Since the Flying Circus was in Beta when we tested it we are not doing a full review since there will be changes made to the released version. Here are our thoughts and reviews of the game.
The general concept is pretty niche but also fascinating. First, the combination of influence is quite the idea. To combine the German-European style with a traditional anime is not something that I’ve seen before. Then it throws in some mythology/ fantasy to the mix as well. In terms of mechanics, the fact that the game is Powered by the Apocalypse is a little sad. I always want to see game creators stretch themselves and make new mechanics. Granted, Erika does this through the use of developing her own moves, but again that is typical of games using powered by the apocalypse. I don’t want to imply that Erica didn’t work on the game, but to me, using a system that has already been developed is like putting a new case on a phone. It doesn’t change the phone itself, just the appearance.
The basic mechanics of the game are easy to pick up because it has the simple resolution system of PBA. There are a few sections of the book that are tricky to understand, but I also think that is due to the way that most games are played. How many TTRPGs have you played where every attack you are flying past someone. The use of space in the game can make the concept somewhat nebulous, but I like that a lot. There are a lot of mechanics we didn’t use (like when exploring on foot or air maneuvers) but these are brilliant. The story is also much more narrative based, which I think we failed on. Instead of using the specific phrases, we should have described our actions and then the GM say what roll that is or action that is. We shouldn’t say “I draw a bead” instead something like “Using the scope on my machine gun, I aim for the enemy plane.” It is just a little difficult when you haven’t played a game that is more narrative based than roll specific.
Character creation was cool. I hate that I keep saying this but it does follow the formula approach set forth by most PBA games that I have read about. The system is quick and fast. The only thing I would want further developed is the plane section. I am not sure that I completely understood how to make my own plane which is a central part of it.
The balance is pretty good. There are like 10 different backgrounds, but only 4 base stats. Even though you may have the same stats, due to different triggers, moves, and stress relievers, characters are still able to be different. For example, even if I chose the same stat block as Wolfgang, Oscar still would be getting stressed and influence by getting shot at while Wolfgang wouldn’t.
Overall, I really like the game. I think the concept is unique and fun. The narrative based system is cool and the combat/ exploration/ company style is really neat. My only complaint is the use of the PTBA structure. For me, I see that Erica is an extremely talented designer and creator, but using such a similar system is short changing what would otherwise be a super novel game. Don’t want to bag on her, just saying I’d like to see the creativity continue and not stop where it did.
Want to learn how to play Flying Circus? Join the Roll Playing Guys as we delve into the Flying Circus world in our own homebrew campaign