BRENDON KAVANAGH reaps the fruits of some letter-writing with two readers’ reviews of Shattered World. It’s got no better since their first reviews in issue 44...
The rulebook and map provided by the GM are quite good and the map is especially attractive. The cost of the game includes a stamped envelope for returning orders, which is a nice touch. The newsletter doesn’t impress me, but it’s new and I expect it to improve.
Diplomacy in the game I am in indicates that players are pretty young. They’re not the most interesting or subtle communications I have received! I find the combat and monster routines quite boring and the game content in general has unfortunately disappointed me.
Perhaps there is a good game hidden in there somewhere (the idea of a destroyed world with the odd ancient artifact lying around to use and abuse in order to remove the other players is always an interesting idea), but it is not for me. I had hoped that continued playing would give something good to say about Shattered World, but this is one of those games which get so dull I don’t rush to look at the turnsheets when they arrive.
I cannot get into the game, but possibly younger players or those new to the hobby will find more to enjoy in it.
Shattered World is basically about moving a small number of units around a hexagonal map of hexes (!), searching for crystals to return to your tentralith (command module) and fighting units and monsters you come across. You automatically fight all other players as you meet them, except those you have declared as allies on your order sheet.
Conflict with other players is simple, on a stacking algorithm: the more units you have on a hex, the more power you have, and some units being more powerful than others. Battle reports are fairly simple, giving the types of units and their owner.
Fighting with monsters is similar, but the problem here is there’s no information when the battle is lost. For example, a battle with a monster which you lose will appear on your printout simply as ‘Your unit commanded by... has been destroyed by a monster’ — no information is given as to where on the unit’s course it happened. The GM’s explanation is that when your unit is destroyed all communication is lost; but this seems something of a cop-out. My first confrontation with a monster was in the middle of a desert and I’m sure my unit commander would have been able to see anything coming which was large enough to destroy him and his radio!
Not much else happens in Shattered World. All you can do is move your units around and explore, build new units, collect crystals and fight with monsters and other players. Diplomatically, you can send a message through game control to any player by just sending it to a player number or name (they’re all listed at the top of the tumsheets). This seems at odds with reality — I would have thought that having to know the player’s name through a game meeting would be a far better system.
I’ll end with a few thoughts on the game. It has one basic problem: it’s boring! I only took about 5 minutes for each turn — there just isn’t enough to do. Normally when I know there’s a turnsheet for a game due in my mailbag I’m dying to get home to open it up and see how I’ve done, but with Shattered World I just wasn’t that interested. In a pile of post it would be put at the bottom to be opened after the interesting bits.
The standard price is £1.50 per turn — for that money I expect a far better game, and there are cheaper games around which give a much better deal.
At first I thought Shattered World might be a good game to introduce beginners to PBM, but after three turns I gave even that notion up. Shattered World just doesn’t give an idea of the addictive quality of the hobby, and would probably put off any potential PBMers. The Shattered World idea has possibilities but they just haven’t been developed into a worthwhile game.
Setup and two turns in Shattered World costs £5 and further turns cost £1.50 each. Contact Jade Games.
IF you’d like to review a PBM game for CRASH, anonymously, send your name and address on a postcard to: Brendon Kavanagh’s PBM Mailbox, Readers’ Reviews, CRASH and we’ll try to find a game for you.
You will not be charged to play it but will be expected to produce neatly-written or typed, coherent reports.
This is what reviewing involves:
SOMEONE’S got a sweet tooth at Vengeance Games — and they’re offering a free startup in any of its four games to the first five CRASH readers who send a packet of mints to the company! The startups are worth £10 and include setup and three turns.
World Of Vengeance is set in Britain after a massive disaster, where tribes of semisavages scavenge the desolate landscape trying to regain technological power supremacy over other tribes. The player leads a tribe through the very detailed game. Turns cost £2 each.
Where Lies The Power is probably suited to the more mature, creative player — you need to be a good diplomat and a convincing liar! The object is to work your way up through a feudal political system ruling a vast empire, but you can approach the task in many different ways: be a peaceful talker or a power-mad invader, it’s up to you. Turns cost £1.75 each.
Orion’s Finger is an SF roleplaying game in which you first design your three characters from a menu system. There are seven strange worlds to adventure through, and judging by the rulebook the game seems quite imaginative — another one for the thinkers. It’s £2.25 per turn.
And El Presidente is a political game for 40 players: a struggle for justice, truth and self-interest on a war-torn island. Meddlers in the politics of your nation include the CIA and the KGB and turns cost £1.50 each.
Vengeance Games points out that turns in all five cost 25p extra for players in continental Europe and 50p for players in the USA and Australia. And some startups may be delayed till enough people have joined.
Send your mints or inquiries to Vengeance Games enclosing a stamped self-addressed envelope.