Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review: Savage Worlds Starter Kit

Warning: Contents Under Pressure And Considered Extremely Awesome
One of the things I heard about going into Gencon was this odd little item that contained mostly stuff that I owned. It was announced over at Pinnacle that they would have a show-exclusive item, the Savage Worlds Starter Kit. For some reason, I really needed the darn thing. Maybe it was the fact that it was in extremely limited supplies and only available at Gencon. Maybe it was that it included a fresh copy of the Explorer's Edition of the rules (mine's seen better days) amongst tons of other stuff. Or maybe (definitely) it was the fact that you got everything for a mere twenty bucks.

 Keep Reading to see what's in the box!

From Left to Right: Awesome Things
So what do you get in the starter? First, and this might sound a little nerdy, but you get a nifty Savage Worlds box to keep all your stuff in. I think this may be the first (but hopefully not the last!) Savage Worlds box set every released. SW is a game that can benefit from lots of little bits and pieces, so now I'm psyched that I have a box to transport all my stuff in to TheBro's house or conventions where I can GM much easier just by grabbing my box and throwing it in my bag. Could I use a shoebox? Of course. Would it be as styling or awesome? Of course not.

Once you open the box, you get to see what kind of value is really packed into this small (but stylish) box: 1 copy of the SW Explorer's Edition (all the rules you need to play the game!), 1 SW Oversize Action Deck (a $20.00 value alone, more on this below), 2 bags of tiny poker chips perfect for handing out Bennies (story, fate, etc. points) to your players or mark different kinds of schmucks for your heroes to kill, 1 set of RPG dice, 1 Q-Workshop Deadlands d6 for your WildCard rolls, and 2 sheets of blast templates. Let's take a look at these items piece by piece.

What more do you need? Nothing, that's what!
I'm going to skip over the SW Explorer's Edition at this point since this is not a review of the SW system itself. If you've never heard of SW, go to Pinnacle's website, download the quick start rules and a one-sheet to play with your friends, and come back. Basically, SW is a crunchy game that uses mini's and is universal - you can play any setting or intellectual property you want with it. There are tons of settings out there to explore; we've been playing the Day After Ragnarok.

So, now that we have that out of the way, I'll just comment that I like the new printing of the Explorer's Edition. I have an older printing that feels a little more like a magazine cover. This new one (which I believe TheBro also has) feels more like a trade paperback in that it's a thicker stock with a better laminated feel to it. Very nice quality for such a cheap book ($10.00 at retail on its own). You can also see the blast templates in the picture to the above right there (they're the big orange firey shapes on those pieces of cardstock). Of course no one needs to buy templates, but who likes making them anyway? These are the similar feel to the cover of the Explorer's Edition and will promptly be used in our next session, just cause I've got 'em.

A Nice Set of Dice
Some of the other nice things they threw in include the standard set of dice + Q-Workshop Deadlands d6 (all players get to roll an extra d6 with their rolls as a kind of bonus for being awesome, so it's nice you get two d6's in the set) and the mini poker chips to use for bennies. You get red, white, and blue tokens, which, is nice even if we don't need three different colors for these. The dice are nice, discreet black marble. They've got a classic look and make for a good starter set for any new role player. Using our dice rating system (feel, aesthetic appeal, and readability), this set of dice ranks very well in all three. I'd be proud to pass these off to a new or experienced player a like. I've talked at length about how much we love Q-Workshop dice, and the Deadlands d6 included is no exception. The whole box set combines a safari pulp feel with a poker and card game theme. It makes it feel like SW is the game Indiana Jones would play.

My Initiative Deck Has Leveled Up.
Did I mention card playing? SW uses a unique mechanic to determine initiative in an encounter. Instead of everyone rolling up their d20 and adding dexterity or what-have-you, SW has the GM deal one card to each player and monster from a standard deck of playing cards. There are some powers that let you get a boost on your initiative, but generally speaking, characters who aren't rogues or rangers aren't screwed on initiative, and that's pretty cool. I've been using a deck of cards with the UW-Wisconsin red W on the back for this purpose. While it's chock full of school pride (Go Badgers!), it's not exactly flavorful or immersive.

That's the face I make when dealing initiative cards to my players.

Enter the Oversized Action Deck. While technically speaking, this is just another deck of 52 cards + 2 Jokers, but it adds spice regardless of the genre you're playing. The cards themselves are obviously oversized (see the comparison pic to the right here for the card next to a standard d6). Each suit of cards have a different theme for the face cards. See the pictures at the end of the article for each of the themes covered. These cards, as mentioned above, retail for $20.00, and I've been looking at them for a while. Knowing these were in the starter really sealed the deal for me.

I don't regret a single aspect of the starter. You couldn't of really gotten more bang for your buck in the exhibitor's hall at Gencon (although at $40.00, DC Adventures comes awfully close, but more on that in a future review of that amazing Supers game). I really hope this boxset sees a wider release in the future, but doubt it considering how much this may cost Pinnacle to produce. If they threw a small book of one-sheet adventures in, I could see this bumped up to $30.00 and be just an amazing starter set for anyone to try out SW. We'll have to see what the future holds given that SW seems to only be expanding into more and more markets.

Modern Horror!

Pulp Adventure!

SpacePunk Opera!


  1. damn, that is way cool! i just turned 14... sigh

  2. I am not a huge fan of Savage Worlds, but that looks like a box of awesome.

    Maybe I should give it another look.


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