Mud & Blood Reviews • 9littlebees

Mud & Blood Reviews

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.

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
Individual Scores 4.1 4.1


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
Individual Scores 3.9 3.6


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.


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…


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 work.


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.


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: Matt says Blades in the Dark, Liam says Symbaroum.


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.