I must be very clear before I delve deeper true believer... see I am not a fan of Upper Deck. I personally feel they have made some terrible blunders, both from a gaming perspective, but more simply, from a business perspective. There's been so many rumors, half-truths, and flat out lies told the gaming community, it's a wonder they even make games anymore. That said (Snikity-snikt), this game is fun! I know, what a lead in right? Well seriously, oh lover of comic book lore, read on and see what lies ahead!
Marvel Superhero Squad is the latest TCG to be published by Upper Deck. It is part of an online community actually, one where you can play this game online as well, in a 3D world of colorful, child size superheroes. Do not let that pursuade you to look elsewhere though, thinking this is just another cheap gimmicky game. No faithful reader, there is more here than... well, meet's the eye!
The game itself is simple, bring a 40 card deck, no more, no less, with up to 4 copies of each card, and destroy your opponent. You do so by playing one card per turn, that hits for X amount of damage. Each damage is taken by discarding cards from the top of your deck. When you run out of cards, you lose. Sounds simple an easy right? Well, let's take a look at some cards first before we continue our journey... (you can click to see their full versions)
The game breaks down to several "factors". There are Strength, Animal, Elemental, Energy, Speed, and Tech. Each card has a type of Factor that is it's attack, which is the symbol between it's power cost in the upper left, and the damage number in the starburst on the middle left. In addition, thre is a "Breaker" or "Blocker" symbol on the lower left. This is the most important symbol, which we'll explain in a moment.
Each game starts with all players sharing a "Power Pool", which starts at 1. Starting with the second player, each player's turn begins by flipping a coin. Heads means your power goes up by 1 and Tails means it stays the same. Again, all players share this pool. So in a two player game, if you start at 1, the second player flipping a heads means both players now have 2 power on their turn.
You then can play one card from your hand for equal or lesser power value than you have. Some cards allow you to play more cards, but for the most part, it's one card per turn, so choose wisely. After playing your card, your opponent can then choose to discard a card from his hang to block the attack. To do so though, the discarded card must have a shield symbol (or "Breaker" or "Blocker... which ever you want to call it) of the same kind as the shield symbol on the attacking card.
If my opponent played "Pull the Ace" as an attack against me, I would need to discard a card with an Elemental Shield symbol in the lower left, matching the one on "Pull the Ace" (The lightning bolt in the lower left). If I do, then I'm considered to have "blocked" the attack with my discard, however I am also considered to have taken one damage, as I did discard one card. In "Pull the Ace"'s example, if I did not block it, I would discard up to 3 cards from the top of my deck.
Up to? Yes... see if I begin discarding off the top of my deck, and I discard a card that has the Elemental shield Symbol in the lower left matching "Pull the Ace" then I stop the attack there and take no further damage. So if the first or second card off the top of my deck match, I'm good and I don't take all 3.
Now, in addition, some cards like "Pull the Ace" have triggers, where in this case, if it does at least 2 damage, it's owner may then reveal the top card of their deck and if it is a Strength (Fist) or Energy (3 pronged bubble thingy, yes, that's a technical term), it hits for 4 damage and is discarded!
As you can imagine, with a large card pool and many different types of Factors, there is a lot of combinations that can happen. This is a very easy game to pick up, but the mutliple possiblities seem endless.
The gameplay is fast, VERY fast, and actually, quite fun! There's not that much happening, even on the most complex of combinations, but there is just enough to keep you coming back. This is by no means an in depth, Trading Card experience where one walks away feel all strategic, but rather, I would classify this as a step above Pokemon, aimed at 9-10 yr olds, but with enough to keep Dad interested in playing with them.
In addition, as mentioned, this is playable online at Heroup.com. As such, UDE has some online codes in each booster pack for points, and also there are rare, random inserts that provide in game character costumes and other toys, similar to the Avenger's Courage shown on the left.
There are X-Men, Avengers, and all the regular cast of characters in the Foundational set, that include all the classics from Iron-Man to Captain America and even includes lesser popular, but fun characters like Wasp or Nova (although I argue for true believers, these folks are just as important).
It is, as you can see, cartoony. That style though, in it's simplicity, combines well with the simple rules of the game providing a really well presented experience. Yes, it really is just a fun game to play! So Avengers Assemble, Spider Friends Suit Up, and X-Men... well... Snikity Snikt!
Marvel Superhero Squad Critical Review Score (Crit, Hit, or Miss):