I managed to get a small group together last night to try out a the combat basics for the system. For the most part I was massively pleased with how it went down, but I know that there’s still a lot of work to do.

The basic mechanics worked fine, with everyone able to follow them and quickly grasp how each skill check would work. A few things that I was worried about are worth addressing though. Firstly I wanted combat to feel deadly for all combatants. The weapons should do enough damage that you would not want to be hit by any of them, even if they’re in the hands of a pitiful Human. This came across quite well, especially as one of the Automata in the fight was up to eight malfunction points by the end of half a dozen combat rounds. Others were a bit luckier and didn’t get a couple of critical hits landed on them, but no one escaped without at least a hit that added a malfunction point.

This was more of tonal thing I wanted to achieve and I have to say that everyone was on board with it. I also wanted combat to be quick. I dislike combat in RPGs where each action involves multiple dice rolls between each character. The biggest compliment I got was how well combat flowed and didn’t get bogged down, but still gave the players plenty of chances to be tactical about how they used the weapons at their disposal and the Upgrades they had taken. There was a long discussion about how the Upgrades system could be changed with how Malfunction points are applied. It was one of those moments which was great as a games designer, but looking back on it, the idea that was knocked around was a little too open to abuse without too much thought. So for now, I’ll be sticking with the system already in place until I can think of a way to bring in the new idea in a way that’s balanced and not broken.

The biggest thing that I’ve taken from the play test is how much I want pretty all skill checks and dice rolls to work in the same way so that knowing the basic system is enough for pretty much everything. The system as stands is definitely simple and easy to pick up though.

After running a PVP combat between two groups of two Automata, I had an extra player rock up to the table so I thought I’d try something out. Without telling her anything about the system, I asked the players who had helped me out so far to tell her the rules. She picked everything up quickly and had no problem with making the correct rolls and applying the correct modifiers with no help from me. The only help she needed in fact was to do with automatic weapons which no one had used up until then. This did highlight that I needed to do a bit more work to make this flow easier. It was the only clunky bit of ranged combat, and I think I can do better.

So, all in all I’m calling this first attempt at playing the system a success, and I will hopefully be doing it again after I put a few revisions in based on things that the players wanted to do that I hadn’t thought to create rules for. Finally, I would like to go on record and say that the best people to play test games with are people who have made their own games. So huge thank you to Fifty, and if you want to take a look at the kick ass game that he’s been working on as and when it gets released, you should check out the Facebook page for it.

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