Expanding the Game – Marvel United: X-Men Dev Diary #1

Hello there! I am Andrea Chiarvesio, one of the designers of Marvel United and Marvel United: X-Men. Like many of you, I’ve been one of Stan Lee’s “true believers” since I was a kid. So, for me, the opportunity to work with the Marvel Universe (THE MARVEL UNIVERSE!!!!!) has been both an incredible journey and the realization of a childhood dream. I hope all of my love for the Marvel Universe and the countless hours I spent reading comics comes through in the game.

I know, I know, you’re not here to read about me or how big of a Marvel fan I am. You are here to get some insight into the creative process that led to Marvel United: X-Men, so let’s start.

The jumping off point, of course, is Marvel United. For that game, we wanted an easily approachable, cooperative game that could be enjoyed by the whole family, but we also wanted it to have enough meat and depth to be exciting for gamers if they opted to raise the challenge bar from the family-friendly version of the game.

The final game ended up beyond our expectations. It’s a game that uses only 3 icons (plus a wild one) to deliver the experience of being a Hero, with an engine solid enough to support unique mechanics, turning every game into a different experience just by changing the Villain, the Heroes, or simply the seating order at the table. I also feel we were able to overcome the biggest challenge of the project – convey the uniqueness, powers, and personality of each different Hero by using only 12 Hero cards for each (actually, just with 10, since two cards must be identical in each Hero deck to scale the game difficulty). It’s kind of easy to cover a character’s backstory and abilities in a 100-page novel. It’s a much more challenging feat to do that with what’s equivalent to barely a 12-line summary.

With the original game wrapped up and arriving to backers, it’s now an honor to be able to introduce the X-Men into the game; I’ve loved these characters since I read all those Chris Claremont stories back in the ‘90s! In addition to introducing one of the most iconic casts of Heroes and Villains, this new expansion gave us the opportunity to bring some exciting changes to the general game structure and experiment with new mechanics, taking into account all the great feedback we got from players of the original game.

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