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Subject: Rage, a slightly biased view. rss

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Chrees M
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I will state at the start that my view on Rage (The White Wolf version at least) is biased. Not heavily biased, I will not scream and put my fingers in my ears if people pick up the negative points on the game, but... I bought the game when I was 15, and it's always had (and always will) have a place in my heart. Also, I write this assuming you (the reader) knows how the game works. I will brush on things lightly but it's worth finding out the rules to read through.

Then (or, "Memories!"):

Back when I first bought the game, Rage was amazing. It started from a free card (Syntax) inside a magazine, and the card format was amazing. I had looked briefly at magic (picked up a starter and that was about it), and a few other card games, but the quality of the Rage cards was amazing. The whole glossy, almost plastic quality of the cards means they keep up their good looks even now. Me and a friend both bought starters, and then eventually a booster or two a week, and we started playing the game.

The rules back then were pretty difficult to understand, the whole moot thing, votes, working out when to withdraw from combat and the like, but even so after a few plays, we started to understand it a little better. The little rulebook that came in the starters was pretty concise about information, amusingly more so than the rules online currently.

It was a few months down the line when my friend brought his booster to me, showing me the contents. Nothing too amazing (although back then every new card was a "ooooh" moment), barring the Past Life. This shiny foil card was beautiful in every aspect, and this was the first time I had seen a foil card. It took me ages before I found my own, at this time he managed to put the card into every deck he made.

We stopped playing when he moved away, and although I continued to buy in the cards, there wasn't anyone to play it with. Eventually I even stopped buying them in.


Now (or, "The less gushing part"):

Looking back at Rage, after pulling off the Rose Tinted Glasses(tm), I see it for what it really is. A multiplayer politics game, with a violent combat system to back it up. Two player is interesting, but without multiple players, the voting system really doesn't work that well, and with it you lose an important aspect of the game. The Moot phase is a way to form up alliances (and break them), to screw over your friends, or even just play something that everyone can benefit from, and be the more benevolent player. Without it, it's a two player "were on were" combat game. Not that it's a bad thing, when you consider one of the 'greatest' card games around (Magic:TG) is just two wizards duking it out.

The rules for Rage are actually pretty simple, compared to the other games, and although the rules are out there on websites and the like, I would recommend getting hold of the little rulebook that came with the starters, or the "Savage Attack" players guide. Both of those give examples of play, and clear up a few things that the internet rules didn't seem to brush on (Such as Gifts can be played at any time, unless stated otherwise, can make multiple moots per turn, each opponent decides between them who plays the combat card for the enemy and so on).

The whole idea of the game is to field a number of characters based on their renown. Starting games recommend 15-20 renown, and the characters have their renown cost in the top corner of the card. This also is an indicator of the victory points, thus in a 15 renown game, you need 15 victory points to win. These can be got from killing the opponent's weres, killing creatures in the hunting grounds, passing moots or performing rites.

The game flows pretty well, both players take their "ally/equip" phase together, which speeds the game up considerably, leaving less time to contemplate your actions (especially in other card games where it's two clear-set turns, yours and theirs, and during theirs, there's little you can do other than stare at the cards), but at the same time, in a two player aspect, the phases outside of combat seem to just be a "lead up to a bunch of weres duking it out". Important things happen in the moot and ally/equip phases, passing a shotgun to Grimfist to help in combat or bringing a vet into play to help with the regeneration phase, passing Winter Wolf moot, to get rid of your opponent's 'heavy' were, but they feel (to me at least) to be back-burner compared to the combat. In meal terms, the other phases are the appetiser, while combat is the meat and potatoes.

In combat, each player puts forward and alpha for their pack, out of their weres and allies. Then, highest renown acting first, the alphas decide what they want to do. They can attack each other, an enemy in the hunting grounds, challenge a non alpha member, or do nothing. Attacking enemies in the hunting grounds is always a decent option, but there is a twist to this. Your opponent(s) can decide to play combat cards for the enemy. They can decide not to (and it does happen, especially if you have a hand of decent combat cards, and you don't want to waste them on claw-fodder), but most of the time it's a good way to weaken the opponent's alpha, get some damage in so when it's your alpha's turn, you can gracefully step in and put the damaged alpha out of it's misery. There are cards that allow you to withdraw from combat, and an attacker can always choose to withdraw (now that does happen alot, especially when the damage mounts up), and then there are combat events that allow pack actions to happen... suddenly attacking the low health alpha becomes a bad idea when they bring in several friends as backup.

Combat doesn't just end there. Actions such as Sneak Attack or Geas can start a new combat phase, rites can be used on a were that has refused a challenge, shaming it, even if a member of your pack dies, a rite can be played to score at least a victory point for it.

Outside of the game, the cards are still pretty, the ones i bought 12 years ago nearly look just as good as the ones bought recently, and the foils are still near enough breath-taking when you discover them in a booster. There are several expansions out there for the White Wolf Edition, which focus on the Umbra (a dream-land that some weres can enter, which has it's own set of enemies), the Wyrm (non Gaia characters that allow you to play the 'bad guys' for once), and so on. There was also a newer version of the game produced, but I've only got a booster from that, and I found the card stock to be thinner, and the card art was less appealing.

Conclusion: A fast, furious game of combat with a smattering of politics.

Pros: Fast fluid gameplay, all players feel involved no matter what phase it is, once the rules are understood, it's pretty easy to follow, cards and their artwork are beautiful

Cons: Moots are all but useless with two players, pack members can die easily even fighting a 'weak' enemy, some situations are difficult to find rulings on (Staredown vs Greater Banishment, for example), harder to stop an opponent in two player from winning.


If I was giving this a score, I'd say 3 claws out of 5.

That score is for two player games, which as said above, are a fun fur-fest, but lose a the political aspect. If you have 3+ players, the fun *REALLY* starts, and it's worth at least another half a claw.
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H.C. O'Neill
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You can find a FAQ here:
http://www.rainydaypaperback.com/files/ragestuff/ragefaq.htm...

The rules book online has been a bit disorganized, so is in process of getting rearranged into semilogical order. Stuffing rulings into it willy-nilly for 12 years leaves it a bit of a mess. Imagine sticking postits in savage Attack for that long and image the mess it'd be...
Anyway, here's the current one:
http://www.werepenguin.net/rage/rules/

And here's the draft that will override it in July once players have had time to comment on it. Revised version, much better organized:
http://www.werepenguin.net/rage/rules/revised.html


As to the Staredown vs Greater Banishment, I'm not too sure what your question is.

The majority of cards work "first in, first out" EXCEPT Banishments. (they're last in, first out effects, the only ones in game) They direct cancel Gifts so that they do not have a chance to take effect. So if you play Greater Banishment on a Staredown, the Staredown has no effect. Combat will continue.
 
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Chrees M
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Yeah, we wondered about if the banishment would remove a gift that was attached (Luna's Armour), rather than working as a 'counterspell' to an 'instant'.

I just found the rules online a bit difficult to fully follow, and they take into account the different addons too, maybe if there was a "vanilla" set focusing on limited/unlimited, then an "advanced" set which was the addon rules in there too? I wasn't putting them down, they are useful and complete, we played the game with the laptop beside us so we could check any rulings, it's just i get confused easily.

Also, areas that could cause some confusion, would it be possible to see examples? Such as "Player X declares that his Alpha (xxxx) is going to attack Player Y's Alpha (xxxx). Player Y's Alpha is hurt and wouldn't survive the combat, so he/she/it plays Staredown. The card would stop the combat from happening (and saving Player Y's Alpha), but in reply Player X plays Greater Banishment, which stops Staredown from ever happening. The combat carries on."

I dunno. I always found it easier to learn rules from examples. Then again that would really extend the amount text to take in.

But yes thanks for the draft i'll read through it now.
 
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H.C. O'Neill
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It'll do both actually. It can cancel something as it comes into play, OR after its been sitting around for awhile. It won't undo earlier effects retroactively.

Example: Golgol fangs-First attacks Lord Albrehct who has a Luna's Armor. He doesn't do quite enough damage to kill Al. Al has 1 health left. If he didn't have the Luna's Armor, he'd be dead.
Grimfang declares an attack on Lord Albrehct. Grimfang plays Greater Banishment. Al drops dead at his feet. He gets the VP for killing Al.
It doesn't retroactively make the gift never have done anything so he wouldn't have survived the first combat with Golgol.


Basically Banishments stop an effect from doing its thing. If it's already been doing things for awhile, it just stops it from doing anymore. If it just came into play, it stops it from doing anything, period. It's sort of like cancelling your newspaper subscription. It can either be a flat "no, I don't want a subscription" or "I;ve had some newspapers, but I don't want anymore now."

Banishments were always one of the weirdest bits in Rage since they create stacks. Too much stacking makes the space time continuum explode.
 
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Steve
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We played this game in middle school. We bought a ton of cards. I don't think that the subtleties of the politics system ever really sunk in with us... though I remember thinking the whole "hunting grounds" thing with the monsters for anyone to defeat was a cool mechanic.
 
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Chrees M
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fenris_lorsrai wrote:
Banishments were always one of the weirdest bits in Rage since they create stacks. Too much stacking makes the space time continuum explode.


So the banishments are pretty handy cards to have in a deck. Thanks for the example, i didn't realise how powerful they were! I remember the stack in Magic, and that used to get confusing at times.

garysax wrote:
We played this game in middle school. We bought a ton of cards. I don't think that the subtleties of the politics system ever really sunk in with us... though I remember thinking the whole "hunting grounds" thing with the monsters for anyone to defeat was a cool mechanic.


Yeah i do like the Hunting Grounds, it gives you an option other than fighting your opponent, and it's great to do co-op too.
 
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H.C. O'Neill
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The Hunting Grounds is again one of the components that really shines once you get past two players. Rage can be played as a two player game (much like Vampire: the Eternal Struggle can) but really doesn't take off til you get 3 or more players in.

With only two players, Enemies/Victims are often far too easy to kill because they can't use the Combat Events and often you're stuck playing for an Enemy that's got 2 rage and you hand is full of Rage 3s and up. So a frenzy or pack attack easily takes them down. If you have three or more people in the game, they become tougher and more interesting.

One of the cards currently in Beta testing, Desperate Struggles, is basically aimed at evening out that problem in two player.

Here's text:
Desperate Struggles
Rage 2
Requires: not part of pack action
Combat Restricted. Refill your combat hand to 5 cards. If the user is frenzied, the frenzy ends. The user may not frenzy for the rest of combat.


With wee little things in a game, its not going to do much good. But say that Nexus Crawler plays Desperate Struggles as its last card in hand in a two player game, and look out world! Since it doesn't avoid damage and doesn't do damage, its a gamble, but for the unholy big monsters, it can make them a true challenge.

(You can see complete list of cards currently in open beta testing here: http://www.werepenguin.net/rage/open/ahadi.asp?
Searching for Weakness also works well for making Enemies/Victims a more formidable challenge. I have seen the BSD enemy Search for Weakness and then follow up with a Mangle. owch!)
 
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Picks-at Flies
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Muzzaro wrote:

I just found the rules online a bit difficult to fully follow, and they take into account the different addons too, maybe if there was a "vanilla" set focusing on limited/unlimited, then an "advanced" set which was the addon rules in there too? I wasn't putting them down, they are useful and complete, we played the game with the laptop beside us so we could check any rulings, it's just i get confused easily.


It was comments like this that were one of the driving forces behind Revised. The main feature is that the bulk of the complicated rules have been pushed to the back - you can largely learn to play with just the first 3 (short) chapters and the beginning of the combat rules.

Unfortunately the original rules left huge amounts to the imagination (they even left out a major rule, that combat ends if nobody plays a card in a round of combat). Players *had* to develop house rules to cope with unclear interactions and overpowered cards. Of course these clashed whenever different groups got together, in particular as we built the online community. Hence the need to have more rigorous rules. Revised does not introduce much that is new to the already detailed, it is more of a reorganisation to make it easier to read and learn from.

However, I take your point about the examples. I would suggest that the best way to do this is not to embed them in the rules (adding examples would only lengthen it) but to create a separate game example. Next time I have a month spare I will look at it...

As for using the rules within a game. I estimate that Revised comes to 36 pages (without the Keywords page), which is rather a lot to print out (although at 2 pages to a sheet it becomes easier). Revised is, however, laid out in such a way that you should be able to find the rule you are looking for fairly easily (I hope - if something seems to be in a strange place, do say something!).
 
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Chrees M
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If you want any help with the examples, i'll be glad to help. I've been a little sad at the moment, putting all my rage cards into a database, but other than that i've got time free if you want any help at all.

Having the rules laid out online is a great way though, as we can just put the laptop near the table and check it if we come across problems. I do prefer print-outs (i'm dyslexic and large amounts of text on a screen plays havoc with me), but being able to ctrl-F and search for a situation is always preferable to leafing through pages.

When my friend is over next, i'll get into another game of Rage with him (amusingly my other friend has rage cards too so i'm piecing together a deck for both, finally we can get the moot thing working in some of it's original glory), and we'll go through the revised rules.
 
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Picks-at Flies
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I might be able to help with the database. I have just done one for the gEngine - try here.

Edit: as for the example... if you want to help, I won't say no. Depending whether you can stomach such things, my initial suggestion would be to document the first couple of terms of a game you are playing. Between us* we can simplify it, clarify the rules issues and turn it into tidy little document (with pictures!).
 
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Chrees M
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Ah great, thanks!

At the moment it's something like:

Base Rage Characters(Card_Name, Tribe, Renown, Lim_Quantity, Unlim_Quantity, Total_Quantity)

(with the expansions, just "total_quantity"), and something similar for the Sept/combat cards. I found some lists online also that specifies the rarity of the cards from the unlimited/umbra sets, so i've been filling them in, and then hopefully, i'm going to relationship it all up, so i can do queries of what cards i'm missing, and what rarity, cards i have "too much of" (say more than 6 combat cards, enough for three decks with the card limits), and so on.
 
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