Shadowrun Sixth Edition Beginner Box Review
Table of Contents:
The Sixth World: Playing the New Shadowrun Beginner Box
Shadowrun is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a brand new edition of its core rules which are arriving this August. The Sixth World edition is starting off early though with the newly released 6th Edition Shadowrun Beginner Box. I’ve had the chance to dig through it and actually played a run through it with my gaming group and I’m here to give you trogs the chip truth on whether it’s worth your hard earned nuyen. Continue reading my Shadowrun Sixth Edition Beginner Box review and learn my tips and tricks!
What is Shadowrun?
Shadowrun is a TTRPG system set in a cyberpunk dystopian fantasy future where megacorporations rule a world filled with advanced technology fantasy creature meta-humans. Magic and technology live side-by-side here and if the thought of throwing fireballs and firing bazookas at a cybernetic dragon in his neo-tokyo penthouse sounds interesting, you’ve found the right setting. It’s also got a reputation in the TTRPG community as one of the densest and most difficult rules system’s out there. My playgroup has considered Shadowrun multiple times over the years but we were always left scratching our heads when we crack open the rulebook. But, being cautiously optimistic we took the new beginner box and ran through its campaign, and let me tell you, it was a hell of a trip.
What’s in the Box?
The Shadowrun Sixth World Beginner Box is running an MSRP of $24.99 and has the following contents:
- 4-Page Instant World Primer
- Quick Start Rules
- Battle Royale Adventure Book
- 4 Character Dossiers (Pre-Built Characters)
- 55 Gear Cards
- 12 Custom Shadowrun Dice
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4-Page Instant World Primer
This is barely more than a leaflet but it does explain the basics of the setting, the core events that shaped the world and the major players in it. Its simple but during our game I was happy to be able to pass it around to my players that were brand new to the setting.
Quick Start Rules
This booklet is 23 pages long and the fact that’s it’s ONLY 23 pages long says a ton about how streamlined down they’ve made the new 6th edition. It’s still a bit dense to parse out though, especially for anybody new to TTRPGs in general. It also contained a few major omissions and some just straight up misspellings and copy/paste errors, but I’ll come back to that later.
Battle Royale Adventure
This booklet is 24 pages long and it places the runners right in the center of a 4-way gang war and political abduction. It put the framework of the adventure together quite well and even had room for some fun extras, I do have some concerns that I’ll go through later though.
4 Character Dossiers
These were actually very well done, they’re 8 pages long, with 2 pages devoted to the character sheet, 4 pages devoted to the character’s history, playstyle and roleplaying tips, and a final page of quick reference information regarding combat and special abilities. I love the attention to character development on what were surprisingly deep characters for a pre-built one-shot. Included was:
I also learned later that “Emu, the Human Rigger” is available as a free download off DrivethruRPG. I’m very curious as to why she wasn’t included in the box.
55 Gear Cards
These were a wonderful inclusion, instead of passing the rule book back and forth everybody got all the needed stats for their gear, spells, and hacking programs, on well-made nicely printed cards. I would have liked a different back or style to distinguish the spell cards and hacking cards from the weapons but that’s a minor quibble compared to the real problem. We had several cards that had information that didn’t quite match the book’s contents, and this is endemic of the larger problem with the box.
This was a nice inclusion, one side has the two maps needed for the “Battle Royale” adventure, and the other side has a surprisingly big and in-depth map of the Seattle Metroplex. The battle maps for the adventure did their job, but I found the warehouse map a bit disappointing as it lacked any distance measurement and wasn’t at a scale usable for miniatures. The Seattle map was more interesting, it’s full legend corresponds to a section in the book with further descriptions of the locations and man those were some interesting locales. This map more than anything was pushing me to do more shadowrun games in the future, top marks for the nudge into the setting.
12 Custom Shadowrun Dice
These were a very welcome sight and for a shadowrun fan might be worth the price of admission all by their lonesome. The 12 d6s are black with pink numbering and they have a good hand feel. The 5’s and 6’s (which are important numbers for shadowrun) are marked with the shadowrun logo and the ominous glitchy 1’s are marked with a troll skull. A previous shadowrun beginner box had simple plain d6s and got a lot of flak for it. I’m glad they’ve learned from the mistake because these dice are fragging wiz.
Our Battle Royale
This past weekend I got together with 3 of my friends and sat down with the new box. I took the mantle of GM and my players took Rude, the Street Samurai, Zipfile, the Dwarf Decker, and Frostburn, the Ork Combat Mage.
Our runners started in a “Stuffer Shack” convenience store when outside the street filled up with hundreds of gangers from 4 very different go-gangs. After a series of events involving Frostburn turning invisible and levitating an ork ganger, Zipfile hilariously failing every single hacking attempt and setting off alarms out the back alley, and Rude slamming some gangers with a cinder block, the runners ended up on the roof of the shack.
On the roof they finally got a look at what was going on. A fancy limo carrying Erica Hoffman ( an important UCAS official) had limped its way into the warehouse across the street. Rusted out busses carrying hundreds of “Rusted Stilettos” from glow city had blocked off the streets and tons of gangers from 4 different gangs had poured into the warehouse to surround the limo.
Our runners hatched a plan to extract the government official (that bypassed quite a bit of what the book expected). Frostburn snuck into the warehouse alone and invisible, Rude and Zipfile set up atop the stuffer shack, Rude sighted up his sniper rifle and Zipfile uploaded to the matrix to find any vulnerable systems.
Zipfile hacked the lights and the warehouse went dark, Frostburn snuck in past the squabbling gang leaders and turned Erica invisible and tried to pull her away, but Torque (leader of the spikes gang) was holding onto her tight. Frostburn couldn’t pull Erica away, but now that she’d turned invisible all of the gangers were panicked and trying to find whatever shaman was playing tricks.
For 5 butt clenched rounds the gangers tried and BARELY failed to find the invisible Frostburn. Rude had taken multiple sneaky shots and several groups of gangers were opening fire on each other in false retaliation. Zipfile had hacked into one of the gang leader’s comms and had a perfect camera view of the chaos inside the warehouse.
Finally, negotiations broke down as the lights went back up again and Torque threw the invisible Erica back into the ruined limo to fight the other gangers. Frostburn seized her chance and scooped up the drugged out Erica and made for the door. It came down to a SINGLE die roll to narrowly escape detection one final time, and the whole table cheered when that die came up a hit and Frostburn escaped with the prize undetected. Frostburn ran out over the bodies that Rude and Zipfile had left of some of the more aggressive gangers and they booked it into their van, escaping with their prize snoozing peacefully in the back as the warehouse was burned to the ground by a “Steel Lynx” mech that “Big K” (the dragon in command of the Rusted Stilettos) had sent as an insurance policy. (Whew).
The Beginner Box: Needed More Editing 5/10
There were a lot of good content here, the dice, the map, the adventure which was easy to pick up and go. I just can’t shake the feeling that this was rushed though. It feels like it needed another good month of editing. We caught numerous typos and spelling errors throughout the books, there were stats on the cards that didn’t match what it said in the book, and some references to spells and abilities were just plain wrong. The character sheets also did a poor job of showing what the “important” stats were, and the whole thing seemed to expect you to already know a lot of key components to a shadowrun character.
Overall, this product feels like it will be a good introduction to 6th edition if you’ve already played previous editions, but it also just plain needed more proofreading. We encountered way too many game-relevant errors with just a casual playthrough. We had fun with the adventure, but that involved me as a GM overcoming several major problems. Many sections in the adventure are presented awkwardly and I had to lean on a decade of general GM experience to translate what the book was asking of me.
It’s actually very frustrating for me, because this whole box feels like it would have been vastly improved with just a bit more proofreading and just a few minor changes. As it is, I can only recommend this product to diehard Shadowrun fans or very experienced GMs looking to move their playgroup into the Shadowrun setting. Newbies to TTRPGs in general should avoid it.
6th Edition Shadowrun: Ready to Run 8/10
I’m a bit down on the beginner box, but I’m wonderfully optimistic for 6th edition as a whole. This is the first edition of Shadowrun that my players and I really felt like we could grasp the rules, we could perform all sorts of actions without having to dig through the book again and again. There’s streamlining to the Edge system, simplification of mobs with the “Grunts” system, and an overall cut down of gratuitous maths and overly complex checks.
I’m excited, this edition seems so much more accessible than previous versions and I’ve always wanted to campaign in this setting. We did have a few quibbles (it never explained what happens in ties on opposed checks) but I’m hoping these issues will be better explained in the full rule book. I’m eagerly looking forward to the full rulebook and if you’ve ever been interested in Shadowrun, I think now’s the time to get into it. I’m recommending everybody from newbies to Shadowrunning vets give the new rules a shot when it officially launches next month.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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