Daily Archives August 28, 2012

Arena Review: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

In Brief

You don’t have to be a comic book fan to have a soft spot for Marvel superheroes. Whether you watched the X-Men cartoon show from the 1990s, the newer movies like X-Men or The Avengers, or even something farther off-canon like X-Men Evolution, you likely have a very distinct idea of what sort of character you’d be playing in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. This product hit the market like an electric shock and almost overnight it became a sensation that people have been talking about. The system is interesting and new, the material iconic, and the presentation professional but still the attention it’s received is really worth a look.

Genre: Action superhero
System: Unique dice pool system
Potential Library: Small (3 products so far)
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions

The system developed for this game has a few items definitely worth mentioning. First, it works off of dice pools but unlike games with similar mechanics like ShadowrunWorld of Darkness, or Burning Wheel nearly every type of common polyhedron is used from d4 to d12. Strong powers use bigger dice and weaker abilities use smaller dice. This deceptively simple mechanic creates a game that is both craftily design and relatively easy to remember. For example, every hero and villain has a d6, d8, and d10 associated to different affiliation categories: namely, “Solo”, “Buddy,” and “Team.” If you’re playing Wolverine, you’re strongest as a Solo loner (using the d10), almost as good integrated into a team like the X-Men (using the d8), and worst when it’s just you and one other (using the d6). Isn’t that just… awesome?!? So simple yet so powerfully iconic and subtly tactical. It instantly gives you a mechanical incentive to play Wolverine as the type to ditch a partner or to leave his team behind to scout out some threat. He just isn’t as effective when he has to watch out for others.

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