Reflections on Becoming

Years ago, I used to write game reviews for a now-defunct site called Robot Lasers. This was one of those reviews.

SMOKE ON THE HORIZON

I know it’s a month late, but, well, here we are.

Becoming is a game about heroism and sacrifice. It was recently kickstarted. I had my eye on it for quite a while, and jumped on it at the last minute.

To be perfectly honest, I thought it sounded cool, but I didn’t have terribly high hopes for it. I’m not sure what about it gave me that impression, looking back. But I can tell you that, even though I wasn’t head over heels from the Kickstarter, having played it a couple times, it is one of the best, tightest story games I have ever played. Seriously, Becoming is awesome, and it was one of the best games I’ve ran at Ready, Set, Game this year.

Becoming is well-suited to the one-shot. Experienced players and a ready facilitator could easily play it out in three hours or less.

A CALLING

So. One player plays the Hero, and the others play the Fates. Each of the Fates controls an element of adversity that they use to bring threats and trials to the Hero. All players are competing for the opportunity to narrate the end of the story, as determined by a scoring system based around how corrupted or not the Hero is at the end.

I really appreciate how unique this game actually is. I usually have lots of references to other games when I get into the nitty gritty of a game’s inner workings, but not so much with this one.

Through a progression of nine scenes, the Hero faces Threats laid out by the Fates. Though rolling the dice determine what happens in the story, the real victories and defeats come in the negotiating for the corruption of the Hero’s Assets. There is a lot of inner craftiness that can take place here - there is a domino effect that can result in a Fate scoring big if they do it just right.

During our play there was an interesting phenomenon near the end of the game: the Hero realized he wasn’t going to win, so he took big deals from the player of the Fate he would rather lose too, thus helping them score. We were playing the Exodus playset, and the Fate in questions was Duty (vs. Isolation and Paranoia). The Hero realized that this was their only way to influence the outcome. It was an interesting choice to me.

BLOOD ON THE ALTAR

I have two minor criticisms to offer, however. The special moves the fates get are unnecessary. They really don’t add anything to the game. I’ve played with and without them, and greatly preferred playing without them (doubly so when running it at a public meetup, and triply so if we weren’t using a playset). Just ditch ‘em, I say.

And, the playsets in the book are super well done, but I couldn’t recreate playsets of similar quality on my own with the advice in the book. I’d really like to have that strong advice, especially for choosing Fates. And for all the Greek-inspired artwork, there is no Odyssey-like playset. What gives? That is exactly what I want to play. I tried making one, but I didn’t have enough confidence to bring it to the RSG event.

In any case, Becoming is a simply fantastic game, easy to play, and offers a surprising amount of subtlety. Very highly recommended!