I posted earlier this week that my next session of Burning Wheel would use the Fight! rules. This is one of the features that people raved about when the game was published. Naturally, I was excited.
We got into it. Two of my players know the rules well so I often lean on them for rules help. They were great! They know the ins and outs of it. They suggested ideas and rules interpretations. We had the fight.
And I hate it.
I fucking hate it.
It took an hour to resolve six volleys. The stakes were resolved nicely but the effort required to get there was far more than was necessary. Because of these rules, my once-a-fortnight game turned into treacle. I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. The story became a statue. Nothing happened. Two hours of gaming advanced the story almost nowhere.
That makes me sad and angry. I wanted this to be glorious. I wanted it to be active and meaningful. I feel disappointed that it's not the play experience I had expected.
Part of me wants to convert it to DramaSystem, Fate, or even D&D. That's unlikely to win me any friends in the group. I'll probably just never use the Fight! rules again.
Intermission: I wrote all of that in the 30 minutes after my game finished last night. Then I slept on it before coming back to it.
I still fucking hate it.
I was ready to sell all my Burning Wheel Revised books, or give them away as a prize at the next Go Play. I just wanted the foul things out of my life for the time I won't ever get back. Instead, I've mellowed a bit to figure out what I've learned from this.
I've learned that I don't like the Rim of Burning Wheel. In the last couple of games I've tried the Duel of Wits and Fight! to add something to our experience. The Rim doesn't suit my comfortable play style at all. After a good night sleep I've come to the conclusion that I like shorter fights, perhaps no more than a few rounds of action. Poison'd fits that category nicely. So does Primetime Adventures, most Fate games, DramaSystem, low-level D&D, and so on. So what does that mean for my game?
Bloody versus linked tests. That's about as complicated as I want to get for a fight in Burning Wheel. If a simple bloody versus test doesn't suit the story then I'll make it a linked test of three to five tests with a mix of fighting styles or agility or whatever it is the scene needs, and be done with it. I'll be able to handle multiple combatants more easily and get to a resolution within five minutes.
Will I ever use the Burning Wheel Rim again? Very unlikely. I'll keep playing the Hub and Spokes of this game, though, but the Rim has suffered a mortal wound and there's no coming back.