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Subject: Three player game/Two Player game rss

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Sascha Hoppe
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Braunschweig / City of Lions
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Alright super-hero fans. I thought I should take some time and write down a session review of our furious gaming night yesterday. Rather than doing a detailed review, I will embedd some of my thoughts about this game into my session report. I'm also much too lazy to do a review of the game, because it has lots of rules. But people who think of purchasing the game should'nt be afraid, once you get the rules (which are really intuitive, but as I said there are many of them) the game is really fast and has a lot of fun stuff going on.

Two days before I already played two games of Marvel Heroes as a little two-player game. It was X-Men vs. Marvel Knights and we had the rather fast "Born again"-scenario, where you need 15 VP to end the game. Other players can then try to get ahead of you and finish the round, but when the round, where someone got 15 VP ends, the player with most VP wins.

This is already a nice little mechanic, that has some kind of "race-feel" that I really like. It's not that important, when you reach 15 VP at the end of the round, you are most likely to win. But when you reach it in the beginning of the round, it's fun to watch the other players try to solve the most difficult headlines just to get ahead of you.

As you may imagine, this mechanic doesn't work in a two player game. In my two games, 2-player, with the "Born again" scenario, the player that was reaching 15 VP first, won in the end.

When browsing through the hero character-sheets, I thought: "Wow, this Dr.Strange-guy is rather strong compared to the others, so if it's time to choose a team, chose the Marvel Knights."

Let me first explain, how the outcome of a fight in Marvel Knights is resolved.

Every Hero/villain has three powers: Attack, Defense and Outwit.
The number on your character-sheet that stands behind that Power is the number of battle-dice that you may roll.

The hero has the initiative and rolls his attack. Then the villain rolls his defense. Less or equal hits than the hero means one KO for the defender. Heros or villains can take from 1 to 3 KO. If you only can take one and got one in the first die-rolls of combat, combat is over and your wounded.
Otherwise the defender rolls his attack, then you roll your defense and everything is resolved the same way.
Now the interesting part: Outwit.
Outwit is the roll where both combatants roll and the highest number will get the initiative for the next round of combat. The tricky thing is, the guy that loses here will also get a KO.
So villains/heros who may be not so strong in their attack but are really smart can inflict a KO on you!
On top of that, you have three combinations of combat powers, that both combatants choose secretly before every round of combat. That combined with the Outwit-roll makes for some really interesting decisions.

So, back to Dr. Strange, I thought this guy doesn't need to make tough decisions , because he is not only strong in attack but also in outwit at the same time.
So, I chose Marvel Knights. I should have thought a little bit more about that, because then I would have noticed, that MK also have their disadvantages. It's mainly because they have two really weak characters: Elektra and Daredevil. They can only take one KO and you can't really chose them for difficult headlines. But then again, they have some interesting supporting powers. Elektra's power adds a KO, if you just inflicted a KO when discarding a resource card.
That is interesting when combining Elektra with a strong ally, that you can play from your hand in planning phase and use in combat rolls instead of your main character. Really nice, you can win combat with one single roll with this weak character.
Then there is Spiderman, who is of course really cool. The only one I couldn't figure out what to do with him is Daredevil, he hasn't played such a big role in my games, maybe other players will enlighten me in the future about the way to use him properly.

I did know the game quite well, and my buddy didn't, so Marvel Knights had not so many problems, winning two times and kicking major butt.
I had the feeling, that the game was fun, but could be better with three players, so I decided to ask 2 friends to try it out.

This time, we had three players, but not only usual players but also huge Marvel and comic book fans, which helps a bit, when you have to explain the rules. I guess that a casual gamer with no interest in Marvel comics will be a bit overwhelmed.

This time we tried the "Born again" scenario, where I won with my Avengers, who were pretty cool to play. The Hulk plus Thor involved in the same headline are a amazing force. They both have 3 KO to beat, where Hulk is not so smart but strong and Thor strong, but also a smart guy, which is fun, because you can choose the hero you like to fight with before every single round of combat. So if you lose initiative you can try to get it back with Thor, and then crush the enemy with The Hulk. Iron Man is also really nice, because his supporting ability gets you two Plot-Point, which is the most important resource in the game.

There you can already see, how the designers interwove the theme with some of the mechanics. The abilities sometimes reflect the different incarnations of your heros, for example "Peter Parker". In the case of Iron Man, supporting ability is "Tony Stark". In the comics he is a really rich guy, and that of course gives you "money" (aka Plot-Points) for the game. The main characters of The Avengers are tough, because with one of the three boosters of your team, that you can get when your Nemesis fails to defeat you, Iron Man get's 3 KO through better armor, then you will have three characters with 3 KO. That's tuff stuff, my fellow players. To compensate this, it's hard to get resource cards with the Avengers, because their special abilities don't get you much of them.

Other teams, like the F4 are maybe not so strong, but Mr. Fantastic can give you 3 resource cards in each round, and that's a good thing, because you can use them either as allies, or you discard them for activating your special ability in battle, to add another dice or remove hits from your opponent and so on.

Back to the game, 3 players was much more furious than two-player. There was more fighting for certain headlines and as you have two players that can throw evil cards at you when you try to solve a headline that gets rather vicious and evil. It depends on the players how much you will delve into the diplomatic negotiation kind of thing that lies within the game mechanics, which are really subtle sometimes. Maybe you can convince one player to use all his villain cards against another player, so that there are less cards in play against you. One thing the other guys did a lot yesterday against me, because I was winning. Hulk and Thor were in serious trouble.
But you can imagine, I've beaten them up anyway.
I have to add that everything is really balanced, and there must have been an enourmous playtesting before all those different and asymmetric abilities worked, thumbs up to the designers.
In case of the tough Avengers, they compensated this via their Nemesis "Red Skull" who is the toughest bastard of the villains I thought. I had a hard time with him.

The second scenario was a lot of fun. It's called Acts of Vengeance. Every hero-team gets a random Nemesis now, and I ended up with Kingpin as my Nemesis. It was a chance to lay back a bit, because I got rid of that Red Skull guy.

But not for a long time. In this scenario, you win if you have the most VP after the 5th round, OR if the Nemesis you play manages to get his three masterplans first. The Nemesis can try to get a masterplan everytime you go to a headline with the Nemesis icon or (and now comes the thing which crushed me yesterday) if your Nemesis has the arch-enemy token. If he has the arch enemy token he can make scheming actions and can try to do a masterplan on every headline.

I was a fool and didn't realize that. I got first in VP in the first round (which was a major mistake) because now the guy on my right controlling Kingpin got the arch-enemy token and now tried to kick my butt from now on the whole game.
As I thought things couldn't get much more worse, "Acts of Vengeance" also allows the Nemesis to make two scheming actions instead of one.

It was tough for me. And all of a sudden in that constant beating that I got, the player to my left managed to sneek through and was ahead to win the game with his Marvel Knights. His Red Skull (remember) also had achieved two masterplans. So we had to stop him somehow. But we were too foolish to not block the normal headlines for him, so that he would have to choose a headline with Nemesis icon. We didn't notice that (I got kicked the whole time anyway) so he always could win the normal headlines without confronting his Nemesis. Furthermore the player that constantly beat me, most of the time had no villain cards left on his hand to play, so it was even more easy for the Marvel Knights player. So, my poor Dr. Doom didn't get in to play for one time. What a shame.

I have to give credit to The Hulk and Thor, because though I had a hard time, I managed to be second best in that game. It seemed that the strategy to stay behind not having much VP and trying to get the other winning condition with the Nemesis achieving three masterplans didn't work out so well. Also when you fail once with a masterplan it can throw you back a bit, because the Heros will get a booster card, making it harder for you the next time you try to achieve a master plan.

So Marvel Knights won the second game by most VP with 2 VP more than The Avengers.

Wow, this got rather long. But despite my long session review I could have written much more, because Marvel Heroes is such a rich game.
There are so many things going on at the same time, so much to think about and so much fun and atmosphere. There is a bit of diplomacy, luck, skill, and a bit of racing in the last rounds.
The replayablity is very high. You can't help but think about new strategies in your sleep. Because the Hero-teams are asymmetric, but really well balanced you get a lot of replayability out of choosing a different Hero-team each time.

Next time I will try Fantastic Four, their strategy is not so apparent as it is for The Avengers and therefore not for the beginner.

I couldn't recommend this game more, it's furious and tactical and a lot of fun.

One thing you could not say about the rules: convoluted, despite being logical and rather intuitive and easy. That's one thing you will struggle a bit with, because the player aids that come with the game are not sufficient. Of course, this game is not for players who can't stand special abilities. If LotR-Confrontation is too much for you, stay away from MH.

Have fun





 
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Rob Hall
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Wow thanks Sascha!

I have three questions for you...

#1- How cool is it to have the first session report on this game?

#2- Also how long did it take you to play the game for the first time?

#3- Would it be possible to develop a scenario where teams fight other teams (X-men vs. FF4) or even create new teams (e.g. CapAp, Invisible Woman, Thing, and Hulk) of heroes within the scope of the game?

Perhaps I am getting to far ahead of myself with question #3? blush
 
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Sascha Hoppe
Germany
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BlingBling wrote:
Wow thanks Sascha!

You're welcome!
BlingBling wrote:
Wow thanks Sascha!
I have three questions for you...
#1- How cool is it to have the first session report on this game?

I guess, it's very cool cool
BlingBling wrote:

#2- Also how long did it take you to play the game for the first time?

Well the first game actually was on the Essen fair, and with all the noise in the background, learning the rules was a pain in the ass.
But when I got home and got the time to get through the rules, they were quite easy to grasp (though not very well written).
It helped that I've known the game well when I explained it, so we got the first game finished in about one and a half hours. It depends on the scenario though.
Some scenarios only go about 3 rounds, some go 5 rounds. Also more players means longer playing time. "Acts of vengeance" scenario, 3 player as described 2 and a half hours.
BlingBling wrote:

#3- Would it be possible to develop a scenario where teams fight other teams (X-men vs. FF4) or even create new teams (e.g. CapAp, Invisible Woman, Thing, and Hulk) of heroes within the scope of the game?
Perhaps I am getting to far ahead of myself with question #3? blush


Teams fighting other teams would be difficult, because the game is not designed this way. But I guess maybe you will come up with something cool for that. Of course, all characters have character sheets, so basically you could put Red Skull into the Fantastic Four team, but it wouldn't make so much sense.

As for the second suggestion: Yes I guess that's pretty easy to mix the heros. But as all supports, allies, story cards and such are exactly defined for one certain team, you would have to agree, that all supports, story cards and allies are open for everyone, but I guess that would disbalance gameplay in a major way.
 
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Casey Rogers
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Actually, not the first session report. http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/122315
 
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