Five is manageable, especially if you have one of those groups where someone is often missing, as then it’s only four. Scale the hazards appropriately, pick a couple characters on which to focus each session, and you’ll be okay.
Or, run two groups, even if it’s concurrently. Mouse Guard plays fastusually, so there shouldn’t be too much downtime for any one player.
Five can be done, that was the number of players I had in the campaign I ran last year, and it was very successful. That said, it was definitely clear to me we were at the upper limit of what the system could comfortably support, and the strain gauges occasionally dipped into the red. From the GMs side of the table, you have to be on point about making sure the spotlight gets moved around, especially if the patrol splits up. Also, expect a large patrol to be highly competent, since somebody usually has the relevant skill, and lots of helping dice are on offer. To deal with this, be sure to enforce the “no weasels” rule (whoever steps forward first makes the roll) and be strict about requiring solid fictional grounding for helping dice. Finally, as a GM you’ll be juggling a large supporting cast of parents/mentor/friend/enemies/etc. I dealt with this by keeping a list sorted by town of all NPCs, so as the patrol moved from place to place I’d know who was in effect.
On the plus side, a large patrol easily accommodates occasional absences.
My experience GMing for a group of five players yielded a similar experience to Wilhelm’s. Another thing I found is that the players have difficulty earning extra checks during the GM’s Turn. If you stick to presenting two hazards, and the patrol generally overcomes them due to size and competence, then only a couple players might have extra checks for during the Players’ Turn. You might have someone who gets frustrated because all he or she can do is recover during the Players’ Turn, but the hope is that in time this will be corrected by the system’s incentives.
I am wrapping up the first year of a stunningly successful game of Mouse guard with myself and six players.
Just don’t be afraid to adjust the rules accordingly, making allowance in threat levels and the preferences of your group.
The biggest change I made was running alternating sessions with one full session being the players turn and one full session being mine. It gave me plenty of time to let my players really let loose while giving me time to properly develop the overarching plot of the year.
Find out what works for your group and run with it.
Oh good point! We did have this problem initially, which I adapted to by presenting more, and especially complex, multi-stage obstacles. I never thought about it as a group size consequence at the time, but it absolutely is…
I wouldn’t, but I’m a stickler for the game as written. If you present one complex obstacle (pages 68 and 92) and one conflict as your two mission hazards, every player should have a chance to earn at least one extra check.
With regard to Obstacles, remember that you will be adding new Obstacles as the result of failed tests (when you choose to use a Twist), so two is more than enough. It’s best to keep the missions tight and focused. If you run through a mission–GM’s Turn and Player’s Turn-- in two hours and you’re scheduled for a four-hour session, just run a second mission!