I am the Warden!!
For those of you keeping track, this past weekend was our third GATL (Gaming At The Lake) and I think it's safe to say it went off with several hitches, though none of them gaming-related. Numerous last minute cancelations and a very unexpected trip to the hospital for one of my friends reduced our gaming time to just a few hours rather than an entire weekend. Needless to say, we were able to delve into the first half of Matrix: Restoration and it was well worth the time.
The short and sweet version of it: we broke the game. Holy crap, did we break it, but in a good way. Playtesting is not complete unless you break your game at least once in this phase and we thoroughly tore it a new one. Through these breaks, we have figured out a much better version of the Optional System. (See my following post, Replacing the Flux Capacitor, for details on these changes.)
As for the monitors themselves, they did very well. Rather than be content to function as a lowly noob fresh to the Matrix, we created characters with some meat on their bones (some more than others) and stacked up the Matrix master dice to 5d12 and 3d12 for the two remaining players and even created a new option to try out based on a unanimous idea conceived by the players: glitches. Granting them the ability to create minor changes to the Matrix was very cool and the guys had some outstanding concepts for implement the Glitch option (including one who could create "mazes" within the Matrix to avoid capture by Agents).
Firearms and lethal damage worked remarkably well, though the players kept most of their guns holstered and instead went with mines and grenades to do their dirty work. To demonstrate how effective this was, I shall give you a condensed play-by-play of a monitor named Shadow and his escape from the Twins trying to run him down in a SUV through an alleyway.
Shadow had the edge with 2 options available for his Team and made a run for it with the Twins literally right behind him, with one driving and the other poked through the sunroof firing off a heavy machine gun. Spending an automatic Move option to race through the alleyway, Shadow made an active Body roll to plant a motion-activated mine at the corner of the alleyway as it reached the upcoming street; the roll was successful. He then used his bonus option to grab hold of a nearby streetlamp and swing himself out of the way as the SUV scraped against the edge of the alleyway... and the mine... to explode in a giant fireball. Shadow rolled the mine's attack and made 5 hits of lethal damage, causing the SUV to burst from the alleyway in a ball of fire and slam into a row of parked cars on the opposite side of the street.
Did the Twins die? Nope, but it did buy Shadow enough time to hop into a nearby convertible and take off. Combine all that with music from the films playing in the background and the Matrix code screensaver playing on my computer and these guys were IN the Matrix. That makes this game a success. Even if we did break it.