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Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
$49.99 $29.99
Publisher: Mongoose
by Tim B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/26/2017 12:07:34

A playtest impression!

TL;DR: This edition of PARANOIA ia the most immediately gameable, and best "balanced" version of the game, making it incredibly fun without being opaque or so beholden to GM fiat that it's completely ad hoc. Players will -- at the very start of character creation, even! -- get a sense of not only why but how they should betray each other, and the world and system reinforce the idea that doing so can't strictly be done just by shooting everyone on the field. You gotta plant evidence, record evidence, lie about what the evidence shows, destroy evidence against you, and otherwise run in circles to get to the next Security Clearance, and this game makes that fun!

If you need more than that, here are my thoughts after 3 sessions of play:

Character creation is amazing, and will net you a general hatred for your fellow player's characters. But you won't be so incompetent that you can't do most normal stuff, or find a member of your party that can.

The Treason Stars and XP Point Achievements are beautifully handled, and give the players incentive to not only work against each other, but also work with each other if they want to win the long game. It's a careful balance that the in-world stuff all perfectly showcases and reinforces.

Moxie is a thousand times better than Perversity Points, and much tighter as a game mechanic. In fact, the entire dice pool system + the Computer Dice, when combined with Moxie, makes for a pretty fantastic, super-sleak game system that can work for a lot of different situations.

The Action Cards took some careful thought on how to remove or use when gaming over the internet, but after coming up with several options, none seemed to break the game or anything. In fact, there were times when the game improved by not relying on Action Order of cards, and times when the cards clearly improved the game by adding additional narrative power to either the Players' or the GM's side of things. This proves how versatile the Action Cards are.

The other cards -- Mutant Powers, Secret Society, Mandatory Bonus Duty, and Equipment -- were mostly great. Having these pieces of info on hand in card-sized format was a fantastic reference aid. The only issues: (1) MBDs should contain a bulleted list of standard issue equipment for that role; (2) Equipment should have been duplicated as entries in one of the rulebooks, since there's some really basic Equipment Cards that everyone can get but since the rules only appear on a single card and only one player may be holding that card, it made it a pain to reference Equipment-specific rules at times when they popped up unexpectedly, or in multiples.

The included Missions have been a blast to play, though there's a few moments when they seem to expect the players to betray each other or play to the backstabbing angle of the game, but don't actually enforce it. This is problematic during the very first Mission, because it may accidentally give players more reasons to work together (against their leader, Roz) than to work against each other subtly, so that actually turns the adventure into a bad teaching tool for the game. The first Mission should have been a bigger hose job earlier on, whether consecutive clones more likely to succeed but also with more motivation to betray one another.

This is my favorite edition of Paranoia, mechanics-wise and world-building-wise, hands down. The books could use a some organizational help (I'm building my own index because some info is just all over the place), and the Missions could teach the game's skullduggery and backstabbing a bit better, but those are small prices to play for the incredibly fun gaming experience contained within this version of the game.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
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