Mad Titan’s Shadow Spoiler Double Feature!

Hey all,

Courtesy of our friends at FFG we have been provided with a spoiler card or actually two to show for the upcoming Mad Titan’s Shadow release. We are very appreciative of the chance to play these spoilers so we were determined to find a fun way to present them to you all. I hope this isn’t trolling the audience too much but we’ve come up with a Top 5 list. The Top 5 ways a Determined player can Troll their teammates.

Yes, Marvel Champions is a co-op game but a lot of use like to clown each other especially against villains who allow it. Both of our spoiler cards have some great meme potential. Let’s look at some of the best ways to troll your fellow players.

5. Ignore optional triggers – regardless of common sense – but always for your own cool combo.

5. Ignore optional triggers – regardless of common sense – but always for your own cool combo.

Let’s get right to the spoilers. One of the cards we have to present is Determination. a new Justice resource. I hope we get one of these for each aspect!

This card contains an optional effect. I love getting my combos to work sometimes at the determent to the team. We had a particularly troll-full on theme Guardians game a few weeks back where Rocket kept killing minions in front of Venom (who was running a ton of aggression/minion tech) which led to a ton of dead cards in his hand. But oh so much card draw for the trash panda. This card is very strong and is sure to help a ton of Justice decks. You’ll be spending this prior to an effect going off so you can use it to help set up Clear the Area and other shenanigans. This threat removal gets around Patrol but not Crisis icons!

4. Steal allies from each other’s discard

4. Steal allies from each other’s discard

There’s nothing quite like some good old core-set grief. One of my favorite moves as Leadership Iron Man is to steal Shuri from Black Panthers discard to get my tech upgrades going. Bonus points if this is just before T’Challa shuffles as you can now use Shuri over and over while they wait to shuffle her back in. No doubt – Make the Call can be super mean! There are some pro allies to steal: Shuri, Captain Marvel, Nick Fury all come to mind. It can be incredibly frustrating when this happens but often it’s for the greater good.

3. lol Hulk

3. Grief players with an energy-Hulk ally deck

Speaking of the core set. Let’s not forgot the first grief ally in the game. Hulk! I remember the first time I thought it was cute to run Hulk with a ton of energy resources to wipe out fields of Ultron Drones. I also remember killing many other heroes and allies along the way. You can make a totally silly Hulk deck focused on Hulk AOE. Just don’t bring it to my table at Gencon!

2. Heal the villain with First Aid

2. Heal the villain with First Aid

Fun fact – First aid allows players to heal the villain or minions in play. Why would you want to? Good question? Maybe someones about the eliminate a minion but you want them to top. Request and action and heal that Sandman to full health! Maybe you want to grind it out against Taskmaster to get all those kidnapped allies – but you can’t apply your status conditions without dealing some damage (e.g. Sonic Arrow). No problem, heal that villain and bring out your inner Punisher! Especially fun when players are low on health and could use the aid better!

1. Troll with the Troll
  1. Troll with a real troll!

Finally our other spoiler card. Pip the Troll.

While Adam’s signature ally doesn’t support an amazing body (1/1/2 stat line). He has an amazing cost and some out of this world abilities! First Pip comes in with a tough status card. He also comes in during the villain phase. So you can not only draw into him but throw him on the table to block with his tough card without fear of something else removing it. You can troll your fellow heroes so hard with this card. AND YOU SHOULD – he’s a troll after all. Scenario: Thanos attacks a hero with a base 4-7 ATK (we assume) you have the option to play Pip but no one needs to know. Then – you realize a lone Hydra Bomber could defeat your Protection Player friend, simply throw Pip down to block that Hydra bomber and see their reaction (it’s sure to be pleasant). Pip is one of the strongest signature allies in the game and is good news for design going forward. Powerful allies with unique abilities are some of my favorite parts of Marvel Champions and I hope we continue to see allies made with neat unique abilities. We wanted to get these spoilers out to the community ASAP but you can bet we will discuss them both in our next MCM episode!

Sadly – Red Skull himself – hacked into our e-mail servers and was releasing puzzle pieces for this spoiler all day on discord. A dedicated crew on the discord today was able to decipher Pip’s ability and identity even with Determination puzzle pieces thrown in the mix. Special shout-out to Snuggles who was piecing it all together. You can see the gears turning in the image below!

Saturday Superhero Satire – Tier List of Tier Lists

It’s been a bit but here’s a new Saturday morning cereal eating article. There’s been a lot of chatter about hero tier lists recently. Who’s in a tier of their own casting spells with ease? Who stinks like yesterday’s She-Hulk? Well, I’ve digested it all and today I bring you a tier-list of tier-lists. Which tier list is best? What are their faults and strengths find out now! Lots of creators have made tier lists, power rankings, and other ways to evaluate and survey heroes – lets sort them out into their tiers below. I judge these rankings by a very fair and proprietary criteria – you’ll probably see what it is – there may be… a trend. (Disclaimer: All of these creator’s are super awesome and put a ton of effort into their actual content. Check them out and give them some love – I know I love reading/listening and digesting their rankings every time they update!)

S+ Tier

No one – you’ll see the reasoning soon. It may have to do with how lowly everyone places a certain archer…

S Tier

Side Scheme Tier List by BananaCrapshoot

This tier list is definitely next-level thinking. Banana does a great job fostering discussion and updating his tier list constantly. The list includes many factors including: theme, power-level, fun-factor and many more topics! I love that the hero is evaluated in a holistic. Two cons that I should mention. First and foremost – Banana lists Hawkeye as B-tier which is just disgusting and not true. For this face alone – the Side Scheme tier list can’t be taken too seriously and thus is not in the coveted S+ tier. Secondly – while it’s really neat that many factors are considered it’s hard to know what the algorithm is behind combining these factors or if it’s just a gut-feel looking at these categories.

A Tier

The Dice Tower with Roy Cannaday

Roy has a great youtube video linked above overviewing his views on the Top 10 heroes in Marvel Champions. Roy is always engaging and fun and truly loves the game. I like that the video spends a bit of time on each hero explaining the thoughts on each hero. I really liked the beginning starting with Hulk and Ms. Marvel near the bottom – finally we reached #1 and foun the reason this top ten can’t be ranked higher: Hawkeye is completely absent. Despite this I think the top ten is really high quality and offers great insight. Just don’t be leavin’ Clint off next update? Mmmkay?

Community Definitive Rankings by JediGeekGirl

Wow. This list is really neat. While note a tier list per se – it’s the results of a survey showing where the community ranked heroes from October 2020 (about a month after Red Skull came out). Thankfully Hawkeye is in the top ten here but still is ranked 9th. We can’t blame JediGeekGirl for this – the blame falls fully on the community. C’mon people – vote Hawkeye or don’t vote. Not jokingly – this is a really cool resource and the bottom of the article mentions it is to be updated again after the release of Galaxy’s Most Wanted! Be sure to get out and vote early (but only for Hawkeye) ➡

Dice vs. Cards Solo / Multiplayer Tierlists

Dice vs Cards does something really interesting. They split the tierlist into two lists: one for solo & one for multiplayer. I really love this idea as some heroes may struggle in solo but shine when specialized in multiplayer or vice versa. In fact this really made me think these lists would be top tier S+. Sadly both lists put Hawkeye in the D-tier. At this point I really question peoples judgement. While I understand Hawkeye being in the same tier as the hulks (they are three of my favorites) I don’t understand the bottom of the barrel ranking. The team does give good reasoning for their rankings so it’s worth a watch!

Marvel Champions FTW! by Xplode

This power ranking is in audio podcast format. Xplode does a good job in solomode talking about the heroes he sees hit the “virtual table”. This seems to be more of an anecdotal popularity list which forces it to be a bit more leaning towards newer characters. It’s really fun to hear about what characters people are playing – and what way the meta evolves as new packs are spoiled and released.

B Tier

We needed to add this tier to show the gap before the basement losers.

C Tier

Marvel Champions Monthly Tiers or Tears

Geez – who are these scrubs? This is a tierlist that’s 9 months out of date. What the heck? Why does this even exist? Back when these newbs made this list it was picking the best aspect for each hero and then placing them in a tier grouping. This list is C-tier. Hawkeye wasn’t even released yet. But that’s no excuse… he should obviously be A-tier or higher… maybe they’ll have to make another shot at a tierboard episode again…. MAAAAAAAYYYYBE

Conclusions

Well – that’s it for today folks. The rankings / tiers / and content above are all top notch (except that last one). While you may not agree with any of the above lists they all serve a great purpose in the community – fostering discussion and talking about the great heroes in a game we all love. What is your favorite way to rank heroes? If we get sent some new spicey lists we’ll be sure to add them to our rankings in our next Tier List of Tier Lists and remember #VoteForHawkeye

Hero Heuristics: Black Panther

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.

The Kit

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

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.

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.

Vibranium

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.

Shuri

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.

T'Challa

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.

Energy Daggers

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.

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.

Strategy Tips

Here are some tips I’ve learned for make an effective Black Panther deck and piloting it to victory.

  1. 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.
  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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

Common Mistakes

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!

Deck Synergies

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.

Under Surveillance
from the Thor hero pack

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!

Mean Swing
from the Thor hero pack

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.

Rapid Response
from the Black Widow hero pack

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.

Electrostatic Armor
from the Hulk hero pack

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.

The Verdict

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!

Saturday Superhero Satire: Artful Ally Choices

KennedyHawk:  Howdy heroes! Another Saturday – time for another seriously essential topic. Basic allies! Some of the best allies in the game fall into the basic category – but let’s discuss the thing that truly makes them shine. Their art. Instead of power rankings like last week we’ll be putting each ally into a tier based on it’s artwork. From S-tier (always include this ally – the art is so amazeballs) to F-tier (who drew this?). We might even have some insights about the cards along they way – who knows? Not me – that’s for sure.

Amerikano: I like looking at art, but I’m no good at making it. And I’m much more upfront about that than KennedyHawk. 

KennedyHawk: I’m a skilled artist – so I’m totally qualified for judging this – just look at my stick figure drawings in this article (they aren’t real). Onto the first card: Mockingbird!

Mockingbird from The Amazing Spiderman #4 (2015)

KennedyHawk: For me Mockingbird falls into the B-tier. Nothing stellar – yet nothing holding it back. The art doesn’t scream stun effect to me – but she is probably my most played card of all time so I have to give her credit. No layering shenanigans to point out – just an efficient card – with efficient – er reasonable art. Really the most thematic art would be Mockingbird stunning Rhino in one panel – cut to Mockingbird taking a Stampede to the face.

Amerikano: C tier. I’m with you on this one. I’m not sure why this piece was chosen. It doesn’t scream stun. In fact, there’s nothing really stunning about it at all.

Nick Fury also from The Amazing Spiderman #4 (2015)

Amerikano: F. The art is so confusing. I dislike that Fury is not the main focus of the card art. Zoom in on that patch!

KennedyHawk: D-tier – possibly F. This art befuddled me for a long time. What a strange shot of Nick Fury to use. For a while I was trying to figure out why he was floating in clouds. Then I realized it’s like a 3D map as the details-out the mission. Nick Fury sees a lot of action and deserves a more action-filled pose.I’m so glad we agree here – now if only you understood the evils of vegetables.

Lockjaw original art by Bryndon Everett

KennedyHawk: S-Tier. Unless there is something higher. This good dogo has amazing and terrifying art. I can literally wipe the dog slobber off my face when I look at this card. Some nice use of layers with Lockjaw’s forehead cutlery and the butterfly he is chasing is just totes adorb. I also like that he’s hopping out of a portal- they nailed the theme on Lockjaw both mechanically and in his art. Good puppers!

Amerikano: A tier. It looks like he’s been competing in an otherworldly dog show and one of the loops that he needed to jump through was a portal. Oh, and his cheeks are turning into parachutes. Amazing.

Heimdall also original art by Bryndon Everett

Amerikano: S tier. The glow in his eye and the pose really portray the theme of the card and Heimdall’s role as gatekeeper. Simply amazing. 

KennedyHawk: I give Heimdall an A-tier rating. Above Mockingbird but below Lockjaw. These two allies have some of the coolest art. I really like the flashing glow in Heimdall’s eye as he’s peering into the encounter deck. Flavor text to match – rarely do I get to appreciate flavor text here…

War Machine from Invincible Iron Man #32(2008)

KennedyHawk: Back to art straight from the comics – thanks to the #card-art channel on the discord for finding this one. I’m saying C-tier this time. Slightly lower than Mockingbird. Doesn’t match his card theme much at all – unless toughness is going to fend off all that ping damage I see behind him.

Amerikano: A tier. I don’t care if the card theme doesn’t shine through with the art. I really like it. The only thing that would have been better is the panel of War Machine just below this one on the same page of the comic. But don’t you just feel like you could take on a team of Hammer drones after playing War Machine? Go find that issue. It has some amazing art.

Iron Heart from Iron Heart vol 1 #1 2019

Amerikano: C tier. Amazing card. Meh art. Nothing special at all. Why not heart shape with her hands? Saving that for the art on Ironheart’s hero card? We can only hope.

KennedyHawk: Let’s be real. This card is an S-tier powerwise. Dump her on the board, draw and chump – is much better than just Dump and Chump. Her art isn’t horrible either. I’m going with the Mockingbird B-tier – no really logical sense with the cards theme – but cool layering and a nice action pose with nothing bothersome in the background unlike Nick.

Spider-Man from Miles Morales – Spider-Man #1

KennedyHawk: Spider-man – Spider-man – does whatever hero Spider-man can’t! Miles Morales is one of my favorite basic allies and his art does not disappoint. His ability to burst thwart is awesome and lowkey he can be a slow extended swinging webkick just like his art highlights!

Amerikano: A tier. The only thing I don’t like about this art is how shiny his suit seems to be. Why? I love it when the art comes in front of the card name banner. It really makes Miles’s foot pop!

KennedyHawk: There you have it. We have a tier list of basic allies by art. If that’s not something you were looking forward too – well then I’m not sure why you are still reading this. I love the basic allies in this game – they make it into so many decks and I’m glad most of them have good art (not you Nick – not you!)

Saturday Superhero Satire: Heroic Headgear Power Rankings

KennedyHawk:  Howdy heroes! KennedyHawk and Amerikano here from the MCM podcast to talk about a very serious topic. For the foreseeable future we want to bring some brightness to your Saturday morning. The kids are watching cartoons and you need something to occupy your time. Welcome Saturday Superhero Satire where we write a short post about fresh frivolous topics in the realm of Marvel Champions. For this introductory insight we’ll be talking about a highly debated topic. Power Rankings! Everyone loves a good tier list and to debate who’s worst and who’s best. Without further ado let’s present are Power Rankings for Heroic Headgear.

Amerikano: Let’s keep these nice and short, shall we? Because, let’s be real, Saturday morning cartoons don’t exist anymore and YouTube can only hold your kid’s attention for so long.

KennedyHawk: Let’s go from first to worst. The Ultron-like robot that determines how long people read out articles says that most people have already stopped!.

1st Place:

Ant-Man’s Helmet (KennedyHawk)

Ant-Man’s Helmet (Amerikano)

KennedyHawk: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I love pym particles! What I like better is getting the reward of Pym Particles without spending a resource using a permen-ANT on the field. Ant-Man’s helmet is a straight up legend. My favorite part is it’s casual use as a bookend. You would think a hero wouldn’t need more of what they are good at – but in ant man’s case it’s pretty import-ANT. Anyway I’m gettin’ kind of ANT-sy what say you Amerikano?

Amerikano: Wow. Uh, this is the only helmet in the game that I will play no matter the cost. Period. I don’t have any puns, though. Was I supposed to come up with puns?

KennedyHawk: Don’t have any puns – or cAN’T make them? I’ll be here all morning.

Americano: (e_e)

2nd Place

Mark V Helmet (KennedyHawk)

Thor’s Helmet (Amerikano)

Amerikano: A fair cost (2) for +5 hit points is not too expensive for Thor. This gives you a bit of much needed breathing room to set up your board state. Also, playing it gets rid of a pesky science resource from my deck. I want all the lightnings. And those wings(?) though!

KennedyHawk: You know what really makes me sweat as Iron Man? Threat! How does Tony handle it. Certainly not a base 2 thwart and an in kit ready every turn. Regardless the Mark V Helmet offers Iron Man a lot of pluses, well hand size plus per turn to be more specific. How a helmet removes threat from many places at the same time is still a mystery to me. One I’m sure I could solve if I was Tony Stark.

3rd Place:

Wasp’s Helmet (KennedyHawk)

Wasp’s Helmet (Amerikano)

KennedyHawk: The insect duo is complete. I love Wasp’s helmet, the ability to toggle from +1 ATK to +1 THW is amazing. Nadia continues the excellent theme of storing your helmet somewhere not on your head and then using it mid battle. Very helpful! It stings me to say this but at the time of writing marvelcdb doesn’t have the image for this helmet yet. Major shout-out to hallofheroeslcg.com instead!

Amerikano: I’m glad you didn’t come up with any more insect puns. They really bug me. That being said, this helmet is solid. My favorite use is the +1 THW because who doesn’t want 3 THW besides a Justice player? So basically what I’m saying is that it comes in handy for any of the aspects I prefer pair with her.

4th Place:

Thor’s Helmet (KennedyHawk)

Iron Man’s Helmet (Amerikano)

Amerikano: I think the best sting about this card is that is a 1 cost Tech upgrade. It is usually a pretty automatic play unless I also have Arc Reactor and can’t play them both (for some reason).  Still, a very solid helmet. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a genius, billionaire inventor. 

KennedyHawk: Following the top three is a tough act! Thor’s Helmet gives Thor much of what he already has. Extremely expensive cards, more hit-points, and amazing flowing locks. More seriously the hit point boost is appreciated especially as you’ll be headbutting with a lot of minions and such. Clearly this headgear is very protective – hence Thor is making such a happy face about wearing it.

5th Place:

Captain America’s Helmet (KennedyHawk)

Captain America’s Helmet (Amerikano)

KennedyHawk: Okay – we are getting into the not so great helmets now. Cap’s helmet is so useful I’m going to assume he’s taking it off – not putting it on in the art. Yes – an extra life on a stick is great… until player two draws a treachery to damage each friendly character. Generally, if I’m triggering this ability I’ve either already won the game – or already lost. At least it’s cheap?

Amerikano: Probably the worst card in Cap’s hero kit. But I don’t know if that really tells us much because his kit is pretty amazing. I mean, this one is good for theme? But between Cap’s Shield and Shield Block, I better not be dying!

6th Place:

Bulldozer’s Helmet (KennedyHawk)

Captain Marvel’s Helmet (Amerikano)

Amerikano: What?! Is this even allowed? I need to jump on Discord really fast to ask The Card Text. I’ll won’t even bother putting my thoughts down about my #6 helmet.

KennedyHawk: in perfect Pietro – Bet you didn’t see that coming! 6th place for me falls to this villain’s Helmet. Bulldozer’s helmet hits like a truck – maybe even like a bulldozer. But don’t sleep on this helmet 

Amerikano: Nothing grinds my gears like discarding cards from the top of my deck.

KennedyHawk: I know one card I’d like to discard.

7th Place:

Captain Marvel’s Helmet (KennedyHawk)

(Amerikano)

KennedyHawk: That’s right Carols “signature” headpiece. What a piece of junk, nothing screams “Spend me as a resource!” quite like this card. This helmet is so bad it’s the only hero gear not shown in the bottom corner images. It’s like they want us to forget it exists. +2 DEF to a hero I’ll almost never defend with. If this card text was blank it’d only be moderately worse. 

Amerikano: Haha. Don’t forget, it might only get you +1 DEF. This is garbage. Straight up basura. 

Wait, so what you’re saying is that the only upside to this headgear is that Yellowjacket’s Tech Theft scheme isn’t horrible against it? Barf. 

KennedyHawk:  Well there you have it! Our first of many Saturday Superhero Satire. What’s your favorite heroic headgear? When do you think we’ll get our next helmet? Check back next week when we rank/debate/pull-punches-on another ridiculous Marvel Champions topic.

Clobberin’ Time – Vol. 2

Last year we initiated a Clobberin’ Time challenge to flex your deckbuilding skills with a shrinking card-pool. It urged players to use their entire card-pool to run a gauntlet of villains! With more hero packs and Galaxies Most Wanted on the horizon, we’ve revised the challenge a bit so that it can be used as the landscape of Marvel Champions is ever-growing. With now 14 heroes and 12 villains playing through everything is somewhat a large task instead your card-pool can be randomized by release! If you are more of an audio person I’ve recorded an overview of the challenge as well embedded below!

For Season 2 of Clobberin’ Time you play a gauntlet of five villains until all five are defeated.

To set-up the challenge take the following steps:

  1. Randomly select 8 heroes from Marvel Champions
  2. Set aside cards based on the pool below for each hero. A quick reference for these pools can be found here – but it boils down to the cards in that hero pack’s release (or for core set and campaign box heroes the cards in that character’s preconstructed deck).
  3. Sort your set aside cards so that you have exactly:
    8 heroes and signature sets
    3 of each non-unique card
    1 of each unique card
  4. Place any remaining cards back into your storage solution
  5. Randomly select 5 villains (optional: also use random modular sets)

You are now ready to begin your Clobberin’ Time experiment! Pick a villain of your choosing and make a deck with your set aside card-pool. I recommend keeping the set aside cards in a separate storage box like a 400 ct card box! After playing the encounter…

If you win – record a win on your play log, return the cards from your current deck to your general collection. They are removed from future deckbuilding.

If you lose – return these cards to your set-aside pool and tinker your deck attempting the villain again.

Continue this until you have defeated all 5 randomly selected villains. As you defeat each villain your card-pool will shrink and you’ll have to use some sneaky deckbuilding to complete your gauntlet!

Depending on how many losses it takes to clear the five villain gauntlet you’ll get a rating.

0 Losses: Avenger – You are truly heroic, try this on expert or heroic if you haven’t yet.

1-2 Losses: Honorary Avenger – You came close to perfection and belong among the ranks of the Avenger’s try again with a new spawn and see what cards shine and carry you through

3-5 Losses: Cross-over Team This exercise in deckbuilding was a bit of a stretch, embiggen you thinking and see what cards are really necessary for each villain/hero matchup.

6+ Losses: West Coast Avenger – Try and try again, consider trying on standard mode – or adding an extra hero deck to your card pool to start!

If you want to play along with KennedyHawk here is his first gauntlet he will be tackling in expert mode!

Notes and Tips:

Note some cards are in multiple hero pools. In the end when you set up your cards you’ll still only keep 1 of each unique card and 3 of each non-unique. This means across your five games you’ll only have access to Nick Fury once and the basic resources three times each. Use them wisely!

Be sure to attempt the easier villains first – with minimal use of key cards. Sometimes using the strongest hero and not commonly used cards can still squeak out a win!

The main marvel champions discord has a randomizer bot that can randomly select a hero and mission. We’ve added a third command !clobberin will spawn a Clobberin’ Time challenge for you.

You can save a copy of the linked playlog sheet to track your progress.

Cardpools:

References images are shown below that let you know which cards to include in your pool depending on the heroes you randomly select. As heroes release we will add them to the growing pool below.

GameGenic vs UltraPro & KMC.

Lets talk about sleeves.

First, some background. I am a sleever, I sleeve all my games, if I can, and ideally I double sleeve. So, naturally, when I received my base game copy of Marvel Champions I broke out my stockpile of KMC Perfect Size and UltraPro Pro-Matte Clears, and started sleeving up the game. These are the same sleeves I had used for my entire (and almost completely up to date) Arkham Horror LCG collection, so they were the obvious choice. Especially as I had several hundred of each just waiting to be used.

However, I had been growing somewhat disappointed by this sleeve choice. Ever since UltraPro had switched to their new translucent hologram, their width consistency had taken a significant hit, and, even once that seemed to settle down a little, the average width seemed to now be just a hair to small for the Perfect Size sleeves to fit comfortably inside. It works, but tends to result in the inner sleeve getting wrinkled.


Some GameGenic Matte Prime Sleeves

So, when I heard that Asmodee were discontinuing their FFG sleeve line, and creating a new line called GameGenics I thought this was perhaps an opportunity to revisit my sleeving options.

I had looked into a wide variety of sleeve makes and lines in the past and had always found anything other than my chosen Pro-Matte and Perfect Size sleeves would have one of four issues:

  • High cost.
  • Poor fit.
  • Size inconsistency.
  • Low quality.

Either they were too expensive, they didn’t fit well, sizing was inconsistent, or they felt too low quality for my liking. And, whilst cost, fit, size consistency, and quality are most important, four other factors also play into my sleeve purchasing decisions:

  • Clarity.
  • Hand feel.
  • Shuffle feel.
  • Available colours.

UltraPro Pro-Matte Sleeves

I was, therefore, pleased when I saw that GameGenic’s Matte Prime sleeves starting to appear in UK online store listings at a price per sleeve only slightly above that of UltraPro Pro-Mattes, and significantly less than higher quality brands like Dragon Shield. So, I did a little digging and found their Inner sleeves were even more reasonably priced, at significantly less than what I have been paying for KMC Perfect Size, but also that GameGenic seemed to be a collaboration between Asmodee and the person behind the Ultimate Guard brand of sleeves, which I already knew to be of good quality.

Armed with that knowledge I decided to order up a pack of their Matte Prime Black sleeves (which I knew I could put to use on some board game sleeves, if I decided I didn’t want to go ahead with switching to them for my LCG sleeves), and a pack of their Inner sleeves, I later also picked up a couple of other colours to take a look at those.


What follows here are my findings, impressions, and conclusions from that investment.

– Cost.

Whilst cost is the most significant factor, for me, in my sleeve purchasing decisions, I will not cover costs here, because those vary greatly from country to country and store to store. But I will revisit the topic in my conclusions.


GameGenic Inners vs KMC Perfect Size.

Rhino in a KMC Perfect Size
Crossbones in GameGenic Inner

– Fit.

For a long time KMC Perfect Size were my go to inner sleeve precisely because, for actually standard poker sized cards, their fit was, as the name implies, ‘perfect’.

However, GameGenic Inners have changed that!

GameGenic’s inner sleeves are imperceptibly narrower than KMC inners, but, unlike UltraPro’s, also narrower, Pro-Fit inner sleeves, still have a nice snug fit on standard poker sized cards.

This means that the GameGenics are a slightly better fit for FFG’s standard sized cards, which are actually a millimetre or two narrower than standard poker sized.

So, in this area, the GameGenics get the points.

– Consistency.

I have sleeved, literally, thousands of cards using KMC PerfectSize sleeves, and I think I may have had fewer than half-a dozen off-size sleeves in that entire time.

GameGenics, so far, seem to have an equally high degree of size consistency. I have sleeved up perhaps 300 cards using them to date and every sleeve has seemed identically sized to every other.

Based on experience thus far, I cannot distinguish between one brand or the other, in regard to this factor of consideration.

– Quality.

Similarly, over literally thousands of sleeved cards, I have had, I think, one of KMC’s PerfectSize sleeves split on me. And again it is too early for me to judge the GameGenics in this aspect.

Something I have found to affect all sleeve makes is that a sleeve will occasionally have a little bit of grit embedded in it’s surface, and in this regard both KMC PerfectSize and GameGenic Inners are no different. So far the GameGenics seem to possibly be slightly more prone to this.

So, again, I cannot recommend one brand over the other here, due partly on limited experience with one of them.

– Clarity.

Now, this is an area where the GameGenics shine. I had not noticed before, but KMC PerfectSize have a slight yellow tint, whereas the GameGenic Inners are a more neutral/blue colour.

This makes the GameGenics, to my eye, significantly clearer, and that give them the win here.


GameGenic Matte Primes vs UltraPro Pro-Matte.

Rhino in an UltraPro Pro-Matte
Crossbones in a GameGenic Matte Prime

– Fit.

Whereas the GameGenic Inners are slightly narrower than KMC Perfect Size, the GameGenic Matte Primes are slightly wider than UltraPro Pro-Matte.

This is barely apparent when comparing single sleeves, but within a sleeved up deck the difference is noticeable.

This difference is not enough to lead me to recommend one brand over the other.

– Consistency.

For a long time UltraPro Pro-Mattes were incredibly consistent in size, but, as I mentioned in the introduction, since they switched to their new translucent hologram, their consistency has suffered, with even sleeves within individual packs varying by up to perhaps a millimetre.

Thus far GameGenic’s consistency, both within individual and across separate packs, has been perfect.

As with the inners it is too early to draw conclusions in this regard, on the GameGenic side, but given the recent poor consistency of UltraPros, GameGenic has to get this one.

– Quality.

Whilst their consistency has suffered of late, UltraPro’s sleeve quality has always been extremely high.

And thus far GameGenic’s seem equally high.

So, again, I cannot recommend one above the other based on this alone.

– Clarity.

The transparent face of a GameGenic Matte Prime sleeve has incredible fine and silky matte finish, whereas the UltraPro’s are perceptibly less smooth.

This makes the transparent face clearer, and any glare significantly more diffuse, making them much much easier on the eye.

So, this again is where GameGenic get a clear win.

– Hand Feel.

Hand feel is an interesting and very subjective thing. With two factors affecting, for me, how a sleeve feels in the hand – the texture of the sleeve backs, and the sharpness of the edges and corners.

In terms of texture it is necessary to split UltraPro Pro-Mattes into two groups – their opaque backed and their clear backed sleeves.

The opaque backed sleeves have quite a smooth, but still distinctly textured, back, that feels nice enough in the hand. Their clear backed sleeves, however, are completely smooth and glossy.

GameGenics, on the other hand, have a slightly more textured feel to their backs. Unfortunately I have not been able to get hold of GameGenic’s fully transparent sleeves, so I cannot comment on those.

So, your mileage may vary here, but, for me, whilst there is little difference between the opaque sleeves, the GameGenics just win out.

– Shuffle Feel.

Before I talk about shuffle feel I should say that I shuffle sleeved cards using a mixture of, primarily, side-mash, and, secondarily, overhand shuffles.

So, with that context in mind, whilst I have always been happy with the shuffle feel of UltraPro’s sleeves, they are sometimes a little ‘grippy’, making shuffling not as easy as it could be.

GameGenic’s shuffle feel, however, is incredible. I don’t know if it is the texture of the backs, or the silky smooth fronts, but they slide past each other beautifully, whilst still remaining easy to control.

GameGenic get this one without a doubt.

– Available Colours.

UltraPro Pro-Mattes come in an incredible range of colours (around 20 variants, including clear, if I recall correctly), all which have a high degree of saturation, and are mostly of expected hues. There are some notable gaps in their offerings, though.

GameGenic’s current range of colours, however, is about half the size of UltraPro’s, and they all slightly off-hue, and slightly desaturated. When I was looking into GameGenic’s range I was particularly concerned by their ‘blue’ sleeves, which, in all the photos I’ve seen, have a very teal hue. In person they’re not as teal as I thought they would be, but do have an odd property of looking quite different in varying lighting conditions (a property that seems to extend across their colour range, but not to such a noticeable degree).

UltraPro win this one.


A rainbow of GameGenic sleeves

Conclusions.

So, if you are a frequenter of certain Marvel Champions Discord servers, or a personal friend of mine, you may very likely already know what my conclusions here will be, having possibly seen the photo I recently posted in several places.

But, for those that have not seen that photo…

Choosing between sleeve brands has been surprisingly difficult, but lets look at each pairing individually.

  • KMC PerfectSize vs GameGenic Inners: this, honestly, with the the fit, quality, and consistency being so similar, came down to just two factors – clarity and price. GameGenic’s are significantly cheaper, for me than KMC PerfectSize, so that, alongside the improved clarity, made the decision easy.
  • UltraPro Pro-Matte vs GameGenic Matte Prime: had the recent consistency of Pro-Mattes not been so poor, this would have been a much harder decision. But GameGenic’s, thus far, either are level pegging with UltraPro’s or significantly better, in all factors except colour range.

So, overall, I highly recommend GameGenic’s both Inner and Matte Prime sleeves, and I would easily consider purchasing their other lines as well.


And, finally, here’s that photograph I posted elsewhere…

Yeah, I think I might be ‘all-in’ on GameGenic sleeves… 🙂

The Possibilities Are (soon to be) Endless

The Possibilities Are (soon to be) Endless

When the Marvel Champions Core Set first dropped, we were given five heroes, three villains, and five modular encounter sets, not to mention four aspects. This provided an amazing amount of variety straight out of the core set:

  • 5 Heroes x 4 Aspects = 20 basic hero modes to play
  • 3 Villains x 5 Modular Encounter Sets = 15 villain / encounter match-ups to face
  • If you took every hero in every aspect through every villain / encounter match-up, you’d have 300 games to play.

That’s incredible variety for a core set experience.

One area of only modest variety, however, was in the realm of hero team-ups.

Some play 3- or 4-player Marvel Champions, many play solo with just one hero, but some play solo with two heroes and easily the most-played multiplayer format is 2-player. In the Core Set, there were a mere 10 hero team-ups available:

Black Panther & Captain Marvel

Black Panther & Iron Man

Black Panther & She-Hulk

Black Panther & Spider-Man

Captain Marvel & Iron Man

Captain Marvel & She-Hulk

Captain Marvel & Spider-Man

Iron Man & She-Hulk

Iron Man & Spider-Man

She-Hulk & Spider-Man

Then again, with all of the different aspects available, there was still a significant variety of play possible – there are 16 different hero-aspect combinations with any two heroes, so from that perspective there’s 160 unique team-ups. The point remains, however, you could only make 10 different two-player hero pairings.

That has changed with every release since the Core Set, but I’m here to tell you, it is about to get WILD.

Captain America added five new combinations (one team-up with each of the core set heroes). Ms. Marvel added another six, Thor another seven, Black Widow another eight, and now Doctor Strange another nine.

That brings us to a current 45 possible team-ups!

From here on out, starting with Hulk, every hero released will add ten or more possible team-ups. The formula is simple: each hero adds x-1 possible team-ups, where x = the number of now-existing heroes.

That means that, after Hulk the 11th hero adds ten, Spider-Woman and Hawkeye add twenty-three more possibilities, bringing our total number of team-ups to 78 post-Rise of Red Skull.

That’s insane.

What will that mean for the future when any given hero combination is its own rarity? Especially when you consider the corresponding growth in villain / encounter set match-ups, which will grow from 45 match-ups (plus Wrecking Crew) pre-Rise of Red Skull to 165 match-ups (plus Wrecking Crew) after The Once and Future Kang.

With 78 team-ups, each with 16 possible aspect combinations, and 166 different scenarios… that’s 207,168 (two-hundred seven THOUSAND one-hundred sixty-eight) possibilities. Multiply by two or three if you include the different difficulty modes (Standard, Expert, Heroic).

That’s a heck ton of possibilities and certainly we want to win in more than just one possible future.

How will the rapid expansion of hero team-ups and villain / encounter match-ups affect Marvel Champions and the community?

I want to hear your thoughts!

P.S. Another thought: any given hero – think Thor – has only the four aspects to choose from to face a villain. But that same hero – again, think Thor – has 16(x-1) possible hero-aspect combinations available to them. So currently, Thor has 144 hero-aspect combinations to face a villain. What does that mean for how we rank heroes or even understand the game?

By The Numbers: Rhino!

Cap is right! Let’s talk.

Numbers! The kind of numbers that don’t require you to have a Cosmic Calculator (yet)!

Hello everyone and welcome to what may be the first installment of my article series, tentatively named By The Numbers. My name is Shane and I like card games AND numbers, so naturally I figured I should combine those two things into one riveting data sheet…

That didn’t happen, (well, it did happen, but data sheets aren’t as exciting to everyone) but what I did do is crunch some numbers that may or may not help you the next time you think “I can take 3, but I can’t take 4… What are the chances of that happening though?”

What does this mean? Well, I sure am glad I asked. What I did was collect and record the boost symbols in each modular set, determine the average within each set and with those averages, you can do some quick math to figure out approximately what the average damage per turn will be for any given combination of modules.

Doesn’t that sort of take the fun out of the randomness? Another good question, Shane.

It might be seen that way and I can understand if data like this isn’t for you. It’s not surgically accurate, it’s just a guideline for people who like to see some numbers before heading off to storm Doomstadt. (Think of it like a warning, but not THAT Warning. This warning is sorta useful.)

Then let’s get to it! This weeks installment? He’s big, grey and recently known to both Break AND Take! It’s…

Rhino!

Courtesy of Marvel.com


Here’s some basic info about this big fellas eponymous modular set:

This Modular set Rhino has 17 cards that it adds to the Encounter Deck. The set contains more of course, but we don’t need to count the Main Scheme or Villain Cards. Of those 17 cards, 5 have 0 Boost icons, 5 have 1 Boost icon and 7 have 2 Boost icons. By adding those icons together, we can determine an average number of icons.


((0+0+0+0+0) + (1+1+1+1+1) + (2+2+2+2+2+2+2)) = 19
We then divide that value by the number of cards, like so:
19/17 = Approximately 1.1

This means that the average amount of additional damage will be +1.

We can then do something similar with all of the additional modules and recommended modules for a scenario.

Standard Average: 0.6
Bomb Scare Average: 1.3

Once we’ve got the averages for each of these sets, we can add them together and divide by the number of sets we included, in this case we have 3.

1.1+0.6+1.3 = 3
3/3 = 1

Therefore, the average boost damage is almost exactly 1. Which makes perfect sense for what is considered to be the “Starter Scenario”. There are very few big damage spike turns and the Villains bonuses to their actions are statistically very average.

Really takes the ol’ brain for a jog.

The thing that makes Rhino such a deadly adversary isn’t that he’s got a real doozy of an attack value. It’s that we really start to feel it when he attacks extra times each turn! Using the Standard recommended configuration of Rhino, Standard, and Bomb Scare, there are 5 Treachery cards that allow Rhino another attack on any turn. This means 5 out of 30 cards we can encounter mean our Rampaging Rhino gets a round 2 against our heroes.
Any given encounter card has approximately a 17% chance to result in an extra attack from the big guy. Can your squad handle something like that?

Rhino’s set is 41% Treachery cards, 24% Attachments, 24% Minions and 12% Side Schemes, adding in the Standard and modular sets only makes those numbers even smaller. The real reason you’re getting Charge+Stampede is because it’s easier to remember getting crushed than sneaking buy without incident (but I’m no psychologist).

The Expert mode of Rhino does change the numbers a bit, but they’re still fairly predictable. Using the recommended modules in addition, our Boost Average goes up to about 1.4. This means that we’re going to see a good amount of +1 damage turns, but we’re certainly going to be seeing higher than that more frequently than the Standard mode (and by a larger margin). 

In conclusion, it’s safe to say that Rhino will just about always be dealing 1 damage in addition to his printed value in any given scenario. So if the question is can you take that next attack and the difference is life or death? Better hope to get lucky or just never leave home without a trusty Shield Block! Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Thumbs up, soldier!

Editors Note: Thanks for reading our first community created article. And shout-out to Attercop for showing us some of the numbers behind the Rhino scenario! – KennedyHawk

SHIELD Agent Training – Ten Tips to Winning More Games

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.

  1. Ramping if I can
  2. Clearing minions and side schemes
  3. 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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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!