10 June, 2018

200 Word Reviews (Part 2 - 21-40)

When I started writing these reviews, they were organised on the 200 Word RPG site by the time the submissions arrived. They have now shifted to alphabetical order. I started by writing the games in the first column, or at least the first 200 games, so I'll keep working my way through that listing. Once I've worked through those, I'll probably do the rest according to their current alphabetical listing.

Entrant
Name
Premise
Rules
Definition
Agenda
Coherence
Total
21
Please Silence Your Cell Phones – Jack Rosetree
1
2
0
1
1
7
22
Transmogrified Creatures Save The Day! – Daniel D.
2
3
2
2
2
11
23
Be A Cat – VL Darling
2
2
0
3
2
9
24
Have You Heard This One Before?
1
2
0
4
3
10
25
Empathy Test – J.D.
4
3
2
3
3
15
26
These are Animals – James Wallis
3
2
0
1
2
8
27
Ghost of a Chance – Ed Jones
3
2
0
3
2
10
28
Irrlicht – A Will-o’-the-Wisp Charade RPG – ms. werepug
4
3
1
2
2
12
29
How did we drift this far apart? – Ville Pelkoen
1
1
2
1
0
5
30
America’s Got Gender – Samara Hayley Steele
3
2
2
2
1
10
31
Leaving the Station – Vincent Perez
3
3
1
2
3
12
32
Break the state maschine (106 chars/line!) - mherzog
2
3
0
2
3
10
33
Masters of the Lair – Andreas Timel
3
3
0
2
3
11
34
Day at the Planet – Emily Savidge
2
2
0
2
2
8
35
Bad Bishop – Patrick O’Leary
4
3
0
4
3
14
36
IZomby – Sarah Zeiter
3
3
1
2
3
12
37
Take What You Want: A Game of Heists – Isaiah Stankowski
2
3
2
2
2
11
38
Land of Milk and Honey – Matthew Evans
3
3
2
4
2
14
39
I Was Once A Mighty Mountain – Drew Besse
1
2
2
0
1
6
40
Nutty Racers – Tom Schilling
4
2
1
3
3
13

Please Silence Your Cell Phones
Interesting novelty that once again makes a curious set of parameters for a scene rather than a full game. There is no differentiation of characters here, no real goal to the game, not even really a scenario provided , just a set of restrictions on a scene, and then…GO. So yes, it another one of “those” games.  

Transmogrified Creatures Save The Day!
Here’s a bit of kooky fun. Players portray townsfolk transmogrified into an assortment of strange creatures who then have to get past similarly transmogrified obstacles (each defined by two playing cards). All players get a pool of moxie, and players can loan moxie to one another if someone needs help, and they think the action undertaken is good enough to succeed. The condensed word count mean a few bits aren’t clear, but there’s enough here to point toward a solid game.

Be A Cat
As someone who owns a cat (and a dog, a duck, and currently 11 ferrets) this looks like an interesting game. It is the nature of cats that there doesn’t need to be a grand end goal, and I guess this game reflects this. Nothing really connect the actions or narrative to the dice rolls, so it ends up basically as an exercise of random happenings until everyone decides to stop playing.

Have You Heard This One Before?
I actually don’t mind this one, but the marking rubric knocks it down because it’s a simple concept without a lot of depth, and doesn’t do a lot of the things I’d expect in a game. I guess it’s a bit “Baron Munchausen” in that stories are told and players are trying to one-up each other with their narrative interjections, my biggest problems are that it all seems a it vague, and you’d have to set a lot of external ground rules before playing the game.  

Empathy Test
Says it’s inspired by Blade Runner, I get the feeling of the back end analysts monitoring the hosts in the Westworld TV series (and that’s a good thing). It’s all very procedural, and I think I’m going to have to re-read it a couple of times to get a better gist of what’s happening, and probably play through it a couple of times to fully grok it. Again it’s a very specific session idea, for two players, so it’s narrow in scope. But at least it feels like a game where roles are being portrayed, and all the interconnections between narrative and die outcomes seems to be generally present.  

These are Animals
Conversation have indicated that there are a higher than normal number of games with a political message in them. This is probably the first distinct one of those that I’ve come across. A die is rolled and hidden, it has on effect on play. It’s all about one player making another player uncomfortable, it always has a bleak ending. Again it’s art for art’s sake, and blatant political posturing, more than anything else.

Ghost of a Chance
I want to like this one more, but again it’s very vague doesn’t really offer a challenge, and is very reliant on group fiat. There are powers, and descriptions of how they manifest, but not what they do or how they can be used. It’s all up to you. You might as well not have rules. It sets an interesting premise, but I need more than just a premise for a game to be considered complete.

Irrlicht – A Will-o’-the-Wisp Charade RPG
A three-way struggle between Players, Irrlicht, and GM… which is clever. The Irrlicht may be good or evil, but the players don’t know. The players explore a dungeon area defined by a chessboard, moving across it and encountering challenges that may or may not be related to the Irrlicht. I’d really like to see this one fleshed out a bit more, perhaps with a wider range of obstacle ideas, some depth to the characters (both players and Irrlicht), and just generally…more. But it feels like the kernel to a good game.

How did we drift this far apart?
Arty angsty catharsis freeform again. No rules beyond a series of questions to ask one another, yes, you are both playing roles, no it’s not really a game. No real ending, you just stop when both players feel it is time. It’s all a bit of an exercise in futility… sorry, I’ve seen this before, and I have no idea why the same idea is constantly rehashed.  

America’s Got Gender
Interesting idea, and it’s another one of those with a distinct political bias. I like the idea that it’s all about defining identity, I think it’s a clever shorthand to use another game completely between rounds of this game to determine the outcome of rounds, but there is no real connection between those other games and this one to make a coherent whole (especially when those other games are chosen arbitrarily). Overall, nice ideas, but doesn’t quite feel there yet.

Leaving the Station
From the name, I thought this was going to be one of those “arty, angsty, catharsis freeform” games again. I was kind of right, but at least this one has elements of game play in it, and a bit of structure… so that’s a step in the right direction. I like that there are defined roles, everyone gets a chance n those roles, and everyone contributes to the final outcome of the story. There’s a lot of freedom for players to flesh out the world, it could really work well as a starting point for John Harper’s Ghost Lines.     

Break the state maschine (106 chars/line!)
Opening this explains the title…it really needs to be displayed at 106 character per line…so let me get back to you once I’ve opened it in the right format.

Alright…I’m back.

Whoa. There seems to be a lot of depth and complexity to this one, Perhaps too much for 200 words because there feels like a lot of allusion to certain ideas that might be inherently understood by the author but need a bit more word count to fully make clear. There’s a vibe to it, a cyberpunk rebellious attitude underlying it, and a bit of scope to allow the players to flesh out the world. But besides rebellion, and public attitude to the actions defining that rebellion, it feels like there’s a big chunk of dead air here. It feels like the kind of game I should love, but it’s not quite there.

Masters of the Lair
So, you inhibit a dungeon…. Um, what?? I think the characters inhabit the dungeon. Other than that it seems like a pretty solid game. Players portray monsters sharing a communal dungeon/lair, taking turns to lead raids against one another and outside forces. A simple die mechanism determines the  general outcome of those raids, along with who narrates and who adds in complications to be overcome. It might help to have a way to define the characters a bit more, and there’s no real end goal, but a solid bit of fun.

Day at the Planet
This is basically playing Kal-El (Superman) in his Clark Kent persona during a day at the Daily Planet. It’s another of those interesting one-off scenario games, with no real end goal or point when the game is considered over unless the Superman analogue loses. I’d probably throw in a 10 task limit for the day, then have the players swap roles, perhaps building the shared world between the actions of each player trying to do good in the world while remaining undercover.   

Bad Bishop
Players set up a chess game that is already underway, each of the pieces represents a member of a family, and the rules of chess dictate the way the story unfolds as these families struggle against one another. It’s a clever meta-game to apply over a chess match, fleshing out a world and a shared narrative with each move. It feels like something that should have been done before, but I haven’t quite seen it done in a way as elegant as this. The only down side is that the moves impact the fiction, but the fiction has no impact on the moves.   

IZomby
This is a solid, simple little game. Exactly the kind of thing I expect from the contest. Players have roles defined in some way, they tell a story with basic rules guiding action outcomes. Nothing particularly new here, but it’s all tied together in a basic coherent package that facilitates a variety of play situations.  

Take What You Want: A Game of Heists
I can see how games like Blades in the Dark are infecting the wider design community in entrants like this. Players create characters who conduct heists, then develop a shared world in which their job will occur, before starting the process of pulling off the caper. General rules seem pretty vague, but an experience group should be able to muddle through without many real problems.

Land of Milk and Honey
A political battle between communists and capitalists, it feels like it’s during the great depression, but my American history is a bit rusty. Either way, it’s a narrow premise, but seems to be interesting. Since you only roll one or two dice, and only succeed on a 6+ it all feels a bit bleak, but that might be a part of the intended theme. Either way it’s got an end point, and a good procedure for getting there… so most of the necessary elements for game play are present.

I Was Once A Mighty Mountain
Yep…nope.
Another “arty, angsty, catharsis freeform” games. Tell a story about a rock. What it was…what it is…what it will be.

Nutty Racers
While a few of the games I’ve lamented over are all role and no playing, this one is all playing with no real role. It’s a race game where players move forward by describing how they move and overtake one another. I can see it being a wild and frantic party game, perhaps even successfully transferred to a full on board game format. 
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