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!

Ep. 16 – New Player Guide

Welcome to Marvel Champions Monthly: A Fan Podcast about the game Marvel Champions designed by Caleb Grace and Michael Boggs at Fantasy Flight Games. Join hosts: KennedyHawk, Crimson, Lester, and Amerikano as we discuss our favorite card game. This episode is for all the new players thinking about trying out this game. We overview the game, discuss some tips for starting out and strategy tips for newbies. Later in the episode we discuss common rules questions/mistakes, ways to bling out your game, and community resources. Check out the time stamps below to jump to the segment you are most interested to hear. You can also check out our SHIELD Agent Training article series geared at new players with new articles being posted 1-2 times a month.

Show Notes

  • 0:00 Intros
  • 01:45 Overview of Marvel Champions
  • 06:00 What to Buy?
  • 12:40 Starting Out and Deckbuilding
  • 24:20 Strategy Tips
  • 36:00 Common Rules Mistakes/Questions
  • 44:00 Component Upgrades
  • 56:00 Community Resources (Link)
  • 1:00:45 What other games might you enjoy?

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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.

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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!

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!

SHIELD Agent Training – Building Your First Deck

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

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

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

Deck Building Steps

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

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

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

Step 1: Deck Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The SHIELD Training Staple List includes:

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

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

Step 4: Pick an Aspect and Select Aspect Cards

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

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

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

Step 5: Back to Basics

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

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

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

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

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

There you have it we now have 40 cards!

Step 6: Test, then tweak

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

Session Complete

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

Black Panther – Protection MarvelCDB: Link

Iron Man Deckbuild:

 Iron Man Play

 Iron Man – Leadership MarvelCDB: Link

Upcoming Training Sessions

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

SHIELD Agent Training – Your First Game

Greetings SHIELD Agents! This is the first article in a series of new-player articles, aimed to get beginner players get up to speed on the game – Marvel Champions! We’ll be kicking things off with our first training session:

SHIELD AGENT Training Session 001 – Your First Steps (Your First Game)

While we will cover a range of topics we wanted provide a good resource for players looking to play their first game. Fantasy Flight Games really provided a nice gift with Marvel Champions. When you open your brand new core-set you’ll find a beginning scenario is prepackaged and ready for you to play. The villain with be the Rhino who can face off against two players with pre-built decks: Spider-Man with the Justice aspect and Captain Marvel with the Aggression aspect. We’ll talk more about aspects and heroes in a bit. You may have noticed there were two rule books in the box — what gives? They are not two sets of rules one is a Learn to Play guide. We recommend giving this a read before your first game. The other is the Rules Reference Guide (RRG)– as the title tells you this can be used as a reference of glossary for a number of game questions. Note: Fantasy Flight Games regularly updates this guide on their website so consult there for the latest update which may include: errata, further clarifications, and frequently asked questions! Once you’ve read the Learn to Play this guide can serve as a quick reminder and get you through your first turn before you are off on your own heroic way! Let’s get started with game set-up! First gather all the tokens where both players can reach them – this guide is written for a 2-player game but you can play with anything from 1-4 players!

Set-Up

Set-up for this game is extremely simple. You can find detailed set-up instructions in Appendix II of the RRG but we’ll go over it here as well. First players will select their heroes

Initial Hero Set-Up

  1.  Select Heroes – Choose your heroes, if playing your first game with more than 2 players prebuilt deck lists for the other 3 core-set heroes are located in the Learn to Play guide.
  2.  Set Hit Points – Create a life dial from the provided components and set your life equal to the hit points located on the bottom of your identity card. This is the card that has an Alter-Ego on one side and a Hero on the other.
  3. Select First Player – Randomly pick a first player – we recommend Captain Marvel!
  4. Set Aside Obligation Cards – This card will have a yellow back and is contained in your heroes prepackaged deck.
  5. Set Aside Nemesis Sets – You may have noticed five other yellow back cards these make up the Nemesis set for your hero which may be called into play later  – just to annoy you!
  6. Shuffle Player Decks  – Shuffle your player decks. You are almost done with set-up for your heroes. Some heroes have a set-up ability that will trigger later. You can now put your identity card into play with the Alter Ego side face-up

Villain Set-Up

  1. Select a Villain –  This is done for you – Unpack the Rhino deck!
  2. Set the Villain’s Hit Points – Just like players the villain also needs a way to track their health.
  3. Resolve Scheme Set-up Ability – Place Rhinos Scheme “The Break-In” into play with the 1A side face-up. Set-up text could be on the 1A side for other villains
  4. Create and Shuffle the Encounter Deck –Combine the cards specified on Rhino’s 1A scheme, along with the standard set and one modular set. For your first game this will be the remaining cards. Add the obligation set aside earlier and shuffle the deck to form an Encounter deck!

Final Set-Up

  1. Draw Cards -Your alter ego will tell you your hand size at the bottom draw that many cards to get your opening hand.
  2. Take Mulligans – You can now mulligan cards from your hand. To do so discard cards you don’t like – then draw up to your opening hand size. Don’t worry you may get the discarded cards back later! We’ll cover how to optimize your mulligan in a future training session!
  3. Resolve Character Setup Abilities – Neither Spidey or Captain Marvel have set-up abilities but if playing with other characters (like Black Panther) you may get a bonus ability right now.

Your board state should look something like this (tokens and dials not pictured). 

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You are now set-up and ready to run your first game! So who goes first? You do – of course!

First Turns

Let’s talk about your first turn. Starting with the first player each player will take a turn. On a heroes turn you can take several actions. Take as many actions as you want until you declare the end of your turn.

  • You can play cards from your hand
  • Activate your identity to use their basic abilities (Recovery, Attack, Thwart)
  • Call for another player’s action
  • Flip your identity from Alter Ego to Hero (or vice versa) once per turn

Usually in your first game you’ll want to get right to work playing cards. The first thing to note is several cards say either Hero action or Alter Ego action. You character will have to be in the right form to take an action. Two examples are shown below. As the Spider-Man player you will need to be in Hero Form to perform a Swinging Web Kick, but you’ll need to be in Alter Ego Form to heal up using Aunt May. To pay for cards you’ll need to pay resources. In Marvel Champions every card also acts as a resource, the number of icons in the bottom left are how many resources the card generates. Most cards generate 1 resource but a few generate two so pay attention to the card and the text on cards like Power of Justice. Ideally each turn you will play or pay with every card in your hand and after everyone’s turn is complete you will replenish your hand. So burning through your hand means you’ll see more cards in your deck!

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There are several card types in Marvel Champions:

  • Events – Are one time use cards that enter the discard pile when played.
  • Supports and Upgrades – Are cards that enter your field and remain there – different cards may key off of Supports or Upgrades
  • Allies – Are other heroic characters you can call to your side to temporarily help attack, thwart, and defend! Note they typically take consequential damage when performing an action so they are short-live but still very useful!

For your first game we suggest you try to build your board state by playing Upgrades, Supports and Allies – then use events to smash the Rhino! An ideal first turn often includes some ramp and set-up for the future. As Spider-Man playing a Web-Shooter is a great way to invest in the future. You can even use Peter’s Genius ability to play it before you flip. With Captain Marvel your ramp is inherrent in your

Alter Ego ability. If you happen to draw Alpha Flight Station or Avengers Mansion they are great first turn choices for Carol.

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One thing to remember during the first turn is you will ready before the villain acts during the villain phase. So there is no reason to not use your basic abilities. We recommend during their turns both players flip to hero form and exhaust to attack Rhino (there’s no threat on his scheme to thwart yet). You’ve probably picked that up in the Learn to Play guide but Identity cards have 4 basic abilities.

Hero Form:

Attack – exhaust to deal your ATK value to an enemy as damage
Thwart – exhaust to remove your THW value from a scheme
Defend- exhaust to reduce incoming attack damage by your DEF value (use this during the villain phase)

Alter Ego Form:

Recover – exhaust to heal hit points equal to your REC value

Once both players have completed their first turn the hero phase ends! You’ll want to ready all your cards in play and draw up to the hand size designated on your identity card. Note, for both Carol and Spidey their hand size is smaller in hero form! This means in future turns if you want more cards you will have to flip back to Alter Ego form. Now, it’s time for Rhino the charge in and take control of the game for a moment.

First Villain Turn

The villain phase is broken into 5 steps

1. Place threat indicated in the main scheme’s acceleration field onto the scheme. Note, if any acceleration icons or tokens were present the threat would go up even more. If the threat reaches it’s threshold of 7 per player Rhino wins the game! Rhino’s scheme goes up each turn by 1 threat per player- so with no bonus effects for Rhino and no removal by the heroes you’ll have 7 turns to defeat him.

2. The villain will activate once per player.

  • If that player is in hero form Rhino will attack them. Deal one card facedown from the encoutner deck to boost rhino’s attack based on the number of boost icons. The attacked player will have the chance exhaust to defend (or have a friend defend for them) to reduce the attack by their DEF value. You can also exhaust an ally to have them soak the attack (not recommended unless the ally is low in health). Once a defender is decided or the attack is declared undefended flip the boost card to see how much Rhino hit you for.
  • If the player is in alter ego form Rhino will scheme. He will still get a facedown boost card. Now instead of attacking the player he will progress his scheme and place threat onto the main scheme! Here the players have no chance to defend, there a few cards that can reduce this threat placement but not many. It can be dangers to stay in alter ego form too long!
  • Regardless of form any minions engaged with you will also attack or scheme after the villain completes their activation

3. Encounter cards should now be dealt to each player facedown. If a hazard symbol is in the field you’ll need a second encounter card for the first player (and the next player if another hazard symbol is present!)

4. In player order, each player reveals their hazard card and resolves the effects. If the card is:

  • A Minion Card – It engages that player
  • A Treachery Card – It is immediately resolved and discard
  • An Attachment Card – It attaches as the test box describes
  • A Side Scheme – It enters play and effects the game in a new way, all three icons are present in Rhino’s villain deck along with his suggested modular set!
    • Crisis icons prevent you from removing threat from the main scheme while this side scheme is in play
    • Acceleration icons increase the threat placed on the main scheme at the beginning of each villain phase
    • Hazard icons add additional encounter cards to step 3 of the villain phase
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5. The first player token is now placed to the next clockwise player and the hero phase can begin again.

Follow-on Turns

Game rounds will continue as heroes take their turn, then Rhino takes his turn. If you defeat Rhino’s Stage 1 card you’ll need to bring his Stage 2 card into play, resolve any when revealed effects and defeat him all over again. Most villains are stronger later in the game (just like heroes) so Rhino is going to punch harder. Once Rhino has been defeated twice the heroes win the game. Heroes will lose the game if all heroes are defeated (hit points are reduced to zero) or if Rhino completes his scheme! Complete your first game as you learn all about Spider-Man and Captain Marvel’s decks. Below we’ve included a list of tips and commonly missed rules for players first game

Tips

  • Spider-Man is very good at defending with his 3 DEF, he also has one of the best healing supports in the game so he can often take an attack for Captain Marvel allowing her to use her activation for attacking and thwarting.
  • Both heroes will benefit from flipping often. Spider-man can generate a resource once per turn on his alter ego side and Carol can choose any player to draw a card.
  • Make sure to use your heroes basic ability every turn! There’s no reason to remain ready at the end of your turn as you’ll ready before Rhino activates.
  • Remember you’ll draw to a full hand every turn – don’t linger on pretty looking cards if your deck runs out you will simply reshuffle your discard!

Commonly Missed Rules in your First Game

  • Pay attention to card actions that require a specific hero/alter ego form!
  • Remember you need to defeat Rhino twice! Once on Stage 1, once on Stage 2!
  • Rhino has 1 SCH but he can still threat out very easily with boost cards – don’t linger in Alter Ego form too long although the extra cards can be tempting.
  • Spider-Man draws a card when a villain initiates an attack against him. This means when Rhino originally declares an attack. He won’t get this bonus from a minion attack and also won’t get it if defending for Captain Marvel. He will get this bonus even if he uses an ally to block though as Rhino targets Spider-Man then the heroes decide how to react.
  • Peter Parker’s resource generating ability must be spent immediately you can’t generate resources and then flip forms to spend it.
  • Captain Marvels hero ability allows her to cycle a card with an energy resource for a new card but it requires you to heal a point of damage (everything to the left of an arrow is a cost).

 Session Complete

This concludes our first SHIELD Training session. Let us know how your first game went and check back or subscribe to be alerted of upcoming articles of interest to new and experienced players! If you are an experienced player and read this far… let us know a common rules mistake you experienced in your first game. We’ll add them to the list above! KennedyHawk recently played through the starter game solo you can check out the video below!

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!