Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tommy's Take on Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways

The latest in the Civil War series for the Marvel Heroic RPG by Margaret Weis Productions came out recently, this time focusing on the Young Avengers/Runaways (and to a lesser extent, non-mutant teen heroes in general).

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The pixilation issue with the art seems to be a thing of the past.  That was a common complaint for the last couple of books, but MWP seems to have turned it into a non-issue. The PDF is $12.99, though you can preorder the print book from Amazon right now for $13.59.

This book ties into the Civil War Event book for Marvel Heroic, and is essentially a supplement to a supplement. It is divided into five chapters: The New Warriors, The Runaways, The Young Avengers, The Cube and Hero Datafiles.

The New Warriors chapter gives a brief history of the team (with horrible art from their “reality TV” comic series that led into Civil War), and introduces some new Milestones for Reality TV stars. Incidentally, if you wanted to run a game based off of the brilliant Peter Milligan/Mike Allred X-Force/X-Statix, these wouldn’t be horrible milestones to get started with. Several datafiles (though you will need to adjust affiliations and add Milestones if you want to use them as PCs) of former members are included, with the most notable omissions being Nova (coming in Annihilation) and Scarlet Spider. The odd character selection of these books rears its head as Night Thrasher’s brother becomes the first character (I believe) to get two datafiles in a single book (as Bandit and as Night Trasher II). This chapter also provides for some twists to the Stamford event, allowing for different causes and survivors, with one placing the New Warriors even more directly responsible for the event, while another places the blame squarely on the Avengers for not answering a distress call. The chapter ends with the “new” New Warriors, a team of depowered mutants given technology by Night Thrasher II in order to fight crime.

The Runaways chapter focuses on the cult favorite team of the same name, a team originally comprised of the children of supervillains. The chapter opens with a brief history of the team, as well as datafiles of deceased members Arsenic and Alex Wilder, as well as the Gibborim: The ancient race of giants that gave The Pride (the parents of the Runaways) their powers. This also includes Teenage Rebellion milestones, and options for putting spins on the Civil War event based on the presence of the Runaways. An action scene featuring Flag-Smasher is included, from the Young Avengers/Runaways Civil War tie-in.

The Young Avengers are a team of legacy heroes (directly or not), and their chapter opens with a datafile for their founder Iron Lad (one of the many Kangs). This chapter includes Milestones for second generation heroes as well as some Unlockables. Additional options are provided for tweaking the Civil War Event based on the Young Avengers’ presence, as well as an action scene featuring SHIELD Cape Killers trying to bring the Young Avengers down.

A mini-event is included, The Cube, which is largely the plot of the Young Avengers/Runaways Civil War tie-in. In it, the heroes have to face The Warden of The Cube, as well as the brainwashed Marvel Boy. A slew of anti-registration heroes are included as datafiles, as well as a number of minor villains. These include Rick Jones (yay!), Phil Urich (former Green Goblin), The Living Mummy, Hammerhead, Slyde, Stilt-Man, and The Witches (Satana, Jennifer Kale and Topaz).

The book concludes with a big list of datafiles spread out among the New Warriors, Runaways, Young Avengers and teen heroes in general. They include Young Avengers like The Patriot, The Wiccan and Hawkeye, Runaways like Nico Minoru, Victor Mancha and Chase Stein, and New Warriors like Night Trasher, Speedball and Namorita. As well, heroes like Alex Power, Amadeus Cho, Slapstick and Ultra Girl are included.

WHAT WORKS: They dumped in a number of datafiles I’d love to play in a game (Rick Jones, Living Mummy and Ultra Girl for three), and I like the excuse to add in a few more odds and ends villains to provide more options. Also, it’s nice to have the non-Penance Speedball as an option.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: The awful New Warriors art. This book in general just feels way less “essential” (or way more “optional”) than the 50States Initiative, but that may be a pro, depending on how you look at it.

CONCLUSION: If you’re not sold on Marvel Heroic, this isn’t going to be the book that changes your mind. The datafiles really sell this book, as the extra material like the Milestones and Unlockables just don’t stand out as well with in this one as they did in Civil War and 50 States Initiative, so if you hate teen superheroes, you may not be thrilled with this. On the other hand, that selection of datafiles really is pretty cool, as a few more of my genuine favorites slipped in here.