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Captain Marvel: Secret Skrulls Offers a Balance Between Quick Play and Strategy

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has provided fans with yet another hit in the form of Captain Marvel: Secret Skrulls – a tabletop game from The OP/USAopoly. A repackaging of the Bang! tabletop game, this secret identity game pits Captain Marvel and her allies against Skrulls and a Skrull Defector, creating multiple factions competing to take each other out.  To add to the fun, these roles – other than Captain Marvel herself – are hidden behind other character identities like Ronan, Nick Fury and others, who all have their own special powers. 

In each turn, players draw two cards and then take a series of actions based on their hand. A player might arm himself or herself with a Kree Sniper Rifle which allows increased range, or a Skrull Shock Stick, which allows unlimited attacks instead of the one attack per turn players are otherwise limited to.

These attacks are carried out using an Attack card, which usually has a range of one due to the base “punch” attack for each player. The attacked player may Evade or use other special powers to avoid damage, or lose a health point out of a pool based on his or her public character.

Captain Marvel and her alliance win if they eliminate all others, while the Skrulls win if Captain Marvel dies and the Skrull defector wins if everyone else is taken out. 

STAKING OUR C.L.A.I.M.

Components

The art on the cards, character boards and tokens is really well done. Further, the cards did a decent enough job of describing what special powers they provide, especially when paired with the explanations in the instruction manual.

I will say that there were a couple cards that could’ve been worded better on their own, but the book cleared up any doubts we had. All in all, the components provided were specific and interesting without being over-complicated for a quick play – about 30 minutes once you learn how to play.

Luck

This game balances luck and strategy very well. There are enough of the basic Attack and Evade cards to make each choice to target various players a risk, but it’s also not difficult to land a hit on your character of choice more times than not. If you are Captain Marvel’s ally and need to put some damage on a Skrull, for instance, you’ll be able to do that if you play your cards well.

The biggest element of luck for me was which role I drew at the beginning of the game. As a Skrull Defector, the prospect of eliminating everyone else in the game before the Skrulls defeated Captain Marvel was daunting even with five players, so I’m not sure how that would be any easier with the maximum of seven players. But it was a fun challenge nonetheless.

Aesthetics

As I stated with the components, the artwork in this game is beautiful. The art was clearly based on the movie characters – Nick Fury is Samuel L. Jackson, for sure – but the artist(s) took the time to stylize the cards as though they were drawn for a comic book.

Mostly, I would say this game had a very clean, neat aesthetic. Numbers and text were clearly printed in a logical way, and necessary data was easy to find. 

Interest

For me, the most interesting element of the game was the interaction between your secret role and your public character. How does your character’s unique power – the ability to draw an extra card under certain circumstances, for instance – benefit your secret ambition?

Further, the designers did a good job of balancing those powers between characters. While Captain Marvel herself is obviously super-powered, the others have a surprising range of ability. We were caught off-guard by how useful the powers of the nameless Kree and Skrull soldiers were, so no character is really a “bad draw.” And even after losing my first game as a Skrull Defector without making much headway toward my goal, I was eager to play again. 

Mood

This game is just outright fun and immediate action. Straight from the beginning of play, each player can begin working toward their endgame goal, so the 30-minute playtime is easily accomplished. It’s not too difficult to begin deciphering who might be an ally or an enemy, and there’s no time spent building your attack or accumulating resources. Instead, the battle begins instantly, and very few turns are spent biding your time because players can heal damage on the same turn they attack.

All players stay engaged for nearly the entire gameplay time, and that’s a very positive attribute.

Final Verdict

I’d adamantly stake my C.L.A.I.M. for this game as one you should add to your collection. It’s not too difficult to learn and quick to play, but the varying roles and abilities make it one that you can easily replay multiple times without getting burnt out.

Further, the gameplay is such that it could be entertaining for both a group of experienced board gamers, as it was for my group, or you could break it out with folks who haven’t ventured much beyond Monopoly and Clue.

Priced at $25 or so, get this one when you get a chance!


Disclosure: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of Captain Marvel: Secret Skrulls by The OP in exchange for an honest review.