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Subject: One Stop Co-op Review of Renegade rss

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Colin Degnan
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PLEASE NOTE: This review is based off a Press-release copy of the game. As such components will not be reviewed.



Renegade is a 1-4 player co-operative game set in a cyber punk world where people have given into technology as the answer for everything. The people of this world have allowed Super Massive Computers (SMC’s) to control the world, and take away the freedom that humans have held dear since the beginning of time.

There are a select few, the Renegade’s that fight back by hacking into the Network of the SMC’s and to shut them down. Although this would cause the utopian world these machines have created to disappear, it would also allow for human freedom to return.
If you would like to see a playthrough of the game, there are numerous options available to you:




Ricky Royal’s Solo Playthrough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA5LTaTN4AI&list=PL5UyaJ4tfE...

Doug Herring’s Solo Playthrough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9utRcPaGCs&list=PLSxVbnQ1Ef...

jPlay's Playthrough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-gEFa0evLQ&t=1557s

Rolling Solo’s Solo Playthrough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKi0kdhHGKI&list=PLOF3i9E9lf...

As there is a plethora of information on how to play the game, I am simply going to provide a review on the aspects of the game itself.



This review is based off a Press-release copy of the game. As such components will not be reviewed.



It is difficult to say which part of the game provides the most theme. Is it the jargon used throughout the game where you will use terms such as uploading viruses, using replicants to modify sparks, and the countermeasures controlled by the SMC’s? Or is it the amazing gameplay mechanics where I am fighting off sparks who in the real world sounds like simple electricity blips with uplinks, data nodes and installations? I am not sure, but the combo of these 2 aspects of the game allows me to fall into the story of the game. When playing Renegade I feel like there is a chance I could be smart enough to be a computer hacker!



1 Deckbuilding
In this game you start with a deck of 15 cards which is slightly different from all the other players (more geared towards your color). Throughout the game you can purchase cards at any time from the Hack Shack and upgrade your deck. Yes I said upgrade because instead of simply adding the card you purchased into your discard pile like a regular deckbuilder, you actually “upgrade” your deck by having to eliminate one card on your hand for the card purchased. You ALSO purchase to your hand (think Shadowrun Crossfire) so this card is immediately available for use. This to me changes the way I think of how to deckbuild. In a normal game of deckbuilding you look for trash cards to eliminate your starter cards, but you don’t have to do that here. Instead you can simply focus on how to upgrade your deck.

Now some purchases are a no-brainer, but especially when playing co-operatively you can start thinking about ways to specialize your deck. Should I be the one focusing primarily on destruction so that my fellow Renegade’s can focus on other types of contaminants? If so, I may want to ditch some of my starting replicant cards for destruction command cards etc. When playing solo you need to be sure to have a good measure of all types of commands as you never know what the countermeasure goals will be.

Another thing to mention, the Hack Shack is a total of 36 cards. Yes 36, measly cards! At first I thought this number was way too low in a deckbuilder. But now I see the positives of this after playing the game many times. Unlike most deckbuilders, you do not have much time to upgrade your deck. You need good cards to come out of the Hack Shack right away. What better way to do this than to just have the hack shack stocked full of good cards only? It is like taking a Marvel Legendary game, and only putting the cards you WANT in the HQ. . Wouldn’t that be amazing?

2 Player Powers
In any co-op game, it is essential to have a way to differentiate yourself from other players. Having your own special ability is important, and it provides you with a sense of individualization that many people complain is not present in co-op games. Yet sometimes designers go overboard with special abilities. They can drastically change the game, or it can feel like you always have to play with a certain character due to their special ability. This is NOT the case here, instead the abilities are simple to understand, provide you with a benefit, but that benefit is not game changing. It is simply a small way to differentiate yourself from your fellow Renegades.
For solo play this means all 4 characters can be played equally, and no one character is “better” than another (at least that is how I feel!)

3 Simplicity
Think of Mage Knight for a second. The game is AMAZING (from what I hear, still haven’t played it yet!) but it can take hours upon hours to understand the rules, then setup the game, then actually play etc. etc. If you are like me and have kids, a wife, work, or some other form of commitment in your life you may find that games like Mage Knight just don’t hit the table as often as you would want them to.
This is where Renegade comes into play. The game takes about 5 minutes to setup. A solo game can last anywhere from 20-40 minutes unless you have serious analysis Paralysis issues (which can happen at first due to the sandbox-y feel of the game). As an example, I have only had the press release copy of this game for 4 days. Yet I have played 8 times solo and 2 times co-operatively. Could I have done that with Mage Knight? Nope!

The game screams simplicity by using Victory Point games for the producer. VP does a great job of providing challenging games with minimal components.

And yet I should mention here, I am not talking about simplicity in gameplay. THAT is a different story where you can read at your leisure in the “subtlety” section of this review.

4 Replayability:
Let me spell this out for you. Each SMC has a minimum of 3 Countermeasures that are used (Copper, Silver, Gold). For each countermeasure there are 7 goal cards that can be picked. There are a total of 4 SMC’s you can use (not counting the simulation one) for a playthrough. My wife the statistician has calculated for me that this is 1,323 permutations of this game! This does not even take into account for the different character combinations, player counts, cards in the hack shack that will come out etc. etc. Replayability = high!

5 Luck
I play a ton of Co-op games (obviously!) and as we know luck is a designer go-to for how to create replayability and sometimes difficulty in a co-op game. The luck in this game though is used for something different. Instead of being used to provide replayability, it is used to provide tension in the game. Most aspects of this game are deterministic. If I spend 3 Destruction command I will make a Virus. But just because I have a virus doesn’t mean I will be able to use it effectively to hack the SMC. There is luck involved in the real world for hackers, and Ricky did a great job of replicating that.
However, there are many ways to mitigate the luck of the dice rolls, and this includes both for spark spawns as well as infect actions. You can provide more destruction commands to weigh the odds that you will be successful in your infect action. Or there are cards you can purchase from the Hack Shack that will allow you to change a die rolled for a Spark spawn. Or my personally favorite, if you draw a terrible hand and just need another command of any type, you can discard 3 cards to get a Leadership command which is wild. This means you will NEVER be stuck on a turn with nothing to do.

6 A.I.
One of my least favorite things in a co-op or solo game is when I spend more time controlling the A.I. then I do on my own turn. The A.I. turns in Renegade are FAST, you roll for sparks, check for any guardians that will be created, and move on to the fun part, YOUR TURN! As Ricky mentions in his own video, if you let the A.I. go on its own, and do nothing on your turn, you can see how the A.I. works. And each SMC has a different A.I.!! So AWESOME!!

1 Subtlety
I honestly cannot speak to this too much as I am still learning all the subtlety that is involved in this game! What you have to remember is this: When playing the game, you feel like your objective is clear, and the SMC’s objectives are clear, but the challenge is to figure out how to disrupt the SMC enough that you can lay the groundwork for your own plan. The problem is, there is just so much to think about! Even the SETUP of the game there is a strategy. The game may be simple to setup, but it is anything but simple to play. . .

2 Solo
The solo implementation of this game is stellar. You do NOT need to play more than one character when playing the game solo. You can have all the same tough decisions etc. without the worry of managing 2 characters. I LOVE THAT in a game. So many times a solo play is you playing multiple characters.



1 Co-op
Although I really enjoyed my co-op plays of this game, I would say that I felt like it was lacking something in this area and I think I may know what it is. Renegade has a few cards that have the keyword “interrupt” which I believe allows you to play this card even when it is not your turn. However there are only 2 types of cards that I have seen provide this keyword. This means that when it is not your turn, you are usually sitting and waiting. You can of course provide feedback, work together etc. but for me a really good co-op game has multiple ways I can affect your turn. It would have been so cool if the game had come with cards that let you help your teammate buy a card into their hand, or give one additional command symbol needed for an upload etc. Now with this, that is something that Ricky could be planning to add in an expansion, or through the kickstarter who knows?

2 Player Count
This kind of goes with the note above. With a higher player count, the game is a lot longer, and with that there is a lot more time you are not doing anything. There is a variant in the rules that I think is needed when playing with 3+ players and that is simultaneous play. The Hack Shack always refreshes once someone buys a card, and you can all take your turns concurrently. However this means you need to have a good understanding of what you are doing in the game, as it is always more difficult to strategize when everyone is playing cards at the same time.

3 Hack Shack
This also goes with the comments above. If playing with 3 or 4 players, and there are only 36 upgraded cards, each player is not going to be able to fully optimize their deck. Although this limitation in card upgrades provides more tension in the game, it can cause a bit of animosity between players (which is maybe what Ricky wants, I am not sure) as players need to vie for what they want in terms of deck upgrades.



Setup: 3-5 minutes.

Takedown: 3-5 minutes.

Playtime: 30-60 minutes depending on player count.



See Replayability in the “What I Enjoyed” section.



I would say this is a gamer’s game. The co-op aspect does allow players who are not familiar with tabletop games apart from Monopoly to stumble their way through the game, but they will need a lot of help. The subtlety, the jargon, the theme etc. etc. makes me think of a game I would like to play with someone who is comfortable with other similar games.






Overall, Renegade has soared to one of my top 10 solo games, and top 10 2-player games. The game will warrant multiple plays before you get a good grasp on everything, and I do hope that the final version of the game has a reference sheet that depicts the different phases of the game. I cannot wait for July 18th to come so I can show my support and back his awesome game! Hope you are with me, and thanks for reading!

edit: Added jPlay's Playthrough!



If you want to check my other reviews, I have a geeklist.


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Stéphane Martineau
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Really good review. I love your playthroughs aux devises. I was probably gonna back the game anyway but your review may have pushed it in the right direction! The only hurdle remaining is the price. I guess we'll ses tomorrow.

Now on go watching the remaining of tout playthrough
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Colin Degnan
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Thank you so much, Stéphane! I can tell you, you will not be disappointed with this game. If anyone knows how to make a good game, it would be Ricky! Hope you enjoy the playthrough!!

Colin
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Franck Bouvot
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Great review man !
It follows what can be seen in your videos
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Colin Degnan
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Thanks so much, Franck!
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René Schultze
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Thank you for the review! And I agree with you on behalf of the coop mechanism. Many games are coop but not many are allowing you to help other players on their turn. I really love Legebdary but the interaction could. E better. This is something I like about Predator and Aliens that they have coordinated cards. And that would be great in Renegades. I would like to see such an expansion with interactive cards.
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Colin Degnan
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Glad you appreciated the review! Who knows what Ricky has in store for this game. There are so many ways he can expand it! I do hope that at some point more interrupt cards would be cool, but I am sure Ricky has his reasons on how he designed it. Regardless, my wife and I have been enjoying this game immensely!
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Paul Sheppard
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Hi Colin,
Excellent review.

While watching you and Monica play Renegade as a 2 player game, I did note the lack of direct interaction, as you said above.
However I still felt that there was a more subtle interaction going on.

For example Monica said during the Silver task, that she would leave something for you to deal with, so she could concentrate on something else.

I may be wrong but I get the impression that there is the possibility of tactical interaction whereby one character's ability allows the other to perform actions in an optimal way, if that makes sense.
So even if there are no interruption moves that can be made, Renegade still works well as a 2 player game, which you note in your final thoughts.

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scott w
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Great review! Loved seeing this in action on your playthrough as well.
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Colin Degnan
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Paul - thanks for reading! I think you are right, there is some definite subtley in the game, and the more I play the more I see that. I do think it is a fantastic 2 player game, but Ricky explained how the simultaneous play at higher counts would work. . . I want to try that!!

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Colin Degnan
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Thank you, Scott!!
 
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Ben Nietzel
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excellent review. I am really getting interested in this game
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Prometheus Applebottom
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Liked it, loved it!
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Michael Bacon
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I really appreciate your links to videos by other people. I honestly do prefer yours over theirs, but sometimes I want to see a bit more. In this case, I definitely want to see Ricky's videos.
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Paul Sheppard
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Quote:
but Ricky explained how the simultaneous play at higher counts would work.


For sure. Down time can be a problem especially with higher player counts.
If you could incorporate simultaneous play I could see how cool it would be for Renegade.

As long as you don't add an egg timer, though real time play would be right up your street, Colin. Maybe VPG could include one as a stretch goal! laugh
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Umut Cagirgan
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Thanks for excellent review.
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Colin Degnan
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chibipaul wrote:
Quote:
but Ricky explained how the simultaneous play at higher counts would work.


For sure. Down time can be a problem especially with higher player counts.
If you could incorporate simultaneous play I could see how cool it would be for Renegade.

As long as you don't add an egg timer, though real time play would be right up your street, Colin. Maybe VPG could include one as a stretch goal! laugh


You know how much I love real time! Just think of that, Renegade real time?! OHH MAN I am pretty sure my brain would burst!
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Lucas Gentry
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Wow! Breaking into two different top 10's, and it hasn't even officially come out yet! That's amazing
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Bryan Johnson
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Great review.
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Lee a.k.a. "Loyal Lee"
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As everyone else has stated, great review. thumbsup

I had already backed it, but now I'm feelin' even better about that.
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Corey Mayo
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QUESTION: How well do you think the co-op play would translate into solo play? (I'm about to watch a solo playthrough, but would still like your opinion.)
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Colin Degnan
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Corey, great question! For me personally I see this game more as a solo game than a co-op game. I think as a solo game it is near perfect for my tastes. It is puzzl-ey, every action counts so you need to plan accordingly, you instantly see your deck upgrade since you are buying to your hand, and I feel there are so many different ways to go for victory. The game feels so open to me as you have so many different options, and I love that in a solo game.

The co-op game is also quite good, but I wish it had more ways for the Renegade players to interact with each other. Also, a solo play of this game can be 30-40 minutes. Once you start to add multiple players the game length can become exceedingly long, especially if anyone has a hard time making decisions in an open sand-boxy network we have here.

Now Ricky has mentioned for co-op you can play simultaneously which I think will help this immensely.

In short this is a top 10 solo game for me for sure. Hope that helps!
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Mahmut Aktasoglu
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Very detailed review. kudos!
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Michael Bacon
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It definitely seems to have been designed with solo as priority one and coop as a second priority. The coop looks great.
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Barak Engel
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FWIW, this review made me pledge just now.
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