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Cogs, Cakes & Swordsticks
Publisher: Modiphius
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/07/2013 17:06:28
Charming! This game is simply charming. The material is well-presented and the system is light and fun (shades of Risus, and that means goodness). Character creation is simple, but very fruitful creatively and produces characters with a breadth and some simpler systems lack.

The graphic design is excellent, with engaging and unified artists vision throughout. Well-written examples and a zeppelin-load of period material and guides for creating adventures in the genre is included.

As my cousins across "the Pond" would say, "Does what it says on the tin."

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cogs, Cakes & Swordsticks
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Tenra Bansho Zero: Heaven and Earth Edition
Publisher: KOTODAMA HEAVY INDUSTRIES
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/20/2013 12:46:41
A game filled with a grand mix of Japanese culture and action-adventure, TBZ plays like a kabuki play filled with high-tech war as the backdrop. The game-play is based on a simple resolution mechanic with an abundance of strategic play options. There is room here for tons of role-play that dove-tails expertly with strategic play in combat (or any conflict).

Characters have access to some very interesting and engaging abilities and powers to give them a niche (even if they all play the same template). Players, meanwhile, have access to mechanical strategies to help them engage in the story as a way of fueling their successes in their exploits. Balance what matters to your character with how well you play to those desires, and you gain the ability to push the envelope when you need to.

The setting is a toolbox for building exciting situations of which the PC group become the very center. Games play fast and have a act and scene structure that emulates a Kabuki play while also channeling the characters' development during the story. Fast-paced and energetic play results from rules focused on that end. I recommend this game highly!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tenra Bansho Zero: Heaven and Earth Edition
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Itras By (English)
Publisher: Vagrant Workshop
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/13/2013 09:42:22
"Itras By" is evocative and surreal while still providing a framework to keep the group on the same page regarding the setting. An innovative idea in the game codifies the "make it your own" concept of setting design by assigning the group an exercise (one of four) to remove several paragraphs in the setting chapter from existence, as desired. Other exercises encouraging customizing the game via the addition of new pages and notes to the "official" setting material (and therefore canonizing it). **An aside - these exercises make explicit "rules" that should be implicit in all games, and the group may strike or add rules or setting equally.**

Game advice is provided for players new to the ideas of the early surrealism movement in art. Clear explanations and examples of how to make play surreal without making it meaningless and absurdist is provided.

The artwork and layout of the book is gorgeous and clean. Images bring the setting to life and also give examples of the dreamlike elements that appear in the game's setting. The layout and page elements have a feel of the 1920's art-books in which surrealism found its first home. Clear fonts without being drab and boring. Some pages might eat toner when printing, but the number of pages like this with game material is small.

The setting is creepy, majestic, and presents scenario ideas on each page. The rules are simple and clear, and focus on narrative control. Fans of "Over the Edge" will be impressed by this game, in both rules and setting. I highly recommend it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Itras By (English)
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Tales Of The Far West
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 19:30:54
A very solid offering of short stories from around a very intriguing setting. The mix of Western genre with Wuxia trappings is a compelling one and the stories here show that off in style. Each tale has a sense of that dusty trail with a hint of silk robes. Some of the stories are action and adventure, and some are more character studies with the occasional gunfire and/or kung fu, but whether action or emotion are on primary display in each story the writing keeps you hooked in. Well worth the price-tag and a rollicking good setup for the coming game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tales Of The Far West
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Hit a Dude: World Players Guide #1
Publisher: Ryan Macklin
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2011 11:04:14
This product is, at its essence, a joke - maybe a trick (I can't decide which). Sadly, the joke (or trick) is on those who purchase it. I once bought a game about dancing animal lawyers for a dollar that was made free a few days later. Until this product, I always considered that the worst gaming money I ever spent. Now, I have Hit-a-Dude to replace it.

To be fair, I should have looked carefully to see the page count and researched it a bit. I let the good reputation of the author convince me there was something worthwhile here. Do not repeat my mistake.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Hit a Dude: World Players Guide #1
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Technoir
Publisher: Cellar Games, LLC
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/15/2011 22:33:51
Overview: Technoir blends the concepts of cyberpunk with film noir with a tight and flexible game system that rewards play within the conventions of both genres. The system is easy to learn, allows for all sorts of strategic play within the fiction of the world, and ties the characters into the setting using a system that lets a GM build a plot-line as play evolves, if desired. The game is very customizable and developing new content is extremely easy.

Rules: Technoir's rules system is based on verbs and adjectives. The verbs are the things the characters do in the setting and you will see all the cyberpunk/noir regulars featured: Fight, Hack, Prowl, and Operate (drive drones and vehicles). These verbs are the WHAT you and your opponents do, the adjectives are (as you would expect) the HOW. Characters, equipment, and contacts all have adjectives that allow the player or GM extra resource options in the games fast-playing resolution system.

The effect of every contentious action from combat to verbal sparring is an attempt to put an adjective on your opponent. Use your "Fight" verb (and maybe help it out with your 'accurate' gun and your 'steady' personal adjective) to place the adjective 'shot' on your target. How bad the effect is and how long it lingers is based on a dice resource called Push that gets traded as adjectives are made to linger longer on the target. The PCs start with the Push advantage, but as they get embroiled in the plot, they start to give it over to the GM, whose NPCs start making life tough on the PCs, giving the dice back. The ebb and flow of Push keeps the game's pitch dead-on as the plot resolves to a good climax.

The game also has a system of favor trading with NPC contacts that keeps the PCs tied into the community they live in and beholden to players that become more involved in events the more they are consulted. Money is always tight and favors help get the right tools in your hands. The gear system is very intuitive and many cyberpunk classics are represented as well as some new takes on the cutting edge.


Presentation: The game is very cleanly laid-out and attractive to the eye. There are some full-color images in the text, but most of the art is very tasteful tri-tone images that set the tone for each section, demonstrate game-play, or show examples of the equipment in the game. As an added bonus to those of us who like a printout at the table, the raster graphics are on a layer in the PDF that can be switched off to save toner./ink. The text is clear and has clear examples of play close to each section of rules.

Portability: Similar to game like 'Fiasco', Technoir comes with setting bibles called "Transmissions" that make game setup and prep easy and organic, even during play. These setting manuals allow for the fan community to create and share their own Transmission with others and integrating other people's transmissions into your own game is a snap. Also, the system hackers out there will recognize that a few tweaks to the starting verbs and training programs allows a group to run a number of other genres.

I recommend the game for fans of cyberpunk gaming who want a more streamlined system or a system that is less about the shopping list and more about the motives of the characters. I also recommend the game to those who like modern noir movies like "Blade Runner" or "Brick" (both obvious inspirations for this game) or the classic noir films. Story gamers will find much here to love, as the game centers on the character's and their goals, even while keeping that cybernetic edge you need for good cyberpunk.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Technoir
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Stellar Wind
Publisher: Higher Dimension Games
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/01/2011 18:00:46
A younger me once fell in love with a game called Journeyman by this game's author. I see much in this product that reminds me of that old flame, and there is so much more as well. The rules give lots of hard sci-fi crunch and the art puts you in a mood for reaction massing, heat-sinking space adventure. It's like meeting my high school love only to find her having blossomed.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Stellar Wind
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Agents of S.W.I.N.G.
Publisher: Postmortem Studios
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/22/2011 09:42:35
A pitch perfect rendition of the genre mixed with a light and tight FATE backbone. This game has much to recommend it: 60's styling, genre background info, and sample characters that are most of the signature characters of the genre with teh serial numbers filed off. Groups looking to run a "League of Extraordinarily Groovy Gentlemen" style game, a homage to an old favorite, or just set out on that show you wished they'd made will be very hard-pressed to find a game better suited.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Agents of S.W.I.N.G.
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Wordplay Basics
Publisher: D101 Games
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/07/2010 07:11:46
Simple and fun narrative gaming!

This game combines the cream of a crop of good story-based games with the simple fun of rolling a bunch of dice (by which, I mean you roll lots of dice instead of having to use lots of rolls - the difference will tell in play, let me assure you). The conflict resolution system is simple and universally applicable to any conflict in a way that keeps engagement, but also lets you enjoy that thrill of building up a hand of dice and letting fly at your opponent.

From social combat to blazing ship's weapons in deep space, the system's damage makes sense and the scalability of the game is simple and functional. The goals and doubts system gives characters and edge in getting what they want, but plagues them with doubts if they fail. This system pays off well in longer term play, and feeds well into the flow of experience and advancement in the game as well.

Check out the Big Five from d101 to see some specific uses of the system in a varying group of genres, or just grab any setting from your shelves and use this system for a one-shot. You can't go wrong.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wordplay Basics
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Wordplay The Big Five
Publisher: D101 Games
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/30/2010 08:49:54
With its very simple and dynamic trait-based character generation and its fun pool-building and quick rolling resolution system, Wordplay is simply quick and fun.

Any genre, any setting, any flavor of play can be simulated by the rules. The "Big Four" added to the presentation of the main rules are all engaging and show the depth and width of the rules engine.

The system is a mesh of ideas from games like HeroQuest and Burning Wheel with its own fresh flavor that dumps the overhead of those games for something much more turn-key and adaptable.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wordplay The Big Five
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