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I liked the Cards ...


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I did like the next evolution of the 'The Apocalypse Engine' which is to say the Asset cards. I've played a few of the 'Powered by the Apocalypse Engine' games including Dungeon World. And, as before, nice character sheets but the rest didn't ring my bell. (The reviewers refer to Dungeon World which is a great name but the game didn't stand up.)

I watched a few videos on IronSworn and they were mixed. The creator introduced LodeStar which is a the content shrunk down for convention play. He made a special point to recommend users NOT pay Drive Thru if a few bucks was dear to them. His content was pretty good. His presentation was sincere to me. I liked the cut of his jib. The rest didn't really make the case (as talented as they are).

The Geek Gamer Girl review was interesting until you realize that she was playing Avalon Magic Realm and 45 minutes into her demo, she hadn't actually cracked the rules. (Magic Realm does get into your head but there is no resolution there. Slide it back on the shelf. It doesn't work.) It seemed like a writer trying to craft a story rather than demo the game. My concept is my character's father died in mysterious ways and some time in the future, he was going to reappear and do something.

Perhaps IronSworn facilitates that but, for her, so would three sheets of paper and a magic eight ball. I vow I will avenge the death of my father. Shake. Shake. Shake. The fates say the future is foggy. I move along the road a bit farther ... Shake. Shake Shake. The signs are good!!!! Victory I say!!!!

She praised the layout ... and it is good. But, then she described how to make a character and said go to page 220 of the book to see the summary. I'm pretty much thinking, the character generation summary should be ... not at the back of the book? Does that count as layout?

Next, I watched a many hour demo where the one reviewer named his Fighter ... FIG TER ... the H disappearing silent and the young lady with a chip on her shoulder played a young lady with a chip on her shoulder called "Outcast" because she had an "Outcast" Asset card. They used the rules to determine the name of their viking village ... Omen says ... named after an animal ... specifically a Wolf. Isn't every Viking village named after a Wolf? I think I would have been more amused as a player if it had been named 27.

Next, I watched 4 dudes head bobbing playing something sort of like Iron Sworn. They spent 15 minutes trying to avoid being the leader because each knew that the Referee would make them make a Saving Throw or suffer a wound. ... which ... he did. They did dispense with the new version of the mechanics and just use the two die six of the original game. So, they demo'd it without actually ... you know demo'ing it.

Finally, the dude in the car reviewed the game and he loved, loved, loved it. Because it was free, well presented, and the art was ingenious. Did he mention free and pretty. Yes, it was free, and pretty ... mostly free, but somewhat pretty. Again, did I mention free ... before or after pretty. I jest at the style because he actually had the best insight. First, and I don't know if this is true, he says the game is about Vikings even though the text doesn't use the word Viking. Is not actually using the single most definitive work about the product in the actual product a free, or pretty thing? (Well, we did get it from the pictures.)

Next, Car Dude went into the economics of Drive Thru and made the case why free made sense. His praise was gushing ... except for the one minor defect which he would share at the end of the video. Clever fellow I say. Ramble. Ramble. More interesting insight ... then ... the game is 5 out of 5 ... EXCEPT ... the Apocalypse Engine ???? Basically, other than the page numbers and the pictures of the Cos Players, everything else was a negative???? He did say free right?

I did say I liked the cards as the next evolution. The D20 version of EPT could have used them. I digress.

Car Dude did go on to say why "Powered by the Apocalypse Engine" or PAE was flawed was that it only works when you are playing the game with 7 other Game Masters. Cuz ... they get it. Otherwise it's too abstracted. You don't travel for example, you do "Perilous Journey MOVE" at the Way Point. You don't get injured ... you do "Pay the Price MOVE".

If you have ... you know ... players ... it all goes Tango Uniform ... I vow I shall have the +12 Sword of Vorpal Dancing ... and roll, roll, roll ... it is mine. Players don't tend to do nuance. For them, it's not really a journey of personal discovery ... it's about getting some serious plunder. (For any player offended by my characterization, I didn't mean you ... your journeys have been the model of human insight and courage. Nice Platinum Gem Encrusted shield you got there.) A blank tableau brings out the worst in the player. (It sounds more significant when I say tableau.)


Cutlass cuts away most of the distraction. The mechanics are simple and direct .. better still predictable. The ignobles make you do things that you don't want to do (but need to do to grow) and getting the encounter is actually a good thing. Because even if the Ref just makes you roll save or wound, you get the ignoble.

The notion that you raised the hawk from the egg, fed it on your shoulder, and watched it die saving the ship is more a sign of the Referee than the game. Cutlass doesn't make you do that ... but ... it rewards you for doing so. (Heck, there's at least 4 ignobles in that mess.)

While the player may seek the most loot and glory, the deck will make him pay. It doesn't say you can't have a character vision, but in the end, if bonding with your long gone father is your vow, you will be pressed to earn it. Perhaps to the point where you choose to abandon such sentimental things ... or double you efforts.

And, the tools the players wield move seamlessly from the cutlass in their hand to ships, fleets, companies, and even armies. It is not my vision to captain a ship ... and then I imagine the smell of the sails, and the wind caressing my face. The adventurer can achieve this through known mechanics ... known risk and potential. And, once he achieve's the ship, the deck is there to remind him, there is slop, rot, the worst of the human element, and perhaps in the end, a brief moment on the deck to enjoy the breeze. You have not imagined the tale, you have lived it.


Yours,

   Iron Conrad



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