I've been reading through the Mouse Guard 2nd edition rulebook, planning on eventually GMing a game.

As I understand it, in combat it's a battle of teams rather than individuals. However, in the descriptions for armor, it says the advantages/detriments only affect you, that is, the mouse wearing the armor.

What I'm wondering, then, is why can't I just avoid targeting the armored mice? I don't see a rule for who gets attacked (even the concept of targeting a specific mouse on a team seems to run against the core concept of conflicts), so I assume I can choose any mouse on the opposing team. And narratively, this makes sense; a snake wouldn't want to eat the mouse covered in metal, so he's going to focus on the squishy ones. But if that's the case, I don't see the point of armor, since you only get to save disposition if you're the one being attacked.

Is my understanding correct? And/or is there anything I'm missing that makes armor seem more worthwhile? I'd like to allow armor in my game, but at this point it doesn't seem to offer any benefit.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @okeefe Second edition. (The question has been updated.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 10 '17 at 19:25

Once you're in a conflict, it's your GM team (or teams) in conflict with the Players' team (or teams). Both the GM and Players' teams are privately choosing the three actions they want to perform in this round. It's easiest if the GM scripts their actions first so that the Player teams can discuss among themselves who is taking what action when.

Unless you're fighting a mouse team of 1, you don't necessarily know which mouse you'll be up against at the start of the fight or for each action. The mouse acting that round is the target for the GM's team. Each mouse has to go before a given mouse is allowed to go again, so the players will cycle through all the mice. You might be able to deduce through play which mouse will go when.

You can't really avoid armored mice unless you manage to end the conflict before their turn.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, so you're saying I have to target whoever's currently acting. In the one-shot someone else ran, that is not at all how it played out, but that does make sense. \$\endgroup\$ – DaaaahWhoosh Nov 10 '17 at 16:43

It's an abstraction.

Asking "Why can't I just attack the unarmored mice?" is no more or less valid a question than "Why can't the unarmored mice just hide behind their armored friends so they don't get attacked at all?"

The implication is that a fight is a big, messy brawl with mice running this way and that and taking shots as the opportunity arises, not a collection of one-on-one duels where you can pick who you are "attacking". If you ignore an armored mouse to attack his unarmored buddy, maybe that armored mouse will hit you with his big axe because you're not paying attention.

This is actually completely unconnected to the penalties for armor - which, if I am remembering correctly, don't even apply in combat, but rather, to other rolls to recover from fatigue and the like. Having armored mice on your team makes your team collectively tougher - even if someone tries to avoid attacking them, those mice can still interpose themselves, or take advantage of the opportunities offered by people trying to avoid them.

Edit: Adding clarification.

Disposition is not a "per mouse" stat. Each side in the conflict has disposition. The more armored mice you have, the higher your TEAM disposition is. Attacks don't hit any individual mice. They reduce team disposition.

Edit again: Okay, apparently they radically changed how armor works in 2nd edition. As written, it's not very useful. Yes, use Okeefe's suggestion for "targetting" since the game has no other targetting mechanism.

Alternatively, go back to the 1st edition rule for armor adding disposition to your team's side. (+1d for light armor, +1s for heavy.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But that's not how armor WORKS. Armor doesn't give you bonuses in combat, and you can't "avoid" them. It gives you bonuses to your disposition, which is, in effect, your "Team Hitpoints." No, there is no mechanic for "punishing someone who avoids the armored mouse" because there is no mechanic for avoiding the armored mouse in the first place? Did you think Disposition was an individual stat? That would explain this confusion. \$\endgroup\$ – Airk Nov 10 '17 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ How can it give a bonus to disposition when your mouse is attacked? Disposition is determined once, at the start of the conflict. \$\endgroup\$ – Airk Nov 10 '17 at 18:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, so yeah, I want to apologize, I guess I really ought to have mentioned which version I was talking about, I didn't expect there to be much difference. I'm deleting my other comments, it appears we were talking about different things. \$\endgroup\$ – DaaaahWhoosh Nov 10 '17 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ No worries, I didn't realize this had been radically changed either. I... don't really like this change, for the reasons we've sortof uncovered in this discussion, but the rules are the rules, as they say. It's doubly confusing because about 97% of the rules have changed NOT AT ALL from 1st edition. \$\endgroup\$ – Airk Nov 14 '17 at 21:17

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