Marvel Champions: Red Skull rising

Hey everybody,
It’s the third weekly update for my games with Marvel Champions! This week hasn’t been particularly exciting in comparison with recent weeks, as I’ve not really found much time in the schedule to actually play much. However, I did play a game against the Red Skull, so I thought I’d still come here and write up some thoughts regardless!

Marvel Champions

I started to play the Rise of the Red Skull scenarios way back in January, playing through the first three scenarios in the same day when I had a mini-games day. I was using Black Widow and Hawkeye as my heroes, as it felt very appropriate for these scenarios. Crossbones was a very interesting villain to go up against, while Absorbing Man wasn’t entirely in the same league. Taskmaster could have been a lot better if I hadn’t rushed the scenario and missed out on what makes it interesting (rescuing captives), but I have since played that scenario with a different hero pairing and it has been really good. In fact, I’ve played through each of the three early scenarios with different heroes since my initial foray with Natasha and Clint, and had different experiences each time, which has been nice.

Marvel Champions

The fourth scenario is Zola, and he was a bit more of a challenge, especially with the amount of minions being thrown out from the encounter deck. However, Clint and Natasha prevailed, and in the end he wasn’t an impossible villain to face off against. I had been saving Red Skull though, as I think I had been building him up in my mind – the final boss of the campaign, and all that. I think the reputation isn’t entirely off the mark, although again, he wasn’t impossible to play against.

Marvel Champions

It’s interesting to look back on each of these villains, and see how they differ, etc. Crossbones is all about the weapons, it seems, whereas Absorbing Man requires a lot of pieces to fall into place to make him difficult – without the right cards in the right order, he isn’t particularly bad to go up against. Taskmaster can mimic hero attacks in the comics, and so here we have him as a very punishing villain, dishing out damage for a whole myriad of reasons, however he is overall not impossible. Zola was a bit scary, but I think I got lucky, and Red Skull has a lot going on, with the side schemes and everything, but again, I think I was lucky in that I was able to keep myself stabilized for long enough that I could then finally begin to fight back proper. 

This is probably the most satisfying collection / progression of villains that I have come across so far, between everything that it offers. Nothing feels impossible, and yet it’s also not a cakewalk, either. There are a lot of very real decisions that need to be made, and obviously things can be tweaked with the addition of modular sets to suit. But I was really pleased to play through the box and see how well put-together it all is. I think a lot of people perhaps malign it as the first proper campaign and so it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of later boxes, but it works really well for me, and the villains are pretty iconic to boot. All round, then, it’s a great box.

Marvel Champions

However, all that said, I wasn’t playing this as a campaign. Campaigns in Marvel Champions tend to be lacking, for me, and I think this is in part due to the exposure to Arkham Horror LCG that I have. See, if we’re comparing the two, Marvel Champions just doesn’t come close. There is an element of carry-over between the scenarios, and there are some cards that can be added to your deck as you go through, but in the main, I just don’t see them as worth the investment. I would rather keep this game as a sort of pick-up-and-play thing, and if I end up playing it consecutively as I have here, then that’s just fine.

For a few weeks now, I have thought about whether I could actually make use of the campaign cards in another fashion, because I think it’s a shame to have them and not do anything with them. The Red Skull cards are possibly the more interesting ones, and maybe even the easiest to do that with. There is a set of four Obligation cards that are shuffled into the player decks at specific points, which I find very interesting and could see myself using even outside of this expansion. These cards function like encounter treachery cards, but they’re in your deck and are effectively a dead draw, meaning the game is just a little bit more difficult. Also, we have the iconic “Zola’s Algorithm”, which I think has a place in almost any scenario!

Marvel Champions

There are also bonuses involved as well, including the ally heroes that are rescued from Taskmaster. I’m not sure I would necessarily use these, as they could make the game a little too skewed, but it would be worth thinking about for future games. 

Looking at the Red Skull campaign cards now, it seems pretty tame in comparison with later campaigns, which add a significant level of overlay to the game. I keep the Mad Titan’s Shadow stuff in the same box, and comparing the two is quite illuminating – first of all, there are many more campaign cards in that box, and they are a huge variety of obligations, allies, side schemes and treacheries, including another way to bring your Nemesis minion into play. The campaign system has definitely ramped up in the later boxes, though I had actually attempted the Thanos campaign and was still pretty underwhelmed, all told. It’s not that it’s bad, or not nice to have, I suppose – there’s just very little incentive to play the game as a campaign, as opposed to just playing it for what it is.

Marvel Champions

6 thoughts on “Marvel Champions: Red Skull rising”

  1. So, do each hero and villain sets have to stay together, ie, all the cards for Red Skull HAVE to stay with red skull? Or can you just willy nilly mix stuff up?

    1. No, I just keep them together for theme. Red Skull has his own encounter set, which works with him as the villain, then there are three smaller encounter sets shuffled in, Hydra stuff. These can go in any villain though, so you can fight the Sentinels or Green Goblin with Hydra minions, and you can shuffle Mystique or the Brotherhood minions into Red Skull.

      There’s usually a bunch of modular encounters included with the scenario packs that you can use however you like. Green Goblin came with three modular sets that he doesn’t need, but you can put in as you please. The scenario you play suggests which sets, but really it’s up to you!

  2. Think its time Milou and I take another crack at this game again. Got her a few new character packs that were fun to test out.

    Also are ou using Mat sleeves for all your cards? I recently got some for my magic decks but they are seethrough all round. Will be rectifying that error soon…

    1. Oh yes, I think you should definitely play some more, it’s really taken off with me 😃 Which heroes did you get?

      I’ve been using Gamegenic Prime sleeves for this game, mainly because that’s what my local shop has in abundance. The only issue with them is how many you need, really 🤣

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