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Subject: A Review Using Comparisons, Pros, and Cons rss

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~Ryan McSwain
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I won't even attempt to explain the rules to this game, instead I want to paint you a broad picture.

To give you an idea...

Arkham Horror has a more well-ordered rule book.

Puerto Rico requires less upkeep.

Heroclix has better miniatures (and more variety).

Odin's Ravens provides more screw-your-neighbor possibilities.

Nexus Ops has more intuitive combat.

Risk has less down time.

Now that I've got that out of the way:

Pros:

This game does several things right. First of all, you can tell from the beautiful original art on the box, the great details on the game board, the fanboy references on every goal card, and the great choice of art for the cards that this game was made by people with Big Love for the house that Stan & Jack built. The miniatures are a good example of the high production value of this game. It looks and feels great.

Marvel Heroes also does a great job imitating the complexities of a good comic book story arch (multiple-issue story). There are random conflicts, conflicts orchestrated by a main villain, and actual conflict with the main villain himself. However, these strengths were not enough.

Cons:

The rules for this game are way too complicated or are just terribly written. I am not a veteran 'geek--I've only been obsessed with games for about a year. But to give you an idea, I didn't have any trouble with the rules for Puerto Rico, Power Grid, Arkham Horror, or the other popular games that newbs struggle with (Magic Realm did throw me a bit). But I was flipping back and forth in the rule book for days before we played, the entire time we were playing, and for days after just trying to sort out where it all went wrong.

Here's another problem: the game doesn't provide enough variety in playable characters for the lack of clarity in the rules. If the game let you play with a hundred different Marvel heroes, minis or no, I could understand labyrinthine rules. But the rules weren't having trouble clarifying individual superpowers, it was just a mess trying to figure out how to hit the Mole Man in the face without spending ten minutes apologizing to the other players as you look through the rule book.

I really think that the game could have sacrificed some of its unnecessary complexity without sacrificing its fun flavor and theme. You could keep the awesome way the game uses headlines, the obscure supporting character cards, and the fun of controlling other players villains. My main rule complaints are the overcomplexity in combat and the rulebook that is about as linear as Slaughterhouse 5.

I've read again and again that this game suffers from some major balance issues. We had far too much trouble just playing the game to notice.

Don't get me wrong--I am a huge comic fan. I used to donate plasma to buy trade paperbacks, and I once tried to get a complete run of Excalibur. I still read comics avidly. I played this game with people who love comics. Most of the comic fans who rate this game so highly would make fun of me for my insane enthusiasm for superhero comics. I bought this game expecting it to be a fun, accessible, dice-rolling nerdfest.

It just doesn't provide the experience we were looking for--I had to promise we wouldn't play it again to get people to come to another game night.

Honestly, if you want an strategic, comic-flavored game, hop on eBay and buy a big set of Heroclix. As much as I detest collectible games, it does just as good a job handling the mechanics of superpowers, provides so much more variety, and the rules can be explained in less than five minutes.

I'm hoping that either Heroes, Inc. or Capes & Cowls can provide me with a great comic/board game blend. Marvel Heroes, while gorgeous and drowning in theme, has been a huge disappointment.
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Paul Day
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/info/22013

this turn flowchart helps a great deal
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Sean P
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I felt the same way about this game. After two attempts I had to say, it's just not fun.
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~Ryan McSwain
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Paul, thanks for the advice. I didn't check that out until after I'd struggled through the rules.

It's a great resource, but I don't think it changes the fact that the game just doesn't flow as well as it should for what it is.
 
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If Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Then Actions x2 Speak Louder Than Actions
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Uh, you forgot:

- Monopoly comes with more paper money.
- Camels are hairier.
- The ocean is wetter.
- Birds have more feathers.
- Cherries have more seeds.
- My car is faster.
- Arsenic is more poisonous.

It's easy to compare apples and oranges. What's a Granny Smith to a Red Delicious?
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Tom Grant
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I agree, the rulebook could be a lot easier to read. I think the high production values--full color pictures, imaginative layouts--interfered with the rulebook's readability.

However, I think your criticism goes overboard on this point. The rulebook may have been challenging the first time through, but people have successfully navigated it. If you skim, you're screwed. If you read it cover-to-cover, it's a bit of a head-scratcher in places, but once you start playing, it makes sense.

And I strongly agree with Joe: Marvel Heroes is not the same sort of game as Heroclix. MH is a "mission" game, in which you have to gauge which threats are worth addressing, and which may be above or below your comfort zone. Playing the game does feel more like reading several issues of a comic book, in which the overall story arc plays itself out.

Heroclix, on the other hand, is a "brawl" game. That's all it is. It might be a fine game (as is Capes and Cowls, by the way), but it's definitely not the same game.
 
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~Ryan McSwain
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You folks have some great comments, seriously. I know this game has some strong supporters, and you are helping me see why.

I understand joebelanger's witty response. I'm not comparing Marvel Heroes to these other games--that would be unfair all around. I was just comparing aspects of these games with each other, which I think is valid. "Puerto Rico presents more choices per turn than Ra does" is a much more valid statement than "Vegas Showdown is a better auction game than Once Upon a Time is a storytelling game."

Here's my beef--the game comes up short for the fanboy in me, and it doesn' satisfy the gamer in me. Considering that I'm not overly picky (I mean, c'mon, I've read early X-Force on purpose, and I can get a kick out of Fluxx), I may have just expected too much out of a licensed product.

"A Granny Smith has more of a crunch than a Red Delicious."
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Bobb Beauchamp
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I don't think you expected too much...I think you expected it to play like Marvel's Secret Wars. Which it isn't, although I can see a scenario being crafted that would replicate that series. What the game does is simulate a story arc from a series...or in this case, from several series, as each team can be seen as a single comic book. To that extent, the headlines and challenges you encounter along the way are individual issues, with the Mastermind and final challenge representing the climax of the story.

I think the game succeeds in getting the little steps along the way right. I don't know that it provides a satisfyingly tough boss fight.

What it doesn't do is give you a panel by panel fight between Spider Man and Kraven. The fights and challenges are very abstract, and incorporate the fact that not every comic book challenge is resolved through BAM POW.

As for figuring out the rules, I think there are a couple good reviews and session reports here on the Geek that provide a good enough overview and walkthrough that it it should clear up any problems that the rules have. I know that in my case, I read through the Geek stuff first, then the rules, and didn't have any issue understanding what to do.
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Chris May
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After prebuying this game almost a year before it came out (stupid FFG delays ) I didn't like it the first two times I played it. The rules make no sense to start with. Later, I found out we had played several things wrong and now I love this game.

I don't think it's that the rules are complicated, but instead that they are not explained well. This game is so different from any other game that I've played. So for me it was not intuitive at all. Just this week, I've begun playing Tide of Iron. Many people have struggled with the rules for TOI. I did not because it is very similar to Star wars miniatures. To me, TOI is intuitive. Marvel Heroes is not because it is so different from any other game I have ever played.

So, for me after struggling through the rules for a few plays the game has become one of my favorites.
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Brad Miller
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I'd love to play it more, but I just can't decide what to do with the Fantastic Four...
 
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If Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Then Actions x2 Speak Louder Than Actions
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Superhero/Comics-based games are as varied as the reasons that people read comics. Some fans are looking for a crime eradicating game. Others look for an epic battle of the titans. Yet still more look for a game with a riveting narrative.

Each of us wants a game that reflects what we (the individual) get from a good serial.

For me that's a formfitting, scantily-clad costumed hottie'd game that is completely tits-driven; a la PowerGirl.
 
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Tim Thorp
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An excellent review, but I disagree about Heroclix being better miniatures.
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~Ryan McSwain
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Well, you can at least agree on the variety.

But then again, I'm not known for my math skills.
 
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Jorge Arroyo
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Impr3ssion wrote:
(Magic Realm did throw me a bit)


If that's really true, then you shouldn't have had ANY problem with this game...

I only agree with you in that the manual was badly written, but the game is excellent. Maybe, as it has been said, you should have read it well before playing the game, even playing some solo turns to see how it all comes together.

-Jorge
 
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Stephen Schaefer
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ced1106 wrote:
joebelanger wrote:
Arsenic is more poisonous.


That's a terrible game.


I hear the expansion fixes the problems with it.
 
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~Ryan McSwain
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maka wrote:
Impr3ssion wrote:
(Magic Realm did throw me a bit)


If that's really true, then you shouldn't have had ANY problem with this game...

I only agree with you in that the manual was badly written, but the game is excellent. Maybe, as it has been said, you should have read it well before playing the game, even playing some solo turns to see how it all comes together.

-Jorge


You caught me--I was being a bit facetious about Magic Realm. I still don't understand the modified combat rules in that monster that supposedly make it so much more fun.

As far as reading the rules well, please understand, I am the sole enabler in our group, and the one who always checks out the rules and explains them. I spent at least a couple of hours reading the rule book cover to cover. I ran through a few solo rounds to get a feel for it, and I printed out and studied the current faq. I honestly thought I had it down. I found myself hoping that only three people or less would show up at a game night so that I could bust out the Marvel Heroes.

If I put that much work into a rule set and still have this much trouble, it is understandably frustrating. I gave this game more than a fair chance. It's up for trade, if you know anyone who needs it.
 
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Chris May
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Impr3ssion wrote:
maka wrote:
Impr3ssion wrote:
(Magic Realm did throw me a bit)


If that's really true, then you shouldn't have had ANY problem with this game...

I only agree with you in that the manual was badly written, but the game is excellent. Maybe, as it has been said, you should have read it well before playing the game, even playing some solo turns to see how it all comes together.

-Jorge


You caught me--I was being a bit facetious about Magic Realm. I still don't understand the modified combat rules in that monster that supposedly make it so much more fun.

As far as reading the rules well, please understand, I am the sole enabler in our group, and the one who always checks out the rules and explains them. I spent at least a couple of hours reading the rule book cover to cover. I ran through a few solo rounds to get a feel for it, and I printed out and studied the current faq. I honestly thought I had it down. I found myself hoping that only three people or less would show up at a game night so that I could bust out the Marvel Heroes.

If I put that much work into a rule set and still have this much trouble, it is understandably frustrating. I gave this game more than a fair chance. It's up for trade, if you know anyone who needs it.



I did the same thing. I read that sucker like 5 times salivating the whole time. i printed the faq, and I also thought I was ready. 2 games and about a dozen mistakes later, I tried to figure out where I had gone wrong! I realize now it was not me, but the rulebook. I have it down now and I love the game.

I totally understand how this game would not be everyone's cup o tea. I have several friends who despise it. To me it is such a unique game with one of my favorite themes that I can't help but like it!!
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Jorge Arroyo
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Impr3ssion wrote:
maka wrote:
Impr3ssion wrote:
(Magic Realm did throw me a bit)


If that's really true, then you shouldn't have had ANY problem with this game...

I only agree with you in that the manual was badly written, but the game is excellent. Maybe, as it has been said, you should have read it well before playing the game, even playing some solo turns to see how it all comes together.

-Jorge


You caught me--I was being a bit facetious about Magic Realm. I still don't understand the modified combat rules in that monster that supposedly make it so much more fun.

As far as reading the rules well, please understand, I am the sole enabler in our group, and the one who always checks out the rules and explains them. I spent at least a couple of hours reading the rule book cover to cover. I ran through a few solo rounds to get a feel for it, and I printed out and studied the current faq. I honestly thought I had it down. I found myself hoping that only three people or less would show up at a game night so that I could bust out the Marvel Heroes.

If I put that much work into a rule set and still have this much trouble, it is understandably frustrating. I gave this game more than a fair chance. It's up for trade, if you know anyone who needs it.


Your loss

Seriously, I understand your frustration, but for me, there's a really good game hiding under the bad rulebook. When we learned the game, each game we played was a discovery of mistakes we had been making on the last plays, but we had a blast anyway... Some mistakes were unbalancing, but when learning a game that is so unusual, it's to be expected... Now I think we're playing right, and we really enjoy it...

This has been said many times, but I'll say it again. Many people who don't like the game had their expectations unfulfilled. And many people were expecting a miniatures game, which this is certainly not it...

-Jorge
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