Review: Urban Renewal

Or to give it its full title, 5150 New Beginnings Urban Renewal. 5150 is the science fiction grouping for Two Hour Wargames, and includes Urban Renewal (RPG), Star Army (platoon level combat), No Quarter (mecha), Battalion Commander (what it says on the tin), Star Navy (fleet combat), Fighter Command (which looks like it’s basically Wing Commander as a tabletop game) and others. I am lying in wait for Fringe Space, which sounds like Elite: Dangerous – tabletop edition.

I’ve reviewed 5150 before here, so I’ll focus on the changes. Note that Urban Renewal predates Chain Reaction 2015, so it still uses Impact ratings and the Evenly Matched status in melee; I will likely drop both of those in favour of the newer rules, which I suspect will be faster in play.

WHAT’S NEW?

  • Character professions are now grouped into Circles; Movers (M), Shakers (S), Ordinary Joes (J), Exotics (E), and Criminal Element (CE). I’ve cited the abbreviations used for them in the encounter tables as it took me a while to work them out – they may be explained in the rulebook but I haven’t found that bit yet.
  • Cash. This is how much loose money you have on you and refreshes daily. It isn’t connected to the Items representing your permanent equipment, and is mostly used to buy drinks and so forth for other characters (which can give bonuses to their reactions). It’s represented by a number of d6 you roll each time you buy something, any that come up a 6 are not available until next day.
  • Areas. New Hope City is now divided into 11 Areas, including the Spaceport, the Financial District, and various residential districts. The area determines what kind of buildings and NPCs are present, how many NPCs you might encounter when, and how likely the cops are to attend a disturbance at what time of day; to find where (say) your target is, you roll 2d6. There is a map of the NHC transit system showing how the areas are connected, much like the Locale maps in Larger Than Life. It’s silly I know, but this is what sold me on the new edition.
  • Pregenerated random NPCs, as in All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out.
  • Rules for gambling and (ahem) companionship.
  • Specific guidelines for bringing your Star Army characters into New Hope City, either while on leave or when discharged. This includes laser and explosive weaponry you may have "liberated", so here’s where the stats are for those.
  • A scoring system. Your star has "ten good years" to set himself up for life; his skill levels and Rep at the end of this time dictate whether he retires to a luxury mansion in Gaea Heights or a spaceport gutter.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT?

  • Recruitment. Unlike most THW games (and the previous edition of this one) your Star starts completely alone rather than with followers; you have to recruit them all in encounters. If you’re fussy, you can go to the Area where particular types hang out in the Day Part when they are there, which improves your chances of finding a specific sort of Extra. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad, I’ll have to try it out.
  • Terrain layout. The only real difference here is that as well as a street or intersection, you can now have an alley, which is a row of buildings divided by a narrow alley, with a street parallel to the row on either side.
  • I haven’t done a line by line check, but I think there are more types of cyber enhancements now.
  • My perception is that looking for a mission will be faster and easier in play now, but I’d have to try it to be sure.

WHAT’S GONE?

In general, if it slowed down play in the earlier edition, cool or not, it’s gone now.

  • The Science skill. I guess it duplicated the Savvy skill, and limited how easy it was to move characters between settings.
  • Hit Location. I found that to be an unnecessary step which slowed down the game anyway. With no hit location, helmets have disappeared as well, because it doesn’t matter mechanically whether you have one.
  • ECM. Also slowed things down for no real benefit, in my opinion, so no loss here.
  • Motivations for characters by professional groups.
  • Building floor plans. Each floor of a building is one large area now.
  • Vehicles. (Stop whining, you have dirt cheap public transport now.)

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, quite the improvement. This will get played sometime soon, I think.

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