Review By William A. Barton
The Space Gamer #44 (October 1981)
ULTRA-WARRIOR (Task Force Games).
Designed by Thomas Zarbock.
One 14-page rules booklet, 108 die-cut counters, 17" x 21" map, ziplock bag.
Playing time 30 to 45 minutes.
ULTRA-WARRIOR is a game of man-to-man combat in the far future - The Knights of the Round Table in space. It postulates a future in which armies have been replaced by single combatants protected by environmental control suits and energy barriers, wielding awesome weapons capable of changing the very land upon which their opponents stride. These are the Ultra-Warriors. The game provides rules for energy allotment and usage for defense (suit power, smoke and energy barriers) and offense (heat blasts, frost bolts, electron bolts, energy disks and disruptors); movement via action points; terrain conversion; and an impulse system for movement and combat. Counters depict Ultra-Warriors, smoke and energy barriers and various types of terrain. The map is a featureless hexsheet marked for the placement of terrain counters in the various scenarios. Eight scenarios link into a campaign game, mainly focused on the exploits of Lance, a "lawful" Ultra-Warrior.
The game has some nice features. The shifting terrain via counters is an interesting idea, making changeable settings more feasible than in most games. It works here due to the need for only a few counters to represent the UltraWarriors themselves. The finite supply of energy available to the warriors makes planning and restraint necessary as players decide how much they may allot to defense, how much to offense and which type to use each turn. This and the fact that terrain conversion can damage or even cause the death of an opponent - making the ground under and around the warriors as viable a target as the enemy himself - will keep the game from degenerating into just another slug fest. And the game can end quite quickly if not enough energy - or too much too soon - is allotted on a turn.
Players new to the notion of impulses and action points may have a few problems with the system until they get used to it. This may be compounded by a few places in the movement section, particularly the example, where the rules are not quite as clear as they could be. The scenarios provided (especially the solo scenario) may become a bit boring after a few playings, too, so players will probably want to devise some of their own. And care must be taken when moving character counters that the terrain doesn't move with them (watch out for stiff breezes and bumps to the playing surface, too).
Overall, ULTRA-WARRIOR isn't a bad little game. Unless the idea of knights-errant jousting across the cosmos turns you off, you might find it a worthy selection for a quick play session with a moderate-level simulation.
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