I had the chance to follow up with several of my players who were present for the one-shot I ran last Friday of Bash! Ultimate Edition. Many of their insights matched my own (submitted in no particular order):
- It's a very easy game to pick up. The one-rule mechanic of X times 2d6 for effect with X being an attribute or a power, usually between 1 and 5 was pretty simple to grasp. It also made play pretty quick, even with the six players that I had.
- The dice mechanic is jammy. "Jammy" is a term that has somehow made into my gaming group's lexicon, meaning that there is a lot of swing in terms of results. This is especially true because when you roll doubles of any kind, the dice "explode" and have you roll a third die to add to the total. If it also matches the others, then it explodes again, etc. For example, if you have an Agility of 3 (low superhuman) you can get a result of 9 (two 1's would explode on the roll, so a 1 and 2 is the lowest you could get) to an unexploded 33. That's without exploding dice, which could happen 1/6th of the time. I actually like jammy dice mechanics when it comes to superhero RPG's (e.g. Marvel Heroic Roleplaying) because it seems to match the "beat the overwhelming odds" quality to the genre.
- Challenging PC's isn't difficult. I used one of the 40 pt. pre-gen PC's in the rulebook as the Big Bad Villain for six 25 pt. characters and he was a sufficient but not insurmountable challenge. As the "Superman" knockoff, he had a maxed-out Soak number (the number you roll to resist damage, which in his case was a Brawn 5 and an Armor 3 for a total of 8) without getting into Cosmic level villainy. That made him difficult, but not impossible to damage, thanks to that jammy exploding die mechanic noted above. No PC was rendered unconscious, but the players clearly felt threatened. That's a better feel than MHR, where the big bad villains are a little too easy to steamroll over, especially with a group all going after a single foe.
- PC's are often one-trick ponies. There's not a lot of wiggle when it comes to Bash PC's at 25 points. One pre-gen PC had a single medium-powered burst attack, great of wiping out Nazis but useless against a high-Soak opponent. This is where more familiarity with some of the more obscure rules would have been helpful, especially the use of "Hero Dice" where you can use power stunts. It would be interesting to see how it would feel if people knew the rules better.
I don't have a good sense of whether or not this would make for a good game long-term. It was fun--the main qualification for any successful RPG in my opinion--and my kids think of it as on par with Prowlers & Paragons in terms of superhero RPG's they like, which is pretty high praise. Might be a solid "what do you want to do tonight" kind of RPG.