This Marvel United review was made after playing the game nine times, with at least two games played at each player count.
What is Marvel United?
Marvel United is a cooperative superhero game in which you work together to protect citizens and fight villains. Throughout the game, you use your heroes’ cards to move around, save citizens, fight the enemies, and complete missions.
Marvel United Rules Overview
In Marvel United, each player gets to control one hero (Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Wasp, Ant-Man, and Hulk are in the base game) and each game you’ll face a villain (Red Skull, Ultron, or Taskmaster in the base game). There are six locations that you’ll be moving to and from so you can fight thugs, clear Threat cards, save civilians, and eventually fight the villain.
Your goal is to defeat the villain, but you have to complete missions before you’re able to fight them. The three missions are always the same: rescue nine civilians, defeat nine thugs, and clear four threats. After you’ve completed one mission, the villain activates more often (more on that below). Once you complete two missions, you can fight the villain.
The heroes have their own decks of cards that can have movement, attack, heroic action, and wild symbols. The heroic actions are used to save civilians and to clear some Threat cards. Each hero also has a couple of cards with their unique special abilities. When heroes take damage from anything, they have to discard a card for each point of damage, giving them fewer options on their turns and bringing them closer to being knocked out.
Each villain’s six Threat cards are placed at the six locations and will slow you down in different ways. The villains also have Master Plan cards that can move the villain around, activate their special abilities, activate Threat cards, and add more thugs to the locations.
Turns are very simple: you draw a card and then play a card to the Storyline. If another hero has a card before yours in the Storyline, you also get to use the symbols on that card. The villain plays a Master Plan card after every three hero cards initially and then after every two hero cards once the heroes have completed their first mission.
You’ll win if you defeat the villain. You’ll lose if the villain completes their unique objective, if the Master Plan deck is empty when the villain needs to play a card, or if any hero begins their turn with no cards in their hand and deck.
That should give you an idea about how the game plays. For more info, check out the Marvel United rulebook at CMON’s website.
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Marvel United – Pros and Cons
- The highlight of Marvel United for me is the way the Storyline works. It’s a very simple system, but it encourages communication, it forces you to think differently about your actions, and it feels great when you’re able to give a teammate the symbol(s) they need to pull off a cool move on their turn.
- I’m a huge fan of these miniatures. They’re smooth, they have decent heft, they have a nice amount of detail, and you can quickly see where each individual character is around the city.
- The bosses do create different types of challenges. They all have their own “BAM!” effects and win conditions, and their Threat cards give you slightly different puzzles to work through each game. I think most people will agree that the villains are the most interesting characters in Marvel United.
- I don’t think anyone is going to complain about downtime while playing this game. Turns are extremely quick and in most cases you’re discussing your options with everyone else at the table during your turn.
- I also like that games of Marvel United are quick regardless of player count. None of my games have lasted more than 25 minutes, with most finishing in 15-20 minutes. This can definitely work as a filler game.
- The Normal difficulty level is a bit easy for experienced gamers, but I think it’s perfect for families and it can play well as a cooperative kids game, with a little bit of help from parents. Plus, it’s very easy to ramp up the difficulty (remove wild cards) when you want more of a challenge.
- They did a really great job with the rulebook. The rules are clear, there are plenty of examples, and there’s a nice rules summary on the back of the rulebook.
- All of the base game’s heroes feel pretty similar to me. The decks are slightly different and some of the card abilities are pretty cool, but for the most part I didn’t feel like I was controlling the heroes I had. I think it would have helped if each hero had a simple base ability to make them stand out a bit more.
- Building the Storyline can be a little awkward if you don’t have a lot of table space. I think it would have worked better if the action symbols were put vertically down the sides of the cards to make them horizontally stackable and to make the Storyline take up less space.
- The game did start to feel a bit samey to me after I had beaten the three villains. I think that’s because you always have the same three missions, so your focus doesn’t really change much from game to game.
- The cards, locations, and dashboards are pretty thin/low quality. That honestly doesn’t bother me that much, but I do worry about them wearing down pretty quickly.
Marvel United – Final Thoughts
I think Marvel United is a great Marvel game for families, kids, and casual gamers. I don’t think there’s enough in the gameplay to satisfy most adult gamers/gaming groups for more than five or so games, but that’s really not the target audience (I’m not sure why the recommended age is 14+).
If you prefer lighter board games and you like Marvel, chances are you’ll be a fan of Marvel United. If you have older gamer kids who like Marvel, I think this is a must-buy because you can play it with them and they can also easily play it on their own after they learn the rules.
Marvel Champions is still my favorite cooperative Marvel game (see: Marvel Champions review), but I’ll also be hanging onto Marvel United for now. I think it’s a very solid gateway game and I also know that it’s the type of game I can get my extended family to play.
Update: There is now a Marvel United: X-Men base game. If you’re just getting into the game, I’d just go with whichever group of characters you’re more interested in.
Update 2: Marvel United was added to the Best Affordable Board Games page!
Update 3: It’s also now on the Best Gateway Games page!
Marvel United Links
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