I know! It’s been roughly two years since I’ve written anything! What can I say? I bought a house, got some cats, painted a ton of miniatures and just kind of burned out on writing. So what could bring me back? Pokémon Sword and Shield? A RPG based on the writing of Carl Barks? The return of TOMB KINGS???
Nope. Nothing so fancy. The team at Catalyst Game Labs announced Shadowrun Six Editiona nd asked if I wanted to review the new beginner box ala the Dungeons & Dragons 5e Starter Set piece that I did in wow…2014. It’s been a while. Basically for that. With that I did an unboxing and then followed it up with reviews of the Rulebook and adventure. So that’s what I’ll do here. The Sixth World Beginner Box has more content than the Starter Set for 5E though, so we’ll do a bit more coverage of the content. For today however, let’s show you just how far your $24.99 (MSRP) will go when the Beginner Box comes out in June 2019.
First up – the box cover. It’s a nice little design. The Logo is colourful and the title descriptor almost gets lost in the art and colour since it’s just standard white lettering. The cover image is very striking too. Looks like an Eleven Street Samurai (maybe a physical adept considering thesituation?) fighting…ED-209? It’s a nice image. It’s no Larry Elmore 1e/2e cover but it’s definitely going to draw the eye. When I first saw it, I don’t know why, but I was thinking more Cyberpunk or even SLA Industries for a fleeting moment. The more I look at it, the more I think this is going to draw newer, younger gamers in with its dynamic visuals the same way the old, more static Elmore cover drew in those of us used to Sword & Sorcery hack and slash dungeon crawling, promising “This is something different.”
Here’s the back cover of the box. It’s very well done. Not a fan of the three armed elf art, but I am a fan of the copy text promotion the box and also the blurb telling you exactly what you’ll get inside. So you get the hype and you get honesty. I like that. The Fluff on the left handside of the box though, makes Shadowrun sound like Call of Cthulhu though. Megacorps instead of Great Old Ones. Essence instead of Sanity. In a way I can see that, but this also isn’t how I’d describe Shadowrun in three paragraphs. Then again, when has anyone ever seen me sum something up in just three paragraphs?
This is the “Read This First” page. It tells you what you get in thee box and how to use it. A nice little piece for complete newcomers.
On the reverse side of the sheet is an ad for the Shadowrun Sixth Edition core rulebook coming out in August. The ad shows the cover art and hypes up the release. It doesn’t have the release date or the price on there, but that’s what you have me for. It’s coming out in Auigust with a MSRP of $49.99 for the main book and then two fancier editions will be released as well. The Limited for $99.99 and the Executive Edition for $199.99 – a price tag that makes the Games Workshop limited battletome prices look sensible. I have to admit though, depending on what comes with the Limited and Executive versions, I may spring for one. Shadowrun is one of the few games that I haven’t ever picked up a special edition for. I didn’t really care for the 5e limited edition covers, but that may change depending on what bells and whistles are with these variants.
Next up is a look at the cards and dice that come in the set. I want to make the joke that twelve six sided dice are not enough to play Shadowrun, but that joke is far more applicable to older versions. Hey, it’s like playing Orks in 40K.
The dice are well made with the older Shadowrun logo as the 1 and the newer logo is on the 5 and the 6. The pink on purple is VERY garish and I’m still not sure if I like the color combo. They are easy to read though.
The Tools cards are also in this picture, albeit it unopened. We’ll talk more about these in their own review. I’m not a big fan of the new deck trends as they just seem to take up extra space in my opinion. I’m the extreme opposite of a pack rat though. The cartds include weapons, vbehicles, spells, programs and even some NPS stat blocks. It’s a nice bonus and with only Quick Start Rules in the box, I can definitely see these being very useful, even for a gamer like me. That said, I’d rather have a well organized and formatted book/adventure than cards. Again, we’ll take a more detailed look at these down the road.
Here’s the folded up map that comes with the game. Even without unfolding it, the list of downtown locations clearly marks this as a map of Seattle, which will always be the stomping grounds proper of Shadowrun.
Here’s the unfolded map. Very detailed and the map is on a glossy high quality paper. I’m very happy with it.
Here’s the reverse of the map. It’s someplace in Tacoma and just might be relevant to the adventure in the box.
Next up is “The Instant Guide to the Sixth World.” This is a four page document on high quality glossy, full colour paper. It talks a little bit about the potential internal struggles a character will have. it also gives a one page timeline on big events in Shadowrun history, from the Great Ghost Dance to the fall of NeoNET and rise of Spinrad. The last page is also a list of the ten current biggest corporations. It’s a nice little primer.
Here is the Quick Start Rules packet. We will take a more in-depth look at this down the road. It’s full colour and the paper quality is quite nice. CGL is really bringing its A game here with this release. About the only complaint I have about the QSR? I couldn’t find the page numbers at first. That’s my own fault for looking in the bottom corner. They’re near the top instead. Everything here in the QSR is quite nice and I think runners of all experience levels will be able to enjoy what is here without getting into Edition Wars. That’ll be saved for August, no doubt.
Next up is the adventure, “Battle Royal.” It wouldn’t be an intro adventure without a Stuffer Shack featuring somewhere in the pages, and CGL didn’t disappoint me in that regard. That said, this is more than just an introductory adventure. It’s almost Shadowrun Missions level quality with a lot of helpful GM hints packed into these twenty-four pages. You’ve got the adventure, a set of NPC stat blocks, a look at some important locations, a four page primer for Seattle in 2080n and then a two page list of important locations in the metro region. VERY nice.
Finally, we have the four starter character booklets. Each of these is eight pages long (including the cover) and gives us a very diverse cast of characters. I love the representation here. Mage, Face, Street Samurai and Decker. We’ve got the core classes here. I’d have loved to have seen a Rigger or Physical Adept, but it makes more sense to go with what they have given us. I also like the racial diversity, although notice there isn’t a single humie in the mix. Ork, Troll, Elf and Dwarf is a nice mix. I can see some people quibbling about not playing a human, but this is a beginner box. It’s not like human won’t be a racial choice in the core game. Fragging Humanis gits. I also like that two of the characters are male and two are female. Also that one is Asian and the other is African. It’s a good real world racial mix too, although I’m a little disappointed that one of the characters isn’t Native America considering how important they are to Shadowrun as a whole. Maybe a Shaman would have rounded everything out better than a Mage?
We’ll cover the books in more detail in their actual review, but suffice to say, all eight pages are jammed with content and art. These are perfect intros into playing a character for the first time, right down to a provided background for you. This is a great way to introduce people into playing a RPG.
So there you go. That was the entire contents of the Shadowrun Sixth World Beginner Box. I keep thinking about what a universal let-down the recent Stranger Things D&D set was and how this is pretty much its polar opposite. CGL didn’t just hit a home run, they hit it out of the park. High quality materials. Full color artwork. A solid set of beginner rules. A fun little adventure that really holds the hand of a first time GM. All this for $24.99 makes this an amazing deal and must buy for anyone who is a Shadowrun fan, even if your only exposure was through video games (be they the PC trilogy or the old 16 bit ones). This is a fantastic way to get into the tabletop version of the game and I can’t recommend this highly enough.
In the coming days we’ll actually review the content of this box instead of just doing an unboxing. If you want to see more in terms of what Catalyst Game Labs has planned for the Sixth World, click on through to their content preview. For myself, I’m most interesting in the Core Rulebook and miniatures in August (I was very happy with the Valiant Universe minis they put out a few years ago). After that are the Cutting Black and 30 Nights books in September and October respectively.
I’m very optimistic and excited for Shadowrun, Sixth Edition. This is a great start, especially compared to Fifth Edition, which I wasn’t the biggest fan of (content was super hit or miss for me). 6e looks like they learned a lot of lessons from 5e and I can’t wait to see what the core books end up looking like. I’ll see you back here shortly for the more comprehensive content reviews with the pieces in this box.