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Mr. Bistro
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Review of Mutants and Death Ray Guns

Mutants and Death Ray Guns (MDRG) is the first stand-alone miniatures game to be spun off from the successful Song of Blades and Heroes (SBH) rules. The game focuses on a post-apocalyptic setting where humans battle for survival with the various mutants and robots that now populate the remains of civilization.

Appearance: The appearance of Ganesha Games’ products improve with every release. MDRG has a simple and easy to use layout, and it is packed with atmospheric artwork to enhance the game’s feel. Some of the pictures are better than others, but I feel this is a real step forward from what has been seen before.

Rules: MDRG presents a set of generic post-apocalyptic rules that allow players to incorporate whatever theme-appropriate miniatures they have in their collection. This should be a big draw for many players as it will let them use old sci-fi miniatures they have lying around (Necromunda miniatures being a particularly good fit). Like SBH, MDRG keeps character profiles very small. Miniatures are given a mere two stats: Quality and Combat. Quality rates a character’s ability to react and take actions on the battlefield, morale, and sometimes the ability to use psychic powers. Combat of course rates a character’s ability to fight in hand to hand combat or use ranged weapons. In addition to these stats are special abilities that illustrate the effects of mutations, robotic body parts, unique skills, etc. The result is characters who, despite their small profiles, really stand out from one another.

MDRG is a skirmish-level game, so players typically have small groups of models, five being the norm. Unlike the usual points-building systems seen in most miniatures games, MDRG uses random generation to create parties. This mechanic harkens back to days of old and especially reminds me of the first edition of Warhammer 40,000. Yet despite this random generation the outcomes are fairly solid. Most adventuring parties will gain an interesting mix of skills and equipment and do a great job of reinforcing the post-apocalyptic feel – you have to fight with what meager resources you can find.

Combat is near-identical to SBH. Simple rolls of the d6 determine who lives and dies, and sound tactical decisions are well rewarded. MDRG draws away from SBH however with its focus on ranged fighting. Guns rule the battlefield and battles can be fast and deadly. Unlike SBH where all models have a combat rating that takes into account any and all weapons a model carries, most guns in MDRG add bonuses to a model’s Combat rating. This means the character will be more effective in shooting then if charged in hand to hand.

Characters in MDRG fall into distinct types. There are pure humans unsullied by the effects of their hazardous environment, mutated humans with unique disfigurations, mutated animals, androids (think Terminator), robots with a variety of mechanical tools at their disposal, mutated plants who can use the environment to their advantage, and the Wretched, your typical end-of-the-world diseased zombie cannibal. Players may build parties containing any of these character types, or they can make “pure” parties consisting of characters only of a certain type. “Pure” groups will be easier for enemies to exploit (such as stocking up on defoliant to fight plants) but gain certain special bonuses (all-plant parties can start the game in hiding almost anywhere on the battlefield).

The place where MDRG really shines though is in its campaign system. Because games are fast (30-45 minutes) players can complete entire campaigns in the course of an evening. The campaign rules revolve around scavenging for resources. Players will need to secure food, ammo, and other supplies in order to stay relevant in the hostile game world. If a player fails to get enough food to feed his party, character performance will dwindle in the campaign, possibly leading to starvation or desertion (though the cannibalistic Wretched have easy ways of finding food). Robots without energy cells will become sluggish and unresponsive. And a party fighting only with rocks and bows will become tempting targets for those who are well-armed. In addition, parties that win battles earn advancements. These can lead to new abilities or better stats for a character, or new recruits for the party. A player may only have five or six models in his party, but each one of them will take on a life of their own, some of them turning into heroes over the course of several games, and some of them gradually falling victim to a cruel and uncaring world.

There are many more little tidbits here and there. Rules for terrain, various drugs, weapons and artifacts, as well as rules for psychic abilties. All of these details add to perfecting the feel of the game world.

The Bad: There is nothing I dislike, but there are two aspects of the game that could be troublesome for other folks. First there is the random party generation. I enjoy it as it's a very flavorful way to play and it eliminates min/maxing. However it may be a turn-off for the more competitive who require points-build systems. Also, the ever-changing nature of MDRG may be a nightmare for players who prefer what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) gaming. Characters can pick-up new guns during a battle, find new armors after the game, etc. If you get an odd twitch when a character's gun looks more like a shotgun than a laser gun, you may get annoyed playing MDRG. These are non-issues for me, but they matter to some.

Overall: MDRG is an impressive release from a small indie author who seems to be perfecting his craft at an alarming rate. The game does a magnificent job of capturing the feel of a post-apocalyptic world, and is very satisfying and fun to play. If you’re looking for a new game that requires little commitment you cannot do better. It is also worth noting that as an $8 (US) download, there are few games on the market as cost effective.
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Guru Gaku
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Mr. B., nice review. It seems like an quick, and really interesting system.

One question though...did you download the PDF (as opposed to buying the printed copy)? If so, how many numbered pages is it?
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Mr. Bistro
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I purchased the .pdf. The book is 40 pages long and I paid about $7 for Staples to print it and bind it.
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Aaron Gelb
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Sounds like Fallout! I'm intrigued.
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Guru Gaku
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I bought the PDF last night (Song of Blades and Heroes too)...great stuff. I can't wait to play. Thanx again for the review that pointed me to these gems.
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Mr. Bistro
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I edited the review to have some negatives. These elements are not drawbacks for me, but I realize they might be for some.
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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WOW, this looks really cool,

SO your saying for $8 I can download this and print out 40 pages and have the rules right there for me - on the spot. That is kinda interesting.

And you like the rules? 40 pages is a lot to digest for 1 game?
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Guru Gaku
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Tom,

40 pages is not as bad as it sounds. About half of the book is reference material (charts, description of skills, etc.) which you would refer to as needed. The other half is the core rules-set, but even still, some of those pages only refer to specific races (human, mutant, etc.) which you may or may not have in your warband. Also the text is printed in a readable-sized font, thus increasing the number of pages.

You'll breeze through it...
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Mr. Bistro
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Hey Hendal. The rules aren't too complicated, especially if you've ever played one of the larger name-brand miniatures games before. The May Scapetalk podcast will talk about this as well as Song of Blades and Heroes (a game I think you would like even more).
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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Talked me into it, I will buy them, heck why else so I have a sugar momma if not to get a little sugar once in a while I know 40 pages is nothing, I will rip through that like a nothing.

Thanks


 
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Chad Ries
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I own and play this game. I am a huge fan. I have bought everything Andrea has written in both PDF and POD from LuLu.com. Song of Blades and Heroes, Song of Gold and Darkness, and Mutants and Death Ray Guns.

I have been a role-player for nigh 26 years now, and my interest in miniatures games has sprung from moving minis around for RPGs (with a foray into one game using the original Chainmail rules at Band Camp). With the advent of pre-painted, plastic minis, however, I jumped on the minis battle game bandwagon pretty quickly. However, I found that the minis games out there were a bit more time consuming than what I preferred. Enter Ganesha Games. Andrea is a genius. A game where you can use minis from your entire collection with a minimum of rules and set up is my kind of game having a full time job and a family to raise.

I use my pre-painted D&D minis and Star Wars minis with these rules seamlessly.

If you are a minis fan, RPG fan, or someone who always wanted to venture into the minis game realm but were afraid, these rules are for you!!!

Awesome, awesome, awesome.

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Lucas Blackwolf
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asgelb wrote:
Sounds like Fallout! I'm intrigued.


Then you might be interested in seeing this;
Description of a really cool FO3 game; http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?topic=14295.0

More photos of the really cool table; http://chrisvmd.fotki.com/miniatures/fall-in-2009/img-3520-j...

EDIT: I didn't see, the photos are already on the BGG blush
 
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Steve Billups
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I realize this is a long dead thread - but the revised addition currently on the website gives you a point system for each weapon and ability so if your model has a sniper rifle, you can create that character appropriately. There is even a great warband creator on their website that allows you create and track about anything you can think of.
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