In the Middle of a Chain Reaction

Posted: 2 October 2012 in Reviews

"The choice is up to you. Feel free to use as little or as much of the following rules for your campaign…" – Ed Teixeira, 5150: New Beginnings

This one’s for Steve Boulter… Steve, you said you weren’t convinced all Ed’s changes for 3rd Edition were of benefit. Here are my thoughts having played 5150: NB for a while…

I like:

  • The new In Sight method – Rep d6 looking for passes rather than 2d6 vs Rep. I didn’t expect to like this, but it while it is fractionally slower in play, it makes many-on-many firefights flow more smoothly.
  • Bonus dice. For when the Star absolutely, positively has to win a dice roll.
  • The 5150: NB skills system. Rep and a couple of attributes aren’t really enough to keep me interested in a character, but LTL’s dozens of skills were overkill. This feels right in the sweet spot.
  • The self-improvement rules. I like it that my Star can’t lose points unless he fails.
  • The revised melee rules. I never really took to the idea of multiple sub-turns inside a melee, with the figures’ melee dice gradually eroding until one didn’t have any left. That’s gone now.

I don’t like:

  • Bleeder wound status. I find it confusing, and have to keep looking it up. Maybe that will change as I play more, but currently I don’t think it adds anything to the game that Stunned and Out Of the Fight didn’t already cover to my satisfaction. This is the only thing I really have a problem with, but I’ll keep playing it for a while, since it often takes quite a few games before I realise what a particular rule is trying to do.
  • Different reaction test charts for the different troop types. That’s been in 2HW games for a long time, and I’ve never really taken to it. However, I haven’t thought of a better way to do it, either, and they are so integral to the system that I don’t want to mess with them. The easiest solution is probably to restrict the troop types used in any one encounter, so I’m only looking up a couple of tables. Mind you, as long as you have a decent leader with each tactical group, it’s quite unusual for them to fail anything other than a Recover From Knock Down Test anyway.
  • How long it takes to resolve PEFs. There are a couple of ways to deal with that, one is Ed’s approach of pre-dicing a bunch of encounters and putting them on cards, another is not to flesh them out beyond Rep and weapon carried, which is what I find myself doing most of the time.

I don’t mind:

  • Hit location. I like the brutal elegance of rolling vs Impact. However, the hit location tables make it easier to use armour, by adding detail to damage resolution. I have toyed with the idea of dropping hit location and giving figures Star Power dice to represent armour, but that would mean more bookkeeping, which I hate.
  • PEF movement rules. They are less intuitively obvious to me than the ones in earlier editions, but I picked them up easily enough.

Neither like nor dislike but don’t expect to use much:

  • Cybertech enhancements and media crews. Just not my cup of tea.
  • Terrain placement, buildings, hiring-on, legal and economic systems. I don’t have a problem with them, I just enjoy other parts of the game more, and when time is limited they’ll probably fall by the wayside.

So, overall, I’d say the 3rd edition rules are an improvement – I like more of the changes than I dislike.

  1. Steve Boulter says:

    Interesting post Andy, thanks.

    I’m eagerly awaiting the release of ATZ FFO later this week and will be interested to see what ‘3rd edition’ changes are common with 5150 NB. (Most of them I suspect.)

    I have an aversion to Stars and Grunts having too many skills/attributes, and loved the 1st edition ATZ because REP was the only stat you had to be concerned with. So much so, that I didn’t even use the few basic skills/hindrances of ATZ and ATZ BDTZ as it meant having to remember various modifiers on die rolls.

    I’ve not used any PEF rules at all in my ATZ games so far. From the AARs I’ve read they seem cumbersome, I shall try them out but my feeling is I may have to ‘adjust’ them like you suggest to make them ‘workable’ from my point of view.

    As always, I’ll give the new rules a thorough testing and will only use those I like (by which I mean add something to the game without adding too much extra ‘admin’) as always, one of the strengths of THW rules is that the user can easily ‘tailor’ them without destroying the game.

    Once again many thanks for taking the time to post, I always enjoy your work, please continue.



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