When a villain comes to town, it's up to the superheroes of the day to join forces and foil their plans, protecting the civilians along the way. With evil plots a plenty, minions galore and a master plan in place, it won't be easy to defeat your enemies; but with teamwork and a bit of luck on their side, the superheroes are always around to save the day.
As fans of the Marvel Universe, we're always keen to try out a superhero game in that quest to feel like heroes. The question with Marvel United is will it live up to expectations and will it give us that feeling of saving the day from the evil schemes the villains are plotting.
The game certainly felt like value for money as soon as we opened up that box to find it full of components and punch boards. The game has great presence inside the box with limited plastic aside from the well designed insert and shrink wrap on the outside. The box is bright and eyecatching and the models and cards have a chibi style. The game has a strong comic book influence throughout which flows through into the gameplay, the rules are well written although they did make more sense once we started playing.
Game Play Overview
Marvel United, is a co-operative game where you're creating a storyline between the superheroes and the villains. The villain gets the first turn and will then activate after every 3 hero turns until the heroes complete their first mission of three, at which point the villain begins to get nervous and more erratic in their behaciour and therefore activates after every 2 hero turns. The villains run on an AI deck, on their turn, you'll draw the top master plan card from their deck and place it into the storyline. You'll then resolve the card from top to bottom, moving the villain around the locations, activating their BAM! ability if instructed to do so and then resolving the bottom half of the card. Once complete, the next player clockwise gets to activate their hero.
On a heroes turn, you begin by drawing a card and then you chose a card from your hand to play. Played cards go into the storyline and then you activate the abilities not only on the card just played but also the previous hero card played. The abilities will allow you to gain movement, rescue civilians, neutralise threats and deal damage to thugs, minions and eventually to the villain themself. Tokens removed during the game will be placed onto the missions that need to be completed to enable you to take on the villain. Once the villain has been reduced to zero health, the heroes win. However if either the villains master plans deck or any one of the heroes decks run out, the players are defeated. One of the most interesting elements to this game however is how the heroes health is managed. Instead of taking damage counters or having a dial to track health, your health is based upon the number of cards in hand. Whenever you take damage, you place one of your cards from hand on the bottom of your deck and if you ever run out of cards in hand, you're knocked out and spend your next turn recovering and drawing back up to 4 cards.
Pros and Cons
I loved how the game designers chose to use moulded plastic rather than plastic bags as it's more durable and therefore reduced the amount of plastic used. It also made the game quicker to set up and pack away as everything has a place to go and therefore it made finding each of the components easy. It is a very simple game mechanics wise and despite being quite different to most other games I've played, it didn't really give you many options. However, due to the limitations on actions available, it really made us think about the best way to play and what we needed to prioritise each turn. Although the rules are well written, the length of them makes it feel initially like quite a complex game but once you start playing it all clicks into place and the simplicity of the game shines through. On the flipside, I'm not sure how replayable the game would be, I can see it losing the excitement of trying to defeat the villain once you've played it a few times and won as there is only a few villains to face in the box.
Overall, I enjoyed this game a lot more than I was expecting. I felt that it was really engaging and I was keen to play again, trying out different hero combinations and varying the villain. It used simple mechanics with a unique twist and style but was still engaging and required a decent amount of strategy. It brought a good amount of superhero feeling with some epic moments and feel good vibes.
In conclusion, we would rate this game a 7.8/10