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Posted on May 3, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Come with me if you want to live!” Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance Board Game Review

“Come with me if you want to live!” Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance Board Game Review

Rick Martin

Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance  Board Game Review.  Publisher: River Horse   Game Designer: Alessio Cavatore Price  $84.99

Passed Inspection: Easy to learn, captures the frantic energy of the movies perfectly, beautiful components and minis

Failed Basic:  a few vague rules can lead to confusion

I still remember with great fondness that day in 1984 when my good friend dropped by and asked me if I’d seen the new film called “The Terminator”.  At that point I hadn’t as the film had only been out for one day and I was waiting for the weekend to see it.  My friend, Anthony, said “good” and then set up a Car Wars role playing and car combat game for us to play which ran my character through the events of Terminator movie!  Well my character and his tricked out Mad Max style combat car survived our encounter with futuristic cyborg and a few days later I saw the film, itself, and was completely blown away!


When Terminator 2 rolled around in 1991 we all through the sequel couldn’t be better than that frantic, terrifying first film but we were wrong.  As we used to say in the 1990s, Terminator 2 was the bomb!  A very apt statement indeed.

Over the next three Terminator films, we’ve seen the somewhat linear time travel story get warped in to overlapping realities or as the good Doctor, from the long running TV series Doctor Who stated “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly,timey-wimey stuff.”

While I find the first two Terminator films to be pure movie magic, I have actually enjoyed every film in this franchise and greet each one with the same excitement that my 18 year old self felt back in ’84.

Now, River Horse Games has adapted the story of John Conner’s resistance fighters attacking Skynet’s forces from the most recent Terminator film “Terminator Genisys” in to a magnificent 1 to 4 player game in which the players take on the role of the human resistance fighters and even Arnold’s Terminator Guardian while the game system runs Skynet’s unstoppable cyborgs, robots and androids!  The game is Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance and, if you are a science fiction gaming fan, it is impossible to resist!

The game’s designer, Alessio Cavatore, got his start working on for Games Workshop on such titles as Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Warhammer 40,000 and the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game. 

Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance features beautiful artwork by Steve Argyle and Josh Derksen.  The box is stuffed with high quality components and stunningly sculpted miniatures by Luigi Terzi.

The components include:

  • 38 Plastic 28mm scale Miniatures including
    • 1 Terminator Guardian
    • 1 John Connor
    • 1 Kyle Reese
    • 1 Alex
    • 1 T-800 Flamethrower
    • 1 T-800 Commander
    • 1 T-1000
    • 12 T-800 Terminator
    • 12 HK-8 Drone
    • 3 Resistance Soldier
    • 4 T-72 Platform
  • 24-page Rule book
  • 28-page Mission book with Narrative Campaign (7 Missions)
  • 32 Base Rings (8 of 4 each colour)
  • 22 Plastic Dice
  • 4 Character Boards
  • 13 Double-Sided Map Tiles
  • 11 Punchboard Tokens
  • 108 Playing Cards.

The map tiles are double sided modular exterior and interior terrain which is constructed based upon the scenario you chose to play.  Each scenario is a full story of the war against Skynet.  You can play the scenarios in any order but for complete enjoyment of the narrative, play the scenarios in order and watch your campaign flesh itself out.  Additional terrain features such as doors, obstacles, trucks, etc. are provided to add to the terrain tiles.

The four main characters are Arnold’s Terminator Guardian, John Conner, Kyle Reese and Alex (played by former Doctor Who Matt Smith in the film and featuring his image in the game).  Each of these characters has a character board which gives you the characters abilities, skills, number of wounds they can take, abilities, starting items and the like.  As the characters gain experience, they gain access to other weapons and skills based upon the scenario making this not just a skirmish game but a role playing game as well.

Characters take actions by rolling from a pool of dice and then populating those dice on the character board for actions like moving, attacking, using items such as Medkits or hacking in the case of Alex.  The value of the die that you assign to the actions is carried over in to the number of hexes you move or the number of dice you roll to attack.  For example, let’s say a ton of Hunter Killers and Terminators have just entered the room you are in.  Well, you may only have one or two attacks and unless you have a mass damage weapon like a grenade, you may just want to run the heck out of that room.  So I roll the dice for my character and get a 6, 4, 2 and 1.  My character has two boxes on his board for movement, 1 box for an attack and a box for special interactions.  For this example, I want to toss a grenade and then get the heck out of that room.  I assign the 6 and the 4 to both my movement boxes – that lets me run 10 hexes away and I put a 2 on the spot for an attack with the grenade and I put the 1 on my Medkit just in case I need a quick heal. I toss the grenade at the mass of Terminators damaging several, then I run 10 squares and get in to some cover terrain.  I have a slight wound so I use the Medkit to heal up.

Each character is assigned a color out of four colors.  The forces of Skynet have colored rings to put on their bases and these colors correspond to the colors of that the players have.  The Skynet forces of a specific color will act after the player of that same color act.  This creates really interesting tactical decisions.  For example, in my review game of the first scenario, I was playing solo and controlling all four characters.  Arnold’s Terminator Guardian was blue, Alex was white.  As there were no blue Skynet forces near Alex who was slightly wounded and needed to hack a door we needed to escape through. I had the Terminator Guardian perform his actions first and since the only blue colored Skynet forces were near him, I had him attack them to keep them occupied.  Then Alex hacked the door we need to escape from in order to keep Skynet baddies from entering that room.

The solo system is based upon three factors – the basic programming in the rules for the low level and standard level Skynet forces, a programming card for the Skynet upper level forces and the special rules for the scenarios.  These rule sets combined work very well and really give you the feeling of participating in a Terminator film.

The turn sequence is as follows:

  1. Decision Phase – players decide who will take the next turn and then that player resolves the Player Phase and the Enemy Phase.
  2. Player Phase – the player rolls his or her four action dice and assigns the dice to the actions available such as move, attack, interact, hack, etc. 
  3. Enemy Phase – the forces of Skynet of the same color as the Player who just performed actions do the following:

a) Roll for Skynet reinforcements

b) Normal enemies move

c) Normal enemies attack

d) Bosses activate

e) Enemies who are stunned recover

4. End of the Round Options

The rules are only 23 pages long and pack plenty of examples, definitions and notes to help speed play along.

On my play through did find a few challenges in the rules.  The scenario set up showing what terrain tiles go where needs to have arrows or some other type of identifier showing what tile is what.  Although a list of the tiles used is provided, it proved somewhat challenging to figure out what tile was placed where especially as some of the tile look a little alike.

If you read the rules literally, it states that obstacles only provide cover if you have a character standing within their hex.  Wouldn’t an obstacle also provide cover for someone standing on the other side of it but not in the same hex?

If you read Alex’s special ability for avoiding damage literally, he would never take damage from a Skynet baddie.  I interpreted the rule in a way that Alex can make the enemy re-roll the first hit on him but that subsequent hits can’t be avoided using his special ability.

When playing the game, you’ll need to use standard infantry tactics in order to meet the goals of the  scenario.  Work in teams and lay down covering fire when needed.  Identify critical choke points where you can use mass damage weapons on the Skynet forces.  Use terrain cover wisely.  In addition, you can always pray that you don’t run into a shape shifting T1000!

I have only barely scratched the surface of this exciting game.  If the desire to play it over and over again means anything, then Terminator Genisys: The Rise of the Resistance has me hooked and that, my non-cyborg friends, is a good thing!  And, oh yes, a sequel, Terminator Genisys: The Fall of Skynet  is coming soon!

Armchair General Rating: 95 %

Solitaire Rating: 5 (1 to 5 with 1 being Poor and 5 being Perfect for Solo)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

great components
28mm minis
John Conner and his friend
Kyle and Alex
Assigning dice to actions
I’ll be back
Combat dice
Use cover wisely
Bring on the bad guys
A T1000 and a T72

1 Comment

  1. Alex’s special ability only triggers when you roll a fist while defending, like the other special abilities.