I thought I’d ramble on about Marvel Champions today, because it’s what I seem to do these days, and I love the game so much! Today’s blog is going to look at two of the recent X-Men heroes, Storm and Cyclops, both of whom come with a Leadership pre-con deck. I recently played these two together against Sabretooth, and it was an absolute nightmare – I’m still not 100% sure why, though at the time I put it down to having two heroes in the same aspect, trying effectively to do the same thing, and not getting very far. However, I think it might be a slightly different issue at play, so thought it would be interesting to explore this here.
I won’t be talking much about the hero cards in these decks, as hero cards generally tend to be all-rounders to allow the heroes to work in any aspect. Instead, then, this will be looking principally at the aspect cards included in these decks.
Storm controls the weather, as we all know, and to represent this in the game, she has a four-card weather deck, support cards with universal effects to boost the whole table (including the villains). As a Leadership hero, her focus is unsurprisingly on allies, and she has a number of cards within her deck to work off having allies out. Uncanny X-Men is a team card which gives each X-Men ally +1 hit point, and if each of your characters has the X-Men trait, X-Men allies cost 1 less resource. This is an important distinction for the X-Men heroes, as in alter-ego form they only have the Mutant trait, and so Storm would need to be in hero form to gain the reduced cost benefit. “To Me, My X-Men!” is a card that lets you search the top five cards of your deck for an X-Men ally and put it into play, then if it’s still in play at the end of the round, the ally goes to your hand. Very useful for picking up allies and building the team, but of course you need to have an ally in the top five cards of your deck for it to work! Effective Leadership is the new resource card for Leadership, and when you use it to play an ally, it gives +1THW and +1ATK to that ally. Leadership Skill is an upgrade that comes into play with three counters, and you can remove one to give an ally +1THW or +1ATK for an activation. Additionally, she has a copy of X-Mansion, which lets you heal one damage from a Mutant or X-Men character when in alter-ego mode; the X-Jet generates a wild resource, and Utopia increases the ally limit by 1 as well as letting you ready an X-Men character when an X-Men ally enters play.
So what are we doing with all of these ally benefits? Storm comes with five allies: Havok, Mirage, Gentle, Pixie and Forge. They’re all fairly decent, and it seems to be the right sort of number when you compare it with other Leadership heroes like Captain America and Ant-Man, but so far I’ve found the deck in a bit of a weird place for having almost too much of a focus on allies, and not really able to do much else. Without those allies in place, Storm is still pretty effective thanks to her hero cards and weather deck, but it does feel like there is almost an over-reliance on having the allies, when even if cards like “To Me, My X-Men!” aren’t searching enough of the deck to guarantee they come out. Storm doesn’t have any hero-specific ally in the same way other hero decks do, either, which is a little surprising. Possibly because she needed more cards to work with her weather deck? Who knows, but I do find that she needs a couple more allies to guarantee she’s getting the maximum benefit from all of those ally boosts.
Interestingly, Cyclops also has an ally focus, but he seems to do more with his allies as well. The only crossovers with Storm are Effective Leadership and Utopia, all of the other cards in his deck do different stuff. He has Teamwork, which allows you to add an ally’s stat to your hero’s basic THW or ATK, which is a good way to use the ally without taking consequential damage. Danger Room Training is an upgrade that gives the attached ally +1THW, +1ATK and +1 hit point, which pairs well with Game Time, which readies an ally with a training attachment and heals 1 damage from it. The Danger Room support card allows you to exhaust it when an ally enters play and search your deck for a training attachment and attach it to that ally. Coordinated Attack attaches to a minion and lets an ally take -1 consequential damage when attacking that minion. This last card also feeds into the theme of Cyclops’ hero cards, where he has several attachments that go on enemies and soften them up for the team in different ways.
For me, Cyclops is definitely the better Leadership hero. He plays around with the established Leadership tactics much better, and much more interestingly, than Storm, who has almost a textbook Leadership deck that kinda suffers for it. I think, of all the X-Men heroes that we have had up to this point, she is the one who almost needs her deck tinkering with, if only to reduce some of the team-style cards and introduce some different things for her to do because, without allies, she can have turn after turn of just doing very little. Don’t get me wrong, her hero deck is very good, but the aspect cards that she has are a bit of a let-down.
Not that I want to get into conspiracy time here, but I’ve heard that there are licensing issues around the X-Men that are causing the release of all-mutant waves that we’re currently getting, plus why we’re getting reprints with X-Men artwork (something we didn’t have with the Guardians, for instance). It seems possible, therefore, that Storm was thrown together as “we need X Leadership cards for the Mutants, let’s just put them all in Storm’s deck and let the players figure it out”. I have tinkered a little with Cyclops’ deck, albeit only in terms of the allies he comes with, but it has made the deck much more enjoyable to play as a result. He pairs very well with Shadowcat as well, who seemed to be the first hero opportunity for getting additional training upgrade cards into a deck. It’s great to see a team work well like this, I think, with other heroes playing training upgrades on their own allies, and then Cyclops comes along with a global effect to boost the entire team.
I think it’s a bit disappointing, as well, that there aren’t many options for a purely X-Men Leadership Storm right now, either. So far, we’ve had two additional Leadership cards come in the hero packs, one of which needs your hero to have the Psionic trait so is no use. Med Lab from the Rogue hero deck is good for healing allies and recurring them, though. The other stand-out card to try, I think, is X-Men Instruction from Gambit’s pack, which lets you shuffle two X-Men allies from your discard pile back into your deck, then if you have the X-Mansion in play, you can draw a card. It’s a good way to get around the problems that sometimes arise if you draw too many allies and have to use one as resources to play another. Otherwise, aside from adding in the Longshot ally from Wolverine’s pack to get even more allies in the deck, there isn’t a great deal that Storm can benefit from if you’re looking at purely X-Men themed cards.
We’re due another campaign box soon though, and given that Mutant Genesis had protection and aggression heroes, it’s nice to see that the next box will bring leadership and justice heroes, though I suppose it will remain to be seen how useful the new X-Force leadership cards will be for X-Men heroes. You never know, though!
8 thoughts on “Marvel Champions: Storm vs Cyclops”
So what is the difference between the box set releases and the individual packs? Do the box sets have all teh cards you can buy individually?
The big boxes are the “campaign expansions”, they come with five scenarios, usually centred on a specific villain, as well as a bunch of modular encounter cards which can be shuffled into any scenario. There are also two pre-built hero decks, which have just the cards for that deck.
In contrast, the hero packs are a pre-built hero deck plus a handful of additional player cards. In a Leadership hero pack, such as Cyclops or Storm, these additional player cards will be from the other aspects. I think the idea is to help you build that hero in a different aspect, if you wanted to change them up. For example, Phoenix is a Psionic hero, and the deck she comes pre-built with is Justice, but the additional cards for leadership, aggression and protection are all Psionic cards, which is odd because she’s the only hero currently who can use them.
Storm however is an example of a recent innovation with hero packs, because rather than additional player cards she comes with a modular encounter set that you can use in any scenario. So the player card pool is growing very slowly, but I don’t mind that because having new villains and encounters to play against is the big thing for me, and I’d rather have more of that, really!!
There are also scenario packs, that I should probably mention. Each wave of expansions for the game is a big box, four (or sometimes six) hero packs, and usually one scenario pack that isn’t necessarily linked to the narrative of the cycle. These packs don’t have any player cards, but they will come with additional modular encounters to use wherever you like.
In terms of reprints though, that’s incredibly slapdash. Because the distribution model is (mainly) through hero packs, which have to be (and largely are) playable out of the box, they’ll have whatever they need to function. So buying up all the stuff (like I have!) will give you a lot of some of the “staple” cards. It’s a bit like if Magic was distributed solely through pre-built decks, and not booster packs, but those decks are actually good to play, you know?
So kind of like Keyforge then. I never played that but the idea of cards in only preconstructed decks is familiar to me now.
I’m only aware of Keyforge as being a game, thought they did blind boosters for that one as it happens! Interesting though, I wonder if they used the Keyforge concept to plan MC…
I don’t know how keyforge has evolved, but it started out with only premade decks.
There is no conspiracy – FFG have said openly there would be three, all mutant, waves, as the licensing said it all had to be released in one block. So the next one after the X-Force one will be, too.
Oh yes, I remember hearing about the three waves at GenCon, the license thing I didn’t hear about until later, and it seemed like the people talking about it were very “I heard from my sources…” and so on!
Good to see you back in my comments, by the way 😃
Never stopped reading! Love to dip in every now and then and catch up on your stuff!