Clickbaity enough for ya? Thought so. The story is true though. My family and I were involved in a fairly substantial car accident merely a day after receiving my review copy of this game. We are fine (the car isn’t) but I was also pretty impressed with the fairly limited damage done to this solid hunk of gaming! I mean, it was at the impact point, perhaps it even absorbed an outrageous amount of the blow, just maybe… it saved our lives!.. Okay that last one stretched things a bit, still, kudos on Privateer Press for crafting such a stalwart game.
Anyway, on to the actual review.
The Unleashed RPG Adventure Kit! More Fun Than You Could Shake a Half-Gnawed Severed Limb At!
I should have lead with this title.
I know somewhere on this blog I’ve mentioned a love for Privateer Press’ Iron Kingdoms RPG, despite never doing a full on review of the system, and if I haven’t I know I’ve lauded it on my favorite social media platforms. With a rule-set modeled after their equally fun tabletop wargamming platform Warmachine, you find yourself dropped into a surprisingly easy to parse strategic fighting RPG with a rich backdrop of lore. The Iron Kingdoms Core Rulebook introduced players to warring kingdoms of people we find a bit more familiar; Humans, Elves, Dwarves, etc. all vying for power in civilized lands constantly at war using both powerful majicks and technology. Metal on metal fantasy full scale warfare.
We aren’t here to talk about civilized lands though, we’re here to talk about the wilder lands of Western Immoren. Unleashed will be a companion rule-book, fully compatible with the one that proceeded it, but will detail the sentient creatures of the wilds of Western Immoren. Just prior to its release though we have this surprising little gem show up, the RPG Adventure Kit. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard this was coming out a month or two before the full on Core Rulebook but I was willing to give it a try, especially because it was going to come with some Minis.
My experience with “kits” lately has been limited to the D&D Starter Set for 5th Edition, something I’m in the process of using to introduce a few kids to D&D. The Starter Set is very much worth the dollar figure, roughly $12 on Amazon, but as that’s a rather low price point you don’t get too much. A rough set of rules, an O.K. adventure, a few pre-gens, and some dice. Certainly serviceable, I’m still using it after all, but nothing really catches the eye to draw in new players in my opinion.
This boxed set though? Everything catches the eye. Privateer Press held nothing back and has come nowhere near doing a slipshod job when putting together this introduction to Unleashed. The first thing you notice when opening are some punch out tiles with terrain printed on them. You think there’s a few for garnishment but then you keep pulling tiles out and realize that you’ve got tiles for days man! Every single one has an image on both sides too effectively doubling the already impressive amount of terrain you can use. The Rulebook and Scenario are both very appealing to the eye and the character booklets are huge four page spreads that really detail who you’ve chosen in both art and letter. They round things out with a fist-full of excellent minis for use with the Scenario provided, a simple set of six-siders, and lastly, the only thing I scratched my head at, a truly pathetic ruler (had to have been added as an afterthought).
The artwork keeps in theme with every product put out by Privateer Press in this world, I’m glad I like it because they are consistent. With Unleashed they get to play around with the brutal nature of the game and really craft some nice looking characters. Sadly there isn’t much art in the actual books but they do have a bit more than other kits I’ve seen.
I’m already a fan of the system. As mentioned before it’s very similar to the Wargaming system it’s spurned from so there is hardly any gap in playability for those familiar with Warmachine and Hordes. Unleashed is the “Hordes” version of the RPG system so it is is incredibly brutal. You have characters that use body parts for food, or even to spruce up armor. The world of Unleashed is very much a survival of the fittest landscape and I think that lends a lot of fun to the players of the game. Killing a foe and eating their flesh isn’t an evil act, it’s an act of survival. In fact I’d be surprised if there’s a GM who’d even consider worrying about the alignment of characters in this dangerous setting.
The scenario provided with this game does a good job of explaining why all of these denizens of the wilds would form an unlikely partnership. Much like it’s predecessor you need to do such things as this world can easily slip into a faction-like mindset where it might be odd to see a Bogg Trogg working with Gatorman but when the four characters in this setting want to move against a powerful enemy differences, and appetites, are set aside and respect for ability sets in. The scenario offers up five large scenes and to me it looks like it would take roughly two to three nights to play it out. A nice caveat is added at the end to describe some possible continuation adventures.
So, I’m very impressed with the Scenario provided. No corners were cut and the punch out landscapes will go a long way in setting the stage, not to mention you can use those punch outs for some Hordes fighting in the future. The character pre-gens are all very flavorful and players will have a blast role-playing their brutality. If you want though the streamlined Rulebook provided with the game will help you craft new Player Characters. Other rules set out in the book do the job of explaining how to play very well.
I already knew I was going to be a fan of the Unleashed Core book but I’m pretty surprised how much I like this RPG kit. The best thing about it has to be the tile pieces and the miniatures though, once your players have done the scenario no matter how good it is there’ll never be a really good reason to run it for them again. The physical stuff though? That will keep and can be used for Unleashed adventures for years to come. My advice is to get both Unleashed and the Kit if you can. If you have to choose between the two I’d lean Core Book, but that’s me. Take care folks!