Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Marvel Mondays - Civil War - Session 2 Report

Hey, readers!

So, we're here at session two of Civil War, which you can always watch by clicking on the lovely embedded Youtube video here!

However, for those of you who would rather read a moderately sized blog post than sit through about three hours of guys making 'Bro' and 'Hulk' jokes (we'll get there), read on!

Just a reminder of the team we've got in the works here. Every player has two heroes at the moment. Hulk and Daredevil. Thor and Iron Man. Tigra and Ms. Marvel. Moon Knight and Hawkeye. Captain America and Luke Cage. Wolverine and Spider-Woman. Spider-Man and Dr. Strange.  One player was absent, so neither Thing nor Yellowjacket will be showing up.

Ready to dive in?

Session Summary:

Things began right about where they left off. The team was in Oklahoma wrapping up the business with the giant, mega-death sword that we protected from Dr. Doom. A few smart guys were called in to find some way to protect and ward it, including Tony and Dr. Strange. A Doom Spiderbot shows up with a message from Doom saying that he wasn't interested in taking it, but in fact was using his army as security. We promptly ignored that noise while Dr. Strange packed a whalloping ward using alliteration (like I just did) to protect the universe-ending weapon.

Being a wonderful time for phone calls, Banner has come to after his lab-smashing rampage in an abandoned military base in New Jersey that is being raided by Hydra forces, and phones for help. Oddly enough, I live near an abandoned military base in New Jersey, so I could have been in some serious trouble here. So, we sent in the team of heroes that everyone didn't have in Oklahoma, Tony and Spider-Man excluded. I spend the rest of this session as Spider-Woman, because Hydra, and stuff.

The action scene begins with Banner rigging up a laser from scattered equipment and shooting a giant robot with it. Yeah, that was bad-ass. Cap throws his mighty shield and messes up before Hawkeye fires in some tear-gas to get the guys in there all dazed and confused. Ms. Marvel decided to attack the giant Hydra transport that was waiting outside.

Now, for those of you not in the know with Spider-Woman, during this time she was a triple agent, working with SHIELD and Hydra and spying on both while relaying all of this information back to Nick Fury. So, that makes anything with Hydra or SHIELD more fun for me. Instead of going in there, guns blazing like everyone else, Spider-Woman nabbed an agent real fast and started to interrogate him on what they were doing there, hoping to help them achieve their objective in the long run to keep up Hydra status.

Before that could bring up any fruit, Spider-Man and Iron Man show up. Spidey webs up one of the giant robots, who was going to target Spider-Woman but didn't... 'Cause stuff! After the Hydra agents rough up some of the team a bit, or try to at least, Iron Man does a mega EMP that takes everyone out. I blame my bad internet during this session on him.

So, SHIELD shows up and cleans up while Cap and Hawkeye high-five the team and have a little banter. Banner hulks out while trying to fix up Spider-Man, which was weird, but why not? Thus began the Hulk jokes, that didn't stop anytime soon. Upon returning to base, the team is given two hooks to nibble upon. The first one is that the government is considering bringing back up the Superhuman Registration Act, which is legislation talking about registering superhumans. The second is that Hammerhead is going to be assassinated after getting off a plane or something? I'm not really sure, since my internet was cutting out during that explanation.

We go for the second option. Ms. Marvel is swapped out for Tigra, and Iron Man is swapped out for Thor. Those who can go incognito do, and we all watch as Hammerhead gets into his limo. Funnily enough, a gang of 'bros' hopped up on Mutant Growth Hormone show up to pull the trigger so to speak. I began the round by having Spider-Woman pump up the pheromones in order to distract them, which didn't work out so hot. Spidey wasn't having a good day, so he swings in and tries to hit a guy, which backfires. Hulk comes in and... Well... Smashes. Thor finishes off the bros by dramatically posing and telling the guys to cut it out.

The bros were soundly defeated!... But, now the limo is going out of control and driving through airport security. Hawkeye tries to shoot the engine out, but misses. But Hawkeye never misse- Oh, wait. That's Bullseye. Oops. Captain America tries to wave the crowd away, with limited success. Finally, Tigra saves the day and pounces the limo, tearing the driver out from the seat, only to find that Hammerhead is a robot with a bomb strapped to him.


Thor takes the bomb into space, and the day is saved! The press is on the outskirts, but we all know how well that played out last time. However, Hulk wants to talk to the press, but we all swiftly convince him not to with promises of a buffet back at Avengers Tower. Food is a powerful motivator. So are pheromones.

Put them together, you get this.

Back at Avengers Tower, we follow up on a few leads based on what's going on. Apparently, the bros were hired by a mysterious hooded figure, who was the same guy who hired the Serpent Society to protect that MGH lab last session. My meta-game knowledge points to 'the Hood', but that's just me. We're also rather baffled by the Hammerhead robot, which turned out to be a life model decoy, which Nick Fury is famous for using.

However, when you want info on the underworld, you can always talk to the Kingpin, so we did. It was fairly simple, since he was in the slammer at this point, so we get a group of like minded individuals... and Hulk... and go have a chat. Captain America dominated the scene with each of us throwing in a fat joke here and there. Turns out the Kingpin has no idea about the life model decoys, or why one was used for Hammerhead. In fact, I can't really remember any solid info that we got out of Marvel's underworld Stay-Puft, but that may be because it's really rather late at the time of my typing this.

We end the session with a congressional hearing looming over our heads. I'm bringing back Wolvie for that one. Someone's gotta stick up for mutant-kind on this team.

My Reactions:

I'll be perfectly honest right out of the gate, this one didn't really zing for me. Not that it was bad, because, when you get right down to it, it wasn't at all. Everyone was laughing and having a good time, and that is the number one priority here. If it isn't fun, then why bother, right? That is my central philosophy when evaluating my own sessions: fun is the number one goal, all the time, every game.

And yes, it was fun.

But something was off with me, big time. I'm not really sure what it was, to be perfectly honest. I wasn't tired. Wasn't sick. I just felt really disconnected to everything for some weird reason that I'll try to figure out below. Oh, and my internet wasn't cooperating, so that didn't help either.

It could have been the fact that I was playing Spider-Woman for this entire session. I really wanted to get some time in with her to get a feel for how she plays, and I knew that Hydra would be involved in some capacity this session, so she had to be there for that. However, I'm not totally comfortable with her yet, power-wise or personality. Having read a good number of comics with her in it, I can play the spy-game, and I can attempt the wry sense of humor, but there is a measure of awkwardness there.

Before I get into more exploration of why this session was off for me, I would like to explain what I did enjoy. I want to do this now, because I've written a lot about the things that were negative for me, and I don't want to spin this whole thing the wrong way for you guys, especially those of you involved in this game, and double especially for Jared who is running this campaign.

Despite a complaint about the action scenes that I will say below, I did really enjoy them. Beating on a group of Hydra goons is really fun, and some of the stuff these guys come up with is amazing. Especially Iron Man with his super EMP. I mean, damn! That's pretty kick-ass, and totally Tony Stark. Now, those of you who read my last post about Action would think that these parts would be boring for me, but I do find the fun in scenes like this more than that post implies. It's just not even close to my favorite stuff.

Also, some of the guys were on fire comedically which had all of us rolling. I wasn't, unfortunately, but God, man. If you watch the video above for nothing else, watch it for the zingers. They are there, and they are amazing. Between the constant bro references, Steve making fun of my state, and Hulk, there was good comedy to be had. That's where the real fun of this session came through.

Now, let's go back to trying to figure out why this one was off for me.

Unfortunately, the 'weird thing' that I have mentioned in my X-Men session reports has come back even worse than before. I hate this, I really do. For those who haven't read that post, I'll reiterate it here. In online games involving speech and video, I have a really hard time distinguishing in and out of character speech, especially when it comes to jokes. God, this irritates me, because it seems to be something only I have trouble with. Especially this session with the Hulk. When the guy who plays Hulk, which does a good job all things considered, says a 'Hulk is -' or a 'Hulk wants -' joke, I can't tell if it's in or out of character at all. Then, other people will respond, and I can't tell if they are in character or just extending the joke out of character. This confusion also makes me clam up, so I'm missing an opportunity to do my favorite part of the hobby, talking and interacting in-character, because I'm confused.

Now, take that, and multiply it across seven or eight people who have two characters each, and I'm practically crippled. Not to mention my weird shyness that prevents me from starting up conversations in-character, basically because half of these peoples are almost complete strangers.

Worst part is, it's no one's fault but my own. It can't really be fixed without making stuff regimented and stilted, which is the last thing I want. So, I suppose I'll just have to continue on and pray that, as I get to know these people, that it goes away.

I'm also still not sold on this group size. There was a good discussion about it on the comments for my first Civil War session report, and the consensus, as I remember it, was a 'wait and see' approach. Well, I'm not convinced Marvel Heroic is meant for a group of eight with power levels ranging from Daredevil to Thor and Hulk. In both action scenes this session, combat only lasted one round, and everyone got one action each. The heavy hitters stole the show, obviously. Now, here's my point. If the group was smaller, failing a roll during an action scene wouldn't be such a big deal when you're on the weaker side of the spectrum, as Spider-Woman is. However, if things get wrapped up in one round due to an awesome roll from Iron Man or Hulk, and you messed up on your turn, then that's all you get to do that scene. You don't get your spotlight moment. That sucks.

When the game is mostly focused on action, that really sucks.

The final point I'd like to make is selfish, so please disregard it, but I would like to bring it up anyway. In a group of eight players, I shouldn't really expect my character's stuff to be explored all that much. Especially since everyone has two characters, I should just completely forget about it. However, a part of me still feels that Spider-Woman's triple agent status was under-utilized during the Hydra scene. She interrogated a guy, which had no mechanical influence, but he wasn't talking until the scene was over, and by then, it was too late to act on any information she would have gotten. Not to mention, the thing Hydra was after wasn't even there, so there was no opportunity for a moment of swiping it while SHIELD was cleaning up and handing it off to a Hydra contact as a small aside thing. Spider-Man also had an ample opportunity to call her out on the suspicious stuff that was going on, which would have potentially netted me four XP and been a great point of character evolution, but that didn't happen.

I wouldn't be worried about this if it was an isolated incident, but something similar happened during our Breakout game last summer. Now, I hate to be the guy who complains about things that happened a year ago, but it's a wasted opportunity that still miffles me just a bit. See, I was playing Wolverine, and the 10XP point of his milestone was either coming off a berserker rage without killing anybody, or murdering someone in front of innocents. Well, it just so happens that Wolverine murdered a villain in cold blood... And nobody cared. Unlike some of the other members of our group who just see Milestones as a way to score XP, I see them as crucial evolution points for a character. Hitting the 10 mark should be a huge deal. However, in this game and the Breakout one before it, completing milestones was just kind of a whimper and mechanical thing. In that game, I was building Wolverine to a point where he was seeing how much of a savage, how much like Sabretooth, he was becoming, and having him deal with that baggage, but the big incident that would have brought that to life was swept under the rug as we moved on to the next plot point.

I really, really apologize for bitching. It's far too late for me to be writing this blog post anyway, but I wanted to get down my thoughts while they were super fresh in my mind. I also apologize if I sound whiny, bitchy, or selfish. I don't mean to.

I'm enjoying this game, and look forward to the next time we play in two weeks where we finally dip into the stuff that sparks the Civil War.

I hope you enjoyed this post, despite my ramblings and goings-on, which I do far too much. Why else would I have a blog? If not, enjoy this funny picture, at least.


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