Review: Hyacinth Games – Wreck Age

Wreck Age
Wreck Age is a post-apocalyptic tabletop game written by Anton Zaleski and published by Hyacinth Games.
By Aaron T. Huss

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Wreck Age describes itself as a narrative RPG and tabletop skirmish game. It contains a near-future version of Earth where pollution and what-not has scared off the wealthy and leaders of the world, leaving everyone else to fend for themselves (unknowingly as they too thought they would be whisked away). Game play starts after the worst of the post-apocalypse occurs and the world is effectively in a rebuilding stage. In other words, people are spending less time in a panicked state where the majority will die off due to hunger and are instead spending their time in survival mode where the planet is starting to sustain its population (or at least it potentially can, but that still requires time). It is effectively a post-apocalyptic survival game with a focus on community and how the players build a new one, one baby step at a time.

While the setting of Wreck Age is definitely as described above, the rules don’t actually come off as being a narrative RPG and tabletop skirmish game. When you go through the rules and pay attention to the details, including the periodic mention of miniatures and 3d terrain available from the publisher, Wreck Age is more of a tactical tabletop skirmish wargame with RPG elements that allow you to blend each combat and give credence to the community the players are building. I say this because the mechanics are written to create detailed skirmishes rather than most narrative RPGs which attempt to speed-up combat to keep the focus on the story. This isn’t a bad thing, though, it just helps in how you approach the game.

Wreck Age has a pretty cool dice mechanic powering both the RPG and wargame elements. It’s kind of a mash-up between dice pools and regular roll-over-target-number dice mechanics. You end up with two levels of difficulty whereas you start by forming your roll using multiple dice and each die must meet or exceed the stated difficulty (e.g. 4+, 5+), then you can increase that difficulty by requiring a number of dice to be counted as success. That second part is less common as the first  method is the defining  method for difficulty. All this does is adds a second layer. It also allows you to gauge opposed rolls by comparing the number of successes.

This core rulebook is a great all-in-one book. Not only do you learn the history, basics, and overview of the setting, you also get all the mechanics needed to play, plenty of equipment options, game mastering advice (called a Narrator), and a lengthy adventure. However, the one aspect of the game that stands out a bit more than the rest is the mechanics for community.

Wreck Age is a survival post-apocalyptic game where its underlying purpose is to create a new community and see it survive and thrive. This includes the ability for players to control multiple PCs. Looking further into these communities, they are theme-based whereas the character archetypes fit into one of the themes (you know, to keep it homogeneous). This is all governed by a social currency called Resource Units which allows the players to manage the community in-game and really stick to that survival post-apocalyptic theme.

As for the artwork… I thought it was great. It was a mixture of color, line, and grayscale, and I thought it worked very well. I’m not a big fan of artwork-heavy game books as I always feel like the content is excessively padded with artwork. To the point where you’ll read 50 pages and only get 25 pages worth of content. Sometimes the artwork can even break the content. Wreck Age didn’t have that problem and I found the artwork to be just right. You get a sense of the setting and the characters and they help to visualize the post-apocalyptic appearance of Earth.

I found Wreck Age to be a good addition to the post-apocalyptic genre. If you like a tactical game with lots of tabletop visual appeal, this is definitely a game to look at. If you like a pure role-playing game where miniatures aren’t necessary but are rather an added bonus, this might not be for you. The mechanics are definitely wargame-like. If you like a rules-light game that focuses more on storytelling, this is definitely not for you.

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