Game of the Year 2012: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying sidesteps every issue I have with supers gaming. It puts the players in the driver's seat of the characters they love, rewriting the Marvel Comics universe as they see fit. It captures the power fantasy of throwing a city bus in a fistfull of dice, but makes resolution of such an action manageable on a math level. It lets players get creative with their abilities, capturing all the flavour of comic book action. The game reflects all the best of Marvel Comics; each supplement so far has been amazing at giving players and game masters broader options, more tools and better ideas for playing the game. I love the mechanic for awarding XP being playing your character as they are presented by the source material. Plus, any game featuring something called a 'Doom Pool' deserves more awards that I can give. Excelsior to the team at Margaret Weis Productions.
Biggest Letdown: D&D Next
This game is not even really a product yet and already this has been the biggest disappointment in recent memory. Not by the mere fact that it exists, Ièm not that big a fanboy, but the approach of its creation. Say what you will about 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, but at least its designers had a clear goal in mind for it. A goal they pursued its most obvious conclusion. 4th Ed was amazingly well executed as a combat engine, regardless of its value as a storytelling tool and entertainment product. D&D Next, however, is coming from the most cynical place a creative endeavour can originate from. Nothing about the design process has said anything but 'we are trying to sell this to as many gamers as possible'. This isn't playtest, it is a marketing focus group. Advantage didn't go away because it was a broken mechanic, it went away because too many players didn't think it felt like "their D&D". When the last two editions were criticised for deviating from expectations the designers met it with a firm statement of belief that they were creating the best version of the game they could. Here, Mearls just promises a rules module that will do what you want. I already have a copy of the D&D I want to play, what I's like to see is the D&D a team of creative people want to make.
Most Anticipated: F.A.T.E. Everything
The FATE Core Kickstarter didn't just give gamers a revision to the rules, it launched an entire gameline. Two books of settings and another loaded with rules variants and optional subsystems would be enough for any gamer to anticipate rabidly. Add licensed games for Atomic Robo and Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences and that's a lot of FATE for gamers to love all year long.
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