Review: Catalyst Games – Shadowrun 2050 (Shadowrun)

Shadowrun: Shadowrun 2050
Shadowrun 2050 is a historical setting for the fantasy cyberpunk Shadowrun 4th edition rules set written by Jean-Marc Comeau, Raymond Croteau, Jason M. Hardy, Adam Large, Aaron Pavao, Scott Schletz, R.J. Thomas, and Robert Wieland and published by Catalyst Game Labs
By Cape Rust

“Back in 2050 we needed Decks to access the matrix, none of this technomancer crap you ‘ve got these days.”
“Grand pa, whats a Deck?” Shadowrun 2050 takes runners back to the good old days when cyberware looked like cyberware and runners like Captain Chaos and The Laughing Man were the talk of the streets. This historical setting takes the roots of Shadowrun and converts them to the 4th edition rules. So dust off your deck making skills, jack in and enjoy the retro ride.


This 202 page historical setting has 196 pages that include the 4th edition update to classic Shadowrun. This rule set brings back the rules for adventuring in the matrix, building decks and bulky cyberware. Included are descriptions of Seattle, Chicago and Hong Kong circa the 2050s.


I have played every edition of Shadowrun and this book really brought back the memories, some not as good as others. Seeing the 2050 date made me want to go out and buy 30 more d6s because I knew I would need them, until I saw that these were 4th edition rules, then I thought “cool I’ll only need about 15 more d6s.” Seeing the names of long forgotten runners and reading about their exploits was a real treat and if you are a fan of Shadowrun but feel like the current timeline has gotten a little corporate, then this is the book for you.


Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The folks at Catalyst Game Labs went old school on this one, but they did it right! I remember some of the old art in the previous editions and while it worked well in mostly black and white, it really pops in colors. The covers blue/black/green color scheme looks great, expressing the grit of the setting. Seeing people with “decks” was a real eye opener. The table of contents followed in the normal Shadowrun tradition with a few welcome additions. The dark page borders with the techno symbols was a nice touch, I’m not normally a huge fan of dark borders, but the green hues of the actual pages contrasted nicely with the border and create a product that is easy on the eyes. This is a text heavy sourcebook. There is some great art that really ties it all together. I was disappointed that there were not more pictures in the equipment section and that there were no maps of the cities covered. I know those maps are available elsewhere, but this book could have really used them.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
When you play Shadowrun you need a bunch of d6s, there is just no way to get around it. Having run the gambit of the rules sets I think 4th edition is the most streamlined to date. I was worried about the re-introduction of matrix surfing decks as I remember spending hours of out-of-game time working with my GM to build and upgrade my character’s deck. With the 4th edition rules, this appears to be a much less arduous process. I still feel like some of the game’s rules are too heavy, but overall I’m satisfied. It was interesting to see how the new rules set actually interacted with some of the old concepts and surprisingly they worked well.

Value Add: 8 out of 10
For people who played Shadowrun back in the day, this product will be a real treat. If you have only played the latest edition, this product might be less useful. As a historical reference for games run in the current timeline this book is great. It serves well as a historical setting, but its limited appeal to people who didn’t play back in the day combined with its cost greatly narrows down the target audience for this product. The Hiring board section was genius! The Hiring board was well thought out and is an adventure seed for Shadowrun games from all editions, because let’s face it a run in the shadows is a Shadowrun!

Overall: 9 out of 10
Shadowrun 2050 is a great looking product and a real treat for people who crave the feel of Shadowrun of yesteryear. The information provided in this book is extensive and I loved the Hiring Board section. In fact, I think it should be part of all new Shadowrun products. The lack of maps and equipment pictures was a great disappointment; I really think these additions would have shown people who have never played the older additions just how much times have changed in the world of Shadowrun. Catalyst Game Labs is a top tier game company and this product is another example of how to use resources for good, not evil. This one isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t take a smartlink to tell me that this will be a hit with its target audience.

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