When I first saw the announcement of Marvel Battle Lines I found myself conflicted. I was excited for the possibility of a sort of Marvel answer to Hearthstone but cautious of Nexon’s involvement for fear of heavy-handed P2W elements. Alas, Marvel Hearthstone isn’t what we got. Instead, Marvel Battle Lines is closer to enhanced tic-tac-toe.
In the game, players build decks of 12 cards out of the roughly 200 or so available and battle each other (or through a single player campaign/PvE ‘Special Ops’). The game board consists of a 3x4 grid and your goal is to defeat your opponent by lining up three to four character cards on the board to deal damage to your opponent’s face. Each card in a line attacks your opponent, so forming a four tile line is a good idea when possible. It’s also possible to attack by creating multiple lines and these characters will attack multiple times if you manage to pull it off. Once a line attack has been made, the tiles used are unplayable for a turn.
Most cards cost Cosmic Fragments (mana) which appear in random tiles on the board. You’ll need to use 0 cost characters to collect them in order to play the higher cost characters in your hand. Aside from creating line attacks, the characters you place on the board can move to different tiles and even attack enemy characters placed by your opponent. Some characters, like Misty Knight, have special attacks when played. Misty, for example, will deal damage in a vertical line when placed, so she can potentially eliminate another character just by placing her on the board.
There are also action cards (spells) that can be played for Cosmic Fragments, but these cards don’t get shuffled back into your deck. They’re only able to be used once per battle. Generally, you only get one action per turn. You can choose to play a character card, move a character on the board, or mulligan your hand. However, if you do play an action card, you can do another action that turn.
In addition to your standard cards, you can also collect leaders that can change the way you play. Black Widow, for example, will add to your total HP pool and also add HP to 0 cost characters when played. If you’re running Black Widow, you’ll want to run a lot of these 0 cost characters in your deck in order to take advantage of her ability.
There’s a decent amount of strategy here, but the game is a bit basic right now, though it is important to note that it’s currently in soft-launch and not global release. One thing I do really like about the game is the polish and character art. The game is mostly great to look at, though the one area I do find a bit disappointing right now is the character attack animations. They’re fairly simple, though I’m sure some would prefer to have them gone altogether as they do take some time to execute.
I don’t know how much time I’ll be spending with Marvel Battle Lines right now, but I do think it’s a game worth following. If Nexon can build it out a bit more and add some meat to it, it could be a decent mobile card game for Marvel fans. It’s no Hearthstone, but I’ll take it for now.