This week I received something I never expected to see in my inbox: a press release about Marvel Strike Force. The occasion: its sixth anniversary, which is March 28th. 

But I didn’t need to be told that, for you see, I have been playing Marvel Strike Force every day since May 13th, 2020. On a dark night in the oppressive silence of the early, brutal pandemic lockdown, I decided to start playing a new mobile game, and chose Marvel Strike Force. I was bored with Candy Crush Saga and was very bad at winning at Clash of Clans, and I needed something to pass the lonely days and nights. 

MSF, as we call it, is a “gacha game,” a type of mobile F2P (free to play) game in which some kind of random mechanic offers the hope of a jackpot of resources. (Genshin Impact is one of the best known gacha games.) Frustration mechanics and jealousy of some other player’s huge Gambit lead you to spend real world money to buy more resources and that’s where the profit comes in – these games can make millions of dollars. 

MSF offered several things I liked – at its heart it’s a resource management game (like my 20th century favorite, Civilization), where you have to save gold and training materials to build up your Marvel characters…who then get to fight each other with a variety of electronic pings and zaps, accompanied by death moans as they crumple to the ground after Apocalypse unleashes his devastating ultimate attack. I’m a Marvel girl at heart, so getting to collect my roster of classic and little known (to me) contemporary Marvel characters was a fun pastime. 

When I started playing, I was flush with stimmy cash and would often buy an orb or two for a couple of bucks here and there. I quickly realized that was adding up fast, and have only resorted to the most irresistible offers since (A 99¢ Silver Surfer offer is still a good buy.) 

Along the way….well…many times I’ve thought of writing about “My Life With Marvel Strike Force” here, as playing the game necessitated joining Reddit and Discord and watching many YouTube videos by content creators. Ah, those Pandemic years. The game was also regularly beset by a variety of colossal QA failures – whales and krakens (big spenders) exploiting a secret trick followed by inadequate compensation for us regular players. 

Perhaps most interestingly, I had to join an alliance and interact with a bunch of strangers on a regular basis to plan strategy. Although I’ve never made a secret of my identity (my Discord name is Comixace after all and I use purple tressed Psylocke as my avatar) no one I play with has any idea I work in the comics industry…or even that I’m female. That has resulted in an amazing acceptance when I offer other players advice or volunteer to take a particularly tough raid lane. No one I play Marvel Strikeforce with has ever mansplained me, which is quite a refreshing experience. 

But anyway, it is MSF’s sixth anniversary and they are rolling out a bunch of special activities, with Deadpool as the focus. Oh yeah that’s the other thing about MSF: they usually release characters based on whatever the MCU is doing. The Wakandan team got a big update when Black Panther 2 came out, and even Morbius had his day two years ago for that mess. (No they have not released a Madame Web team.)

The game just released a special campaign using Deadpool and the game’s original characters. This campaign is sort of beginner friendly – you get Deadpool pretty early in the gameplay and new players can use the promo code “DEADPOOL” to receive a five-star Deadpool character and extra resources. 

The original characters are harder to come by. Those characters – created just for the game – are an interesting bunch. Apparently they are Marvel “canon” but I don’t think they’ve been in any comics yet. And that’s a shame because some of them have potential. 


  • Kestrel:A founding member of S.T.R.I.K.E., Kestrel uses her portal gun to prevent enemies from summoning and blasting the weakest target among them.

Kestrel was released a few years ago and plowed her way through adversaries, provoking complaints from players that an unknown was too OP (over powered.) She’s also the first Malaysian character from Marvel. She spent years fighting her way through one of the extra dimensions that MSF is full of, and makes a cool whooshing sound when she attacks.  

  • Deathpool: The daughter of the cosmic entity known as Death and, uh… Deadpool? Okay, wow. Deathpool combines her father’s love of brawling with her mother’s incredible supernatural powers.

I sort of love Deathpool! Does Deadpool actually have a daughter? I dunno, but she has a great design and carries a scythe and when she makes a final kill there is a bell tolling effect that is quite enjoyable. 


  • Spider-Weaver: A Navajo weaver, Ajei Benally was chosen to safeguard the Web of Life and Destiny, pulling the threads of fate to protect herself and her allies.

Spider-Weaver was created with input from actual indigenous people, and there is an actual Spider Woman in Navajo mythology so she ties that together with the Spider-Verse very adroitly. 


  • Vahl: Allied to a fledgling Phoenix Force and the last Asgardian of their universe, Vahl utilizes Asgardian relics to revive their allies and deal devastating blows to their enemies.

Vahl is non-binary and can appear with a variety of facial hairs and body shapes, as well as a horned helm. They carry a ginormous sword and have a Phoenix beside them in battle. Like the rest of the OG MSF characters, Vahl is way overpowered and can even resurrect two fallen comrades. 

Should you start playing Marvel Strike Force? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. Many of the animations and Easter Eggs for the characters are very well done, and the dialog in the campaigns is often quite clever – definitely appealing more to MCU fans than comics fans but such is the way of the world. While the game has had some brutal moments in terms of making players pay to win, the quality of the art and animation has usually been high. (Omega Red does justice to his Jim Lee origins and Squirrel Girl hurls Tippy-Toe at enemies for one of her attacks.) 

On the flipside, it takes a long, long, long time to build up your roster to unlock some of the best characters and features. I literally played the game for two years before I unlocked and maxxed out all the “legendary” characters that were then available. This is not a game you play to win in the moment to pass time. It’s a hobby with long range planning. New character unlocks – we just got a super OP Black Knight – involve lots of grinding (as in all games) and math to make sure you’re going to hit the milestones. Playing some modes requires consulting tables to see which team is the best attack. I’ve come to hate the Cosmic Crucible Mode which takes planning to figure out whether I should use Secret Defenders to take out huge Xtreme X-Men in room 4 or save them for the huge Red Hulk team in room 6. When I make the wrong decision, I get relegated to a lower league, which I can easily beat, go up a league and then the process starts again. 

It’s also important to note that the game has had several owners in the time I played. When I started it was owned by Foxnext, which seems to have been responsible for some of the more enjoyable quirks and gameplay. Scopely bought the company just around the time I started playing, a company known for really grindy gacha games (think one step up from Mafia Wars). The Scopely years were marked by the bad QA mentioned above and often usurious game mechanics which prompted players to complain endlessly on Reddit and quit in droves. Last year Scopely was purchased by Savvy Games, which is owned by the Saudi Arabian PIF. The game almost immediately took a turn for the better, with fairer rewards, easier character unlocks and fewer mess-ups.

Update: I was informed that although Scopely was acquired by Savvy, they still operate as a standalone, autonomously operating company within Savvy and Scopely still owns Marvel Strike Force. Interestingly, this means that the improvements to the game came from the Scopely team, which is good to hear since they clearly care about the game a lot. 

I admit there were times I cursed the game during the bad years, but there was always some goal on the horizon that I vowed to complete before quitting – that’s the nature of an addictive gacha game. Right now the game is in a pretty good place, with cool characters like Nightcrawler and Kraven easier to farm within a few months of release. (In the olden days sometimes characters were impossible to build up for a year.) 

Now? Well I’ve gotta finish Dark Dimension 6 so I can get Super-Skrull and then we’ll see. But Dark Dimension 7 is coming at the end of the month with Mephisto as a reward and that’s going to be even harder to beat. The cycle never ends. (It can take literally MONTHS to grind through a Dark Dimension campaign.)

Should you start to play Marvel Strike Force? If my rambling above hasn’t given you a clue by now, I don’t know what else to tell you. 

Anyhoo, for the sixth anniversary, Scopely released individual infographics for players above a certain level, like me. It turns out I’m Thanos! I dunno how they figured that out, but I’ll take it. 


And that’s enough of that. Time for tonight’s DD6 assault and to blitz for more Forge shards.


  1. Cool, fun read Heidi. I may have to check it out. I also loved Civ games back in the day, and if it scratches that itch, I may go for it

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