Game Review: Brutality Wargame RPG
Posted On July 27, 2021
Number of Players : 1+
Time: 10 Minutes +
Gamer Type: Arena Battle/RPG Lite
Gamer Type: Upper-Moderate
Complexity: 8 (Committed)
Many gamers collect an inordinate number of minis as their collection grows. Some of the minis are parts of games which we all know and love. Some are orphans from games we never play or do not even have anymore. Wouldn’t it be great to play a RPG in a multiverse where we can use all of these minis for campaigns? Brutality the Wargame brings this to the table in this offering by Scott Wainwright.
Brutality is a dual level game. Initially, most players will want to start off just using the skirmish feature of the game. This is where you play against your compatriots in a “Battle Royal” to see who has the best control of their character. Ironically for a wargame, Brutality has such a detailed world created around it that it seems almost a waste not to build an RPG campaign the environment.
The story is about what can best be described as a “Hell Scape.” The mad goddess Istar has been forgotten by the realm of the living, which has diminished her power. However, unlike the rest of the forgotten false gods, she has a plan to restore her power. She has created a world where she acquires beings from across the multiverse to live in, and battle in her realm. This gives her more followers, who increase her power.
The story is also quite deep in that you cannot die in this world. That is not quite accurate: you cannot stay dead in this world. If you die, you wake up in the same condition as you were in the last time you arose from sleep. This also means that you get all of your gear back. However, there is a cost. Unfortunately, each time you “resurrect” you slide closer and closer to insanity. 8 of 10 for story. (Note: the story is very adult.)
While you are using minis for the game, the artwork is still impressive. Both of the core books for the game have impressive artwork (and also fit easily on the shelf). This is very important for a RPG/Wargame as people’s mental images are quite important for a game. That being said, the game is designed to use with existing battlefields, minis, and other items – which means the artwork is as good as your collection. Therefore, it varies from player to player. 6 out of 10.
Brutality uses a D10 system to run the game. This makes the game easier to understand because you are not looking for different dice as you go around playing. This also makes for a smooth, balanced approach to combat, which is essential to any wargame. The meta-universe is quite diverse, which allows for you to “be” pretty much any character that your playmates will accept, making a great wargame.
One drawback of the wargame nature is that the systems for RPG are not as well developed. If you come from a “White Wolf” or “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” RPG background, you will find that many of the tools you expect in an RPG are not there. To be fair, Wainwright does note that this is an RPG lite and that there may be supplements in the future to deal with the less fighting-oriented quests. However, when it comes to RPG elements, the world in which you insert players is one of the main features, and this world is very detailed, very large and has a compelling story: do you seek the mad goddess’ favor or do you try to find a way to escape this hell? 6 of 10.
RPG’s almost always get a free pass on strategy. Think about it: you are the one who is able to do pretty much anything in the game, whether you rush, engine build, use offense or defense, that’s on you, bro. Brutality gives players this level of freedom and welcomes them into this world. In the wargame aspect, the rush, offense and defense are very present. Clever players have the ability to incorporate engine building, but they need to lengthen the “rumble” to do so. As noted above, the intrigue is there in the story for longer campaigns, but the support is still growing. However, this can be refreshing as many game systems have become so complex that you almost need to have been involved since the beginning to play them. Brutality lets you get in at the ground floor. 8 of 10.
The simplicity of Brutality is its novelty. Pretty much anyone can join in on a game of Brutality without the “Comic Book Guy” in the group calling them out for missing a minutia of the rules. The corebook is only 100 pages long, so pretty much anyone can read through it quite quickly. This is a great feature. They also build a great world. One thing that did draw back the game, at least for me, is how dark the storyline is. While anything in a blasted hellscap is going to be dark, directly incorporating the sexual element alongside the violence did come across as over the top. It also eliminated a large portion of the gaming community (the under 18 crowd) from readily being able to play. Please note, they never said this was a kids game, but it does question whether the lust element should have been built into a supplement that is highly intertwined with the storyline.
Regardless, this does bring a fresh universe into the RPG and wargame world, something that we have been needing for some time now (6 of 10).
I like this game, it is simple and has a strong back story. If you have an adult group of gaming friends, the story of this game can walk you around in a horror filled landscape – how you play that is up to you. Survival, success, and seduction are all elements you can exploit to make your game more interesting, the only limit is your mind. This brings in a score of 34 of 50 for this game. This is a solid addition to any war game collection and an above average addition to any RPG collection.
Dr. Christopher Smithmyer is a writer for NRN, the Vice President of International Affairs at Brav Online Conflict Management, and an Adjunct Professor of MBA Business at Doane University. He is also part of the founding team at BlackWalletLTD, one of the leaders in stable coin 2.0 ecosystem maintenance. Dr. Smithmyer’s focus is international business and finance, along with reviews of board games, weapons platforms, and survival items.