I was able to purchase a copy of Gamma World from a “Premiere Store” near my house last weekend and I ran the game on Monday for my normal group. We have been playing the same campaign now with the same characters for nearly two years so this was sort of a break. I’ve spoken to all of them and we’re playing Gamma World again next Monday as well. Defeating Tiamat may have to wait a few weeks while we stomp Badders and dig through ancient junk.
I had them all create characters at the table before the game and right away everyone was already laughing. After rolling for their starting gear they ended up with a busted pick up truck being pulled by horses and a sack of flashlights. From that moment I think they were sold on the world.
Gamma world uses two decks of cards that come with the starter set to help add some flavor to what is essentially pretty standard 4E rules. Each encounter you draw from a deck of Alpha Mutation cards that give your character a new power or buff. These get discarded at the end of each encounter and then you draw a new one. This makes for some really crazy fights as some characters grow mandibles or gain the ability to speak to fish.
The other deck is Omega Tech cards and these are gear and weapons left over from past civilizations. The DM will tell you when you get to draw from this deck and again they really make for some fun encounters. At one point our empathic cat-man found a leaky fusion rifle that exploded when he tried to shoot it. Then the Yeti discovered a belt that dispensed little pills which he decided to eat. The Starter box includes a nice sized deck for both mutations and tech but you can also purchase booster packs to make your own deck if you want.
This is where some people seem to have a problem. Here is a quote I saw over on the official forums:
“Collecting cards to play a game is childish, IMAO. A real game system suffers when it's design implies that wealthier players have an advantage over poorer ones.”
I’ve seen this sentiment echoed in other places as well. People seem to think that Gamma World is a CCG and that’s simply not the case. You do not ever need to buy a booster pack to play the game. Like I said it comes with two decks full of mutations and tech cards. If you decide that you would like to build your own decks to draw from then yes, you can go and purchase booster packs. You are not at a disadvantage if you don’t though because this is not a competitive game.
In MTG you are pitting your deck against your opponents. If you don’t buy booster packs you don’t have a deck and that will making winning very difficult. In Gamma World you are playing with your friends and against the DM who does not get to draw any cards. The cards are just for fun and to help you kick the shit out of whatever the DM throws at you. When I ran the game I didn’t even tell my players about booster packs until after the first encounter. We played with them drawing from the two decks that came with the box and they all loved it. Then I handed each of them a booster pack and explained that if they wanted to they could go get more and build their own decks. Will any of them do it? I have no idea and honestly it doesn’t matter. This isn’t a CCG.
Now with that said I do have a major problem with the booster packs. That is, they cost way too fucking much. $3.99 for a pack of 8 cards is stupid. Again I love the idea of the packs and I understand that they are not necessary but come on. That’s more than a MTG booster pack and those have 15 cards. That is simply not okay.
So the booster packs are too expensive but that doesn’t change the fact that I love Gamma World. Already I am hard at work cooking up an adventure for next Monday and having a blast. I imagine that somewhere deep beneath the crust of Krynn in her world-prison, Tiamat is tapping a massive clawed foot and examining her watch.