Contenders is AWESOME

edited October 2006 in Actual Play
I don't have time to write a full Forge-style Actual Play report right now, so I'm just posting a raving endorsement here for now.

Contenders is AWESOME.

I finally got the chance to play it last night. We had a group of three, which turned out to be perfect. We told the story of "Nickels" Malone, "Pimp Jim" McClosky, and "The Hammer" Schlamacher, as their fortunes rose and fell in Desert City. We had a blast.

We played for about 3.5 hours, which got us very close to endgame, but not quite there. We decided to go into endgame anyway, with the scores we had at the time. There were no happy endings, but they were all very cool. I ended up working for a mob-run casino, still unsure if Betty really loved me for me, or for my money.

The game delivers on all fronts. The system fully supports the style of play, the boxing mechanic is easy to learn but has some deeper strategies (and is fun), and it's really easy to get going for a one-shot. I can't say enough good things about the game. I'll probably do a full review soon.

Everyone else: Talk about your Contenders experiences here, if you want. Or ask me questions. I'm in love with this game.

Comments

  • I haven't played since Gen Con but it's in the Nerdly bag right next to the gay Japanese porn. I think it will support a drop-in "fight ladder" style of play pretty well and I'm hoping to try it out. Any time three people have a free half hour, they can do a scene for one of the boxers, maybe a fight, move somebody up the ladder.

    I hate boxing but I love Contenders.
  • So how many players could comfortably play the Contenders? And can it be played tongue in cheek? My regular group are all new to roleplaying, and tend to err on the side of silliness when playing, rather than deadly serious. But they all love Rocky!
  • It's a very serious game, actually, but it is extremely accessible. I don't think you could play it for laughs very easily, but maybe in a black humor way. I would definitely give it a try. As for numbers in a normal game, I bet four is the sweet spot, but I don't have enough experience to know for sure.
  • Black/wry humour we could do. Our group is me + 6 players - too big?
  • You should write Joe Prince Jr. and ask him - I think so, but he might have soem tips for playing with a big group. I guess you could have multiple scenes going at once.
  • 7 players is way too many. Split into two groups, 3 and 4 each. Then, instead of making any NPC boxers, just fight characters from the other group when needed. Should work well.

    Black humor is good. We also dipped a bit into 1950's social issues (our game was randomly set in the 50's, which isn't a part of the game as written) and some of the more painful stuff lead to humor, too.

    Our next game will be set in the brutal Muay Thai fight circuit in Bangkok, circa 1970.
  • edited October 2006
    I borrowed a copy to read through it because, you know, I don't care one bit about boxing either. So this game couldn't possibly interest me, right?

    Wrong.

    Awesome is the word. I can't comprehend why my gaming group is not dying to play it. I know I am. (That's a shout for help btw ;) )

    Per
    (edited for typo)
  • I played "Pimp Jim", and this was one of the most fun RPG experiences I've had. I totally bonded with my character, despite the fact that he's a complete and total bastard. I got to be essentially the villain of the peice, doing jobs for the mob and putting a hurt on the other characters. I racked up an insane amout of pain and had a suitably tragic end. The rules tell you to describe how your Contender's world comes crashing down around him (when you get a tragic ending), and I made it my goal to have that happen in spades.
  • My only interest in boxing comes from the sports manga serial Hajime No Ippo (THE FIGHTING), and I, too, was totally drawn into the Contenders world. It's an excellently balanced and interesting system. I had an absolute blast playing at GenCon.
  • Thanks guys, it's awesome to get such positive feedback!

    This thread has cheered me up loads, I'm in the middle of moving house (to Glasgow, so I might get a game with Per soon :-)) - so I'm likely to lose my interweb access soo. I'm trying to type fast...

    Thanks John for giving such good advice and a fantastic write up!

    The biggest group I've played in was 5 and that was running a little slow for some of the players. 7 might work if your group like getting really invested in each other's stories and playing NPCs. But on the whole a group size of 3-5 works best.
    As for playing for laughs, it's not realy geared up that way...But one of my players once played failed astronaut Buzz Auldyin - who'd screwed up the moon landings pressing the "take off again button" and lost America the space race. His Connection was alcoholic Neil Barnstorm. Col played Buzz brilliantly and it worked but was still really funny.

    I look forward to hearing more tales of actual play.

    Cheers,
    JoE
  • Contenders indeed brings the awesome. I was Sly "The Hammer" Schleimacher, who was boxing to pay his Bubbi's hospital bills between times working stock at Vinnie's Victuals. I worked to make his a more innocent story, to counterpoint Pimp Jim's descent into villany and Nickle's hustle. I thought my story was going to be kind of light weight, but thanks to John giving the knife an extra twist at just the right moment, we got the story of a kid who could have been great, but choked at the last moment, and hung up his dreams for a life of quiet and sad reflection of what might have been.

    It was really great getting to play each other's NPCs as well. It kept you engaged and contributing, so it didn't feel like there was any downtime before suddenly it was your spotlight again.

    I've got some comments and questions about the rules that I'm trying to find time to type up ... I was going to post them over at the Forge, but it doesn't look like there is a PoD games forum yet, so maybe I'll put them here.
  • What changed between the demo, which is the original 24 hours version, and the final edition of the game?
  • Hi Bablinus,

    It went from 16 to 45 pages for starters, but a lot of that is art. The game features a lot more play examples, making it more accessible.

    I must agree that it's a great game. I created a pitch of it for my group, and at the bottom of the page there's a link to some house rules of mine - I just couldn't play a boxing game without the 10 Point Must system.

    Oh, for those after more humor, definitely pick up Joe's other "sports" (cough) game, Piledrivers & Powerbombs, it's a riot and my house rules improve upon it further - IMNSHO.
    TTFN,

    Yoki
  • Posted By: YokiboyHi Bablinus,

    It went from 16 to 45 pages for starters, but a lot of that is art. The game features a lot more play examples, making it more accessible.

    I must agree that it's a great game. I createda pitch of it for my group, and at the bottom of the page there's a link to some house rules of mine - I just couldn't play a boxing game without the 10 Point Must system.

    Oh, for those after more humor, definitely pick up Joe's other "sports" (cough) game, Piledrivers & Powerbombs, it's a riot andmy house rulesimprove upon it further - IMNSHO.
    TTFN,

    Yoki
    Thanks.

    For storygames, for me anyway, examples are key. Often with these games I only get what the thing is about with examples, so they are of real value to me.

    Thanks for the feedback, I'll check it out.
  • Aha
    I have the internet again!

    Rafial, I've got my own little PoD games forum here. There's even a Contenders FAQ thread!

    As for the finished version, in addition to the new art and play examples, there are some rule changes, including harsher penalties for fighting dirty and a whole new scene type - Threats.

    I agree with Yoki on his house rules for P&P. Look out for the Chokeslam of Darkness version coming soon!

    Cheers,
    JoE
  • Just played this Friday, Joe, and it is an excellent game. We only had two players, but that wasn't too big a deal as we only played halfway through. Still, my friend Bill got caught in a Pain spiral, and I could just abuse him mercilessly because there wasn't another player to take some of the pressure off.
  • We're beginning to play Contenders tonight and I'm thoroughly looking forward to it. There was unanimous agreement in the pub last week about what we should play next, so it should be good times.

    Will post some AP once we've had the game.

    Cheers
    Malc
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