Aces and Eights (p&p RPG review)


e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑
Forget D&D, WoD, and all that; Aces & Eights: Shattered Frontier by KenzerCo is about as good as it gets. A Western game that mixes some old-school mechanics with some completely innovative ones, it's an unforgiving game that doesn't feel restricting or a pain-in-the-ass. The game's combat system is one of it's coolest features, where a turn doesn't last 3-10 seconds like in most games, but a tenth of a second. So it could take you quite a few turns to raise your pistol and shoot while some no-good cowpoke fires off shots at you from the hip. Taking the time to aim is almost always the best strategy, though, but it's a nerve-wracking one when any lucky shot could leave you dead or crippled.

As far as how shooting works, the game employs a clear overlay which is put over a silhouette of whatever you're aiming for. You choose where exactly you're aiming for and center the overlay on that part of the silhouette, and your dice roll determines how close you hit to your target. A card is drawn to see which direction your shot veered off if you miss your mark, as you usually will. Damage is rolled on a hit, and that determines what effect your shot has along with what part of the target's body you hit. You may kill your target outright, paralyze him, make him keel over and drop his weapon, etc. Even after the shootings over, a character's not safe, as wounds can become lethally infected if untreated.

The game also employs similarly creative mechanics for a number of things from court trials (which are an absolute blast) to gold panning (a fool's game, but you could get lucky). Character creation is too complex for me to go into here, but it's really a game in itself, and could leave you playing an escaped slave whose afraid of horses, or an New York dandy with oodles of cash and a solid reputation at your disposal. While the process is unforgiving, it leaves you with quite a bit of control over the results. Just don't expect to roll up Wyatt Earp every time. My one complaint is that skill allocation is an unnecessarily complex process with confusing rules, but they aren't impossible to get the hang of by any means.

All-in-all, anyone looking for a Western RPG that shoots for realism while being a blast to play, should check the game out. If you're like me, you'll end up in quite a few firefights, but the game isn't based on combat nearly as much as forging a place and name for yourself in the wild frontier; whether through opening a bar, starting a legal practice, or just being the best damn gunslinger in the West. Aces and Eights has won nothing but praise from everyone I know whose given it a shot, but those looking for a more forgiving and cinematic game may want to pass this one by.


AKA Ass-Bandit
It's interested me, but I'm now wondering if it's at all possible to play this over the Internet...otherwise I'm s.o.l., living in the ass-end of nowhere and all.