Apocalypse Not Now

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It was foretold long ago in centuries past by the ancient Mayans. The end of a B’ak’tun; a time period in the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar. Some New Agers think that it was going to mark the birth of a new positive spiritual or physical transformation for mankind, and others think that it marked the end of it all.

What does this entail? Well, four good friends of mine have always put it best…

On December 21st, people gathered at churches, praying for deliverance, others gathered at “end of the world parties,” still more congregated at Chichen Itza, hoping to be at the focal point of the apocalypse, and some have even sold everything they own, quit their jobs, and took the first flight to crazy-town. Then, there are some like me that spent our “last earthly hours” finishing the painting of our Talisman miniatures while watching Firefly, and realized that we’re still here. Time marches on, and people still work and play, and those that sold everything they own have some serious egg on their face.

This date is still an important one, however, if you’re a fan of Shadowrun. Sure, the “Awakening” supposedly happened last year, but with all of the big things that are going to happen in  the coming months, what better date to announce something earth-shattering than the end of the Mayan calendar that marked the Sixth World’s awakening?

2013 is being hailed by Catalyst Games, Harebrained Schemes, Cliffhanger Entertainment, and all of the fans as “The Year of Shadowrun.” Well, I’m not one to argue. We’re seeing the development and release of Shadowrun Returns, a fabulous and mind-blowing single player experience being created by Jordan Weisman, the father of Shadowrun. We’re also getting a great multiplayer experience in the form of Shadowrun Online by Cliffhanger Productions. Both games, set to be released in 2013, give all of us fans high hopes for this RPG’s longevity. God knows that Shadowrun remains a popular setting. It’s a wonder why it has taken this long to take advantage of the franchise.

On December 14th, Catalyst Games posted a teaser trailer for Shadowrun that ended with the cryptic “12 – 21 – 12.” While it’s cute that they chose the end of the Mayan Calendar to capitalize on the hype, it was still unclear as to just what Catalyst was getting at. Unsurprisingly, speculation started spreading through the net like a group of well-trained Shadowrunners. Speculation included the launch of a brand new website, others thought “movie deal” or “TV show.” A movie or TV show would certainly be an awesome development, but that wasn’t to be. Maybe we’ll see it in the future? After all, if Vampire: The Masquerade can get it’s own TV show, Shadowrun shouldn’t have a problem!

Some speculators made a couple of ridiculous complaints, saying that the teaser “wasn’t good,” as it should “show in-game footage.” Indeed, it is the nature of some to assume that it’s a video game trailer and arrogantly claim to know what trailers should and should-not contain. It’s silly, because quite a few are “hoping for an MMO or other game announcement.”

Seriously? BOTH game announcements haven’t exactly been well-kept secrets. Shadowrun.com has webpages for both games, so an “announcement” would be extremely superfluous.

Now that the date has arrived, it has finally revealed itself; the news we’ve been waiting for. Some folks like myself have seen the writing on the wall for awhile, and got exactly what we’ve been expecting.

We’ve got a brand new single-player game, and we’ve got a new MMO coming out, but what would make the Shadowrun.com holy trinity complete?

…THIS….

SUMMER 2013

SHADOWRUN: FIFTH EDITION

I can already hear the endless stream of “do we really NEED a fifth edition?” comments. Well, let me ask you this: Is Shadowrun perfect? Have we reached the penultimate edition and printing which contains a comprehensive and flawless ruleset, and a book that is free from ANY errata, retcons, or bad rules? Well, how about this?: Is there a “perfect” Operating System for your PC that doesn’t need any patches, upgrades, or new programs? Is your favorite video game series perfect in every way? Do you keep expanding on just that one game…or do you open up the possibilities to a new game to continue the series? What would happen if history books, medical and science texts, and any other collected knowledge were never to have new editions written? Well, you can throw progress out the window, that’s for sure.

Chummers, I can understand your trepidations about embracing a new edition of our favorite Cyberpunk & Sorcery RPG. The thought of parting with yet MORE hard-earned Nuyen kinda kills the excitement. Of course, there’s the fear of learning a totally new rules set. You just got wiz at the new rules, and everything was smooth-running until Catalyst blows the whistle and tells everyone to get out of the pool. Natch, chummers, I understand!

Here’s why we shouldn’t be willing to jack out just yet:

First and foremost, is that it’s a natural process of revitalizing any franchise or other medium. It’s a cycle that repeats itself over time, and Shadowrun is no stranger to it. Let’s look at some history, shall we?

Shadowrun             1989   (Year Zero)
Shadowrun: Second Edition     1992 (3 years after SR1)
Shadowrun: Third Edition     1998 (6 years after SR2)
Shadowrun: Fourth Edition    2005 (7 years after SR3)
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition    2013 (8 years after SR4)

History shows us that Fourth Edition Shadowrun has had the longest run, chummers. Fourth edition has had it’s time in the sun; it was a good long run, and now it’s time to take the old girl in for a refit.

Second, and most importantly, is that there’s no more dumpshock in the like that was experienced when Shadowrun made the jump from 3 to 4. Transition to Shadowrun 4 was huge and messy, with major redesigns to a system most had become accustomed to. Even I had a tough time accepting the new system.The transition can be likened to that of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons to 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons; there’s a MAJOR redesign and a new ruleset to adapt to, but at the end of the day it is still recognizable as D&D, unlike D&D 4th edition, which was a completely different game with the D&D brand logo slapped on the cover.

Come to think of it, I guess Shadowrun experienced a bit of that, too…

Oh, God...I could watch this all day!

Oh, God…I could watch this all day!

Anyways, my point is that this transition is going to be null sweat, because it’s going to be “built from the fourth edition system.” This means no brand new ruleset; we take what we already have and make it better.

Here’s the Screamsheet:

Building on the award-winning Shadowrun, Fourth Edition rule set, the new edition brings the game forward while preserving the fun that has made it so enduring. Highlights of the new edition include:

  • Grittier & Deadlier: The down-and-dirty Sixth World setting is a place where shadowrunners need to count their bullets carefully and be cautious about whom they trust. Fifth Edition rules reflect that, making players aware of their choices and the price they have to pay to be the best. It also supports deadlier combat, while still making sure the player characters can stay alive long enough to take care of business.
  • Streamlined Matrix: Matrix rules have been improved and streamlined, bringing them more in line with the rest of the game and making them more intuitive. Running the Matrix has never been easier.
  • Increased Gear Options: Changes in Fifth Edition mean there are more functions for gear, which leads to an increased variety of the toys shadowrunners love!
  • Faster Character Creation and More Player Aids: New to Shadowrun and eager to hit the streets as quickly as possible? Fifth Edition’s character creation rules make it faster and easier to create a full-fledged character and dive into the shadows. Additionally, from an expanded gamemaster advice section to pre-generated gear kits, Shadowrun, Fifth Edition has tools and resources to help players quickly get into the game and onto the streets.

“All of the changes in Fifth Edition were made with the strong traditions of Shadowrun in mind, and the key elements of the Sixth World remain—mind-blowing tech, explosive magic, devious Matrix hacking, and of course handfuls of six-sided dice,” said Jason Hardy, Shadowrun Line Developer. “We wanted to make the best edition of Shadowrun ever—and we wanted it to be thoroughly Shadowrun, from top to bottom.”

It’s not that scary, people! If you get fifth edition, your previous edition books aren’t going to have all blank pages when you open them. They won’t be “just fluff.” For those of you who say the words “after only a few years,” I have news for you: Look above! Fourth Edition was the LONGEST run of any edition of Shadowrun! No excuses! Fifth edition is right on time, and it isn’t going to be as painful as you think.

Yes, Shadowfans, the trinity is complete! New single-player game, new MMO, and new Role-Playing Game. I’m excited, and you should be, too!

Still reading?

Good, because that isn’t all…

…that only scratched the surface!

Even a wizard of my caliber wasn’t prepared for the veritable mana storm that was conjured up for the coming year in the world of Shadowrun!

SPRING 2013 (Fire Opal Media)

This one guaranteed not to include easily breakable plastic guns or easily lost metal pellets.

This one guaranteed not to include easily breakable plastic guns or easily lost metal pellets.

Screamsheet:

Shadowrun: Crossfire is a cooperative deck-building card game for two to four players set in the gritty, cyberpunk fantasy world of Shadowrun. Play a shadowrunner team and take on tough jobs such as protecting a client who’s marked for death, shooting your way out of downtown when a run goes sour, or facing down a dragon. In each game you’ll improve your deck with a mix of strategies while earning Karma to give your character cyber upgrades, physical augmentations, magical initiations, weapons training and Edge.

Shadowrun: Crossfire includes an obstacle deck, black market deck, race and role cards, scenario cards, augmentation stickers, and personal missions that test a team’s allegiances.

“We designed Crossfire to take deck-building games to a new level, by combining RPG elements with cooperative gameplay,” said co-designer Mike Elliott. “The result is a challenging game system that keeps evolving.”

Normally, I cringe at the word “deck-building game.” Why? Well, ever since the advent of the trend-setting truly-original Dominion, we’ve seen the industry flood with a glut of Deck-building games which are nothing more than reskinned Dominion clones. Very few of these games have done anything innovative with this relatively new concept. So many companies are rushing to push their new “Dominion,” and they never stop to think about how they can take this concept and make something fresh out of it.

Naturally, I’m a bit skeptical about this game, but the screamsheet for it gives me some hopes. I’m hoping that Fire Opal Media takes the deck-building concept, and makes it THEIR OWN, and restore my faith in the word “deck-building.” Keep the game fresh, and don’t forget to plan for expansions! I’ll be watching you.

FALL-WINTER 2013

"Cool Mini or Not?" Well, I'm hoping they go with "Cool Mini."

“Cool Mini or Not?” Well, I’m hoping they go with “Cool Mini.”

Screamsheet:

Sprawl Gangers is a competitive, skirmish-level miniatures game for 2 players, with everything needed to game right in the box. Players will take on the task of building gangs (Ancients, Halloweeners, First Nation, and so on) following specific point values of a scenario, and modifying the various miniatures based upon what new resources (weapons/gear/magic/tech) a player gained through previous games. Gangs won’t simply fight for the sake of fighting, but will actively building their turfs and resources. Among other things, this will allow for the hiring of the exact right shadowrunner when they need that ace in the hole. All this adds up to the experience of watching your gang grow and expand through exciting play across a swath of games.
Sprawl Gangers will be sculpted and manufactured in conjunction with CoolMiniOrNot, who have run three of the most successful miniatures game Kickstarter projects to date: Zombicide, Relic Knights, and Sedition Wars.

“We could not be more excited to be a part of this new facet of Shadowrun. When we initially started talking about the possibility of doing a Shadowrun miniatures game with Catalyst, I personally jumped for joy. We have some big fans of Shadowrun in the Cool Mini family; so you know Sprawl Gangers will be receiving some major blood, sweat and tears from our staff. Old and new Shadowrun fans alike would do well to expect great things from Sprawl Gangers,” said Kevin Clark, Director of Research and Development at Cool Mini Or Not.

Tactical miniatures games…

DANGEROUS territory there, chummers. It really depends on what the game plan is, and how it’s exectuted. Any good Shadowrunner knows that even the simplest of milk runs could go tits-up in a microsecond.

On the one hand, you have nigh-infinite possibilities if you’re making it a customizable game in the like of the miniatures mega-giant Warhammer, or the equally titanic Warmachine. You could put together custom ganger/shadowrunner minis, with custom paint jobs, running them through intricately detailed terrain on the table top. Sure, it’s not a huge Warhammer 40K apocalypse, but it’s Shadowrun, damnit, and it looks every bit as wiz as YOUR drek, chummer!

On the other hand, this could be one of those, self-contained, pre-painted cheap plastic mini game that has a minutely-detailed gridded game board with no way to expand upon it…no frills, no variety.

The first is an expensive and risky venture. If it succeeds, you have infinite room to expand, happy players, a new source of Shadowrun RPG miniatures, and a veritable cash cow. The second is a safe bet; it will sell, but it will also be something of a “fire-and-forget” title. My worst fear is that it might probably be nothing more than the lame-assed “Shadowrun: Duels” on a larger scale with smaller figures.

Some hope? It’s being done with Cool Mini Or Not. Keeping in mind that this is a company that has a resume filled with successful Kickstarter projects and best-selling games is more than enough to stave off the gloom n’ doom for at least a little while. If anyone can find a happy medium or an awesome new trendsetter, it’s them!

SPRING 2014

That pretty much tells it like it is, doesn't it?

That pretty much tells it like it is, doesn’t it?

Screamsheet:

In Shadowrun: Hostile Takeover, players assume the role of megacorporations attempting to assert dominance over the city of Seattle.

Hostile Takeover is a game of intrigue, shifting alliances, and secretive schemes in the most famous futuristic megaplex of Shadowrun’s Sixth World. The most wealthy and influential megacorps of the city contend for dominance of Seattle, and they use shady dealings and deniable assets to wage a war in the shadows for supremacy.

“Games such as Lords of Waterdeep have shown you can take elegant Eurogame mechanics and wed them with an immersive world to create a wonderful tabletop experience,” said Randall N. Bills, Managing Developer for Catalyst Game Labs. “Shadowrun is a universe that screams for a host of board games to expand player’s enjoyment of visiting the Sixth World often. Pairing up award-winning designers with Shadowrun is going to be a fantastic combination.”

First thought: “This sounds like Lords of Waterdeep…”

Second thought: “I LOVE Lords of Waterdeep!”

Third Thought: “A reskinned Lords of Waterdeep with a Shadowrun theme? Shiny!”

The mention right in the screamsheet of Lords of Waterdeep was a dead giveaway that this is where the game is going. Usually, I scoff at something that does not innovate, but reskin, like the many deck-building Dominion clones out there. Here, not so much. It may have something to do with the I.P., or it may be that you can expand on the Waterdeep game and make it new, but the whole Shadowrun spin on it just seems like a perfect fit, considering the objective of Lords of Waterdeep. Even if it is a similar game, I can safely say that it already has a reservation for my game shelf.

What I don’t understand is what I’m seeing online on Facebook, Twitter, and the like. Some folks are already complaining about everything without giving things a close read. Some are making assumptions and have fears that could be assuaged by just reading the full announcement:

http://www.catalystgamelabs.com/2012/12/21/the-year-of-shadowrun/

A deck-building game CANNOT be a Collectible Card Game by its very design. Shadowrun 5th edition is using a 4th edition base, and CAN be backwards-compatible. Shadowrun CAN exist in a non-RPG medium and still be called Shadowrun. The sky is NOT falling. The world is NOT ending. It’s just beginning!

 

2013 is going to be a wild ride…

 

Are you ready for a brave new Sixth world, fellow Shadowrunners?

 

See you in the shadows!

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Posted on December 23, 2012, in Board Games, Books, Miniatures Games, News, Role-Playing Games and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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