Marvel Heroes: The Avengers Edition is a variant which will see the hero teams struggling initially before coming together at the end for the big fight (much like the plot of the first Avengers movie). The only extra components needed beyond what comes with the boxed set is four turn markers (four markers labeled 1, 2, 3 and 4) and something to represent the Special Headline (one of the Special Headlines from the game face-down would do nicely).
The first team to solve the Special Headline (the big fight) wins the game--if all teams fail to solve the Special Headline, then the nemesis of the team with the lowest VP score is declared the winner. The Special Headline activates at the end of a round in one of three ways:
(1.) It's the end of the fifth round
(2.) It's the end of a round and one of the teams has all three power ups activated
(3.) It's the end of a round and one of the masterminds has completed their third master plan.
Teams attempt to solve the Special Headline starting with the team having the highest VP score (in case of a tie, the team with the most power ups goes first—if still tied, the team whose nemesis has the highest henchmen rating goes first: “Hulk say Hulk wins ties!!!”).
The Special Headline is the ultimate challenge (the big fight!) prepared by the mastermind villains and will adapt to whichever team is currently trying to solve it:
(1.) If the Avengers are attempting to solve, it is an 8* Mystery Investigation Special Headline (asterisk denotes the mastermind symbol).
(2.) If the X-Men are attempting to solve, it is an 8* Danger Mystic Special Headline.
(3.) If the Marvel Knights are attempting to solve, it is an 8* Crime Protection Special Headline
(4.) If the Fantastic Four are attempting to solve, it is an 8* Crime Rescue Special Headline.
In each case, the attempting team will roll all eight dice (which will boost since the team doesn't have the corresponding skill) to determine the trouble level of the Special Headline. As per the regular rules, a Special Headline counts as a district with no support spaces—so teams will only be able to play ready heroes (rule change/exception: if the Marvel Knights have the Electra Lives power up activated, then Electra can act as a supporting hero—its a ninja thing)
After all eight dice are rolled (plus any rerolls from boosting), the team's nemesis has two options:
(1.) Play a villain as per usual, or
(2.) Ignore the dice and play their Mastermind villain instead with a +2 to their Henchmen rating (strategically this is to be used if the nemesis rolled a horribly low number). This option of playing the Mastermind villain is available to the nemesis even if the hero team plays a Shield Intervention card.
When attempting to solve the Special Headline, the team gets to play ONE ready hero PLUS one ready hero for every power up the team has activated. So if the team has all three power ups activated, they get to send in all four ready heroes (again, in the case of the Marvel Knights, Electra can choose to function as a supporting hero if the team has the Electra Lives power up activated)
Game Set Up
Each team starts with four Victory Points and each nemesis starts with their first two master plans already completed (so each nemesis only has to complete one more master plan to slap their opposing team with a -5 VP penalty and trigger the Special Headline at the end of the round).
Molecule Man, Juggernaut, and Super Skrull start the game already on the board in the three Most Wanted spaces.
Remove the four Energies cards (Amazing, Mighty, Uncanny and Fantastic) and the two Shield Intervention cards from the Resource deck. Shuffle the remaining Resource cards in one pile and the Energies/Shield cards in another pile. Place the Energies/Shield cards on the BOTTOM of the Resource deck (thematically this represents the hero teams getting their final “push” from Nick Fury).
When taking a Story Action, the Story Track has to be advanced or manipulated—it can't just be ignored (this simply restores the original rule).
Have the teams randomly draw the four turn markers for the first round. Whoever draws “1” goes first and so on. At the end of each round (unless the Special Headline has been activated), assign the four turn markers for the next round with the team having the lowest VP score getting to go first, the team with the second lowest VP score going second and so forth (in the event of a tie, the team with the least power ups goes first; if still tied, the team whose nemesis has the most henchmen goes first “Hulk already said Hulk wins ties!!! Repeating Hulk makes Hulk angry!!!”).
Activating Power Ups
When a hero team activates a power up, their nemesis selects which one they receive (“What is Hulk supposed to do with stupid Quinjet? Hulk wanted 'Hulk Smash' card!!!”)
The nemesis can buy a second (or more) lead villain(s) during the final Special Headline combat if they so choose. Eight boosting dice generally produce a roll of nine or ten, but sometimes the boosting can get crazy and someone ends up with a 13 (or more) Trouble level. Using 13 as an example, let's say the hero team reduces that to 10. The nemesis could use that to play two lead villains with a trouble cost of five each with a few back-up effects instead of playing one lead villain with tons of back up effects. Multi-Villains would fight just like multi-heroes: one at a time, if knocked out, second villain steps in with loss of initiative, etc. It shouldn't come up that often, but bears mentioning as an option for the nemesis if they roll high enough.
Often Overlooked Regular Rule:
Bottom of page four of the rulebook: The number of dice you roll can never be more than 8 (not counting rerolls). So no, the Red Skull does NOT get to make the Avengers roll twelve dice for the Special Headline by raising the Threat level (but Kingpin can play a villain card and add one to the Trouble level AFTER the dice are rolled). Just worth mentioning...
So that wraps up Marvel Heroes: The Avengers edition. Go nuts!
And now for the other movies:
Age of Ultron Variant
Same as above except Molecule Man, Juggernaut, and Ultron start the game already on the board in the three Most Wanted spaces. For the rest of the game, Ultron always goes back to the Most Wanted space after combat, regardless of whether he won or lost. Ultron can't be bumped off the Most Wanted spaces by another Most Wanted villain that just won a combat and is moving to the Most Wanted spaces for the first time. Ultron (or one of his many copies) is always available to be played if the heroes fail to reduce the Trouble level to 3 or less.
X-Men: Days of Future Past Variant
Same as Avengers edition except Molecule Man, Juggernaut, and Sentinels start the game already on the board in the three Most Wanted spaces. For the rest of the game, Sentinels always goes back to the Most Wanted space after combat, regardless of whether they won or lost. Sentinels can't be bumped off the Most Wanted spaces by another Most Wanted villain that just won a combat and is moving to the Most Wanted spaces for the first time. Sentinels are always available to be played if the heroes fail to reduce the Trouble level to 2 or less. (Remember: Special Headlines count as districts with no support spaces, so yes, the Sentinels get to use Area Attack even during a Special Headline combat)
Have fun, guys!
Nice variants man, Ill try some of them on the next games