General Concept/Setting: 9/10
Spencer: Overall the concept of this game is fascinating. Monte Cook has put in a ton of thought and effort into this universe. The map is rich, lore is deep, and overall setting brilliant. In my opinion, it takes a new look at what the future could be in a world where so much is lost, but nothing destroyed.
Tyler: Setting wise, Numenera is a one of a kind world. I love the main premise where technology has become almost magical since the knowledge of its use and creation has been lost, so it has an interesting blend of sci-fi fantasy. Monsters and alien species are unique, interesting and well thought out. The world itself feels living with the amount of lore and history that Monte Cook games put into it. All in all this game kills it in concept/setting.
Learning Curve: 8/10
Spencer: The game is very simple to learn to play. In terms of computing difficulty levels, hitting, damage, or anything, it is simple. I’d say in terms of highly developed games, the learning curve is amongst the least which makes it a fantastic game to get started with.
Tyler: This game is very light weight and sheds a lot of the extra rules to make a simple but interesting game. Calculations for difficulty levels is extremely easy, just the rating times 3, combat is just contested rolls, and health/ability use is based off three pools (Strength, Speed, and Intelligence). When it comes to table top games, you can’t find anything easier.
Character Creation: 7/10
Spencer: This is a tough game to rate with this. There aren’t many classes to choose from, but this is likely due to how new it is. In the core rulebook there are only 3, but Monte Cook Games is developing new ones and they are way fun to look at and for fair prices. I think until they add more to the core book, I can’t rate it higher. That being said, there is a pretty wide range of characters you can play because of you “focus.” Character advancement is way cool. It seems like even though there were only 3 classes to start with, a large amount of effort was put into different paths to go into.
Tyler: With the base game you can only pick three classes, Nano, Glaive, and Jack. Now you might be thinking that sounds lame there are only three classes? Yes, but the list of powers and skills you can add to your character is very extensive. What I found extremely cool about character creation in this game is that you could all play the same class, chose different powers and skills, and play completely different characters with unique mechanics. Monte Cook kills it with a straight forward character creation system which is only improved by amazing book formatting.
Spencer: The general balance of the game is really good because of the limited classes made. The “leveling up” is interesting because it isn’t all in one step. You get points and can invest them in different things before going to the next level. So players won’t advance to unevenly. Ultimately, each class is unique with little overlap, but it means players can be specialized in different things, but feel even.
Tyler: Numenera is a very balanced game, where no one is a master of all things and you will need to rely on your team mates to get things done. Since you only have a few skills and abilities you will have plenty of weaknesses that need to be covered by your friends. Even though leveling up is more fluid and takes place at random times during the game, higher level characters don’t over power lower level ones.
Gameplay – Combat: 6/10
Spencer: Combat is really simple but with different items/ artifacts it can all change a lot. These are special items that you’ll come across fairly regularly and won’t regret using. So you can use things other than your weapon and magic (technology manipulation) to be effective.
Tyler: This is one weakness of the game, combat is overly simple. Contested rolls, and flat damage depending on the weapon or ability you use. Sometimes enemies are so powerful with high levels of armor you won’t be able to damage them. I do like the contested rolling for attacks and defense, that keeps players engaged but the lack of actions you can take in combat can leave you wanting. What really makes combat fun are Cyphers, pieces of ancient technology you find scattered through out the world of Numenera. Cyphers cause unique effects, damage, or powers that can really make combats interesting. So the lack of combat actions does in some ways get balanced by the fun cyphers you can use.
Gameplay – Exploration: 8/10
Spencer: Exploration is really wide ranged because as a player, you decide what you are good at. It isn’t a limited list that you have figure out if an action falls into one vs another. Instead you can be very niche talented. Like I previously said, you come across new and interesting cyphers/ artifacts regularly with Monte Cook Games continuing to make more.
Tyler: Since the world has been so well developed with lore and unique factions, exploring the world of Numenera can be a blast! From interacting with ancient AIs to surfing desert sand dunes on a hover craft sand board, your imagination is the limit!
Gameplay – Role Playing: 7/10
Spencer: It is possible to play unique and fun characters in this game due to setting and classes.
Tyler: It’s my belief that the less you have to look at a rule book the more immersed your players can get into the narrative. Combine that with a very unique settings and refreshing classes, you’re going to have an awesome time role playing in this system.
Spencer: To GM this game is really easy. Not only are the calculations simple, but you could create homebrew content super easily. The prep work that you put in will determine how good the gameplay is, but it is very simple in general, making it worthwhile for a GM to look into.
Tyler: With the rules being so simple and straight forward, Numenera is an easy game to learn and GM. Since you don’t have to worry about reading hundreds of pages of rules, you can focus on making unique experiences for your players. Enemies have a level which is their main stat for pretty much everything so running combats is super simple. Combine the simple rules with a well thought and flushed out world, it really cuts the work load down for GMs.
Spencer: Super cheap. To get the core rulebook you spend ver little. If you are the GM, you will have to get the GM guide and monster manual, but even that is cheaper than expected. Overall, you don’t waste money on it as you get great value for next to nothing.
Tyler: This game is extremely affordable, and you are getting a lot of bang for your buck with this game!
Spencer: This game is fascinating because the ease of character creation could make it worth doing a very short one shot. However, with the advancement options, it could also be played a long time. I think it could satisfy most gamers who are looking for something new but also be a great starting place for newcomers.. It is really good at knowing what it is and is intelligently designed.
Tyler: I think Numenera is a great game for any length of time. I’ve played tons of one shots with this system and they’ve always been a blast. On the other hand, long campaigns can be handled very well by the system, since there are multiple tiers (levels) for characters to obtain with powerful abilities that will make them feel like they’ve progressed along with the story.
After taking all these factors into consideration, Numenera is definitely a D20 game! With a unique settings, straight forward character creation, simple rules, and the ability to play short or long campaigns, Monte Cook’s game is a must buy for any table top RPG enthusiast. All of this goodness for cheap, get yours today!
Our Play test
Want to learn how to play Numenera? Check out our live play podcast as we explore the 9th realm of Numenera. Join Deckro, Gregg, and Timmy, as they fight to free a city enslaved by a bloody tyrant!