Tabletop QOTD 2020-03-26

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

What game do you think is underrated and why?

For RPGs, I think Godlike by Arc Dream publishing. The way that it integrates super powered individuals with our own timeline to create a cohesive alternate reality reminds me of the best works of Turtledove, and I've never played a game that wasn't intense- largely because for all of the powers that the characters have, they're just as much at risk as the normal line soldiers. The system really supports that feeling, and makes the action fast and frantic.

For Boardgames, I think In the Shadow of the Emperor.

I don't see many talk about this in the aegis of well respected games and it's not one that I see people wanting to play often. It has so many well done aspects, from aging of the nobles to the marriage and inheritance process to the way that the game encourages change with concrete rewards. I'll play it any time (as my time on mabiweb shows), but in person, it's rarely a game that people want to play.

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Fudge, even though it's descendant Fate is very popular. Fudge is fast becoming my favorite system (next to Fate). The way it handles scale was a bit confusing to me at first but the more that I read it the more I think you could model any sort of fiction with Fudge with relative ease. Unfortunately it requires a bit of a learning curve to really understand what it's doing.

Underrated RPG:

TSR's Marvel Super Heroes.

This game came out in the late 1980s and early 1990s as one of the first super hero RPGs. It's mechanic was simple, a chart that had 0 - 100 down the left side and columns for different ranks, from Feeble to Unearthly (and a few higher ranks for exceptionally powerful beings). Your stats -- FASERIP -- and powers had a rank. FASERIP was Fighting, Agility, Strength, Endurance, Reason, Intuition, and Psyche. For any check, you rolled D100 and compared it to your ability's or power's column. This resulted in a color: White for failure, Green for mild success, Yellow for medium success, and Red for an exceptional success.

Things could cause column shifts, like shooting at someone behind cover, etc. but generally this was a fast, easy to adjudicate, set of rules. The column headers (Feeble, Good, Excellent, Incredible, Amazing, Monstrous, Unearthly) were names that every Marvel comics fan knew well from the titles of the comics.

But what really made the game an exceptional product was the Ultimate Powers book. This was over 100 pages of super powers, listed by category. They were quite thorough and represented powers from the wide range available to comic book characters. Over the years, I used that book to make characters from a wide array of SciFi and Fantasy movies. It made character generation something interesting in its own right, not just a boring task to slog through before playing the game.

The other thing TSR did that really impressed me at the time was their Handbook series. This was a series of books that gave a full page (sometimes two) for basically every single character that ever appeared in the Marvel Comics at that time. From Spider-Man's Aunt May and Uncle Ben to Galactus, from Spider-Man to dozens of characters that only appeared once to characters like the Watcher, you got to read the stats and histories for everyone, ever. They followed up this A-Z encyclopedia of characters with annual updates with new and changed characters for the three or four years MSH was in print.

The game system is out of print now. Marvel, a Disney franchise, isn't the same anymore and TSR folded, selling their D&D and other products to Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro... so there's never going to be an officially supported version of this engine out there again.

But it was such a great engine at the time.
I've got to agree with Fudge. It's still got the best and simplest damage system I've ever seen in an RPG. (Marvel Super Heroes is a good one too.)

For boardgames, there are tons of excellent little games out there that never got any attention. Two favourites of my family are Rifugio, a tile laying game about hiking through the Dolomites while discovering the beautiful landscape; and Mini Miners, about 18 dwarfs with different, interacting skills, mining for gold and diamonds.
Has to be Tyrants of the Underdark. I think it's the best deck builder I've played. The area control adds a level of direct player interaction not seen in many deck builders. I think its lack of popularity is due to the D&D theme. It also has the worse choice of player colours I have ever seen in a boardgame. The colour choices of the game overall is also pretty poor. Makes it hard to look at and tell pieces apart.