In the last few days it has been announced that Knight Models with be releasing a Marvel Universe Miniature Game. This is a system I’ll be watching very closely, and doubtless getting into upon its release. I do have some big questions though.
Knight Models’ Batman Game has proved that they are certainly more than up to the task of translating an established world and its characters into a miniature game. The Marvel Universe is a project several orders of magnitude bigger than Batman however, with a number of properties encompassed within it (Fantastic Four, X-Men, Avengers etc etc), meaning a huge range of models. The rules will need to encapsulate a massively broadened character power set compared to the Batman game. There’s also the logistical challenge of producing a much wider product line.
The Batman Game pulls likeness from the Dark Knight’s appearances in comics, film, and even the animated series, with at least seven different models of the Caped Crusader available. The Marvel Universe provides an even broader range to draw upon, with Marvels’ recent All-New All-Different line, and the cinematic universe being the first obvious touchstones. There is the Ultimate Universe to consider as well, and the many many iterations of characters over the years. It's not hard to imagine at least two or three variants for each big character (Marvel Heroes gives some idea of quite how broad you can go with this). The complexities of Marvels’ film licensing may also come into play. Do Knight Models have the rights to Hugh Jackman as Wolverine for instance?
The smaller scope of the Batman game has allowed Knight to introduce numerous villainous factions into the game early on, trading especially on the Joker and other members of Batman’s rouges gallery. Batman’s limited power set allows for these fights to be fairly equal. The Marvel Universe has its great villains and its ranks of nameless henchmen, but I don’t see how you balance that on the tabletop with some of the powerhouse characters, and the necessary release of a wide range of heroes. Civil War (or Secret Invasion) may offer Knight Models something of an out in this regard, allowing for hero on hero violence.
The recently released Spider-Man Game does provide some pointers towards the direction Knight Models intends, with a hero/villain and a number of minion model, but its a very specific case.
I know very little of Heroclix but have to wonder how much this is going to impinge on their market.
For all the above I have to say that I've been very impressed by Knight Models' Batman game. The rulebook is certainly a pleasing thing to behold, and while I've not yet got the game onto the table I can also vouch for the quality of their models. I am really looking forward to see what the company do with their new game.