Another week with Marvel Champions

Hey everybody,
Just a quick catch-up with my Marvel Champions plays this week, as there haven’t been that many unfortunately! I have bought the Wolverine hero pack and Kang scenario pack, though, so will need to get them sleeved up and ready to play soon. Wolverine looks very powerful in aggression, and I’ve heard that he’s almost like playing on easy mode, so that’ll be interesting. I have been wanting to get the Kang pack for a while as well, but my LGS wasn’t able to get it so I’ve caved and picked it up from amazon, as I was getting some other bits anyway. There are now just eight hero packs left that I don’t have, which is a bit of a joke between me and my buddy Tony, who convinced me to get this last summer, as I distinctly remember telling him “I don’t think I’ll be buying everything for this game”… 

Marvel Champions

On Monday, I had a game with Quicksilver and Phoenix against Taskmaster, which was quite fun because I almost knew what to expect, after playing the scenario a while back. I did get to rescue Elektra from the captured heroes pile, so it was nice to get a bit more of a feel for that game. Quicksilver is a great hero to play, I enjoyed seeing all of the tiny actions build up over time, especially seeing how powerful it could be to ready over and over. I think that was quite a revelation. Phoenix still eludes me, though – I’m beginning to think Justice might not be the best build for her, truth be told. I’ve said before that I want to try to play heroes as they come, and by and large I think that’s made the game so much better for me overall, but there’s just something about Phoenix that I’m just not getting, or something. For now, though, I have actually swapped some of her cards around so that I have a few different things going on, so we’ll see how that goes.

Marvel Champions

On Tuesday, I had a very fun game, Gamora and Drax vs Thanos. I have only played against the big bloke once previously, and I think I played it wrong because I was dealing damage to him when he has the side scheme that prevents all damage in play from the off. So I was trying to pay more attention this time around, and make sure the victory was not hollow when it eventually came! Gamora is a very powerful hero, though – Thanos has 23 hit points in his second stage, and Gamora sliced through 12 of those in a single activation, thanks to a number of events and other effects kicking off one another.

Marvel Champions

Finally, on Wednesday, I played Drax and Rocket Racoon vs The Collector, and had a whale of a time. When I first played this scenario, I hated it, because I didn’t understand the effects and so it was over very quickly. As I now know, only permanent cards go into the collection; events, boost cards, resource cards, etc – all of these never enter play, and so cannot go in. Despite the fact that things got pretty hairy for me towards the end, especially when I had to flip Rocket to heal him because he was in danger of elimination, therefore losing my main thwarter, I was able to defeat the Collector with only 7 cards in the collection. So that was great! I think this one, and to a lesser extent Thanos as well, go to show how good the game can be when the familiarity is there. The game is intricate, for sure, but it’s not impossible; there’s a good amount of back-and-forth that makes for just a really fun time.

Marvel Champions

So as you can see, I’ve been doing a lot with Drax this week, after picking him up at the end of February. I’ve put off buying this deck for a long time, I think mainly because Protection isn’t really an aspect that I enjoy playing. I tend to go for the justice or aggro decks, it seems! However, I was actually really impressed with how Drax plays. His thing is Vengeance counters, which increase his ATK by one for each counter on him (to a max of +3). He gets a counter whenever he is attacked by the villain, and if a counter cannot be placed, he gets to draw a card. To off-set wanting to be attacked, he has 14 hit points, which is quite impressive (Venom is the second-best Guardian, with 12, just in case you were interested). If he ever flips to alter-ego, he loses the counters but gets to heal 2 points for each counter removed, so it can be quite useful sometimes to flip over. However, to avoid having to build that back, we have Mantis in the hero cards who can exhaust and heal three damage (although she takes one in return). He also gets one of those “I’m not dead” cards which sets his dial to 4 health when he would be defeated. Otherwise, his signature cards are mainly around the desire to be attacking and to be attacked.

He has a hand of 4 in hero form, which always bothers me about a hero, but the designers seem to have thought about this, and most of his deck is cheap cards, so you shouldn’t be faced with the possibility of not being able to play anything. There is also the fact that he will draw a card if you can’t place a Vengeance counter, and he has the upgrade Dwi Theet Mastery which allows him to draw a card when he makes an attack. Drax’s Knife gives him +1 attack, and Drax’s Other Knife gives him Retaliate 1, which is a really nice combo to have! The most expensive card in his kit is Knife Leap, which could be 0-cost if you have the full 3 vengeance counters on him, and gives him +5 ATK with Overkill and Piercing, which can be very useful. If he’s at full Vengeance, he’s already attacking for 4; with his Knife that’s 5, then Knife Leap makes him attack at 10.

For zero cost, he has Fight Me, Coward! which readies him and draws a card, then you get attacked. If you’re already at full Vengeance, you’re drawing two cards off that. If you survive the attack, you can then play Payback for 0 cost, which deals damage to the villain equal to your ATK after the villain has attacked you, so you can potentially deal out 15 damage on a turn there, providing you survive the villain’s attack back to you, of course! To help you survive, of course, he also has Parry, which prevents an amount of damage equal to double his ATK, and it also costs 0. Rounding out his specific cards is Intimidation, which allows you to remove threat from a scheme equal to your ATK, which gives some nice flexibility.

Drax comes in Protection, as I said, and there are some very useful cards in the precon that help with what he is trying to do. Subdue costs 1 resource, and gives an enemy -3ATK when it activates, and we also have Deflection, which can prevent up to 5 damage but requires you to discard cards from the top of your deck for each damage prevented. Good in a pinch, though it always triggers a little anxiety from me as I worry about discarding something I wanted! The gold-standard Protection card, of course, is the 0-cost Counter-Punch, which allows you to deal damage back to an enemy when you defend against their attack. Defending is never much fun, of course, because it leaves you exhausted for your turn and, depending on the cards you’re playing, that can be a turn off that puts you behind. Of course, Fight Me, Coward! will ready Drax, but he also has Indomitable in the deck to allow him to ready after he defends, so he won’t have to take a turn off if he does so. Imagine the scenario outlined before; he defends an attack, plays Counter-Punch to deal 5 damage, then readies with Indomitable, meaning he can then deal out that 15 damage in the turn after. That will almost kill Thanos, and will certainly kill Ronan.

Another nice trick is Hard Knocks, which deals 4 damage to an enemy and, if that enemy is defeated, gives Drax a tough status card. So he can kill off a minion using this card, get the tough card, play Fight Me, Coward! to initiate the villain to attack him, but take no damage from that attack thanks to the tough card, after which he can then fight back freely. A good early-game play to build up the Vengeance counters without risking damage, for sure!

Marvel Champions

Something that I do feel the deck is missing, though, is more resource generation. I’ve recently begun to think a lot about those upgrades that allow you to generate resources, which I used to overlook. I think this is proof of my strategies evolving, as I have moved away from trying to just rush a villain and kill him off as quickly as possible. True, I have mainly done this because I want to actually see more of the game, and not simply press on and gain victory in two or three turns! But wherever possible, I think it’s good to try and build up the board, so I might not instantly attack if I can get away with it, or I might flip between hero and alter-ego to allow a turn of scheming to in turn allow me to get some planning done.

I have swapped out some cards now, anyway, hopefully in a way that will improve some of the set-plays I’ve been thinking about with him. I’ve removed all copies of Deflection and of Leading Blow, replacing them with Shake It Off and Enhanced Physique. I’ve also done some minor tweaks, mainly to get a third Counter-Punch but also I’ve got one copy of The Power of Protection in, to help with resourcing issues that may arise. I’m not sure that I’d actually need it, though, but I thought I’d try it out and see how I get on. I’ve actually been through Groot as the other Protection Guardian, but I haven’t really found anything of further interest in there. Groot has a big theme around hit points and taking precise amounts of damage, which I don’t think really leans into Drax that much. He also seems to want to defend more often, whereas I don’t have enough ways to ready Drax to allow for all that, if I’m honest! I was thinking about swapping the Gamora ally for Rocket, but have decided I actually want to try playing Drax and Rocket together some more, so I’ll avoid that for now. The Gamora ally has the useful ability of getting event cards into your hand, and Drax has many of them in the deck, but I can’t help feeling she would have been better getting events back from the discard pile instead. Ah well!

Hopefully this has all been of some interest to you, anyway! I’m thinking about trying to write up a session report soon for the game, so we shall see how I get on with that!