The Mouse Guard RPG Box Set: An In-depth Review

Geek Culture

Box topBox topThe Mouse Guard RPG is by Luke Crane and David Petersen, and is based upon the award-winning comic book and graphic novel series of the same name. Released originally in 2008 as a hard cover version (a PDF version is also available), it promptly won several design awards and received almost universally positive reviews. Based on that success, Archaia Studio Press decided to release a deluxe box set which contains updates the rules and repackages the game to be even more friendly for those new to RPGs. While the box set was a long time in the making, and suffered a number of production delays, it finally reached stores this summer and within just a couple of months the first printing sold out. Why? To put it simply, the game, which was already beautifully illustrated and written, now is fantastic – the added features, rules, and accessories included with the box are well worth the price (which at $69.95 MSRP is very pricey). Let’s take a look inside.

Let’s begin by seeing how the publisher describes the game:

Join the Mouse Guard and defend the Mouse Territories against predators and dangers, in this roleplaying game for the acclaimed Mouse Guard comic book series! Players form their own Mouse Guard patrol and attempt to complete missions while the Game Master takes on the roles of the weather, animals and the wilderness all trying to thwart the fearless mice.

What’s Inside
A look inside the boxA look inside the box

Before opening up the box, let me talk about the box itself. It’s a hefty, square shaped box (23cm x 23cm x 9.5cm thick), lavishly illustrated and of high quality construction. Lifting it, one immediately notices how heavy it is, largely because it’s packed with material. Opening it, one finds:

  • a 320-page, full color, softcover rules book, a 44-page supplement with new missions and rules
  • 3 action decks (1 for the GM, 2 for players) for scripting conflicts
  • a set of Condition cards used for tracking adverse conditions affecting characters
  • a set of cards detailing weapon stats
  • a pad of characters sheets
  • a pad of GM record sheets
  • a set of 10 custom dice
  • a GM’s reference screen
  • 5 colorful, plastic mouse tokens (which resemble those shown in the comic)
  • a map of the Mouse Territories

Mouse Guard tokensMouse Guard tokensI’ll discuss the extra materials first and it can be summed up in one word: awesome. All of the cards are printed on quality card stock and bear original artwork from David Petersen – the action cards are a great addition to the game and make scripting conflicts quick to do and easy to learn. The dice have a really nice feel to them and are solid – these aren’t cheap, super light plastic – landing with a solid “thunk” when they hit the table. The mouse pawns, which I initially thought were going to be kind of dumb, are very nice and bring about a certain amount of immersion to the game for anyone who is a fan of the comic because they closely resemble the tokens Gwendolyn pushes around her map of the territories. The character sheets are incredibly well designed and include all of the critical rules players need to know right on the sheet. They’re also square, matching the rest of the box set’s trade dress as well as the comic’s format. It also has to be pointed out that you get a thick pad of these sheets – not simply a couple to get you started. Simply put, all the accessories really do make the box set “deluxe” and are well-worth the additional cost.

Turning to the rule book, it too clearly is both a labor of love and attention to detail. It is easily the most beautiful RPG I have ever laid eyes on – like the original hardback version of the book, the Mouse Guard rulebook outdoes even the largest RPG publisher’s books. That’s fact, not opinion. The book is printed on heavy, glossy paper and filled from start to finish with lavish, full-color illustrations. The layout, the fonts, and the cover all convey a powerful sense of aesthetics. Incidentally, the book’s dimensions are square which makes it a bit unusual to place on a shelf, but it’s done for a specific reason: the book exactly matches the comic and graphic novels’ dimensions, fitting perfectly next to them on a shelf.

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