Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Year, New Games - March Report

As March winds down, I find that I've written less this month than I have in most of the previous months since I started this blog (which wasn't too long ago). Unlike some folks whose blog updates have been few and far between these days, the big reason my posts have been more rare this month is because I have been lucky enough to have spent so much time actually gaming lately that I haven't been able to spend much time writing about gaming. How's that for a problem? Yeah, I couldn't hope for a better problem to have.

That having been said, of course I've got more to say about the new games that I've been playing! 

Star Wars Edge of the Empire Beginner Box

I've talked before about how I'm a huge fan of beginner or basic boxes. I love the idea of a simplified version of often complicated games that really only rarely need the level of complication that they get published with. The EotE Beginner Box features a really nice, simple rule set (in a very slim but detailed book) and very attractive game assets (maps, character folios and dice that remind me of Q-Workshop) that fit together quite well to provide a nice gaming experience. 

The first experience I had with the EotE box was with my home game group when a bunch of folks couldn't make game night, but we had just enough players (4) to put the box through its paces. The next time I got to run it was this past Monday (3/25) for a Google+ hangout group including +Bear Wojtek+Larry Moore+Wayne Snyder+Gabriel Perez Gallardi & +Nathaniel Hull. For the hangout group, we used all of the basic box characters, plus Mathus from FFG's website. Both groups had an absolute blast once they got used to the dice mechanics of Success (yes!), Failure (no!), Advantage (and!), Disadvantage (but!), Triumph (hell yes!) and Despair (fuck no!). One of the core realizations that made the G+ session absolutely rock was one that +Larry Moore called "passing the Advantage," where you can give a Boost die to an ally if you roll at least 2 Advantage, even if you've failed your roll.

After playing this game twice, I just can't stop thinking about it. Just can't stop. Sort of like back in the 90's when I couldn't stop thinking about/playing d6 Star Wars from WEG. I wouldn't say that the game has rekindled my love for Star Wars (some loves are eternal and never need rekindling), but it has returned Star Wars to the forefront of my thoughts, somewhat to the detriment of this blog (since I write so much about DCC here). After the first G+ session, everyone more or less agreed that they wanted to continue playing the game. Some folks wanted to make their own characters rather than continue to play the pregens from the beginner box, so I made the deal that once FFG releases it rules in a final version (none of this "pay to play Beta" crap at MY game table, even if it's digital!), folks who want to switch out their pregens can do so. Until then, the cast is the one from the box plus the extra guest stars FFG released on its website; this game will be taking over my Monday night (every other week) gaming slot.

Shadowrun

Too complicated to be fun, I think
Okay, I'm going to say something I feel like a dick for saying: I don't feel like a hero when I'm playing Shadowrun. I don't even feel like a murderhobo. I just feel like a confused schlub. I am not a fan of feeling confused. Or like a schlub.

As of now, we've had exactly two sessions (although I'm writing this a few days before what's supposed to be our next Shadowrun session, so maybe things will change for me in session three), one of which was a "group comes up with character concepts for everyone to play and how they all fit together to create a cohesive team" session and the other of which was actual game play. Session one was fun. Session two... was boring. It was like trying to figure out a puzzle, not knowing where all of the pieces were or whether they were all in the same box and, oops, I think that piece goes to this other puzzle. Maybe it's just me, but in a gaming situation, I tend to be a bit of a "let's go go go!" sort of guy; I don't want to have to wait until tomorrow to go do this thing, I'm afraid that our mission might be compromised in the meantime.

It turns out that being a successful Shadowrunner means knowing shit tons about the world of Shadowrun. To me, that means reading a bunch of books that are written like stereo instructions and less interesting than the one-billionth Drizzt novel that Salvatore crapped out of his schlock-hole. Seriously, folks. Guns and trolls, cybernetics and dragons. This shit should scream exciting. Instead, the rule books are written as if Catalyst Labs deliberately wants you to not understand or care about what's in them, just buy the next book so you can get more stats for guns. Realistically, I'm relying on my knowledge of the setting from 20+ years ago to get me through, here. My four or six page character sheet meant largely nothing to me. I think my agitation started to show later in the session, but eventually things started happening and stopped sucking.

I had this whole section right here that I cut out because I didn't think it was actually useful. Suffice it to say that I don't really know how SR can be "run right,' which is to say "run in a way that's fun and engaging for all of the players involved." That's always been a problem for SR (ugh, remember back in the decker days? yeah, every party was a split party) and SR GMs need to actively work to combat it. The setting and natural inclinations of how to tell stories is working against you and you need to sort this shit out before we get to a gaming table.

For die hard SR fans, I wish you all luck, but this thing is written for shit. Don't even leave a comment, it'll probably be ignored.

Next Month

In April, I'm looking at more DCC (my current funnel adventure, To Catch A Fallen Star, is going awesome!) and the beginning of a regular EotE campaign! Furthermore, at the request of +Kubo Mshila+Matt Woodard will be putting together some sort of sci fi game that will likely use either FATE Core or Savage Worlds as its game engine. Either way is cool with me, but I haven't tried FATE yet am eager to give it a shot. I love the concept of natural descriptions of things becoming game mechanics for them, so the Aspect system of FATE seems a natural fit for my style.