12 September 2019

Review: Reality's Edge

Osprey Games are really bringing out some cool stuff these days - and I finally have Reality's Edge in my hands. This one have been a long way coming, since it was first mentioned on Lead Adventure.

I love the cyberpunk genre and the only type of gaming I really do is skirmish scale miniature games. So pre-ordering this one, my hope was to get:

1. A sandbox, to easy make scenarios and run long story driven campaigns.
2. Lot of options, for all the characters that I can think off. Covering my all time favorite Deus Ex characters.
3. A contained rule system.

There's a good amount of cyberpunk (or sci-fi titles close enough) titles out there. My problem with most are they are expensive. Expensive because of specific models, that come with specific cards and rules. And I have a limited budget and a tone of weird bits.

Reality's Edge looked like it might be the system I needed. For me the hype has been huge, as has my expectations. The expectations are high, because I played a lot of TNT and this will use the same core mechanics.

Shiny and chrome - the look, the fluff, the setting
The book looks good. As is custom in Osprey hardback books, the quality is super nice. There's a ton of cool original artwork, the pages have a nice layout and the paper quality is good. A thing that's important for me is the amount of text on each page.

And Reality's Edge is a nice read for my eyes, there's good space on the pages - not too cluttered.

Reality's Edge is not a locked setting - it's generic cyber punk, so you can use it to whatever specifics you like. In this regard it reminds me of Frostgrave, it sets up a frame and a theme - and it let you run with that.

There's no photos of miniatures in the book, no terrain. This is a new thing for me, it's always a part of these books. I would love to know the reasoning behind the descision. It's not really a problem for me, I don't really spend time looking at the photos in books. I'm constantly inspired by photos on the facebook groups for systems. For this book, it seems like a good choice.

A huge chunk of this book is 'the black market', the list of weapons, equipment, drones, apps and augmentations. It's a huge part of the 320 page book. One of the reasons this part is so huge, is item descriptions for all items. Small fluff pieces, that make up that cyberpunk frame while reading the book.

The rules
For people already used to TNT, the rules are an easy read. And only the new virtuel hacking layer might bring some confusion. I'll bring up a few key things in the game.

Tests: The game use two types of test. One is a "d10 + stat" test, with 10 being the target number to beat. The other is opposed test "d10 + stat" rolled for the models involved in actions. Pretty straight forward.

Activation: I really like skirmish games with switch activation, keeping people in the game. Reality's Edge up this a bit further. When activating a model, you'll do a stat test. The result will leave the model with one, two or three actions points. If you roll badly, the initiative will go to the opponent after activation. If you roll good, you get to activate another model.

Combined with the ability to put models on over watch and the fact that you'll resolve hits from shooting when initiative passes - there's some nice chaos to consider when making plans.

From TNT I know this is not something that makes the game confusing - but it brings a lot more 'Yes!' and 'Oh, no!' moments into the game.

Cyberspace / virtual: Cyberpunk needs hacking, apps and virtual reality. Reality's Edge does this by making a layer on the map being played. Virtual beings and programs are on the map, but only some models can interact with them.

I had to read this section a couple of times to make sense of it. It's a bit hard to grasp how it's meant to work in the game - and my mate (who hasn't played TNT) had an even harder time to get it.

Thinking in Frostgrave terms it became a bit easier. There's the real world and hacker's (wizards). Hackers can hack objectives (open lock spells), hack items and players (attack spells) or make virtual creatures (summon demons, that can only interact with other magical beings).

The sandbox
I like sandboxes, that's the reason I got Reality's Edge. A sandbox for me is easy to modify scenarios, lots of character options, lots of random enemies and a huge 'between games' play.

RE brings more characters options than you can field in a game, and each character options has multible options for varying skills and stats - making them highly unique. Your main character will even get a background and employer that impact the character.

All stuff that won't slow down the game, but does take time when starting out.

There's a good amount of scenarios in the book and the will vary as well. Each scenario will have some possible variables (often three) and twenty possible hitches (weather, protesters or other stuff). All in all there's a lot of variety - even if you don't make up your own stuff.

The campaign
According to the book, campaigns are going to be slow. Your crew will level slowly and you won't get rich. All characters start being freelancers, they'll ditch the crew if things don't go your way in games - and it'll cost money to make them stick around.

Everything costs money seems to be a theme in the game. Injuries can be mended (cost money) or let time heal (bad for morale - freelancers might quit). Captured models can be bailed out (cost money) or sit out time (bad for morale). Killed models (especially you main character) can be cloned (costs a lot of money).

Bringing a freelancer permanently (ignore morale, won't ditch the crew) will require a lucky roll or money.

I like this, games are not meant to be too easy. Cyberpunk for me is about scum - the guys who haven't made it. Reading the campaign system I'm thinking of the main character in Neuromancer and his hard work to make it.

I've already made various starting crews. A highly elite, well equipped team with only 4 guys. A medium armed and equipped team with 7 members. And now I've ended up with and build a medium armed 5 man team - with a lot of money in reserve. Money saved to see how the income vs upkeep will turn out in game.

Final thoughts
This is a good book, a good contained system that you can have lots of fun with for a long time. Just like TNT and Last Days - this is a sandbox I'll visit for many years and will continuously make new stuff for.

Another good miniature agnostic system, that will let you use whatever miniatures and conversions you might think off.

The author Joseph McGuire is talking of a possible solo/coop expansion. That would be awesome!

Make sure to check out the facebook community for cyberpunk miniature gaming - so much brilliant stuff. Character cards, tokens, printable terrain. And I've said a few things about my preparations for RE over at Ospreys blog.

I'm new a this review writing. Please let me know here or on Facebook, what you would like to see different of focus on in a written review.

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