Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The 12 Days of X-Mas 2: "Two Jedi Knights"

Second on the docket is Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition.  Honestly I don't tend to run that many Licensed games.  Inevitably someone at the table will know more about the lore and this obscure fact or that obscure fact and honestly I'm looking to tell my stories and not feel the need to shoe horn in characters and locations just because they are fan favorites.  That aside I actually don't mind SW Saga as a system and mechanically it makes some fun and interesting changes.

The Good:
First as before I'll start with what I like about this system and honestly the only way to put it is that I firmly believe THIS is the system that should have been D&D 4th Edition.

  • The True 4th Edition?
    • It's an obvious evolution of the mechanics from the D20 SRD that D&D 3.5 was built on and after rereading the core book it's easy to see some of the ideas that eventually made it to 4th Ed.  Now I'm not going to sit here and make this an article bashing 4th Edition, I have a review for that system lined up as well, and realistically I don't even really hate the game it is, but realistically if you look at the progression of the mechanics from 3rd to 3.5 this system feels like the next step.  Skills, attack bonuses, and even defenses were all simplified.  Multi-classing works great without feeling handicapped for mixing it up or power gaming for picking up something other than your starting route.  
  • Custom Classes
    • Personally I like the tree system within each class letting two soldiers or jedi or what have you both come out feeling like their own.  I even like the "Condition Track" which reminds me heavily of wounds and fatigue of Savage Worlds. (Personally I think the game may even work better if I can find a way to remove hit points all together and just use that, but that's a different story.)  This was definitely something fresh without completely changing the game. 
The Bad:
Now onto what I don't exactly love.

  • Old Habits
    • First of all I will be completely honest in saying that most of what I don't like about running SW Saga is stuff that carried over from SRD.  The fact is I praise this as being what 4th edition should have been based on the progression of the mechanics and when the game released.  Table top gaming has gone through a lot of evolving in the years since and since this isn't just a sequel to 3.5 I have to weight it on it's own merits.  The first issue I have with SW Saga is a similar issue I have with the SRD games and that is that combat tends to be slow and clunky.  I've been spoiled with being able to run full adventures in under 3 hours and though I can't expect that from every system I would like to get more than one fight in during that time. 
  • Class Struggles
    •  Another personal issue I have is that class based system.  I used to love picking my class, but no a days I'd rather make a character and while I do prefer Saga's take of adding trees and customizing classes over the railroads of some games it still feels a bit limiting.  
    • Finally comes possibly my biggest issue with honestly most Wizards of the Coast games and that is that the entire game feels like minis are a must and not an option.  It goes back to the fact we forget that D&D was originally just a hack of a war game with the focus on one unit and their story instead of groups of units and just about every game built off of that core mechanically tends to feel that way to me.  From needing to be in a precise square to count a flanking bonus to determining that only one person friend or foe can exist in a 5ft X 5ft square all start to feel artificial and for lack of a better word "Gamy".  
Final Thoughts:
Now I'm pretty sure you can figure out my opinion on these kinds of games and simply put, they aren't what I tend to look for anymore.  On the other hand if you do enjoy the early WOTC D&D or Pathfinder than this obviously won't be an issue.  Personally after rereading my books this many years later it got me interested again and I think I might start up a bit of a rules hack to make it fit my play style, but on the whole I think the system under the hood really holds up and it's a shame it wasn't used outside of the Star Wars license.

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