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Agents of S.W.I.N.G. $9.99
Publisher: Postmortem Studios
by Emlyn F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/05/2012 02:27:37

I must humbly disagree with the other reviews. I own every FATE game on the market, as well as having looked at every fan-hack I've found available—and I find Agents of SWING the most amateurish, irritating version I've seen, and I am very angry I paid even $10 for it.

The layout is ugly and hard to read, without any pictures or even tables (equipment chapter notwithstanding) to break up the monotype text. The sections are badly organized, with tons of concepts laid out without explanation or even a reassuring "we'll get to this later"—a notable example being the dice section, which describes getting three dice, and setting one aside... and not explaining what to do with that third die until five pages later. SWING's "sections" are also laid out long before explaining what relevance they will have to the game, and the long section laying out (seemingly random) events from the sixties and seventies didn't spark any ideas on how to incorporate those ideas into a game. Even the core combat concept of "zones" is ONLY explained in the "handouts" chapter in the back of the book. The writers pulled a lot of their material from the other FATE products, and I have no problem with that. However, when you're going to change the terminology, change it consistently: The "Minions" conceit from Spirit of the Century is used interchangeably with the term "Goons" throughout the book.

The balance of the game is also thrown off in bizarre fashions from other FATE products. FATE games universally use a skill "pyramid" or "column" to ensure its characters represent relatively well-rounded individuals, and incorporate a maximum skill level a character can purchase a skill at, usually +3 to +5, depending on the game. SWING not only allows characters to take skills without any balance, they can go up to the top level possible on the results ladder, +8. This means that a character could take Guns at +8, making it impossible for virtually any other character to defend, and meaning that in all likelihood, the character will regularly roll results well above the levels the game is designed to handle or even has terms for. Other bizarre decisions include removing stunts from being associated with skills (a fairly common practice), but without replacing it with rules for building your own stunts, resulting in a long list of uncategorized stunts (repeated twice throughout the book before they are described) and stripping away skill "trappings," making the skills more "rules-lite," but so ill-defined they seem very difficult to use in play.

The SWINGERS chapter is simply bizarre: nearly forty characters laid out without explanation on how to use them—are they intended pre-generated PCs? NPCs? Only a couple are described as support staff, the rest seem like they could only be pre-gens... but what do you need with thirty-odd pregenerated PCs, especially when the much more useful "villains" chapter is anemic and undersupported in comparison. A facet of this chapter that I'm torn on is that most (if not all, I'm not terribly well-versed with 60s spy fiction) of the characters appear to be licensed characters with their serial numbers filed off: "John Chain" is James Bond, "Number 8" is Number 6 from the Prisoner, "Joanna Pare and James Ryde" are Emma Peel and John Steed, even "The Professor" is the Third Doctor of "Doctor Who." While it's kind of fun to see game stats for these pop culture icons, I think more general, genre-appropriate but original characters (as shown in the original FATE game, Spirit of the Century) would be much more useful and effective.

I like the idea of a swinging sixties spy-fi game, especially one that takes advantage of the innovative and elegant FATE ruleset. This, however, is not that game. All of the game's good ideas (with the possible exception of the SWING die, a bonus die you can earn by doing well and spend later to help a bad roll) are taken directly from "Starblazer Adventures," while taking away much of that game's charm. If you want to play James Bond or the Avengers, pick up... ANY other FATE game and spend an evening converting it, instead of wasting ten dollars on this badly-designed, ill-formatted mess.

[1 of 5 Stars!]