Marvel United: a massive catalogue of heroes, villains, and minis for the low low price of about $670

I’ve seen this mentioned in the board game threads as well as the Kickstarter thread, but it seemed worth having it’s own thread for current and future discussion.

First, if you’re just reading this, like Marvel United, and want to get in on the Multiverse Kickstarter, at the time of this post you only have about 8 hours left to back it.

I’ve got several questions about the game, some related to the Kickstarter and some not.

I bought the original base game and the Enter the Spider-Verse expansion off Amazon, and I picked up the base game of the X-Men series from a local shop. I’m on the fence about whether or not I want to get in on the latest Kickstarter. I went ahead and backed it for $5, and I think that will buy me another month or two after the project is funded to decide if I actually want to add more to my pledge and buy any/all of the new game or the few previous add-ons offered.

I’ve played five or six games and I like it enough to still be at least interested in getting further into it—whether that means hundreds of dollars in the latest KS, tracking down elusive secondary market expansions, or just a couple more retail expansions here and there remains to be seen and is why I’m making this thread.

How do you play solo?
I’ve only played this solo so far, and I’ve followed the “SHIELD” rules where you control three heroes, but use a single hand and deck of the combined heroes’ cards.

In one of the games I played—Sabertooth as the villain from the X-Men set—I was dead on the second villain’s turn. I couldn’t tell you the specifics exactly but the way Sabertooth plays and targets heroes, his turns unfolded in a way that would’ve been unlucky in any game, but if it were an actual three player game would’ve just set them back significantly. Because of the single shared hand in solo mode, it actually ended the game for me. I played again immediately and beat him, but it did make me wonder if there are villains or expansions that are just not well suited for this solo mode.

As I understand it, the new KS introduces “Commander” mode for solo, which only has you controlling a single hero on the board, but with cards from four different heroes making up your deck, or something. I don’t know if this is better tuned for solo play or what.

I also considered simply playing all three or four player’s hands separately for solo. Treat it like a normal four person game, but I just run all the heroes on my own. In at least the content I have, there’s never any secret info between players.

Anyone have any experience of their own with playing the game solo that they’d like to share? I think I’d be playing it solo more often than multiplayer, but hopefully not exclusively.

What expansions are worth checking out?
As I understand it, some of the past expansions remain available through retail channels, and some are only available in the secondary market as they were Kickstarter exclusives from the previous campaigns.

Setting aside availability for the sake of discussion, what are the most interesting expansions to play?

Am I crazy for wanting to get everything in the latest KS?
I do have plans to play this multiplayer with some friends before I have to make a decision about whether I actually want to up my pledge and buy any or all of the latest KS. To briefly summarize, the new KS offers a new base game, several expansions, and optional purchases of the previously released (but no longer available) Fantastic Four and Sinister Six expansions, as well as optional buys of all the KS stretch goal heroes/villains for both the original and X-Men sets.

I’m absolutely tempted to buy all of that. If I leave out all the “upgrade” add-ons like plastic tokens, cardboard locations, and a play mat, just buying all the content I don’t have, it would put me at like $670. Kind of crazy, I realize. I recognize objectively that I’m being manipulated by the limited availability of KS stuff and my own love of Marvel. If this exact same game was just recreated with a different IP attached or generic super heroes, I wouldn’t be considering this at all. I know that, but hey, I like what I like. Less drastic but still expensive, would be to buy the Multiverse base game + the two reissued KS exclusive character collections from the first two expansions. Those seem like the most expensive things to track down on the secondary market currently, and I could still pick up some expansions at retail later, or pick and choose specific expansions to hunt down in the secondary market. Or I could get none of this!

And at the end of the day, my wife could shoot down the whole idea! She’d roll her eyes at the way I was spending my “fun money”, but she might actually object when considering the sheer bulk of what I’m considering. It would involve getting rid of some old games or putting some into the attic or something to not overflow from our existing limited game storage shelves.

So who’s got thoughts? Doesn’t have to be in answer to any of the questions I’ve asked, in general I’d just love to hear other impressions of the game. It won’t bother me if you repeat what you said in the other threads.


I’m in a similar boat as you. I have the original + Spiderman, none of the X-men stuff yet though. I’m been debating what I want to get from this Kickstarter. I really hate that stuff is locked behind a kickstarter and it’s now or never (beyond paying a ton of $$ on ebay) to get some of this stuff. I’m thinking about just getting the base multiverse game so I get all the extra characters, a playmat, and the Civil War expansion that adds PVP gameplay. I’d love to get a bunch more but the truth is we just don’t play enough to warrant spending $300 on this stuff.

My kids and I like this as a pretty chill co-op game (although sometimes it can really kick your butt). I got that Amazon bundle after someone alerted me to it here on Qt3. I think I mentioned on the general thread that I saw a GIANT Kickstarter expansion on the used shelf at my FLGS and was tempted just because I’m sure it’s impossible to get now. But it was… more than we needed. Plus, my kids know and are attached to Spider-Man and the other MCU characters and don’t have much connection to X-Men or any other more obscure heroes. I keep thinking I’ll find some single hero sets like the Dr. Strange one that came in that bundle, but none of the stores I’ve checked at seem to have anything like that. Maybe those have only been promos? Or they’ve just focused on bigger expansions?

Anyway, the game is good, easy to set up, and the line of cards is a pretty smart way to manage turns for different numbers of players. I’m sure there’s people who hate the chibi Marvel characters, but I kind of like them.

The single characters like Dr. Strange were promos that came with the base pledge on the kickstarters. You can find them on ebay sometimes. It’s partly the reason I’m thinking about doing the smalles pledge on this current KS, you get the base game plus like 30 additional characters for $65 which is a pretty good deal.

I recently picked up the S1 and S2 core boxes and my daughter and I have been having a blast playing it.

Is it deep and complex? No, but I’d peg it at about Pandemic-level, and for a game that’s incredibly easy to get to the table and plays in 30 mins, that feels about right.

We’ve already ordered the X-Men Blue and Gold Team expansions, but my focus is now on what I want to pick up in the S3 kickstarter. Like you, I’d love to “get it all”, but living in NZ the shipping costs are astronomical (132 USD!).

In terms of what’s available via the kickstarter, here’s my list in priority order:

  • Herald Pledge - although I could do without the massive Galactus ‘mini’ from a freight cost point of view, it looks like an interesting expansion with a decent range of villains.
  • Maximum Carnage - villains add the most variability to the game and this expansion seems to have it in spades!
  • Return of the Sinister Six - mixes in with the Maximum Carnage game mode, and brings better known villains to the mix.
  • Fantastic Four - again, well known heroes with an interesting teamwork mechanism.
  • Team Decks - this has the potential to add an interesting wrinkle to almost any game, without much additional overhead (and I doubt it’ll increase the shipping costs much!).

Depending on how much that comes to, the next option I’d dearly love to include would be the S2 Mutant Promos. It’s a hefty 120 USD plus shipping, but it’s probably the most bang-for-the-buck outside the S3 core box + promos. While the S1 Promos are more well-known, the consensus view seems to be that S2 characters were more interesting gameplay-wise, and that takes precedence for me. If I were to squeeze this in then it’d be a no-brainer to also add the Promo Team Decks as well.

The rest of the kickstarter expansions aren’t of particular interest other than Civil War and World War Hulk, but I’ll leave those out as they’re both coming to retail and the exclusive figures I’d miss out on don’t bother me much (though Iron Spider looks very cool).

Oh, and to your question about solo play - I’ve only ever gone with multi-handed (two or three heroes). Compared to doing the same with Arkham Horror LCG (which I managed), the cognitive load is orders of magnitude lower, and I think offers the most compelling gameplay compared to any of the official solo modes.

I think this a great family game especially if everyone likes superheroes, though I think I rather play Marvel Champion solo as I think it is a bit more interesting.

Anyhow when my 3 year old grandson calls i show him the Marvel United cards. He keeps asking my son to call me so he can see more cards. So the game was worth every penny to me.

I plan on sending him the game when he is old enough (not sure what age you need to be able to play).

I went in hard and heavy with Marvel United last year, and it was almost entirely for solo. The stupid thing is you don’t do anything different to play solo, despite the silly SHIELD mode and Professor X mode in the X-Men set, or whatever they called it. Those modes are just to trick people who refuse to play multiple characters into playing multiple characters.

Marvel United as a solitaire game is no different from the multiplayer game. Just play multiple hands. Given how few decisions you have to make, it’s not at all taxing. I’ve previously talked about “brain bandwidth” as a limiting factor for controlling multiple characters in some games, but it takes virtually zero brain bandwidth to play a full set of characters in Marvel United. So there’s no need to mess around with their dumbass modes to trick people into solitaire play. You just play, period.

I hate all minis, but I hate these about 20% less than most minis precisely because of their chibi-ness. Not that I actually like the aesthetic, but I like how “readable” the minis are as a result. There are only so many ways you can distinguish one caped figure from another, but when you zoom in on their heads disproportionately, there are more ways to expressively represent the different characters.

I’d still prefer cardboard tokens for the characters, especially because then I’d be able to fit ALL OF MARVEL UNITED INTO A SINGLE BOX. And I say this as someone who owns the entire first run and the X-Men stuff. But it’s almost all cards and it fits easily enough into a single big box. But because of the minis, I still have about ten goddamn Marvel United boxes, squatting obnoxiously on my shelves, muscling aside better games and generally being a dick about it. So if I knew of someone who wanted to buy a full set of Marvel United minis, I’d sell them mine in a heartbeat! Anyone?

That’s me as well! But one of my issues with Marvel Champions is that a lot of the gameplay exists outside the gameplay. That sounds nonsensical, but I find it’s true of most games that have deck-building outside the actual matches. There’s just so much of Marvel Champions that requires knowing all the cards, that requires making and testing larger strategic choices about deck composition, that takes up a lot more time and energy and brain bandwidth. As with any CCG, Marvel Champions isn’t just a game; it’s a lifestyle.

Marvel United has none of that, of course. It’s an easy-peasy set-up-and-make-a-comic-book-happen engine, and in a way barely even a game! I would go so far as to say you have to try pretty hard to lose at Marvel United. It presents very little pushback, and the challenges it does present tend to be distribution outliers, at least in my experience. That’s part of what makes it a good game for families and more casual groups, by the way; it’s more likely to give them a win, despite the fact that they’re probably making suboptimal moves right and left! It’s an action economy game where the House never wins! I still enjoy moving the levers in Marvel United to make the win happen, but it’s almost never in question. That’s for games like Marvel Champions.

Which also gets at why I have no desire to buy any more Marvel United, and frankly, why I feel silly getting all the X-Men content. There is so much stuff here – there damn well better be given how much it fucking costs! – that I am in no danger of exhausting it anytime soon. And I felt that way long before getting the X-Men stuff. Why did I do that? But I made sure to get my money’s worth.

As I said, I went in hard and heavy last year, and even approached it almost like a checklist, making sure to try all the heroes, arranging them into groups, setting up different location clusters, trying to try all the villains. I say “trying” to try all the villains, because there are so many of them, and they’re varied in so many clever ways that I felt the need to sample them each carefully. I’ve played maybe half of them? Villains are basically the “rule set” in Marvel United, whereas locations are the special powers you bring to bear, and the heroes are the least distinct ingredient (partly because of how the godawful difficulty scaling works, but now I’m in danger of getting too deep in the weeds). Making the heroes the least impactful part of the formula is a weird approach, but it works just fine. I just find that the villains in Marvel United define the gameplay more than anything else, so that’s probably the main measure of how much “content” you have: how many villains do you own in your various sets?

Also, I loved the Infinity Stones campaign, and I played it several times concurrent with reading the Infinity Stones comics (thanks to @marquac’s incredible generosity – everyone should be so lucky to have a friend like him – I was reading the original comics and experiencing the storyline the same way it would have been experienced when it first happened, decades before the movies!). What a clever way to let you mix up your collection and create a series of linked matches! The X-Men Apocalypse Horses, or whatever they are, work similarly, but I haven’t tried them yet.

So, yeah, I would normally be all-in with this thing, but I’ve got enough to tide me over probably for another decade, so I have zero interest in any additional Kickstarter campaigns. And I would urge anyone who’s curious to sample Marvel United first and avoid taking a giant leap. The content isn’t going anywhere, and it’s my opinion – from experience – that you don’t gain much by owning it in bulk. :)

Yeah, I ended up talking myself out of backing the kickstarter. We don’t own any of the Xmen stuff or the other retail expansions they recently released so if we need more content we can slowly acquire those versus spending $200 now. I do wish I could at least buy a couple of the original expansions off the kickstarter like Fantastic 4 or Sinister 6 though without having to buy any of the multiverse stuff.

So for some game owner perspective: I’m done backing CMON kickstarters. They cost an absolute ton, always ship in multiple waves which makes it hard to track “all in” purchases in a store environment, and quite frankly have too many zillions of options. When I was selling Marvel Zombies they couldn’t even tell me how much ‘all in’ was going to cost because of their parade of 'We added this kitchen sink" daily announcements.

It is apparent that CMON can only function as a company by crowdsourcing their production runs now. Bleh. One failed Kickstarter and they are out of business.

I…backed it all again. Grrr.

There is a lot of value in the just the basic and Herald pledges, once you add in all the included stretch goals.

But I am a sucker for Hulk, Civil War, Carnage… Then the pets, equipment, team decks and campaign decks look to add interesting complexity to the gameplay if you want that option, so at some point it just made more sense to back the all-in again.

My wife is gonna be pissed… :D

My opinion is that Marvel United is a pretty neat light game that actually has enough variety to remain satisfying across several plays despite having very few dials to turn in terms of mechanics and manages a certain amount of thematic flavor being pretty abstract in most of those mechanics. If the content were much more concentrated and cost less per content increment (i.e. if it had fewer individual SKUs and no minis) I’d probably get in on it as something I could probably teach my less game-inclined family members and still have fun, not to mention get played at larger gatherings.

…but it has an all in pricetag that’s much closer to $1000 than not (if it hasn’t actually broken that, I haven’t looked) and as of the last KS you could already fill about 8 linear feet of shelving with MU boxes. I don’t remotely like it enough for that. And while I can see Tom’s argument that the chibi minis are easier to distinguish (I’ve only tried the game on TTS so I haven’t seen them in person), I still pretty much hate the aesthetic.

I guess you can still pledge even though the Kickstarter ended yesterday? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯