Mouse Guard: No Power Cards… No Fun? Not at All!

I am a pretty hardcore 4e D&D gamer.  What can I say:  It was my first real gaming experience;  I'm comfortable with it.  I like it.  Besides a little side-step into a Savage Worlds game, Descent or even Munchkin here and there... well, I always go back to 4e. What makes me like it so much? It lays things out pretty black and white in front of you.  For example, you've got a battle mat that has either been drawn on or covered with some terrain. Alright, so a solid picture of where I am... check. You get to have a little miniature that's customizable to your character.  I like painting and constructing minis.  Now, I know what I look like... check. Power Cards.  Very cool, not sure I need to say much more... just kidding... I will explain.  You see, I actually have far too much imagination in a game for my own good.  Power Cards in many respects keep me grounded.  I get to lay them out and separate them into great little piles. *Side note: my personal issues with OCD love this part* ;) When we head into battle I know exactly what to do: grab a card, read the description, add a bit of flourish and move on to the next player.  Abilities are even spelled out in the form of 'daily', 'encounter', and 'at-will'.  I'm not really required to know how strong an action is either.  It tells me.  Depending how deep we are into a combat or how far into an encounter, I have a general feel for which kind of card I should grab. "Ok," you say, "we get it... you like it... now what in the world does this have to do with Mouse Guard?" Alright, alright I will tell you. We played a full encounter-based game the other night.  The 'we' here was Mark, Samaira (a regular in our 4e gaming group) and myself.  Mark was our GM. Now, it was a little rocky to start with.  Because Mark had never run Mouse Guard before, though he has read the core book cover to cover about 10 times, we opted to go with one of the pre-generated adventures in the back of the book and use the characters that were created for it. I chose to play Baron,  a little but brave defender of the Mouse Guard.  He had a pretty typical Nature score, meaning in most ways he was mouselike with all mouselike tendencies.  On the other hand, he was a great little creator and would stop at nothing to protect the others in his party.  Other than those few descriptors and a character sheet covered with information that made NO SENSE WHATSOEVER to me, I got started with my first Mouse Guard game. Long story short: it was awesome.  At first I had a lot of stumbling, and not just because of the learning curve but with role-playing in general.  On your turn you can choose to attack, defend, feint or maneuver.  What exactly did that mean? Well, as far as this game was concerned, we rolled the dice and then depending on the outcome we explained our actions as descriptively as we could. That was a little tougher than I expected it to be.  For instance: sure, I could have just said, "I attack.  I stab with my sword!" but that's not much fun.  Mouse Guard lies a lot within the flourish.  I got to stretch out my imagination's legs.  It felt good. Another complete difference, Mark touched on this in a recent blog of his, failure is a more significant part of the game.  Sure in 4e if you don't succeed in a roll it can definitely add to the game and create intricacies. The difference in Mouse Guard is that if you don't fail, then you essentially don't have a game.  The task for our adventure was to deliver the mail along a road that ran thru the Mouse territories.  We made it thru four cities before a single thing happened because our rolling was pretty good.  It wasn't until we rolled poorly that we came upon a raven and had to do a bit of maneuvering to solve the problem. Then the fun started. The raven saw our mailbag and decided it wanted it! Samaira's character would feint and try his best to keep the mail out of the hands of the raven and I would dive and roll and stab, doing my best to intimidate and distract him. In the end we had to reach a compromise because Samaira had made the raven unable to fly but he still wanted our mail.  In what I thought was a pretty clever moment of negotiation I pointed out that the raven's goal was not to steal the mail but to steal the mail bag.  Therefore, we got to keep the mail and sent the raven off with the bag and shiny buckle.  It was definitely an interesting game. By the end of it we were feeling pretty confident with the rules and we're looking to play a few more times before we make our big move in a week.  It's a fantastic game that is easy to pick up.  One that I highly recommend you give a try. So in conclusion, though I'm still a hardcore 4e fan (have no doubt!), I really found that I didn't 'need' any accessories besides some dice to really enjoy role-playing :) No Power Cards =  No fun?  Not At All!

5 thoughts on “Mouse Guard: No Power Cards… No Fun? Not at All!

  1. Bridget,

    Based on all the posts that you and your husband have been writing regarding Mouse Guard, I couldn’t take it anymore. Last Monday I Ordered the Mouse Guard RPG book as well as the first graphic novel book “Mouse Guard: Fall 1152”. I am really looking forward to getting them this weekend and diving in.

    Like you, I have gotten in to RPGs because of 4E. I really enjoy playing 4E. I am looking forward to trying out other RPGs like Mouse Guard.

    I have been reading that Mouse Guard is based on the Burning Wheel system. Which I think is a system you can buy and apply to just about any kind of game setting you want. (ie: SciFi, medieval, crime, etc) If this turns to be the case I think I will end up purchasing the Burning Wheel system just for that aspect of it. I just want to see how it works with Mouse Guard first.

    Thanks for the great post you and your husband have been doing regarding Mouse Guard!

    – Youseph
    .-= Youseph´s last blog ..Appholes =-.

  2. Burning Wheel is really more focused on Fantasy, as you choose different life paths for yourself, which are fantasy based. Definitely worth picking up for only $20 though.
    However, they also have Burning Empires, which is their Sci-Fi setting book.

  3. I LOVE the Mouse Guard RPG, although I have yet to run it. I really want to do that next semester. There’s just so many little goodies about it, it’s a great system. Introduces character conflict as a very viable game mechanic…and it’s all about making an interesting story, in the end. A win by my book.
    .-= Andy´s last blog ..Multi-Character RPing? =-.

  4. Hi Bridget

    Folks from the Mouse Guard community over on the Burning Wheel forums banded together to create some cards that you can use in Mouse Guard, that you can download here:

    While non-essential, they do lend a nice tactile element to play and during Conflicts they’re nicer to use than scribbling Actions down on a sheet of paper.

    .-= Indy Pete´s last blog ..Pendragon :: Dread Jenga :: Actual Play =-.

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