Our idea for last week was to show off the powers and to go over the turn cycle, but that got a little side tracked with new releases. So we’re back with that initial idea. Abilities represent the superhuman capabilities (offensive and defensive) that help to define a character. Some characters don’t have a lot of abilities, but all characters that we’ve seen so far have at least one. Before we get any further, let’s break down the components of an ability.
Abilities come in two types, Attack Forms and Special Powers. The differences are fairly straightforward. Attack Forms are offensive abilities that a character will use to try and damage another character (or piece of scenery). Special Abilities are defensive abilities, movement abilities, or other, odd abilities that a character can utilize to do something outside of the normal game rules. These have a special stat line of their own that we’re going to break down.
- Cost: This is the amount of power you will have to spend in order to activate the power.
- Frequency: This is the number of times you can use this ability during the game. A Green icon means it can be used as many times per turn as long as you can pay its energy cost. A Blue icon represents a power that’s harder to manifest and you can only use it once per turn. A Red Icon means you can only use it once per game.
- Use: This is the way you activate a power. Some powers are active, meaning you have to trigger them yourself. Passive powers are always on, and reactive powers take effect in response to something happening in the game state.
- Name: The actual name of the power you’re using.
- Nature and Type of Damage: If it’s an attack power, this will tell you what type of attack you’re using and what type of damage your opponent is resisting.
- Special Rules and Effects: This is the explanation area for any unusual power that you’re activating and how it works.
Now that we’ve covered the abilities, let’s move on to the game itself.
Most of the time (and we especially suggest for your first time) that you play one of the scenarios in the rulebook. They’re an excellent way to walk through your first few games and get familiar with the mechanics. Scenarios give you ready made battles including deployment zones, game length, and any special quirk rules for that particular game. Most importantly, they also give you a victory condition for winning the game.
The Sequence of Play is straightforward, but has a twist we like a lot. Gameplay is divided into four phases. The first phase, the power phase is where players refresh the power values for each of their characters (their power stat). This determines how much energy each character can spend during the round to fly around, or stab each other with pointy claws. Once everyone has refreshed their power values, the round moves into the Initiative phase.
The Initiative phase is the thing i like the most about the Marvel Universe Miniatures Game. At the beginning of this phase, one player will reach into the container that has the combined tokens for both players and pull one out. (You’ll have prepped this bag before the game starts, each player begins the game with the same number of available tokens). Whichever player owns the token that’s pulled determines initiative for the round and decides which player will activate a character first. Determining which player takes the first action can be as important as the player who takes the last action. This is the aspect of the game we enjoy the most because it forces a player to consider both possibilities and plan strategies accordingly.
The Action phase occurs next and it is exactly what it sounds like. Starting with the player who gets to activate a character first, each player will choose and activate one of their characters. That character then expends their energy to zip around the map, shoot the other team and perform any other actions that occur during the game. Energy that’s left over can be used for a defensive boost. Once that character has performed all the actions they are going to, the second player activates one of their characters and performs the same steps.
Once all characters have been activated, the final phase of the round starts. Aptly titled the Final Phase, this is a cleanup phase for any outstanding events that need to be addressed. It’s also the time to check victory points and determine a scenario winner. Once this phase is cleared up, the next round starts.
We like this turn sequence because it’s a blended turn, where both players complete the phases at the same time. When sequencing is important, the game mechanics have a fluid solution for determining which player has priority. It’s not clunky, and it works very well to quickly move from character to character. We think a superhero game should move fast, and that’s part of why we like this one so much.
That’s our close up on the turn sequence for the Marvel Universe Miniatures Game, next time we’ll finish up with a look at the game mechanics for dice, the quirks, and some other final thoughts.
If you’re on Facebook, check out the Marvel Universe Miniature Games Group. They are a fantastic resource for new players and terrain ideas. As always, you can find Knight Models on Facebook and the web.
Game on, Game Fans