Rodent Defenders

I have been playing role-playing games with the doods since time immortal it seems. Dungeons and Dragons has, of course, been by far the most perused. But recently we have been trying out a myriad of other games.

Our most recent path-straying was to Mouse Guard, a game set in a world laid out by the comics of the same name. Perhaps I’ve been too bogged down by the D&D smash-time-is-now mind-set to enjoy more creative games, but Mouse Guard became quickly uninteresting. When playing a new game that didn’t produce the fun-factor one was hoping for, it’s always difficult to discern if that is the fault of the game or some other factor such as poor choices in character creation or our collective mood that evening. In the end, it was a game with poor mechanics (that were entirely too random) and required more creativity than I was willing to invest in a world I didn’t find overly interesting.

I did, however, read the comics from which the game sprung and they resulted in much more positive feelings.

Mouse Guard vol1: Fall 1152: B: The main appeal of Mouse Guard is the fantastic art and the skillful world-building that grounds it. The themes and characters are well conceived and wonderfully detailed. But, like Tolkien, the writing is less impressive. This first story features a complicated plot filled with conflicting emotions and epic battles that this single volume simply doesn’t have time to convey with the same detail it gives to expository things. The cinematic layouts taking up several full pages, while beautiful, don’t help in relieving this rushed feeling.

Mouse Guard vol2: Winter 1152: B+: The story was slightly more character driven than the first but I still suffered from the same hurried perception. There are quite a few characters and their relationships and tensions are introduced and resolved so fast that I felt they fell flat, but not so much that the characters weren’t discernible. However, fantastic action sequences and further world exploration propelled this book past these faults.

Overall, in both volumes, while the guardmice are battling animals I was thoroughly engrossed. Snakes, crabs, an owl; each sequence drew me in. The crippling medieval-era desperation that filled the world was well developed, but less fun.

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