Friday, 5 August 2011

So, why a new game?

I thought I take a moment to discuss why I've decided against getting into the three major (and 'only' I think) Superheroes miniatures games on the market and design my own. Before I begin, however, I should point out that this is in no way an attack on these games and I'm sure that they're great in their own right.


1) Heroclix
Right, let's begin with the biggy.

I've bought into Heroclix in a fairly big way, mainly because I'm a bit of a Batman nut and I spotted the DC Icons Starter Set (the four models I've already converted for POW! were in it) on sale some years ago. It was an impulse buy which was followed up shortly by the Batman Alpha set (Batman characters only) and I was on a full on collecting spree (OCD...). I also had some Marvel (specifically X-Men and Spidey) and JLA stuff but I sold it.

In terms of the game, it just didn't have what I want. The games are all "smash 'em" with no real room for scenarios, you're actively encouraged to break the fluff and have Batman and Joker on the same team (or even , 'shudder', three Batmen in one team), characters often don't meet my expectations of their abilities, there is a massive learning curve for new players (you will get 'owned' by someone who's even barely more experienced than you) and it's 'collectible', which essentially means that the most willing to lay out big bucks on super rare figures (and super effective) will have a major advantage.

What's more, and most fundamentally wrong for me, is the big black clicky podium they're all stood on. Come on! Where's the suspension of disbelief?

So in short, not for me. However, despite the fact that I'm raiding my clix for models for POW!, I will be keeping many of the models as a) someone in the club might fancy a game some time, b) I'm a terrible hoarder of Batman related goods, and c) unlike Star Wars minis (which are now all sold and paid for two and a half painted painted armies), most Heroclix don't seem to retain much resale value, so there's often no point flogging them.

However, I can recommend Heroclix as a good source of cheap superhero miniatures (particularly recognisable ones) as they're really easy to remove from their bases and sometimes even just a dip is enough to liven the model up. (Some of the sculpts and paint jobs are appalling though.)

2. Pulp City
At first glance, this game had me. Superheroes: check. Attractive miniatures: check. Free rules: double check. Downloadable resources so I can try it out without parting with any cash: check. Go and have a mooch around the website - it's a really good looking game.

But...and it's a big but...it's a game set in a specific 'world' with specific characters. You can play with the Pulp City Supremes (their word for spandex-clad do-gooders) or...well, that's it. There's no customisation available so you can't make your own characters or use well known heroes in the game. It's clear that Pulp Monsters (the makers of Pulp City) have put a lot of time and effort into their setting and characters, but I simply don't care - I don't give a stuff about Guerilla, Ace of Wraiths or Red Riding Hoodoo, no matter how pretty the game is. This is one of my issues with many of the 'new' (showing my age) skirmish games like Malifaux, Confrontation or Warmachine; I'm just not invested in their world and I don't have the time or energy to learn about it (I wasted my teenage years learning about Warhammer, Middle Earth, Gotham City and a Galaxy Far Far Away - I'm just a bit busier now).

What's more the rules remind me quite a lot of Confrontation (which I did give a go a few years back - pretty models, wierd world, etc.) in which I found the fact that every character has different special rules to be annoying. This was because you can't possibly know them all, so you have no idea whether your opponent is getting them right and you can't possibly prepare for what's coming unless you've studied the rulebook in depth. I've also noticed that these games have a habit of being rewritten every few years, invalidating the handy cards that came with the minis and requiring you to buy a new rulebook.

Again, Pulp City is really attractive, but just not suited to the type of game I want to play. On a side note however, if you are interested in it, pop over to Pulp Citizen's blog in the sidebar - well worth a nosey.

Oh...by the way...check out the price of the minis on the Pulp City site and then consider the name of this blog. It was never going to work, was it? It's not you Pulp City, you're great, it's me...I've changed.

3) Supersystem
Now, here's the awkward one. This game has customisation, a lot of it; is highly recommended in the wargaming world; doesn't support particular characters or require the purchase of anything but the rules (although Four Colour Figs do have their own line of generic superhero minis sold through Old Glory); and it's built for scenario play. It seems like a winner. What's more the rulebook is only 64 pages long and so it's no tome either.

Before I continue, I should point out that I've only read the free downloadable primer, not the full rules, and I've certainly not played the game. I'll also point out that the action points system the game uses looks very interesting and has loosely inspired a couple of points in the design of POW!.

However, I don't like it. It's a gut thing.

I realised that I didn't like it when I read that heroes that charged gained a +2 bonus. This just struck me as being too like an RPG (roleplaying game, not rocket propelled grenade launcher). What's more I then discovered that characters test to do things successfully (very RPG). This just strikes me as wrong for the genre. Batman doesn't failed to jump a gap between buildings, he just does it. The mooks don't miss when they shoot at him, he avoids their bullets. In short, super-people succeed when they do super things, unless another super-person stops them. If they don't, they're just not...well...super; they're ordinary schmoes like me (I fail at basic tasks all the time - photography, painting, gaming, speling, etc.).

With Supersystem, it's the game mechanics that are the problem. They seem too realistic. Which, I suppose is not really a criticism, more an issue of taste.

Summing Up

As you can see, faced with a visually unattractive game that can't handle scenarios; a beautiful game that doesn't allow for creativity; and a creative game that just doesn't feel right, I'm kind of stuck unless I get off my fat arse and write my own game. So that's what I'm doing - my own game which allows for attractive models and scenery; is focused on objective driven scenarios; sticks to the fluff that you want to stick to; allows you to play with the characters you want; requires no specific purchases and makes superheroes seem super.

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful summation sir! Looking forward to playing POW! at some point.

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