head on without suffering a serious disadvantage. Sometimes you’ll be rushing around an opponent in order to try to flank and attack from behind other times you’ll be moving to make sure you can go head on to cut down someone’s advantage. There’s also the inclusion of the wonderful explosion dice mechanic where rolling a six means you get to roll again, which can lead to some delicious carnage and in some cases can change the games direction. 

Each of the Giants also have their own abilities that will effect how they play. Some go on the offensive, dragging players towards their threat zones, others quite literally hide in their shell. Every single one has it’s own special difference to bring to the table. Even once you’ve grown accustomed to their faces, there’s smaller Giant double packs that you can buy to bring some extra flavour to the arena. Fancying something squishy or mechanical? The Big Mech looks like an ED-209 from Robocop and cannot be pushed back as the result of a Slam attack, whereas The Bug has a modifier that gives it a boost on Dash tests making it easier to scuttle towards opponents. In every Rush you can also activate your OverDrive ability. OverDrive abilities are one offs that can provide a big tactical advantages or can act as a save all when things get sticky. They can be used on a Rush once per round, but often you’ll hold off until they can really make a difference.

OverDrive contains rules for a League, and it highlights one of the main potential issues with games of this nature. The combination of multiple Giants with multiple abilities means that you’ll need to be committed to playing more than a few games to find out which Giants really suit your play style. You’ll also need to learn how to get the best out of any combination that you’ll draw at the beginning draft phase. OverDrive is going to work well for those who play DreadBall on a regular basis, who are happy to learn the nuance of special skills. It’s going to sit well with those who are playing Armada and used to planning for positional play as they set their Giants against each other. There’s all the extra snippets of lore that Mantic have included in the rulebook, unnecessary but wonderfully crafted stories, the wonderful character design that would sit well on a comic book page. Fans of Mantic are probably well versed to what to expect from a Mantic product. Though newer players might have preferred an assembly guide and a separate crib sheet for the main rules to keep them right in their first couple of games

Overdrive is a lot of fun. If you are looking for something slightly different, something that’s easy to get going, but has tactical layers that reveal themselves over multiple plays, and offers a decent amount of replay ability, then OverDrive!!! is certainly worthwhile considering, even if they need more exclamation marks. A half-time smashing entertaining show of a game..

You can find out more about OverDrive by visiting https://www.manticgames.com/games/overdrive/ 

If you like reading these words and wish to support us then please consider joining our Patreon https://www.patreon.com/werenotwizards

  This review is based on the final retail version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.