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Top Secret / New World Order
von Cameron F. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 04/30/2018 15:54:52

I thank Merle Rasmussen for giving us Top Secret way back when. He provided my friends and me with countless hours of pleasure, escape, and happiness.

I am also grateful that Rasmussen stuck with the game and provided many excellent Top Secret additions in Dragon Magazine.

This incarnation of the game is a sad, chaotic mess. The mechanics are not just clunky, but archaic compared to other games. The editing is inconsistent.

The spirit of adventure, fun, and 'gee whiz' which made us want to play the original Top Secret over and over, seems missing here.

There's just not anything in the new edition which makes my friends and me want to play the game.

I'm glad I bought it, to see and compare, and to support Rasmussen. But if I saw this game in a store, and had a chance to look through it, I definitely would not buy it.

Top Secret / New World Order neither breathes life into an old gem, nor gives us anything new worth digging in to.



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Top Secret / New World Order
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Top Secret / New World Order
von paul s. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 04/24/2018 06:55:21

Core system is fine and overall concept/theme is good. However, rulebook is a convoluted mess. Support for game has been atrocious (lack of errata, lack of replacement of missing tables, things promised and not delivered) has been terrible as well. Really want to like this game, but not sure designers have any idea how to deliver a quality product.



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Top Secret / New World Order
von Marcus B. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 04/20/2018 13:28:12

I am a backer of the original KS and should have known. As soon as they said they did not want to share the PDF early with their backers so everyone could experience the "new gamebox" feeling unspoiled all my alarm bells should have gone off. Pretty much all of the problems with the game are very obvious on first read through and would have been found and commented on by backers if they would have had early access. That would not have been a guarantee they would have changed anything but at least they would have tried.

As other reviews have already said, the dice system is a bit of a mess with 3 ways of adjusting for difficulty and absolutely no guidance whatsoever on when to use what. The dice system has almost some narrative feel to it with the assembly of the dice pool from various sources and is not all bad. At other times though it is too precise. A choice example: To land safely with a parachute requires 6 separate rolls. Each step can fail and will result in you either getting damage or drifting off target. 6. To simply land safely with a parachute. Thats around 5 rolls too much for my taste.

There is a pretty bland table of phobias to roll on for your character but not really any rules that say when. Not to mention it is handled with no sensitivity towards the subject at all. It is just a list of 100 phobia types. There is also a section on how to add your own weapon types and that goes into weird math like “A 9mm round has 393 ft/lb of muzzle energy. 393/20 = 19,65. Rounded up to 20 that results in 2d10 Damage” instead of just listing a table with common calibers and relating damage. Not to mention missing tables, bad examples and absolutely no GM section at all. From the guys who were involved in the original Top Secret I actually expected a masterclass in “How to run spy games”. It feels like a rush job without the proper care many smaller publisher give their products.

And finally the art is mediocre with just a very few good pieces and some pieces veering into the bad. They collected over 100,000 USD for this game, I seriously wonder where that money went. Overall a disappointing release.



Wertung:
[3 von 5 Sternen!]
Top Secret / New World Order
von Jeremy G. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 04/08/2018 18:39:52

I backed the KS for this, and downloaded the PDF, I believe, on the day it came out. I also received the boxed set. I like the physical contents of the box and the box itself; I like that I have vehicle cards for chases; and the erasable character cards look like great tools for convention play. I like the counters, too, and can easily imagine a tabletop arrangement with a consistent look of red and black, counter representing cards racing through city streets, all supporting espionage adventures.

And then I read the rules and tried to make sense of them.

I think presentation of the rules suffers from two major issues, both of which greatly inhibited my ability to understand them and to imagine how they'd work at the table. First, they are really poorly organized. The core mechanic, or that which passes for it, isn't fully explained until about halfway through the book, well after the too-long character generation section, meaning that when reading it cover to cover, by the time you're deep in the chargen weeds you still really don't know how the stats and skills and such actually work. Other reviewers have pointed out missing tables and 'dead references,' and there are those, too, but my bigger issue was in how the rules were laid out: they are chopped into pieces and spread throughout the book, making it hard to conceptualize the game as a whole, and I've read the book alomst twice already.

The other major issue with the rules is the lack of examples. There are a number of examples of rules in play, as is common in games over the last decade plus, but the writers were really inconsistent in which rules they decided to explain through examples, providing them for what I considered to be the easy, obvious stuff, but not doing so when it would have been really helpful.

Beyond the presentation of the rules, I am not thrilled with the rules themselves. I like the idea of "Lucky 13" as a core mechanic, of sorts, but the reality is that there isn't a core mechanic - not in the sense of what you'd find in WOD or d20 or 2d20 or Savage Worlds. Most times you roll an attribute die + skill die + maybe something else die (for equipment used or a GM deciding to give you a boost...but there's no real explanation for why or how the GM would do this), and meet or beat 13. Sounds simple, right? But wait...sometimes it's not 13...sometimes it's higher, and can increase based on player dice failures (yes, you read that correctly: when the dice are not friendly, the game gets mechanically harder by raising the baseline difficulty for everything). And sometimes the GM can shift your dice up or down a type - as in, you have a d8 for a skill but because of the situation you get downgraded to a d6. And remember that third die? Well, if you have an "asset," like a good weapon or something like that, it'll have a die rating to use (and there's virtually no guidance on how to decide what these ratings should be on things outside of the book), and you add that to your pool. If you lack an asset, the GM can opt to give you a "Decision Die," which is bigger for easier tasks and smaller, down to d4, for harder tasks. Your GM might decide to give you this, or not. And so if you have a d6 for a stat (average) and a good skill (d8) and no asset, and your GM decides to not give you a Decision Die...good luck rolling 13 or 14 on d6+d8.

Thus, there are three different ways to adjust task difficulty: change the types of dice to be rolled, change the number of dice to be rolled, or change the target number to be meet or beat. That's not a core mechanic: that's a grab-bag of different probabilities, with no guidnace in the book as to how and when to use them gracefully. Note: there is no GM section at all.

Beyond the lack of a coheremt core mechanic (how very 80s of the designers), there are multiple crunchy subsystems for car chases, underwater fighting, underwater shooting, and so on. Through these there is a clear simulationist thread shot through the game, with an unncessary amount of complexity - coupled with few and inconsistent examples - adding nothing that seems enjoyable to the play experience.

I have no idea whom the designers worked with as they edited and revised the game outside their circle, but this smacks of a rush job, with many rough edges...essentially this feels like a Beta test rather than a finished product. I've no idea and I will not conjecture as to why there is no GM's section, zero setting information (zero aside from mentioning the shadowy "ICON" for which everyone works), few examples of rules in action, and missing tables and referenced content.

I'm disappointed, really, because I was looking forward to this and assumed that it would be a reboot that took into account the developments in rules systems over the decades, and would faithfully stick to balance point between gritty espionage and Bond-style action that the original two games sought to maintain. I'm not sure what kind of a game, in terms of story, this seeks to be, as it's just a book and box full of rules. And I'm not sure how this game will operate at the table because I'm still trying to figure out how the system works.

Although I would have been frustrated by a delay, I'd rather have been told that the game was going to take another few months to get right, instead of getting this, which offers a lot of potential but comes up really short.



Wertung:
[2 von 5 Sternen!]
Top Secret / New World Order
von Don F. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 04/05/2018 21:45:43

At initial glance, and I have not read it through cover to cover, so this is not a full up review, I've listed a few items below that make me happy that I only bought at PDF level.

1) IMINT is it's own thing, in no way near being a minor side note to SIGINT, you lost me right there. There is a reason NGA is it's own thing and not a wee little branch of NSA. Likely the same elsewhere too... 2) Was not expecting Savage Worlds with a twist, nothing wrong with it, just not my cuppa, and the folks I play with wouldn't approach it with a 10m pokey-proddy thing. So you lost me there. 3) I was expecting a much higher quality product, everything from font and layout to art. For all the hubbub, I'd expect something at least as good a the original (nostalgia kicking in here folks), for which this is a mere shadow. There are many small, lone-wolf operators selling writing and designing on DTRPG that have done better.

I will get around to reading it cover to cover eventually, but I'm certainly in no rush after seeing the initials listed. I might revise my commentary then.

Regardless, I hope it gets rave reviews from others.

Best wishes and Cheers, D



Wertung:
[3 von 5 Sternen!]
Top Secret / New World Order
von Customer Name Withheld [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 04/05/2018 01:29:30

I've only given this a cursory glance through, so take my review with a grain of salt...

I was really excited to see an updated Top Secret game, as I had heard the original was pretty interesting. Unfortunately, a number of issues seem to plague the game and book.

Pros: A lot of interesting ideas. Discussion of movement and combat, vehicles, underwater fighting, etc. There's a lot of good base material here to work with. And lots of interesting examples of weapons, gadgets, and tools.

Cons: Because of the complexity, there are a lot of mechanics to cover those different tasks. There are things missing within the book. The text refers to tables that don't exist. Certain sections give only vague or high-level information about how things work. The book has really wide margins, though some of the artwork pushes into those margins. No idea why that is... And seriously... in this day and age, a PDF document that not only has no links in the Table-of-Contents you can just click on to go to that section of the book, but also bookmarks that have typos and zero consistency of capitalization or order. (Some first words of the bookmarks are caps, some bookmarks have all words in caps, some have no words in caps, some have all first letters in caps, some have a mix of first letters in caps and some in non-caps... seriously, who typed this??? Also, most are in alphabetical order, but some are not. Why???) Artwork also feels inconsistent. While it has a similar style, you can definitely tell art pieces were drawn by different artists. Some feel cleaner and more comic book-like, while others feel a bit more hand-sketchy, and others still are just simple silhouettes of objects or people. Overall, the book layout and art could be vastly improved.

Not really a con or a pro, but as another reviewer mentioned, the mechanics feel a little Savage Worlds-y. Bumping up or down the die size to adjust difficulty based on circumstances, tools, and skills, and rolling to always hit a specific target number: 13. May be good or bad, depending on your feelings for the Savage Worlds system.

Overall, I really love the idea of an espionage RPG. And I wanted to love Top Secret NWO so badly! But, things feel a bit rushed and incomplete. Considering I only paid the $10 for the PDF backer level, I feel I got plenty for my money. I'll likely be able to make some adjustments, either beforehand or on-the-fly, and run some test scenarios for some friends. But, had I gotten in on a physical copy, I have a feeling some disappointment would have been had.

TL;DR: Good bones, poor editing, feels rushed.



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Top Secret / New World Order
von Alfred R. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 03/30/2018 19:06:07

All in all, a fairly disappointing product. And that makes me sad, because I was and am so excited.

The dice system seems interesting off the bat: it is small, and feels quick. Dice for a stat, for a skill, for a piece of gear, and try and beat the number 13. Feels perfect for pulse-pounding spy action! Exactly what I want! Very quickly, however, the wheels come off.

No guidelines are given for how to rate the gear that you are using: nothing about what separates a d4 parachute from a d8 parachute, or if there is a difference, or how to adjudicate permitting or denying either of them.

If you don't have any gear, the text has an answer: assign a die to the player to represent the difficulty of the task at hand, with the option to give them no die at all. This raises its own wrinkles, though. Say the character got a D4 safe cracking kit from Q but then misplaced it; the GM is of the opinion the safe is fairly simple and hands over a d8 for the roll. Suddenly that safe cracking kit is irrelevant... what you rather use the kit, and try to beat a 13 with two dice + a d4? Or just put your ear up to the safe and try to beat a 13 with two dice + a d8? The text has nothing to say on this obvious question.

The question of difficulty gets hairier when you realize the game is tracking difficulty in three unrelated ways. For one, players always want to beat a 13, but circumstances can move that number up and down. Two, the GM can assign difficulty dice in place of gear if necessary, on a scale of d12 simple to d4 really hard. And third, the GM can represent difficulty by telling the player to roll larger or smaller dice than their character sheet tells them to (for situations, like, firing outside your gun's effective range, etc). None of the game's wordcount is dedicated to explaining how to consider the interplay of these three modes of difficulty... if the player has two dice, should I assign a difficulty die and also make them roll worse dice for another obstacle? Just one or the other? How do I choose which? The GM has the tools to modify the difficulty on the front and back ends (the target number, and the dice being rolled) without any direction on how to use this power responsibly.

The equipment section is, as mentioned, devoid of guidance on how to represent the gear mechanically -- no examples of dice ratings for anything (there is eventuallyan example of dice for weapons, but that's it). Additionally, a number of entries are apocryphal, sporting terminology lifted from earlier editions of Top Secret: stats or mechanics that are entirely absent from NWO.

A number of tables are absent from the book, including a grappling table -- that, examining the rules, I'm honestly uncertain is necessary or not? That should be a sign of the lack of clarity in the game: I don't know if I need the grappling table or not... I just know the text says to look at it, and it's not there. Likewise, a particular weapons table is absent from the equipment section.

The combat section of the rules are likewise lacking clarity: we are given fairly concise, clear instructions on how to operate NWO's action point based combat economy, but these instructions fall apart under examination. When grappling, do you have to spend your whole round maintaining the grapple? Does the victim get a single chance to escape, or as many chances as they have action points? What if they have more action points than you? When you purchase the Hand to Hand fighting skill, do you automatically get a fighting style or do you have to buy it separately? Can you buy it separately at character creation, or do you have to wait?

Top Secret: New World Order has a foundation of very interesting ideas: lightning quick resolution using a fun handful of dice should be the killer app for spy action. However it is mired in its own lack of clarity and very poor editing. Possibly worst of all, there is no GM guidance section, and no time is spent aligning the reader with the author's intent in terms of what kind of game this is: is this meant for flashy James Bond spies-as-rock-stars? The rules don't seem to keep with that... is the group meant to be more in the vein of Jason Bourne, dirty and scrambling to get by? The text dedicated to bizarre gadgets like robotic birds that attack you and guns that shoot glue seem bizarre, then. I can sift through it to guess what it wants from me, but ideally the writer should save me the work.

In the end, the game isn't beyond saving. I give it a 2. I can go through this, I can see the exposed bones of the poor design or writing choices and I can do my best to patch it. I shouldn't have to, but I can -- and once I do, I will likely have fun.



Wertung:
[2 von 5 Sternen!]
Top Secret / New World Order
von Customer Name Withheld [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 03/30/2018 13:02:00

This is a first read review only, without any playtest. Off the bat, the inside b&w look is very minimalist and not too appealing (layout, font and art), with some larger margins every even page (presumably to accomodate the hardcover binding) and large rule summary boxes that fill space which could have been better used for something else. Compared to Cold Shadows, another espionage kickstarter that raised three times less money and had a hardcover included in a 65$ pledge (vs 100$ pledge or 50$ add-on for Top Secret NWO), you feel kind of cheated. The "flow" of the rules is also oddly set, sometimes "interrupted" by an example or a large table on mutiple pages (there are a lot of tables in that book, big and small, 42 of them actually.) As for content, you get rules but nothing much in the way of GM advice and no setting either, not even for ICON, the agency the players are supposed to be working for. Again, for the same amount of pages, other games, like Classified and Cold Shadows, have managed to include those. The rules do however cover a lot of grounds, from combat to car chases to interrogation, hacking and surveillance, but you get the feeling that not all of it is "meshing" together smoothly. While the character sheet does give a Cortex or Savage World vibe to the game, with assigned dice from d4 to d12, the underlying rules are surprisingly more (and unnecessarily so IMHO) crunchy, with action points based turns, sub-specialities in skills (called proficiencies), acceleration & breaking rates, handling class and maneuver range for vehicles, lots of tables for modifiers, and not to mention quite deadly (a single 9mm shot does 2d8 dmg at medium range +any amount you beat the defender's roll by, for an average dmg of maybe 10, while an average d8 pulse PC has 18 hit points.) Aside from a few poorly explained but important rules (Decision dice, Difficulty and Asset value setting), some choices also seem unlikely, like a long list of physical/mental Impairments that would "cripple" a PC (narcolepsy anyone!?) they can take in "exchange" for an extra specialized skill, something they can get after a few missions under their belt, or downright silly (malodor, sticky and slippery "weapons" as well as 3 000$ starting money/d4 equipment limit when even an economy car costs 15K and is d6 level, which you will not be able to receive freely before 15 missions, not to mention that no guns (of the only 15 listed) has any price nor equipment any clearance value listed.) As a KS backer, I feel we didn't get the game we were shown, or worse, only shown the best part (the character sheet). I just hope it wasn't done on purpose, to hide either those unpolished or unfinished rules. Fortunately, the PDF was only 10$, so that's "acceptable" (the box set cost me quite more, especially with the added costs of shipping and exchange rate), but I wouldn't pay the 20$ they are asking for it now, not when you can get a better game for less.



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[2 von 5 Sternen!]
Top Secret / New World Order
von Jonathan B. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 03/29/2018 11:35:36

This is a fantastic game that is rules-lite, yet pretty thorough. I own most espionage RPGs and this is one of my all-time favorites now.



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[5 von 5 Sternen!]
Gygax magazine issue #1
von Paul T. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 12/04/2015 12:16:11

Loved the issue and I am anxious to get more. Ethan Gilsdorf's article is worth the price.



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Gygax magazine issue #1
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Gygax magazine issue #4
von Timothy B. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 06/12/2015 12:37:48

13th Age and Kobold Press fans, I was in for a pleasant surprise when I read Gygax Magazine #4. In "The Kobold's Cavern," Ed Greenwood presents examples of Vance's Polysyllabic Verbalizations (a wizard talent in 13th Age) for each wizard spell. Additionally, Brian Liberge offers new 13th Age talents to build a corsair of Triolo, a northlands reaver, or a Valkyrie of Wotan. Awesome stuff, and a real treat for those of us who run games in the Midgard Campaign Setting using the 13th Age system.



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Gygax magazine issue #4
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Gygax magazine issue #5
von Dominick T. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 02/14/2015 08:32:21

Gygax magazine is in its second publishing year. They had to reroll a whole publishing company, and have established themselves in this issue. There some great content for all editions; a Munchkin tips and tricks article, new critical hits, and a playable RPG game with a ready to play adventure. I like the one page dungeon, "Island of the Lizard God", adaptable for any gaming system.
This issue is well worth the price!



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Gygax magazine issue #4
von Christopher S. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 08/11/2014 13:06:49

The 'Randomize Your Realm' article is worth the price of admission alone.



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Gygax magazine issue #4
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Gygax magazine issue #4
von William V. H. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 07/25/2014 15:34:37

I have to admit that I bought this purely for the Top Secret adventure, and found it something of a mixed bag. Like all of Rasmussen's published TS adventures it's detailed enough (but not overly so), but it's also got a shaky plot and tends to be more "direct action" in nature, which TS isn't optimized for. TS works best when you have more cloak and less dagger in the missions, and Scorpion Sting is mostly dagger. The oasis is also very reminiscent of Sprechenhaltestelle...the city area detailed in the first TS module.



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Gygax magazine issue #4
von Chris H. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 07/10/2014 18:36:22

In many ways, reading an issue of Gygax Magazine is like reading an old issue of the Dragon—which, I suppose, is pretty much what the editors are going for. The fantastic cover illustration of issue #4 evokes the series of chess-related covers that graced the older magazine back in its TSR heyday. Of course it does, since it's by the same artist, Den Beauvais! To me, the cover is really the highlight of issue #4.

The second highlight of this issue is undoubtedly the long and (overly?) detailed Top Secret adventure by Merle Rasmussen. The adventure offers a nice mix of a specific mission and a sandbox enviroment—almost literally, since you're going to the desert. Robotic camels and spy drones disguised as bats … what's not to love? If, that is, you still have a copy of the Top Secret rules lying around somewhere. I don't know what happened to my copy after I went to college and left my games behind with my younger brother.

I really enjoyed Michael Varhola's "Men and Monsters of Polynesia" (apparently for AD&D and retroclones) despite its andronormative title, and would have really loved to have this resource back when I started my current D&D campaign, which was mostly set in the South Seas until the PCs started plane-hopping. This issue's installment of "Leomund's Secure Shelter" did nothing for me, just adding complexity to AD&D archery that I don't feel a need for. Jon Peterson's "Adventuring Without the Magic" was a really fun romp down memory lane; I kept saying, "I played that! I remember when that came out!" I didn't care much for Dave Olson's "Necromancer's Cookbook" (maybe because my current game, D&D 4e, has plenty of varieties of undead) or the article on "Djinn" by Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash (though that might be different were I playing a game where djinn figure more prominently), and Bill McDonald's "Psionics Without the Points" didn't engage me either. On the other hand, Timothy Connolly's "Randomize Your Realm" will be a tool I'll bookmark, and to which I'll return next time I run a homebrew fantasy campaign.

As for the cartoons, Order of the Stick was okay this time, but Full Frontal Nerdity was really funny.

I think I noticed a couple of typos and such in issue #4, but they were apparently not serious enough to stick with me. I only have two complains about this issue. First, sometimes it's not obvious which system a particular article intends to address. You have to read two paragraphs into the article about djinn, for example, to learn that it's keyed to RuneQuest 6. Some kind of header tag at the top of the page identifying the relevant system would be most welcome. Second, 76 pages is long enough for the PDF to need bookmarks, which the publisher did not supply.

If you want new material for AD&D or its retroclones, or you just want a good dose of nostalgia, go ahead and get a copy of Gygax Magazine #4.



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