Marvel Battle Lines review for iOS, Android

Platform: iOS
Also On: Android
Publisher: Nexon
Developer: Nexon/DevCAT Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

Gaming Age doesn?t employ me full time (given my sporadic output, I would certainly hope they don?t). When have to go to my 9-5 job, I rely on mass transit. So when you spend up two hours a day on a subway and a bus, you generally want to find a way to pass that time. If i was in the mood to make myself miserable, I?d probably read the news or keep up on social media. I?m also adverse to self-improvement, so that pretty much leaves me with mobile games or sleeping to pass this transit time and sometimes sleeping isn?t an option.

One of the perks of writing Gaming Age is that discovering new games isn?t a task I have to work hard at. So when the PR team working on Nexon?s latest emailed me about a new mobile card game featuring the Marvel IP, I was intrigued to see if this title would keep me awake as I prepare to start and end my work day.

Marvel Battle Line is described as a card based tactics game where you 12 card deck consisting of heroes, villains and action cards. These cards are actually manifestations of the shattered shards of the Cosmic Cube, which you conveniently have an affinity for controlling. Using these cards requiring paying the cost that is listed on the upper left hand corner of the card, which can range from zero cost to up to 3 energy. So while it would be cool to have all 12 of your favorite A-List Superheroes in your deck, rest assured the cost deploying the cards would ensure a swift defeat, so you want to have a healthy mix of cards with zero cost as well as some with costs. Speaking of defeat, one bring defeat to your enemies by lining up 3 cards (horizontally or diagonally) or 4 cards (vertically) in the 3 by 4 playing field, forming a battle line which can be used to drain the health of the enemy leader.

The title has 7 game modes, 2 of which are online modes. Story Mode has you assisting the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. as they attempt to recover the scattered shards of the Cosmic Cube in hopes of reassembling it and preventing the cataclysm which will occur if the Cube remains Broken. Special Ops has you taking on AI Opponents and earning stars by fulfilling specific match conditions. Trial Simulation is a ladder mode which is you face up to 5 player AI to earn gold. Challenge has you climbing a leaderboard to earn Diamonds which is only purchasable currencies this game offers. The more you win in this mode the more of a handicap you?re saddled with. Arena and PVP are the modes where you can play against human players. To prevent games from dragging on too long (although it seems all my opponents love to run down the clock much to my annoyance), each round is limited to 1 minute. Event Portal will usually contain a time sensitive set of fights with some sort of condition which can be played once a day and offers the opportunity to earn some cards. The game unlike other mobile games, your ability to play matches are not hindered by a stamina system so you can binge as long as you like.

The game?s deck building system provides numerous possibilities. You can build a deck full of zero cost characters or build one around a specific character?s special ability. The option to change your leader also provides another layer of strategy as any superhero leaders offer effects on the player health as well as passive buffs or debuffs. The ability of some of these cards really match the characters which they represent (i.e. Squirrel Girl?s special ability actually allows you to win the match practically instantly). Cards can be leveled up to increase their effectiveness in the battlefield although the costs are pretty staggering even if you have the prerequisite materials needed. Getting new cards is how the game gets you to dip into your wallet. The shop offers blind boxes as well as some card generated randomly on a daily basis. Aside from actual cash, the currencies the game takes for purchases include, diamonds, gold, trials points and spec ops points. The last two being slowly (emphasis on ?slowly?) earned by playing the point?s namesake mode, unless you participate in some of the special events which are rolled out.

To the game?s credit, the reason why there was such a delay in getting this review out was because I was more focused playing and unlocking cards than I was writing about the title. I am actually so enthralled that I have neglected other mobile titles I keep up with on the regular. With its gorgeous art (except for the Kingpin…who looks too brutish), large variety of cards, and lacking in a stamina system in most of their play modes, it won?t be hard to drain the battery of phone. I look forward to what?s to come from this title and I certainly hope newer cards will incorporate marvel?s first family and merry mutants. Now if you?ll excuse me I need to go find my portable battery.

Grade: A-