Atomoton, a new game company founded by Mark Rein-Hagen -- the creator of White Wolf's popular Vampire and Werewolf games--is set to release its first game this July, the futuristic Z-G, which combines anime-based action figures with the game play of a collectible card game. Starter sets retail for $14.95 and include one of three different five-inch action figures, which come with fourteen points of articulation and lots of interchangeable gear and weapons.  Each starter set also includes 10 Z-Gear cards and a set of rules. In addition to the starter sets, there will be 10-card booster packs available containing cards for additional Z-Gear, syndics, maneuvers, and arenas.  New figures, interchangeable weapons, and their accompanying cards will be available in future expansions of the Z-G line.


The cards are the key to both movement and attack.  Each turn players get to use three cards to attack their opponents.  Dots on the attacking cards are compared with the Z-Gear cards on the defender, so strikes are easy to calculate.   Two strikes mean that the Z-Gear card is destroyed, so you get to take that weapon (or armor, etc.) away from your opponent's figure.  Battles can be compared to games of strip poker where the giant mechs are gradually reduced bit by bit.  Players can choose their weapons, postures, and modes of attack so a lot of strategy is involved in the game, which doesn't require math, dice, or dials.  A special Battle Book, which retails for $9.95, will include rules for League and Tournament play.


Though it's far too early to tell how the market will react to this game, it does have a lot going for it, including some dandy looking action figures (see illustration).  Mage Knight, which combines the formats of CCGs and miniature games (see 'December Product of the Month') has been the major hit of the past year, and there is little reason to think that another hybrid can't be successful, especially if it has a fresh take, which Z-G, with its anime inspiration and articulated action figures, certainly does.  Retailers who have done well with Mage Knight (which is just about everyone that we have talked to who has tried it) might want to give this new gaming system a chance.