I just can’t seem to stop waffling on about Marvel Champions lately, can I?!
I’m very excited though, because I finally got round to reconstructing the Nebula precon deck, and so I’m just itching to give it a try…
I picked the deck up shortly before Christmas but, whereas I sleeved up the others I had got at the same time, Black Widow and Valkyrie, and have enjoyed both in their precon formats, I didn’t really have the same intent with Nebula, so stripped it down and filed her away. She’s not exactly a favourite character, but she comes with a Justice precon, and I think that is probably my favourite aspect, so she definitely has that going for her. Secondly, I’m not massively impressed with the other Justice Guardian, Venom, so I’m looking forward to trying her out at the earliest opportunity!
Unfortunately, I’m away for work next week, so I think my chances for card games will be slim to none, but at least it’ll give me time to plan some team-ups!
My current favourite team up has got to be Iron Man and War Machine, though. Iron Man is an aggro deck that can end up packing quite the whallop, it has to be said – in the game I played recently against Mysterio, I think he actually did about 18 points of damage to the second stage, bringing him incredibly low with just one hit. War Machine is the leadership precon, though I have now swapped a couple of cards as it didn’t seem to be running very well. In particular, he has a lot of high-cost cards without the Power of Leadership resource card, so I’ve put two of them in. It’s still one of my favourite combos to bring out a strong ally like Captain Marvel or Black Panther, beat up the villain a bit, then use Go Down Swinging to discard them, dealing 5 or 4 damage (respectively) as I do so. Glorious!
Anyway, next week may be quiet on the gaming front, but hopefully I’ll come back all the more energised for it!!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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”…
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
Hey everybody, Yes, that’s right, I’m prattling on again about Marvel Champions in today’s game day blog! That’s mainly because it has very quickly become my go-to game when I want to just have some tabletop fun, and it’s so enjoyable that I find myself looking forward to any spare time that I have in which to play it! Yesterday I was able to get a couple of games in, and that got me thinking about the subject of today’s blog.
Some Things I love about the game
While there are definitely more than just a few things that I love about this game, let’s go through some of the things that have most recently brought me joy!
Yesterday, I discovered that I had enough sleeves hanging about that I could sleeve up Rocket Racoon, which was a real joy because I hadn’t realised I could do this! I promptly did so, and played a game with him and Valkyrie, who I had picked up (and sleeved up) shortly before Christmas. Rocket comes with an aggro deck, and I was playing this as it comes, and had quite a blast. I was particularly impressed by the fact I was able to use my hand each turn, so was seeing quite a bit of the deck. However, while all of this is good stuff, I love the fact that Rocket is a great mix of aggo and thwarting, with a lot of his hero-specific cards buffing his THW value, and so on. Yeah, he’s got a lot of guns, of course, but he also has a lot of threat removal, and it was a really great gameplay experience to have that blend right out of the box. A lot of the stuff I had read about Rocket talked about how much he likes to fight Minions, which is also true, but it really surprised me to see how effective he could be!
Indeed, one of the best things about this game is how you can just buy a hero pack, and (on the whole) play it without needing to deck-build for ages. True, there are some that have some issues, but nothing I have come across so far is “unplayable”. Take, for instance, the aforementioned Valkyrie – her deck has been much maligned by a lot of the stuff I see online, yet she was quite fun to play! Whether that’s because I was playing her with Rocket against Absorbing Man, who isn’t one of the most difficult villains in the game, who knows. But she’s the perfect example of needing to try these things for yourself (though the irony of me writing this online is not lost on me!) After going through a bit of a phase, early on, where I wanted to build my own decks all the time, I have come to the realisation now that a lot of the hero decks are absolutely fine right out of the box.
Some Things I still find a bit odd
I’ve talked before about the main thing that I find odd about this game, its distribution model, but let’s not get bogged down in that again. Rather, I thought I’d go through some stuff that I find just a little odd.
First off, the game can sometimes fall a bit flat right at the end. When playing a game of Marvel Champions, you choose your hero and go up against a villain, and for the whole game you’re fighting against them, so there isn’t really any sense of progressing through minions until you fight the big bad guy. As you’re dealing damage throughout the game, when you deal the final blow for victory, it can sometimes be a bit anti-climactic, as you’re teetering on the brink of death, you’ve survived yet another activation from the villain, but then bam – you play a card that deals 7 damage to him and it’s just over. Or sometimes, I’ve actually been able to have a single point of damage dealt by an ally that has caused the villain’s defeat. Rarely, the villain will be defeated through something like Retaliate, or a card effect that can bounce damage back or something. It can be hilarious, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, it’s just a bit odd – like, “is that it?”
I think it’s a bit weird how every hero comes with their nemesis set, and yet there is only one card in the whole game (so far as I know!) that can bring that set to bear. I’ve played this game upwards of 40 times now, and have only ever seen a hero’s nemesis enter the game twice, which is just a bit weird really. In the vast majority of my games, those five cards are just sat there, and never come into play.
I think The Hood scenario pack was a great way to introduce more modular sets to the game, and I do like the fact that some heroes also come with modular sets to use as well. I do find myself thinking about whether we could see alternative encounter sets for the existing villains, though, too. I really don’t know how that would ever work, maybe instead of the modular encounter sets there would be an “expansion set” that basically doubles a villain’s deck, working off the established theme in there? I don’t know. Part of me does feel that the villains are too closely tied to their schemes, which has closed off an avenue of expansion there – is Rhino only ever trying to break into that bank? Sabretooth’s sole purpose in life was to capture Senator Kelly? Seems a bit weird, like there should be a way to have them do something else, and change it up. But I could be over-thinking it!
Some Things I would like to see next
I’ve been seeing a lot of panic online because we’ve not yet had a preview for the next expansion after the latest X-Men wave has concluded, with folks thinking the game must be dying or there are licensing issues preventing FFG from continuing the game. I hope that’s all wrong, and I hope that they’re actually just pacing themselves for a bit (given that the X-Men stuff would have been designed mid-pandemic, and so it’s entirely plausible that they need to regroup). During the GenCon live stream, they did say that the next three waves would be mutant-based, so I think we can be pretty sure it’s safe for now.
I’m a big fan of the X-Men, but I find myself thinking of this more as a game than a thematic experience, so while I do enjoy the variety of heroes and villains, I can’t really say that “I hope they do my favourites!” because I don’t really feel all that strongly about the source material!
That said, I really would like a Daredevil/Elektra cycle of stuff, with the Kingpin as a villain.
However, in terms of gameplay, I do find myself often wanting more variety in the villains than the heroes. I think I’ve touched on this before, but for me, “the game” is mainly around the villain, as that is where most of the actual playability comes into it. The heroes are cool and all, but we need the villains to give us the changing experience. Imagine going up against Rhino/Klaw/Ultron with all of the released heroes to date, it would just be mind-numbing. A lot of my thought process when I decide to play this game is around which villain to play, because I see that as the main thrust of the game. As such, I think I would like to see more scenario packs released, potentially even a campaign box with all-villains.
Anyway, those are just a few random thoughts from my most recent games with Marvel Champions. Like I said before, it’s fast becoming my go-to game, and I’ve already exceeded my goal of playing 10 times in 2023. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more games before the year is out, as well!
Hey everybody, It’s been a bit of a quiet week for me this last week, despite having had such high hopes for playing lots of games! I was under the weather for most of the week too (I lost my voice entirely on Thursday), but fortunately that seems to be receding into the background now. I had three evenings to myself this week, and so had planned for some serious gaming, but in the end I only managed to play a couple of things at the start of the week! Of course, it’s always exciting when you can play a big game like Arkham Horror, but still, I had hoped for more!
My love of Marvel Champions has continued unabated recently, as I picked up some more packs from the most recent X-Men wave. I have no idea who this Mojo is, but I’ve been reading some good things about the scenario pack, so decided almost on a whim to pick it up. I’d wanted Phoenix for a while as well, so finally added her to the collection too. I’ve now got Phoenix and Colossus sleeved up, as well as Quicksilver, so I have quite a few more mutant heroes to try out in due course. I’m very tempted to pick up Wolverine next time I’m at the games shop as well, although I really should be a bit more circumspect as there is just so much of this game that I still haven’t played yet!
I think in my last post, I mentioned playing Lord of the Rings LCG once again, and have started on the Ringmaker cycle. The first pack in that cycle, The Dunland Trap, is where the wheels really came off for me when I was buying and playing this game way back in 2014, and I was so disenchanted by the game at that point that I stopped playing it anywhere near so regularly (although of course I continued to buy it all). Consequently, this cycle feels really new to me. Well, I did actually play The Dunland Trap again yesterday, and my goodness me, it was dull. I can see where it is just brutal, and demoralising, but playing two-handed I was able to deal with most of the encounter deck well enough, until we got to the final stage. The Dunlending chief came out and engaged me, and I was able to throw enough spare allies under that bus that my heroes were safe. (In the final stage, if a hero leaves play, we lose). However, the chief cannot leave play, but the quest has no quest points – you’re basically forced to wait out a 10-turn timer to see if you win. In the meantime, my heroes had killed the chief at least four times over, and I just grew bored with it and decided to abandon the game. The first time I’ve ever done this, and I can’t say I feel that great about it! But whereas the game had, up to that point, been quite exciting, the tension was just wiped away entirely by the boredom of this mechanical situation I was in. Such a disappointment.
I’ve read that the next pack, The Three Trials, is as difficult, then the quests become easier, so I am interested to see how that all plays out!
Anyway. What else has been going on?
I’ve started to watch Andor again, picking up from where I left off last October or November. I had watched up to episode 6 at the time, but life just overtook me, and I was just not in the mood, really, to pick it up again. Well, I watched episode 7 and was pleasantly on the hook once more, so I’m looking forward to getting through this season soon! I have lots more to say about this, for sure, but I think what appeals to me the most here is how much like Star Wars it feels, from back in the 90s almost. Indeed, I think there’s almost the tone of a West End Games supplement to part of the adventure, and I really love it!
While watching, I finally started to build up the terrain from Into the Dark. I’ve actually come to really like this stuff, too. It doesn’t always go together smoothly, but then I don’t really think I’ve bought it to play Kill Team with, after all. I haven’t glued everything together, of course, but I have found it really enjoyable to put together various “structures” that will serve to make a board, if that makes sense? I’m keeping it modular, though, so I can change things up if need be. I had initially decided to buy the box because of the Boarding Actions thing for regular 40k, planning to get another one and then I should theoretically have enough terrain for that. However, both the subsequent boxes have sold out well before I was in a position to buy them, so I have soured a little on this idea now. Of course, there’s still the fourth box on the horizon, so I might yet pick that up in the fullness of time. It’s a shame, though, as I did like the look of the Arbites box!
I’ll hopefully have a blog on Boarding Actions coming up soon, because I’ve been looking into that side of things lately and it has definitely appealed to me!
In terms of checking-in on my goals for the month, I have actually been hard at work on the Promethium Forge terrain kit, trying to get a good start there. I hadn’t expected to finish this in February, of course, but I am nevertheless pleased with how it’s been going so far! I have had a lot of back-and-forth with myself on how to actually have it set up: the “official” kit is the tank and chimney piece with a central surround, very similar to the “official” Galvanic Magnavent, however I went for the “alternate” build from the back of the box, which shows the piece as being much wider, as I thought it would be more imposing that way. However, when built in this way, the legs are positioned differently to allow for the skull crane to sit on one end of the gantry; when I built it, I put the legs on the ends thinking it would provide more support. Bah! So I’ve been working on a solution but I’m not very happy with it at the moment. Never mind – I just need to progress with the painting now, and hope for the best!
I’ve also been through my terrain box and have sorted all of the panels out for the kit, so I have the right number of ladders, panels and hanging bits for it. In doing so, I realised that I’d not actually painted any of them for the Ferratonic Incinerator back in the day, so I now have those to get through as well! Ah well, at least when this is all finished, I’ll have three good-looking terrain pieces to play games over!
Hey everybody, Today’s game day is really a celebration of the fact that I have now completed my goal of playing ten games of Marvel Champions this year. Unsurprisingly, given the recent spate of playing in January, it wasn’t too long before I hit my goal! The game is just so nice and straightforward to play, it really is very easy to get it to the table!
In the main, I’ve been playing with both the Red Skull and the X-Men campaign expansions – although I haven’t been playing them as a campaign. I’ve made it to game four (Zola) in the Red Skull box, and the Sentinels in the X-Men (playing Sabretooth twice). It’s been a lot of fun, and I think I’ve gotten into a bit of a flow with it now, where I have some go-to heroes that I enjoy playing and so simply shuffle up and play!
The Red Skull box has been just great. I’ve been playing this with Hawkeye and Black Widow, with their pre-con decks, and it’s been an absolute blast. Of the four, I think Crossbones was definitely one of my favourites to go up against – indeed, he’s one of my all-time favourite enemies to play against, based on how that game went! Absorbing Man was a bit lacklustre, though I think it could be different based on different modular encounter sets and so on, and I think it would be interesting to go up against him again.
Taskmaster was probably one of the more disappointing scenarios, I think because I didn’t trigger enough of what makes the scenario stand out (rescuing allies). I think that would definitely bear playing again, to see if it will work out differently for me. Finally, I went up against Zola yesterday and, while I had read some horror stories about him online, I didn’t think he was quite so bad as I had perhaps been led to believe. There are so many more minions than I have seen of late, of course, and it was interesting that he has Retaliate 1, meaning that most allies were dying off after just a couple of rounds of attacking him. However, it was still a good game to play against him, I didn’t really feel like it was a nightmare running away with me at any time.
In terms of the X-Men box, I thought that Sabretooth was a bit messy at times, but the Sentinels scenario was just incredible! I have already mentioned this in my January retrospective, but I cannot stress just how enjoyable it was to play this one – it wasn’t easy, of course, and it was at times quite awful, but it just felt like how I would expect an X-Men scenario to play. There were some especially cinematic moments around Sentinel minions popping up, and Cyclops getting marked for death and so on.
I had a huge influx of Marvel Champions content in December, of course, but I have still picked up a few extra bits since! Last week, I bought The Hood scenario pack, mainly because I’d gone into my local games shop looking for the Phoenix hero pack and she wasn’t in stock! However, The Hood is one of those interesting expansions to a game whereby the designers do something a little different to the norm, and it was wriggling around at the back of my mind about picking him up sooner rather than later. The “gimmick” with the pack is that he has nine new modular encounter sets, plus alternative sets for Standard and Expert which crank up the difficulty of each. While these new modular sets are all themed roughly around the Street Level heroes within the Marvel universe, with a very loose Criminal theme tying them together, they’re still independent enough that they could be slotted into any other scenario in the game.
The Hood himself uses up to seven of them, although he only starts play with one shuffled into his deck, and each villain stage shuffles one more in. I think the main scheme shuffles more in as it advances, too, though I was able to stay on stage 1B for the whole game, so I didn’t trigger that. He actually makes for quite an interesting game, though, because his “thing” is the Foul Play mechanic, where you discard the top of the encounter deck and, if that card isn’t part of The Hood’s own scenario, you deal it to yourself as an encounter card. There are numerous ways to trigger this during the game, and so I think I easily saw the whole deck almost twice. I used Crossfire’s Crew as the modular set shuffled in at the start, then when I defeated the first villain stage I shuffled in Streets of Mayhem, which is a nice set of environments that simply add effects like Retaliate 1, +1 attack, Steady, etc. They’re global effects, but they do also have Surge, so there can sometimes be a lot going on with him!
I definitely enjoyed trying him out, anyway – for theme, I used my Spider-Man deck alongside Doctor Strange, and while the former is one that I’ve thrown together myself, the latter is mostly the pre-con. I say this because I think it’s interesting to contrast how both of yesterday’s games went. Zola wasn’t easy, but he was enjoyable in part due to the fact Hawkeye and Black Widow work so well together, and The Hood wasn’t a cakewalk but was also pretty fun to go up against, again because I know the Spider-Man deck, and Doctor Strange can have some very powerful effects.
Knowing the deck is a much bigger deal than I thought it would be, though. Having only played Doctor Strange once, I found myself a little confused at times at what I was planning to do with cards – indeed, at one point I played nothing and ended up having to discard cards, because I had drawn my hand when in alter-ego form, then flipped to the hero side. In contrast, a deck like Black Widow is interesting because you know that you want to get as many Preparations out as possible, and you know that there are some key cards that you should aim to get out early to help with the economy, etc.
It’s a really great game, and I particularly enjoy the fact that it’s the sort of game that you can just pick up and play, without a great deal of fuss to it. I really enjoy it, anyway, and I don’t think I will be stopping now that I’ve reached those 10 plays for 2023. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if I end the year having played this one a hundred times…
Hey everybody, Just like that, January is over and we’re already one-twelfth of the way through the year. While I know for many people January is a long, long month, it somehow doesn’t seem to have been all that bad for me. I think I’m putting this down to the fact that I’ve tried my best to be organised about what I’m doing with my time, so that I have clear things to look forward to, and so on.
On a personal level, while I have lost the Christmas weight that I’d put on, I’ve not continued the downward trend yet. However, I’ve downloaded the Fantasy Hike app which tracks how far you walk and overlays this on Frodo’s journey to Mordor. So you get updates like Black Riders on the road, camping with the elves, and staying overnight with a farmer. It’s all pretty hilarious, and while I’m not yet projected to arrive at Mount Doom until Q3 2024, I have actually walked 70 miles in January, so I think that’s pretty impressive, actually! I want to take some time soon to try and plan more meals and stuff that would help me to lose weight while eating well, and then as the weather begins to improve (or at least, get more consistent), I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get out and about more, and with a bit of luck, I’ll keep going down from there!
Around the middle of the month, I had a day off to basically have a games day, something very indulgent I know. But that was one of the best things that I had going on, because it meant not only that I had that goal in my sights, but also I got to play with the Marvel Champions stuff that I got for my birthday and Christmas. It also prompted last week’s theme week, where I posted about the game every day of the week. It was really great to play some of the newer stuff, and it was a lot of fun to then have a blog go out at the same time each day with my rambling musings on it all. It’s definitely fired my interest in the game once more, which had somewhat waned during the Autumn last year, so that’s definitely a good thing now that I have almost the entire product line…
It’s also helped to really bump up my numbers for played games this year, as I’ve already played almost 20 games this year. That’s a fifth of my goal checked off already. I’ve also started on my third play-through with The Dunwich Legacy campaign for Arkham Horror LCG, which will of course go a long way to helping further with those numbers as a campaign is eight games. I’d spent part of my New Year’s Eve building up new decks, for Mandy Thompson and Tony Morgan, but couldn’t really decide in which campaign to play them. After vacillating over Dunwich and Innsmouth, Dunwich has now won out. However, I’ve also been finding myself thinking up which investigators I want to deckbuild for next, and so I don’t think it’ll be too long before I make it back to Innsmouth, after all!
January has seen 19 games being played, with Marvel Champions being the runaway leader here by far. I think there have been a few great games being played, though the real stand-out happened just yesterday, as I went back to Mutant Genesis and tackled the Project Wideawake scenario with Cyclops and Shadowcat. I love the X-Men, primarily from the Bryan Singer movies of the early 2000s, but I think in terms of overall superhero appeal, X-Men are very close to my heart. Which is probably why I was so disappointed after my first game with the new box. However, Cyclops and Shadowcat was a pretty good pairing, with only maybe a couple of cards swapped into both decks.
There is a lot going on in that scenario, and I think I had to play really slowly at times to make sure I was doing everything correctly. But it was incredibly enjoyable, as I was able to really experience the game, and it felt very much like the Sentinels were coming for my guys, especially with the Mk V Sentinel attaching that “marked for extermination” card to Cyclops. There was a lot of stuff going on with both heroes as well, and I think after the initial play with Cyclops, and then looking through his deck to try to make sense of what it is doing, I was a lot more prepared for this game. Shadowcat has some interesting things too, though without knowing a lot about both her deck and the scenario, it was difficult at times to know if I should be bothered by Patrol minions, for instance. Of course, all hell broke loose when her nemesis came into play, which I think is only the second time ever I’ve had that happen in a game, and towards the end I was almost drowning in side schemes! But I was able to get Cyclops’ Optical Blast off with the card that deals +8 damage to bring the Sentinels right down to 3 health, at which point it was almost trivial for Shadowcat to deal the final 3 damage for the win. It was by no means easy, but it was a lot of fun as the game went on!
Even though I’ve almost completed my Marvel Champions goal of 10 games this year, I think this is well on track for becoming my most-played game of all time, the way I’m going with it!
In terms of the hobby, I have been really pretty productive here, too. I’ve painted up my Goliath gang for Necromunda, which involves seven gangers and two vehicles, so it works in both the regular game but also Ash Wastes. That was a really great result, especially as I’m still quite surprised that I’ve gone all-in for these guys. Since the game came out in 2017, Goliaths have definitely been at the bottom of the list for me, and with each subsequent gang to come out, they only went further down. But after building up the big lads and especially their ridiculously over-the-top bikes, I’ve really become quite the fan! My first time painting yellow hasn’t been all that bad, either, so all in all, I am very pleased!
Even more pleasing is the fact that we’ve been able to have a game of Necromunda, as well! My Goliaths vs James’ Orlocks, using the Prison Break scenario from Gang War 3. We were intending to use this as the start of a campaign, but James has decided to switch from Orlocks to Enforcers, but we’re still hoping to use that opening game as a bit of a scene-setter for the upcoming Law & Misrule campaign. So stay tuned for more on that one!
I am definitely fired up for more Necromunda though, and have not only also started to paint the Escher gang that I have had built since 2017, but also more Zone Mortalis scenery! The Eschers have got a bright red armour thing going on, although with all their hair and feathers etc, the colours are tending towards quite bright right now. I suppose that makes sense, but I do worry a little bit that they’re not Underhive-y enough… I’m also finding it quite difficult in general because of both the way they were built, in terms of actual gluing of parts and also the weapon choices, and additionally the grey primer which is quite thick and chalky in places. I had a similar issue with my Orlocks when I first tried to paint them, but stripped the paint and it all seemed to be okay, however with the Escher I don’t think they’re robust enough to withstand stripping! However, I do have another Escher gang sprue from the Hive War box I picked up ages ago for the Delaque and terrain, so I can always build the Escher gang I want that way.
In terms of Zone Mortalis painting, I have managed to get more walls and columns painted up in about a weekend, which has been amazing really! My total ZM painting now stands at eight wall sections and seven columns, with one platform so far. This is great, of course, though I would say I’ve still got easily half the Dark Uprising box still to paint! My colour scheme requires an undercoat of Mechanicus Standard Grey, of which I have currently run out, so I suppose for the time being I am stalled on this one, but hopefully I’ll be able to get some more of that soon and make more headway.
Something that I’ve been thinking about for some time is how literally all of my ZM terrain is modular, which causes some problems because it can all move during play, etc. So I’ve recently glued together two pieces to create a bit of an anchor in games. I’ve got a corner tower, which has been glued to that height with ladders to provide access up the top, and then I’ve glued a small wall section to a small door section, both of which are then attached to a column. I find that the doors in particular can be problematic because you are actually moving the door piece in-game, which sometimes knocks the wall a bit. So it’s good to have that kind of anchor to keep stuff in-line. As it stands, both of these pieces should be easy enough to fit into a larger landscape on the table, and they shouldn’t be too difficult to work into the other pieces that I have which involve the staircases. But I suppose we shall see!
Speaking of stairs, though, I find myself wanting to get another set of those, as I want to try and make a few more accessways to upper levels. Something that I have found with our games so far in the Underhive has been that they’re mostly one-level. It was nice in the Prison Break scenario to have the Orlocks starting up in a second-storey area, because it meant that we could interact with height a bit more, although as the objective was to flee the board, they were coming down the stairs very early. I’ve been thinking more about finally buying some of the plastic tiles as well, but with only a 2×2 area rather than 2×3 that we’ve been used to, it had always been my thought that it wouldn’t be as interesting. But without two full tiles, the only way is up, really! So maybe doing this could mean that we would naturally play on more levels as a result? We shall see. Obviously, the plastic terrain fits better on those tiles than on the cardboard ones, but I always find myself wanting to spend my limited hobby funds on miniatures, and not tiles!
Anyway, that’s a lot of rambling about Zone Mortalis, but it has definitely been at the forefront of my mind this month, with the game and all, so I suppose it was inevitable, really!
I also had a game of 40k this month, with my Dark Eldar against JP’s Imperial Fists, and once again, Toughness 3 proved to be the lesser match to marines. The amount of stuff that space marines can do is just ridiculous, and I am quite envious of the way the army almost runs itself, as opposed to having to actually fight to make things work for the xenos armies that I otherwise love! Of course, mistakes were definitely made on my part, but I think I can definitely play smarter in games, so I really want to try to develop my game plan in games going forward. So that will be a work in progress for however longer we have 9th edition 40k.
It has definitely been a productive time in the hobby so far this month, and already I have been able to check off one of my hobby goals for the year, by getting more ZM scenery painted! I don’t know if I will actually be able to get the whole box painted, of course, but it would be just lovely if I did end up getting the whole lot finished. I imagine that games would look so much nicer, if nothing else! I am very aware that 2022 started out really productive too, of course, with lots of Tau units being painted, only for me to falter around Easter time and stuff, so I’m hoping that by taking a much more measured approach to all this, I will actually be able to get somewhere this time. Well, time will tell I suppose!
As far as the hobby stuff goes, then, it’s a little difficult to quantify at the minute because I’ve not really painted up a proper squad per se, but I suppose you could call it one unit (Goliaths) and some terrain (the ZM stuff). That’s against the box of Escher bikes that I bought, so I’m definitely up on the whole bought vs painted thing so far!
This is getting extremely long now though, so I’ll call it a day here. Let’s hope that February is just as productive!!
It’s the end of my Marvel Champions week here at spalanz.com. For today’s post, I thought I’d keep it a bit more on the sub-theme of the week, playing through all the new stuff that I’ve now got for the game. I’ve got a lot of content for this game now, and I’ve had the chance to go through quite a great deal of it all. So today’s finale post is very much a summary of what I like out of everything that I’ve been playing!
To start with, let’s talk about the Heroes!
Despite all the new heroes that I’ve been playing with, I still find myself really enjoying Justice Spider-Man. I think there’s the strong element of nostalgia, if you can call it that, for him being the first hero that I played with. I’ve kept him in Justice, as well, and I find myself evaluating pretty much every Justice card that I buy against this deck. I really enjoyed pairing him with my Aggro Iron Man deck, as well, not just for the fact it’s a bit on-theme for the MCU mentor relationship between the two, but also because the pair of them seem to be able to cover a lot of bases really well.
I think one of the best things about playing the Spider-Man deck is how it can often feel like you have an answer to everything. He has his web kick for 8 damage, he can dodge all damage coming his way with a backflip, and being in Justice, he is able to remove threat – often with added bonuses, like dealing more damage if he defeats schemes, and stuff. Some great moments have come from Spidey when he’s done 8 damage (or more!), stayed in hero form for the villain phase, drawn a card when an attack is instigated against him, and simply backflipped his way from 4 or 5 damage with ease. Definitely on-theme for the nimble web warrior!
In terms of favourite heroes to pair with Spider-Man, I think it’s going to be a toss-up between Iron Man and Captain Marvel. Iron Man is great at dealing damage in the aggro deck that I have for him, but Captain Marvel is also a very effective hero too, so having both of them in play can lead to some very nice games. Sometimes, of course, those games are over quite quickly, but a win is always welcome!
Gamora was a stand-out hero for me when I first played her. While I’ve not played the Guardians expansion that much, each time I have it’s been with her and Star-Lord, and she has been the absolute star of that show. Interestingly, I’ve also been playing her deck as it comes, so she’s mainly aggro but can take up to six off-Aspect cards that must be either attack or thwart actions. I think it’s that kind of flexibility that makes her shine, really – pretty much any time a hero breaks the deck construction rules, you know it’s going to be quite powerful. Allowing her to take even just these six off-Aspect cards can mean you just give her the absolute best you can find in your collection. However, it’s not just this, but her hero specific cards work so well with attack and thwart actions, the deck just hums along really, really well.
A recent discovery for me in terms of precons is Black Widow, of course, and I’ve talked about how her deck is just amazing earlier in the week. The way her Preparation cards work within her deck really makes it feel like you’re playing the spy with a plan (and a back up plan). I think my first ever game with her saw me draw into a lot of the good stuff, meaning I was able to set up really nicely and therefore nothing was really a problem for me. Second game I spent a lot of time trying to get the Winter Soldier out, so it was a little hairy, but I still managed to prevail. The deck just works really well, and I can’t say any fairer than that!
Talking about favourite heroes is all well and good, of course, but the game is nothing without the villains! Now, I’ve not played against them all, for sure, but there are a lot of good ones among the rabble that I want to talk about, as they can definitely make for some really fun games, even when they’re beating us!
First up has got to be Crossbones. I was really looking forward to getting hold of the Red Skull box, as I love the whole Hydra mythos within Marvel. I’ve probably said this on the blog before, but I’ve been out of the comics world for about 15 years now, so pretty much all of my knowledge comes from the MCU. Crossbones was a new one on me until I realised he’s the guy in Captain America Winter Soldier, one of my favourite movies in the franchise, so I was excited to play against him. He also uses a lot of Hydra modular encounter sets, so that really excites me. He’s a good villain to go up against, because he’s not easy as such, especially when he gets more and more weapons attached to him, but he’s also not super difficult so the game can actually feel enjoyable, and not miserable.
There are quite a few villains that I have enjoyed, although I need to play against them some more as I don’t always think a single game against anyone is a good yardstick. Mysterio was a lot of fun, from Sinister Motives. I did enjoy his whole thing with encounter cards going into player decks, that was a good touch. Nebula from Galaxy’s Most Wanted was another game I seem to remember as being good – a lot of reviews speak negatively of that box, of course, but I can’t say that I particularly noticed it. I know The Collector always comes in for some stick, but his mechanics were definitely interesting (once I had worked out the right way of playing, of course!)
Speaking of that, there is of course a bit of a trend for games to become more complex over time. Not quite like power creep that we often see with cards gaining in power, but just the amount of moving parts in a game becomes quite something. For example, I recently played Sabretooth from the Mutant Genesis box, and there is so much going on with the villain on his own, the fact that his scenario also has the whole rescue-a-senator thing added in to it makes it quite complicated when you first come to it. I think I could have possibly beaten the scenario a lot quicker if I had realised that actually, you can get by without rescuing Senator Kelly at all, especially given the fact he’s such a hindrance to you when you do get him.
The Tower Defence scenario from Mad Titan’s Shadow was also guilty of this, having two villains out and all the rest of it. Again, I think I need to play it again now that I know how it’s supposed to work, but there’s so much going on that it feels overly-complicated to play.
Let’s not get too negative, though! I still have a few more villains to go up against, and I am particularly looking forward to trying out the Sentinels scenarios in the X-Men box, as well as the Venom scenario from Sinister Motives. I still haven’t played against Ultron from the core set, as it happens, so I definitely want to try my luck there, and I am waiting for my LGS to get the Kang scenario pack in stock so that I can try my luck against him, too.
In terms of heroes, I’m quite keen to give Shadowcat a go from the X-Men box, and I think I’m going to pick up Wolverine soon to try him out, as well. I really wanted to like Cyclops, but I couldn’t seem to figure out his deck when I first played him; I’ve taken a look though, and I think it might be interesting to pair him with Shadowcat to see how that turns out. I’ve heard very good things about the two heroes from Sinister Motives, as well, so I want to give those a try soon too. I also want to try Adam Warlock, as he has a very interesting deck idea in that he can use cards from all four Aspects, but only a single copy of each one.
There’s a lot still waiting for me to discover, for sure!
But what about the future? At the time of writing, the current rumours are pointing to at least one more cycle of X-Men, possibly two, so we aren’t going to have Fantastic Four anytime soon! I’m assuming the next wave of X-Men will involve the likes of Beast, Ice Man and Angel, although a lot of folks have been positing for X-Force, so Cable, Domino and so on. Deadpool keeps coming up, but I find myself shuddering at the thought of that. (I’m really not a fan of Deadpool). While we’ve had some of the classic X-Men villains, we still have the likes of Mister Sinister, the Hellfire Club, Apocalypse and even those that have already appeared in nemesis sets, like Mystique or Juggernaut.
Looking further ahead, I’m sure we’ll be due for a Fantastic Four cycle at some point, as that is a team just crying out for the Marvel Champions treatment. Getting characters like the Four themselves, Silver Surfer, Namor, Puppet Master, Galactus and Dr Doom would be just amazing, and I cannot wait! However, the biggest thing for me would be to finally get the street-level heroes, Daredevil, Elektra and so on. Actually, I’m not that fussed on the likes of Punisher or Jessica Jones, I just want Daredevil and Elektra hero packs! Give me a Kingpin villain, with Bullseye, Typhoid Mary, Echo and Tombstone in the box, and I’d be a happy chap indeed!
There’s so much still to come for this game that I think it has a long future ahead. Hopefully that isn’t the kiss of death, of course, but I am hopeful that we’ll continue to get great content for a long time yet!
Well folks, we’re now at the end of the week with Marvel Champions! I hope this mini-series of blogs has been entertaining in some way for you, especially if you play the game already! If you don’t, hopefully it’s shown you what you’re missing, and maybe even inspired you to pick it up for yourself!
Marvel Champions week is almost over here on the blog, but we’re not at the end yet! Following yesterday’s post about playing with the preconstructed decks that form the expansion structure of the game, today I’m going in the opposite direction, and looking at building my own decks for the game.
I’ve been a card gamer for years now, and in that time I must have spent months just going through piles of cards for any given game, trying to evaluate them for play. So even though I’m still fairly new to this game, I am an old hand at building a deck, and like to think I know enough of what I’m doing to jump into this particular pool early on. Of course, knowledge of the game allows you to better understand the relative worth of the cards you’re looking to include in your deck, and a lot of that will come through trial and error.
When I played my first game of Marvel Champions, using Spider-Man and his suggested precon, I think I could see very early on how there were certain cards in there I would just never use. The unique resource mechanic of Marvel Champions almost guarantees that no card would be wasted in any deck, as it can always be discarded for a resource if you don’t want to play it for the effect. It’s definitely true that I look to include cards for their resource functionality as well, but what a card does is also pretty critical, for me. In the case of Spider-Man and the Justice deck, I know that I don’t like to gamble much when it comes to taking damage, so I knew very early on that I would cut Great Responsibility from the deck. As I got to play with Spider-Man more, I realised that I wasn’t using him for his base thwart, so could also very easily cut Heroic Intuition.
While these cards are never wasted, because I can always use them to generate resources, I prefer to build decks on the assumption that I will actually use the card for what it does, rather than because it could be a resource. That way, I’m never faced with the problem of having a hand of cards that are basically resources, which I don’t want to play for their effects. The flip side to that is that my turns can often be agonising events where each card I’ve drawn is really good, and useful, and I don’t want to have to discard a Swinging Web Kick to pay for anything!!
I’m not intending to write a deck building manual for Marvel Champions, as there are much better-qualified players out there than me who have already done that. However, this blog is intended very much as how I go about building my decks, so maybe you’ll find it useful by seeing a bit of my thought process, which I know tends more to the weird and wonderful when it comes to this stuff!!
I would say that Marvel Champions is unique among the games that I play, because building a deck for it can be relatively easy. While it’s not quite Star Wars LCG levels of “pick ten objective cards, and your deck will be built”, it is probably the next best thing. A deck for Marvel Champions must be between 40 and 50 cards, and common wisdom is to keep it as low as possible so that you have the best chance of finding your good cards when you need them. However, some heroes will be fine with bigger decks – Iron Man springs to mind as being able to move through his deck quickly, so you can potentially build a 50 card deck for him and it won’t be so bad.
Of those 40 cards, your hero will bring 15 along with them, so you’re already only looking to build a deck of 25 cards. While it is possible that you can build a singleton deck, in reality you’ll want to include a couple of cards in multiple, because you’ll either want to increase your chances of finding them, or you’ll want to benefit from the effect multiple times. Some cards can only be included once in a deck, either because of uniqueness or limitations on the card itself. For instance, there are the three neutral resource cards which can only be included once, and your Aspect resource doubler card, which can only be included twice. If you include those (and while I know a lot of internet folks will tell you not to, but why wouldn’t you want more resources?) then you’re looking at a 20-card deck that you need to build. If you include three allies, because that’s the ally limit, then you’ve got to find 17 more cards. If you find 5 good cards and include two copies of each, you then only need to find 7 more cards. The process to build this 40 card deck can be whittled down until actually it’s just a case of finding a few cards that you like the look of, and going from there.
I’ve already mentioned my Spider-Man deck as something I’m quite pleased with, and it’s something that has grown with me from the very start of this game. For someone who is not overly bothered with the webslinger, I have definitely played with this hero the most! My approach to Spider-Man Justice was to include a number of ways to remove threat from the scheme, because he has some pretty good attacks and defence cards in his personal cards already. As my card collection grew, and I was getting more cards that did more than just thwart, things were being swapped in and out quite rapidly. As it stands, he’s quite a powerful character at the minute because his is a deck that I have spent the most time with, and I would say that he’s the one I evaluate pretty much any Justice card against.
Captain Marvel has been another joy to work with, although that is principally due to her hero cards being so good. I’ve built her as Protection, I think primarily because I had been playing her as Aggro, but moved on to using those cards for Iron Man. As it happens, this change happened around the time I started buying more packs, and so I was getting a number of very interesting Protection cards whereby a hero could deflect damage back at enemies, for example, and so a lot of her deck is dealing almost accidental damage, if that makes sense! Coupled with the fact she is pretty damn powerful anyway, it’s another fun deck that I enjoy playing.
Also in Protection is Black Panther, which caused a bit of trouble for me at first because I had already used a lot of the good cards for Captain Marvel! This is perhaps where the hero specific cards come into play, however, as the way that I would evaluate a card changes, based on what I want the deck to do. When it comes to Captain Marvel, she’s doing a lot of damage through her own cards, so she doesn’t necessarily need all of those cards that reflect the damage back to an enemy during the villain phase. Black Panther has no shortage of resource cards within his deck, of course, so he can afford to bring much more expensive cards because they won’t end up being used as resources due to having no way of playing them. I’ve been able to lean more into the healing aspect of Protection with Black Panther, though, which is nice to have that kind of flexibility within the Aspect, but also it’s nice to have that real sort of team-spirit when playing the game, so having the healer, the brute, etc.
The last deck that I have “scratch built” is Iron Man, in the aforementioned Aggro build. Unsurprisingly, then, he has a lot of cards that are basically there to beat the living daylights out of enemies. However, Iron Man can be quite a janky hero to play, I find, due to the fact his hand size in hero mode is based on how many Tech upgrades he has, but will be a minimum of 1. Due to bad draws, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve ended up playing him basically every other turn, as he requires re-setting to Alter Ego to draw cards, then plays them in Hero form, only to then need to switch back on the next turn and therefore do nothing, etc.
Much like with Spider-Man and the thwart cards getting better, there are now more attack cards that will do additional things, which I like because it makes the deck a lot more multi-functional, but also I love the value you get from multiple effects. While I have had some despairing games with Iron Man due to lack of drawing any upgrades, I’ve also had a few where it’s almost been an embarrassment of riches as I draw all the good stuff and can’t decide which cards to ditch for resources, and which to keep!
However, for all that there are fancy new cards that are available in the later packs, I do find the core set stuff provides a backbone for these decks, regardless. It’s interesting, because people talk about power creep all the time with games like these, but while the newer cards do often seem like they’re flashy and amazing, it’s still core set cards that I find myself coming back to time and again. I suppose that could partly be due to the size of my collection, of course, but nevertheless, I do think that it’s interesting how the core stuff holds up for years.
My other decks are pretty much slight tinkerings with the pre-constructed decks for heroes like Captain America, Doctor Strange, Spectrum and the like. Interestingly, the Star-Lord precon deck that I mentioned in yesterday’s blog as being widely disparaged has only had three cards swapped out for me, and I’ve not found it that bad to play. I suppose I still have a lot of heroes where I’ve not tried them much, however, so I have plenty more life left in this game for me yet!