VS System 2PCG: The Marvel Battles

Game Overview: Playing as a singular Marvel super hero (X-Men, Avengers, or Guardians of the Galaxy) or as a Marvel villain along with supporting characters, locations, and plot twists you will battle your opponent in a head to head battle with a 60 card deck.  Both you and your opponent will be sending attacks as the defending player attempts to block those attacks before your main character is stunned and knocked out of the game one final time as they lay down in defeat.

Box Contents: A large box that comes with 400 cards and plenty of space to add additional cards from the different expansions that are available.  Also included are #? cardboard tokens used to track experience points, damage received, along with increases or decreases in base attack and defenses.

The cards are well made but far from the best possible cards stock available.  Because they have black edges, they do show wear on them as you continue to play the game.

The art is good but not outstanding and I would consider it the normal comic style art.  The art for each character is reused for each card.  The lone exception is the main characters will differ from their normal character cards.

Clarity of Rules: Overall the 15 page glossy rule book is decent.  It is a large sized manual, which makes it easy to read.  Overall the rules are explained well with one exception in how the main attacking options are explained between melee, ranged, and having flight.

Game Play:  Initially, you will select a main character (hero or villain) who will have a Level 1 card that starts in play and a Level 2 card that sits off to the side.  Along with this, you will create a deck of 60 cards.  The deck will include supporting characters, locations which are resources you can use during the game, and plot twists which give you additional abilities or negatively affects your opponent when played.

The rules manual includes a suggested deck of cards that you should use with your chosen character or you can build your own deck of 60 cards with a few rules wrapped around what is allowed in your deck.

Each hero/villain card will have stats that show their base attack and defense values.  In addition, there may be keyword abilities on the cards that occur during different situations of the game.  Along with this, there may be a super power that can only be used by spending a resource that matches that symbol.

Depending on the character, they may also have a ranged attack and/or flight symbol which gives them those abilities when attempting an attack.

When starting the game, you will draw 7 cards into your hand and except for the first player you will always draw 2 cards at the start of your turn.  Next, if you have any characters that were used on your previous turn or if they had been stunned but not killed by your opponent, you refresh them.

You can then play one card from your hand as a resource.  If it is a location card, you play it face up as it will have a symbol on it that can be used during your turn when using a super power on a hero/villain card.  When used, you turn it face down.  Alternatively, you can use any card from your hand and place it face down which also counts towards your overall resources you have.

The number of resource cards you have, determines the characters that you can play from your hand as each card has a cost to it.  Assuming you have enough resource cards in play, you can then put them into play.  You can also split up the cost across multiple characters by playing more than one as long as you do not go above the number of resources you have for that turn.  The important thing to remember is that resources don’t get discarded each turn as they will be available again on your next turn.

You then rearrange all of your heroes by determining which ones will be in the front row and who will be in the back row.  This dictates who you can attack with and how your opponent will be able to attack you.  Ultimately, you want to protect your selected hero/villain.

  • A hero/villain in your front row can do a melee attack against any hero/villain in your opponent’s front row.

  • A hero/villain in your back row that has a ranged symbol can attack any hero/villain in your opponent’s front row.  They will not return an attack unless they too have ranged on their card.

  • If you have flight and are in the front row, you can fly over your opponent’s front row and attack someone in the back row.  The lone exception is if the opponent has someone with flight in their front row then you can not get to the back row.

  • If you have flight and ranged, you can be in your back row and fly over your opponent’s front row and attack someone in their back row, assuming they do not have a character with flight in their front row.

You also have the ability to use characters that are either in the same row and do a team attack by combining the attack values of all of them to hit the super powerful opponents that may be in the way.  Your opponent gets to decide who has to defend their return attack that was part of the team attack.

Resolving attacks is very simple, you compare the attack value of your card to the defense value of the opponents card.  Starting with the attacker, you have the option of playing a plot twist card that may increase the strength/defense of your attacker or possibly decrease it on your opponent.  Cardboard tokens are added to the cards to help easily identify changes to the base attack or defense values.

Both characters are doing simultaneous attacks so damage can be done by both.  If damage gets through, it will stun the character and deals one damage to them.  The card is flipped upside down with a card board token added to note how much damage they have taken overall so you know how much life remains.  Any tokens they had that affected their base attack or defense is removed at that time.  If the damage meets or exceeds their life value on the card, they are knocked out and removed from the game instead of being flipped over.

Each of the main characters that were chosen will have the ability the earn experience points.  Once you have earned the sufficient experience, you immediately bring in your level 2 card which will have stronger abilities on them.

Once you have resolved all attacks that you wish to do, play passes to your opponent and this continues until one of the two main characters has been knocked out of the game.

Replay Ability: The base game has 16 different main characters and switching them up to battle against the others, will help add to replay ability.  However, you will want to build your own decks otherwise using the pre build deck of 60 cards that are suggested within the rules book, it does start to feel the same from game to game even though that main character does have a unique feel to it.

If you purchase any of the many expansions out there, it definitely adds to the replay ability and being able to match up other characters and adds to the options for building your own decks.

Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 12+ and there is nothing super complex with the game, its just understanding the keywords that are on the cards so you should be able to go down to 9 or 10 years old and I think kids around this age probably will thoroughly enjoy it.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: We felt this game was an okay game.  It wasn’t outstanding for us but it was far from a terrible game.  We are Marvel fans and like all of the different characters that are available in the game, even if they are not the main characters.  The abilities that are found on the cards are true to those characters and don’t seem out of place.

We enjoyed how the game allows you to slowly bring out the more powerful support characters and it occurs around the same time for both players since you typically only add one to your resources earch turn and after the 5th, 6th, and 7th turns those most powerful cards are showing up on the battlefield.

Thematically, it is hard to wrap your head around the reason why two groups of the heroes are fighting it out against each other, unless you put yourself into the Marvel Civil War setting.  Or take it even a step further, if you are building your own deck, you can even have Marvel villains in your deck supporting your Marvel hero which takes away from the lore that Marvel has built within that world.

The biggest complaint is we just felt the use of melee, ranged, and having flight felt convoluted and at times confusing in how the game expected them to be used.  The rules left a lot to be desired in thoroughly explaining this process and we played multiple times before we finally got it figured out.

All other games that use range that we have experience with, allow you to extend that type of attack.  Here though, if you have ranged you can only attack from your back row to their front row unless they don’t have any front row characters face up.  You can only attack with ranged to their back row from your back row if you also have flight and range together.  While I understand what they were trying to do, the rules just caused confusion and from previous game experiences it added to it even more.

And while it may not confuse a lot of people, we have been playing a lot of games that mimic the popular MOBA video game system where you have three lanes.  In this game, it seems like you have lanes but it really isn’t the case and it matters more about if the characters are in the front row or the back row and was just confusing us on the rows they were in how you are able to attack another character that is essentially on your opposite corner.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  There are many expansions that you can add to your game (37 are available on the Upper Deck website at the time of the review) which introduce more characters and additional keywords that are not found within the base game.  Some of the characters even go outside of the Marvel universe with Aliens and X-Files.