Good afternoon everyone! Today I have another shorter review for you. This time we have another product by Orcs Unlimited called Small Wardens. I was really excited when I heard that they were working on this and am really happy to see it come to life. If you are wondering a bit more about the types of games Orcs Unlimited makes and how I feel on mechanics then check out my reviews of We Hunt Bugs or Escape From Teddy Bear Island. For today I am going to keep it short and focus on what Small Wardens brings to the table.
I absolutely love the concept of this game. It is Rescue Rangers through and through. From playing as a small animal to fighting larger animal crime bosses to making unique gadgets out of the stuff you find there is a lot to love about this game. Small Wardens provides you with a structure from which to build your own team akin to the Rescue Rangers. These warrens, as they are called, seek to protect and help those unable to help themselves. The seek to “right the unseen wrong” and these types of stories are something we really need more and more of these days. To give us a simple, fun way to do it that will appeal to children and adults (especially nostalgic ones) is a wonderful thing. The whole concept is very well done and this game has some legs, but lets talk about the execution.
Okay, I want to preface this by reiterating how much I love this game and how much Orcs Unlimited does with what they have to work with. That being said I am a little disappointed in this book in printed form. The thing is that the book is readable, has good font choices, clear headings, simple but readable tables, and a great table of contents. For a 50 page book, however, there are some design / editing oversights. I don’t know if I wound up with a early test print, but there are some inconsistencies in presentation. Some heading have colons and some do not. One has a colon that appears to have been stricken through as if to remove it and there are a few other strike throughs as well. Editing missteps appear much more frequently in this book than the previous products I have looked at and even includes the character sheet not being shrunk down enough to be usable from the back of the book. Honestly, a good solid run through of edits and design tweaks to clean up consistency would do wonders for the copy I have in my hand.
While the final product I am holding appears to be a stage or two away from that, the mechanics I see in this game are wonderful. Orcs Unlimited wants it to feel like the cartoon many of us grew up watching and it does. You get skills and the better you are the more abilities you get from them. Advancement is goal-based that includes successful missions and the cartoon hijinx of tiny animals. You chosen animal gives you your suite of stats and a natural ability which are further defined by your skill allocation and chosen abilities. Any number can be boosted through advancement to further define you in a very simple and consistent way. You also start with a basic outfit which provides you with certain gear. For example a doctor’s outfit to make you a medic provides you with a first aid kit. You can also scrounge for items to make into different gizmos to help you out along the way. The mechanics are wonderfully simple and evocative of the game being played.
Small Wardens is a fantastic little game that only suffers by what seems like a rush to get the product out the door. I know I have an early copy, and hope its a VERY early copy. I also hope (and would believe) that Orcs Unlimited has or plans on editing it for the PDF and Print-On-Demand. Despite my misgivings about the editing flaws, plead know this is well worth the buy. At $3 for the PDF and $6 to get you the print version, you have to go for it. Sure other games might be able to emulate Rescue Rangers but this is a wonderfully simple start that can be made into so much more. I know I’d like to see a larger scale and scope version!