Caveat: I haven’t actually read the game. This is purely based on one session of gameplay and reading discussions on the net.
Spoiler: This game is garbage. It might have some good hidden intentions, as Ville thinks it does, but despite that, its just awfully designed. It might sound fun, but it has huge fundamental flaws, which are apparently only addressed by the designer by telling people to deal with it. So, I’m dealing with it. I’m telling you how much this sucks.
The basic idea is this: You have a squad of soldiers, who are out there in space killing things. You actually compete about killing things. Its very minimalistic, with basically just two attributes, the Fighting Ability FA, and the Non-Fighting Ability NFA:
Lets start from the beginning. Yesterday we played our first session. We were instructed to make our characters. First, only name, reputation and distributing ten points among the two attributes, with maximum of eight in one of them. So, I gave my character the name Pjotor Azarov, had him have the reputation of a coward, gave him 2 in FA and 8 in NFA. I thought, maybe I can be a medic or something.
Then, I was told I’m the sergeant of the squad, because I have the highest NFA. Ok. I can work with that… I thought at the time.
We were given weapons. I got some basic rifle and a sidearm.
Then, I was told my goal was to keep everyone alive and see to it that our squad follows the orders given by our superiors. Except, I need to compete about the kills as well. This isn’t actually my mission, but since the game only feedback is that I get levels by killing more things than others, this is clearly what I need to do. Ville seems to think there’s some hidden genius behind this, which might be true if the rules in general weren’t such a mess.
The first encounter pretty much revealed all the problems with the game. Since I have a very high NFA, I can generally choose how each encounter begins. Since I have my sidearm, which works close range, while others don’t have any weaponry that does pretty much anything at that range, in order to win in the killing contest, I need to bring those fights to close range. All the time.
Obviously, this isn’t very logical. Why would my character do this, if there wasn’t a poorly conceived rule behind it? Instead of trying to do anything valuable, my character needs to shit on other characters time and time again. However, since the system is – again – so poorly conceived, this isn’t actually helping me. Its just giving me false hope.
Since my FA is so low, I can’t actually hit anything. In the meantime, the other characters will have time to get to better positions and then – since they have higher FAs and more efficient weapons – can beat any of my attempts at getting the high kill score. I just don’t stand a chance.
The other encounters we had were basically the same. I took us to close range, they moved into better position. Killing ensued.
If I had known how the system works beforehand, would I have made my character differently. Definitely. However, this has another problem. This would have lead to much more homogenous characters.
Since NFA is basically useless for more than one character, everyone would max out on FA. Of course, then some poor soul would need to take the bullet, so that the squad doesn’t get ambushed every time. That character would then be forced into uselessness. NFA is good for US, while FA is good for ME. In a game where you are in a situation, where you are supposed to compete, this isn’t good. You can’t spread your wealth if everyone else is keeping theirs.
Now, I do have an out. Each player has a strength. You can use this strength to immediately resolve a situation. Then you get to kill all the threats in the encounter. Sounds nice, but since my weaponry is so poor, I can’t get the kills I need even this way, because the other characters can easily get more in a normal encounter. Also, they have strenghts they can use. You get only one in the beginning, and you only get more by levelling, in other words by killing more than others.
So, basically, I’m screwed. I don’t have incentives to play the game the way it says I should. I don’t have the tools to play the game the way it should be played. Every avenue I have is just poor. I basically have the following options:
1. I keep doing the same thing: I bring battles to close range and hope for the best. However, since the other players can get new weapons and become better at using them at close range, this options is quickly closed, if isn’t already. Since I have the poorest FA, anyone can easily best me at close range.
2. I can go for promotions. The thing is, I can’t really control this. You need to expend a strength to get a promotion, but I can’t get strengths by killing, so I have to rely on purely on luck. I don’t have any control over this.
3. I try to get the other characters killed. This doesn’t really work either. Since my FA is so low, I can’t take them on directly, but since I don’t have any other venues to do this, that’s my only chance.
Basically, I’m screwed. I don’t have any room to maneuver and I don’t have any tools to work with. I did some reading on the subject, and as others had come seen the same problems, they had apparently come to these conclusions:
1. The game is supposed to be played as a team, where people just let everyone level. Well, the system doesn’t support this in any way. It only encourages the competition, so if this is what we are supposed to do, why would we be playing this game?
2. The game is fundamentally PvP. Okay, seems about right. However, again, I don’t have the tools to do this, since I apparently can’t use my higher rank to mess with them and I can’t attack them directly due to my low combat capabilities.
Its a poorly conceived board game in the guise of a RPG. My capabilities are pretty much useless to me and if they somehow became useful, that would put the other characters in a very poor position.