For those who follow our weekly “Clash of Chaos and Confetti” posts, you may be aware that I, Chaos, have been on a bit of a losing streak lately. Losing doesn’t feel good, and so something must be done about it. I feel it is time to reignite my warrior flame and push myself to be better. Due to this, for the first time since May, I put myself up against:
The Trials of Chaos!
The Trials of Chaos is where I put myself up against a board game challenge to test my mettle. This challenge is taken on as a single run through. There are no second chances or redos. I can either emerge a winner or reveal to the world I have been found wanting.
For this trial, I have selected: Marvel United.
Using the Marvel United game system, and its Infinity Gauntlet campaign mode, I have crafted an MCU inspired challenge. Instead of fighting three of Thanos’ Children and then Thanos himself, I will fight six battles (one for each Infinity Stone) before taking on The Mad Titan Thanos.
Each battle will be roughly based on a movie or moment from the MCU catalog that led up to Avengers: Endgame. Due to character and resource limitations, I will need to use some artistic license when setting up each battle. The stories may change, but the battles will still be epic.
The campaign rules are simple. Each game, I will control three Marvel heroes using the Solo rules as I take on a big bad. If I defeat the villain, I claim an infinity stone and move onto the next battle. If I am defeated, the villain will take hold of the stone instead.
-The infinity stone will not be placed in the villain decks for each battle. Instead, their fate will be determined based on the victory or loss of that specific game.
– The only way to unlock hero power-ups for the final battle will be to complete all three objectives during a game
– I will continue through the first six battles, win or lose. They are to set up the final battle.
– Achievement of this challenge will be based on whether or not I can defeat Thanos in the final battle.
GAME 1 – Captain America: The First Avenger (The Space Stone)
The Premise: The Red Skull is looking to claim the tesseract, a.k.a. The Space Stone. It’s up to Captain America and Bucky to stop the fiend before he can claim victory during World War II. Thankfully, a new soldier has just been assigned to their squad, James Howlett (Wolverine).
Heroes: Captain America, Winter Soldier, Wolverine (he was around during WWII)
Villain: Red Skull
*This game will be played with all wild cards left in.
Game 1 Play:
The early game saw a lot of Wolverine and The Winter Soldier carrying the action. They worked to clear out threats and take down thugs. The Red Skull was able to steady move his fear tracker along and hand out a few crisis tokens. With four crisis tokens out, he was able to move the fear tracker by six spaces at one point. Needing to only hit twenty, that was a big deal.
Later in the game, Captain America decided to get involved and that’s where things really shifted. He was able to complete both the threats and thug objectives in one turn. This set the heroes up nicely, but also meant the Red Skull would be upping his game… or so we thought. In a stroke of luck, Red Skull’s faster moves, ended up being pretty light. His final move of the game which had him taking out all civilians in the same spaces as heroes ended up doing absolutely nothing.
In the end, Captain America and Bucky took turns punching The Red Skull before Bucky finally landed the finishing blow.
The heroes kept the space stone from Thanos, but they unfortunately failed to giant a power-up along the way.
Game 1 Result: Heroes Win!
GAME 2 – Thor: The Dark World/Thor Ragnorak (The Reality Stone)
Since the characters of Thor: The Dark World are not well represented in Marvel United… In a strange twist of fate, Hela decided to show up early! She decided to steal the Aether (Reality stone) in order to rewrite Asgard into the realm she has always wanted. Thankfully, Thor has found friends in the form of Korg and Valkyrie.
The Set Up:
Heroes: Thor, Korg, and Valkyrie
*Due to the win in the previous game, all double wilds have been removed
Game 2 Play:
This was a team of heavy hitting heroes. They had no problem busting out attacks, but unfortunately, that left their other areas more lacking, especially in movement. Hela herself is also a big hitter and has no problem dealing damage quickly. This is made even worse by the many Necroswords she has littering the game board.
The heroes took massive damage as they cleared out the thugs and took out threats. They made Hela vulnerable just in time for her to deal her final strike on Korg.
In a multi-player game, Hela wins if all heroes are K.O.ed at the same time. This means she’s dealing a lot of damage, but the heroes just need to make sure they are hanging in there just enough. In solo-mode, one K.O. is game over. With no access to healing or card recovery, the heroes never really stood a chance.
Game 2 Result: Hela defeated the heroes and claimed the Reality Stone for Thanos.
GAME 3: Guardians of the Galaxy (The Power Stone)
The recently formed Guardians of the Galaxy are hunting down a powerful orb, which just happens to be an The Power Stone. Unfortunately, Ronan the Accuser has his own plans for the stone. Will the Guardians obtain the stone, saving Xandar, or will Ronan serve loads of pain and destruction on his way to serving Thanos?
Heroes: Star-Lord, Drax, and Groot
Villain: Ronan the Accuser
*Due to the loss in the previous game, all wild cards are included.
Game 3 Play:
Ronan, like Hela, is all about hitting hard and racking up K.O. on the heroes. His normal win condition is to K.O. any combination of the heroes four times. With solo rules stating that one K.O. is game over, this put me in a tough spot.
Thankfully, Star-Lord, Drax, and Groot proved to be a pretty well balanced team who had access to most of the action types at any time. To make things even better, knocking out a few threats revealed access to a wild token generator which gave the team even more flexibility.
Of course, all the action types and tokens in the world don’t mean anything if you’re dead. Ronan had no problem swinging his hammer at the heroes and dishes out two damage hits. The key was to keep the heroes separated so two would never get hit together.
Clearing Xandar’s threat revealed a card draw spot. This felt like a miracle. Paring that with Groot’s “We Are Groot” card which allowed for further card draw, kept the heroes in the game by the skin of their teeth. There were several moments where they fell to one card.
Once Ronan was vulnerable to damage, I couldn’t fully focus on attacking him yet. HIs overflow allows him to do damage to heroes, so I had to make sure I balanced attacking him, clearing out thugs/civilians, and healing.
In the end, all three heroes were able to get some shots in before Drax delivered the final punch. Ronan went down and the Power Stone was secured. While this was the closest I came to securing a power-up card (5/9 civilians), we didn’t quite cross that finish line.
Game 3 Results: Heroes Win!!
GAME 4 – Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Avengers, especially Iron Man, have accidentally given birth to the evil a.i. Ultron! Ultron wishes to not just world domination, but to create himself the perfect body. He’ll need the Mind Stone to accomplish his goals. Unfortunately for Ultron, the Avengers have a new ally in the form of The Scarlet Witch and The Vision has just been born with the Mind Stone embedded within his body. Can the heroes keep Ultron at bay or will the villainous robot take the stone only to make it easy pickings for Thanos?
Heroes: Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, and The Vision
*Due to the win in the previous game, all double wilds have been removed
Game 4 Play:
Ultron’s masterplan involved filling the city with thug and civilian tokens. If the board filled completely, Ultron got to claim victory.
Once again, the hero team turned out to be pretty well rounded in terms of abilities. This allowed them to quickly start chipping away at all three objectives. Ultron’s ability to cover the board with thugs and civilians only helped objectives get met even more steadily.
Since Ultron isn’t a big hitter, this game initially felt like a piece of cake. The heroes filled all three objectives at an even pace and took out any worrying threats. For a while, the board stayed pretty clear. It also helped that Ultron’s early attacks did almost nothing because he hadn’t handed out enough crisis tokens yet.
As Ultron became vulnerable and the game sped up, the situation seemed a bit more precarious. It may not have helped that the heroes stretched themselves into completing all three objectives and obtaining their first power-up for the final game. While doing that, they also took a few shots at Ultron while still clearing out thugs and civilians. It was a good thing they stayed on top of clear up because at one point, Ultron filled every token space but 1. He simply dropped thugs in every unoccupied location, which then spilled over further. On top of that, Ultron then handed out three crisis tokens in one turn, bringing the total up to five.
Suddenly, giving Ultron even one more turn seemed like a terrible idea. Thankfully, she was already down to three health, so all it took was some of Iron Man’s big blast to finish Ultron off.
With that, the day was saved and the Mind Stone secured. Even better, with a final game power-up earned, things seemed bright for the heroes.
Game 4 Results: Heroes Win!
GAME 5: Doctor Strange
Dr. Stephen Strange has undertaken a journey toward becoming the Sorcerer Supreme. However, his magical abilities come with the responsibility of keeping our dimension safe from attack. Enter: The Dread Dormammu! Dr. Strange, with the Time Stone around his neck, must do all that he can to keep Dormamu from bleeding into our world and bringing about the end of everything. Thankfully, he’ll be coming with his friends Hulk and Namor. They are the Defenders! (yeah… this team up may be more comic inspired than MCU)
Heroes: Dr. Strange, Hulk, and Namor
*Due to the win in the previous game, all double and single wilds have been removed
Game 5 Play:
In an interesting twist, players cannot beat Dormammu as they do most other villains. Instead, a fight against Dormammu is about survival. If a team can last through Dormammu’s final mastermind card, they may claim victory. However, Dormammu will be trying to win along the way as he works to complete the 20 moves needed on his ritual track.
Once again, this game proves to be about building a well balanced team. The heroes did a good job of covering all the bases in terms of action types. For the most part, this game never seemed in doubt, especially since Dormammu had a hard actually hitting the heroes.
Since I had to get through Dormammu’s entire deck anyways, that gave me plenty of time to complete all three objectives and lock down a second final game power-up.
In the end, Dormammu ran out of steam and decided to leave our dimension alone.
Game 5 Results: The heroes win!
GAME 6 – Avengers: Infinity War (The Soul Stone)
Vormir has been revealed to be the location of The Soul Stone. Gamora arrives just as Black Widow and Hawkeye do. A quick tussle later and they realize they are all united in their efforts to keep the stone from Thanos. It’s too bad they couldn’t work things out sooner, since Thanos has sent one of his Black Order minions to retrieve the stone for him. Proxima Midnight has arrived and she refuses to leave empty handed.
Heroes: Gamora, Black Widow, Hawkeye
Villain: Proxima Midnight
*Due to the win in the previous game, all double and single wilds have been removed
Game 6 Play:
Just like the previous game, this one went the distance. Proxima Midnight has a slaughter track that fills as civilians are dispatched by the villainess. She also comes with threats that all require stars to remove. For those who need it explained, that means players need all of star-actions in order to win.
Unfortunately, the makeup of the hero team was all wrong. Gamora, Black Widow, and Hawkeye all turned out to be big on the damage and little else. I spent a lot of timing praying for star or even move actions, but often was left with attacks that simply went to waste.
Meanwhile, an invulnerable Proxima Midnight happily ran around the board slowly filling up her track. On one hand, I was lucky to have her miss many of her direct attacks on my heroes. However, my team proved just as ineffective during my turns.
By the time I finally completed a second objective and had the ability to actually deal damage to Proxima Midnight, the game was too far gone. I was able to do minimal damage, but even then, I had trouble actually getting close enough to hit her, as my heroes sat punching at air.
Proxima Midnight eventually ran out of cards and declared the battle no longer worth fighting. She claimed the Soul Stone and went on her merry way.
Game 6 Results: Proxima Midnight wins and claims the Soul Stone for Thanos!
GAME 7 – Avengers: Endgame
Thanos has arrived. Even without a full gauntlet, bearing only the Soul and Reality Stones, Thanos already proves to be more than a match for most heroes. He quickly plows through almost everyone who stands in his way. Eventually only three heroes stand in his way: Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and Ant-Man. This is not the team that most would expect, but it will have to be enough. All other wins prior to this will be meaningless if Thanos wins and is able to wrest the final Stone from the heroes. Will good triumph today, or will Thanos snap away any hope of victory?
Heroes: Spider-Man, Ant-Man, and Captain Marvel
*Due to the loss in the previous game, only the double wilds have been removed
Game 7 Play:
Thanos is a beast and the game expects him to land a few K.O.s, but that only makes him harder for a solo-player who will lose with the first knock out. This meant I had to work fast and spread out my character in order to avoid any quick knockouts.
Since the board begins covered in civilian tokens, I quickly started rescuing them and beating on Thanos’ minions. Several of Thanos’ minions have setups to do damage as well, so leaving them in play would have been disastrous. The objectives I ended up completely here civilians and threats. I only beat one thug the entire game.
Thankfully, I ended up uncovering Avengers Mansion’s end-of-turn draw ability early on in the game, so it became a safe haven for my heroes. I constantly kept someone on the spot and often would use a turn just to heal up while other heroes raced around trying to get things done. Thanos had no issue hitting me again and again, but thankfully kept only bringing me down to one card.
Things were not completely bleak though, since I did have a few lucky breaks. Thanos’ heal 5 damage card dropped mid game. This was right before he became vulnerable, so it did him no good, but it also allowed me a breather to regroup, before fully engaging him head-on. The even bigger stroke of luck was that both of his infinity stones never actually saw play. Checking Thanos’ deck afterwards revealed I was one turn from hitting both stones back to back. The healing and objective resetting most likely would have locked the game in his favor completely.
This was another game that had me on the edge of defeat through most of it. I was able to make the most of my two power-up cards, which mostly allowed for more attack.
All three heroes proved to be very helpful and well rounded. Ant-Man and Captain Marvel did a lot of the heavy lifting, while Spider-Man played his role and handled a lot of the healing/re-drawing. Spider-Man also helped by providing most of our team’s movement.
In the end, despite the odds, the Mad Titan could not stop Earth’s mightiest heroes. Spider-Man landed a one-two punch which brought Thanos to his knees, and then Ant-Man finished him off with an overkilling “Grow.”
Game 7 Results: The heroes win and Chaos claims success on the overall challenge!
Final Campaign Results:
– 5 wins and 2 losses
– 2 Power-Up cards earned
Chaos’ Final Thoughts:
I loved getting to play so much Marvel United for this challenge. Overall, I think I did pretty well and pulled out some hard fought victories. Where I struggled most was due to either poor team make-up or severe disadvantage against a villain not quite built for solo-players. Honestly, I’m still surprised I beat Thanos since his K.O.-and-replace mechanic definitely is not built for solo-mode.
If I were to take on this challenge again, I might play a multi-handed setup instead. It might be a bit tougher to keep everything straight, but it would probably balance the games a bit more too. Who needs balance though, right?