The five original students of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters have eagerly made their way into Marvel United. To learn more about this expansion, read our Marvel United: X-Men — First Class review.
Marvel United: X-Men — First Class Overview
Five young, keen X-Men Heroes are introduced in this expansion: Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, and Angel. There are also new Locations, a Danger Room challenge, and a twin set of Villains in First Class.
These new components can be played together in a youthful battle of brilliance or mixed into your other Marvel United games.
Since this is an expansion, you’ll require a core set (Marvel United or Marvel United: X-Men) to play. Furthermore, we’ll only be covering what this expansion has to offer, so check out our Marvel United review to learn more about the basic rules.
First Class Heroes
Even as a teenager, Jean Grey, aka Marvel Girl, is a well-rounded and dynamic Hero to have on your team.
Her 4 “Telekinesis” special ability cards may not be quite as powerful as their later iterations, but they are still impactful.
Similar to Marvel Girl, the young Cyclops feels like a balanced Hero with flexibility in his attack, thanks to his optic blast.
However, like Marvel Girl, he isn’t quite as commanding as his adult self; his attack from his 2 “Optic Blasts” special ability cards feels a little erratic.
What the gifted Iceman does best is manipulate movement.
Thanks to his “Ice Slide” special ability cards, he becomes a helpful teammate that allows players to move out of a Location without a Move action.
Moreover, he can wield his ice powers to stop the Villain from moving on their next turn with his “Freeze” cards.
The youthful Beast has excellent variety and flexibility in his deck of Hero cards.
As a “Brilliant Student,” he can gain an action token of his choice to use on the same turn or a future one.
His “Star Athlete” cards allow him to Move and double down on an Attack or Heroic action while also helping the next Hero.
Angel is the Hero with the best movement in the group.
He can be quite the team player when he uses his 2 “Worthington Industries Resources” cards that let him share his family’s wealth and distribute 2 Heroic tokens to players while also giving the next Hero 2 Movement.
His “Attack from Above” cards are helpful in allowing him to move to any Location and instantly defeat 2 Thugs there. The drawback, though, is that there are no action icons for the next Hero to use.
Villains — Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver
These twin Villains — Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver — are a packaged duo and Heroes face off against them simultaneously.
As Villains, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver behave in their own way, but they both usually activate on a Villain turn.
Scarlet Witch moves around and typically deals damage in 3 Locations, while Quicksilver deals damage in Locations he has encountered, adding both Civilian and Thug tokens to the game.
There are, however, individual Master Plan cards that only trigger one of the twins: Quicksilver’s cards relate to his speed and Scarlet Witch’s tap into her chaos magic.
When either Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver is defeated, they remain in play and act as usual, moving around and dealing damage. Only when the other sibling is defeated, do Heroes win the game.
Danger Room Challenge
The Danger Room challenge is less like the other expansion challenges that add more obstacles and increase the game’s difficulty; it is more akin to a helping hand.
The Danger Room extension is added to the Heroes’ starting Location during setup. When that Location’s Threat card has been cleared, a Hero can use its “End of Turn” effect or use the Danger Room to draw a Training card.
Training cards will either be a one-time effect discarded after use or an ongoing ability for the Hero that gained it.
There’s no limit to the number of Training cards a Hero can have or use on their turn, but you lose them all if you’re “KO’d.”
Marvel United: X-Men — First Class Review
Thematically, it’s charming to see what the First Class expansion brings to the Marvel United game. However, as neat as it is to see Professor Xavier’s first students before their prime, the expansion overall isn’t first-class.
All the Hero card decks feel well-rounded and balanced, but even still, they’re not necessarily very powerful because of how many single action icon cards they each have.
This is especially true when you compare them to other Marvel United Heroes with the same disadvantage but make up for it with their unique abilities.
It’s also hard not to compare each Hero to their adult versions.
The designers have done an excellent job peeling back the Heroes to just their basics for their younger selves.
Nonetheless, there isn’t a time when I would choose to play with the First Class versions over their older, wiser, and more capable ones.
(Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Beast are all included in the Marvel United: X-Men core set, while Iceman and Angel — as Archangel — are part of the Gold Team expansion.)
Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver
I felt that both Villains’ essence came through thematically during the game; you get a sense of Quicksilver’s speed, Scarlet Witch’s chaos magic, and even the strong bond that the two share.
Scarlet Witch was especially interesting because she feels like an anti-hero at times.
Her “Reality Warping” Threat card can be devastating or lifesaving, depending on when it comes out.
Even though her “Chaos Magic” Threat card is annoying, it’s almost helpful because it self-implodes over time, and then it’s a Threat cleared for the Heroes.
Danger Room Challenge
I haven’t been enthusiastic about the Challenges introduced in many Marvel United expansions. The Danger Room, though, isn’t a challenge; it’s there to make players’ lives easier.
While I can appreciate this challenge and how appropriate it is to include it in the First Class expansion, it makes games far too easy for my playgroup.
I can see it being a helpful addition, though, to games with inexperienced players or when a Villain is too challenging.
Conceptually, the First Class expansion for Marvel United has a lot going for it. Unfortunately, most of its gameplay aspects — Heroes, Locations, the Challenge — just didn’t spark for me.
Marvel United has incredible expansions, but First Class isn’t one of them.
You might also be interested in the following:
- Marvel United Review
- Marvel United: Rise of the Black Panther Review
- Marvel United: Deadpool Review
- Marvel United: Enter the Spider-Verse Review
- Marvel United: X-Men — X-Force Review
- Marvel United: X-Men — Blue Team Review
- Marvel United: X-Men Review
- Marvel United: Return of the Sinister Six Review
- Marvel United: Tales of Asgard Review