I’ve now watched several more YouTube videos of actual gameplay and read the free rulebook... I think a lot of my misgivings (in my post above) have all been properly addressed by the game designer’s focusing the gameplay on some very clever mission designs.
This isn’t a wargame that is trying to represent a war or even a skirmish... it’s a “scuffle” game! The average game looks like it will perfectly replicate the sort of fight scene you might see in a single issue of a comic book. A duo or small team of heroes duking it out for 6-8 pages with a mastermind villain and one or two of his henchmen. It’s not The Infinity Gauntlet and it’s not trying to be, it’s Marvel Team-Up and it nails it.
Players bring a collection of any ten models of their choosing. They also bring six Mission cards, of two different types (“Secure” and “Extraction”). You dice off for priority, winner picks one of his mission cards of one type, second player picks one of his mission cards of the opposite type... These mission cards all have a “Threat Value” on them and you assemble your team by picking from the ten miniatures you brought based on their point value.
It means you won’t have to buy a huge stockpile of miniatures if you really only like a handful of specific characters. It also means you won’t necessarily be stuck with characters that are lousy at a specific mission type.
There’s also no restrictions on your team consisting solely of Heroes or Villains, so you can totally recreate that one issue where Captain America had to team up with Red Skull because of Reasons. On the other hand, they do have “Squad Affiliation” rules to incentivize taking certain combinations of heroes. Minor stuff like Captain America giving a morale boost to a team made up solely of his fellow Avengers.
The model range is still kinda small, just the ones in the starter box, Venom, Hulk, the Black Panther, MODOK, and a couple of others. The biggest “missing” part of the line seems to be a complete dearth of any X-Men or their villains... I’d also like to see the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, and more of Spidey’s rogues. We’ll probably see them in the near future.
I’m officially upgrading myself from “dubiously skeptical” to “curiosity peaked.”
Anyone own a copy yet? I’d love to play a demo scuffle or two.