Welcome readers to a new and exciting series where KennedyHawk goes through each hero kit in Marvel Champions to provide some basic deck building and super synergistic insight. This hero heuristics are meant to be living documents and as more cards come out they may be updated from time to time. Once updated a change-log will appear up top so you know when the last update occurred.
For our first lesson – we’ll be looking at the King of Wakanda – Black Panther. T’Challa has been my favorite core-set identity since the game launched. He is a versatile character that works well in all situations and with all aspects. Let’s dive into his hero kit to understand the makings of this toolbox-like hero.
Black Panther is a versatile hero with an amazingly cheap and efficient kit that can take a bit of set-up to really get rolling. This can be frustrating to some play-styles but I promise the set-up will be worth it. The hero identity comes with a solid 2 THW / 2 ATK / 2 DEF statline which is always a good start. While the ability of retaliate may not be a very active exciting ability – it’s efficient and opens up many builds for this hero.
Black Panther’s kit wants him to focus on his four Black Panther upgrades. They are a set of 2-cost upgrades with a lot of perks. Panther Claws is great for putting big damage on a single target, while Energy Daggers is better for spreading damage around in minion heavy scenarios. Tactical Genius can help keep threat under control and Vibranium Suit can help push damage while healing Black Panther. These upgrades by themselves do very little without the help of Wakanda Forever.
In your 15 cards you’ll find 5 copies of Wakanda Forever that trigger the abilities on all of your Black Panther upgrades with a boost given to the final upgrade resolved. This means early in the game you’ll be rather limited and focused but later on (with all four upgrades out) you’ll have a lot to choose from and be able to tailor each use of Wakanda Forever with proper sequencing.
Because you really need a jumpstart to get these upgrades on the board you have 3 copies of Vibranium – the perfect card early in the game for getting your Black Panther upgrades on the field ASAP.
T’Challa’s kit is rounded out with a few more cards. First – two Alter-Ego focused cards. Golden City – a support upgrade that allows T’Challa to draw two cards in alter-ego form is an Avenger’s Mansion on steroids. Second – a card with a lot more nuance, Ancestral Knowledge – which allows you to shuffle three differently named cards from your discard pile back in to your deck. Note: you cannot shuffle 3 Wakanda Forever’s back into your deck even with the differing resource types. The final card in this hero kit is Shuri. She is one of the strongest signature allies in the game and gets better with each release. When Shuri enters play she is able to search your deck for ANY upgrade and add it to your hand. This helps you find your Black Panther upgrades earlier but is also great for finding unique upgrades in your deck – or for deck-thinning which we will discuss in a bit.
The Big Choice
Before going any further I want to address one of the big questions with Black Panther. What should you do or search for with his setup ability? Let’s look at T’Challa’s alter ego form.
Foresight allows a player to pick their first Black Panther upgrade and place it in their hand. This is done after mulligans and that is important to deciding which of the four upgrades you pick. Like most critical decisions there is no one right answer – deciding what upgrade to pick depends on many situations and I can run through a few of them here.
Are you playing solo? In this case you probably want to even out your deck – if you are running Justice with lots of thwart potential grab a damage dealing card to balance that out. If you are running an all out pummeling aggression deck – consider grabbing Tactical Genius to keep the threat under control. This all changes in multiplayer when you can focus on one game mechanic a bit more and rely on your play partner to shore up a weakness or two.
Do you have an initial problem? This is villain dependent. A lot of expert mode villains (like Rhino and Klaw) start with a scheme in play- removing that scheme (especially if it has a hazard icon) is very important. Are you going up against Ultron who is going to constantly spawn drones? Maybe you should grab Energy Daggers as a consistent way to clear the board for a player.
Does your deck depend on an upgrade? Some decks really rely on a specific upgrade. For example an Aggression deck running Mean Swing may want to grab Energy Daggers or Panther Claws as a Weapon upgrade. Protection decks that plan to defend and take damage may want to grab the self-healing contained in Vibranium Suit.
Are you even going to play the card? Sometimes you mulligan and already have great options in your hand. Maybe you can puke an upgrade or two to the board and use the third one to play a single Wakanda Forever. In this instance grab the upgrade you care about the least and use it as a resource. Disclaimer: I try to avoid this – Shuri is unable to grab upgrades from your discard so you will be relying on Ancestral Knowledge or a full deck pass to get that upgrade back.
Ultimately – the decision you make here is likely to shape the rest of your game so consider your options wisely.
Here are some tips I’ve learned for make an effective Black Panther deck and piloting it to victory.
- Pitch Wakanda Forever early – don’t hold on to it! It may be tempting to play Wakanda Forever with 1-2 upgrades out. This is okay in a pinch but if resources allow it I’d much rather get another upgrade on the board. With just 1 Black Panther upgrade your Wakanda Forever plays are still efficient but not great. Once you have it up and running for 1 cost you can remove 1-2 threat and deal 4-6 damage with a bit of healing (depending on your sequence choice). At this point Wakanda Forever is one of the most effective events in the game. This leads to point 2.
- Thin your deck – Run lots of upgrades, supports and other board permanents. Within T’Challa’s kit you have 6 events and 3 resources – so those are 9 cards that will almost always be in your hand/discard/deck. When fully up and running aim to only have 15-18 cards left in your deck. With a bit of draw help this can set yo up to play 2+ Wakanda Forever’s every turn!
- Be Greedy Early – T’Challa much like Iron Man takes a long time to set-up. Use threat as a resource when you can and plan to flip back and forth a few turns to accelerate your set-up and get to the fun part.
- Don’t be afraid to defend – This is one I constantly remind myself. T’Challa has a stout 2 DEF – and with the healing from Vibranium Suit you can sustain hero form for a long time if needed. While giving up your 2 THW / 2 ATK action the option to avoid a villain scheme is very powerful.
- Plan around your final form – A lot of fun decks can be planned around your final set-up form. Whether you use a ton of allies to draw many Wakanda Forever’s with Strength in Numbers – or use multiple attacks in the sequence to trigger Jarnbjorn – Black Panther is a force to be reckoned with but keep in mind what your deck should look like in it’s final form. This is basically repeating tip 2 – but make sure every event placed in your deck has a purpose in the endgame.
- Vibranium Buys You Out! – Late game (and early if needed) Black Panther can use his Vibranium to discard villain attachments. With the two wild resources you are really well prepare for these villain curveballs!
Here’s a list of common game-play mistakes (or strategy mistakes) made with Black Panther.
- Ancestral Knowledge can shuffle three different cards from your discard pile back into your deck. Those cards must have different names. So no shuffling three copies of Wakanda Forever back into your deck.
- Shuri can not grab cards from your discard pile only from your deck. She is most powerful after a deck-reshuffle.
- T’Challa’s foresight ability requires some foresight. It only triggers once per game right after you mulligan. Incidentally – Ultron steals the top card of your deck as a drone before you draw your opening hand. So he has reasonable odds to steal an upgrade from you.
- While Black Panther has no attack and thwart events – stun and confuse can still prevent an upgrade from resolving. Both Panther Claws and Vibranium Suit are attacks and one will be blocked by a stunned status card. Likewise – Tactical Genius – can be blocked by a confused status card.
- Because of the last tip be careful with enemies who retaliate. Vibranium Suit in particular is a bit tricky into a retaliate enemy as you may end up losing the hit point you healed!
Black Panther has good synergy with all four aspects. You can find really powerful deck themes and combos highlighted here.
Justice: Justice is an interesting aspect to combo with Black Panther. With an inherent 2 THW he makes an excellent basic thwarter which can be enhanced as cards become available to ready your hero. Justice also contains many upgrade you may only want 1-2 copies of. Shuri can search your deck for singleton copies of Under Surveillance, Counter-Intelligence, or Skilled Investigator.
Aggression: I think this aspect has become Black Panther’s bread and butter. Mentioned above. T’Challa comes with 2 weapons in his kit and can grab one with his set-up ability. This makes cards like Mean Swing very attractive to Black Panther. In addition Hall of Heroes can give you really big turns for Wakanda forever. With both Hall of Heroes and Golden City out you can begin a turn with 11 cards in hand (aka bonkers!). Don’t forget your Black Panther upgrades can trigger Jarnbjorn as well!
Leadership: The combo of Black Panther and Leadership is also one of the GOAT set-ups. We can now get to 6 allies in play using Stringer, Triskelion, and Avenger’s Tower. With a few copies of Strength in Numbers you can begin your hero turns with 11 cards per turn and just go for face using Wakanda Forever. This takes quite a bit of set-up. Another neat trick I’ve seen a lot recently is to use Shuri and Rapid Response to constantly fish up upgrades for an ally Voltron deck. Leadership has plenty of ally upgrades that are worthwhile. Some Shuri can even find and place on herself.
Protection: Again – use Shuri to find essential upgrades like Electrostatic Armor, Unflappable, and Energy Barrier. A lot of the protection defend without take damage combo pieces are events which hurt your end game efficiency with Wakanda Forever. Instead lean in on upgrades to really make your defense worthwhile.
Basic: There are some basic cards I’d recommend you include in every Black Panther deck. Because deck-thinning provides such a edge for him I recommend 3 copies of Honorary Avenger, 1 Endurance, and 1 Downtime. For 2 cost (plus these five cards) you can get 5 cards out of your deck. Along with your Black Panther upgrades you are close to having 25% of your deck on the field for a minimal effort.
If you have made it this far thanks for reading! Here’s where I do something to make everyone mad. Based on my play experience I’m going to rate the hero in five categories. This combines a ton of factors discussed above but comes down to:
- Economy – How cheap is this heroes kit? Do they have resources aplenty or some economic barrier (e.g. low hand size)
- Set-Up Time – Is this character ready to hit the ground running? Do you need to bide time to set-up?
- Thwart Potential – How well does this hero do at managing threat.
- Attack Potential – How well does this hero do at dealing out crits.
- Resilience – How well does this hero deal with what the villain throws at you (e.g. minions, extra attacks, game changing treacheries)
After crunching my propriety numbers (aka me spitballing) Black Panther ended up with 19 Onomatopoeias! Characters will be placed in a category from Great, Good, Mediocre, Meh, to Gross depending on their score. With a score of 19 Black Panther ended up in the Good hero range which is right where I think he belongs. Again, thanks for reading I hope you find my ramblings helpful! For another take on Black Panther you can check out this post from our friends at the Side Scheme.
Come back next time when I go over another core-set hero who’s at the chalkboard himself – Spider-Man!