Sunday, 15 August 2010

Meanwhile: Tabletop Superhero Games

This post was sparked by some debate on TMP (The Miniatures Page) around the state of the superhero tabletop miniatures hobby.

I am a huge fan of Pulp City, and also involved in a small way in development, so I am declaring that as an interest to anyone reading on.

Right now there are a couple of dedicated options (Pulp City, and Supersystem - now in it's third edition), and Heroclix - which I think of as more of a board game due to the grid structure of play.

Monkeyden Productions are also working on a game called Superhuman, which is presented to be a miniatures battle game. Meanwhile, Ganesha Games state they are developing Power Legion (based on their Song of Blades system). Add to that with current lines of superhero and super villain minis such as Pulp City, Superfigs (primarily intended for Supersystem; unfortunately with no new releases for some time), Reaper's handful of supers in their Chronoscope range, Heroclix as straight-up minis or conversion fodder, then there are superhero minis available in some abundance out there.

Add in the various 'generic' tabletop systems, and there are a number of options either available or in development.

I think each game will offer its own Unique Selling Point(s), and stand or fail accordingly. Having a small part in the development of Pulp City, I know the collective intention of those involved is to make it a great, fluid, accessible game for those who want to play it. Add in a great line of minis with regular support and growth, and I think Pulp City has a number of USP's.

What success for any single game system may boil down to is 'take-up' by gamers, and a minis line alongside a game is important in that in my view. Talking with Maciej Zylewicz (the guy behind Pulp Monsters/Pulp City), he identifies miniatures gaming as a niche hobby, and superheroes as a smaller niche within that hobby. Thus realistic expectations of success are probably necessary. Simply put, sci-fi and fantasy war gaming are strong elements within the non-historical hobby – everything else is in smaller niches.

I think it is best to consider superhero gaming relative to genres such as pulp, old west, VSF etc, rather than as contenders to the big 2 'genres' (sci-fi and fantasy; which are in themselves massively diverse).

What all this means to my mind is that Pulp City offers an emerging game and range, but of course there is plenty of alternate choice for those wanting their superhero fix; it may be just a case of looking around.

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