Marvel United and its myriad of expansions incorporated many popular Marvel Heroes and Villains into its core game. But members of one of team were notably absent — the X-Men. Luckily, fans didn’t have to wait long for their favorite X-Men Heroes and Villains!
Continue reading our Marvel United: X-Men review to learn more.
Marvel United: X-Men Overview
Marvel United: X-Men is a standalone game that can be played independently of Marvel United; both games have all the Heroes, Villains, Locations, cards, and tokens you need to jump in and play.
The rules for Marvel United and X-Men are identical. That said, we already covered the gameplay basics in our Marvel United review. Here, we’ll only be looking at what’s new and the exciting things the X-Men core set brings to the Marvel United world.
Other than the new X-Men-themed Heroes, Villains, and Locations, an optional Super Villain mode is introduced.
Additionally, a new concept is brought into Marvel United — the Anti-hero. These characters, represented by their purple minis, can be played as Heroes or as Villains.
Finally, changes have been made to the Hero deck composition. Some Heroes have a “Starting Hand” card with which they always begin the game.
Each Hero also typically has 4 cards with special abilities compared to the standard 3 in the original Marvel United.
Always in teacher mode, Professor X’s Hero is about the team and helping the other Heroes reach their full potential.
He does this by giving Heroes tokens, helping them by swapping cards in the Storyline, and making action icons more versatile by temporarily transforming them into Wilds.
He also has a whopping 6 special ability cards compared to X-Men’s usual 4 cards.
As a Hero, Cyclops assumes the role of leader and is a helpful teammate since he has cards that allow him to give out Wild tokens.
His “Optic Blasts” special ability is good fun, too, as he can attack in both adjacent Locations.
Unfortunately, his Hero cards have little versatility since most of his double icon cards feature the same icon twice.
Jean Grey is a powerful Hero to have on your side.
Her 4 special ability cards are undoubtedly the stars of her deck; “Telepathy” allows her to swap Hero cards in the Storyline, while “Major Telekinesis” lets her split a Heroic and Attack action between Locations.
Her weak spot, however, is that she has many cards with only a single icon, making her less of a team player than other Heroes.
Wolverine is the only Hero in the X-Men core set with a starting hand card, and it relates to his innate healing ability.
For as long as this card is faceup in the Storyline, Wolverine draws 1 card at the end of the Villain’s turn if he has fewer than 3 cards.
Wolverine wouldn’t be complete without his signature claws; in Marvel United, these are found on 3 special ability cards and allow him to deal 2 Attacks.
Storm’s Hero deck is solid and balanced, but what makes her stand out is her ability to not be confined to performing actions in her Location.
Her weather-related special abilities — “Atmokinesis” and “Goddess of Weather” — allow her to attack in any Location and relocate any Heroes to other Locations.
Unfortunately, double icon cards are the exception for Storm, not the rule.
Beast is a well-rounded Hero; he has excellent movement cards that are accompanied by another action icon.
Similar to Wolverine, he has regenerative healing special ability cards that allow him to “recover” health by drawing back up to a hand of 3 cards.
His other special ability cards, “Genius Intelligence,” let him transform Heroic action icons into Wilds.
As mentioned in the Overview, Marvel United: X-Men introduces a new concept to the game, the Anti-hero. Magneto and Mystique can be a Hero or a Villain, depending on the game you want to play.
When Magneto is on the side of the Heroes, he is a powerful force.
His basic Hero cards are well-rounded, and, like Professor X and Beast, his special ability cards allow him to treat other action icons as Wild.
His other special ability relates to his magnetic control; he can split 3 Attacks as he likes in his Location and adjacent ones.
However, both “Magentokinesis” cards have no action icon, so sometimes it feels as though Magneto only wants glory for himself.
Fighting against Magneto is a challenging test of your Heroes’ skills. One of Magneto’s main tactics as a Villain is to weaponize Civilians.
His special setup instructions have you replace the “Rescue Civilians” mission with Cerebro, a mission that requires a Hero to spend a Heroic and Move action on the same turn to add tokens to it.
Each Villain turn, he adds 1 Civilian to the Location opposite him, and whenever any tokens can’t be added to a Location, he converts Civilians there into Thugs.
As part of his villainous plot, Heroes lose if there are ever no Civilians at any Location.
Like Magneto, having Mystique on the Heroes’ side is terrific. Her deck feels balanced, and her special ability cards are oh-so-helpful.
To replicate her shapeshifting ability, she begins with 2 “Metamorph” cards in her hand that allow her to deflect damage dealt on the next Villain turn to a Henchman or Thugs in her Location.
Thanks to her 2 “Spymaster” cards, she prevents Civilians and Thugs from being added to her Location and an adjacent one.
As a Villain, Mystique has one objective: assassinate Senator Kelly, who is represented in Marvel United by his own unique token.
Anything that affects Heroes also affects Senator Kelly, but thankfully Heroes can throw themselves in harm’s way to take any damage meant for him.
Different Villain and Henchmen effects move Senator Kelly around, so part of the game involves chasing after him and then carrying him to safety.
Mystique’s shapeshifting ability also translates to her Villain through her “Hiding in Plain Sight” Threat cards that deflect damage from her onto her Henchmen.
There may only be 2 “true” Villains in Marvel United: X-Men, but goodness, they are a doozy.
If you expected Juggernaut to be a Villain who steamrolls his way through Locations and damages everything along the way, you would be correct.
His tactics are not particularly elegant, but they are devastating.
His baseline attack is damaging enough, but when you factor in the help he gets from Cyttorak on his Threat cards, he’s a whole other beast.
If that wasn’t enough, his Master Plan cards with special abilities bring Threat cards back into play and he’s one of the few Villains who also moves counterclockwise.
As a Marvel United Villain, Sabretooth is on the hunt — and he’s out for blood. His focus is knocking out the “Hunted Hero” and killing everything in his way.
At the beginning of a game with Sabretooth, the starting player is assigned the Hunted token; they are Sabretooth’s main target. If the Hunted Hero isn’t around, then Sabretooth settles for a regular Hero.
In fact, all but 2 of Sabretooth’s Master Plan cards don’t have a number for movement but have him move directly to the Hunted Hero or a Location with any Heroes.
When the Hunted Hero is “KO’d,” the Hunted token is passed to the next person, who then becomes hunted — and Heroes lose if this token ever makes it back to the starting player.
Super Villain Mode
If you read our Tales of Asgard review, this mode of play will sound familiar. The Super Villain mode turns Marvel United into a “1 vs. many” game where one player controls the Villain and plays against the Heroes.
Each Villain turn, they’ll draw cards from the Master Plan deck and choose 1 to play to the Storyline.
Additionally, the Villain chooses 3 Super Villain cards during setup for the game. These cards have a condition that triggers the card and thus can be played for its effect.
Each Hero has their own Super Hero card with a trigger condition and effect.
Depending on the Villain, Heroes are also given a pool of starting action tokens (against Juggernaut, for example, you would get 2 Wild and 2 Heroic tokens.)
Marvel United: X-Men Review
I couldn’t have asked for a better core set to introduce the X-Men into Marvel United. Not only do the X-Men theme and personalities come through during gameplay, but this version of Marvel United feels a little more like a gamer’s game than the original.
At its core, Marvel United never seemed like it was meant to be a grueling experience but rather one aimed to be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers alike.
Marvel United: X-Men isn’t devastatingly grueling either, but the challenge and complexity level have been satisfyingly upped.
With starting hand cards and more special abilities, the Heroes — and the heroic version of Magneto and Mystique — feel a touch more complex in their gameplay, inviting players to strategize more than they might in the original game.
Most Heroes feel balanced and well-rounded too, so having them as part of this core set is a perfect way to ease into the more advanced gameplay that the X-Men wave of content introduces to Marvel United.
Juggernaut, Sabretooth, Magneto, and Mystique are all challenging Villains, more so than Red Skull, Taskmaster, and Ultron (the Villains in the other core set).
Juggernaut is a beast of a Villain that is so difficult to damage.
Sabretooth’s unrelenting hunt is exhausting (in a good way), and his regenerative factor makes him even more difficult to take out.
Even though Magneto and Mystique are solid Heroes, their Villain’s reign of terror is not lacking.
Magneto’s Threat card Henchmen are especially problematic, but then add to that his Master Plan cards like his “Helmet,” and he becomes incredibly tough to beat.
Mystique is such a challenging Villain, but she isn’t one I enjoy playing against because of how incessantly she beats up on Heroes.
On most Villain turns, at least one Hero will get “KO’d,” while the other Heroes are lucky if they still have 1 card left in their hand.
The implementation of Senator Kelly in the game is done well; thematically, it makes sense why Mystique is adamantly hunting him.
It’s not much fun, though, to chase a token around and care for a lost puppy Senator Kelly while trying to also play Marvel United.
Super Villain Mode
The Super Villain mode seems more thought-out and a real improvement on the Traitor challenge.
If I were to play one of these modes, I would surely choose it because the Super Villain mode feels like it better replicates the Marvel United experience.
That said, I have yet to play this new mode because I’m not attracted to this style of play.
Marvel United: X-Men is a wonderful way to bring the X-Men theme into the Marvel United game. It isn’t simply a reskinning of the original; it features more advanced Heroes, Villains, and game modes.
If you’re looking to add more difficulty to your games — or want to start at a more advanced level — Marvel United: X-Men is the way to go.
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 — First Class Review
- Marvel United: X-Men — Blue Team Review
- Marvel United: Return of the Sinister Six Review
- Marvel United: Tales of Asgard Review