So, just yesterday (April 15th, 2022), all of my X-Men: Marvel United Kickstarter Expansions arrived. Holy Cow! What have I done?
The reason I backed this was because I really loved Marvel United! The original Marvel United made the #2 spot on my Top 10 Cooperative Games of 2020! I originally DID NOT back the original Kickstarter because I wanted to see if I liked the game before spending way too much money. Well, I got my copy of Marvel United off of e-bay (see Part I and Part II of my review of Marvel United here) and proceeded to love it! Marvel United is a light (20 minutes) but fun cooperative superhero game for 1-4 Players!
Thus, when CMON did a second Kickstarter for X-Men: Marvel United, I went all in! The base game arrived a while ago, and it was just as good (if not better because it had more modes: some villains could be heroes and vice-versa): see our review of X-Men: Marvel United here! I mean, we liked it so much it made the #1 spot on our Top 10 Cooperative Expansions of 2021! It was pretty great!
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how interesting it is to take a look at all of these expansions these in my blog? My plan over the next year is to take a look at a lot of the expansions in more detail, but there’s just no way I can talk about everything here. So, we’ll take a look at one of the main boxes so you can get a sense of what’s here, discuss Expansion Absorption, the end with showing some other boxes.
The first box contains only X-Men: Marvel United expansions.
The second box contains mostly expansions from the first Marvel United Kickstarter, plus the X-Men: Marvel United Blue Team and Gold Team Expansions.
One of the reasons I was so excited for this expansion is the number of characters from the X-Men and overlapping universes! The box above has characters from Excalibur, New Mutants, the Mojoverse, and Alpha Flight! These were some of my favorite comic books growing up.
The outside wraparound of the box shows you just how many characters are in the box!
The box of miniatures is pretty huge.
The cards and boards fit in just like the Marvel United:
There is just so much in this one box. I am going to start by playing a two character game, reminiscent of old New Mutants: Warlock and Magik versus Emma Frost. Emma is one of those new characters that can be either a hero or a villain (we are playing her as a villain like early New Mutants books).
Set-Up For A First Game
See the minis for Magik and Emma Frost and Warlock above! Pretty cool.
The cards for the characters look great: I never thought I’d like the Chibi art, but it has really grown on me. I really like Warlock’s art.
My first set-up was a solo 2-Character game. See above. (Recall from our X-Men: Marvel United reviews, we tend to prefer the 2-Player solo mode).
First Game: An Inauspicious Start
My first game was a dismal failure. I never got to play. This is arguably the worst game of anything I have ever played. Because my heroes started on the location above, Emma got to put 2 crisis tokens down at every BAM, which means she put down the next storycard to the storyline. So the next play is Emma, who activates the BAM who puts down a storycard to the storyline. Continue Forever until you lose. EDIT: I got a rule wrong!!! (See update after conclusion)
All Emma Frost story cards (see below) have a BAM so I would never get to play!
Really? Did anyone playtest this? Seriously: I never got to play a card
Second Game: Not Much Better
So, I moved Warlock and Magik to a different starting Location (I think there you can’t start the game on the Illusional Sebasatian Shaw card or any adjacent Location or you just lose): that made it so only 3 Locations were valid starting Locations.
So first turns sucked: I could almost nothing as the Location reduced my activity by one.
I made it one whole round before I lost.
Emma actually killed both characters.
Really? I got to play 3 cards and the game was over.
A Little Worried
I did not expect to win my first game. But I also didn’t expect to get to do almost nothing. These were the worst two games of Marvel United I have EVERY PLAYED. My Heroes literally didn’t get to do anything on my first game … I am not even sure if that counts as a game!
Now, I know from playing Sentinels of The Multiverse (see our Review of the Definitive Edition here) that sometimes you have to choose the right hero team to take on a particular villain: some hero teams are just ineffective. So, I just chose a very bad team. I hope.
I am a little worried right now … I have all this content and it may suck because it’s poorly playtested. Or it’s too hard?
I am going to take the attitude “I am just going to have to find the right team to defeat Emma Frost” and start looking at the Heroes to see what I can do: what team can I build? What abilities do I need?
I have to have a positive attitude, otherwise I would be worried I may have just invested a whole bunch of money into a game that wasn’t properly playtested …
Update: I Played a Rule Wrong!
So, I have been thinking a lot about my two plays over the last day: I think I played a rule wrong. Basically, when the number of crisis tokens gets large, you have to put a new card in the storyline FACE DOWN. I simply thought that meant “you don’t see it until you turn it up and resolve it”, but I think this is wrong. I think the intention of the FACE DOWN (see picture above) is to simply clog up the storyline so they heroes get one less play. The new FACE DOWN card does not resolve. And I think that makes all the difference. So, I set-up and played again.
This time, the game was more more what I expected.
I was able to keep Emma’s special ability under control until the very end, and it only delayed the inevitable. See above.
See a winning game above, where Magik used her movement tokens and Warlock’s movement to get to Emma Frost and do the final blow!
So, I felt relieved. Whew. One instance of a the game is not broken.
One rule I used was that the Mystical Armor and Techno-Organic Lifeform abilities stopped crisis tokens from going to the dashboard. I wasn’t sure if this was right: it feels like the armor and lifeform only stop crisis tokens going to the characters themselves, but then otherwise these abilities felt completely useless! Thematically, Magik’s armor protects her and Warlock’s weird nature protects him, so thematically it made sense that they protect from crisis tokens. Yup, I just argued rules via theme.
I have picked up every expansion for Sentinels of The Multiverse (2nd Edition) that has come out over the past 10 years: see above. Each expansion contained a few new heroes, a few new villains, and a few new environments. Here’s the thing: because all these expansions came out over a long period (one expansion every 2 years over 10 years), they felt like they were playtested pretty extensively with previously released content! They felt thought out, and I felt like I could absorb them … slowly.
I am very nervous for my X-Men: Marvel United content right now. Especially after those first games.
I’ve actually gotten to the point were I look at expansions skeptically, even for games I enjoy! Aeon’s End (see above) is a great cooperative deckbuilder (see our Top 10 Cooperative Deckbuilders) that has so many expansions!! But I have Aeon’s End ennui: the expansions came out too fast and I couldn’t absorb them. I was just getting into the base game when War Eternal came out, then the Legacy game, then New Age, then the Outcasts … so many expansions! I have officially given up buying Aeon’s End because they are just spraying new content out there and I can’t follow it! I can no longer absorb Aeon’s End expansions.
At what rate can you absorb expansions? Sentinels of the Multiverse did it well, I think: one expansion every two years seemed to work. It gave the manufacturer sufficient chance to playtest new content with old content, and it gave me a chance to absorb the new material into play. I fear Aeon’s End did it too quickly: I can no longer absorb Aeons’ End content and I have ignored the last few Kickstarters.
What about all the stuff I got for Marvel United? I really like the base game: I have had many good plays of the original base Marvel United and the base X-Men: Marvel United. Can I absorb all the new expansions? Was this new content playtested well? We’ll see over the next few months. Watch here for more info: I really hope I can get it to work without getting too frustrated!
EDIT: Now that I have played Emma Frost right, I feel a little better about things. The problem was that I had no FAQ to go to for Emma Frost because she is so new. I wonder if I am one of the first few people to play her? The lack of FAQ is another indicator of Expansion Absorption problems. Regardless, I do feel better about all this content and I look forward to more.
Appendix: A Quick Look At The Boxes
There’s really a lot of stuff: take a look at the front and back of a lot of the X-Men: Marvel United boxes! We’ll be delving into more of these in the future!