Well, I ran two games of the WFRP 3e demo tonight. I know you all have been waiting with baited breath for my report and experiences
So, without further ado, here's some information and stuff from my games.
All the players were familiar with both Warhammer and previus versions of WFRP.
This first image is the setup, before the game started (after some rules instruction). The table is a 6x3. Notice that each player's layout isn't taking up much space. The pieces of paper in the middle are stuff I printed out for player reference only (and which was rarely used/needed and eventually set aside). The piece at the end was the pre-order form... again, not part of the game pieces. So, worries about the amount of space needed are mostly unfounded IMO (and in the opinion of the players too).
I started with a run-down of the rules basics, then started into the demo. The dice pools took a little bit of getting used to, but with a little bit of prompting from me, the players got pretty good at figuring it out.
Image 2 here is combat. There is a stand-up at long range (farthest left, the elf with longbow), a player at medium range (slightly closer, the wizard apprentice) and a bunch of enemies and the daring trollslayer and roadwarden in combat with several enemies. (by the blue box, representing a wagon).
Image 3 shows the elf stand-up and the Trollslayer's stuff. He has taken 4 wounds (top of his stuff) and one is a critical (it's flipped over).
Image 4 shows a typical roll for the elf shooting his longbow (2 conservative stance). Only 6 dice in this instance, and a miss (the elf couldn't seem to hit with his longbow). We found the trollslayer got to roll a lot of dice, but everyone else was rolling maybe 6-7 on average.
Image 5 is another combat roll, this time from the trollslayer. 3 reckless, 2 characteristic, a skill, a challenge, 1 misfortune and 1 fortune.
Image 6 is everyone engaged in close combat around the wagon. At the bottom of the image, the roadwarden has taken 3 wounds, and in the upper left, you can almost see the increasing number of wounds the Trollslayer has been taking.
Image 7 is the displays the tremendous amount of damage that the Trollslayer had taken, and kept on going. His Wound threshold is 15, and here he has taken 15 wounds with a single critical, so was at 0 wounds. 1 more and he would go unconscious. Ouch. Some excellent use of action cards by the other plays to support and defend each other allowed the Trollslayer to avoid being knocked unconscious in the later rounds. It was a close thing, though. Although this looks like it is taking up a lot of space, keep in mind that the Trollslayer player did it for visual effect (we weren't using that space anyway). He could easily have stacked or otherwise minimized the amount of space the Wound cards took up.
Image 8 is another shot of the table, from my GM's perspective.
Image 9 is another comabt roll by the Trollslayer (again, notice a lot of dice for him. a 5 in a characteristic, plus a skill, plus at least 1 fortune for his Grudge ability, and some misfortune for various reasons.) Still, it wasn't difficult to sort out the rolls.
Image 10 is a shot of the table after the first combat was over, and a break occurred. Notice the elf (bottom right) took a few wounds.
Image 11 is a shot after the end of the second wave of combat (some reinforcements had come, with a "boss" type enemy). The players were ultimately victorious, however...
Image 12 shows the fate of the Roadwarden. 12 wounds, and was knocked unconscious. Luckily, only a single ciritcal, so she wasn't killed.
Image 13 shows the fate of the elf, 10 wounds (2 are cut off), 1 shy of going unconscious. All in all, the players had 1 person go unconscious, the trollslayer at 0, the elf with 1 left, and the wizard luckily unwounded, as you can see in Image 14.
Ultimately, I was quite impressed with how easily the game played. Other than me checking one or two rules to answer questions, no one needed to look at the rulebooks (not even the wizard casting spells after he had a quick glace before the game started). The cards made it handy to have the information at your fingertips. The recharge system worked well, and players had no trouble placing tokens to recharge and removing recharge tokens. Fatigue and Stress was important several times, as PCs started to go over. Especially true of the Trollslayer, with only 2 WP, his stress was constantly on the edge of hitting 5 and making him pass out. It worked excellently, and gave the players quite a few options on what to do during a turn. Initiative worked well, there was no bickering over which player went when, and there was pretty much no meta-gaming in the discussion. They quickly made a decision on who should go, and they did.
The only issue that I had, was that I felt I needed more tokens to use as a GM, and it would have been nice to have a separate set of dice for the GM so I didn't have to use the ones the players were using. I didn't run out, and it wasn't really a problem, but it would have simplified things a bit so I didn't have to grab from the "player area" to do stuff for the NPCs.
My second game had 3 players unfamiliar with both Warhammer and WFRP. (I didn't take any pictures of the second game). One of the players joined after I had already briefed the rules, and had to 'catch up' a bit during the course of the game (so it was a little more difficult for him). The dice pool took a bit longer to get used to for them (interesting...) but by the second wave of combat I didn't need to do much prompting at all. They got the recharge mechanic pretty easily, as well as the combat maneuvers pretty easily too. We were also a bit under time pressure to finish before the local Camarilla LARP came in, so I fear I rushed the social encounter portion a bit (they also won intiative and rolled really well for all their actions, so it went faster than the 1st session's social did).
Both games took about 2 hours to actually play.
I asked my all my players for thoughts and comments about the game, both good and bad (if any). No one had anything bad to say. Everyone said they had fun. Here are some comments they wrote for me (posted with their permission, exactly what they wrote, and entirely unprompted from me).
[First game, WFRP players:]
"What a pleasure. I played Vaerun the High Elf Envoy from Ulthuan. She performed excellently. The new variables of the game (dice symbols) added many ways to interpret combat resolution. The visual aids kept combat swift. Social combat rocks. The aggresive/conservative stances made player-character activity super-dynamic. Recharging action cards guarantees the PCs will have to change-up their activity, so no one feels like a one-trick-horse. The learning-curve, compared to some other games (like HERO/Champions...which I love) is very short. I can't wait to pick-up WFRP 3rd ed. & convert my old characters from 2nd Ed."
"Combat was quick & exciting, with many options. The choice between taking fatigue & stress or acting is a hard trade-off. Working with other characters to enhance already proficient characters was a worth while & valid option. There was no writing [necessary] in the adventure for tracking purposes."
"Combat was very quick, even while we were learning the system. The tokens made tracking stress, fatigue, and wounds very simple and made it feel more realistic. The fears about the amount of space required were unfounded. The sample adventure was a good taste of what you can do under the new system. This game can't come out soon enough. COMBAT HAS NOT LOST ITS BRUTALITY!"
[2nd game non-WFRP players]
"Felt like it has a steep learning curve, but would be very fun once that is overcome. Social combat felt a bit half-baked (especially compared to physical combat, which had a lot of options)."
"More intuitive dice system. Good overall." [note: I'm not sure if he meant he feels it "needs" a more intuitive dice system, or it "has" a more intutive dice system. I don't recall him commenting on the dice system either way. It's probably the former, though]
"Overall a great game. The types of dice do help promote additional roleplaying and storytelling, as well as adding a cinematic feel to the game. The price point is still a little steep, but the components are high quality."
My personal opinion is that the game lived up to my expectations. It was pretty easy to GM, and took only a little bit of guidance to lead the others into the system. There is still a learning curve, and there were some questions I had to look up. Magic went well (in the first session, the second session didn't use the wizard) and the player had a positive experience. No one had an issue with the recharge mechanic. A few people did say, when I asked what they thought about it, that it felt similar to a MMO mechanic. No one said that was bad, everyone liked it. It felt familiar, I think, and natural. The abstract movement was pretty simple to use and execute. Being a fan of miniatures, I thought I might be concerned but it played very well. Actually, it was nice because it didn't take up much space on the table, yet still provided some movement tactics. Fatigue and Stress played a significant part, especially int he first game. Comabt was dangerous, and both games had PCs either knocked unconscious or near their threshold. Both sessions the players seemed pretty comfortable interpreting the dice rolls without GM assistance, for the most part, by the end of the combat if not earlier. It's an excellent game IMO, and I hope everyone tries it. Granted, I spent a lot of time (every night for a few hours, Mon-Fri) reading up rules and the demo. I think it payed off, though, because all the players seemed to have fun and enjoy the game (at least they told me so, anyway!) and it played pretty quickly.
Enjoy! I hope the pics help!
[P.S. Thanks again to all the players who played!]