Mud & Blood Reviews • 9littlebees

Mud & Blood Reviews

Tabletop Roleplaying on the dark side

As we review dark, grim and gritty tabletop RPGs on our podcast, we’ll compile our scores here, along with a summary of our thoughts on each. Jump to the bottom of the page for a definition of the categories and the Crunch Meter.

Here’s a list of all the games we’ve reviewed. Click on one to jump down to see it’s entry below:

 

Game 1: Conan 2d20

We originally reviewed this game with slightly different criteria (review episode here), but have updated our score in line with the definitions set out at the bottom of the page.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 3.5 4
Setting 5 5
Visuals 4.5 4
Utility 3.5 4
Approachability 4 3.5


Game 2: Degenesis Rebirth

We feel bad for giving this game such a low rating (it is one of Matt’s favourite systems now), but can’t avoid the issues it has with utility and approachability. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.5 3.5
Setting 5 4.5
Visuals 5 5
Utility 3 3
Approachability 2 2


Game 3: Coriolis

If you like the sound of  “Arabian Nights in space” and “inspired by Firefly, Alien and Revelation Space”, then this game is for you. This dark sci-fi game is placed in mankind’s far future and has a unique feel to most other sci-fi settings out there. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.5 4
Setting 5 4.5
Visuals 4 4
Utility 3.5 3.5
Approachability 4 4


Game 4: Shadow of the Demon Lord

Rob Schwalb’s magnum opus is a cracking game – it just gets so many things right. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.5 4.5
Setting 3.5 3.5
Visuals 3.5 3.5
Utility 5 5
Approachability 4.75 4.75


Game 5: KULT: Divinity Lost

Kult is a truly excellent game, but isn’t for everyone. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.2 4
Setting 4 4
Visuals 4.7 4.6
Utility 4.5 4.5
Approachability 4 3.8


Game 6: Forbidden Lands

Matt’s highest rated game in terms of mechanics, and a generally excellent game all around. Issues with Approachability have been addressed since the review. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.8 4
Setting 4 4
Visuals 4 4
Utility 4 4
Approachability 3 3


Game 7: Alas for the Awful Sea

An excellent game about the struggling seaside communities in Victorian Britain. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.5 4
Setting 4.5 4.5
Visuals 3.2 3.5
Utility 5 5
Approachability 3.75 4


Game 8: WFRP 4e

Our most highly anticipated review. Full review can be found here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 3.8 4
Setting 5 5
Visuals 4.1 4.1
Utility 3.5 3.5
Approachability 4 4


Game 9: Misspent Youth

Whilst Misspent Youth is truly excellent, it’s very different to the other traditional games we’ve reviewed and our ratings below should be taken in the context of our full review, which you can find here. Oh, and it sets a new standard in Utility. Seriously, it doesn’t get better than this in terms of functionality in a TTRPG PDF…

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4 4
Setting n/a n/a
Visuals 4 4
Utility 5 5
Approachability 5 5


Game 10: Call of Cthulhu 7e

The newest edition of the classic RPG of investigation and cosmic horror is an excellent update to the classic. To hear the full review, go here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.2 4.5
Setting 4.8 5
Visuals 4 4
Utility 5 5
Approachability 4.8 5


Game 11: Delta Green

The standalone version of this game about covert agents keeping the forces of cosmic horror at bay is one of our favourite games. To hear the full review, go here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.6 4.6
Setting 5 5
Visuals 4.5 4.5
Utility 4.3 4.4
Approachability 4.8 4.8


Game 12a: Trail of Cthulhu

The GUMSHOE system applied to cosmic horror. To hear the full review, go here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 3 3
Setting 4.5 5
Visuals 3 3
Utility 2.5 2.8
Approachability 3 3.5


Game 12b: Fall of Delta Green

The GUMSHOE system gets the covert ops treatment, but this time focused on the swinging 60s, baby! To hear the full review, go here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 3.5 3.5
Setting 5 5
Visuals 3.5 3.5
Utility 3 3
Approachability 2 2


Game 13: Ironsworn

Shawn Tomkin’s dark fantasy game is all sorts of wonderful. And it’s completely free – it doesn’t get much more accessible than this! To hear the full review, go here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.5 4.3
Setting 4 4
Visuals 3.5 3.5
Utility 5 5
Approachability 5 5


Game 14: Hypertellurians

Frank Reding’s sword & planet game is a brilliant game! To hear the full review, go here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.3 4.3
Setting n/a n/a
Visuals 4.5 4.5
Utility 4.4 4.5
Approachability 4.8 4.8


Game 15: Mothership

Sean McCoy’s award-winning sci-fi horror game is a masterpiece! To hear the full review, go here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.5 4.5
Setting n/a n/a
Visuals 4.8 4.5
Utility 4.7 4.7
Approachability 4.8 4.5

Game 16: Symbaroum

Check out our review of Free League’s award-winning dark fantasy game here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.3 4.4
Setting 5 5
Visuals 4.9 4.9
Utility 4.3 4.3
Approachability 4.5 4.5

Game 17: Best Left Buried

Check out our review of Free League’s award-winning dark fantasy game here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.5 4.5
Setting 3.5 3.7
Visuals 3.5 3.5
Utility 2 2.5
Approachability 3 3

 

The Categories

In order to know what the hell we’re talking about with some of these categories, we thought it best to define each one. All games are given a rating of 5 in each one.

Mechanics

This one should be obvious – how well does the ruleset fit the game? This is not a measure of how crunchy or narrative a system is, but simply how well it fits.

Golden example: Interestingly, neither Matt nor Liam have yet found a perfect 5…

Setting

How compelling is the setting and how well defined is it? If a game is setting-free (like FATE or Savage Worlds), how good are the tools given to create one for your own games?

Golden example: Conan 2d20, for being painstakingly faithful to Robert E Howard’s rich work.

Visuals

This encompasses the quality of not just the artwork, but also the graphic design elements, layout, and physical qualities of a hard or softback book.

Golden example: Degenesis Rebirth, the most beautiful RPG in existence.

Utility

How easy is it to use the book at the table? Are there things like bookmarks in the PDF? A full index? Character sheets, GM tools, online tools, etc also fall in here.

Golden example: Shadow of the Demon LordBlades in the Dark, and Symbaroum.

Approachability

A very important element in TTRPGs is approachability, and this category encompasses how accessible a game is to new players. Things like Quickstarts, cheap handouts (fiction, in-game lore, etc)

Golden example: Symbaroum is a clear winner here, with a free Quickstart, many free lore handouts and even free campaign primers for GMs, allowing people to be sure they really want this game before spending money on it.

The Crunch Meter

Another thing we are implementing (but not calculating in our final review score) is a crunch meter. Basically this lets our listeners know how “creamy” (rules-light) or “crunchy” (complex) a ruleset is. To help visualise just what this means, we’ve ranked some popular games from 1 to 5. In addition, we’ve shown a single game at both 0 and 6, for games which are so creamy or so complex that they break our meter.