Saturday night four of the regular crew got together with me and we gave the new Marvel game a spin.
One of the great things about playing in a well-known universe like this is being able to pick a character you like and jump right in. I did not want to get bogged down in character creation this first time so we picked from the 100+ heroes described in the book:
- Thing was played by Grognard Mike
- Iron Man was played by Variable Dave
- Spider-Man 2099 was played by Next-Gen Patty (who also brought a copy of the book)
- Beast was played by Battletech Terry
- Mike spent some time looking up Jimmy Durante videos and info so he could sound more authentically Thing-like and figuring out which era of Ben Grimm he was aiming for.
- Dave worked up Tony Stark's speech that kicked off the adventure with no prompting from me.
- Patty broke down the history and origin of SM2099 for us because it has been 20+ years since I looked at any of that.
- Terry spelled out the relative capabilities of original-form Beast vs. Blue-Fur Beast as we debated various numbers assigned to the different characters
This game uses 5 foot squares so I sketched it out on a battlemat and added some toy cars and 40K vehicles and a monitor stand for the second level and we were set!
- Iron Man
- Number one my players had a really good time. Something about superhero games, especially ones using familiar characters, really brings it out. So right away I will say the rules did not get in the way of a good time.
- The core mechanic of the game is used consistently throughout and as far as I can tell resolves everything with a single roll - that's huge. It plays quick which meant my players weren't tied up doing math on multiple rolls so they naturally tended to describe what was happening with their powers. I like that a lot. It's not as detailed as the original "One Roll Engine" as seen is Godlike and others with the height and the width etc. but it is easy to grasp and plays quick.
- It feels very much like 4E D&D when it comes to powers - look at Spider Strike up there. I consider that a good thing.
- Now look at Battle Plan and Combat Support - the 4E Warlord lives! You can have a character who can fight well who can also hand out buffs throughout a combat! The whole Tactics power tree is made up of powers like this and they are awesome. Beast and Cap and other leader types feel like they actually have useful, flavorful abilities in a fight beyond just punching like everyone else!
- The possible downside here is that you are choosing from a list of pre-built powers rather than building your own and that's where the lack of flavor and customization could come in. Playing known superheroes it was not a huge problem though Iron Man did feel a little clunky with that power set. Workable, but clunky. Making your own character is going to push you down some set paths that could feel limiting but in return they will help make a cohesive character. We will have to explore that part.
- On my previous post I had some concerns - let's talk about those:
- The 5' square thing did not feel particularly limiting.
- Lack of a skill system was not the problem I envisioned. This session was mostly combat but I think the tags and traits will allow for enough specialization that it will work just fine. this is probably something to be better evaluated in a long term campaign.
- The lack of vehicles/animals/robots and the very limited number of NPC type stats is an impediment to putting something together on the fly. There are a few agent-types in the book but not many. I've been spoiled by games from M&M to ICONS to the prior Marvel Heroic Roleplaying for including a lot of these building block type units and it does feel like a miss here.
- I didn't change up the task numbers here as it was mostly combat and I don't see a point to adding that in to the mix.
- This game could -REALLY- use a cheatsheet. There is a list of specific Standard Actions and Reactions and there is a size chart that is referenced a lot. Many characters have some level of "Mighty" and that references the size chart for how much you can lift and carry and what it does to your combat numbers. I may have to make one myself before we play again.
- One rules issue I need to look up: Elektra does that double strike move to hit Beast and Thing. Beast has Defensive Stance up which gives attackers Trouble when attacking him. The attack is specifically called out as one roll vs. both targets ... how does this work? Thing inadvertently benefits from Beast's defensive move? Do we keep track of the roll vs. the re-roll separately? At the time I just went with Trouble on the roll as it's still just one roll but given how many powers use this same approach I'd like a little more clarity.