TaKtiX: Laurence J Sinclair

Laurence J Sinclair has been playing the Warlord CCG since the release of the game - mainly thanks to that killer Rathe art. He even stuck with it through that dark time involving Campaign Rathe art. Now he is a playtester and a member of the Warlord Story Team - guiding the armies of the Accordlands into an uncertain future.

27.5.06

Tangent #1 - Deadlands!

I shall return to the subject of Warlord in all due course, but with the recent release of Deadlands: Reloaded, I thought I'd give my thoughts on it.

The book itself is exceedingly gorgeous. Not only have Pinnacle looted the back-catalogue of Doomtown card art, but they've commissioned a whole bunch of new art specifically for the book! All you Warlord fans should be aware that there's even a new piece by a certain Mister Engle...

In style it departs wildly from the original books. Full colour for one thing, the space eating margins have finally been gotten rid of, although the rather large size of print means that, overall, we're not netting a lot of extra words per page. Despite the packed 256 pages, the fact that there are so many full-page illustrations means that the actual meat of the product isn't as much as one would hope for.

Having not played the Savage Worlds game system yet, I can't comment on how good an entry this world setting is to the range, but the rules seem solid enough. Fate chips are back, duels become a bluffing game of Texas Hold 'em and all the Arcane Backgrounds are present and correct. There's even the chance to lose your arm to the Veteran tables again!

Then there's the background section. The world has moved on, passing from the 1876 of the original, through the 1877 of the revised edition and the 1878 of the Gomorra era to end up in 1879. Things have changed, particularly regarding the state of the war, the rail barons and the sasquatches. Unfortunately, while the recent events have all been taken care of, a lot of general background has been omitted. The basics of the many plots circulating the Weird West remains, but if you're expecting in-depth explanation of the motivations of many of the villains, or even who they are (Santa Anna and Emperor Maximilian are enigmas, and you'd be forgiven for not knowing who Geronimo is) then you'll be left wanting.

The Marshal's section has all the meaty goods on Harrowed, proper encounter tables for all the many regions and a huge section on abominations and enemies. At almost eighty pages, it's the largest section of the book, and while I appreciate having all the critters described, I'd much rather have had some of the minor ones omitted so that there's more room for that missing background I mentioned earlier.

Or, failing that, some Marshal guidelines. The original volumes contained extensive writings on how to run a proper horror western, to evoke mood and atmosphere and properly creep out the players. Lamentably, there's nothing of the sort here. No hints or advice, just hard rules. Even a page or two of designer's notes would have been nice.

Still, for all my belly-aching I like it. It's missing a lot of stuff that could have been added, but there's only so much that a book can take, and I'm sure that newcomers to the setting probably won't notice. Did I mention how pretty it is? With six plot point books on the way and a healthy amount of free downloads on their website, I'm looking forward to giving it a whirl. After all, the true test of the game is how it plays. With the old system often leading to many drawn-out fights that took too long to resolve, hopefully the Savage Worlds system should speed things up, leaving gunfights as quick and deadly as they should be.

I'm not going to end with giving it marks out of ten, but on the whole I am thoroughly satisfied. Sure, I'm disappointed that it missed so many opportunities, but that's due to my expectations being up there in the stratosphere. It is what it is, and everyone should be glad that Deadlands is back on shelves again. YEEEEE-HA!

3 Comments:

At Tuesday, May 30, 2006 5:20:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two things: That font is really hard to read (Firefox, mac).


Secondly... I am glad to here that new content for Deadlands is still being created, independant of what flavor it takes. Good games deserve long life, and this was one of the best (In my opinion).

--Zechno

 
At Tuesday, May 30, 2006 3:24:00 pm, Blogger Chris Dyer said...

Bad Zechno, doublepost ;-P

I dunno, I have...issues with Deadlands. My big problem was chips and how damn undeadly they made combat. If that's fixed I'll be a happy jackelope.

 
At Wednesday, May 31, 2006 12:47:00 am, Blogger Shakalooloo Doom said...

Rather than flat out negating damage, chips just give a 'soak roll' now - a CHANCE to prevent injury. And they're all traded in at the end of every session - no more hoarding them. Even when cashed for XP, you have to roll to see if they actually provide any, encouraging use of them during play rather than keeping them.

The Marshal hands out fixed XP gains at the end of each session, so chips are just extras, not the main way to advance.

 

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