The Department

The Department is a "not Bladerunner" wargame.


 Overview

 Using the Goal System mechanics of "Super System" and "Chaos in Cairo" (to name but two Goal System games), the Department is a sci-fi investigative game where players search for clues and evidence in their fight against robots that look like every day citizens.

 Most people have seen "Bladerunner", so you get the idea.

The Department was a 'Kickstarter' project that met it's funding.  I didn't buy into the funding as Kickstarter required you to use your credit card online. After having my card used illegally (and at great cost) I flatly refuse to use my CC online anymore.

 The project was fully funded, and the rules have been released to the general population, as it were.

 Rather co-incidentally the release of "The Department" came on the heels of my "Terminator" project that I posted about on the "Board of the Living Lead" forum yesterday. More about the 'Terminator" project much later.

The Department is available as a PDF - I am not sure if you can buy a printed copy of the rules yet, but I went with the PDF as I wanted to see if the rules were what I was hoping they would be. At $11.95 it wasn't going to break the bank.

Initial Thoughts

 After a first read through I am happy to say that  I am pleased with the rules and how the investigation occurs. Rather than just shooting androids, the game requires you to find evidence that a Fabricant is in fact a Fabricant before retiring them.

 The goal system is easy to use, and anyone familiar with the other games will pick this one up very quickly.

 The rules cover character creation, combat, investigation, scenarios, a neat system for the control of non characters, and a set of rules to cover what happens when the character agents get heavy handed and Internal Affairs needs to set in.

 The zip file containing the PDF rules has a full colour version and a printer friendly version.  The full colour version (FCV) has 140 pages, and the printer friendly version has only 81. That is because the FCV has almost 59 extra pages of 'fluff'.

 I say almost, as the FCV includes pages on using the game as an RPG instead of a wargame.

 In my opinion those extra pages of fluff are a huge waste of space. It could have been cut down to a few pages of background information on the game setting.

 What did disappoint me was that there are absolutely no photos of minis or games that were played.

 I would have happily gone with out the artwork in favor of some eye candy in the form of painted minis and photos of game set up shots: the kind of photos that help inspire players to paint up their own minis and make their own scenery.

Having said that, you can see photos of the game in play on "The Department" web site.  Why this wasn't included in the rule book has me buggered (to use one of my Nation's favorite expressions).

I hope my little rant on the contents doesn't put anyone off trying the rules - the game itself looks like it will be fun to play, and it has campaign rules allowing for great replay potential.

 Final Thoughts

Overall the game looks great (on a read over only, and not actual game play... but having played a number of Goal System games I understand how it all works)  and anyone that is a fan of Bladerunner should enjoy playing their own investigators on the streets of the future taking out Frabricants.

I intend to make future post about the Department showing figures and scenery I think will be useful for putting together a game.

Shelldrake's Ratings:

Game mechanics: 5 / 5
Presentation: 3 / 5

Summary - I highly recommend "The Department" to anyone interested in the setting.

Anyone wanting more information can visit the web site for the Department

4 comments:

lrqan said...

Cheers for a well balanced and informative review.

cmnash said...

Thanks Shelldrake - another great review, and another set of rules that you have tempted me to get, damn you!

;)

cmnash said...

I meant to ask as well - 'Kickstarter' project? not familiar with that ... anymore info?

Shelldrake said...

"kickstarter' is a funding initiative program run by Amazon.com

If someone has a project they want to get up and running they list their project and people pledge backing for it.

There are a number of these initiative running now, almost all use your credit card details, some allow for pay pal.

One I was reading about allows the project owner to keep the money pledged, even if the project never makes it!

This one wasn't kickstarter though.