Thursday Review: Wreck Age

Wreck Age is a respectable, though not necessarily innovative, Post-Cataclysm roleplaying and tactical tabletop game. While it has a decent level of quality, looks good, and has enough content to stand out, it suffers a little bit from not committing to one style or the other. Still, it’s well above average, and is in many ways a good example of what such a game should be.

Mechanically, Wreck Age uses a system that is pretty reminiscent of the older Shadowrun games, with a flexible target number and multiple dice. I personally like its system, while it’s perhaps a little simple for some of the more fleshed out characters. The characters’ depth seems to essentially be limited in order to put them into a tabletop wargame setting without a whole lot of changes.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about its communities system. I find it to mesh incredibly well with the setting on one hand, but it seems a little impractical in play. It’s definitely a hold-over from the wargaming experience that somewhat detracts from the generic image of a loosely affiliated roving band of intrepid survivors passing through the wastes. It also winds up forcing a large amount of groups into pretty well-defined categories, and while I don’t think it was ever intended as a method to stifle the potential for players to belong to groups with a personality of their own it runs a very real risk of usurping the players’ perceptions of their groups. Still, it’s an interesting touch. I like the resemblance to Outbreak: Undead’s systems, which I felt were pretty good at modeling a post-apocalyptic or post-cataclysmic survival group, so I’ll give it a thumbs-up.

That’s essentially the tone of the game as a whole; there’s some moments of brilliance and some moments of average; Wreck Age isn’t like one of the big-name games that delivers solid performance throughout; it provides a system that is either very interesting and useful, or barely passes muster. That said, it’s certainly competent, and while the setting and system are integrated perhaps more than I’d like, most of the decisions made are pretty solid; indeed, some decisions (for instance, making player characters in narrative play immune to certain morale-related effects) are both gutsy and prudent, and I think that Hyacinth Games did a good job approaching the needs of both the tabletop roleplaying and tabletop wargaming genres.

As far as the final quality goes, Wreck Age has a decent amount of art, and it’s not shabby. The page borders are actually the most annoying thing for me in the whole book, being this odd grungy background that would have been entirely passable for the first twenty or so pages but then becomes a little repetitive. The font choice for the page numbers also seems a little too dissonant, being a clean sci-fi font while the text is written in a font that is literally a digitization of old printing press letters. While it feels right, it’s also not, perhaps, the most legible, though my gripes about fonts delve perhaps into the utmost depths of pedantry. However, while we’re in the depths of pedantry, I may as well bring up my gripe with 6”x9” formatting. On a digital canvas, it doesn’t help with any image resolution concerns (though Wreck Age doesn’t have any glaringly low-resolution images), because the reader will probably just zoom in, and the text column widths feel really short. The editing work in the book is… haphazard. In some places it is very well polished and feels good, but there are many places where even minor edits could make the text flow better, and some grammatical mistakes slipped under the radar.

Still, at the end of the day, Wreck Age is interesting, and I think that’s really what matters most. I would give it an unreserved reservation for what it is. However, it is a niche, and I’m not entirely sure that a lot of people really need to worry about both a wargame and a tabletop game, and as such I don’t feel quite comfortable giving it five stars as its capacity in either area picks up a few of the detrimental elements from the other.

If you’re interested in purchasing Wreck Age, you can find it here on DriveThruRPG.

One thought on “Thursday Review: Wreck Age”

  1. Recent updates greatly reduced the number of typos in Wreck Age, and also added a glossary and hyperlinked index page (I had some weirdness with it, but I’m not using Adobe so it’s probably fine for 90% of users and it worked fine most of the time).
    This resolves many of my complaints with the product.

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