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Cold Soldier

Cold Soldier is a two-player game where one player is a reanimated corpse and the other is the evil and irredeemable reanimator. It is very bleak and dark.

Mechanics

This is only based off one session at the moment but the basic structure of the game is very satisfying. The master has to come up with the depraved and evil task that they will have the Soldier perform for them, the Soldier then tries to perform the task.

The Soldier may succeed outright, succeed through the power granted by its master, fail or defy the will of its master and choose an outcome.

That outcome is decided by a card draw. The Dark Master draws three, the Soldier one. The highest card wins with draws going to the Master.

The Solider has two options: he can use his weapon (in our game, vomiting acidic bile) to knock out the Master's highest card and put it in the Master's hand. Alternatively the Soldier can construct a memory from the situation at hand and put the card they have drawn into their hand, drawing a new one to replace it.

Endgame

The endgame is triggered either by the Solider asking the Master to end the game and the Master allowing it to or via a Joker in the card deck acting as a timer.

The hands that are generated by resolving the Soldier's tasks are then used to generate poker-scored hands. The highest hand wins the right to narrative the Soldier's fate.

Feeling

The game's insistence that the Dark Master use content that they find repellent and the lack of control the Soldier has over the narrative results in an intense game. Both players have to work really hard to make an engaging narrative that is not repetitive or cliched.

The resolution mechanic is good but let's be clear. It gives the soldier a kicking. Even if they do draw a great card then the temptation must be to hold it. Conditional narrative that allows for the soldier's failure to accomplish the task can be tricky.

More than being emotionally pummelling, technically this game is a real challenge to play.

Conclusion

I think this is kind of unlikely to get played again in a hurry but it is a good system and takes its brand of dark misery about as far as it can go without degenerating into pointless nihilism. The Soldier's pathos is the key to having the game work.

The effort required by both players to create a decent game is pretty intensive and is really more of a blocker to playing frequently than the morbid theme. The system really doesn't give you much support in creating a good game, instead it just gives you a good resolution mechanics and leaves the rest to you.

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