Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Osprey's Ragnarok: An Angry Review UPDATED

Hi!

I recently picked up a copy of Osprey's new wargame, Ragnarok and thought I'd share my initial thoughts on it.

I'm sorry if I upset anyone with this review but rarely do I get so angered by something to the point of having to post a massive rant about it and Ragnarok has really annoyed me and sadly reading through this post again makes me sound like a loon so apologies for the raging that follows!


Ragnarok

I'd heard rumour of Ragnarok a while ago and really liked the idea of epic skirmishes in a post apocalyptic Viking world and pre ordered a copy from Waterstones (my store here in Dundee!). I must admit that I was a bit hesitant as it comes in at a hefty £25 which is a fair chunk of change for a rulebook but I really wanted to give it a bash.

 Berzerker

On first perusal, I was pleasantly surprised as the artwork throughout is pretty fantastic, as is the case with all of Osprey's games range but when I got down to the nitty gritty, things started to go a bit pear shaped.

I have now read through the rules three times to try and figure out how close combat works in the game and am still no clearer on it than I was the first time I read it. The rules seem to have been noted down by someone who knows the game and therefore doesn't need to explain how it works which is incredibly frustrating. 

Even after my third attempt at reading it, close combat doesn't appear to be explained unless from the attackers point if he's charging or the defender's if he decides to attack back. The stats you compare for the opposed roll isn't mentioned in this section of the rulebook but further back in the Morpheus Engine section (this is the authors generic rule system which I think he's planning on using for multiple different games).

There are few if any examples featured and even then they are badly worded to the point that they don't actually help at all and the layout itself irks me too as it just seems to be jumbled in with the background and rules for campaigns. 

A perfect example of this is the Success Table, the basis for all rolls made in the game. The table itself makes little to no sense but the wording that goes with it makes it even more obscure to the point of madness! 

Another thing that irked me was the poor quality of the miniatures pictures. It's a miniatures game and the rulebook is pretty expensive so the least they could do is feature some decent pictures instead of this:

Meh

I get the impression that Osprey have spent quite a bit on the book so why is it ok to feature tabletop quality figures on a game mat with some polystyrene hills? Worse yet, quite a few of the pictures in the book are decidedly blurry or pixelated and it looks suspiciously like they've been taken on a phone. 

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've had very mixed feelings about Osprey games releases but this one has really frustrated me to the point that I'm actually considering returning it to the shop which is saying something.

Annoyingly it looks like there may actually be a good game hiding in there and the campaigns look like they may be fun to play BUT it's all let down by seemingly not having anyone who isn't experienced with playtesting the game sit down and read through it to see if it actually makes sense! Ooh it makes me cross!

I must admit that by the time it got to covering the interesting stuff like Godspark (the ability to harness the power of the dead gods to perform heroic actions) and the assorted equipment, denizens of the nine realms and so on, I had lost pretty much all enthusiasm for Ragnarok as no matter how pretty looking a game is and all the shiny bells and whistles of super special abilities or innovative campaign systems it may have, if the rules don't mesh or are so poorly laid, missing out as to be unclear to the point of unusable, they are going to fail!

My angry advice would be to give the whole thing a miss and save a waste of £25!

All the best!

UPDATE

Tim, the author of Ragnarok has contacted me to showcase some examples of play and mentioned that Osprey had edited out all the examples in the game to fit the word count.

I apologise to Tim for raging about his rules which he is clearly passionate about but I don't feel that I can remove this post as it's still my honest opinion that there is something wrong with Ragnarok that needs serious attention and it's a waste of what could been an epic game. 

If anyone has played and enjoyed Ragnarok, please do drop a message here and let me know how you got on with it! 

All the best.

Richard

5 comments:

  1. Ouch, sorry to hear this! Osprey do seem to be a bit hit and miss with what they put out. Compare the excellent Frostgrave (and spin off) with the woefully dire Rogue Stars and it becomes pretty clear. As you say, it's a real shame because it sounds like something that could've made for a great game (looking at you again, Rogue Stars!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sad but true! I've posted questions on the Facebook page and there's lots of other folks posting queries too now and the author seems to be just posting single word responses to them but when the original poster answers saying that's not what the rulebook says, he's then saying that it's an exception.

      Also the more questions that get asked, the more rule amendments seem to be appearing. It's so infuriating that Ragnarok has a kernel of a great game but is so badly let down by poor writing and a lack of explanation.

      It's interesting to note that one of the early comments are from a friend of the author who says the rules were literally written overnight and sadly it shows.

      I just don't see Ragnarok comparing to Frostgrave or even many of the lesser known Osprey games such as Of Gods and Mortals or Kobolds and Cobblestones which both have far better written and described rules.

      I do feel that Osprey need to get someone who can proofread a set of wargames rules to sense check them or even get someone with a wargame rules writing background to mentor the authors of some of these sets as this game is pretty unplayable as it stands.

      Still furious!

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the review. I was drawn by the blurb on the Osprey site, but after your review I think I will give it a pass.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for the review, it's always helpful to read articles like these before actually buying a game. Unfortunately, rants like these often come from people like you who spend money on a game they had high hopes for but didn't see them fulfilled.
    I've got quite a few Osprey books, some are good, some mediocre but none really as bad as the one you're describing here.
    Sounds like they need to run their game by some playtesters, who are unfamiliar with the game, before they make it commercially available.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's incredibly frustrating and maybe I'm just not giving it the credit that it's due but even posting questions on the games Facebook page isn't getting clear replies as the rules as written are so wooly that each person posting seems to have a different take on how they are supposed to work.

      Osprey really need to get some playtesters lined up to give their games a sense check before publication as I suspect that if that had been done for Ragnarok, it would include examples of mechanics and a bit more clarity on the rule writing.

      As mentioned, there's a great idea in there somewhere but it's obscured by the poor wording.

      I must admit I have got in touch with Osprey direct to see if they can get the author to put together something to clarify the rules and plead for them to do some sense checking of future rules to make them a bit more understandable.

      Delete