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Shadowrun: Anarchy
by Markus S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2016 06:08:35

The rules section of this book is IMHO unfinished and not ready for publication.

Once the publisher releases an update with complete and proofread rules, I will edit this review and discuss the rules themselves. (From what I've read so far, my review would be a fairly positive one, but for now, I am surprised and somewhat angry that Catalyst would release a book at this stage of development.)

For now:

Several sections of the book obviously use or refer to earlier, outdated versions of the rules. (One of many examples: P. 68: Your Runner starts with at least two weapons; the group must approve if you want more than two. In the example, Sledge selects four weapons. - P. 83: Sledge has a Level-1-Amp "More where that came from", granting "2 additional weapons" and the ability to "trade melee and ranged weapons", whatever that is supposed to mean. - P. 66: Sledge does not buy this Amp in the example for buying Shadow Amps. - P. 204: The Amp shows up in the complete listing of Amps, but with an Amp-Level of 2.)

Stats for vehicles and drones are missing (except for mounted vehicle weapons and "enemy drones"). This is a bug, not a feature - the rules do make reference to stats like vehicle armor or durability, for example, I just could not find these stats anywhere. Didn't anyone play a Rigger during playtesting?

Stats for Technomancer Sprites are missing completely.

I just hope this is not the file that was sent to the printer!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Anarchy
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
by notKlaatu L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2016 14:36:59

Shadowrun converted me from hating the cyberpunk genre to loving it, and loving especially Shadowrun for its originality and unique take on a technological wasteland combined with magick and fantasy. The 5th Edition is my first edition, so I have no history with the game to compare this to. Compared to other rulesets, I'll definitely say that this one is complex, but that's not necessarily a bad thing and, in fact, can be a really great thing if part of the reason you enjoy RPG is for stat management and rule parsing. I happen to enjoy that quite a lot, so the intricacy of the Sixth World and its rules is just a further excuse to keep exploring it.

My only complaint: I would love for this rulebook to be released as an epub. The PDF format is great for pre-press, but for everyday reading and reference, it's just too big and the text, of course, is not resizeable. There's a lot of information in this book, and while the book is very attractive and nicely designed, I'd much rather be able to just read the text, instead of zooming in on the pdf and scrolling around the screen to follow the columns. It makes a leisurely read-through difficult, and as a refernence book it's basically useless. Realistically, you're probably going to need to buy the physical book whether or not you own the PDF, because the PDF is just not convenient. An epub version would solve that, and while I have extracted all the text from this book in an effort to convert it to a hand-rolled epub, there's A LOT of text to deal with, and proofing it and fixing all the tables just isn't really worth my time. PDF is a horrible format for a digital lifestyle, and how ironic that a game about the tech elite should have no clue how to cater to modern technologists.

Aside from format issues, this is a great rulebook and a great game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
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Shadowrun: Anarchy
by Austin L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2016 04:15:54

I should open this review by dispelling a common misconception. Shadowrun: Anarchy is not a 'rules light' game. Shadowrun: Anarchy has a pretty typical amount of rules for an RPG. It's only rules light in comparison to mainline Shadowrun, which is infamous for it's massive amount of rules. Anarchy is a streamlined Shadowrun experience, one that retains all of the core elements of the mainstream games, streamlines some of the more complicated rules systems, and adds in a bit of narrativist flair to appeal to a more contemporary gaming audience. It's meant to serve as an entry point for newcomers to Shadowrun, as well as an alternative system for people who want to run a quick pick up game, or simply prefer a less simulationist experience.

Shadowrun: Anarchy is designed to be a self contained introduction to the Shadowrun universe. Much of the early parts of the book are dedicated to establishing the the universe and it's more unique elements. There's a timeline, an overview of the various megacorps you'll be working for (or against), some short fiction, and a bunch of gorgeous artwork. The book also contains thirty premade PCs (complete with short backstories and character portraits), a gazeteer of the game's version of Seattle, and a massive set of "Contract Briefs" (adventure seeds). If you're looking to get into Shadowrun and can only afford one book, Anarchy will have everything you need to play.

The game runs on a variation of the Cue System used in the Valiant Universe Roleplaying Game. It's a narrativist system in which all of the players have a portion of control over the narrative, and are able to introduce new elements and plot twists as they see fit. Unlike traditional Shadowrun, the focus of the game is creating an exciting story, rather than overcoming the challenges of the run. By using Plot Points, players can freely help or hinder players in whatever ways they see fit, so long as the result is interesting. The result is a more unpredictable form of Shadowrun where the exact outcome of a given session can never be totally predicted (hence the Anarchy in the title).

Things are kept in check through Cues; small bits of description or narration that function somewhat like Fate aspects; players who are at a loss for what to do are encouraged to look at their Cues for suggestions, and Cues also serve to help dictate the tone of a given run.

However, Anarchy differs from Valiant Universe in that it maintains the traditional GM-Player relationship. There is a single person in charge of controlling the opposition and managing the runs. Interestingly, the GM doesn't have the power to directly help or hinder players; that responsibility falls solely on them. The result is a kind of hybrid Fiasco-Shadowrun game where players are encouraged to both help one another and screw each other over in pursuit of an interesting story. Of course, groups who aren't fond of this approach can also just play Anarchy like a traditional Shadowrun game. They lose out on some of the game's flavor, but they might end up with a more stable story.

Anarchy also differs from Valiant Universe in that Catalyst has gone out of its way to preserve all of Shadowrun's core mechanics. The "D6, Count Hits" resolution mechanic from Shadowrun 4e and 5e is still here, and most of the game's mechanics are reminiscent of (if not identical to) the mainline series, including attributes, skills, qualities, and condition tracks. If you're familiar with recent editions of Shadowrun, you'll feel right at home. If not, you'll still find character creation to be a lot more substantial than what you'd expect from a narrativist system.

The biggest change for Shadowrun veterans would be the introduction of Shadow Amps, which are meant to fill in for the various cyber limbs, magic spells, and matrix programs that a Shadowrunner needs to succeed. This is one of the more interesting aspects of the system, as the game goes with a sort of DIY approach; a character can only ever have six Shadow Amps, but can combine multiple effects into a single amp, resulting in custom spells or tricked out cyberware in more creative players. The game also encourages GMs and players to design Amps from the ground up, though there's no clear guide on how to do so. The classic Magic/Resonance/Cyber divide is still present as well. Being Awakened (or a Technomancer) costs two amp points (but not an amp slot), and most Cyberware reduces your Essence score (which weakens your ability to do magic).

Shadow Amps have a lot of potential; they feel like an immensely hackable system, and a savvy GM could use them to create things that mainline Shadowrun cannot or does not support. While the game doesn't include any of Shadowrun's non-traditional concepts (like AIs, Free Spirits, Awakened Critters, and Cyberzombies) the Shadow Amp system is flexible enough that introducing those elements to the system would require only a minimal amount of work.

Weapons and gear have also been abstracted. Nuyen and Lifestyle Costs are nowhere to be found (except as a narrative element). Weapons, Gear, and Contacts are now bought and upgraded through Karma (the game's version of experience points). Weapons still generally resemble their Shadowrun counterparts (albeit with fewer modifiers), while Gear has been abstracted to its purely narrative purpose. Riggers may mourn the lost of having ten thousand modification options for their van, but others might revel in being freed from the shackles of bookkeeping. It really depends on the group.

Finally, some of the game's subsystems have also been simplified. The Matrix (a notoriously complicated system) has been simplified to requiring only a single roll to gain control of a given matrix object, with things like alarms and the Overwatch Score being relegated to Narration twists. Matrix combat is still a thing, and functions mostly identically to it's mainline counterpart. There are also optional rules designed to make the matrix more similar to it's 5e counterpart for players who prefer a more substantial decking experience.

Magic operates much like it's Shadowrun counterpart, though there is no Drain to speak of. A magician can cast a given spell indefinitely without fear of injury; a fair trade for the six spell limitation that all players are now restricted by. Sustaining spells is also much more simple, though there are still (suggested) penalties for doing so if the spell is particularly complex, or being held for a long time. Spirit summoning is also relatively similar, although players can no longer bind spirits, nor can they have multiple spirits summoned at the same time.

Technomancy has undergone similar tweaks; Fade is completely gone, but players can only know six Complex Forms and have one sprite compiled at a given time.

The Rigging rules are also mostly functional, although the book only provides three example drone templates (and zero vehicle templates) buried in the NPC section, which leaves players and GMs to basically improvise if a rigging focused character is desired.

In fact, Improvisation is Shadowrun: Anarchy's biggest weakness (despite also being its biggest strength). While the freeform, narrativist style allows for high speed gameplay and a far more flexible experience than what 5e could ever give, there are many situations where the book simply shrugs and lets the GM and players figure things out on their own. Riggers are forced to try and puzzle out how to create drones and vehicles using the NPCs as a template. GMs are forced to try and reverse engineer the rules for creating Shadow Amps. The Non-Player character section is pitifully short, and completely lacks illustrations or descriptive text; it's just several pages of statblocks with vague titles like "Corporate Suit" or "Bug Queen". These are all relatively easily resolved issues (even a few sentences would be sufficent in each case), so it's baffling to see Catalyst fall short like this.

So, is Shadowrun: Anarchy for you?

If you're new to Shadowrun and want an easy way to run a game for your friends, this is absolutely a good choice. Just be sure your group is willing to play along with the Cue System for an ideal experience.

If you're a Shadowrun vet, I'd rank it as a maybe. It's similar enough that you'll feel at home with the mechanics, but the spirit of the rules might throw off certain groups. It's definitely worth a look if you've ever been frustrated with the mainline systems limitations and complexities, but if you love Shadowrun for its complexity, then Anarchy isn't for you.

However, if your main love of Shadowrun is for it's unique setting, and you just want a chance to experience it without all that fragging bookkeeping getting in your way, then Anarchy is definitely worth the price of entry.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Anarchy
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Shadowrun: Hell on Water
by William J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2016 23:20:10

This book is fantastic. It does a beautiful job at capturing the Sixth World and it was just a straight up fun read.

What makes this book so fun to read is our nameless narrator. Whom kind of reminds me of Marcus from Borderlands. A very strange use of metaphors which really helps flavor the book. It also uses a very interesting jumping around narrative style to make it like you're piecing together the story as you read. Something akin to a Catch-22 or Pulp Fiction, where the story isn't told in a linear fashion. I honestly loved it.

The story itself follows a team of runners as they make it through the gauntlet known as the south bridge to Lagos Island. They have to deal with tribal disputes, the undead, magical orginizations, and organ leggers while attempting to deliver 3 mysterious packages. That basically captures everything that makes Shadowrun such a great setting. It's not about one thing, but instead about many moving parts that make the world feel real. And the narrative does a great job at making all these conflicting goals come together.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Hell on Water
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Shadowrun: Boundless Mercy
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/17/2016 15:35:55

I didn't have the opportunity to play any of these at convention and in retrospect that was probably a good thing. There are many other Con missions that are much more interesting and fun. I suppose I should have been suspicious based on the blatant hard-sell marketing for the physical copy but I didn't pick up on that. My first issue involves the 'how' premise for the Johnson here (I'm keeping this vague to avoid spoilers if you do decide to purchase it). How on earth is she financing these runs? Now it's easy enough to find a workaround but it's just the first of many that are required here. Earlier Missions were also very good at giving alternatives to combat and multiple ways of approaching things. Less so here and I hope it's not a trend for the future but I think it might be.

For a long time, Missions were the best published adventures you could get but I'm afraid that's not the case any longer...



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Boundless Mercy
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Shadowrun: Shadows in Focus: Sioux Nation
by Lewis G. I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/17/2016 12:10:58

Great job! My team really enjoyed playing through this. It has some good characters and plays smoothly. I love that they are touching on the Native American Nations. They do a great job adding scene and setting background so the GM can go in any direction they want.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shadows in Focus: Sioux Nation
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Shadowrun: Howling Shadows
by LIAM G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/16/2016 18:16:32

Howling Shadows is riddled with editing errors, duplicate art, and cost multipliers given without a base. Whereas many of the ideas of it are good, implementing it in game requires unreasonable amounts of game master discretion. When Catalyst was approached about this and we requested a simple Table with an availability and cost for the critters in the book they doubled down and insisted that it was intentionally omited. Claiming it was an editorial choice.

This in face of the fact that several items in the game can only be aquired by multiplying X where X is the base cost of a critter (something completely unlisted in the book). Not to mention tat apparently the idea of buying a Tiger off the Black Market is impossible but you CAN somehow get top-secret military equipment and ballistic weaponry.

Catalyst really dropped the ball on this one and their refusal to so much as spend an hour throwing together an official cost list as errata has cost them my buisness in the future until this issue is addressed and I recomend you do the same.

The purple of a rule book is to provide clear and concise rules and content that can be used in the game, you should not have to spend hours crawling over it insearch of numbers and values which the company has apparently CHOSEN not to print.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Howling Shadows
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Shadowrun: Fire & Frost
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/14/2016 16:03:06

This book was my first foray in more years than I can remember into the world of Shadowrun fiction. I could not have made a better choice. The plot line was fantastic, the characters were wonderful, and even when I was able to tell a surprise was around the corner, I wasn't able to suss it out completely. I devoured the book as quickly as I could turn the digital page and it left me with a hunger for more that caused me to immediately buy six more Shadowrun novels (of varying length). Buy this book and read the hell out of it. You won;t be disappointed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fire & Frost
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BattleTech Touring the Stars: Ionus
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2016 21:16:27

Touring the Stars: Ionus provides us a report on a geologically old world with a dry atmosphere. Even at the beginning of the product, the in universe reports admit that this world isn't too interesting. However there is a history to this world, plus it isn't lost or dead like some of the other Touring the Stars releases. There's no strange animal wildlife, rather write ups on two vegetations which might be intresting from a fluff perspective for GMs.

This release's adventure seeds are interesting, incorporating things like breaching hulls and water filling up sections slowly each turn. So while the world itself might not be too interesting, the possible activities around it could be useful in crafting unique situations for some games. The world's existence is owed to being a secret shipyard after all, from a covert ops angle GMs might find that fun.

Compared to other Touring the Stars releases, it isn't horrible nor out of the ballpark excellent. It is a old world that is still active nestled within the Free World's League. There's potential for causing mayhem within a world slated to be a Warship production facility.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech Touring the Stars: Ionus
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BattleTech: A Time of War: Quick-Start Rules (Free RPG Day 2013)
by Tom S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/22/2016 08:55:08

A Time of War is Catalyst Game Lab's attempt at bringing the Battletech Universe to an Role Playing Game format. This product in particular is the "quick start" free rules that give you a mission, some characters, and off you go. Overall these types of releases (there are three total overall, each with a different mission) give players a small taste of what to expect from the game's rules.

The game's engine runs on simple two (or three) dice with six sides, similar to the Battletech Total Warfare or Alpha Strike ruleset. The mission is simple. The characters are low power enough to be normal "thug" NPCs for a regular 5,000 XP created character. The equipment is already assigned to a character, so there's no real "shopping" you need to do.

As a strength, this is where the releases go right. Here's your sheets, a mission, just sit down and play. Apparently these Quick Start Rules for AToW are missions used as a "starter" mission for bigger campaigns down the road that you make. They are generic enough for any starting or experienced GM to utilize, plus they are free!

On the weakness of the product, as stated earlier there's not much option to alter the characters. There's no quick character generation rules, though informally I've been told "just change a skill to something else you want." Also there's no cost sheet for anything to purchase, thus I can't do something like trade in a weapon for something else.

If people are looking at this for starting a campaign from the go, don't. Rather get A Time of War AND use this to start a campaign.

If you're just looking for a fun, one-off, easily playable mission to try then this and the other Quick Starts by CGL are useful.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: A Time of War: Quick-Start Rules (Free RPG Day 2013)
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BattleTech: A Time of War: Quick-Start Rules (Free RPG Day 2012)
by Tom S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/22/2016 08:54:52

A Time of War is Catalyst Game Lab's attempt at bringing the Battletech Universe to an Role Playing Game format. This product in particular is the "quick start" free rules that give you a mission, some characters, and off you go. Overall these types of releases (there are three total overall, each with a different mission) give players a small taste of what to expect from the game's rules.

The game's engine runs on simple two (or three) dice with six sides, similar to the Battletech Total Warfare or Alpha Strike ruleset. The mission is simple. The characters are low power enough to be normal "thug" NPCs for a regular 5,000 XP created character. The equipment is already assigned to a character, so there's no real "shopping" you need to do.

As a strength, this is where the releases go right. Here's your sheets, a mission, just sit down and play. Apparently these Quick Start Rules for AToW are missions used as a "starter" mission for bigger campaigns down the road that you make. They are generic enough for any starting or experienced GM to utilize, plus they are free!

On the weakness of the product, as stated earlier there's not much option to alter the characters. There's no quick character generation rules, though informally I've been told "just change a skill to something else you want." Also there's no cost sheet for anything to purchase, thus I can't do something like trade in a weapon for something else.

If people are looking at this for starting a campaign from the go, don't. Rather get A Time of War AND use this to start a campaign.

If you're just looking for a fun, one-off, easily playable mission to try then this and the other Quick Starts by CGL are useful.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: A Time of War: Quick-Start Rules (Free RPG Day 2012)
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BattleTech: A Time of War Quick-Start Rules
by Tom S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/22/2016 08:54:22

A Time of War is Catalyst Game Lab's attempt at bringing the Battletech Universe to an Role Playing Game format. This product in particular is the "quick start" free rules that give you a mission, some characters, and off you go. Overall these types of releases (there are three total overall, each with a different mission) give players a small taste of what to expect from the game's rules.

The game's engine runs on simple two (or three) dice with six sides, similar to the Battletech Total Warfare or Alpha Strike ruleset. The mission is simple. The characters are low power enough to be normal "thug" NPCs for a regular 5,000 XP created character. The equipment is already assigned to a character, so there's no real "shopping" you need to do.

As a strength, this is where the releases go right. Here's your sheets, a mission, just sit down and play. Apparently these Quick Start Rules for AToW are missions used as a "starter" mission for bigger campaigns down the road that you make. They are generic enough for any starting or experienced GM to utilize, plus they are free!

On the weakness of the product, as stated earlier there's not much option to alter the characters. There's no quick character generation rules, though informally I've been told "just change a skill to something else you want." Also there's no cost sheet for anything to purchase, thus I can't do something like trade in a weapon for something else.

If people are looking at this for starting a campaign from the go, don't. Rather get A Time of War AND use this to start a campaign.

If you're just looking for a fun, one-off, easily playable mission to try then this and the other Quick Starts by CGL are useful.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: A Time of War Quick-Start Rules
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BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3145 and 3150 [BUNDLE]
by Philip F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2016 17:51:32

I like bundles, and I liked the two books I got in this one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3145 and 3150 [BUNDLE]
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BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
by Philip F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2016 17:49:56

A wide variety of units to appeal to a wide variety of people. Interesting lore. Some fantastic artwork.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
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BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3145
by Philip F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2016 17:49:31

A wide variety of units to appeal to a wide variety of people. Interesting lore. Some fantastic artwork.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3145
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