Tuesday, April 5, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: D is for DC Heroes

This post has been updated since it was originally published on April 4, 2012.

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s

DC Heroes 

I have been a fan of supers gaming ever since I picked up the Villains & Vigilantes 2nd Edition boxed set in the early 80's.  From that game, several of us tried out Marvel Super Heroes from TSR and Heroes Unlimited from Palladium Books.  One summer I ran across the first edition of DC Heroes in the local game shop.  It seemed like an obvious purchase since many of us were avid readers of several of the DC titles; plus, Green Lantern will always be my favorite super hero of all time.  I figured any game that had Green Lantern included in the universe and available for play should be a must have for me.  Besides, maybe the system would be easy to translate back and forth between this system and the one used in the Marvel game.  We had plans for the ultimate crossovers and battles between the universes but the systems were not compatible at all.  

If we would have put a little more effort into it, I now believe the systems could have been converted between with just a little more patience.  Marvel had ranks and DC had APs and a reasonable approximation between the two systems could have been worked out.  The question is if the power level from one system to the other would have been an easy match.  That would have most likely been the most challenging part of the conversion.

I was a little concerned with the price but then I opened the box and was pretty much blown away.  There were three booklets (a Players Manual, a Game Masters manual, and a Skills & Powers manual if I recall correctly), a GMs screen, and a boatload of character cards that served as miniature character sheets for many of the most popular and some of the more obscure figures in the DC universe. 

One of my favorite sections of the rules was the designer notes appendix.  If I recall correctly, it talked about acquiring the license, several failed attempts at starting the design, and how the designer came upon the AP concept and how the design team reached several crucial decisions. A section similar to this used to be a common thing among wargames and some early role-playing games.  I always enjoy reading about the design process and I feel that modern games should include a similar section.

There were several of us that were pretty excited to get home and play this one.  I have to admit that most of us were a little intimidated by the way the rules were presented.  There were some areas that were super easy to grasp but some of the other areas left us somewhat confused.  It didn't seem to me that you could do a proper gadgeteer under the rules because every invention had charges associated with their use, the powers were somewhat specialized to a DC exclusive outlook with custom names instead of general names, and the fact that we were somewhat confused by the rules at the time.  An older brother helped us tremendously with the rules but we got the idea that DC Heroes was more about playing established super hero characters rather than your own creations so we did not play it much. 

I have heard that there were two other editions of DC Heroes published that cleaned up some of the problems and issues from that first edition.  It seems there is also a legacy product called Blood of Heroes that made further revisions and additions to the rules.  Maybe I could look that up sometime and give the game another spin?

I never did buy any of these products.  I've lost a few auctions for the 2nd edition of DC Heroes over the years.  Someone keeps coming in and outbidding me by a substantial amount.  I hear this is the "definitive version" of the Mayfair editions of the game so I will eventually get it at some point.  I have seen two or three copies of Blood of Heroes at a local used bookstore.  I saw it often enough that I would skip it when I found something else because "it hasn't been bought yet" until it was bought and I haven't been able to find it since.  Lesson learned.  I'll add it to the list.

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