Shadowrun Quick-start Rules
Battletech, a Time of War Quick-start Rules
From: Catalyst Game Labs
Reviewed by: Joseph Martin
Everyone loves free stuff, gamers possibly more so. When that free stuff is high quality and useful it is nothing short of amazing. “Free RPG Day” products can vary greatly in quality. Over the last several years they have gone from hastily assembled cheap productions to high quality items that many would pay a small fee for. Catalyst Game Labs has hit the mark pretty closely on this two-game quick start pack.
The physical product is beautiful. It is a flipbook with full color covers outside and in. The glossy card stock cover is both eye catching and rugged. Illustrations abound inside the book itself. The layout is good, the text very readable. Overall it is an impressive quality book, especially when you consider the price!
Shadowrun and Battletech have been around for quite some time. Both have a rich history and background. Enough of that history is presented to give new players a working knowledge of the respective backgrounds. The basic rules needed are presented well and appear to be pulled directly from the rule books themselves. All required stats, abilities, gear and more are presented. From a player’s perspective you could read through either section and be ready to play in a short time. Please note that while all the basic game mechanics are explained there are no character creation rules included. Sample characters are provided. This is not an issue with this being a quick start product designed for introducing new players to the games. Being a quick start product it would help to have a Game Master who has played the game previously and has a little experience. A completely new group, including Game Master might fumble a little bit but will be able to play and hopefully enjoy the introduction scenarios.
An easy to comprehend rules set and a well written and flowing scenario to run new gamers through is a must for a quick start product. On the Shadowrun side a serious yet fun run adventure awaits the players. A quick run for some fast food, what could go wrong? The sample characters are well fleshed out. Only a few typographical errors mar their perfection from an experienced gamer’s point of view. All of the standard archetypes are presented. Players can choose from the Street Samurai, Shaman, Decker and more. The game master is given everything needed to run the game. A map, stats and motivations for opponents and bystanders and even a twist and possible lead to future adventures are included. A decent Game Master could take this cold and be ready to run it in just a few minutes.
The printed version of the Battletech scenario is a little bit of a let down. While detailed and interesting characters are given, the flow of the game is entirely up to the Game Master as no real details other than stats on opponents and a description of the area are given. There are no maps, no suggested actions for either the players or the ‘bad guys’. The story is a little weak and the objective very hard. Experienced players trying the game for the first time might be able to find a way to complete the mission. Brand new players will most likely have problems. A Game Master running the print version will need some extra time to flesh out the details and perhaps soften the adventure for the players.
However, the online PDF version (see below) has a completely different scenario with a much more playable story line. The sample characters are not quite as fleshed out as the print versions but overall a much better introduction for new gamers. The Game Master will still need to spend a little time preparing but will not have to do anywhere near the prep work as in the print edition.
In conclusion, Catalyst Game Labs has hit it out of the park with this product. With the corrected Battletech scenario the only thing that mars it are a few small errors, mostly in the fluff. If you can’t find a print copy of this, hit the online PDF’s below. They are a great read and a welcome addition to any gamer’s library.
You can check out all of Catalyst Games Lab’s products at http://www.catalystgamelabs.com/
At the time of this writing you can find PDF versions of these books at the links below. If a link is dead just search, more than likely it’s out there somewhere.
Codex Rating: 18 (print edition) 19 (Corrected PDF)
Shadowrun/Battletech, a Time of War Quick-start rules
From: Catalyst game labs
Type of Game: RPG
Writer/ Artist: No information given in product.
Number of Pages: 64
Retail Price: Free!
Item Number: None.
Reviewed by: Joseph Martin