Take the dust jacket off and look inside it…
Systemic differences between Burning Wheel, Burning Empires, and MG…
— BW/BE are lifepath with point pools; MG is pick from several predefined lists.
— BW/BE Skills range up to 10, MG up to 6
— MG limits to 24 skills/wises posessed, BW/BE don’t (Starting characters can have in excess of 30 if one isn’t careful)
— MG has 34 defined skills, BE has 121, and BW more than 200; none of these totals include wises.
— MG limits at 5 traits, BW/BE don’t limit it.
— BW/BE has 3 belief slots vs MG 1 but…
— BW/BE has 3 Instinct Slots, which have stronger effects than MG’s instincts
— BW/BE has no Goal slot; use beliefs instead.
— BE allows one wise and one non-wise skill to “FoRK” to a skill roll; BWR doesn’t set a formal limit, and MG allows just one Wise.
— BE and MG always use 4+ for succeses; BW has provisions for abilities to use 3+ or 2+ for successes
Rewards aka Artha
— MG “Rewards” come in 2 flavors (Fate and Persona); BW/BE “Artha” comes in three (Fate, Persona, and Deeds). Deeds points double the non-artha dice roll.
— BW/BE have more uses for Artha than MG does, and more ways to earn them.
Traits — BW/BE traits are not combined advantage disadvantage and don’t have levels; each has a defined specific mechanical effect. Some, called character traits, only have the effect of generating artha if you play them; die traits add dice to skill rolls or change how dice work, and call on traits work like Level-3 MG traits.
Conditions and Wounding
— MG has a 5 conditions, each of which is Boolean.
— BW has 6 different levels of wound, each of which can be taken multiple times, and each time incurs a penalty to further actions.
— BE has 4 levels of wound, again, each can be taken multiple times.
— BW/BE Mortal Wounds require spending artha to survive them.
— Mouse guard has one: Nature.
— BW has one per major race, plus two in Jihad, plus (IIRC) 2 in Blossoms are Falling, and 2 in Under a Serpent Sun, and several in Magic Burner. Each is some form of price/thematic fight against one’s baser instincts… Like nature, when they get too high, the character is out of play.
— BE does not have any!
— MG none explicit
— BE “Psychology” is a telepathy type ability if the bright mark possessed.
— BW has several in core (Dwarven & Elven Craft Skills, Elven Songs, Human Sorcery, Orc Sorcery), and 8 more in Magic Burner; Several more in Jihad (Ancestry, Fanaticism, Simhanada, Analyst) of far more narrow construction.
— MG is count successes and Failures
— BW/BE exponent (skill level) advancement is count number of tasks by difficulty - Challenging (Ob > dice before adding artha) Difficult (Ob > dice -3 and Ob > 1/2 dice), or routine. Only a few abilities require that you succeed to count the test; it’s not about success, as facing challenges.
— BW/BE advancement for skills gets much harder once you hit level 5.
— BW/BE dice from artha don’t count for figuring the experience category, so if you need to succeed on those challenging tests (which are absolutely needed for skills of level 5+) you will need to spend artha.
— BW “Shade Shifting” (permanent lowering of the target number for successes) is by tracking artha spent on a particular skill and is frightfully expensive…
Extended Resolution Systems
MG: 1, used for a variety of purposes, driven by reduction of Disposition. 4 choices. Script 3 actions
BW: 3 DoW, Range & Cover, Fight!
BE: 4 DoW, Firefight, I corner him and stab him with my knife, Infection
Jihad: adds a 4th to BW: Propaganda War
DoW: Duel of Wits - Body of Argument (Disposition) driven, 7 action choices, script 3 actions. a few resolution differences between BW/BE, but in really minor ways due to different skill lists. Pretty much only for Arguments and convincings.
Fight: No disposition. 12 options for actions; Script (speed stat, typically 2-8) actions total over 3 volleys. Ends when one side flees, can’t fight any more, or both sides agree to stop.
Range and Cover: No disposition. script 3 actions, 3 choices.
Firefight: Disposition driven. Scale is intended for units, not individuals, but includes ability to use individuals as units. Uses a map generated during resolution. Script 3 actions; 9 choices. Subsystem for individuals in close combat. Ends when all remaining units agree to do so, units can be killed or injured out, or can be “broken” by losing all disposition.
I Corner Him and Stab Him With My Knife - Mini Firefight. Only 3 action choices, but otherwise, it’s a subset of Firefight.
Infection: Disposition driven. script 1 action from 8 choices; play half a session of other stuff, then resolve. Some of that other stuff may enable modifiers to the infection action. Drives BE as a metaplot.
Propaganda War: Disposition Driven. Not Scripted per se; you script one action, then play out the action, then resolve the propaganda war meta-action. Drives Jihad as a metaplot.
— MG has missions broken into GM turn and Player turn
— BE has a scene budget; each player (and the GM) get a limited number of scenes after scripting the infection action but before resolving it. Players have to move to the “authorial” stance routinely.
— BW has no framework built in
— MG is very focused, and has few mechanical options, streamlined mechanics, but still maintains the core concepts. Simple enough for literate children to play effectively, but not written as a child’s game. Definitely aimed at adults. Excellent introductory game.
— BE is less focused mechanically, having several options, but fairly structured in play. Not really a game for novices, as it requires everyone to narrate scenes, or at least set them.
— BW is a toolkit with a few assumptions built in.