Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Marvel Universe Miniatures Game

Marvel Universe Miniatures Game

Our tour of excellent skirmish games rolls forward with the Marvel Universe Miniatures Game (MUMG) by Knight Models out of Spain.  It’s a licensed product, using characters drawn from the Marvel Comics family of characters.  Currently there are three factions that are playable, Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the X-men.  Each faction has a starter set and an assortment of additional characters that you can add to bolster your force. 

The game is scaled at 35 mm, which means that models will be a little bigger than ones you might be used to seeing if you play any of the GW family of games, and they are produced in white metal rather resin or plastic.  They are gorgeously sculpted and have a serious attention to detail for both collectors and players.  This is very much a skirmish level game, with an average level value for units ranging from 5 to 9.  A game at around 30 levels will include 4 to 5 models, depending on the models you pick, and games at that point value take about an hour. 

Traditional Game Setup:

A typical setup for MUMG is a 36 inch by 36 inch play area (3 foot by 3 foot) , and uses modern terrain for the most part.  I could see a terrain mish mash to represent scenarios in various training facilities or the product of magical shenanigans on the part of adversaries.  The important thing about laying out terrain is to determine the size of the terrain pieces, because terrain is a lot less sedentary in the MUMG than in other games.  MUMG takes a fairly novel approach for a skirmish game that is faithful to the spirit of the comic book material that they use, and in most cases, terrain can either be used as a weapon or damaged during the fight.  I think it would be possible to have a completely destroyed map of terrain by the end of the game if the players were so inclined to make it rain destruction.  Knight models recommends you go completely bonkers with the amount of terrain you put on the table and I have no reason to argue the point with them. 

Interesting rules quirks:  There are two very interesting things I noticed in the rules breakdown, and then I will go into the basics of a character and how to assemble a team. 

Dice:  MUMG uses eight sided dice for the game rather than a more traditional six sider or a twenty sided die like a couple of other games.  A player will roll two eight sided dice (2D8) and add the attack statistic for the character acting.  Compare this number to the appropriate Defense state of the character targeted.  If the attacker’s value exceeds the defender’s (which is a change from most other games, which allow ties to go to the character attacking) then the defender suffers the effect of the attack power.  Any results of a doubles count as a critical hit, which typically will do an extra point of damage to the defender, but can have additional effects. 

Initiative:  The game starts with both players putting a number of identically shaped tokens or markers into a bag equal to the number of turns there are in the game add them to a bag.  One of the player’s then draws a token from the bag blind.  Whichever player’s token is pulled from the bag has the initiative and will activate one of their models first.  Players take turns pulling tokens from the bag to determine the active sequence of actions and the game goes from there. 

Both of these rules options are very interesting and different from other game systems.  The initiative system makes the game dynamic and makes a player think about the possibilities that they can be both going first and second the next turn without actually knowing which outcome is going to occur.  It’s tricky and adds a layer of thought to a game.  The use of eight sided dice instead of six sided dice means the math gets a little trickier and like the initiative system, adds a layer of complexity without bogging the game down. 

The character Card:  The character card that comes with each figure is essential for playing the game (Literally, it has all of the relevant stats and the character’s damage tracker on it) and contain a wealth of useful information for the game.  Some characteristics affect team building (you can’t have more than one character with the same name, for example) while others are directly related to game play (Size and attack for example.  There are twenty total points of information on the character card, and all relate directly to the way the game plays. 

After the name and the Alter-Ego, the character card has a column for Attributes and Skills, followed up by a column for Level, Affiliation, and Defenses.  Let’s go over those quickly so you can get to the cool stuff, the powers and attacks.  


·         Power:  This determines the number of power points this specific character has to use during each of its activations.  Power can be used to move, set off attacks, use abilities, overload attack options, and boost defenses on your opponent’s turns.  Power not used during the turn is lost, and the character will recover power equal to its starting value at the start of each game turn. 

·         Speed:  This determines the distance (in inches) a character can move during a round.  It’s listed as X/X/X though most characters won’t have the third value.  For 1 power, a character can move the first value, for 2 power they can move the second value, and for 3 power, they can move the third value if they have the third section in their speed profile.

·         Strength:  This determines how a character can interact with his environment (by throwing pieces of it other people) and his ability to deal damage with specific melee actions. 

·         Attack:  This number is added to any attack roll the character makes, and a higher attack value represents a combatant with more training or aptitude for combat. 

·         Size:  This is the actual size rating of the character and determines how terrain interacts with them.  The other interesting portion of this attribute is the “volume” of character, which basically is a cylinder that starts at the character’s base and extends upward until it reaches the character’s head and or shoulders (depending on pose).  This volume is the total space that a character takes up for purposes of interacting with other characters and scenery.  For a relative size comparison, Rocket Raccoon is size rating 1, Cyclops is size rating 2, Groot is size rating 3, and the Hulk is size rating 4. 

·         Agility:  Agility is a defensive statistic for specific attack actions like template weapons.

·         Stamina:  Stamina a defensive statistic that allows a character to shake off effects like poison or stunning, and resists the KO effect once a character has been severely injured

·         Willpower is the statistic used to resist mental influences or control mental powers. 

Level is the Level cost of the character, representing how much of your resources it takes to field a character.  In a different miniatures game, this would be represented by a point cost, but I like the use of level, as it helps a new player figure out which characters are more experienced and have stronger powers. 

Affiliation:  This is the core component of team building.  Affiliation has two parts, Faction, which represents the group the character is a member of (Cyclops is a mutant for example, and has the X indicating that for his symbol) and Affiliation, which represents which direction that character goes within that faction Sabertooth for example is a villain, indicated by the red ring around his X).   A team has to be made of characters with the same faction and affiliation (same symbol and color), though neutral characters (ones with a grey ring) can be added to fill out a team. 

Skills represent the combined skills, traits and equipment that a character may possess and general modify die rolls or tweak the rules a bit. 

Defenses:  Each character has four defensive statistics that represent their ability to resist different types of attack

·         Physical Defense:  Represents the character’s ability to resist damage from attacks with the Physical type.

·         Energy Defense: Represents the character’s ability to resist damage from attacks with the Energy type.

·         Supernatural Defense: Represents the character’s ability to resist damage from attacks with the Supernatural type.

·         Mental Defense: Represents the character’s ability to resist damage from attacks with the Mental type.

Remember, all of the attack actions have a type that corresponds to one of these four, and some characters will be better at resisting specific types of damage. 

Endurance is the amount of punishment a character can take before being removed from the battlefield.  It is represented by a long bar along the bottom of the character card and is broken up into three separate sections, each of which can modify the character’s performance.  As damage is taken and the character’s endurance is tracked down, the modifiers apply as soon as the endurance moves into the section.

The final section of the card, Abilities, represents both offensive and defensive powers that a character can use during the game. 

We’ll dig a little deeper into those next week and then we’ll go over the sequence of play.

If you’re interested in an unboxing or a game play demo, check out

Blackfyre Productions (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHtZu-LrH_OL-wETZhJGiduPHPNpFlDdo) unboxing videos and a couple of battle reports for the interested gamer.

Guerrilla Miniature Games (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ft_H-bdWwM&index=21&list=PLzrPO7KIAtwW-aKSZoIwKLHC3Q-glLwX0) just a let’s play video from Ash, showing off the game as its played

Don't Forget to check out Knight Models at their own page http://knightmodels-store.com/ to check out their awesome lines (Be sure to check out their extremely awesome Arkham Asylum set).

Game on, Game Fans


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