Feng Shui, first edition, surprised me with how well it worked and how well such a simple mechanic (stunts) drove description and innovative thinking, which made future games so much more involving.
Apocalypse World surprised me by being an anti-narrative, supposedly narrative RPG which – despite being a darling for many – doesn’t work.
Gamma World surprised me by being a fun implementation of (stripped down) 4e mechanics.
Starblazer Adventures surprised me by being a great, generic, toolkit for all manner of sci-fantasy and SF game worlds and designs.
MERP surprised me by being so little like The Lord of the Rings.
DUST Adventures surprised me, by being the only incarnation of DUST I don’t enjoy (completely different feel and ‘whiff’ factor to the boardgames/wargame).
Dragon Warriors surprised me by still being a great basic RPG after all these years, and not just a nostalgia-fest.
Cyberpunk surprised me, by still being relevant and playable after all these years.
Iron Kingdoms surprised me, by making miniature-and-mat play enjoyable.
Most games find a way to surprise me…
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