Thursday, 1 January 2015

Rebel, Rebel....

Hello people,

Tuesday afternoon myself Rob and Mr C went and saw The Hobbit: BOFA in super IMAX 3D and then retired to casa del Leg to crack out Mr C's chrimbo pressie to himself; Rebel Assault.

To set the background Mr C has played a couple of games and spent a fair few hours deciphering the apparently poorly laid out rulebook. Rob has had a couple of games, this was my first time out.

The game has two formats, firstly as a traditional skirmish wargame picking and equipping your force from the various options available and secondly as a roleplay lite version of Edge of the Empire / Age of Rebellion. With three players we went roleplay lite, myself and Rob taking a pair of characters each with Mr C as GM running the Empire.
As we kicked off everything felt familiarly homely as the main stats of Endurance and  Strain ported across as well as each player getting two actions (as compared to a manoeuvre and and action). There's also a unique set of dice. Attack dice generate Range, Hits and Surges, which are spent on bonus weapon effects much like Criticals. Defence dice negate Hits and Surges.

That's pretty much the core mechanics. The Mission Scenario sets everything else up and we played through the intro and then one more, from a rolling choice of two. They were fairly challenging and not just in terms of opponents, the intro scenario has a tight turn limit!

Each character has their own special abilities as well as their own decks of XP bought ability upgrades, appropriately tiered for a natural progression, as well as a more generic deck of weaponry, armour and equipment. All of the core elements of the full roleplay system are there.
What isn't there is the narrative nature of EotE / AoR, which is in my opinion it's greatest strength. I can understand why and how it couldn't be for this type of product but it does rather exchange ROLL for ROLE as far as the play is concerned. That feeling isn't helped by some of the more gamey elements introduced by the different coloured Attack dice. In the second mission we had an AT-ST which, by necessity I suppose, was very short ranged.....which jarred badly.

As much everything is beautifully put together, as you'd expect, and you do get an awful lot in the box the layout of the rulebook is a proper pig and we often went by "common sense" rather than delve it's depths.
I appreciate that I've only played two missions over the course of one evening but my initial impressions were that the game felt a bit schizophrenic, neither a roleplay or a wargame though possibly an entry level offering for both. On reflection, whilst writing this, I think that actually it's a Living Boardgame (my moniker) given the forthcoming expansions and FFGs penchant for such things.

As such it's never going to be either a Wargame or a Roleplay Game. If you're experienced with either it's an easy mistake to make. As an experienced player of both I would be concerned to describe it as either to someone starting out, or anyone else for that matter. I suppose it's a matter of expectation.

So, in short, it's neither a Roleplay or War game. There are plenty of elements of both but if that's what you're expecting you won't get it, or at least you'll be let down a touch.

I'm still not sure what a Living Boargame is, but I don't mind having another go :)

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