In the roll & write game Night Class you are an aspiring superhero, trying to protect your neighbourhood. Taking on trigger-happy criminals and mad villains, while leveling up cool powers and picking up gear. I grew up reading DC Comics, and then it turned out I hadn't grown up after all and I watched all movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I practiced the moves from Kick-Ass in our backyard. So when designer Jason Greeno asked us if we would be interested in printing and playing his series of games, I gave him a curt professional nod - and a devilish grin behind his back.
So far there are three episodes of Night Class. Each has its own set up with villains and goals, each has its own hero skills and powers to unlock. The rules are easy to understand, but as both the game and rules fit on one page, they are a bit terse. After reading them the first time, you may need to study the check boxes, until you make sense of what has been said before. But after that, you're ready to roll.
Each round has three phases. First you roll the plot die and cross off a matching box for the villains. They may get stronger, get a longer reach or get more stamina. You can also choose to cross off a box for "Public distrust" - but if you become too unpopular, you lose the game.
Then you roll the hero dice. You start out with two dice and you can allocate them either to your train, move or action slots. Move is simple. There's a map with buildings, villains and objectives. You move to adjacent spaces up to your die roll result. If you train, you can unlock an ability, or improve one of your basic slots. These unlocks will make it possible to move further than your dice roll in later turns, train higher abilities, roll an extra hero die, use more of your abilities per turn or simply give more health. For actions you can either punch a villain bare-handed, interact with an object or use one of the abilities you've unlocked by training.
The round ends with the villains' phase. If you are too close to one of them, you'll get hit.
It all blends into a fun puzzle. I like how you move on the map, constantly fighting thugs and working towards your goal (for example destroy bomb transmitters and free hostages in episode 1). I love the continuous leveling up, and some skills, gear and powers made me smile. And kick ass. Release chain lightning, shoot a boom arrow, use mind control on a thug, summon a demon. This is my kind of night class.
After you've played all games, you can mix up skills, weapons and abilities and create your own superhero. Want to be an occult vigilante, equipped with high-tech gear? Go for it!
So the game is certainly replayable. The settings and hero abilities are creative and gameplay is fun. Unfortunately, Night Class doesn't offer much challenge. Episodes 2 and 3 are harder than the first, but I still managed to win them on my first try. Not even rolling high all the time. Of course you can try to beat your own score and be a better hero next time. See if you manage to complete side goals like recovering stolen money or keeping drones from exploding. But not everyone enjoys counting victory points at the end.
I think there's an easy way to adjust the difficulty and make the game harder. Every villain has a plot box you can check off, without it having a negative effect. By crossing out a few of these "free" plot boxes before you start, the difficulty will go up. You will have less rounds to complete your episode, and plot rolls will bring tension earlier in the game. I'm not sure yet where the sweet spot is, I'm starting with three. My occult vigilante is going after the notorious Miss Never as we speak.
You can find Night Class on PNP Arcade, and try out Episode 1 for free right now.