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-/+ Immersion wasn’t a top priority during designing
We always try to point out how immersive a specific game is. Marvel United, with all of its stunning components, and great art is trying everything to make us feel welcome but it lacks any flavor texts, short descriptions, etc. It would be great to add some short comics for each boss, or some famous quotes on heroes’ and villains’ cards. Unique names of the cards’ skills referring to each persona is a bit lazy choice. Look at Chtulu’s Death May die, and how a few sentences and even phrases here and there can change how we feel about the game.
+ Less is more, and it’s addictive
I remember my first thoughts during the KS campaign, too simple game with a ton of chibi-minis, and about matching colorful symbols. But then we played the game for the first time, and after one week we played it already twenty times! The core of the mechanics is simple as hell, during your turn you play cards from your hand and use its powers and symbols, plus symbols from cards played by previous players to perform actions. And then you have master plan cards, which are used by villains to spread chaos you have to clean up when after solving enough crisis, defeating enough villans sidekicks of rescuing enough hostages, you can attack and defeat the villain. Up to this, we get end turn bonuses on the location you managed to save from crisis, some special behaviors of each villain and roughly speaking that’s all. But so small amount of mechanics are enough to provide, at least from our point of view, very engaging sessions we want to repeat at least several times in a row. Add to this dozen of heroes with their special skills, new modes provided by add-ons, specific villain behaviors and you have a massive game with almost endless replayability.
+ It’s tactical, not boring!
I’ve seen plenty of comments saying gameplay is boring, and I have to say I strongly disagree with that approach. During the original KS campaign, after seeing the rules and watching short how to play from CMON I was almost sure Marvel United will be too plain for my taste, and together with chibi-style, it will be targeted to the young audience only. Finally, the ton of miniatures and Lang’s name convinced me to take the risk, and I do not regret any cent spent on the game. The fact that the game has so easy rules but provides a challenge at the same time only confirms years of experience of both CMON and Lang. I know I sound like the biggest fanboy, but it’s not the case here. After my contact with Zombicide Black Plague, I was so underwhelmed I swore I will not go this road again, but both Cthulhu Death May Die and Bloodborne proved me wrong. And same is with Marvel United. The game is definitely mainstream designed, super easy rules, no-time set-up, everything is clear and easily trackable. BUT it’s important how all aspects of the game are connected with each other, and how they provide challenge and engagement remaining simple at the same time. Everything matters here, from the order of card to help the next player, through saving your card for better occasions, order of saving the location from villains to use special location’s skills, etc. Planning ahead, especially with the higher difficulty or when playing with some of the expansions is the only way to win the game.
And up to this, you have countless synergies and combinations between heroes. Yeah, they are not always balanced, some heroes work better against some villains than others, but it’s up to you to discover it and have fun during the process.
+/- Chibi style we get used to, and even like now
Marvel heroes in chibi-style, Meh. I find it so repulsive at the beginning I just couldn’t stand the thought of transforming my favorite heroes into kids’ toys. But this changed too, and once we made an unboxing I fell in love with this style. Maybe it’s because Marvel universe is everyone now, and infinity stones are laying literally everywhere, and that’s why chibi-style is refreshing for me. I am the guy who collects and tries to paint everything to Marvel Crisis Protocol, so I do not need a second set of the serious sets. And it’s hard for me to admit, but seeing some minis in their chibi-version is just hilarious, and pleasing to the eyes.
+ Works great with every player account
Solo, two players, three players, and more, with each player count game, is great, and the only thing that is changing is the amount of talking above the table. With more players game can be a bit more difficult because all of you should cooperate and plan everything ahead together to be as effective as solo players and couples.
– All-in or nothing
Everything in the game works for us, and the game keeps us engaged each time we play it, but it’s a huuuuuuge credit to the fact we have everything from the original campaign. Let’s be brutally honest now, the retail, core game version of the game is more a toy, less a board game, a demo with which you can have fun for a moment, and this moment can be longer when playing with kids. The retail core can bore you quickly, and without expansions, the game can’t show its true colors. Also one note about the playmat. To cut the costs game doesn’t have any kind of board you lay on the table, and without the playmat, this game loses a lot of its charm and cohesiveness. I understand business reasons against the board in the box but still, it’s shame how the feeling of gameplay is different with or without the playmat.
Summary & Scoring
To be fair we should score the game from two points of view. The core, retail version deserves 6.5 scratches at most, content is soooo reduced to a minimum, that if this will be the only experience with Marvel United, you can be far from satisfied. But with a few expansions and playmat game shows everything it should be, and we have no regrets scoring it for 9 scratches and grant it with our Mark of The Beast. If you are interested in which expansions are the best ones, and which you should get first to have full fun with the game, watch our second material when we rank all Marvel United add-ons. That’s all for today, see you at the next game.