Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › Last Train to Atlantis (While the World Ends)

Last Train to Atlantis (While the World Ends)

Martin
user 10655881
Seattle, WA
Post #: 51
Themes: Overpopulation, Interplanetary Colonization, Computer (Mis)managed Society, Old-Money Oligarchy, Technology Man Was Not Meant To Know.
Outcomes- +: A handful of humans colonize the stars and become the absolute overlords of Earth-bound humanity
-: Humans remain on Earth until pollution and resource depletion lead to total extinction.
The Change: Earth's resources got used up. Humans built a giant computer named Ashley Ingles to help them find a way to avoid oblivion. Of course, the humans who built Ashley became so staggeringly wealthy as to be functionally kings and queens. But that doesn't matter. In her own erratic, ineffable way, Ashley is pushing humanity towards colonizing other worlds.

Characters: Chucky, a disgruntled dockworker on Earth, who never did become even a little bit gruntled.
Alicia, a maid in an orbital luxury hotel, willing to spy, blackmail, and murder her way into a spot on the New Atlantis colony, the very first outside the solar system.
Geraldine, the Human Resources director for the New Atlantis colony, who does Ashley's secret bidding in recruiting only the best of humanity.
Paul, a computer program designed as an interface for Ashley, though he believes himself to be a human technician. He came close to understanding her true purpose, but too late.

Outcome: Ashley created a utopian community on New Atlantis, then arranged for millions to die in a series of failed colonization attempts until humanity gave up on interstellar travel. A century later, after Earth's ecosystems collapsed and most of the world died, Ashley brought the perfect, transhuman Atlanteans back to rule over the tattered remnants of humanity.

My review: We made the best of an extremely awkward setup, with four characters who all lived on different planets and had no reason to interact with one another except on a business level. While The World Ends encourages you to worldbuild at the global scale, but unlike Shock, it gives you no tools for making sure that a human scale story fits inside your creation. Our relationship arrows didn't help us- since we couldn't come up with personal ties, they were all impersonal. So...this was still fun, but I don't think WtWE was working particularly well for us.
Dani L.
user 87036972
Seattle, WA
Post #: 22
There are certain things I like about the system. I did enjoy the set-up process. It took us a little while to get started but it came together quite nicely in the end in my opinion, at least as far as the world was concerned. Having main characters and secondary characters so separated did make it challenging to bring them together. Next time I think I'd go for a smaller setting where there'd be more reasons for all the characters to interact.

It definitely feels a bit more strategic than other games I've played and the antagonism is different than in, say, Polaris or Shock. There the antagonist is a character, here it's another pair of players who have mechanical advantages they can earn, if that makes sense. That didn't detract from the experience any. I'd definitely like to play again now that I now what I'm doing!

The system was great for creating a world. Would personal ties have enriched the experience? Maybe. The game doesn't do much to help you develop the narrative and relationships between characters. I think the tokens you earn and the fact there's only two "points" per location are supposed to provide some that?

I did have a good night around the table with everyone. Some favorite moments include Geraldine and Paul's secret conversation, Ashley and Paul's interaction towards the end, Alicia being told she wasn't going to be sent to New Atlantis. ("Your hands are as dirty as mine, you can just afford to scrub them harder!")

Thanks to Marc for facilitating at my request and to Martin and Mo for their contributions to the fun.

- Dani, aka Alicia Hex
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 414
Our relationship arrows didn't help us- since we couldn't come up with personal ties, they were all impersonal. So...this was still fun, but I don't think WtWE was working particularly well for us.
While the World Ends has its flaws. But to be fair, is that part WtWE's fault? The whole point of the relationship arrows is to create interesting connections, so if you aren't coming up with ideas aren't you basically breaking the setup?

Putting all the characters on different planets definitely ups the difficulty level. It is unlike Shock in that you're rewarded for sharing scenes with other main characters.
Dani L.
user 87036972
Seattle, WA
Post #: 23
You kind of have a point there, Ben. Some of the connections we had were interesting but there was definitely a... class gap? Like, Chuckie hated Geraldine for her role in keeping him where he was at but the difference in their stations meant there was very little he could do about it. And Alicia could have interacted with Paul (who she admired despite the fact that he wasn't human-- somehow I'm not surprised she looked up to an artificial construct) more, it would have been nice to see what he would have ended up making of her. So we could have made them more personal or chosen to frame scenes differently in order to develop those threads more or create new ones, it's true. (We still told an interesting story.) And like you said, putting all the characters on different planets definitely ups the difficulty level.

And yes, that is one difference between this and Shock. There is a scene economy in both but the shape that takes is pretty different.
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 415
There certainly could be better guidance on the relationships (and a lot of things, like the whole world creation). Compare it to something ultra-meaty like Fiasco's relationship creation.
Martin
user 10655881
Seattle, WA
Post #: 52
Yeah, Ben, definitely this is a case of us making mistakes. My feelings is just that WtWE didn't stop us from making them, while some other games would have stopped us. Shock makes the characters in pairs so they have guaranteed relevance to one another. Kingdom makes you say what you need one of the other characters for, and ensures that you have a mutual interest in an organization. Fiasco pushes you into meaty relationships, as you say. WtWE just makes you name an arrow, which has only the creativity you put into it.

I was being a little flippant about "different planets", because with perfect intersteller teleportation planets weren't much of an obstacle. It was social distance that was the problem- everyone moved in vastly different spheres, and since rigid classism was part of our theme, cross-class interactions were limited. The sensible thing would have been to create the characters together, so that they're loosely part of the same story even if they don't have built in relationships (like in Geiger Counter). But in WtWE, you start with four unconnected stories and try to figure out how to connect them, and in this case it was quite hard to do so. WtWE has worked for me in the past, when we put thought into making the characters coherent before we picked our story goals, and I think that's necessary.
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 416
Yeah I think it's one of those games that needs a "best practices" guide in addition to the rules as written.
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