Designer’s GenCon XP: Gamma World

The following is not really a review of Gamma World RPG by Wizards of the Coast.  Rather, it’s my experience playing the game at GenCon 2011 filtered through the game designer part of my brain. Your mileage may vary.

I cursed WOTC when they required miniatures to play D&D. Although I eventually came to enjoy it, to me is smelled like a company trying to force customers into an unnecessary revenue stream. We don’t need minis to roleplay! At least let the player decide if they’re required, not the rules!

I cursed WOTC again when they introduced power cards in 4th Edition. Technically, you don’t need them–but the way 4th ed. is designed, it makes it much easier. (Have you tried playing with paper cutouts of the powers and exploits? One gust of wind later and they’re all over.) Again, it smelled like a way to get my money more so than a way to improve the game experience.

Then I played the newest edition of Gamma World. Curse you, WOTC!

Gamma World was never about realism–radiation gives you cancer, not mutant powers–but this edition is even more silly. You get mutant powers but they vary per encounter. Seriously.

At the start of the game, you receive two power cards. These are replaced by two more power cards once an encounter finishes, and so on. To make things worse, you can buy booster packs which have better powers than those you get with the game. That’s right, if you are willing to give more money to WOTC, then you can have a more powerful character in Gamma World.

What utter crap.

Nevermind how you don’t craft a character in Gamma World thanks to repeated random power cards. Nevermind how this rule takes away part of your ownership of your character by forcing random abilities on it. You pay more to get more in-game power. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

People get possessive of their rpg characters, and with good reason. There’s a lot of effort, thought, and even love put into making them. Even if part of the chargen is random, advancement is usually planned. By making powers random, WOTC has violated the contract between player and GM established during character generation. GMs control the story but players control their characters. Now, fucking booster packs help control characters.

I’m done, WOTC. I shall not spend more money on your products. You are making the game worse in the name of money. You have that right–all companies have that right–but as the consumer I have the right and responsibility to move my purchasing elsewhere. I see you after Hasbro sells you off to someone else.