I feel like I’ve got my finger on the pulse of these Card Based RPGs man! This is the second one I’ve done a write-up on in less than two months! Better yet, I actually got to play this one, but more on that later. Lets get right into Neon Sanctum shall we?
Neon Sanctum is set in the far flung future and if I had to compare the feel of the game’s lore I’d go equal parts Numenera, Shadowrun, and Gamma World. We have a society that has seen a collapse of its golden age of technology into a world run by Megacorporations that all vie for control of what little Golden Age tech is still lying around and use said tech to create more and more marketable items to continue to grow their stature. Typically the players in the game might end up working for or against one (or more) of these Uber Corporations, or they may even end up just trying to eek out a survival in the wastelands. Oh, and they’re mutants too, like big troll guys!
The game is very cyberpunk meets apocalyptic. This can result in some wide variety of interesting adventure schemes, makes it easy for a GM to shake things up.
The Grenade Punch Games crew sent me a sample deck of cards so I got to see first hand what the finished product will look like and it’s quality stuff. Good stock for the cards and the artwork is well drawn. Early on I labored under the impression that the cards looked a little messy but I soon learned that once you’ve learned the flow of the game they are actually set up in a very logical order. I found myself breezing through the boxes of text whenever I would use a particular skill.
Though I’ve only seen the artwork meant for the book and box online it appears to be of the same caliber. The layout of the Play-Test rules that I had on hand to work with the cards was very detailed and almost a bit much. Explanations got a bit heady and hopefully the finished product explains the game a bit better, it is plain to see that playing the game is (at least for the time being ) the easiest way to parse it. It’s honestly an easy game to “get” once you do.
PLAYING THE GAME
I was fortunate enough to get to play this game before doing this write-up. I was even more fortunate in whom I was able to play it with. I played in a game run by none other than Adam Waite, one half of the creative team for Neon Sanctum, and a few fellows brought in by the RPG Academy team. Caleb(@TheCalebG) from RPG Academy ran the podcast and we were joined by Matthew Parody(@MattParody) and Jon Serritos (@Renakku) as well. I was a bit nervous going in, not because I was playing with people I’d never met (that ship sailed long ago), but mostly because I’d had a bit of trouble trying to understand the game up to that point. If I’m to be honest I’d only taken about an hour to skim the material though. Thankfully Mr. Waite walked us all through a quick run down of the rules and it just clicked, this game is pretty dang easy I was certainly over thinking it.
The cards you have are essentially your character sheet, any and all of them are available for use right away. All the rules for using a card are found on the actual card and there are only a few extra “all-encompassing” rules that help make the whole game function. Once you know the overall rules of the game you can easily make out what cards to use for certain situations. One aspect of the game I really enjoy is the flexibility allowed for using cards. Most every card has a specific role for use within combat but when you are out of combat they become useful in a more generic way based on the type of skill they are. That way you can use the additional bonuses granted to your roll (this game utilizes two d10’s) by being a little creative in using a card.
Combat itself allows for a lot of versatility as well, in fact there are a lot of things you can do with one turn. Without getting too technical the four big things you can do are deciding whether to Sustain something, choosing an Attack Style, a Defence Style, and your movement. Instead of just having a static list of things you can choose to do you actually allocate points (that refresh at the start of every turn) so you can choose where to put the most emphasis but you can still do it all. It seems like this would lead to lengthy turns, an issue all too often problematic with another Tactical RPG I recall (4th Edition D&D) but we found ourselves flying through turns pretty quick once we got the shake of it.
LET’S TALK OVERALL LIKEABILITY & KICKSTARTER COST
I really had a fun time with this game and earnestly hope you will give it a good look. The Kickstarter’s fund point is crazy low too, only £12,000, so it’s likely to make it. I’m in full-bore, I’ve backed at the following level (My assessment of the best value):
£34 (Roughly $50.00)
Get the complete Neon Sanctum Game. Over 300 cards, a Rulebook, tokens, battle maps and dice. Enough for four players and a DM to play the game.
Backers also get the Print and Play and may purchase products from the add-on list for the amount listed.
A Solid value for a lot of good product. If you think about it most RPGs have you spending $50 for just a Rulebook so this is easily a bang for your buck.
Neon Sanctum has the old world tech of Numenera, the Mega Corporations of Shadowrun, and a touch of the goofy fun of Gamma World. It brings all of that together into a fast paced, fun tactical card based RPG that offers players and GM’s a ton of versatility in play style and world lore. My favorite Card Based RPG to date. Hopefully you’ll check it out, and there are a few ways to do so.
I’ll be sure to post the link to the Podcast of my play through with Adam Waite and the RPG Academy folks soon! In the meantime, check the game out. My money’s in the pot, I want this thing to fund!