What if the Goons4Hire4U gig economy app from the third season of
Westworld was the premise behind a whole game? That’s what Reality’s Edge tries to tackle by updating the cyberpunk future to match more modern depressing trends.
Listen to the Fortified Niche episode.
Just like any cyberpunk game we encounter, Reality’s Edge was playtested with Infinity miniatures. You need even fewer than you’d run in Infinity, with a typical gang clocking in way under ten characters.
In Reality’s Edge, you roll to activate troops until you fail, at which point the game passes to the other player. A miniature that fails an activation can only carry out a single action instead of the usual two. However, getting a hot run of dice that activates your entire group isn’t that overpowered. Why? Because any shots that hit are resolved AFTER you pass activation. So alpha strikes aren’t as effective as you never know when it’s safe to stop pumping lead into the enemy.
Another important (and weird) part of Reality’s Edge is hacking. Most regular hacking attacks are resolved like shooting, but with wilder effects, like raising walls in the environment or spawning civvies. Of course, regular damaging or weapon-blocking hacks exist as well. To guarantee that all players have at least one hacker, each gang automatically gets the Shadowbacker avatar, a digital character that only interacts with the hacking aspects of the game. This is how Reality’s Edge solves the Shadowrun issue of a hacker playing an entirely different game; virtual entities move on the same board as real ones, only they don’t interact like normal minis do. That is, except for having to walk through doors to enter buildings, which is hilarious.
Of course, Reality’s Edge isn’t without issues. It’s not very tightly written, there’s a lot fiddly stuff to keep track off during and after character creation, and the gig economy jobs pay peanuts when compared with the investment your gang has already consumed. As the game isn’t about repaying the debt you had as a startup, that isn’t very cool. There’s also the issue of how weapons are handled as the system feels like it was made for having more variety, but no, nearly all the guns deal the same damage.
Overall, Reality’s Edge does some neat stuff, but not enough to make me excited to play it. If I want cyberpunk, there’s always Infinity, even if it’s oriented towards tournament play.