A Nice Review

Way back in September last year I wrote a review of Good: The Battle by Project Good.  A unique offering that essentially allowed you to use any model you liked because the rules focussed entirely around using Good points to inflict Bad points on your enemy.

Good: The Battle was and is a bold game that stripped gaming down to two things: playing a fun game and using any awesome model you care to. It didn’t burden itself with a bevy of complex weapons and special rules, instead focussing on the nitty-gritty of players unleashing untold amounts of Bad on one another. For the most part it delivered but my only gripe was the character system would have made it very difficult to play larger games with more than a couple of models aside. Twenty-four hours after publishing my review I got a DM on Twitter from Ryan basically saying ‘watch this space’.

And so I give you Nice: The Expansion. Skipping ahead from the front of the book, one things the chaps at Project Good did was to allow for Squads, Bodyguards and Minions. Because having minions is nice. These Plebs, as I shall refer to them, much like other gaming systems, are basically increasingly shitter versions of your main characters so they’re less effective and die quicker. So your trained soldiers all the way to down to human shields basically. This is a welcome and needed development as is the introduction of a points based system to size up your games. These two things alone open the game up and all for much more balanced and richer games. Nice also gives us vehicles which is an exciting and unexpected addition and rather comically works on the principle that bigger is better. The bigger the gun, the more powerful the gun. So leave your Demolishers and Vindicators at home chaps, it’s all about phallic death tanks of mega doom. There’s also rules for civilians. Honest to God.

Between cock shaped tanks for maximum damage and hordes of panicked civilians running all about the place it highlights one of the things I dearly love about Good: The Battle and Project Good as a whole: They’re mad as a box of frogs. But in the very best of ways. Let me explain by skipping back to the beginning of the book…

Aside from the new character and vehicle cards, pictured above (picture unashamedly stolen from Miniature Musings of a Bear) there is now an abundance of Miniature Bonuses all plucked from Ryan’s mind. Which, if I’m honest, has made me worry about him slightly…
But it’s all part of Project Good’s charm and some of them are outstanding and had Ian of The Chaps cackling with laughter when I shoved the book under his nose last Wednesday. My stand out favourite, of course, being: ‘Fish Hand. Oh Yes! Simply converting your model to have a fish-for-a-hand can only be a good thing…’ 

There’s also the introduction of Special Powers such as Coward (Good Byeeeee), Detonation (Good Bang), Doomed (Quite Bad) Explodo-tree-ma-gig (erm…) & Monster (A Great Big Heaving Bunch of Good). This is somewhat of a move away from Good: The Battle which was very much a case of letting the mechanic do the talking and this introduction of bonuses based on how models look and a choice of Special Powers to give them could be seen as a bit of back peddling on Project Good’s part. But actually, it’s far cleverer than that, especially with Decent coming out later this year.

What Nice allows you to do is, essentially, play an RPG version of the game. Decent will give you rules for big fat scraps. So what Ryan and the team has actually done is, rather shrewdly, delivered a modular game that is scalable depending on your time and inclination from either a one on one/two on two scrap, to a skirmish to a full on war. It’s ambitious in the very right way as it allows the gamer to play whatever kind of game they want with literally any models they want and all it’ll cost them is the price of a book, rather than having to buy a whole new game and a whole new range of models. Of course, there’s something to be said for buying a whole new range of models, but as gamers we have no shortage of excuses to spend the money.

The key thing, for me, that Nice brings to the (gaming) table is the introduction of model bonuses and special powers (not to mention the utterly bonkers Seasonal Powers). This is simply because within the realms of the Good/Bad mechanic you have variety which not only makes the games enjoyable as models matter slightly more, but not to the extent where factions start to become an issue, but also allows you that all important narrative to build upon and in my world that’s worth its weight in dice.

I’m still a little worried about the number of cards and counters Nice requires to play and how that’ll translate to Decent as conceivably they’ll be hundreds of models on the board for big games and that’d be a smegging nightmare to manage. But, thus far, Ryan and his team haven’t really put a foot wrong, as their card and counter system does work. It’s more my GW roots making me twitchy about anything that can’t be condensed into a stat line and notes box.

As with Good: The Battle, Nice: The Expansion is great to read and allows of a fun game, free of constraint which, sometimes is exactly what’s needed. And as with Good: The Battle, Nice: The Expansion offers outstanding value for a nicely presented and lovingly written book. Go; buy, play and have a bloody good giggle whilst you’re doing it.

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.