It’s Good To Be Wrong: DC Adventures

Knee-jerk reactions still make us jerks.

I think that could be advice to live by, and the internet is not a communication forum known for people admitting when they were wrong. Well, I spouted off at the mouth — and I am here to say — I was wrong.

A little while ago, I posted what could only, really, be described as a rant about the DC Adventures/Mutants and Masterminds 3E system. I was pretty convinced that I hated it. I had fallen prey to a certain amount of “edition-mania” and sat there doggedly comparing 2E to 3E. Of course, I know 2E really well, so with 3E/DCA being so new, I had obvious gaps in my knowledge. I was attempting to convert old characters, not understanding exactly how the new system broke things down, and I said some pretty mean things.

Once again, I was wrong.

I spent a pretty big chunk of time over the past weekend really getting to know 3E — reading the book cover to cover, trying out the rules, re-making old characters with a better understanding of what I was seeing and I have to admit, this is a pretty good update of Mutants and Masterminds.

Here are some points I recommend, from my own shortcomings as a reviewer and a fan, if you are planning on looking into the new edition.

1. When you read the DCA book for the first time, don’t have your 2E books open right next to it and try to do a line by line comparison. (I wasn’t quite this bad, but looking back, I feel that way.)

2. Take some time to understand (really understand) the new way conditions work and how the Affliction power effect builds. The affliction mechanic is a great innovation for Mutants and Masterminds — and as was pointed out to me by a poster on the Atomic Think Tank forums — really cuts out a lot of redundancy in the 2E power set.

3. Look carefully at the way some powers have been balanced in the new edition. Point costs, overall, have gone up on a few things — like one of my favorites, Duplication. This actually turns out to be a pretty decent deal in the long run, and when I rebuilt those characters I was mentioning — with a better grasp of how 3E works, I ended up with almost all of them becoming slightly more powerful in the long run, compared to their 2E counterparts.

Here are a few things that I’m not fond of still with the DCA release but consider (now) to be minor enough to ignore.

1. I’m still not a fan of having Fighting (Attribute), Close Attack (Advantage), and Close Combat (Skill). I feel like spreading this out over the three categories is somewhat confusing — and honestly, the attributes are still poorly balanced. Presence — for example — is practically worthless. (Meaning that once again, we have a system where Charisma is the dump stat!)

2. The decision to alter the skill list and change skill costs to 2/1 instead of 4/1 is hard to swallow. Overall, the shortening of the skill list is not well balanced, because while they combined a few things the way 4E D&D did (Athletics instead of Climb, Jump, Swim) what really ends up costing most characters the big points is Expertise skills… Which means that skills need to take on a whole new meaning in a game or they are going to be a place where a lot of builds save points.

3. My biggest peeve — and one that is still going to keep me from buying the Heroes and Villains books (unless I hear something very convincing between now and release) is the decision to use “Iconic” write-ups for DCU characters. Ultimately, these write-ups are useless for being “dateless.” While I understand that situating the characters in a time will date the releases, I feel that argument sorely lacks when considered in the light of the releases we’ve seen so far.

Superman is a very toned-down version of the Man of Steel, sort of an “EverySuperMan” while Wonder Woman exists as she did at pretty much the mid-point of the most recent Gail Simone run. Green Arrow has returned to his, “Kevin Smith just revived me” version, but Cat-Man is the character from his most recent comics as well.

Basically, the point is — These products do not save me time as a GM writing up DCU characters because every single one of them will need to be re-written just to match the timeline.

But, opinions on this point vary, so, to each his own.

I just wanted to take a moment to apologize in my little corner of the Web and say, “I’m Sorry, I was wrong” and encourage anyone on the fence to take my example, give DCA a second look and see for themselves that it’s a pretty great game — if you give it a chance.

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One response

  1. cauldronofevil | Reply

    Yeah, when I read your first review of DCA I was shocked. Though I’ve collected almost everything for M&M, DCA was the first version I thought I’d ever be willing to actually PLAY! Every other version still seemed to have a heavy stank of D&D on it.

    Also, since I don’t currently read many comic books (too expensive, too badly written) I’m VERY glad they took the ‘iconic versions’ choice. I don’t have to change anything to use those characters in ways that anyone but a current comic reading rich kid would notice!

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