Greetings SHIELD Agents! This is the fifth in a series of new-player articles, aimed to get beginner players get up to speed on the game – Marvel Champions! This session is a list of player tips that helped me transition from losing my Marvel Champions games to winning them. We may deep dive into these topics in future articles. The list comes in no specific order but starts with some tips about gameplay before moving on to broader topics.
SHIELD AGENT Training Session 005 – All Winners!
You may see a lot of people bemoan that Marvel Champions is too easy. I think in reality Marvel Champions is just the right kind of easy – the kind that makes me feel like a powerful super hero able to take on any foe. I didn’t always feel this way in fact I lost several games when first playing Marvel Champions. I’m now at a much higher win-rate and these are the things I did to get there.
1. Play Out Your Entire Hand
This may seem obvious to some people but initially it was not to me. Many card games I have played the cards in hand were the most precious resource in the game. When I first played Marvel Champions I had the same mindset. I never wanted to make sub-optimal actions like playing smaller events or allies. I wanted to always play Swinging Web-Kick so I would hold it from turn to turn – instead of using it to eliminate a guard minion. I quickly learned that emptying my hand is the first step to victory as a champion. Every card you play is changing the game state – often for the better. Any card you keep is a wasted resource as it is a resource unspent from the previous turn. There is a balance to this as emptying your deck will give you an encounter card but the advantage you have by building a good board state often outweighs this set-back. You’ll often here Crimson and myself on the podcast say to play out your entire hand. That means using every card you can!
2. Spend More Time in Hero Form
When I began playing Marvel Champions I found the flipping mechanic to be very interesting. Certainly some heroes (like She-Hulk) are incentivized to flip every turn, but should they flip every turn? Probably not. I find my wins come more easily when I only flip when necessary or I’m sure it’s safe. With cards like Advance in the deck I know even Rhino has the potential to threat out from one bad turn in Alter-Ego mode. The best way to mitigate this is to get set-up quickly and stay in hero form. I know, I know. This is easier said than done. So consider taking somethings to help. One of the reasons to flip to Alter-Ego is to recover. Everyone has access to cards like First Aid and Emergency. I used to scoff at Emergency but it now ends up in a ton of my solo decks as it can really save you in some tight situations. Another reason to flip to Alter-Ego is to increase your hand size. Which means we should include some cards to ramp out economy even in hero form. The Enhanced cards or even a Helicarrier can go a long way to allowing you to stay in hero form – longer!
3. Mulligan Deep
I have played many games where I am afraid to pitch my opening hand to look for an optimal card. Marvel Champions is not one of those games. Be sure to remember when your deck empties you’ll reshuffle your deck. It’s often advisable to not save events in your hand on your opening turn because you’d rather be playing ramp cards and things that build your board state. Dig deep into your deck for these cards. When I first began playing Marvel Champions I would mulligan 1 maybe 2 cards but now I often pitch almost my entire hand searching for a combo piece that will set me up for success.
4. Game the Encounter Discard Pile
When I say this I mean use your knowledge to your advantage. Almost all scenarios include the standard modular set which includes 2 copies of Advance. These can be killer and like Tip 2 hints at: flipping to Alter-Ego form with those in the deck can be VERY GAME ENDING. The encounter discard pile is knowledge you have so use it to your advantadge. You may see most of the 3 boost icon cards are gone – or all the bonus scheme abilities. Especially when the encounter deck is nearly empty if you have a good memory you may know what is left. Can I afford to thwart with Black Widow (Ally) or is there a Shadows of the Past waiting for me? Have I seen all the bonus attack cards? All this information can be used to help fuel decisions you make for your entire turn.
5. Understand Card Value
Always think about how much value a card offers both immediately and in the coming turns. You could play Tackle to deal 3 damage and stun the villain – or you could play Mockingbird to stun the villain, thwart, and then block (basically fueling a second stun). The example above illustrates one thing. Allies are the most valuable card in the game. MAKE SURE TO PLAY THEM. Cheap allies are some of the best value cards. They don’t last forever so running more than your Ally Limit (3) is still okay! Use them to “chump block” – which means throw them in front of the villain like chumps. Ideally you’ll use an ally down to 1 remaining HP at which point their highest value is to block an attack. Condition cards also have great value so consider when you Stun or Confuse the villain and how that sets-up your game state.
6. Find the Turning Point
This will tie into Tip 7 but figure out where the turning point in the game is. There are two main paths to victory: Racing the villain to a tremendous victory -or- controlling the board until you reach the point where the race is on. There is almost always a point where it makes more sense to start attacking the villain but don’t think you need to do that right away!
7. A-B-C-D- Assemble, Be in Control, Defeat the villain
I often now think of the game in three priorities on my turn. First: Assemble your build. You need to set up your board state so you have the economy to satisfy your win. This means playing obvious ramp cards like Avenger’s Mansion- but also getting things like your Black Panther upgrades in play. Or playing Steve’s Apartment. Get your board state assembled and going. Can I get one of these cards out and live to see another day?
Next: Be in Control. Okay, I couldn’t find a good B-word so I made a phrase. What you need to do here is control or maintain the game state. This has some overlap with the first step but you need to always be thinking: should I be thwarting or am I ready to hit the villain. Finally: Defeat the Villain. Generally, I prioritize the actions on the board.
- Ramping if I can
- Clearing minions and side schemes
- Attacking the villain
Even though defeating the villain is your win condition attacking the villain isn’t always the path that gets you there. Each turn challenge yourself to see. Can I make my set-up better? Can I leave minions and side-schemes unchecked? Is it time to race the villain (Tip 6)? Think like Cap. I can do this all day – fight minion after minion as your build your board and get set-up to take on the villain.
8. Record and Understand My Losses
I keep a log of all the games I play (not just Marvel Champions) but I have a special spreadsheet and notebook just for this game. I like to record each game win or loss and figure out that statistics I have on specific hero vs villain match-ups. When I log a game I make sure to record: how I lost (e.g. damage, threat out, rage and frustration) and if I felt there was a point where things got out of control. Doing this has really helped me identify points in the game where I can avoid a loss if able. The first one I realized I have referenced already but it made me focus on the standard encounter card Advance and how do I play around this card and still win.
9. Learn to Value Net-Decking
Some people give net-decking a bad name. Don’t fall for that. www.marvelcdb.com has a ton of great decks on it and they are good for a reason. Someone tested the deck against multiple villains and took the time to write up an elegant explanation of the decks mechanics. I love going on to marvelCDB and just reading about peoples ideas for decks. If you are having trouble with a specific hero or aspect go look at some of the popular decks and see what cards they include. This can jettison you into your own original spin on their proposed deck! And don’t just rely on marvelcdb. All of the podcasts have awesome deck tech episodes. Alter-Egos podcast does a deck in each episode and it’s fun to just try out the deck the propose so I can learn it’s ins and outs. Once you’ve net-decked a few times you’ll find some patterns and become a true deck artisan.
10. Get Engaged
There are dozens of resources out there and community groups that are willing to help you out as a new player. The facebook group has over 5700 members. Just like all social media there will be a few rotten eggs but 5650+ members of that group are probably willing to help out a newer player. Ask your questions on the group – or post to BoardGameGeek or Discord. You can check our page under social groups to find a ton of ways to connect with the growing Marvel Champions community. Who knows in a few short weeks you might be giving someone else the piece of advice they needed to make this game click! Hopefully after this list of tips you are well on your way to defeating Rhino and Klaw. Next session we’ll talk about Ultron and some tactics to help defeat the metal menace.
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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!