Thursday, March 26, 2015

Marvel Heroics Role Playing Week 4

The month is over and the time has come for my final thoughts on Marvel Heroic.

The Good:
Starting with the positive, there is actually a lot I really enjoyed about about this system.  As I had said earlier I feel like the Cortex Plus system borrowed just about all the aspects of FATE that I enjoyed while injecting enough structure onto it to let the system stand on its own.  The free flow system for creating powers is, once I finally figured out the mentality of it, incredibly flexible and allows for just about anything a player or GM might come up with.  Despite my worries about handling large pools of dice that consist of multiple dice sizes and picking specific ones from the roll, something especially hard to do on a virtual table top, the game still ran smoothly and quick.  Once we all figured out a rhythm it turned out to not be nearly as difficult as I had feared.  Finally and probably most importantly, the game felt "Marvel".  For those that read a lot of comics, you will probably know what I'm talking about.  Marvel comics has a flavor of sci-fi high action and a bit of "anything can happen" to them.  It's incredibly hard to put exact words to it, but they just have a certain energy that comes from most of their characters and stories and Marvel Heroic has that same energy at the table.

The Bad:
Now on to my gripes and while I don't have many what I do have are glaring.  The first and biggest of which is one I've talked about repeatedly already and that is character creation.  I don't want to repeat myself too much, but for those that just check out the final review on Week 4 I'll summarize.  THERE IS NO CHARACTER CREATION! The system had errata added with a table to make random heroes, but it is not in the core book and random still does not equal making your own character.  What the game does provide is basically saying "do whatever and look at what we made for ideas".  There's no suggested power level and in fact saying to make a character with max everything if you want.  Another glaring issue with this system come in when characters advance.  While I love the concept of characters earning XP based on personal goals and personality quirks the fact that after a campaign ended all advancement resets goes back to this weird mentality that while this is your game you aren't allowed to veer TOO far off of what they want before being pulled in.

I also had some minor gripes with the "Doom Pool" concept as it was not very clear when to spend the dice gained by the GM and how to manage the pool over all.  With some practice I got the hang of it and realized I should be buying dice constantly and spending them  sas much, but without any advice in it it was a tough lesson.  I had first used the doom pool just like I would a pool of bennies in Savage Worlds and hoarded them up for big climax scenes.  The problem is that them makes every check players make that isn't against another character harder and harder to the point that simple tasks are a struggle.  The pool's issue is it's all or nothing when it comes to those tasks.  There is now judgement by the GM on difficulty of a task it's just rolled against the pool.  Yes if the GM spends down the doom pool the tasks become easier, but again that's for all tasks and needs to be seen in advance.

Final Thoughts:
If you are looking for a one shot or few session game this isn't too bad of a game.  If you are happy to run pre-made characters over custom ones then just about all my gripes don't even qualify and this game is pretty solid.  At the end of the day I'd say if you're running a con game or a pick up game possibly with new people this is a pretty great game for that.  Just don't expect super long campaigns and be prepared to take some liberties if you're looking to make your own specific characters.  At the end of the day all my players were willing to play Marvel Heroic again, but nothing long term.  More importantly it put everyone in the mood for a full fledged supers campaign, just not this system.

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