X-Men: Marvel United First Class is part of the giant box of expansions that arrived in the mail a few months ago (see here: X-Men Marvel: United and the Expansion Absorption).
This expansion requires one of the two base games to play: Marvel United (which we reviewed here and here) or X-Men: Marvel United (which we reviewed here and here); preferably the latter since it’s more X-Men themed.
Depending on how you look at it, this expansion represents either the X-Men comic book (from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) X-Men #1 from 1963 or from the 2011 Movie X-Men: First Class. Either way, this captures that moment in time when Professor X founded the X-Men when they were all “young and hopeful” mutants. They were the “first class” of Professor Xavier’s school! They are still learning to use their powers. Their costumes were even similar to show they were part of the same school (and hadn’t embraced their individuality yet).
First Class comes in the standard Marvel United sized box.
This is a fairly traditional expansion, in that it offers 5 new heroes and 2 new Villains (but who operate as a single unit, see below). There are some new rules, but they aren’t really any game changers (like there were with X-Men Marvel United: Days of Future Past, see here). We’ll discuss those change below. The rulebook is pretty minimal: it’s a one-sided page.
There’s some new tokens for Ice Man, 3 new Locations, and the Danger Room!
There’s 5 new Heroes and 2 New Villains (taken as a pair when playing). Even though Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are heroes later on in the comic book world, they are JUST villains in this expansion: there’s no good guy cards for them here! This seems like a missed opportunity, because I don’t see them as heroes in any of the other expansions. EDIT: See correction after the Conclusion!
The minis are, just like all Marvel United minis, really nice.
Overall, the game looks just like I’d expect: good. It’s also consistent with other expansions so this fits right in the Marvel United universe.
Since this expansion represents a young, naive group of X-Men, one of the new rules to make the game a little easier is the Danger Room attachment (see above). On your starting Location, players can use the Danger Room (one they’ve dealt with the threat there) to get an ALTERNATE END OF TURN effect (see above) which gives a training card.
Instead of the normal “good thing” you get at the end of the turn, you can choose to get a training card instead. See Beast’s training card above. These training cards don’t count towards other cards limits, so you can have as many of them as you want! Some (like the permanent above) are permanent attachments to give your young X-Men some extra abilities to help them out. Others are one-shots you can use later.
By my second game of First Class, I was embracing the training cards pretty heavily (see above: each mutant has at least one).
If I am playing with a new player who loves the X-Men but is a little intimidated by Marvel United, I would probably add the Danger Room/Training cards: They make the game a little easier.
Although incredibly thematic to Scarlet Witch’s Chaos Magic, the Chaos Magic threats (above) are something to be leery of in a beginner’s game. If you end your turn on a Location with Chaos Magic, you will simply play a random card at the start of the next turn. While you can work with this/around this, be very careful to steer naive/new players away from these Locations. It is NOT FUN to just randomly play cards!
If you want to turn off new players to Marvel United, by all means, start them on a Chaos Magic space. My first game started like that and it was not fun.
A Panorama of Solo Games
I have been able to play both two hero and three hero solo games, and they worked great.
This was a pretty typical cooperative Marvel United game: it was fun using Ice-Man’s token to have an “Ice Slide” to allow us to move quickly between Locations. We had a good time.
X-Men: Marvel United First Class is a fine expansion. The lack of Hero cards for Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver was a little bit of a disappointment, but the 5 New Heroes made up for that. I think, in general, this expansion (with the base game) might be a place I’d start new players! The Danger Room/Training Room attachments can give the new players a little extra oomph to enjoy the game. I would just be very careful to avoid the Chaos Magic threats on the first set-up: those can be incredibly frustrating for new players.
EDIT: Update! Careful reader John Q.T. Nguyen . pointed out that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were part of the Stretch Goals for the first Marvel United Avengers Kickstarter! See below!
It turns out I had Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver all along! This does reinforce my point about the Expansion Absorption being very difficult with so much Marvel United stuff! Anyways, special thanks to John Q.T. Nguyen!!