Here I present the rambling tale of my first experience with DW, kindly hosted by iserith. Near the end I'll list any technical difficulties I had with the system itself.
Started out with char gen, me creating a bumpkin paladin, and the other a street savvy rogue. Classic good cop/bad cop duo. Q&A went apace and I was taken aback. Getting questioned so much felt accusatory; in 4e the, the game I hail from, I usually don't interrogate another player unless I suspect he's doing something stupid, and Socratically I try to reveal the flaw in the logic. Here, the DM was just being curious.
As I understand it, there's an unspoken understanding in DW that any fuel you give your DM will come up later on, because that's neat and otherwise the DM is just jerking you around. This leads to DW's unique form of metagaming. Lemme see if I can articulate. It's skipping ahead, but whatever.
Iserith did a post-game wrap-up where he invited comments and critiques. What we liked, what we didn't. When I got to the "didn't", I said that I like the more personal aspects of the game, which didn't come up because our party chose instead to investigate a tunnel, not known for the abundance of sentient beings. But it wasn't really a fair critique; nothing in the game made us go down that tunnel. I could've done the manor house. But it made sense for the character to do it, so off he went. What followed from the fiction wasn't necessarily what I thought was most fun at the time.
For another example, in the Q&A I provided some world-building in the form of savage people far to the north. Again, I wasn't really trying to populate the world with cool stuff, just sensible things that I got from various outside resources. In this case the nephilim from the Bible. I preface by saying that, should we keep playing, the DM could very well have done something the players loved with those northern peoples. But I wasn't really expecting it; all I foresaw going down that rabbit hole was a wilderness trek followed by giant slaying. Not my cups of tea. While being Q'd, I unconsciously made A's that I didn't care to explore. I was torn being following the fiction instead of the fun. Could be a dilemma of my own making, I dunno. Just an interesting issue I wanted to present.
That strangeness aside, the game was very fun. It flowed great, and I was never bored. It did lead me to wonder why the pdf described 3 or 4 PCs as "best". The party was two, and I found that it was exactly the right number to have a dynamic. With just one it'll become solipsistic, but two? Now you're cooking with gas and watching some sparks fly. I ran a game with three myself, and missed the intimacy of two. Excuse the creepiness. Now, it could be out of concern for balance. A paladin/rogue combo has few alternatives when it comes to problems that can't be solved by stabbing them. If we had the classic quad of cleric, wizard, fighter, rogue, we'd be multifaceted. That's not even getting into the Perilous Journey. At least as a paladin I can provide some magical healing. Don't want to think about how it'd fare with fighter/rogue, or ranger/rogue. Now, I know overcoming shortcomings in terms of party make-up can lead to interesting places, but I couldn't help but be reminded of the similar 4e problem. We need a striker, defender, leader, controller...
Now I'll just lay out some issues that confused me, most of them having to do with the bard. For starters, I can't see a clear resolution to some of her bonds, aside from the bondee vanishing. One is "This is not my first adventure with x." That works great to establish why they're together, but how does it finish? It's simply a fact in the past. The only thing I can think of would be when they finally discuss it; an Anakin-Obi-wan thing. "Remember that time?" "Yeah, I do." Might be a rare example of where Q&A should be withheld. Another hard one is "I sang stories of x before we met." How does that not become relevant? I guess the term "fully explore" is nebulous, or I'm just not that creative.
Their move "Charming and Open" is also strange. As a way to break the ice between PCs it's pretty good. The weakness rests in its inability to affect anyone beyond your own posse, and non-exclusivity. What would prevent any other class from asking the exact same questions, and getting the exact same responses? There's not even a compulsory element to this; the PCs could just as easily tell the nosy bard where she can stick it.
That said, I love the bond system. You can't go wrong incentivizing RP; the most memorable part of that game was when the paladin resolved his bond with the thief (or rogue), whom he previously had "much to learn from". When he learned that the streetwise rogue was in no way more capable than himself, his views on the merits of simple and complex upbringing were turned on their head.
Overall, good game. If I could make a suggestion aside from giving the bard an overhaul with bonds and moves, it'd be to do a more general guide. There is a lot to detox from, just in general and coming from 4e in particular. So many things you have to learn and unlearn, not just for DW, but for tabletop gaming in general. Iserith has been an invaluable aid in this regard, and we've discussed concepts like the session zero, the temptation of prepping, etc. One resource he shared with me is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VShmtsLhkQg
, which taught me a lot about what I was doing wrong. At least, if Mr. Cleese is correct.
It may be that general advice, crucial though it may be, is out of the purview of any one specific game or system. The fine folks behind DW are, of course, perfectly justified in not including any. But you should see the carnage going on at the "What's a DM to do?" forum sometime. The need for an RPG lifeline cannot be understated.
So, that's my AP. DW is a refreshing, great system, but the steps people have to take to adequately handle it are something else all together. Doing so has been an adventure in more ways than one.