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Black Seven $3.00
Publisher: Zero Point Information
by Simon E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/20/2012 11:08:28

I just bought and read this game through- first of all, the price is an absolute bargain, and an excellent impulse-buy. Even if you're on the fence about it, three dollars is excellent value to try something new out.

The influences listed in the front of the book includes Deus Ex and the Thief series of games as well as Hitman: Silent Assassin, which makes a strong case right out of the gate for this being a firm stealth-'em-up that knows what it wants and how to get there. The emphasis is on quick, abstracted actions- more or less every action your character takes is resolved with a single dice roll which, even if you fail, still gets you to your target (Knocking out the guard, hacking the computer, stealing the blueprints). The dice roll is not to see if your character can take out the guard or to crack the safe, it's to see if they can do so without being noticed. Stealth isn't an ability score on your character sheet, it's the game's entire raison d'etre, so I wouldn't recommend this title to folks who prefer to min-max their sheets to destroy everything around them with a twitch of the wrist. The setting is a very loose 'ten minutes into the future' sketch, providing little more than an excuse for the action- there's no metaplot, simply a page or so that explains the context of the game.

The core of the game is supplemented with additional (entirely optional) rules for cybernetics and even psionic powers, but there's nothing at all to stop players from adapting it to a historical setting. Assassins' Creed is listed among the influences, and the game as written is abstract enough to need no change at all to work just fine as a historical or fantasy thieves/assassins-guild game.

The book itself has nothing in the way of art, but I didn't feel that the game lacked anything for the absence. The plain-text dossier-style writeup doesn't take anything away from the quick-and-dirty espionage aesthetic- it's something you can run off quickly on a desktop printer, pop in a binder and pass around the game table. The whole thing weighs in at 47 pages including cover, example of play, an eight-page sample campaign (the simple, slick abstraction of the game allows a multi-mission campaign to only take up eight pages and a single session, how clever is that?) and five pages of blank character sheets and reference cards.

Cleverly enough the purchase not only includes a PDF, but an epub version (DRM free, no less!) suitable for ereader devices and tablets, so there's not even a need to print it out. Email it to a few friends with Android devices or Kindles (A single two-quid covers the license for your entire gaming group), meet in the pub on Saturday night with a few dice and poker chips and all of a sudden every single one of you is James Bond, or possibly Batman (or Catwoman). Let me reiterate: For less than the price of a bus ticket, you can be Batman. How ridiculously cool is that?

To conclude, I would have no hesitation in recommending this game to anyone who thought Deus Ex, Mission Impossible or Casino Royale were in any way cool and if you're waiting for Andy Schatz's Monaco to be released, this is thoroughly ideal. It's fast, slick, smartly written and loose enough that you can steal (or kidnap, or rescue), assassinate (or sabotage) or anything you like in any time period you care to name. Love it.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Black Seven
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