A very Good (the) Battle

The day that Ryan has been nervously waiting for has finally arrived. The review of Good: The Battle.

Good: The Battle, by Project Good is, for those not in the know, a rule set that allows gamers to pit pretty much any model they like to against each other. In fact, the rules are deliberately constructed so you can use anything you want. So, for example, you could use a model of a particular kind of super soldiers from a particular game system set a certain number of millennia into the future and a 15mm World War 2 infantryman and, should you so choose, they’d be evenly matched. If you really wanted you could plonk a plastic T-Rex on the board with a Leman Russ turret glued to its head and that’d be fine too!

The point of Good: The Battle is that the models aren’t as important as the game. This is a brave move for a company selling a wargame as lovely looking models can make up such an important part of the gaming experience. I suppose, in a way, by taking this approach, the chaps at Project Good has liberated the gamer. You are free to use whatever you want, so long as the models you’re putting down make you happy to use. It’s a little bit of genius really as gamers can still go and buy models to use for Good: The Battle but they’re not limited by force organization, unit limitations or complex characteristics or weapons combinations because that’s not how the game works.

So how does it work? Well, put simply; it’s all about bringing the Good to inflict the Bad. Good & Bad get capital letters because the game is largely all about Good & Bad. You even get dice with it written in the pack, which is very cool. And a fridge magnet which is epic. And yes, it’s on my fridge.

The rule set as mentioned brings a lot of freedom which I like a great deal. And a fantastic sense of humour which I love. When describing what you need to play the game it has this to say about a gaming surface: ‘You will also need a surface to play on, preferably one made from a solid material (such as a table, the floor or the M6) as it can be quite difficult to play on water…’
Humour is rare in a game and the fact that the whole game was conceived with humour and fun at its heart is testament to the minds behind it.

Good: The Battle is also straight forward without being simple. Characters have X number of Good points with which to perform actions with a matching Bad Point value which essentially equates to amount of damage the character sustains before it falls over in a big heap. The rules force you to balance aggression with self preservation in a way that no other game I’ve played has achieved. Because profiles are fixed in other game systems you understand and appreciate that certain models will die easier than others. However, you are also assured that their combat performance will not wax or wane up to that inevitable and usually grisly end. Good: The Battle challenges that approach by making you use Good points to inflict Bad points. Again, sounds straight forward enough, but your forced to make the decision between an all out devastating attack that may well smite an opponent but leave it extremely vulnerable for the next couple of turns until it can regenerate.

There is also a plethora of optional special rules to mix things up a bit should the mood take you – a particular favourite being Anti-Air Allocation Radiance Homing Guidance just for the name. With the option of taking up to 3 special rules games can become not only quite trick as a straight forward slug fest becomes much more like a multi-class wargame that we all might be familiar with but still clinging onto that sense of fun, especially as one of the rules allows you to self destruct. Because, well, why the hell not?

The one trick I feel that Project Good has missed is the minimum Good/Bad points. Now, there is an expansion coming out called Nice – The Expansion so this may be addressed there, but I can’t help but feel that rules for squads/units of models with individually low Good/Bad values should be in there somewhere. The rules lend themselves almost exclusively to small games of a handful of models on each side with a minimum of 20 points each but a recommended average of 40. Although the mechanic works very well I can see it growing stale as the only option would be to make the characters harder which only really makes the game longer, rather than more fun. Units with, say, 5 or 10 (or a sliding scale depending on what units you were fielding) would make for an interesting game.

Collectively the units could pool their points to move or shoot in a limited fashion but would be able to recharge quicker allowing them to operate consistently. However, ‘character’ models with 40 points would be able to smite said units with relative ease but would then be vulnerable while they recharged. The game mechanic actually lends itself to this kind of epic confrontation with ranks of easily slain cannon fodder amongst which stands creatures of terrible power. And as there are rules that takes differences in size into account, you can have a lot of fun with the models you choose to field. Basically Good: The Battle is wargaming socialism – everyone’s equal and has a bloody good time in the process. but I can’t help but think it could be sweetened if it was more like communism; everyone’s equal but some are more equal than others. And the more equal ones will kick your head in if you look at them funny.

Good: The Battle is a very clever, very funny and immensely enjoyable game. It’s easy to understand rules but slow to master tactics make for entertaining games, especially when special rules are thrown in. I do feel that it’s leaning towards RPG over tabletop wargame could limit its life expectancy but a little tweak of the rules could suddenly turn this into a bit of a craze, and for £5.99 for the Project Good website, you’d be simply stupid to not treat yourself to a rule set. Ryan and the boys have done very very well.

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