In the world of Mouse Guard, mice struggle to live safely and prosper amongst harsh conditions and a host of predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed: more than just soldiers, they are guides for common mice looking to journey without confrontation from one village to another. They see to their duty with fearless dedication so that they may not simply exist, but truly live.
- Excerpt from Mouseguard.net
Bravery, wits, and an acorn-cap shield are all that stand between you and mortal peril. You and a group of stalwart allies must stand against beast and nature alike to earn the right to see the next season. The mice of this world have denied their timid existence, taken up arms, and made their claim against all comers. Sometimes, they even manage to hold it. This is the world of Mouse Guard.
The Mouse Guard RPG was first released in 2008, providing a single rule-book to guide players and game masters through the creation and execution of adventuring in the Mouse Guard setting. Unlike many other game systems, there have been no further releases; no bestiaries or advance Mouse Guard guides to stock your bookshelf with extra material. Instead, there is the Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game Box Set. And it is awesome.
Let's take a look, shall we?
The box, featured against an elegant wood-laminate floor. There are no new box-related innovations to be had, but the design and art are nice enough to display on a bookshelf, and the box keeps all necessary game implements together so that it is easy to keep together between gaming sessions.
Here are the full contents of the box set. Contents include:
- A softcover edition of the Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game rule book
- A 44-page supplement with new missions and adventures
- Three decks of twelve action cards each
- Fifteen Condition Cards
- 21 Weapon Cards
- A pad of Character Sheets
- A pad of GM Sheets
- A folding GM screen
- Ten mouse dice
- Five mouse pawn figures
- A map of the Mouse Territories
The Character Sheet lays out all necessary information for the player in a way that leaves it easily accessed during the game play. Character personality information goes on the front, while game mechanic related stats (abilities, traits, and conditions) are on the back of the sheet next to an outline of the basic rules of the game. There is even a generic mouse base supplied so that you can draw your character!
The GM Sheet provides an organized method to track players' characters and progress through the game. The back of the GM Sheet provides the GM with a simplified version of game session procedure and several reference points to spare the tedium of searching through the rule book.
The cards are helpful tools to keep track of character statuses, weapons, and actions during a conflict. I guess you could just keep track of everything by writing it down, but look at these cards! They are absolutely gorgeous with an excellent balance of artwork from the Mouse Guard comics combined with the information necessary to know how to play with what your character has been given. The only thing I like more in this box set is this:
Those of you familiar with the Mouse Guard comics will recognize Gwendolyn's map, complete with mice-head pawns to place throughout the Mouse Territories as markers. I can't think of a better way to begin the first session of a Mouse Guard game than to place this map on the table before your players as you assign their first mission. While this is an unnecessary set-piece for the game, it is a great touch. Collector's will appreciate the high-quality print of the Mouse Territories and new players will be able to find their path through the wilderness as they chart their adventure.
Here is a shot of a pawn being held for size comparison. I disagree with the candy-bright color scheme, but if you are a big enough gaming geek, you can easily give these babies a paint job to acquire a more authentic color.
Also featured are ten custom dice. The dice have snakes, swords, and axes instead of numbers or pips. These are a nice detail to have at your gaming table and I'm sure a clever player could think of an in-world gambling game to go along with them.
The Mouse Guard Roleplaying Box Set is an elegant addition to any RPG fan's collection. Those already familiar with the system will enjoy all the extra materials and the supplemental content. Anyone new to the game will find a well-stocked kit to guide them into the rules and system. There is nothing shoddy about this box set: from the bounty of artwork from the Mouse Guard comics to the quality of production with the cards, dice, pawns, and sheet pads. This box set can be used for years of games and would make a great gift to a gamer, gift to yourself (you deserve it!), or an excellent use of a bit of your tax-refund.
But little Mouse, you are not alone,In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!-Excerpt from "To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough"by Robert Burns
Next time you're in Haven, be sure to check it out.