Recall that we did Part I of this review here. Now that I have played a lot more (both solo and cooperatively with a group), I feel like I can talk about final thoughts on this review.
Marvel United has gone over like gangbusters. I have liked all my solo plays (I have tried many different combos: Hulk and Iron Man, Captain America and Ant-Man are my favorites), and my friends really enjoyed the co-op experience.
Not much more to say: everyones like it!
There’s a surprising amount of strategy because of a simple mechanism: saving your tokens. If you can’t use one of your actions, you get a token and you can save it for a future round. Most of the time, people almost forget about this mechanism, but I think the ability to carefully save tokens for when you need them brings this game up a notch in strategy! Without it, this would still be a good game, but I think that the game gains an extra level of strategy with this mechanism.
EDIT: Oops! I think I have been playing this wrong because I have been playing Solar Storm a lot (see first part review here). In Solar Storm, if you don’t take one of your actions, you can save it for a future turn (and get a token). I think you can ONLY get a token if a Hero’s special card gives you one … I don’t think you can get one otherwise. (The rulebook doesn’t say either way, but it would probably point it out it you could). So, I think we played a few turns wrongs. This might, however become a house rule for us because I hate the idea of “turns where you can’t do anything” because your tokens just don’t make sense.
How To Take The Fun Out of a Game
Mail Order Monsters was a game (for the Commodore 64) that me and my friends adored back in High School. (Yes, that was a long time ago. Shut up). My friend Sloppy in particular loved it: He loved it so much he had a notebook called How To Take the Fun out of the Game! In this notebook, he wrote down all the stats of all the monsters, what their powers were, ways to cheat (you could add the FNE Ray to the players with a simple binary edit), and just in general a catalog of everything in the game. It took the fun out because it listed all the stats: you didn’t get to discover them.
To that end, I present to you the chart to take all the fun out of Marvel United. How do you read that? On the left is the name of each hero. Each hero has 12 cards: 9 “base” cards with no special abilities and 3 specials (endemic to that hero). So the first 9 columns are are base cards, the next 3 columns are the special cards. So, the cards are labelled with “Move”, “Wild”, “Punch” or “*” (for star, ie., Heroic). For example, Ant-Man has 2 cards that have two “Heroic” symbols (**). Ant-Man also has some combos: a Heroic/Punch (*P) and a Move/Heroic (M*).
The special columns might be a little confusing. Each special card has a “base” symbol that can be used by either the hero or the next hero. The special ability (in parenthesis) can ONLY be used by the Hero. For example, Ant-Man has a “Move” special card, which only he can use to move again and punch thrice: M(MPPP)
The last 5 columns are simply a summary of the stats on the right: How many symbols in the entire deck are “Move”, “Wild”, “Punch”, “Heroic”, or “Special”. For example, Ant-Man has 4 Wilds total. He also has 3 Punch but his specials allow him to do 6 Punch total (the value in parentheses).
A Few Thoughts About the Stats
Note that all characters have a Move, a Wild and a double Wild (Wild/Wild). All characters also have 3 special cards and 12 cards total. I suspect that in the expansions, these numbers will change more than they do here: these are only the statistics for the base Wal-Mart version of the game.
… but nobody cares about charts! Everyone wants to know “Who’s the Best character?” Well, based on the stats, here are some awards:
Most Heroic! Captain America and Ant-Man
Both Cap and Ant-Man have 7 total Heroic symbols!
Most Wild! Tie! Ant-Man and Captain Marvel. Honorable Mention: Captain America!
Both Ant-Man and Captain Marvel has 4 Wild symbols total. Captain America’s base is 3, but with his specials, he can give up to 3 more Wilds to other players—Since his 6 is very specialized, we give Cap an Honorable Mention.
Most Punchy by Themselves! Captain Marvel
With her special cards, she totals 13 Punch (!) total. But only she can use 6 of those punches (and they have to be on adjacent locations).
Most Punchy for Everyone! Venom
He has soooo many punches that he and other players can use: 8 total (where as Captain Marvel only has 7 she can share). With his specials, Venom has 10 Punch total!
Most Move! Tie? Iron Man and Venom
The chart makes it look like Hulk or Venom might be the best movers (at 5 and 5(6) respectively), BUT on one of Iron Man’s special cards, he can distribute another 2 Move to him OR his compatriots, effectively allowing 6 total for anyone! So, it’s hard to call: we’ll call it a tie! (But Venom also has a special card to allow him to move anymore: it’s a not a Move symbol per se, so maybe he has 7 total?)
Most Doubles Total! Captain America
If you count the specials, he has 10. If you don’t count the specials, he has 7 total doubles. Either way, Cap has the most doubles!
Most Damaging! Hulk!
If Hulk uses his special on a Location with the main Villain, A henchmen, and 5 Thugs, he can do 1 damage to each of them, effectively doing 7 damage!
After living with the game for a while, everything I said in Part I of this still holds:
- It’s a great intro game: I like it significantly better than Horrified as an intro cooperative game
- It’s a great gateway game into more complex Superhero games like Sentinels of the Multiverse, The Reckoners, and Sidekick Saga
- It’s a great value ($30 at Walmart)
Now that I’ve played more, do I regret not backing the CMON Kickstarter? Again, I am ambivalent: more content is good, but I am still happy with the base game. It’s good to know there are expansions if I want them, but I still happy exploring the base game. In fact, I’ve found that if I get an expansion I DON’T TYPICALLY PLAY IT!! I have sooo many games that when I pull out a new box, I usually have to remember the base game first!! So, I am okay with not getting the CMON Kickstarter version (for hundreds of dollars).
One more thing: the co-op experience works great, and so does the solo mode (although, I’ve avoided the solo mode of the game and just played two characters: it works fine). This game has gone up in my estimation, probably to a 7.5 or 8 out of 10 and will probably break the top 5 of my Top 10 Cooperative Superhero Board and Card games (if it ever gets updated).