Eye of the Vortex - Mouse Guard Review

Greetings my Fellow Gamers,

I come to you with a gift today!

Do I have your attention now?

This is not some lame gift like on an info-mercial on TV. I authentically want to sell you on something that you will find to your liking, and not something that you will stuff in your closet until your sister’s birthday and then pull it out, wrap it, and give it to her with a big ribbon and a smile.

No, I have something that will entertain and educate you, all the while opening your mind to new things and new people.

I have recently launched a website called Eye of the Vortex Online (.com), which is designed to be a gaming news center. Our goal is to pull all the information from other sites together in one place to make life simpler for you, the gamer. It is also the home base for our also recently released magazine, Eye of the Vortex.

January marked the release of issue number one, featuring Luke Crane’s new game Mouse Guard.

For a limited time, you can grab a copy of our magazine at no charge. Simply download the magazine and enjoy. Feel free to share it with your friends and family also. While you are downloading your magazine, please stop by and signup in our forums and join the community. Just like the site and magazine, the forums are designed to be multi-genre friendly, meaning you can find or start a thread about any type of game you want.

Thanks for your time, and I hope to see you in the Vortex soon.



I hope that was cheesy enough for you, I hoped to have made you laugh with what is supposed to be a super cheesy commercial for my website.

In all seriousness, I requested permission from Luke to have a review for his new products, and he offered Mouse Guard. My RPG guy, Mark Manning, has written a nice piece for MG, and we plan to do a more in depth look at MG for our March issue.

Please take a few minutes and check out our website and magazine, and stop by the forums and let us know what you think. It is the response of the reader that keeps a writer writing.

Thanks a lot for your time, I appreciate it.

Chris Newton
President ~ Eye of the Vortex

Pretty… but the editor (Chris) and Mr. Manning lose points for terminology errors on page 4:
AD&D 4E: no such thing.

The D&D Editions D&D 1E (little books; TSR), D&D 2E (B/E/C/M/I boxed sets, and Cyclopedia; TSR) AD&D 1E (Hardcovers; TSR), AD&D 2E (Hardcovers;TSR), D&D 3E (Hardcovers;Wizards), D&D 3.5E (Hardcovers; Wizards/Hasbro), and D&D 4E. Someone goes in looking for AD&D 4E, and they are likely to get any of: Hackmaster 4, AD&D 2 from the used bin, 3.X Advanced Players Guide (A supplement; Paizo), or D&D 4E; less likely but also quite possibly D&D 4 for Dummies.

4E also is not so good a starter choice, as the complexity is somewhat high.

Same arena as 4E has several other excellent (and simpler) games competing with it:
Warhammer FRP 2E (also has excellent novel tie-ins)
T&T 7

Also… a couple other games and themes:

I often play by myself.
I like to kill things, but I want simple rules to do it.

Both of these are perfect fits for Tunnels and Trolls; 5.5 ed for the upper, 7ed for the lower, but either will work for running most of the published solos.

I want to play merchants in space
Traveller, by Mongoose. (And not just because my name is in it twice!)

I want to simulate Star Trek or Star Wars type space action, but don’t need the setting to be written in.
D6 space.

I want to play Star Trek TOS
GURPS Prime Directive or Prime Directive D20. (Only currently licensed Trek RPG).

I’ve brought more people to gaming with Star Wars (WEG d6), Trek and Traveller than with D&D.

Thanks for the reply.

I must admit, that I am not perfect, and unfortunately I need to slow down and not take so much on my own plate. Thank you for pointing out the mistake. However I must also point out that Mark Manning lives in England, and from what I have learned from dealing with him over the last two years is that there is just enough difference between American language called English and the English language called English to keep you on your toes. Granted, there may not be a termonology difference, and that is just a direct error, but in the end, you (an experienced player) know what we are talking about, as you continued on in your post unfazed by this, and a new player will be able to grasp the same concept.

This said, I will do a better job on this in the future. Thanks for your feedback.

Did you happen to read the other articles, and do you have feedback on those. Also, what were your thoughts on the webpage?

-Chris Newton

Website: I’ve seen many far worse. Seems a bit busy; might just be color choices and small font size.

MG article: Well written; I don’t disagree with the article.

Other articles: apparently solid, but not in my areas of interest; I got out of CCG’s (aside from Sim City) years ago, and made 300% profit on my MTG cards. I only play current gen games on the Wii; much of the videogame content is thus of no interest to me. (I can’t afford a PS3, and won’t buy microsoft. I have Office only because it was an absolute requirement for my masters program.)

Layout is generally good; adverts are clearly adverts, but also located such that they don’t get in the way, and yet can’t be avoided easily. Will be excessively color-ink-heavy to print-out at home. Haven’t yet loaded it on the Sony to check how it looks on the ebook reader.

The background layout is inconsistent, but hardly noticeable; I noticed while going back and forth. The edges of rendered pages dont all have thin color edge:
L&R: 3
LR&T: 4,7,8, 11, 12,13,16,17, 19
Pages mid-article should probably be L&R only, rather than LR&B, so as to indicate mid-article. Until I started analyzing it, it was just a subliminal “Something odd”. At first, I just thought it a poor bleed choice. Also, I suggest using the same color per article; the 19-20 uses mint on 19, and goldenrod on 20.

I do like the landscape pages.

Other, not covered, gamerdom segments:
board games, wargames, minis games. I have interests in two of the three.

Overall, a solid effort, 3.5/5, on par with Mongoose’s S&P.

As for the terminology issue, WotC made a BIG issue of it back in 1999; it’s one of those errors that harms credibility, especially in a lead-off article aimed at use for/with newbies. It’s also fixable with a quick edit and rerender; it shouldn’t affect out much.

We have released our March issue of Eye of the Vortex (February too if you didn’t see it;) ). In this issue, Mark Manning completes his review of Mouse Guard with a playtest and its feedback.

Please feel free to leave your feedback here or in our forums.


Thanks for updating this thread. I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. I’ll give it a browse soon.

Man, that interface is twitchy.

Thanks for the review, Chris and Mark.

One small quibble (I can’t quote the text because there’s no copy/paste function): The Seasons and Territories chapters are largely devoted to presenting in-game phenomena – weather and wilderness – and noting the levels of various obstacles the players might find in their paths.

Also, do you know if Mark’s group used the canon character sheets? 90% of the game mechanics are nestled on those sheets.



Formatting seems a good bit more stable.

One layout issue: when continuing an article, it is general “best practice” to indicate where it is continued at the end of a section, and where it continues from in the start of the second and later sections. (page 12-13-18 sidebars).

On the article on MG: not bad, and I concur with the point about the lack of knowledge about what exactly is hard, but it also varies widely by group just whether or not a Ob3 or 6d is significant opposition.

@ Aramis: You know, my initial thought was the same, as my original plan for the mag was to just be a pdf file and hope for the best, but once I came into contact with Issuu, I decided to just roll with a side page magazine, regardless of page size. To that point, all of our articles just run to the next available page, so there is no re-direct needed. We simply won’t break an article into pieces. I found that my thinking was more classical news print and my Illustrator wanted to go more modern pc media. I am compromising with this policy :slight_smile:

@ Luke: I will have to let Mark answer that question, as I have no idea. I will re-direct him to your questions.

@Clinton: It was rather frustrating to follow that sidebar… I grabbed the PDF, 'cause I don’t the Issuu’s interface… :slight_smile:

Hey there - I’m Mark Manning (obv) and I thought it might be better if I showed up and answered the questions directed at my articles; so here I am.

Enough rambling; on with the debate!

Ouch; he shots - he scores. You have me bang to rights there though I will say that Chris is partly right on the regional dialect front. Maybe this is something more common in the UK then the US but people jump to the acronym “AD&D” to talk about an actual rule set and “D&D” to talk about the brand. But fair is fair my worth opponent; score one to you.

I have, can and will argue this point to the hilt - I believe that arguing the complexity of RPG’s as a point is much like arguing that all TV telephone phone-ins are a con - We know they are, but we still do them every now and then.

Plus, the buy-in factor and easy character generation compared to many, many systems makes D&D a good starting point for players - yes, maybe not for GM’s but definitely players.

Can’t argue with you there - partly because I agree with your choices are partly because there are systems there I haven’t played (or played enough) to quote on; “Don’t sell what you can’t describe without stuttering.” as my Granddad always said.

Alright, let me get this bit over with - OMG! (Pause for breathe)

Okay, that done with - Yes, we did use the canon character sheets and they did resolve many, many rules questions of the bat but some questions cannot be answered in one sentences - the nature of the beast. And whilst in the ease of my one reading time now I can find the sections I needed easily enough, in the time and pace of gaming I simply couldn’t; referencing would have made this easier. Maybe it’s partly a reflection on myself and partly because I worked off of a PDF (I much prefer print, I can use postits then!)

If I can Luke, can I return the favor and ask you a question? Did you, at any point during play testing or demo games experience a problem with tying system to setting? As a GM, I saw the marriage as a simple “Point A to B” affair but even now, after another game my players are still not seeing a direct link between the two and I can’t truly see why - maybe I’m standing too close to the elephant’s leg to see the trunk, I don’t know.

By the way, I am aware I have some space to improve in and I’m shortly going to head over to the Don’t Rest Your Head forum and join in on the ribbing I rightfully got there for my abbreviation DRYN (I’ve come to label this as Don’t Rest Your Nutz as I’m still getting some flack for a very silly mistake). To this end, I’d love to talk to you guys to get some more direct input from people of a different perspective and I would love, love to get something from you Luke if I could in an upcoming article though I leave that to a PM.

So, if you want to give me flack or advice, contact me at Mark.Manning@eyeofthevortexonline.com or join our forums at www.eyeofthevortexonline.com - The RPG sections a bit quiet now and I’d love to get some debates going about Player Buy-in vs System and Canon vs “Winging It” if I could.

I’m not certain if I understand your question or your players’ issue. The general feedback we got during playtesting was that the system was very evocative of the setting. What exactly is the issue?


I’m not sure I know how to word it; I’ll talk with my players and see if one of them can do a better job then I.

Just to keep you guys up to date:

We have released the April edition of EoV. I was happy with the feedback I received from last issue, so if you could, please let me know what you think of this one.

Thanks for your time and support fellas.