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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
 

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Average Rating:4.2 / 5
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Chad S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/26/2012 11:47:19
This is an excellent story-telling game for replicating the feel and pacing of a comic book. But let's be clear, that's what it is. If you're looking for the next M&M or HERO, this isn't what you're after. This game is geared toward making the characters and the story feel right. There's no points to track and not much in the way of nuts-and-bolts. But for making the game feel like the comics, I think its ideal.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Santiago G. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/25/2012 04:38:58
What I really didn't like about this book is the fact that is not reader-friendly. When I put the pdf in my Ipad, some inserted drawings are displaced in the middle of the text, forcing me to use my computer to read it. I think that the editorials should put more work in creating a pdf that is 100% compatiblr with tablets. That alone is enough to low the note of the product.
THe game is ok...barely. It's not intuitive how to create a character, so if you don't like to play with established characters, or you're fan of traditional rpg games, I must discourage you about this book.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Ryan M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/24/2012 19:32:01
Before you buy this product, understand what you are getting: A cooperative storytelling game, not a traditional tabletop RPG. This is not like M&M, Hero, or even the TSR Marvel RPG. This is more akin to a superhero Mu*'s then a table top game. It's light on mechanics for how to break down a wall or pick a lock, and heavy on mechanics for how to tell a story.

The dice system is very interesting, generates big pools of dice but still uses small and simple numbers because you only select a limited number of the dice and add them together. The biggest change to a traditional system is that the largest dice you don't select determines how well you do something. Rolling 1's creates opening for the gm to make things worse for the players, or lets the other players take advantage of the situatiuon. What is very different is that the mechanics are defined in terms of how the scene plays out, and pc's have as much impact over how the story unfolds as the gm.

THERE IS NO LIMITS/POINT SYSTEM FOR BUILDING A CHARACTER. CHARACTER POWER LEVELS ARE UP TO THE PERSON MAKING THE CHARACTER. BE WARNED.
This game is entirely about consensus between the GM and players themselves as to what constitutes acceptable character builds. Basically, this is a game for people who want to do more story driven games and not be so limited by mechanics as to how powerful characters are and what they can do. It's a nice change of pace from trying to gimmick the game system to make your character powerful, but it definitely requires a group thats on the same page as to what is acceptable and what isn't.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by quinn c. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/24/2012 12:43:27
This product feels a bit like an abusive relationship to me. I can see a lot of things about it that I know i will like, the dice mechanic looks intriguing, the story mechanic interface should be good and the book is pretty. However these things come with a price. The writing is can be condescending in places and the layout is wasteful.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/23/2012 21:01:01
The new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game by Margaret Weis Productions was one of the products I was one of the products I was most looking forward to in 2012. Note the past tense: WAS.

Simply put, the game is shockingly ugly and worthless as ‘pretty gaming product’ and uses rules so convoluted and ill-conceived it’s useless to me as an actual RPG.

First up, the game uses the most counter-intuitive, slow-moving, bean counting form of a dice pool mechanic I’ve seen in 20 years of rolling dice! By forcing players to build a new and unique dice pool every action, choosing one or more component dice from a variety of personal motivations, teamwork elements and power sets, the game forces the action to slow to a crawl EVERY SINGLE TIME a player attempts to do something. Anything.

Is your superhero going to: Throw a punch, fire an energy blast, hack a computer, bust through a door, bandage a knife wound, or dodge gunfire? If so, prepare to spend at least a minute on the action building up a dice pool and reading the results and assigning the result dice as desired. If you’re playing with first time gamers, expect them to spend at least 2-3 minutes per action just figuring out what the hell is going on and what dice to use.

Seriously, what’s wrong with simple percentile rolls or dice+ rolls (such as D10+ skill or D20+skill, or whatever)? They’re far quicker, and lots more intuitive, especially first time gamers, which I think this deformed specimen of an RPG was supposed to be aimed at.

And then, instead of having Hit Points, damage tracks or damage saves (ala Mutants & Masterminds), player characters accumulate stress. Seriously? The biggest threat to my superhero is getting stressed out? It’s a simple problem of terminology, but by calling accumulated damage in this setting ‘stress’ I find it impossible to take seriously. In the comics, when Sabertooth rakes his claws across Wolverine’s belly, Wolverine isn’t a little ‘stressed out’ he’s disemboweled.

Now let’s talk about the ugly-factor.

This is a licensed product that Margaret Weis Productions went to a ton of expense and effort to earn the license for. And all that effort, and the spectacular art resources Marvel Comics has to offer a licensor, is wasted. Images in this RPG are amateurishly cropped. The picture of Wolverine on the bike, which is cropped from the knees DOWN, in the section on stunts (pg 103) is probably the single worst panel in the book.

The game’s margins are so laughably huge I feel like MWP owes all the trees chopped up to make this book a heartfelt personal apology. Most of the half and quarter page illustrations in this book are shrunk so they seem more like 40% and 15% illustrations at best. Some of the images in the skill and character improvement sections are so small they may as well be punctuation, and are placed at either the extreme top or bottom of a page, shattering the visual flow. Seriously- you’ve got any piece of Marvel art you want to put into a game, so why make these images so TINY?

Finally, the game makes the same mistake the DCU Heroes RPG (Green Ronin) did before it. Most of the art in this game is from the last ten years. If I’m playing a licensed Marvel RPG, I want it to have great artwork from the entire span of Marvel’s history. I want Jack Kirby and Jim Lee art at the least, in addition to the work of more recent superstar artists like Jimmy Chueng, David Finch and Greg Land.

And speaking of art, let’s talk about the cover of the Operations Manual. The OM’s cover is an amateurishly Photoshopped collage of popular Marvel characters by several different artists. It looks like a fan product, not something officially licensed. If there was ever a time to spend the money for an original cover, putting out this hugely anticipated licensed product is it. By cheaping out, Margaret Weis Productions gives me the impression they don’t want to spend any more money on this product than absolutely necessary.

Another gripe, and this applies to Marvel products as a whole, and not just to the MWP game, is that the main book is too X-centric. While I love the X-Men, a Marvel Universe RPG should include play examples and interior art focusing equally on Spiderman, the FF, the Avengers, those quirky 3rd stringer fan favorites, AND the X-Men.

The game makes also some odd choices regarding which heroes to include, and why. The example adventure is based on the Breakout storyline, which ran through New Avengers 1-6, and the sample characters include all the heroes involved in the story line (Captain America, Spider Man, Iron Man, Luke Cage, among others) it also includes stat blocks for a variety of other popular Marvel heroes who weren’t in the comic book storyline, but could easily be included in your game group’s adventure (the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, the Beast and Storm, and several others).

Though one character was dead at that point in the comics, and the other was off planet, I’m really baffled by their refusal to include stat blocks for either the Hulk or Thor in the core book. They’re quintessential Marvel characters! This choice is especially baffling when MWP includes the relatively minor X-character Armor (who certainly hasn’t ever headlined a major motion picture of her own) and Luke Cage’s loser buddy, Iron Fist. I know MWP will soon release expanded roster books, and team supplements of some kind, but leaving Hulk out of the core book is frankly idiotic.

On the plus side…. There’s not much really.

The game uses terminology from the original TSR game and the Marvel Saga game, which is a nice shout-out to long time fans. And the “unlockables” mechanic, where the players can spend plot points (sorta like Karma in the TSR game) to activate special events and plot twists is genuinely neat. I’d love to see the unlockables concept ported over to a better RPG. The “milestones” built into each character profile, which award XP for accomplishing personal goals (or failing utterly at those same goals) add a ton of personality to the characters. Like unlockables, milestones are another idea I’d love to see explored in a more competently produced game.

In conclusion, if you want to play a Marvel supers game, either pick up your favorite edition of Mutants & Masterminds, or if you really crave the license, go to a used book store and see if you can find the TSR version. You’ll be a happier gamer than if you waste your money on this version of the license.

CHRIS

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/23/2012 01:22:00
WHAT WORKS: Top notch production values. Lots and lots of detailed examples. A supers system in which neither magic nor powered armor seem to be giant headaches or hopelessly busted. Lots of promise for support is out there, (really looking forward to the Cosmic Stuff for sure). Fantastic price point. Probably the most logical advancement system I have seen in a supers system (with the second best being "Well, comic book characters don't advance like normal anyway, so just handwave it)". Also, I totally dig the Solo-Buddy-Team set-up.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I've never been comfortable with "Stress" systems. A bit more abstract than I prefer. I'm also not sold on the "Event" set-up, especially with the default assumption that characters will be dropped from Event to Event.

CONCLUSION: Well, just by reading it I like it better than I do the "Stones" system. It certainly seems like it could be a blast, but until I see it in play, I couldn't put it ahead of Marvel SAGA which has stood the test of time for me. We have always been a fan of playing our own characters in the Marvel Universe, even though there has never been a Marvel game with a GOOD character creation system. This game doesn't change that, but it does bypass horribly busted attempts and just says "Hey, make what you want, here's how". Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is probably the most mechanically interesting Marvel system (behind SAGA) to me. Hats off to the crew at Margaret Weis Productions. Not only have the released a gorgeous product, they did it at a very nice price point. A very impressive effort using a system that has had its foundation tested twice before. And if you were nervous about the final product, don't worry...this isn't a "You punched Spider-Man in his Mary Jane" game. Very much excited to see how things develop from here.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/02/tommys-take-o-
n-marvel-heroic.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/22/2012 23:32:52
Rather than re-inventing the die by writing another review, I'll supplement the already existing and well-written reviews of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying system with a discussion of the PDF itself. In reviewing this PDF, I used Acrobat, iPad Library, an inkjet printer, and a duplex black and white printer.

The download consists of a PDF version of the rulebook, pregenerated characters, and two summary player sheets. Additional material is available at the publisher's site, but, as of this writing, the Marvel downloads there were only preview pages of the rulebook.

PDF Rulebook: One of my complaints about publishers who sell hardcopy roleplaying books is that they don't include a PDF that's suitable for home printing. Typically, the publishers will only release a PDF that's an exact copy of the hardcopy. The ideal printable PDF minimizes the cost of ink and paper for printing and organizes the material suchthat the buyer can print specific pages for player handouts and such.

Some players will bring their iPad or laptop to their gaming group. Some will print out their PDF. I think doing both is the best solution. The game master can browse the PDF on the iPad to look up a rule, then separate the pages of the printout as necessary for player handouts and such.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying does not supply a PDF for home printing. About one-fourth of the book is art, adding expense to a home printout. I would not recommend printing the book out onto an inkjet. However, the information is well organized. No page had information that started on one page an ended on another. This makes separating the pages during play easy and convenient (eg. when one player wants to read his power on one page, and another player on different one). I should mention that a minor graphics bug made a few introductory pages of the rulebook difficult to read through the iPad library, but the rulebook can be read in Acrobat, PC or iPad.

Myself, I printed the rulebook into three sections: Basic rules (Chapters 1-3, 60 pages), Powers (Chapter 4, 60 pages), and Gamemaster section (Chapter 5 and adventure, 80 pages). As part of the adventure, the rulebook comes with villain stats over thirty B-List villains.

Pregenerated characters: The download comes with several pregenerated characters, including the X-Men (Armor, Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine), Avengers (Black Panther, Black Widow, Captain America, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel), Fantastic Four (Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mister Fantastic, Thing), Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Sentry, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, and a blank character sheet. Each page is double-sided.

Player and Gamemaster reference sheets: The download includes a one-page rules summary for players, and a two-page summary for gamemasters.

PDF Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. The lack of a printer-friendly PDF version brings the rating down quite a bit, but the organization of the PDF rulebook still allows you to print, in a convenient manner, whichever sections you wish for play.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/22/2012 18:29:51
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying may be the most eagerly anticipated new role-playing game of 2012, and it does not disappoint. It’s also my first experience with a game built on the Cortex Plus system, and I’m impressed by the system’s ability to blend storytelling and mechanics in a compelling way. The basic game includes the core rulebook or Operations Manual, a “mini-event” or introductory adventure based on the Breakout stories from a few years back in Marvel Comics, and “datafiles” or character sheets for over two dozen recent members of the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and X-Men, as well as Daredevil.

When you take actions with your superhero in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, you assemble a dice pool (using d4s up to d12s) that draws on your hero’s distinctions (story-based qualities), powers, specialties (learned skills), and affiliation status at that moment (that is, whether your hero is alone, with a buddy, or with a team). You might also get to add in dice if your opponent is afflicted at that moment by stress (damage) or various complications. After you roll the dice in your pool, you pick two of them and add their values together to determine your total value for that action. You also pick one of the remaining dice to use as your effect die; for this die, only the number of sides matters, not the value that’s showing. Your roll is opposed by the Watcher’s (GM’s) roll, also built from a pool. If your total is greater than or equal to the opposing total, you succeed; the number of sides on your effect die determine the degree of success or—as the name implies—effect of your action. In combat, damage is described as stress, and stress can be physical, mental, or emotional, depending on the circumstances. When you’re completely “stressed out,” you can’t function for a while.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying isn’t just about superheroes duking it out with supervillains—far from it. MHR gives considerable attention to non-combat conflict; one of the examples given is Kitty Pryde and Wolverine arguing with anti-mutant protesters. Admittedly, the rules spend nine pages on combat and only four on non-combat conflict, but that’s largely because the combat examples take you step-by-step through the use of the dice pool, and you don’t need another step-by-step example once you get to the pages on noncombat conflict. In fact, MHR does a better job than any other game I’ve ever played (remember that this is my first exposure to a Cortex Plus game) at supporting noncombat conflict through a core mechanic that’s essentially the same as the combat mechanic.

Story is big in comics, and story is big in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. Story is so important, in fact, that there is no master list of distinctions, specialties, stunts, complications, assets, and so on. Players and Watchers make these up as they go along, either at character creation or during the scenes themselves. (A master list of powers, however, is included.) For example, Beast has the distinction “Smartest Man in the Room,” and the Black Panther has the distinction “King of Wakanda.” Neither of these distinctions carries any specific game mechanics with it; they come into play when a player or Watcher invokes them, either for good or for ill. The game assumes that both Watchers and players will buy into this shared storytelling approach, and this is probably the key to playing MHR successfully. A game of MHR that’s just a bare-bones slugfest could become primarily a tactical contest of dice management. A game of MHR where the Watcher and the players really buy into the ethos of spinning a story collaboratively, with the dice as assistants to that process, will have a blast.

The PDF version exhibits high production values and is thoroughly bookmarked.

Obviously, I haven’t attempted to summarize all the mechanics or touch on all aspects of the game in this brief review. The bottom line is that Marvel Heroic Roleplaying definitely captures the flavor of Marvel Comics, and represents superheroic action using a system where the mechanics definitely serve the story, not the other way around. I highly recommend this game, and hope that my two sons will enjoy it as much as I think I will.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by David A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/22/2012 18:09:35
There is a lot of love in this product and comic-book lovers will absolutely geek out over this game.

The layout and graphic design is just dripping with style, with a crisp layout to provide clear information. Artwork is sprinkled throughout the book, all of it taken from the comics of course.

It has a number of concepts that are non-traditonal, including Unlockable XP awards which give short term benefits that last until the end of the Event (read story or Module) which can include favours from or membership in organisations (like SHIELD) or even unlocking NPCs for use as PCs. If that has made you go "huh?" you're not alone. MHRP is very much geared to playing existing Marvel characters in Events taken straight from the comics. If a certain hero was not around during that event, or was not considered a hero at that point, then you might need to unlock it. This is a feature that will be awesome to some, anathema to others but thankfully, its not a mandatory part of the mechanics.

The game does allow you to play your characters and has a section on modelling a new character from scratch. I don't say generating, because MHRP does have a "system" as other games (like M&M) have. It's more concerned with you coming up with a concept then assigning stats to it than spending points and enforcing mechanical balance.

Again, this will be a turn off for some, and a doubleplusgood feature for others.

The product itself is three books:

The Operations Manual (the core game rules)
The Breakout (A mini-Event that serves as an introduction to how MHRP games are structured and ran
Datafiles - 20+ heroes for use as PC drawing on X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four, SHIELD and unaffiliated characters that were all active during the comicbook storyline of the same name (which was from the Avengers AFAIK)

For £8.21, its not a bad purchase. Just don't expect it to be as flexible say M&M when it comes to running games that don't quite fit in with the Marvel way of doing things.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/21/2012 09:53:26
All in all, The Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game feels like good, clean fun… as long as all of the participants in the game are willing to comply with a shared concept of what is acceptable or not in the context of the game. A lot of things, from the initiative to the character creation, is a cooperative effort, and I can’t help but feel that it takes a certain kind of maturity to really get the most of this game.

The system itself is easy enough to learn given time, but executing the game requires that players know when to lose gracefully, or roll with the punches when their character ends up stressed out or developing a trauma. Comic book fans might not really mind, to be honest, but I fear for those who tend to prefer mechanical supremacy.

That said, this is the first superhero rpg I’ve read in a while that has me interested in getting a few friends together and running something right now. It has all the things I look for in a system: transparency, speed, and flexibility, and with any luck, I can get a game up and running without much trouble and without needing any special software for it.

---

This is an excerpt from the full review on my blog. If you'd like to see the rest of my review, kindly visit:
http://philgamer.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/review-marvel--
heroic-roleplaying-game-by-margaret-weis-productions/

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Mark M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/21/2012 00:32:45
Here it is! The big review of the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game. I was kindly sent a review copy from Margret Weis Productions, and wanted to share my thoughts here. Face front, true believers!

The Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game is unlike anything you've seen before, while at the same time, familiar. It shares a similar ruleset to Leverage and Smallville, and to a lesser extent, Serenity and Battlestar Galactica, but is interpreted in a whole new way, to create a more dramatic and combat-focused game.

Whereas Smallville spent more time dealing with relationships, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying focuses more in interaction between characters, as well as combat. It isn't a combat-centric game, but, being about superheroes, the rules definitely give you the ability to hit things.

The Mechanics

The Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game uses a dice pool mechanic. Using various options on your character sheet (Affiliations, Distinctions, Power Sets), you add dice to your pool, roll the dice, and choose your best two. All rolls are opposed rolls.

You are then able to choose one other die that's left over to use as your effect, basically determining how powerful your roll was, if successful.

If you roll any 1s, those dice are given to the Watcher (Game Master), which are added to his Doom Pool. The Doom Pool can be used for all kinds of bad things, and work similarly to Plot Points.

Plot Points are given to players in certain circumstances, including a player purposefully giving themselves a bad roll. They can use these Plot Points later to get more dice in their roll, as well as activate more powerful abilities.

An interesting thing a player gets to add to their pool is their Affiliation. Each hero works well as either a Solo character, a Buddy character, or a Team. If you have a d10 in Solo, you will have a d10 to roll in your pool, whereas if you only have a d6 in it, that's what you'll roll. This means you'll have to use some tactics to make sure you're paired-up (or not) to what works best for you. In addition, the Watcher can use their Doom Pool to either separate or push heroes together in order to disadvantage the players.

Distinctions are a key word or phrase that can be used to advantage or disadvantage a player. For example, Captain America's Man Out of Time could be used to allow him to remember something that happened in the 40's, but used to disadvantage him when covering something that happened while he was on ice. If it's used as a disadvantage, the player is given a Plot Point. Pretty nifty.

Characters also have specialties, which are similar to Skills in other games, and an either be Expert or Master level. Basically, if you are in a situation where one of your specialties apply, you can use that die.

Milestones are a mechanic that is similar to Lady Blackbird, where you have certain key roleplaying moments that give you XP for performing the actions on the milestones.

One interesting thing about the way a character's turn works is that a character is able to perform any action that could be performed in a single frame of a comic. In addition, whoever's turn it is decides who next gets to act, meaning that there is no set turn order from round to round.

Character creation is fairly robust, but has no real hard or fast rules. It's more of a "do what works best, and ask your Watcher if this is okay." I like the idea behind it, and look forward to making characters of my own.

Breakout

There's a mini-event in the Basic Game, similar to the Event books that will be coming in the future (Civil War, Annihilation, Age of Apocalypse). The event is basically issues 1-6 of the New Avengers. It deals with the breakout of the supervillains from the Raft prison in New York. The storyline is pretty straightforward, but features a lot of villains that will lead to interesting conflict between them and the heroes. For example, the Purple Man is one of the prisoners, and if one of the players is playing Luke Cage and knows the backstory between the two, you can have a really fascinating scene.

There's a wide variety of villains, but most are fairly minor bad guys. This gives you the opportunity to introduce bigger villains that you've made the stats for yourself later on.

Halfway through the event, the heroes can make their way to the Savage Land, which leads to some fantastic "superhero vs. dinosaur" action.

It's a great event to introduce players to the system and the world (if they're unfamiliar with it).

Datafiles

There are a great variety of heroes in the book, including all of the major players in the universe, such as Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man and more. There's quite a few women to play, which was encouraging to see, such as Invisible Woman, Emma Frost, Shadowcat and a few more. Each datafile really captures the feel of the heroes.

Overall Impressions

This is a great, fantastic game system, one which is robust, easy to use, and will, I think, stand the test of time. Go check it out now.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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