Brant Guillory, 18 November 2021 ~ #UnboxingDay
It’s hard to overstate the influence that the original Twilight: 2000 had on a certain generation of role-players. Not only was it right in the sweet spot between RPGs and wargames, but it was contemporary, in a world that we knew well, and in some cases, were busy living through. The alt-history explanation of the “future history” wasn’t that far diverged from the headlines at the start of “Red Dawn” and seemed perfectly plausible to anyone living in the 80s.
Admittedly, playing the game was an altogether different challenge, as the math-heavy rules were certainly a product of their time. But for anyone that wanted to read the ‘current events’ of the world as it was falling apart 15 years in future, there was no shortage of product support, given that GDW released about 2387456293 expansion books. Plus, let’s face it, there are very, very few mass-market games out there where you could stat out yourself, play yourself in a mass-market RPG, and have it be a completely plausible storyline. Kids of soldiers stationed in Europe in the 80s could absolutely do that.
With the revival of so many other game settings (Runequest, Marvel Heroes, the relaunched Forgotten Realms with 5e, and more) it’s no surprise that T2K got a reboot, and the fact that Free League – the modern-day masters of the hex crawl – grabbed the license was encouraging. Additionally, their top-of-the-industry production values ensured that no matter what, the reboot was going to be visually impressive. But there were high hopes that Free League’s rules reboot would bring 30 years of RPG rules development to bear on a previously… uh, ‘challenging’ game.
Ever had something built up so much in your mind that there was -ZERO- chance of it ever living up to your own self-generated mental hype? All the time? Crazy high hurdles to clear to meet your expectations?
Free League did it.
This box delivers.
click images to enlarge
That cover. Yep, that cover is exactly the mood that T2k should have. You’re nominally built around a military organization that’s cratering as the world falls apart around you, and you’re just taking one last look at what you’re leaving behind as you try to make your way home. Or at least closer.
The back of the box is all the usual info.
Oh, and the box is sturdy. Seriously. You could build a pretty substantial garden shed out of these.
Thanks to Kickstarter stretch goals, there’s a lot in here, between custom dice and extra tactical maps, you’ve got a lot to work with. Don’t sleep on the catalog either. Stash it and come back to it in 10-15 years. It’ll be more fun than you think.
The player intro sheets for the 2 key maps – Poland and Sweden – are written as division-level 5-paragraph operations orders.
The character sheets look like they were found in a box of memos in a warehouse after VII Corps was closed down. The typography, faded paper color, and layout, are all straight out of a 1980s-era US military office.
The rulebooks continue this. If you ever wondered what an RPG rulebook would look like if it was made by the central Army Pubs office in 1987, wonder no more. This is your answer.
The player book covers everything you need to create someone, and start doing stuff. Archetypes, equipment, home base, and more, are all covered. There are definitely influences from the Apocalypse Engine in the way many of the activities are described, and interacting with the world is far more narrative than the original game ever was.
The GMs guide contains everything you’d expect, but focuses especially on the local settings and the environment in which the characters are building their lives.
The big hex crawl maps are large, sturdy, and period-evocative. These are not frame-on-the-wall pieces of art. They’re the functional game-equivalent 80s-themed version of the Royal Ordnance Survey maps.
The tactical maps are gorgeous. They are setting-evocative without being location-specific, and the muted color palette totally matches the post-apocalyptic feel of a world stuck under constant dark cloud, both literally and figuratively.
The counters are attractive, but small. No need for numerical info; that’s all on your character sheet. But the vehicle counters are all the same size as the people?
The dice are neat. Clearly matched to the color palette, with some nice symbology.
The cards are an interesting mix of specific game info, suits & numbers, and game-related icons. There’s also a bunch of initiative cards. While these do match the art style and graphic feel of the rest of the game, it feels like they missed an opportunity here to replicate the style of the ubiquitous vehicle recognition cards that everyone had back in the 80s.
Of course I still have mine, don’t be silly. I have 3 decks that I can locate off the top of my head, and probably more that I don’t remember. These are not in the T2K box, but could’ve easily been replicated. Or perhaps this becomes an expansion with vehicle stats?
Overall? I’m looking forward to reading much, much more here. Free League makes high-quality products, and even with English not being their native tongue, their writing is exceptional. How much will I play the new T2K? That’s completely unknown at the moment, especially given my existing backlog of games to play. I doubt Free League cares because they’ve already got my money. But there was a nonexistent chance I was passing on this reboot, given my history with the original game, and how close I was to the original material.
Thanks for joining this month’s #UnboxingDay with the Armchair Dragoons and we hope you enjoyed our recon of our recent acquisitions.
You can always leave us your feedback in our #UnboxingDay thread, or in the comment area on this article, below.
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