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.

Connect with the Marvel Champions Monthly Podcast:

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!

Challenge Yourself

Hi Readers!

FFG provided some really neat hero challenges back in December. I found these to be super fun to play around with in both solo and multiplayer. After completing them I’ve found I really wanted to sink my teeth into some more so the MCM Podcast crew put together another 2 challenges for each core set hero and for each hero released in the first Wave of expansions. We plan to continue to update these challenges are more heroes are released. For the time begin enjoy these challenges and stretch your play to see if you can complete them!

Thanks for checking out our site and playing this amazing game!

Heroic Intuition: Iron Man/ Tony Stark (Hero Kit Inspection)

Let’s take a look at the 16 cards that make up my favorite hero in the game to play: Iron Man

Tony’s Alter-Ego is nice. It’s better than simply providing you a resource because it lets you choose which resource you want. But more importantly, it lets you dig to find more pieces of his essential armor – especially with an unfortunate mulligan.

Iron Man’s ability is pretty straightforward and directly affects how you want to play Iron Man: build his suit as soon as you can. The faster you can do that, the faster you can get into the fray. And, as you’ll see below, I think the hero cards allow Iron Man to do a lot once he’s in the fray.

Cards I Love:
Pepper Potts – getting Pepper out early can really help boost the number of Tech upgrades you can play quickly. Also, a well timed activation to give you Aerial and not requiring you to spend a card is satisfying.

Arc Reactor – I’m a big fan of cards that let you ready your identity (Hero in this case). It helps if you’ve just dealt with your Obligation, Business Problems. Or it lets you thwart for 4. The flexibility here is great.

An awesome card that makes Iron Man extremely versatile.

Cards I Like:
Repulsor Blast – 1 cost for a potential 13 damage. Why not?

All 5 discarded cards must have an energy resource
(including the Energy card) to get to 13 damage.

Supersonic Blast – 2 resources for (most likely) 8 damage is a great value. I typically only play this with Aerial, unless I only need 4 damage to defeat the Villain’s stage or a pesky minion with Guard.

Really, it’s either a 2 cost for 4 damage or a 3 cost for 8 damage.

Card(s) I Dislike:
War Machine – AOE cards are conditionally good. War Machine is very helpful against Ultron; not as good against other current villains. I usually find myself ditching War Machine for the wild resource.

I love how thematic his kit is: Tony needs time to get his armor on, without it, he’s pretty much worthless against the villain. Once the armor is on, he can handle just about anything. Thanks for reading!

-Amerikano

Check out KennedyHawk’s Hero Combo Primer focusing on Iron Man and 3 cards from each aspect that combo well with his hero kit:

A Smashing New Hulk Hero Pack Spoiler!

Fantasy Flight Games has graciously provided us with a spoiler from the upcoming Hulk Hero pack. We received an aggression card… without further blathering here it is!

You can bet Lester is excited to see a new aggression card. See what the podcast crew thinks in the video below form our YouTube channel! 

Be sure to join us in discussion of this card and more on the MCMPodcast Discord!

Connect with the Marvel Champions Monthly Podcast:

Check out these other great content creators for additional spoilers from the Hulk Hero pack!

  • 5/12 Bad Publicity
  • 5/13 Deck-celsior
  • 5/14 I Rebel
  • 5/15 Critical Encounters
  • 5/16 Marvel Champions Monthly
  • 5/17 The Side Scheme
  • 5/18 1-2-Punchboard
  • 5/19 Card Game Coop
  • 5/20 No Responsibilities

*Individual creators may change their planned release date

Heroic Intuition: T’Challa/Black Panther (Hero Kit Inspection)

#klawyourwaythroughmay brings us to Black Panther’s hero kit inspection. In the comic lore, Klaw and T’Challa have a rich history including Klaw killing T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka. Without further ado, let’s dig in.

T’Challa’s ability is nice in the context of his hero kit. I mean, you get at least one Black Panther Upgrade to start and potentially more with a lucky draw and a hard mulligan. But I am a bit disappointed that he doesn’t have a non-setup ability. 

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Alter-Ego Form

Black Panther has decent health, solid stat line. Retaliate is awesome. Ping damage for the win. How many turns can you simply ignore Klaw’s Weapons Runner? 2. Then it disappears into the shadows.

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Hero side with retaliate!

Cards I Love:

Shuri – she is the MVP of his deck, I think. She can not only go fish for Black Panther Upgrades, but any upgrades: aspect, basic.

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Just another Wakanda royal family member

The Golden City – getting to draw two cards is so good. The developers tempered this by making it an Alter-Ego action. I’m OK with that. It helps you set up a better board state more quickly, or it sets you up for a big damage dealing turn as Black Panther.

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Every hero needs a base of operations

Cards I Like: Wakanda Forever! – the crux of BP’s deck. You can do a little bit without them, but with them, you can do a lot – depending on the Black Panther upgrades you have in play. You make the determination whether playing WF! With only 1 BP upgrade is worth it. Also, the different copies of WF! have different resource types. I think this was a nice touch.   Vibranium – with 3 copies in BP’s kit, it opens up more deckbuilding possibilities because you’re probably going to replace one or two of your double resource basic cards with one or two extra aspect cards.

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Show me the money!

Cards I Dislike:

Ancestral Knowledge – it’s effect is cool. But you really need this card out and flip to AE when your deck is down to ~3-4 cards for it to really be potent. If my choice is between this and Golden City, I typically choose Golden City.

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Who enjoys alter-ego???

There you go. These are my thoughts on Black Panther’s hero kit and how it helps him take down Klaw and other villains! 

Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!

-Amerikano

Custom Content Highlight: Return of the… Klaw!

Hey everyone, continuing our coverage of #KlawYourWayThroughMay. I’m going to write up my first custom content highlight. I’ll be doing more of these in the future by other creators but I wanted to present one of the ways I’ve used to spice up Klaw at my kitchen table. I know custom content is not everyone’s jam, so if it’s not your thing check back next week for more Klaw coverage only using official FFG content!

Welcome to the Return of the Klaw a new custom modular set I’ve designed for Marvel Champions. I’ve played both Lord of the Rings LCG and Arkham Horror LCG and both have content that allows you to return to old scenarios with increased difficulty. It can be quite a nightmare but I enjoy it. Marvel currently doesn’t have this beyond just trying new modular sets with old villains. So I wanted to create a modular set for each villain that encourages me to Return to them time and time again. You may want to call this a retcon pack but it basically upgrades an old villain while keeping to their designed encounter themes. You’ll be able to download and print and play this custom encounter set here.

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Each “Return of” kit contains an overview card. You can include this as an additional modular set (a 2nd set) in standard or expert modes. Or even use it as the modular set for an extra thin villain deck! Most of the cards have some way of discarding additional cards from the encounter deck so it doesn’t thicken the deck too much! Without further introduction let’s get to the first 2 cards. I wanted to champion one of the powers Klaw often uses in the comics that is not featured in the FFG villain encounter. Even from his first appearance Klaw has been using sound transformers to create creatures out of living sounds. Nothing is better than a giant gorilla or elephant stampeding our heroes. In the “Return of” set you’ll find two copies of Sound Creature. This minion has a special response when it engages a player. So passing it around the table with any taunting tricks will trigger it’s ability a second time. Each time this ability is triggered a card is discarded from the encounter deck which provides a status change to either the player or Klaw! The more boost icons the discarded card had the worse the outcome becomes!

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You’ll also see a common boost ability among many of these cards. This is the same ability on some cards in the Green Goblin pack. It provides Klaw an additional boost card! This means Klaw may attack with 3 boost cards or scheme with 2! Look out for these special boost abilities! Next you will find two copies of High Frequency Pulse. This card doesn’t have any immediate effect on your board state (thus the surge) but it also deals Klaw an additional boost card. Klaw often suffers from a bit of RNG (random number generation) if both boost cards are 0-1 boost icons his attacks are pushovers, if they are both 3 boost icons he swings hard. This card helps Klaw reduce the randomness of his activation and helps him mill the encounter deck another theme of Klaw’s scenario!

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Next we have a 3 boost icon treachery card, Accelerated Approach! This card has some amazing art from the Cover of Black Panther #166 that is also on the #KlawYourWayThroughMay banner. This card will force the resolver to discard a card from their deck then choose one of two options. Discarding potentially several cards from hand (the typically preferred option) or giving Klaw at least 1 acceleration token! I love when players have interesting choices and this is certainly one. A lot of heroes focus on one energy type and this may force you to diversify your deck-building!

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The final card of this custom modular set is Piercing Noise. A side scheme where Klaw is sending dangerous shock-waves. Forcing the heroes away from his main plot. This card plays into Klaw’s theme of both RNG and encounter deck mill. It comes into play with only 1 threat, but then discards two cards per player from the encounter deck adding 1 threat for each boost icon on the cards! This could be a huge or very small number. Note, if the encounter deck empties from this action you will stop and not continue discarding so depending on where in the encounter deck this shows up it could have a range of effects!

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I hope you all enjoy this custom encounter set which can be downloaded at this link! If you want another simple challenge with Klaw you can use the custom environment we’ve also been testing below. It begins the game in play and is sure to spice up Klaw but with a smaller impact on the overall game. Make sure to follow the MCM blog to see more custom content highlights in the future.

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SHIELD Agent Training – Moving On To Klaw! (Moving on from Rhino)

Greetings SHIELD Agents! This is the third article in a series of new-player articles, aimed to get beginner players get up to speed on the game – Marvel Champions! This session is all about moving on from the introductory villain. You’ve stopped Rhino’s evil plans more times than you can count. It’s time to move on to the Klaw! We lined this article up with the community crossover event #KlawYourWayThroughMay so make sure you check out all the great content creators and their takes on the Immortal Klaw, you can find a summarized list of content from the crossover here.

SHIELD AGENT Training Session 004 – The Klaw!

If Rhino was a powerhouse then Klaw is a tactical genius – who sometimes blunders. The second scenario in the Marvel Champions Core-set is all about the Klaw! In this article we’ll talk about a few of his signature cards and provide a few tips that each hero can use to counter the Klaw’s sonic powers! The Klaw may sound like a joke from Toy Story but this guy can hit really hard when he wants to!

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Klaw Overview

Klaw has several key differences from Rhino and we’ll go over those first. In the Break In scenario Rhino only had one Main Scheme. Klaw now has 2, a 1A/B and 2A/B. You’ll begin with 1A in play which will flip to 1B and if (when) Klaw completes it you’ll move on to 2A. You would think this leaves you with a lot of breathing room and less losses to threat. But let’s look at Klaw’s villain phase 1 card and see about that.

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Klaw I villain stat-line provides a terrifying 2 scheme. That means he can scheme you out of the scheme very quickly if you spend too long in alter-ego form. In fact Klaw’s scheme value can get as high as any villain in the core set. You would think this means Klaw is a schemer. In the comics he’s more of a brute force jerk, he has big visions that never come to fruition. Here, Klaw’s attack value seems rather low, but his ability makes up for that. Each time Klaw attacks he will receive 2 boost cards. This ability serves two purposed for Klaw.

  1. Klaw’s attacks become a lot less predictable – just as they are in the comics!
  2. Klaw advances through his encounter deck very fast especially in multiplayer.

So, knowing exactly what Klaw is going to do during the villain phase is a lot more tricky than Rhino. While Rhino boasts big attack numbers at most he is boosted by 3 icons. Klaw could have an amazingly powerful 6 strength attack turn 1 – or he could boost with two 0 boost icon cards and attack for nothing! You’ll have to use some sound logic as to when you can forgo defending and when it’s required. Glancing through Klaw’s encounter cards he has only six – 2 to 3 boost icon cards. The rest are 1 or 0, so depending on the modular set these numbers will increase but knowing whats in his discard can be used to inform your decision.

Additionally Klaw will be burning through his encounter deck a lot faster than other villains. Even with a slightly larger deck than rhino, players in a 4 player game can burn through 12 cards without any sugres or double attacks!

Show Me Your Moves

Klaw has a few tricks up his sleeve.  We’ll go over them briefly here. Klaw will always begin with at least one side scheme in play. Defense Network. This scheme has a Crisis icon which will prevent you from initially removing thread he may place on the main scheme. This side scheme CAN NOT be ignored for long or he will quickly jump to his second scheme. In addition, Klaw’s scheme will discard cards from the encounter deck searching for a minion. This means right off the bat you’ll have thwarting and attacking to complete – and Klaw starts milling his deck from the get go!

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On expert mode or when you progress to Klaw II he will fish another side scheme out of the deck. This one gives him a static hit points buff and an acceleration icon. So, in expert mode you’ll be beginning the game with 2 side schemes and a minion in play! Ouch! Klaw has lots of small minions in his deck so be prepared with some small damage cards to take them out. In addition a few of them have guard and tough. This means they will act as meat shields for Klaw and will need to be hit with some source of damage before you can eliminate them! Klaw has a few treachery cards of note. Between the Standard Set and Klaw’s cards there are 5 treachery cards that can cause Klaw to attack a second time. Like Rhino, Klaw has a healing treachery. In Alter-Ego mode this card will heal him for 4, but in Hero mode it’s a lot more dangerous he can deal 2 damage to you and heal 2. Don’t linger at low health after an attack or you may find yourself KO’d.

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 So How Do I Win?

 It’s not all doom and gloom with Klaw. Every hero has a few cards at their disposal to help out when defeating this foe. One of Klaw’s main weaknesses is stun and confusion, if you can avoid activation after activation, it goes a long way to avoiding his encounter deck burn. The pressure Klaw exerts it strongest when he has schemes and minions in play, so bringing something to take care of one of these obstacles in your hero kit allows your aspect selection to take care of the rest. Let’s go hero by hero

  • Black Panther
    • Black Panther has a nice stat-line of 2/2/2 so he can provide the stat you need when you need it. Consider taking Tactical Genius or Energy Daggers with your setup ability.
  • Captain Marvel
    • Crisis Interdiction and Cosmic Flight! This card will just help you wipe those side-schemes off the board putting Klaw off his game and setting you ahead.
  • Iron Man
    • Iron-mans helmet can come in helpful early. Consider anything you can to keep the threat down while in Alter-Ego form to get set up.
  • Spider-Man
    • Backflip is clutch and can be used after you see the boost cards flip. Black Cat is another key card from your kit for removing tough.
  • She-Hulk
    • One-two punch will really help you remove guard minions.
  • Captain America
    • Fearless determination really put Cap ahead against Klaw. In expert mode you can Do This All Day and remove both schemes round 1!
  • Ms. Marvel
    • Wiggle Room is great. In solo consider bringing a few copies of emergency. You need to flip a lot to optimize Ms. Marvel.
  • Thor
    • Do what Thor does, keep the board clear of minions. Bring some means of threat removal (allies or aspect cards). You will need it!

A few other key cards that can keep you ahead of Klaw:

  • Chase Them Down (Aggression) – Lots of minions, lots of value.
  • Tackle (Protection) – Stunning Klaw is an amazing game swing.
  • Concussive Blow (Justice) – Same with confusion!
  • Morale Boost (Leadership) – This allows you to clear a scheme and boosts your defense for a bit attack or to avoid stun when Klaw is equipped

I hope you enjoyed this overview of Klaw and it helps boost your game from the days or taking down Rhino to thwarting your next foe. Be sure to check out other content creators like the Side Scheme who recently posted a great villain strategy guide for Klaw.

Connect with the Marvel Champions Monthly Podcast:

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!

Lore Reading Club: Klaw, the Murderous Master of Sound (May 2020)

Hi Readers! In addition to the small snippets of Lore reading we discuss on the podcast I wanted to write up some of the research I do into Marvel comics so you can feel free to read along or get updates by following this post. I plan to update this blog-post throughout the month of May as I read more and more stories involving the Klaw. #KlawYourWayThroughMay with me and join in on the comic fun. Every issue I read and talk about is available on Marvel Unlimited!

Klaw History (5/5/2020)

Issues covered:

  • Fantastic Four (vol 1) #53 & #56
  • Avengers (vol 1) #54 & #55

In this first segment I’ll be reading a few comics from Klaw’s original appearances in the comics. Starting with Fantastic Four (vol. 1) #53 & #56. Note, readers may want to read Fantastic Four #52 as well for the first appearance of Black Panther! Fantastic Four #53 finds Marvel’s first family in Wakanda as guests of King T’Challa the Black Panther. He retells a story from his childhood when the Ulysses Klaw attacked Wakanda for their Vibranium. Young T’Challa saw his father murdered at the hands of Klaw who brings along sonic blaster guns in his pursuit of Vibranium. One cool tidbit, Klaw uses his sound transducers to create simulations of creatures made of pure sound! The Human Torches flames do nothing to stop these sound creatures a power or feature we don’t see in Marvel Champions! As typical in these classic comics, the good guys foil Ulysses by the end of the issue. Wakanda is saved and the Fantastic Four return to the Baxter building!

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Klaw however has more nefarious plans. After his defeat he enters his  sound transformer to become a true embodiment of sound! This is how he gets his classic red-tones look and becomes more than just a crazed mad-scientist, and more of a mercenary to challenge heroes across the globe! In Fantastic Four #56 the Klaw returns to seek revenge on the Baxter Building. He has his classic get-up and uses some brute force soundwave attacks to beat down on the family. In the end, he is foiled with the use of some Vibranium on loan from the Black Panther. It’s fitting that in Marvel Champions Klaw’s worst cards (his upgrades) are removable easily with the use of Vibranium from Black Panther’s hero kit (good theme win FFG)! I love these classic issues, they show fictional technology like tiny world wide communication devices (aka cell phones) as if they could never exist. Now we literally read these comics on a cell phone! The times have changed… and so has Klaw!

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Next, I wanted to touch on a few issues that relate to the Marvel Champions core set cards. In issues Avengers (vol. 1) #54-55 Klaw works with a mysterious overlord, the Crimson Cowl. Hey! That’s a card from Ultron’s set… anyways he’s a member of the 2nd iteration of the Masters of Evil, fitting as that is his recommended modular set. He works alongside Melter, Whirlwind, Radioactive Man and more to assault the Avenger’s Mansion. Avengers #54 follows the butler Jarvis who betrays his employers for some quick cash. Unfortunately, this information falls into the lab of the new Masters of Evil, lead by the Crimson Cowl. The Cowl’s “true” identity is revealed at the end of the issue and it’s too big to spoil (Marvel Champions fans it won’t be who you expect!) In Avengers #55 you’ll find out who is really pulling the strings! Well, the Avenger’s take card of the new Masters of Evil, like it’s a standard mode game, but I’m sure they’ll be back to attack the mansion again! But, the Masters of Evil isn’t the only super-villain team Klaw has been on! Just like in Marvel Champions, Klaw likes to be in charge but constantly works with other villains. What a team-player!

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The Frightful Four (5/13/2020)

Issues covered:

  • Fantastic Four (vol 1) #326 & #327
  • Superior Carnage #1-5

While the original Frightful Four debuted before Klaw he joined multiple iterations of the team. Always recruited by another super-villain, the Wizard. In Fantastic Four #326 the Wizard assembles another iteration of the Frightful Four including: himself, Klaw, Hydro-Man, and Titania. Sadly only Titantia made it into Marvel Champions and as a Nemesis for She-Hulk. But Klaw’s role in the Frightful Four is still very interesting. During this arc they assault the four freedoms plaza. Somehow Klaw always gets roped in when attacking a heroes home base. Not a great plan. Like typical super-villain teams there’s a lot of infighting. Klaw uses his sound creature powers again to attack the Thing who remarkably turns into a human after an explosion! The arc lasts only two issues which is short for a 80’s affair but it’s a good read with some major shake-ups for our heroes. We even see a truly villanois side of Klaw when he threatens Reed and Sue’s children. Of course – he is taken out by the end of the issue like we are playing Bomb Scare Standard mode but this arc encapsulates Klaw’s first inclusion in the Frightful Four.

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Next, I read a more modern version of the Frightful Four from the pages of Superior Carnage (2012-2013). This is a five issue miniseries around the time of Superior Spider-Man so you’ll catch some awesome Doc Ock hero action and characters like Agent Venom. This arc actually features the art from Klaw’s villain card at the end of issue #1. The Wizard, always plotting, plans to assemble yet another rendition of the Frightful Four. The issue covers his recruitment of Carnage the deadly symbiote. Carnage almost kills the Wizard who is saved on the final pages by none other than the immortal Klaw!

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Issue #2 covers some of the history between the Klaw and the Wizard. This is where we get some insight into the Immortal Klaw! The Wizard has resurrected, rebuilt, and clone Klaw multiple times. This rendition is basically controlled by the Wizard! Pretty villainous and makes me wonder what a Wizard scenario with a Klaw minion would be like! I don’t want to give too much away but knowing that the Wizard and Klaw are trying to control Carnage… well let’s just say it’s a good thing the Klaw is immortal. Next week we’ll round out the Klaw lore reading with some modern stories involve the Klaw and his greatest foe. The Black Panther!

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Modern (5/21/2020)

Issues covered:

  • Black Panther (2016) #166-#171

After the events of Superior Carnage the forever resurrecting Klaw returns again. This week I wanted to discuss Black Panther (2016) issues #166-#171. The previous issue was #18 but Marvel swapped the title back to some sort of legacy numbering and with it they brought back on of T’Challa’s greated foes, Klaw!. The cover of the issue has an depicts and awesome battle between Klaw and the Panther. This first issue recalls a story of Klaw’s past as he remembers his sister and overviews his powers. His power has been growing and he fancies himself a god! He displays some cool abilities like traveling by sound wave!

The entire opening issue is a Klaw monologue about his sister and at the end we find out he is trying to bring her back as a solid-sound body just like himself! If you read these issues you’ll find a ton of the Klaw art from the game. We’ll be covering this art in a Panel Art issue soon so stay tuned! Issue #167 is more Black Panther focused and he discusses the loss of the Wakanda gods and suspect Klaw is meddling in Wakanda’s affairs yet again. There’s a pretty interesting discussion about Klaw’s constructs and how they have evolved to become more powerful. Klaw next appears in issue #169 when Klaw finally reunites with his sister only to have the laboratory destroyed as she is brought back – and she vanishes never to be seen (or heard) again.

The story arc concludes in issue #171 an epic showdown between the Black Panther and Klaw but has a ton of guest appearances along the way including:

  • Storm (of the X-men)
  • Shuri
  • Thunderball (of the Wrecking crew)
  • Eden (of the secret warriors)

And those are just the good guys! In the end Klaw is defeated – he finally gets his greatest desire – Vibranium – but it was an unstable lab created counterfiiot. The stability dissolves Klaw into solid pieces of sound – a brutal but fitting end for Klaw — for now?

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Panel Art – Selfies and Stuff (Ms. Marvel Art)

Welcome true believers. KennedyHawk, Amerikano, and special guest Guzmanco here with a new article that highlights some of the Panel Art behind the cards in Marvel Champions. Each article we will focus on a character or topic and some of their in-game art that comes right from the panels of a Marvel Comic book. We will discuss the card – and the comic it comes from. Guzmanco is a very special guest because they work as a freelancer with FFG and helped select some of the art for the game! I’m sure we’ll get lots of incredible insights about – Ms. Marvel aka Kamala Khan!

KennedyHawk: Guzmanco, thanks for joining us! I’m really excited to hear about the art you selected and how the whole process works! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your relationship with FFG / Marvel Champions?

Guzmanco: Absolutely! I’m an artist and freelance graphic designer who does all kinds of projects. I was fortunate enough to get an internship at FFG a while back and worked with the LCG team. I mostly worked on Marvel Champions and Keyforge but also did work for Arkham, Destiny, and L5R. It was an awesome experience. After my internship ended, they liked my work so much that they offered a contract to keep working on Marvel Champions. It’s been a lot of fun to work on it.

Amerikano: That’s such a cool story! See, kids. Get an internship. It just may be worth it! Guzmanco, can you give us an overview of how the developers (and you) choose art for the game?

Guzmanco: I can give a quick overview of how the art process. It starts off with developer Michael Boggs sending me a list of cards they need art for. Sometimes they ask for a really specific action or item, like Captain America’s Shield. Other times, I’m just asked to find a variety of cool images of a certain hero. From there I use a number of online resources to track down the comics where that person or thing appears. Then it’s just a lot of flipping through a couple hundred issues on my Marvel Unlimited account. When I find a good image, I take a screenshot, note the issue and page number, and send it Boggs. He then works with FFG’s art department and the Marvel licensing team to see which of my images get approved. If I can’t find a good image in the comics, FFG commissions one of their awesome freelance illustrators to make a custom art piece.

KennedyHawk: Well this article’s topic is all about Ms. Marvel. Amerikano and Guzmanco, what is your favorite thing about the character Ms. Marvel, in either lore or in the card game?

Amerikano: Her hero kit seems the most “puzzly” to me. There are some fun combinations to pull off. You rely so much on the events that you choose to add. Because, let’s be honest, a 1-1-1 statline isn’t great. But, it doesn’t need to be. Ms. Marvel has proven that you don’t need to be the strongest or smartest to be a great hero.

Guzmanco: Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to play my Ms. Marvel deck (I’ve been really loving Cap and Iron Man) so I don’t know how she plays. I really like the fun, light-hearted side of Kamala. There are a lot of gritty, renegade-like characters in the Marvel world, and I like that Ms. Marvel is a bit different. I like how she comes from a Pakistani American family. I also come from an immigrant family so it’s cool to see that being represented in a superhero comic!

KennedyHawk:  Right on! I really like how she has the potential to grow each time a new event comes out. It makes me constantly look back at her hero kit. Likewise, her character has shown tremendous growth and potential in the comics – so the feeling of growth is very fitting! Let’s get to the cards!

Sneak By / Shrink: Ms. Marvel #1 (2015)
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa

KennedyHawk: Our first two cards come from the same page of the first issue of Ms. Marvel from 2015. Sneak By and Shrink. These two cards obviously work well together so it’s fitting they come from the same comic page! I find Sneak By to be a really potent card and it’s one of the cards that really helps Ms. Marvel feel like a swiss-army knife. She can thwart, attack, and defend with the best of them:

Amerikano: I agree. Sneak By’s 3 thwart for 2 is OK.  Using it in tandem with Shrink just makes it sooo good. Also, the fact that she can bring Sneak By right back and thwart with the same copy and not rely on drawing another copy later is a big plus. It’s one of the first things you realize when you play with Ms. Marvel for the first time. As for the panel, Ms. Marvel is trying to avoid a mob of angry locals that think she’s a sell-out. The funny thing is that she mentions to Bruno that she hates shrinking. I love it when I can play Shrink.

KennedyHawk: So for the comic issue, this is the first issue of the 2nd Volume of Ms. Marvel. So readers may have already been familiar with the character – it doesn’t cover an origin story. I believe all of the cards from this article are from this Ms. Marvel run so we’ll be discussing this volume quite a bit. Guzmanco, did you work on the art selection for either of these cards?

Guzmanco: Yes, I found both of these images when I worked on this Hero Pack last year. Before this assignment, I had never heard of Kamala Khan. Like a lot of people, Marvel Champions was my first introduction to the character. I had a blast discovering her and reading these issues. It’s pretty usual that two cards will have art taken from the same page, but this series has some great artwork. I really like the light, airy atmosphere of the water-color gradients. It’s a nice contrast from the sharp, bold colors in most comics.

KennedyHawk: One thing Kamala may have to sneak by… is her parents – just like every teenager. That brings us to our next card art selection!

Home By Dawn: Ms. Marvel #2 (2015)
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa

Guzmanco: It’s very rare that I stumble upon the “perfect” artwork for a card. Home By Dawn was one of those times. The card was originally titled “Home By Curfew”, and I was concerned it would be difficult to find such a specific image when Kamala only appears in a couple hundred issues. Turns out there’s a perfect image in the second issue. When I submitted this artwork, I felt pretty confident it would make the final cut.

KennedyHawk: Nuff’ said. This card is just perfect. I could not imagine a better expression on her face. Hands down the art selection on this obligation is my favorite of all the heroes we’ve seen!

Amerikano: The art works so nicely here. It perfectly captures the types of things a teenage hero would have to go through. On the other side of things. A teenage superhero needs to be able to change into their hero suit fast. So, hiding it underneath their civilian clothing will do the trick…

Biokinetic Polymer Suit: Ms. Marvel #13 (2014)
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa

KennedyHawk: This card is amazing! It’s useful in every aspect and is such a classic hero gesture calling back to some classic comic book imagery. This comes from the first run of Ms. Marvel that began in 2014. Most of the other art is from her second run, when selecting art do you try to find art for a hero kit all from one run typically?

Guzmanco: The process for finding Ms. Marvel’s art was really different, mainly because she is a newer hero with fewer issues available. It’s really unusual for a hero’s art to come from one or two series; Ms. Marvel is pretty unique in that regard. Since I wasn’t familiar with the character, reading her eponymous series seemed like the best place to start. I got lucky that there is a lot of great art in the Ms. Marvel comics. 

Amerikano: The art is great and this card is sooo good. Because of Ms. Marvel’s ability, you’re probably going to run more events in her deck than is typical. That makes Biokinetic Polymer Suit a must have card to get on the table fast. Mulligan hard for this one.

Big Hands / Wiggle Room: Ms. Marvel #19 (2015)
Artist: Marco Failla

KennedyHawk: Another pair of cards from the same page. It’s amazing how visual Ms. Marvel’s comics are. They really stretch classic comic book action into something you can really see. I love this series and at this point I’m probably going to read all of her runs!

Amerikano: I think it’s cool that the developers got such a new hero into the game so quickly. Also, can we just talk about how amazing of a card Wiggle Room is? It pays for itself. And you can exhaust Ms. Marvel, bring it back just in case your encounter card is Gang-Up or Assault (this has happened to me more times than I’d like to admit).

Embiggen  / Ms. Marvel #10: Ms. Marvel #21 (2015)

Guzmanco: Sometimes art gets moved around depending on how the needs for the set change. This piece was actually submitted as a backup option for “Big Hands”. When I worked on “Embiggen!”, I had hoped to find an image of Kamala growing or stretching, but that was surprisingly difficult to find. There are lots of images of her shrinking or going from tiny to normal, but not many that show her going from normal size to giant. In the end, this piece did the best job at representing giant Kamala, given all other production restraints.

KennedyHawk: Fascinating. Does that happen often, art is selected for one card that you really like so it winds up on a different one?

Guzmanco: It happens from time to time, but it’s not super common. The core set had a lot of art that got moved around during development. The art for “The Power of Leadership” was originally submitted for “Indomitable”. It’s usually because card abilities or titles change, and they no longer fit the art. We also have what’s called slush art, which is a collection of cool art I’ve found that hasn’t been matched to a card yet. If I’m ever stuck on a particular card, I’ll browse the slush art to see if I can find something of use.

Amerikano: That’s interesting. I’m assuming that the slush collection continues to grow. I imagine that it will need to grow because there are a lot of cards that need art that aren’t tied to a specific character. That brings us to our last card.

Tackle: Ms. Marvel #8  (2014)
Artist: Adrian Alphona

Guzmanco: Selecting art for the Aspect cards is a lot trickier than for the Hero Kits. There are two main reasons for this. First, it’s important to have a wide variety of characters featured in Aspect cards, since they can be used with any hero. There are plenty of awesome heroes in the Marvel Universe, and Aspect cards are the best way to show them off. I like to imagine a future where you can build decks only using cards that feature your favorite hero in the art. The second reason Aspect cards are difficult is because they often represent abstract concepts—such as “Tenacity”, “Indomitable”, “Moral Boost” or “Heroic Intuition”—which are harder to represent than specific objects or locations. I wish all Aspect cards were as straightforward as “Tackle”

KennedyHawk: Aspect art sure sounds tricky but it’s all been well-selected! When selecting art for Ms. Marvel’s aspet cards was the focus on Ms. Marvel as much as possible, or did you try to find a varied selection of heroes?

Guzmanco: Great question! When I received the assignment brief, I wasn’t explicitly told which are Aspect cards and which are for the hero kit. So in this situation, I thought “Tackle” was meant to be a hero card and found this piece for it. I think it’s a situation where it would be ideal to include aspect cards in the Hero Pack that focus on the featured character but nothing gets forced, if that makes any sense.

Amerikano: Cool. I wonder if they did that on purpose. Thor’s pack, for example, seems to have a lot of art on the aggression cards that are from Thor comics. I digress. A brief comment on the issue that the art from Tackle was from: I found it hilarious how Ms. Marvel defeated the giant robot that she is tackling. You’ll have to go read the issue to find out how!

KennedyHawk: Well that’s a wrap for this article of Panel Art! Thanks to Guzmanco for helping us Tackle this issue. It really gave us some awesome insight! Watch for more articles focusing on the panel art behind Marvel Champions on the MCM blog – and join the champions subreddit where Guzmanco frequently provides cart art references in the Card of the Day thread!

SHIELD Agent Training – Beginning a Better Battle (Mulligans!)

Greetings SHIELD Agents! This is the third article in a series of new-player articles, aimed to get beginner players get up to speed on the game – Marvel Champions! This session is all about how to get a head start against those nefarious villains! How do you perform an optimal mulligan?

SHIELD AGENT Training Session 003 – Beginning a Better Battle (Mulligans!)

This article aims to take readers to the next level when performing a mulligan. In Marvel Champions you will likely cycle your deck at least once per game, so we can be farily heavy handed with out mulligan because we’ll see those cards back. In this article we will cover:

  • How a mulligan is performed
  • Mulligan Considerations

How is a mulligan performed?

In Marvel Champions you perform a mulligan by discarding any number of cards from your hand, and then drawing an equal number to replace them. This is pretty neat in a 40 card deck we could go through up to 10-12 cards from our deck depending on your hero selection so you have the ability to dig really deep into your deck. Remember, when your deck runs out you’ll be shuffling your discard pile to form a new deck so these cards aren’t gone forever! While this article is in the MCM new player series be sure to check out another article and opinion from our friends over at the Side Scheme.

Mulligan Considerations

Ramp vs Tempo

It’s important to consider the concept of Ramp versus Tempo. In Marvel Champions there are resource cards that allow you to play expensive cards with ease. These will continue to cycle through your deck. Ideally in the first few rounds you want to drop supports and upgrades that provide resources or additional card draw for your hero. This is known as ramp, you are building a board state so that turn after turn you have more resources to spend. The earlier these cards hit the field the more use you get out of them. These cards that linger in the field help in other ways as well.

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It may seem silly to think of deck thinning in your mulligan but it’s really important. I urge you to play through your hand each turn so you will be cycling your deck quickly. I often spend my first deck pass getting as many upgrades and supports onto the field as I can. This makes my second and third deck pass much more efficient which can great strength your late game efficiency.  Because of this I often try to play 2-3 smaller costing upgrades or supports rather than 1 large one in my opening turn. It may seem tempting to keep expensive events in hand or cards to stun the villain, but typically you are better off building your board state and spending a few turns ramping rather than trying to race the villain.

Hero Selection

Each hero will have a different mulligan strategy. Some heroes like Captain Marvel have sufficient deck searching and ramp on their hero card. They may be able to get right to action. Some heroes like Black Panther and Iron Man require more set-up to optimize their deck. Figure out for your Hero/Aspect combination what is important. This is going to vary from deck to deck but with characters like Iron Man this is your chance to dig deep for tech upgrades. Be mindful, you’ll have to pay for those cards, so having a hand of amazing cards isn’t great. You’ll be using some to pay for the others. If you aren’t searching for a particular combo piece it can be okay to hold some cards back to pay for the better ones. Some heroes have set-up abilities that trigger after your mulligan. Nothing feels worse than mulligan into Captain America’s shield. With Black Panther you can play 3 upgrades round 1 if you draw double resources and the right upgrades. A brief mulligan tip for each hero is listed below so be sure to read them and see if they make sense for your play style. 

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  • Hero Mulligan Tips:
    • Black Panther: Mulligan hard for double resources, or Golden city. Don’t be afraid to toss Wakanda Forever from your opening draw. Use your Set-up ability to compensate a bad mulligan
    • Captain Marvel: Carol has a ton of resource generation but she can always use more. Search for her Alpha Flight Station to speed up your deck cycling.
    • Iron Man: You want all the tech upgrades. If you open with a Stark tower you can use one per turn to pay for others. Try to get 2-3 upgrades out early!
    • Spider-Man: Spider-man has some of the best cards in the core set but they are expensive. Search for web-shooters or other resource generating cards.
    • She-Hulk: She-Hulk struggles in the hand-size department. Dropping a focused rage will help a lot. Don’t be afraid to toss big events like Gamma Slam!
    • Captain America: Mulligan mildly. Drawing your shield can set you back a resource round 1. Super Soldier Serums are your best start.
    • Ms. Marvel: Kamala really works best with her supporting cast of persona’s search hard for Bruno early to optimize his use.
    • Thor: Unlike Cap, Thor can use his hammer then retrieve it if he mulligans into it. You are going to want Asgard or God of Thunder really early.
    • Black Widow: Search for your synth-suit, being able to defend and use your basic abilities each turn will be essential for Natasha!

Villain Match-Up

Before you mulligan you will perform some of the villain set-up steps. So, once you’ve faced the villain a few times you’ll want to make sure you know what’s coming up. Klaw always starts with a side-scheme in play, other villains depending on their level can start with minions or side-schemes. If these are detrimental to your game (i.e. hazard symbols) make sure you search for something to get rid of them right away. Once you know the in’s and outs of different villains not only can you deck build around them but plan for how they behave early in the game.

Player Count

How many players are in your game? Can you afford to mulligan less aggressively and keep some expensive supports. Depending on what other heroes and aspects join you in the game this may change how aggressively you choose to mulligan. I find in higher player counts I’m much more likely to sit back on expensive supports.

Opening Hand Potential

Always have a plan for your opening hand. If you open up with a hand that can be fully spent and sets up your board you may not need an aggressive mulligan. This is a randomized draw so things might be perfect! Each time you decide to mulligan a card things could get worse. Consider a player with two 2-cost upgrades that they want to see hit the table right away. The other four cards in their hand may be useless. But they provide resources for the others – if you pitch them and draw other good upgrades you’ll now have to sacrifice one. When I approach a game I like to have a plan of what board state do I want to see when I shuffle my deck due to running out of cards. Use that vision to guide your mulligan! Hopefully these ramblings help you decide how to mulligan and set-up to win more games of Marvel Champions! We want to know your thoughts! We are preparing a short community drive episode where we interview different readers/listeners/community members about how they approach the mulligan in Marvel Champions. If you want to be interviewed reach out via a contact method below and we can arrange it!

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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!