Friday, February 13, 2015

Tommy's Take on ICONS: The Assembled Edition

So last year, after my review of ICONS, Ad Infinitum and Green Ronin Publishing joined forces to release ICONS: The Assembled Edition...not quite a second edition, more of a 1.5 Edition...something closer to what Pinnacle does with the Savage Worlds core books than what D&D does with its editions (that is, remaining 95% compatible from edition to edition with little work).

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Assembled Edition takes a lot of the best stuff from the  Villainomicon and Team-Up and combines it with an expanded and reorganized rulebook. It's mostly compatible with everything pre-Great Power, and about 95% compatible with Great Power. The PDF is $15 and the hardcover is about $35, and is completely full color.

This is not going to be a full review of the book. I did that once, with the original ICONS book, and you can read that review above.

One of the big things this edition addresses is the organization. It just bugged me in the original, and the flow is a little more organic here. Definite improvement.

The core mechanic has been tweaked (though it still gives a similar spread): Instead of rolling d6-d6, the player rolls a d6 and adds it to the relevant stat and the GM rolls a d6 and adds it to the opposing stat, then subtracts it from the player's result to determine whether it's Massive Failure, Major Failure, Moderate Failure, Marginal Success, Moderate Success, Major Success or Massive Success.

Powers got overhauled and tweaked, and are now organized alphabetically instead of by category, and the random power table is arranged to get a better spread (Mental Powers were extremely common on the old table, due to occupying "7", but honestly, I'm more inclined to use Great Power anyway).

Things like Stunning and Slamming make more sense since the game is no longer "player facing", removing one of the bigger stumbling blocks from the original release (a lot of player facing games wind up with odd effects and rules exception that don't make sense when you're trying to apply them back to the PCs).


As mentioned, though, material from other books was folded into this edition, like the charts for random Villain creation, which are designed to get you a good counterpart to your hero, as well as (my personal favorite) Universe Creation Rules (originally presented in Team-Up), which is character creation taken to the extreme and is a worthwhile use of a whole session as the players construct the major players (hero and villain) and locations of the universe, then use whichever characters make the most sense in a game. To put it mildly, I want to do this very, very badly.

SIX POINT SUMMARY

  • ICONS has a crazy amount of quality, third party support, particularly from Fainting Goat Games and Vigilance Press, so even if Ad Infinitum's already impressive slate of adventures doesn't tide you over, there is *more* out there.
  • As I said in my original review: ICONS character creation is just FUN. Maybe the only game that had character creation as fun is, not surprisingly, the FASERIP Marvel game.
  • I was annoyed that this came so close to Great Power (which I backed on Kickstarter), and it wasn't 100% compatible.
  • Dan Houser provided every piece of art in the book, continuing to define the distinctive visual appearance of ICONS.
  • The Universe rules, which incorporate the Villain Creation Rules, are just one of the coolest things I have ever seen in a game, period.
  • I'm not usually a big fan of ".5" style updates, but this thing went almost point by point down my complaints list and addressed them. Hard for me to argue with that.
At the end of the day, though, I need to run this game again. I ran it once, did not care for it, but that was the old rulebook, it was my first time running the game, and I was running it for my then-very young son. My overall gut impression of the game is more positive right now, but I do want to see for myself if it's a game I could love, and the good faith effort in addressing the previous criticisms of the game (including my own) compels me to give it that shot.