Ok so some have been waiting, and unfortunately for one of my readers this is coming before my review on Paranoia 2nd edition (I got lucky and found a copy at Half Price Books yesterday. Had to pay a collector price for it but it feels good to have Paranoia back in my collection again).
So I have posted other comments and statements about games by MCG (Monte Cook Games), things from compliments to questioning their supply chain. Even though the wait was long for the game, I think it is worth the wait. Because of that I am not going to go into the usual depth I do about the game maker and the publishing company. If you really want to know more look up Monte Cook on Wiki, or look for the MCG website. While this review is about the game itself let me just say that from what I have seen of the materials available anyone who wants to give little ones (smalls, children, kids, the watchers under the stairs, or however you choose to call them) an introduction to RPG table top gaming, this is a great package to do it with. The physical materials them selves are set up with color and art that will appeal to many, and the shape and size are perfect for those who have less practice with physical dexterity to hold on and really feel like they have a hand in everything.
No Thank You Evil is a game that is targeted for younger players. Sort of a gateway game. MCG took their Cypher System (originally used in Numenera and Strange, but now also appearing in its own game engine) and gave it a bit of a twist. The Cypher System is original in that you make a character with a sentence, I am an ADJECTIVE NOUN that VERB. Each of the three elements is tied into a template that gives stats, bonus, powers, or all of the above. They also have the ability to level up so that you can grow a character. For NTYE the scaling is done in the format of, youngest players (or complete rookies because it works there too) is just done with one part, I am a NOUN (also shown as an Orange Triangle). As they advance you add the adjective (now things become a Green Square), and then you get into adding the verb (and the shape becomes a blue circle). It gives starting players, regardless of age, a very visual clue as to the level of difficulty they are playing with regarding the rules. Adding in companions and items as you go helps build up the character even further. I love this structure. The only challenge that I really have with it is that you can only take a character so far. Unlike the usual Cypher System there is no experience mechanic. For very young an very inexperienced players I can totally get behind the mechanic being absent. It allows for stability and can give a player a character they can really connect with and get into and want to play again. It also means that if a player gets tired of or annoyed with a character it is not going to be all that time consuming to get them set up with a new one. But when you get the ones on the edge, who want to see their creation grow, you are going to need to change systems or add in other CS mechanics. I am hoping that one of the expansions they come out with for NTYE in the future includes a growth mechanic that fits just as smoothly with the rest of the game engine as all the other slight twists I see.
The rules are printed up in a format that if you are just starting to teach a little one to read, if you sit down and read with them you can actually give them a chance to learn right out of the book. If your little ones do better by the watch and do format you can pull out your materials and walk them through character creation and taking actions in about 30 minutes if you go slow and answer all their questions.
Game sessions are actually structured to take about an hour. This is a great scale for both little ones and rookie players as you don’t over load them, and don’t stretch their attention span. basically its a super win.
Graphics, color, and texture, all elements of the physical structure of the printing process are appealing to little ones. Well unless they are addicted to anime already then the response seems to be, ‘Oh that’s cute but its not as cool as Naruto.’, but that only seems to last until you give them a mini T-rex as a sidekick. Then its more ‘Screw Naruto I have a tiny T-rex that does…’.
Ok so enough of my gushing over this thing… Lets get into the ratings since I have talked about all of them a bit already…
Fluff – 3 If you have the Kickstarter set you have all the fluff you would need in the cardboard cutouts, extra stories, adventures, map, and everything else that comes in the box. It does not however give you anything you can use for making depth to a story really. It is designed for single shots really. I think this is part of the genius here though. While there are little bits about everything in the game world, very little, you can encourage the smalls and the rookies you are playing with to come up with their own stories, backgrounds and all sorts of added features to the world. I would say we could go 3.5 because quality is a 4 quantity is a 2-2.5 but I want to round. And 3 is not really a bad number.
Crunch – 3 Ok so again three is not a bad number. These are simplified scale-able rules taken from an existing game engine in order to introduce and teach a whole range of new players to a type of game that they may have only heard about or watched the big kids play before. The rules are solid, and they take as much into account as they can. There are several things I would love to see added in a future supplement, but for a starter set, this kicks.
Mod – 5 Ummm yeah, you can mod the hell out of this. I have already scoped an experience system change and a few other things I can add as needed. The mechanics are easy to use and skill and ability checks are easy to get into place. But from the very beginning this is a system that is designed to be modded to fit your needs and the players needs and and and… sheesh, yeah you can mod it… just run with it.
Fun – 3 One more time 3 is not a bad number. I rank this one at three because while I love the way it works and what you can do with it, this game is about your player audience. I know I am writing this as an adult experienced gamer who enjoys teaching smalls how to game. However if any of your little gamers are having issues, a bad day, or suffering a little on attention span, then something you find enjoyable can quickly become a pain in the ass. As long as the players are enjoying whats going on you will find the fun a 5 or even higher if you like teaching and watching little ones smile as they come up with really creative ways to solve the challenges in the game. But it can also crash into a sub one range as soon as the bad day hits.
Overall – 14 I think this is a great teaching game that with a few mods can become a great way to take newbie players all the way into a full burn campaign. The tools, toys and everything that comes in the box are great. And even though this is not getting the highest score I can give. I think it is one of the best I have seen, ever, for its intended goal.
Ok so thats it for now, gimme the dice I need to check my pack to see if I have some brain flavored candy for the zombie ninja.
Keep the critical hits coming folks. Game ON!