Gamma World First Impressions

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Hello, I picked up the boxed set and a couple of boosters yesterday.  Here are my first impressions.

I still have mixed feelings on the card aspect of the game.  Since I wanted to play along, I picked up a couple of boosters.  The boosters had 'neat stuff' on them, I opened those first.  It's kind of funny that when I found the bonus booster I got that same feeling of anticipation that I did when I unwrapped my first pack of Legends (TM) cards.  But on the inside, you basically get additional text.  One thing of note- Nothing in the rules describes the symbols on the cards, including, I assume, the rarity marks next to the card number.  If this IS a collectable card game the rarity should be clear to anyone partaking in that aspect of the game.   There is no way to distinguish your cards from others.  So that makes it difficult for the GM to salt the players deck with his own cards (I’m going to use my own draw pile for characters and probably mark the face of my Atom cards to identify them as mine)

The Rules
I've been working on a Gamma World campaign using the D20 rule set and am simply bogged down in the mechanics (the D20 Rules require two manuals to create a character) The rules are compact and precise and the (fourth edition) mechanics are well described.  They did lack some examples of standard action DC's.  Another aspect of the game is that it's may act as a springboard to fourth edition to many of the 'second edition throwbacks' like me.  I'm now inspired to rewrite my adventure!  Of course, many aspects of TSR and subsequent Gamma World editions are pretty much dispensed with.  The 'post nuclear' backdrop, the Cryptic alliances, and standard mutations for example. But these are easy to reintegrate to your campaign.

I was somewhat disappointed that standard mutations were written out.  Since just about every character is a mutant, this really means the cards are an indispensable component of the game (for now).  For that matter, character development in general is pretty limited.  Character development is the only real element that separates RPG type games from a miniature type game.  In Gamma World, characters are pretty much disposable.  I'm not sure how this will work in a campaign type setting.  I do look forward to running the games in Conventions, where this won't really be an issue.

Game Material
Missing Dice!  D&D Gamma World Official Dice (TM) should have been released concurrently with the game since they aren't included and are clearly needed to play.  That being said, I think it was important to hit the $40 price mark on the game, and I have plenty of dice anyway.  Newer players might not read the fine print that dice are not included (which would have been a disappointment if it was me). 

The punch outs are real neat.  I would have added a page of effect counters.  The maps are great, but more useful for the included adventure than in general.

Regional map.  Well, there isn’t one.  Another change to the classic Gamma World setting is the nebulous aspect of the world in general.  It’s described as pure chaos and it is what it is.  Drawing large scale campaign settings would be pointless with the transitory nature of the new D&D Gamma World universe.  Again, this is an element that can be removed from the GM’s campaign setting.

Character sheets.  4?  Really?  There should have been at least 8 since that is the standard ‘party size’, in my opinion.  My other issue with the sheets provided is that they are small and not as easy to duplicate.  It’s going to take a good copy machine to get a clean duplicate.  I’m sure the source document is/will be available online.  The sheets are laid out well.  I look forward to including character creation in a convention setting (which is normally time prohibitive).    Like the dice, the sheets are a required element.  New RPG’ers would expect enough to be included for at least one session.  Board and miniature gamers would expect enough for multiple sessions. 

Game Play
I haven't played the game yet, but here I my general opinions on fourth edition mechanics.  The transition to 'encounter' as the standard element of play takes a lot of the 'flow' away that second edition had for me.  It just gives me the feeling of a miniature game instead of being true to RPG's.  That being said, I understand the need for functional and compact processes, and the fourth edition core rules provide that.

Overall, I am happy with the presentation and packaging of the game.  I look forward to running the new system.   In addition, I think acclimating myself using this setting may be a launching pad to fourth edition in general.  I just haven’t been inspired to absorb fourth edition until now.

"Remember, we are the music makers. We are the dreamer of the dreams." -Willy Wonka