Marvel Champions: the week in review

Hey everybody,
I’m trying something a bit new today, as I give a bit of a round-up on my week with playing Marvel Champions. Yes, I’m still playing this game like there’s no tomorrow! I’ve had some really good games this week, though, so wanted to write a blog that covered some of the specifics of those games, and not just scratching the surface with just a couple of lines, as I usually do! I’ve had five games of Marvel Champions this week, so let’s begin!

Marvel Champions

Green Goblin: Risky Business

This scenario includes double-sided villain cards, for Norman Osborne/Green Goblin, as well as the double-sided environment card, Criminal Enterprise/State of Madness. Norman Osborne cannot attack, instead you add a counter to Criminal Enterprise; any time he would take damage, you remove that many counters from Criminal Enterprise. If it ever clears, you flip to State of Madness, and flip Norman to his Green Goblin side. As a mirror, Green Goblin never schemes, but instead removes counters from State of Madness which, when clear, will flip back to Criminal Enterprise, and flip the Goblin to his Norman Osborne alter-ego.

Norman Osborne wants to stay in control, because that’s the way he’s going to complete his schemes and win. There are therefore plenty of cards in the deck that want to either put counters on Criminal Enterprise, or remove them from State of Madness. In fact, almost every card in the Risky Business encounter deck includes a boost effect of adding or removing, guaranteeing that this side of the game will keep moving, and preventing a free pass, as it were.

It’s a really great design, and has become one of my favourite scenarios to play due to the amount of movement that we see within the encounter deck. There are times when you think you’ve got enough damage to defeat the Green Goblin, and then an encounter card will force him to flip back to Norman Osborne, and so you have to remove all the counters from Risky Business again to get him back to the Goblin side.

The scenario pack comes with a second scenario, Mutagen Formula, which is pure Green Goblin and one that I still need to work towards playing. It also includes three modular encounter sets, featuring Scorpion, Electro and Tombstone as the starring minions, respectively. None of those is required for either of the scenarios in the pack, but it’s great to see them just keep including random stuff to help keep games interesting!

Marvel Champions

Sandman

Ah, Sandman. How wrong I was about this scenario. There was an almost-accepted truth that the first scenario of any box would be the easiest, and they would scale proportionally as the campaign unfolds. Sinister Motives being the fourth expansion, I suppose they wanted to make things correspondingly more difficult, but I was still a bit naïve on my first play-through with this guy!

Sandman comes into play with a single-card main scheme that requires 9 threat per player to achieve (it enters play with 2 per player), and the environment card City Streets, which enters play with 4 sand counters on it. Sand counters? Well, whenever Sandman attacks, you add a counter to that card, and discard cards from the top of the encounter deck equal to the number of counters on City Streets. And that’s all there is to it. Initially, I was a bit like, that’s it? Well that isn’t very threatening! But no – I was forgetting that when the encounter deck runs out of cards, you shuffle up and go again but with an acceleration token in play.

Most of Sandman’s kit works around the City Streets environment card, and activating the effect on there – eight of his thirteen cards trigger it, most of them also adding sand counters as they do so. A player can exhaust a character to remove sand counters equal to that character’s ATK value once per round, so you can try to get things under control, but man is it difficult. As the game went on, I thought it pretty thematic how the ever-shifting encounter deck could quite easily represent the shifting sands of Sandman’s powers brought to bear. 

Now, he does bring two modular encounter sets, plus the Standard set, so the encounter deck is quite a decent size. You might be able to survive a couple of rounds at first, before the acceleration token is placed and things really start to get out of hand! Unfortunately, though, I hadn’t really realised what was going on at first, so in my opening turn I played a card that discarded from the encounter deck until I revealed a minion – and discarded almost half the deck to do so!

When I eventually managed to defeat the Sandman, I felt kinda exhausted, as there was a lot to try to keep track of. It was a definite challenge, however I don’t think it ever felt completely out of my reach to win, which is always nice in these games. The modular encounters were also interesting in this one, as we have one with our old friend Rhino as the star, and another that is full of common criminals, and which includes what I think might be the first Obligation card that we’ve seen that isn’t hero-specific. A really interesting design, as it seemed to reflect the generic drawbacks of being a superhero with family members who worry about them. I think I can see myself using that set in a few other games, for sure.

Marvel Champions

Rocket Racoon

I really like Rocket Racoon. I’ve already told this story here on the blog, but I had recently realised that I had enough card sleeves available to sleeve up Rocket’s deck, which I hadn’t thought was the case. I promptly sleeved his deck and took him for a spin against Absorbing Man, alongside Valkyrie, and had an absolute blast. He comes with an aggro deck, as does Valkyrie, so I’m surprised it worked so well, as when I have previously tried two heroes in the same aspect, it does seem to turn the game into a bit of a one-trick affair. 

The hero cards are of course where most of the individual character comes from. Rocket is mostly about weapons – or more specifically, tech. He has two pistols, a cannon and a rocket launcher in his kit, all of which function pretty much the same way, by removing tokens to deal damage. The cannon is interesting because it has Overkill, which we’ll come back to shortly. He also has a Cybernetic Skeleton which increases his hit points and attack, Thruster Boots which increase his thwart and give him the aerial trait, and two Battery Packs which allow you to move counters from there to replenish his guns. He also has two Reload events which allow him to ready his tech upgrades. Hero specific resource cards seem to be a rarity these days, but Rocket has two, which each grant two resources and allow you to move a tech upgrade from the discard pile to the top of the deck after use. He also gets a heal event, and rounding things out are two copies of I’ve Got A Plan, which allows Rocket to ready after making a basic thwart, and gives him +1 THW for the end of the phase. Combined with the Thruster Boots, he’s got the ability to thwart for 3, ready, then thwart for 4, which kinda screams a Justice build to me!

Rocket gets Aggro, however, and the subtheme of attacking minions. He gets three copies of Looking for Trouble, which searches out a minion from the encounter deck, then removes 3 threat from the main scheme. There are two copies of Relentless Assault which deals 5 damage to a minion and the chance to gain Overkill; three copies of Into the Fray which deals 6 damage to a minion and, for each point of excess damage, remove 1 threat from the main scheme, and three copies of Follow Through which increases excess damage by 1, which of course makes Into the Fray that much better. The combo takes 5 resources to pay for, however! He also gets two copies of Chase them Down, which removes 2 threat from a scheme when a minion is defeated. Rounding things out are three copies of Hand Cannon, another tech weapon that buffs Rocket’s ATK and grants Overkill.

The neutral cards in this deck are the usual resources, then we have a Groot ally that has a whopping 6 hit points, but takes 2 points of incidental damage when he attacks. However, if he defends an attack, you can heal 2 damage from him, so with the right kind of plays, he can stay around for a while. There is a team-up card that is effective only for the Groot hero in play, although it does allow you to place 2 counters on a tech upgrade and ready that upgrade as well. Then we have Booster Boots, another tech upgrade that prevents 1 damage.

It’s a pretty good deck, all told. There are maybe one or two cards I think I might take out or replace in the fullness of time. Another Chase them Down would be useful, although I would like to get in some Power of Aggression cards as some of the aggro events can be quite high-cost. However, on the whole it has been a really fun deck to play, and one that I have really enjoyed getting to know and use. I think the most interesting thing about it is how it blends the need to deal damage with the need to remove threat. Early on, I think that each aspect was quite clearly defined, but over time there has been some degree of blurring the lines, to allow for a single deck to cover more bases. Rocket manages to do this with his hero cards as well, so that he could comfortably sit in either aggro or justice, without too much thought going in for either build. It’s a great design for heroes, I think, to have that sort of innate flexibility.

Hopefully this has been an interesting read for you, anyway! I think I might do this sort of thing more often as time goes on, as I know a lot of my posts on Marvel Champions up to now have been pretty much in general terms. I’m also at that point now where I feel like I know the game a lot better, and it’s making for more interesting games. Of course, I’m still discovering the content, so there might well be a lot of these weekly round up style blogs to come!

3 thoughts on “Marvel Champions: the week in review”

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