SHIELD Agent Training – Building Your First Deck

Greetings SHIELD Agents! This is the second article in a series of new-player articles, aimed to get beginner players get up to speed on the game – Marvel Champions! We’ll be kicking things off in this training sessions talking about how to build your first deck!

SHIELD AGENT Training Session 002 – What Makes a Hero? (Building Your First Deck)

This article aims to take readers from the intro game into building their first deck but it will also overview my (KennedyHawk) deck-building process and philosophy. I’m going to walk you through the phases and steps in building a deck from concept to testing, hopefully both new players and veterans come out of this with something new. First, let’s talk about the game plan, any plan will do, even 12% of one.

Deck Building Steps

I like to break deck-building down into 6 steps:

  • Step 1: Determine your deck plan/goal
  • Step 2: Select a Hero and Determine Deficiencies
  • Step 3: Add Your SHIELD Training Staples
  • Step 4: Shop in Your Local Aspect Shop
  • Step 5: Back to the Basics
  • Step 6: Test and tweak!

We’ll cover the first few steps in this article and talk about tweaking a deck in more detail in the future. 

Step 1: Deck Plan

It’s important to build a new deck with a plan in mind. To come up with this plan ask yourself several questions and these questions will influence how you build your deck. Once you’ve come up with a plan or goal you are ready to begin the full deck-building process. As we’ve learned from the MCU movies having a bad plan is better than no plan at all. In this article we will build a deck-thinning Black Panther deck using core-set cards only. We want to make our deck as small as possible using upgrades and supports.

  • Do I want to play a specific hero?
    • Influence: What compliments that hero?
  • Am I designing this deck for solo or multiplayer play?
    • Influence: Can I be broad or focused?
  • Is there a specific combo you want to try to pull off?
    • Influence: What compliments this combo
Always have a plan…. even 12% of one

Step 2: Pick a hero… any hero… and find what makes them tick

Next you’ll want to select your hero and evaluate their deficiencies. Most heroes in Marvel  Champions want to be generalists. They are able to thwart a bit, heal a bit, and dish out some damage. Each hero in the core-set has some sort of draw-back that you’ll want to compensate when deckbuilding so it’s important to figure that out right away. Below is a list of the deficiens I consider when playing a core-set hero.

  • Black Panther
    • Requires some set-up
    • Good at everything, great at nothing
    • Variance can slow this deck down
  • Captain Marvel
    • Requires a large investment in one resource type
    • Is optimized with lots of flipping
    • Low AOE / Minion control
  • Iron Man
    • Needs a lot of set-up (often sits in Alter Ego for a few turns)
    • Depending on specific resource types (Energy and Mental)
  • Spider-Man
    • Low thwart capability
    • Minion dependent
  • She-Hulk
    • Optimized when flipping a lot
    • Thwarting requires alter-ego
    • Low hand size in hero form

You can see a few things we’d like to address for each hero. Since we are focusing on Black Panther in this build we’ll want to make sure we reduce variance in his deck (by using tutors or thinning his deck). We’ll also want to be prepared for a long grindy game as we set-up – this can be accomplished by bringing additional defensive or thwarting mechanisms. Once you’ve selected a hero you are up to 15 cards out of 40-50. Not bad!

Step 3: Don’t forget your SHIELD Training Staples!

Let’s start adding cards to our deck with what I’m calling the SHIELD Staples – these are basic cards that begin in almost every deck I build. There are some really useful basic cards that I start by placing in each deck I build. Sometimes I’ll remove these in later steps or by testing but I find them to be generally useful for all heroes.

The SHIELD Training Staple List includes:

  • Avengers Mansion – Card Draw is Good
  • Helicarrier – Everyone wants to play more things
  • Mockingbird – Stun is very powerful
  • Nick Fury – Great generalist to shore up your heroes weakness
  • Energy – ’nuff said
  • Genius – ’nuff said
  • Strength – ’nuff said

At this point I throw these in every deck so I’m now up to 22 out of my 40-50 cards!

Step 4: Pick an Aspect and Select Aspect Cards

In this step we will pick an aspect. I’ve taken two approaches to this. In solo games I need to be very versatile – so I like to pick an aspect that really shores up a weakness. This is why Spider-man plays so well with Justice and Iron Man with Leadership. In multiplayer -or- combo decks I often pick something that synergizes with my hero and goal. So, in this Black Panther build we will select Protection. It will afford T’Challa the time to build up his Black Panther upgrade stockpile. We now need to choose aspect cards as well. Make sure to pay attention to resource type if they matter for your hero. Black Panther isn’t dependent on a resource type so we will focus on one thing… cards that can stay in play and thin our deck! Here’s the Protection Core Set Cards and why I decided to include or ignore them:

  • INCLUDE: Black Widow x1
    • Allies are good – they can stay in play – her ability is amazing for avoiding pitfalls
  • INCLUDE: Luke Cage x1
    • Allies are good – thin that deck – even though we plan to defend a lot having something with tough can get us out of tough situations (intended reuse)
  • IGNORE: Counter-Punch
    • Great card but doesn’t fit our deckstyle. We want a thin deck so we can just draw Wakanda Forevers and play them – extra events are unncessary
  • IGNORE: Get Behind Me!
    • Interesting card – especially since we have built in retaliate. Again we want to thin our deck
  • INCLUDE: Med Team x3
    • Thins out deck – check. Heals us since we plan to defend – check. Include for sure
  • INCLUDE Armored Vest x3
    • Multiplayer deck – check, cheap – check, thins deck – check. All good things
  • INCLUDE: Indomitable x3
    • Lots of defending – check, cheap – check, thins deck – check. All good things
  • IGNORE: Power of Protection
    • Remember – we have both Vibranium and Basic resource cards! We don’t really need more resources once our deck is thinned. In addition only 5 cards in our deck our Protection cards costing more than 2 – not a good sell for our deck.

We are now up to 33 out of 40-50 cards – almost there!

Step 5: Back to Basics

Next we need to return to the basic cards we previously ignored asking a few questions.

  • What cards fit our theme?
    • Upgrades/Supports etc
  • What cards provide resource types we need?
    • Not applicable
  • What cards are just generally useful for shoring up a weakness?
    • Thwarting cards

First stop Tenacity. Not a super popular card but it’s a great card to keep on the board for a rainy day. Once you’ve cycled your deck Shuri can fish them out for card advantage and with a 2/2/2 stat line readying is never bad. INCLUDE x3

Next, First Aid. This is basically the event version of Med Team. With other expansions we’d probably pitch this but it works in a pinch. INCLUDE x3.

Finally we are at 39/40 cards. We need to include something. I’m going to include Haymaker x1. Once our deck is thinned Wakanda Forever will always be a good play but sometimes it makes sense to get a guard minion off the board first. Haymaker can fill that clutch.

There you have it we now have 40 cards!

Step 6: Test, then tweak

Test twice, then tweak. I’m not going to dwell on this topic but it will be a topic of a future training session. I often test a deck multiple times before I decide to tweak it. While the deck built in this article was only 40 cards I’ve found I often build decks at 43-45 cards. Then test a few times (remove an unused card), test a few more times and repeat. It’s all a part of the fun.

Session Complete

This concludes our second SHIELD Training session. Let us know how your first deck build went – or if you are a veteran what are other ways you plan out a deckbuild? You can view this Black Panther deck in the linkbelow another build and play for Iron Man using the same process! If you want to discuss more about building decks be sure to join the MCM Podcast discord and get into Tony’s Deck Garage and we can help you fine tune your deck (and you can help us with ours!) Discord Link

Black Panther – Protection MarvelCDB: Link

Iron Man Deckbuild:

 Iron Man Play

 Iron Man – Leadership MarvelCDB: Link

Upcoming Training Sessions

We have a whole slew of topics we want to cover in future training you can check out the entire series to date below – as always – thanks for reading!

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