Doing the Casework – Out of the Blue

There’s a point to be made about focus when talking about a game like Out of the Blue, or any other story game for that matter. There’s a larger discussion around how tight a game’s focus should be. Broad spectrum games like GURPS or FATE have their own strengths, but sometimes there’s nothing better than a small, genre-heavy honest-to-god game.

Out of the Blue looks great on paper (though the preview’s graphic design might leave a little to be desired). The rules are clear, concise, and written with a purpose. The creative agenda built into the game is hard to miss; especially as the game makes a point of getting everyone on the same page before play begins.

Yeesh, is that word art?

Yeesh, is that word art?

The game clocks in at a cozy three-player count; no more, no less. We’ve got one player as the Veteran (who, decidedly, is too old for this sh*%), another plays a chance-taking Rogue, and the pseudo-GM takes part as “The Beat.” Each player type is intrinsicly different; while both the Veteran and Rogue use the same set of skills (though presumably with different distributions), they use entirely different resources. The Veteran’s “Resource” tokens help open up a scene, setting the team up for victory by drawing on years of experience. If things go south, though, the Rogue can use his “Chance” tokens, which up the ante and give more extreme odds for victory or defeat. Both mechanics are very viscerally designed, and I appreciate the synergy between the “Resource” mechanic’s staid-and-true +1 to roll vs the “Chance” token’s more unpredictable +1 die.

Everything about Out of the Blue‘s rules feels tight and well-designed. The game is intensely procedural; one player starts a scene, the opening and close is decided by a few rolls, and then the players fill in everything in between. The outcomes and rewards of scenes are as tightly scripted, offering either clues towards solving the case, respect and recognition for the Rogue, or a Monkey Wrench being thrown into the criminal’s works. I can’t imagine sitting down to play a game and ever getting stuck on “what do we do next?”

Out of the Blue looks like a steal at it’s $20 price point on Kickstarter, which nets you both a physical copy of the game and a couple additional “Case Files”, which as I understand it provide both adventure jumping-off points as well as additional rules. Hopefully I can get a few people together to run a session of the beta and report back. From what I’ve read so far, it looks like we’re gonna have a great time buddying up on the streets.

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