Friday 12 August 2016

Rezolution Review (Restrospective Review Series))

The "retrospective" series is a look at "what might have beens" - rulesets that have fallen by the wayside, that had either interesting mechanics or serve as a cautionary tale.

I merely regard Rezolution as a little unlucky; launched in 2004, it had little time to gain traction before Infinity burst onto the scene in 2005.  With its innovative (and as-yet-uncluttered) rules and gorgeous minatures, Infinity stood out from Rezolution's more conventional rules, dreary cyberpunk/Bladerunner tropes and some decidedly ugly sculpts.

Though ill-fated and doomed against its more glamorous rival, Rezolution was not necessarily a bad game.  Let's take a look....

The Shiny
A 200-page softcover, with plenty of art and the obligatory colour centrefold of minis. However the use of a grey background made it both more drab and harder to read then was necessary.

Mechanics & Stats
Most stats were rolling 2d6 + stat to beat a target number (similar to Warmachine).  However Rezolution also used opposed rolls (2d6+stat vs 2d6+stat).  Damage rolls worked a little differently - each dice was compared individually against the TN, with each success doing damage.
There was an exploding d6 rule (any 6 roll allowed another dice to be rolled and added to the total) as well as critical successes (boxcars) and failures (snake eyes).

Stats included Move, Ranged Combat, Close Combat, Size+Agility (i.e. how hard it is to hit), and Body (a mix of Toughness and Strength used for both mitigating damage and dealing melee damage).
Other stats include Nerve (willpower, morale, psychic defence), Hacking, Craft (psychic potential) and Reputation (determines initiative).  Sadly, the models also had hitpoints which regular readers know how much I love (i.e. not at all) 

Rezolution had poor models and unlucky timing; arriving shortly before Infinity's meteoric rise in the same genre...

Activation & Movement
Units could be independents or as teams (with typical coherency rules; out of coherency troops are suppressed).  Activation is alternate movement, with the players rolling contested Reputation rolls to see who initially chooses to start.  To elaborate:
1. Control Phase - initiative roll, any effects/morale/forced moves/hacking
2. Players take turns moving and then taking an action with their model (hack, shoot etc)

Movement rules are pretty standard for most skirmish (run, jump, hide, spot, climb etc) with units able to "hack into the grid" in the control phase and open blast doors, hijack security systems, download data etc.

Of interest is the ability for leaders to order others to "hold" actions for later (i.e. overwatch/reactions), concentrate fire, prioritize targets etc.  Also rules for guard patrols which would be handy for scenarios.

Shooting & Melee
Shooting is an opposed action - 2d6+Shooting stat vs target's 2d6+Size/Agility stat. At the time, opposed rolls weren't that common and it was an interesting feature.  Also, targets attacked from the rear could not add their size/agility stat and could merely use the base 2d6 - making flanking appealing.  Automatic weapons could engage multiple targets as well as using "suppressive fire" - all models inside a 90d arc having to test morale or be suppressed (but no damage being inflicted).  Any model taking hit(s) is also must pass a morale test or be suppressed.

Melee works in a similar manner; only any hits force a morale test that may result in the model fleeing in panic.  Models can also parry (adding bonuses to opposed rolls but forfeiting the ability to inflict damage if they win.)  Rear attacks are even more deadly - besides the loss of the stat in the opposed roll, all damage is doubled.

Hacking, Telepathy & Morale
You can hack into various systems (either remotely or having to jack in) either automatically or with an opposed test.  For example, you can directly attack hardwired opponents, injuring them with a Hack duel.

Morale tests are taken with any hits or suppressive fire, when leaders die or a certain % of allies are lost. Troops that fail a test are suppressed (cannot move) and failing a second test when suppressed results in them fleeing panicked.  Telepathic attacks are Craft+2d6 vs Nerve+2d6; nerve (morale) tests are required to shake off the telepathic effect.

Scenarios & Stuff
Besides the usual deathmatch, asssassinate etc there are quite an extensive range of objective-based missions such as hacking generators, extracting data, escort missions etc.

The "army lists" or "codexes" comprise the remaining 130 or so pages, and it is here you find craft (psyker) powers and special rules.  These include fireballs, blink teleportation, stun/distract, terror, choke and more.  There is also ~50 special abilities - with the usual traits like acrobatic, beserk, marksman, martial arts and stealth as well as race specific traits such as the feed and drain of the vampiric Dravani aliens.

Oh - about the armies - there are the aforementioned vampiric alien Dravani, techno Yakuza, SWAT-like CSO and the independent Ronin.  Sadly, the models for most of them are rather uninspired and some are downright misshapen. 

Rezolution (hitpoints aside) is not a bad ruleset, although its innovation has since been overtaken.
I enjoyed the games I played "back in the day."  The mechanics are decent and the scenarios are varied and interesting.  The fugly minis are probably the major drawback. Rezolution's more conventional simplicity actually compares more favourably with Infinity nowdays as the latter has acquired hundreds of complex special rules over its various expansions, though the simplified Infinity quickstart rules are still a much better option, and there are a few cheaper indie sci fi rules which also edge it out.  Of the rulebook itself, I find the dark grey background rather dreary and annoying to read.

Despite it's relative obscurity, it's still in print and the minis are available; there's an expansion, Outbreak which includes the Vatacina faction (nuns and robots) as well as campaign rules.

Recommended?:  No, not really. While a decent ruleset, it wasn't the #1 in its day, and it hasn't evolved at all since then; it's too setting-specific for generic cyberpunk, and the minis for the setting do not measure up well to contemporaries.

PS: Any votes for the next "retrospective" review?  Some thoughts are:
Cutlass! (pirate skirmish), Daimyo (WFBish samurai), AE: Bounty (sci fi skirmish); Legends of the High Seas/Old West (LOTR skirmish variants for eras); War Rocket (space dogfights), Wargods of Aegyptus (WFBish with a Egyptian theme) but I'm open to other obscure rulesets which have faded away - anyone remember Vor and Warzone, for instance?


  1. I don't get it how some companies produce shiny big books in combination with fugly miniatures. Surely a more modest rulebook would have done the job and would have allowed more budget for better quality sculpts? Sometimes it's as if miniatures are only thrown in as an afterthought. Which is weird when producing a tabletop miniature game :-)

    My vote for the next retroreview: Vor or Wargods.

    1. Wargods seem so niche I always wondered how they made a living - I mean, fantasy Egyptian warfare is not exactly mainstream...

      ...I was surprised to see Vor is still available from Ral Partha as I haven't heard of it for years...

    2. When Wargods first appeared I thought it might become a real contender, expanding to other armies based on classical mythology instead of, say, late medieval europe. Nowadays it's totally niche of course, but isn't that true for every "also ran" that's still around?

    3. I was startled to see Crocodile Games are still a going concern - I thought they folded years back... ...maybe I had visited a day their website was down...

  2. I vote for War Rocket for the next review.

  3. Replies
    1. These appeal as (a) they are short (b) I can be a bit sarcastic which is always fun...

    2. I realised I did review AE Bounty and I was actually pretty nice, considering I regard it as one of the most disappointing games I played that year
      (terrible balance, and lack of customisation for a game that advertised itself as good for random warbands)

  4. Interesting, I remember seeing this game pop up but never talked to anyone who ever played it.

    Definitely a vote for Vor.

    1. Warzone is pretty well known but I'd love to see you review 1st edition anyways. Its mad.

    2. All 600 pages of it? *winces*

  5. I was a play tester for War Rocket so I'll be interested in your thoughts when you get around to reviewing that

    1. Ehhh... thoughts were not kind. "Misguided potential" I think is what springs to mind...

    2. I didn't say all the play testers' comments were accepted...

  6. Plus 1 ae bounty really like their dirty tricks

  7. I'd be interested in Cutlass! It looked interesting but clunky. Also seemed to be the only simulationist rules book in the pirate genre.

  8. Nevermind. Cutlass reviewed here:

    1. Actually it wasn't done well - that was back before the blog became a bit more "scientific" and it was mostly read by mates. I consider updating it as the activation mechanics were the weird bit and I didn't discuss them much.