Marvel Champions LCG interview and stream resources

Game preservation/history is a very important topic that isn’t talked about enough. This is a running log of interviews from FFG representatives about Marvel Champions LCG.

If you have an interview to add to this page, contact us at hallofheroescontact(at)gmail.com

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Key Marvel Champions LCG staff:

Caleb Grace – Lead Designer

Michael Boggs – Lead Designer

Nate French – Executive Game Designer

MJ Newman – Guest Designer (Lead Designer, Arkham Horror LCG)

Molly Glover – Board & Card Game Producer

Evan Johnson – Former Marketing Manager

Mercedes Opheim – Former Card Game Manager

Guzmanco – Former FFG Intern/Freelance Artist

Andrew Navaro – Former Head of Studio


Navigation


July 2019:

Marvel Champions LCG’s first announcement trailer

Marvel Champions LCG post-reveal stream with Navaro, Caleb and Nate

Marvel Champions LCG tutorial with Team Covenant and Evan Johnson


August 2019:

Marvel Champions GenCon interview with FFG rep “Peter”

Marvel Champions playthrough with Caleb, Boggs and Derek Shuck

Marvel Champions Gen Con 2019 playthrough with Evan Johnson from AsmodeeLive


September 2019:

No Responsibility Podcast Episode 3 interview with Boggs

Captain America reveal stream with Caleb

Comicbook.com interview with Caleb

“Since Marvel Comics are popular with people of all ages and backgrounds, we wanted to design a game that could appeal to all of them. As a result, Marvel Champions is by far our most accessible LCG to date.” – Caleb


October 2019:

Ms. Marvel reveal stream with Boggs

Marvel Champions playthrough with Caleb and Boggs hosted by Brian Keilen

Marvel Champions Monthly Episode 3 interview with Caleb and Boggs

Marvel Champions Spiel 2019 interview with Nate French from Asmodee Live


November 2019:

Early Team Covenant stream with Boggs

“Michael Boggs Answers Your Questions” Team Covenant stream

Deckcelsior Episode 8 interview with Caleb

Bad Publicity interview with Boggs


December 2019:

Caleb, Boggs and Evan take on Green Goblin with Thor, Ms. Marvel and Captain America

Les Lives de TT video walkthrough with an Asmodee rep


January 2020:

The Official Marvel Champions LCG Card Game Overview video

Black Widow reveal stream with MJ Newman

Bad Publicity interview with Boggs – Ms. Marvel’s design


February 2020:

Doctor Strange reveal stream with Caleb


March 2020:

Hulk reveal stream with Boggs

“Making him feel like Hulk without being frustrating to play…it was hard to get that balance. It was also a bit of making sure that he wasn’t single-minded in terms of what he could do.” – Boggs

“Generally when I play him solo, I try to make sure I have enough cards from the aspect in there. Obviously leadership and justice are good ways to go about that.” – Boggs

“We explored that very early on in the core set. She-Hulk didn’t have a thwart side but Jennifer Walters did. It ended up feeling….it made the character a bit more complicated than we wanted. With She-Hulk it didn’t fit and with Banner it didn’t really fit. But it’s definitely a possibility for the future.” – Boggs

“We have different artists that do [the head shots in the bottom right of the hero cards]. We actually use someone internally, Chris Beck, he’s one of our internal designers. It’s supposed to be reminiscent of those old comic books….and they look a little bit different. We like that one is sort of this new-age thing and one is a callback to those previous versions of the heroes.” -Boggs

“So we actually for a long time Bruce Banner played with this idea that you couldn’t just flip into your alter-ego form…that there was an additional step and if you failed the step you had to flip back as Hulk. But it became frustrating…sometimes you [just need to go into alter-ego.] So Inner Demons, the obligation, seemed like the best way to go about that. We felt like more than maybe any other hero, this obligation card breaks the boundaries of what we can do with obligation cards.” – Boggs

Team Covenant interview with FFG’s Steve Horvath that touches briefly on Champions (28:00 in)


April 2020:

The Rise of Red Skull box reveal with Boggs

Marvel Champions Monthly Episode 12 interview with MJ Newman

Critical Encounters Episode 11 interview with Caleb

1-2 Punchboard interview with Michael Boggs

“The fifth aspect was called ‘determination,’ and it focused on doing whatever necessary to get ahead. An example of this is the upcoming aggression event in Hulk’s pack, Toe to Toe, which costs 1 resource to play, deals 5 damage to an enemy, but forces that enemy to attack you first.” – Boggs


May 2020:

FFG Ask Me Anything (AMA) with Evan Johnson and Boggs

“Both Caleb and I are huge X-Men fans. We want to do it. I hope we can down the line.” – Boggs

Deckcelsior Episode 20 interview with Caleb and Boggs

Bad Publicity Episode 15 interview with Boggs

Marvel Champions Monthly panel art interview with FFG intern Guzmanco

“It’s very rare that I stumble upon the ‘perfect’ artwork for a card. Home By Dawn was one of those times.” – Guzmanco


July 2020:

The Once and Future Kang reveal stream with Caleb

“We designed standard with the idea that people should be able to show up with a pre-built deck. Buy it, show up with your friends and play, and feel like you have a really good shot. We built expert mode for people with custom decks, for people who like to build stronger decks. I encourage those players to skip standard and go right to expert.” – Caleb

“It’s tough. But I thought Wrecking Crew was tough. Now I’m getting feedback that it’s very easy.”

“It’s always interesting when it gets to the public. We playtested all those heroes in the first wave a ton. There was no feedback where there was one hero clearly better than the other. It depends on how you pilot them.”

The Side Scheme interview with Caleb

“I don’t think there’s a goal to define certain power levels or ascribe characters to those power levels. I understand the desire from the fanbase for that…it’s more about trying to capture the feel of the character.” -Caleb

“We wanted to do something quickly [about the lack of difficulty]…but we couldn’t do a new kit as that takes time and money. We wanted to fix it as soon as we could and talked about possible solutions. But ultimately it was Jeremy Zwirn who overheard our conversation (me and Boggs) who said ‘why don’t you just reveal an extra card every turn?'” -Caleb

July 2020 InFlight Report

Marvel Champions Gen Con Online stream

“We were asked by someone…at the executive or the license level. This was the first time where someone at that level weighed in.” -Caleb

“I just want to say no one wants X-Men in the game more than I do. Now that we have the Insurrection game that was announced, I don’t have anything to announce. Except for yes, we are definitely going to do X-Men in this game. It’s going to be a while.” – Caleb

“I’ve always been interested in designing games. I studied animation in college. But the program was conjoined with game design. So I really loved those classes and I moved abroad for a few years and started doing my own independent stuff. I realized I didn’t have the skills to make video games, but board games instead. I started a couple of groups abroad where we playtested each other’s stuff. I was able to turn that into a job at FFG.” – Caleb

“I was working as a teacher, I got cut. I needed a job. I was applying around, my brother told me I could apply to FFG. I applied and got it.” – Caleb

“Originally the box was going to have four scenarios. I think we might have gotten a little pushback…like maybe they all should have five.” – Caleb

“Boggs took the lead on this [Quicksilver]…but both Boggs and I have the same idea: he should ready. Boggs was the one that was like ‘first time he uses a hero power, he stands up.’ It’s automatic.” – Caleb

“Absolutely I think our strategy is pretty straightforward. We have an Avengers themed story box followed by Avengers themed heroes. We announced Guardians box….it’s safe to assume it’ll be followed by Guardians heroes…and who knows what will come after that.” – Caleb

“I would love to see the game mature to a point where we can do that [have multiple heroes of the same identity]…everyone knows Spider-Man…so many others…have all like gone through a series of evolutions with their costumes and missions. I would love to do that. Just off the top of my head of course we’re putting in classic Spider-Man, but a lot of people are fans of the black suit Spider-Man. Maybe that one comes with Mary Jane Watson.” – Caleb

I wish we actually had Aaron Haltom here with us. He’s on the KeyForge team but he helped extensively with Rocket Raccoon. And Groot!” – Boggs

“Yeah Aaron came on the team when we were a little overloaded. We had a lot of Marvel going on at the time, so he offered to help out. So he did some of the foundational work on Groot.” – Caleb


August 2020:

Critical Encounters Episode 25 interview with Boggs

“[My favorite villain is] Venom. Spider-Man has always been my favorite hero, and Venom was the antithesis of everything he was trying to do.” – Boggs

“Nate [French] thought of the name ‘Breakin and Takin.’ Nate said ‘Rhino is breaking things and taking them.’ And we said ‘yep that needs to go on the card.'” – Boggs

“Nate French was the designer of the core set, but it was decided after that, that Caleb would be the lead designer. He is technically the boss but it’s very much a collaborative effort between us, which I appreciate. He tends to focus more on the story and thematic things like that, and I focus on the backend processes, things like that.” – Boggs

“Matt Newman is the reason ‘Elite” even exists in our game. We wanted to make a minion special in some way, and Matt suggested Elite. That will come into play in the future. We’ve planted a lot of seeds and because we want to want to introduce things gradually, we’re trying to sprout them very slowly.” – Boggs

“I’ve been working on the game for two years now…” -Boggs in August of 2020

Bad Publicity interview with Caleb

“As far as I know, [Nate] kind of invented [the co-op card genre.] We’ve found that the most stable, long-running LCGs are co-op LCGs” – Caleb

“I want to give props to Jeremy Zwirn. We were playtesting Strange and he didn’t have [Vapors of Valtorr.] One of his comments was that he didn’t feel magical enough. At the end of the day it was just ‘doing damage or removing threat…’ so he suggested the idea of transforming this status into that status. I said that’s super dope, let’s do that.” -Caleb

“Cap’s design really came back to Aragorn and my love of the Lord of the Rings LCG core set. He spends a resource and he gets back up. That really applies to Cap, with the ‘I can do this all day’ quote.” – Caleb

“For me it’s all about Hawkeye’s quiver. That’s how he all comes together. Matt [Newman] helped with that. He said ‘I want to take an arrow and put it in the quiver and save it for later.” – Caleb

“So I was kind of elected to go carry and torch and [make the pitch to Marvel]. So when they said we’re going to Marvel, I was thinking New York City, the publishing house, I was going to get to meet Joe Quesada…no we’re going to [Los Angeles], at Disney Headquarters with the licensing team. Don’t get me wrong it was great but it wasn’t Marvel HQ.” -Caleb

“Nate was the one who felt very strongly that we need a hero that breaks the deckbuilding rules very early…two aspects. There was some talk about Hulk, like the Bruce Banner and Hulk dichotomy…but ultimately we scaled back from that because Hulk is going to resonate with a lot of our younger audience who wants to smash things. So when we were talking about who was going into the story box it had this Avenger theme and this Hydra theme, so we wanted Hawkeye in for sure. But Jessica Drew, sure it makes sense, she has this weird connection to Hydra…she was a double-agent, hey, double-agent, two aspects.” – Caleb

“We have the Incite keyword, which maybe hasn’t been spoiled yet. Honestly for the longest time we called it doom, because it works like doom in Lord of the Rings.” – Caleb

“I’m excited for people to see that [Red Skull box] comic. I pitched that, too. We were pretty well into the development process where it occurred to me, when I was writing the story. And I said ‘why am I writing a story for a comic book game, there should be a comic here. We shelled out a little more to get an artist, to write out comic scripts for the artist to illustrate. The comics are actually in the rules document, it’s not a separate thing. They’re not going to blow anyone’s minds, they’re kind of campy and a callback…the story is an excuse for most people to fight.” – Caleb

“Venom got most interesting when it wasn’t Eddie Brock, but it was Flash Thompson. How do you feel about Flash Thompson, Agent Venom?” – Caleb

Alter-Egos interview with Boggs

“They have us working from home until October: maybe a little after that. FFG and Asmodee have been planning renovations on our building…maybe a couple of years from now…but now is the time to do it.” – Boggs

“Sometimes I’ll get ahead of myself and design a card that’s too complex for the game. A resource kicker is an example. Myself and Nate French kind of pushed that idea for example: like, this card as a cost, pay this specific resource with it. And I think Caleb has done a good job recognizing when that stuff is a little out of hand, and maybe too frustrating. I think it’s a fun design personally.” – Boggs

“The most common piece of feedback is that we needed more villains to play. We looked at other LCGs and thought player cards always make things more fun to play. But it’s also trying new encounter sets and thinking I want to try this with another deck. I think these six heroes were important but I would have liked to add another scenario or something.” – Boggs

So we thought it would be fun to release these print and play things. So it might have been Chris Gerber, head of studio…it might have been someone else…they sent out an email kind of telling us ‘we want to do this fun thing, please come up with a pitch.’ So Caleb and I thought it should be a modular set….Caleb was kind of busy at the time, so I whipped something together for that that plays off our Guardians of the Galaxy announcement, because he’s in the box and such a powerful character. So we gathered our art assets and gathered some feedback from our playtesters…it was probably the fastest product I’ve ever worked on. I don’t think the whole thing took more than…two weeks maybe? Modular sets are pretty easy to design. We looked at the meta, and lots of decks run lots of allies…leadership tends to be very powerful. Generally speaking people use allies with one hit point remaining to block an attack.” – Boggs

“Ms. Marvel’s deck, I’ve played that over 100 times, and I’m kind of biased because it fits a style I like to play…but comments from people are like ‘I don’t understand how this deck works’…I can see how it can be difficult to pilot. That’s maybe a mistake I’ve made in the past.” – Boggs

“Our feedback really on the core set…you’re supposed to be this larger-than-life hero. That’s kind of what we see in standard mode. If you pull it off it should feel good, but at the same time if you’re losing over and over in standard mode, then we didn’t do our job correctly. Expert mode is intended to be a step up from that. Some people don’t want to play games unless they’re winning. Andrew Navarro was talking to…I want to say Caleb and Nate…about how his son or daughter, how they played the very first level of Rhino, and that’s it. They wanted to win. We want to make sure people can have that experience, but if that’s not quite exciting to you, then you can play expert mode. And then there’s heroic mode.” – Boggs

“Generally speaking, we want players to be in hero form around…80% of the game. That’s our goal. Alter-ego is fun, it’s a great element for the players to have. You’re very intentionally not interacting with the villain. You can maybe play a support or upgrade or something like that. We want to make sure players are encouraged, as much as they reasonably can be, to interact with what the encounter deck is trying to do.” – Boggs

September 2020:

Card Game Cooperative interview with Caleb Grace

“In Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, you get the signature ally of the other. Which is neat because it unlocks their alter-ego power, as well.” -Caleb

“As a huge Captain America fan I wanted him in the base game right away. I don’t remember who it was exactly who said it should be its own pack…but I agreed to it right away. Because that was going to be the first question when people saw the lineup: ‘where’s Cap?'” – Caleb

“If we can line things up to piggyback off something like a Black Widow movie, then absolutely we will. Why wouldn’t you? If you know there’s a bid budget movie coming out…then for sure from an FFG standpoint, then let’s make sure we do that. Others are serendipitous. We included She-Hulk for reasons entirely of our own, and we find out later that she’s going to get her own show.” – Caleb

“Think like a marketing person. Hulk is going to sell on his own. So let’s save Hulk for a pack…let’s get another member of the team on there that can fulfill that role of the tank. That’s where we came up with She-Hulk [for the tank of the core set]. As for her design and power level or whatever, I read the comments…as designers we’re not going to make heroes that are as popular as the next.” – Caleb

La Mano de Thanos interview with Michael Boggs

“I think that four heroes and one villain and one campaign…that will be very common [for a cycle], but it’s not a rule: we can break it sometime.” – Boggs

“[Team-up] will be…I think at first, it will only be for special cases. But as the game grows and as time goes on…it will be become more common.” – Boggs

“The most demanded hero is Moon Knight. Probably the most demanded villain is Thanos.” – Boggs

“Caleb and I both agree that if some heroes are better in solo or better in multiplayer. Hulk is a big angry monster. So thematically if you’re playing him solo it makes sense that he’s not great at threat…I don’t think people like to lose but it kind of tells a story…but I think more Justice cards, or even more Aggression or Protection cards will give Hulk more power to play in solo.” – Boggs

“Usually I think [including more modular sets] it makes the game easier…since the game is less consistent. But, I think there are exceptions. If you play Rhino and put MODOK and Legions of Hydra in there…that’s two very hard sets. But if you play Mutagen formula and add two different encounter sets I can see them making it inconsistent. It depends but I think it usually makes things easier.” – Boggs

If a card does not say you should shuffle the deck, should you do it anyway?

“So…in the past, I made a mistake. I said before that no, you do not shuffle. But Caleb and I have talked very recently. And we decided that anytime you search, you always shuffle. We will update the rules reference eventually…to make it that you always shuffle.” – Boggs

“So we will add a rule. The identity cards only work for the hero. Whereas the ally only help themselves.” – Boggs

Alter Egos interview with Caleb Grace

“We identified a weakness in the release model. Here’s your deluxe box and here’s the packs…but to get its full value you have to have that deluxe box. So if it’s out of print, people are discouraged from getting the packs. If there are six packs in a cycle, the first pack will always sell a lot more…it’s a consumer habit, people start out really excited for that first pack but they don’t really pick up that second or third pack or whatever…so it might create a chokepoint if stores are tied together.” – Caleb

“I don’t really know all of the sales numbers. The closest I got to ‘how is the game doing?’ is hearing that Marvel is happy, and Steve [Horvath – Head of Asmodee US] is happy.” – Caleb

“The campaign kind of came near the end…naturally the campaign is the last thing we do, because we had all of the scenarios done at that point. Then it was like, alright, we need to shift gears and focus in on this campaign. And come up with something evocative and interesting and fun. But I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of time to explore and iterate. So I say I kind of cheated, as Lord of the Rings players will recognize some things here…they’re very akin to some Lord of the Rings content.” – Caleb

“Coming to the game with Lord of the Rings, that’s a lesson we already learned, scaling from one to four player. The game is going to be different, it just is. Once you focus on that you just try to make it feel good at all counts. You just want to make sure playing it one player is a lot of fun and playing it four player is a lot of fun. There’s no real science there [with exact card counts] it’s more like ‘does it feel right?’ Around 35 cards feels right. Depending on the villain’s design and what they’re about it might be appropriate to go smaller or bigger. I would need a really compelling reason to go less than 30 cards…or much higher than 40.” – Caleb

“It looks like a modular set to me. Stuff that’s campaign-specific is labeled somewhere with ‘campaign.’ So if you look at the obligations they say expert campaign set. Maybe because it’s how they’re presented, in the rules, as being mandatory for the campaign…but I see no reason why you can’t just add these to any scenario. If you’re playing the actual Hydra campaign, it probably doesn’t work. It’s not a full modular set at that point. I don’t know, play whatever you want, I guess.” – Caleb

“I understand there was a mixup whether it was Hydra Patrol or Assault [as the recommended modular set for Crossbones]. I don’t know how they ended up different on the card and rules…that drives me crazy. Those two sets were probably one set at one point, and we cut that set into two…and maybe made the change on the rules and didn’t make the change on the card.” – Caleb

“This is not an RPG LCG like Arkham is. This is an action adventure…quick adventure fighting the villain. We feel those constraints…265 cards goes quickly.” – Caleb

“That’s a lesson we learned in the box and we learned for Guardians of the Galaxy. The difference between one player and two player or even starting with three threat on a side scheme. It’s such a huge difference. Boggs said we need another lever to tweak so these numbers can be exactly what we want them to be. I don’t know if we spoiled that or not.” – Caleb

Quicksilver + Rise of Red Skull Ant-Man/Wasp gameplay with Caleb and Evan

October 2020:

The Side Scheme interview with Caleb Grace

“Kang wasn’t part of our original pitch to Marvel. Neither was Red Skull. You know it was the original core set, and the first six hero packs and the first few villain packs as well. So all of that Wave 1 content was decided at the beginning. The Hydra theme wasn’t solidified until Wave 1 wrapped up and was off to production.” – Caleb

“Me and Boggs…we were talking about difficulty ratings…and we realized, we hadn’t actually assigned difficulty ratings after the core. Apparently there’s room for us to improve on consistency with difficulty ratings. I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason there…and I think people probably didn’t notice that we didn’t assign difficulty ratings. It was probably a note….like Nate French or something who came in and said ‘can you please assign difficulty ratings to these.’ So that’s something we’ll have to keep an eye out for going forward.” – Caleb

“[The villainous keyword]…I gotta give props to [Boggs]. That’s something he came up with.” – Caleb

“I sure won’t say no to [a villain that’s already released coming back as a modular set]…I guess we kind of have the Taskmaster nemesis set, which is not exactly a modular set…but we also did the print and play Ronan, and we’re definitely going to see him in Guardians of the Galaxy…so it’s definitely something we can explore…when it’s the right time to do it.” – Caleb

“I was surprised to see the positive reception to the Ronan print and play set. Once again Boggs knocked it out of the park with that. He put that together really quickly. But also…yeah people have been receptive to that kind of medium, it does open up a lot of possibilities…and I hope as a team we find some way to revisit that.” – Caleb

“I think if we could go back, we wouldn’t have released so many heroes in a row before getting to campaign content there…but the good news is that the game isn’t going to have to wait that long for a new scenario again.” – Caleb

“This is something we tested…but decided was too hard. I wanted to see Madame Hydra return…like ‘where has she been all this time? Oh she’s hanging out with Red Skull.’ Well it turns out that when [the Red Skull scenario] makes you reveal side schemes every turn…that Madame Hydra gets in the way of removing threat. So if you want a challenge, I would sub out Hydra Assault and replace it with the Legions of Hydra set [in Red Skull].”

We had a similar thing with Zola…originally we were going to use the Doomsday Chair set…you know, MODOK and Zola [go together]…so originally that was the plan. But we got the feedback that ‘oh my gosh, biomechanical upgrades on these minions?’ my testers were sick of seeing biomechanical upgrades. – Caleb

November 2020:

Critical Encounters interview with FFG Lead Art Director Deborah Garcia

“So it’s definitely a partnership between the art directors and the developers. The developers come to us with their art needs, for the narrative and for all of the scenarios. Marvel…Marvel Champions is a special case, in that our pickup pool is something the developers find on their own. We review that work to make sure that’s consistent with the game’s style.” – Garcia

“It’s never as simple as [Marvel telling us to stick with a certain look] that. For us, we adhere to one costume…we create a visual guide of that costume, then artists adhere to that visual guide.” – Garcia

“The cards that have artists credit are commissioned art pieces. Artists that worked directly with us. Cards that have a basic credit to Marvel are assets directly from Marvel.” – Garcia

1-2 Punchboard interview with artists Andrea Di Vito and Laura Villari

December 2020:

Critical Encounters interview with FFG producer Molly Glover

“If there’s only so many heroes out, you don’t want to start releasing too many scenarios, where everyone is playing the same heroes out. It was important to get a wealth of heroes out, before we started to move out to content in terms of…encounters.” – Glover

“We worked on…the core set, Green Goblin, Wrecking Crew, Captain America, Wrecking Crew, and Thor…all of that was being worked on at the same time. “- Glover

“The very first thing that happens in the project, is the designer writes what we call a vision document. Which is basically a high level view of everything they want to do…the mechanics can even be in there, the heroes they want…the nemeses. So they write that, and it gets approved by all of the executive people at FFG. Then I send that to Marvel. And they usually send back a big thumbs up. Then after the concept and vision get approved, we start working on the art.

We read all the art briefs, then that goes to the artist. Then we see if there’s any red flags, then the art when it’s final, gets sent to Marvel, for approval. Sometimes they’ll ask questions like ‘why is this that way?'” So those comics that are in the rulebooks, for those we send them storyboards and sketches…because technically we are making Marvel comics, which is just so cool. So after that we make the game…do playtesting, that sort of stuff. Then I send final files to them….nothing will change from this point on unless they ask us to change.” – Glover

“When we decided we were going to do the folded card…because I’m a producer, part of my job is to do R&D on components. So my job was to figure out what coating….what’s the maximum coating to use on that card so it could hold up to the bending. So I sat at my desk for about two hours one day opening and closing a sample of the card…I probably opened and closed it about 1000 times.” – Glover

“I am not involved in [what countries get stock of each pack]. One of the things that’s hard…we didn’t get copies of Marvel Champions for like nine more months until we finished it. So if we aren’t copying it over from another file…we try really hard for it to not happen. So anytime we notice it, it gets a reprint change, so it will be fixed. Our international partners can catch that sometimes…when doing their translating work.” – Glover

“So [rules], that’s all Caleb and Boggs. So when people send in rules questions, they’re addressed to Caleb and Boggs, they have a whole thing they’re compiling constantly, like the questions they get asked the most. Then they go into these documents that can keep living online. When something gets printed, it’s forever…so as a result the game is always alive, people are still playing it, finding things, corner cases we didn’t find in playtesting. Keeping alive an FAQ and an online rules reference is an undertaking. Caleb and Boggs are working on two sets…at the same time…and they’re keeping up with deadlines.” – Glover

Critical Encounters interview with FFG graphic designers Joe Olson, Chris Beck and Evan Simonet

“We create everything that isn’t the character illustrations in the box in the center of the card. But sometimes we have to do some of that too. So we have an art department, and they commission artwork, and they commission artwork sometimes for the frames we already made.” – Beck

“Take that to the former head of FFG studio. I’m going to wave my own flag, toot my own horn…I fought really hard to get those little heads on those cards. I have to find some way to draw heads for this game. That was such a labor…then uh, when it was suggested that we do it for villains too it was like ‘too much work.’ But I’m already doing it!” – Beck

“I made all the little heads up until the recent ones…Ant-Man and Wasp. I did some on…I can’t talk about them yet [Guardians?]. Yes. But they got someone else to do them after that.” – Beck

“I’m going to say, I freaking pitched [comic art hero cards], and Organized Play stole it from me, and no it’s not fair (laughs)! They are organized, perfunctorily, under the marketing department. And Organized Play has always been sort of their own animal. They don’t even have to submit themselves to the same review process [as the FFG graphics department.]

Once they internally agreed upon it, they just send it to licensing, and boom, they got approval. They just had to make something different from what the core set was. They had fewer restrictions on what they had to achieve at the printer, or the factory setting.” – Beck

“Organized Play has always been able to move freely in creative space that is just barred from us. A lot of their things are manufactured by different means and are not held by the same standards as we are. So I’m jealous of a lot of that stuff. They would dip into our source files and take what they see fit.” – Olson


April 2021:

La Mano de Thanos interview with Caleb Grace

“I got to play Groot, and he [Boggs] played Rocket, and we played through the whole Guardians of the Galaxy campaign. Actually I think we played through it twice, we had a chance to make some edits. Then MJ had a chance to join us, and we played it three player.” – Caleb

“We have a playtest coordinator…Zach, he recruits and gets everyone with their NDAs and setup on the forums. At first, we had to recruit our own playtesters. I’m not actually not even involved with that anymore. I can forward their email to Zach. There’s actually a waitlist” – Caleb

“Often times employees at the studio would get together and play games [at lunch]. And Nate French and I would play Game of Thrones.” – Caleb

“We’re trying to keep the card design as simple as we can. We don’t want to sacrifice any [themes and emotions]. We’ve had a lot of discussions about player bandwidth. We don’t want Marvel Champions to become a game where you freeze up. And make it feel light and fun, and not a beard-stroking, takes 10 minutes to play my turn. We don’t want to turn it into those games. We have a very vocal part of our fanbase that wants more challenge, and they’re important to us too.” – Caleb

“We’re leaning more into the modular sets. With Kang, there, we tried to give our diehard fans something to chew on…like the Anachronauts. It’s not difficult to design harder cards. You just pump up the numbers…and create new effects. Could you imagine if every scenario was that level of intensity? It would kill the game.” – Caleb

“[Hulk]…asking me if I should think about fixing it….I disagree. Everyone has their own expectation. Hulk is exactly what we wanted him to be. Maybe Hulk wasn’t designed just for your playstyle. With Hulk in particular, he was the character that appealed to young people and wanted to punch bad guys in the face. He has some really insane stats on his card. He starts with 18 hitpoints, which is twice as many as Hawkeye. People just don’t get excited about hitpoints, but that’s a huge part of his design. And with three defense, he can stay on the field for a long time, without having to flip back. Hulk’s penalty really isn’t that much of a penalty except when you get a bad draw. Most of the complaints that I see is that he could have been more complex and dynamic. But the Hulk we wanted to make was the one the kid would get excited to play.” – Caleb

“Boggs made this point…if I can defend every turn, and ready every turn, then Protection is just as good at thwarting as Justice is. And I said what do you mean. And he said well the villain is never putting threat on the scheme to begin with. Holy smokes, you’re absolutely right. The threat isn’t going up. So Hulk doesn’t need to thwart the way other heroes do. He can just stay in hero form twice as long as every other hero. He can just camp out. That’s such a different way of thinking about the game, like ‘I need to remove threat.'” – Caleb

“I created a document at the beginning of the game, with all the heroes we want to do in the first four years. We’re not bound to it. We submit it to our executives for approval. How do we choose? We thought that through already. You can tell [the MCU] has a plan.” – Caleb

“For heroes I still love Captain America. For the encounters it’s probably Kang, because the reception was so positive. A close second to me was Red Skull” – Caleb

Deckcelsior interview with Caleb Grace and Michael Boggs

“I was really happy with the feedback we got with the Rise of Red Skull. It was really positive and a huge relief. Maybe I was surprised that a significant number of people thought it was easy.” – Caleb

“Having Ant-Man and Wasp force us into that direction [three sided cards]…out of the four heroes, Quicksilver has interesting things he can do, but he isn’t that complex. And Scarlet Witch is so chaotic. Really the intention was to make her feel like Scarlet Witch.” – Boggs

“When I play Wasp sometimes I don’t change form that often. Sometimes I’ll change form and stay in that form for the rest of the game.” – Boggs

“Kang was supposed to be fully playable solo as well. There’s a unique element when you play solo. I’ve been happy with the reception to the pack.” – Caleb

“I think that really since Green Goblin we wanted to make each modular set have a reason to be included. Like the aspect reinforce the heroes the modular sets reinforce the villains. Going forward…we want there to be an extra puzzle to solve in the game.” – Boggs

“I don’t think I saw their full value…for people to be as excited as they are…to trade sets. Boggs picked up on this…put modular sets wherever we can. I anticipated the wrong thing…players customizing their own decks.” – Caleb

“Could we add modular sets to Wrecking Crew? Maybe in theory, but it would be so clunky. It’s strong enough on its own. So people enjoyed the scenario, but missed being able to customize it. We probably won’t do any more scenarios like that in the future.” – Caleb

“So I think for Guardians specifically when I design modular sets I design scenarios as a whole, but think about what can I take out to keep the identity…those minion-heavy modular sets, at the same time they work really well with those scenarios. I think most have…six to nine roughly?” – Boggs

“As we go forward we’ll see team-ups that play with different things…Rocket and Groot was kind of the start of it. We want that card to feel like them [teaming up].” – Boggs

“Boggs and I have talked about this…designing the aspect cards is…not to say it’s a negative experience, but hero cards they’re the most exciting but they’re also the most self-contained. We don’t have to think about how they impact the card pool. Aspect cards go into the card pool and they’re there forever. We have to be a lot more deliberate. We’re always looking for new ways to innovative without doing the same things over and over. I can’t talk about future product…but Boggs is…debuting some real wicked stuff.” – Caleb

“It became necessary for each of us to drive a certain part of the game. So we didn’t have as much time as we want for collaboration. I create an aspect card and it’s like…the testers say hey, this is like a card Boggs designed.” – Caleb

“I think the real answer to that question [X-Men being in the game, and Warlock and Serval Industries] it goes into contract and legal stuff…it goes into restrictions in the backend. [Again] No one wants X-Men in Marvel Champions more than I do.” – Caleb

I know that some of the testers test stuff by themselves. But our testers are amazing, and some people play it two-handed, or three-handed, or four-handed. And testing…was a little more focused, because people were home. When I’m by myself…sometimes I knock out a two-hander or a solo game.” – Boggs

“It is egregious. The idea that somehow…we don’t develop the game for solo, or test the game for solo…I just want to say that is completely inaccurate. The game is always developed for player counts of one through four. And the solo experience is never intended to be inferior or this other thing. It’s always been intended to be the core of the game. That might not fix all of the issues that people have with it. For some reason I see a lot of people talking about it with confidence, that we know the developers don’t design for solo or test for solo. I’ll test solo. I’ll grab Captain America, he’s my favorite, and I’ll see how Cap handles it.” – Caleb

“Hulk went through a couple different iterations. Ms. Marvel had a few. Most of the other heroes like…Scarlet Witch, Wasp, the Guardians. Hulk went through the most iteration.” – Boggs

“Anytime I hear people talk about Hulk, I know what their playstyle is…based on their opinion of Hulk. People that want complexity, a few more decision points, they tend to be more sour. People that just want to smash things…they seem to really enjoy playing Hulk. With a game as large as Marvel…we’re going to try our best to cater to all players. Which means…one group is going to be disappointed and another group loves it. I think we found the audience we’re looking for. The hand size of four is a drawback…and it’s kind of up for debate whether 18 hitpoints and 3 ATK and 3 DEF is enough. It depends on your playstyle. It’s something to keep an eye on.” – Caleb

“Going forward people are going to see heroes with four hand size. Some values and some aspects of the game that I thought were. Some mechanics that I thought were a certain power level…were not as powerful as I thought they were, and maybe more powerful. Hulk contributed to that, and other heroes contributed to that. I think we have a greater understanding…of four hand size heroes, how they’re limited. Like oh I don’t have a lot of cards but I can do all these other things.” – Boggs

“99% of the time we’re free to pitch our vision. Once we get the greenlight, there’s not a lot of mandates…certainly not what trait to put on someone. Who knows maybe we’ll be able to circle back and do Hank Pym and Janet.” – Caleb

“Generally speaking we tend to think of as aggression and justice….as attacking and moving threat. We’ll pair them up when they need an easier [hero] focus. Over time they’ll get to the point where they’re equal…it’s tough to say which one is at which power level right now, but after Guardians they’ll be roughly the same level.” – Boggs

“Over time I have looked for more and more ways to make players decide a little more intentionally if they’re going to use the ally with their last hitpoint or chump block with it. Sometimes it comes across in scenario design. Like I could chump block but there might be a boost or something.” – Boggs

“I sort of see [Red Skull] as a foundation. Then [go more complex]. That’s in my mind what the Guardians box does…doing different things. We wanted to make sure the players use their ship. Like what if you could upgrade your ship over time. Or yourself over time.” – Boggs

“Those are original scripts [the comics]. We establish the story at the vision stage then write the scripts later. We give that to the art department and they make it, not unlike Marvel does. I was down on a comment talking about the quality of the comic. You know that’s free content.” – Caleb

“Originally the Milano was a pseudo ally in its own way. It had hitpoints, it could be attacked. But it took the focus away from the hero and villain battle. We eventually decided to keep it simple. Toward the end of development we rolled it into its Ship Command set, and it can be used against…Rhino, or whatever you want to use it against.” – Boggs

“Collector was originally one scenario. We pitched a box with four villains. We felt the box as a whole…campaign boxes don’t need to follow a specific mold. Originally you need to sneak in, see that the Power Stone wasn’t there, and then sneak back out. And I think it was Jeremy Zwirn, who was like, what if you split the Collector into two?” – Boggs

“I personally think [the Collector 1 response] is a good thing. To me it’s a good sign when people are discussing strategies. It helps build that sense of community.” – Boggs

“I remember early on, I believe it was Nate talking about having overkill in the game. That always stuck with me. When the Guardians box came out it was time to break established patterns.” – Boggs

“He has Drax’s knife and Drax’s other knife.” – Caleb

“During testing the feedback was varied. Some people were frustrated by the collection some weren’t. Some liked Collector 2, some just wanted to punch the villain in the face.” – Boggs

“Each hero has their strengths and weaknesses. From what I can recall they do pretty well against [Galaxy’s Most Wanted]. Some scenarios are better for some heroes than others. But our goal is to always keep a scenario within reach of pretty much every single hero. Some heroes will excel, others will have a hard time. But pretty much every hero has a chance at beating a scenario. Those older heroes can still stand up to it.” -Boggs

June 2021:

Marvel Champions Monthly interview with Michael Boggs

“They’ve all got different strengths and weaknesses. I would say [my favorite] comes down to Star Lord, Drax, or maybe Venom.” – Boggs

If I had to switch things up, Groot in Justice works well…maybe Groot in Aggression. Rocket I think he’s not the best in Protection but he does well in Justice for the most part. And in Leadership too I have a lot of fun with Rocket. -Boggs

“There are situations where a specific mechanic doesn’t speak to a hero’s story. Gamora is a good example. When we looked at Gamora originally, we wanted to focus on her martial prowess. We tried a couple different iterations.” – Boggs

“The nemesis selection process, it depends on the hero we focus on. I think it’s great to break up the pace. We also tend to pick [them] that don’t interfere too much with upcoming scenarios. Taskmaster and Black Widow and Red Skull…was almost an exception to the rule. We also don’t want to use these huge big name characters.” – Boggs

“I would say probably my favorite but also the most challenging one is Nebula. To get that to work within the encounter deck was really tricky. We flirted with the idea of a set-aside deck in Red Skull…and it’s always nice to have things be more condensed if you can. She took a little big to operate in the manner that she needed to. I like the surprises she can throw at you. I don’t want to necessarily be able to math things out.” – Boggs

“Sort of the two element dynamic that can be found in four of the five scenarios. A lot of that came from how the Milano worked. I had different ideas, Caleb had different ideas. It almost worked like a character…if it got destroyed you lost. We played it that way and it eventually became one of those things where you could very easily math it out. It wasn’t as engaging. One was if it had a certain amount of damage you could repair it, and bring it back…I think Caleb suggested just make the Milano, make it simple, just give you a resource.” – Boggs

“For this box the idea was to make the villain the threat, and end the game sooner than you intend to. I think Collector 2 highlights that much better than the other scenarios. The others are meant to nudge you in that direction, at least a little. Ronan hits hard, he has a lot of stuff that he throws at you. Staying in the game too long can be your death sentence. It’s always a race to see who is going to defeat the other first. The Guardians box highlights that a little more.” – Boggs

“The raise of difficulty was intentional. There was this idea that the modular sets…that you could swap in another set. I was surprised…to see that a lot of players didn’t want to do that. I’ve seen a lot of comments over the last month or two that it’s not as thematic, and it’s almost cheating in some way…which is valid feedback.” – Boggs

“I think that when GMW was being developed, it was quite a while ago. We had a focus that was more directed at 2-3 player. We still test at 1 and 4…but 2-3 was our intended audience. As we go forward…into the next few waves and cycles, that will change over time. Single player it’s a very challenging box, with more [icons].” Four player can slow the game down a bit. Our focus was on 2-3 player for this box.- Boggs

“Ronan has given a lot of people headaches. I’ve also seen people say ‘I like the challenge, it’s fun for me.’ I talked to Caleb and said I wanted to introduce a change to Ronan that brought his power down in the campaign if they wanted it. It was that side scheme, more than any other campaign side scheme, that was made for the boss to feel like a big bad.” – Boggs

“When you play a campaign you choose if you want to have a normal or expert campaign. Each time you start a scenario you can decide which mode of play you want to play…standard…expert…heroic. If you’re playing in campaign mode, the campaign side scheme depends on the individual mode. I’m playing an expert campaign, but I’m playing standard Drang, I will use the standard challenge side scheme. If I go on to Collector and I say I want more of a challenge, and play him on expert mode, I’ll flip the Collector’s side scheme to the expert side. You keep that type of campaign until the very end.” – Boggs

“That was one of those things that came up…toward the end of testing [not being able to change your deck in the expert campaign]. I think it came from Caleb, actually. Caleb suggested it and it was an interesting idea, and it got good feedback. If you really hate that rule it’s not a big deal, if you change your deck.” – Boggs

“I stayed on top of all of the feedback. I know this was a bit more polarizing than I hoped it was going to be…but overall as the game continues on that people will return to this wave and achieve things they didn’t before.” – Boggs

“[A new challenge], Let’s say…Nebula…expert and heroic 1 Nebula, with the Electro mod.” – Boggs


July 2021:

The Card Game Cooperative interview with Michael Boggs

“I lived in South Korea and started working in independent design. Working in South Korea it was easy to find foreigners from all over the world. And Thursday night we would have board game meetups. We had a smaller group…but also a larger outlying group. That kind of grew very quickly. To the point where we might have 10-20 people each night bringing their own stuff and having their stuff playtested.

Through that excitement and passion I was lucky enough to land a job with Fantasy Flight Games. I saw the job and applied. Originally I worked on Android Netrunner, worked on that for about a year or so, eventually that game came to a close. I helped with a few things…KeyForge, Legend of the Five Rings, Arkham Horror.” – Boggs

“I didn’t actually have much experience with co-op games before. The only co-op game I had played previously was Pandemic and Pandemic Legacy. I think a co-op card game is quite different…to board games. A competitive game you have to be so laser-focused on not only the balance of each card, but how it impacts the whole pool as a whole. A co-op game that becomes much less of a focus, a lot of the times you want to tell a story.

At the end of the day you aren’t worried about the entire card pool. I had Caleb Grace to help me, he’s been working on Lord of the Rings…for the last eight or nine years. I think, especially…Caleb was the lead on the products for early in the game’s life cycle.

Early we wanted to keep the challenge and complexity a lot lower…we agreed to increase the complexity…over time. Now we’re getting to the point where…there’s a community to jump into for questions.” – Boggs

“During the development of Galaxy’s Most Wanted the resounding feedback we got was the game was too easy, make it more of a challenge. Obviously that’s not going to be shared with every single person. Galaxy’s Most Wanted was designed with having the mods be more swappable…that’s something a lot of people are too resistant to. That hasn’t quite panned out the way I expected it to.” – Boggs

“It is a group effort (which heroes to pick). But it’s also a discussion with management. For Agent Venom…we talked about a couple characters that could go in that slot. Galactic characters. We had a few pitches, ultimately Agent Venom was picked…but Andrew Navaro.” – Boggs

“The Mad Titan wave sort of ties together the first wave, which is very Avengers focused, and the Guardians wave. We have Nebula with Warmachine. Adam Warlock with Vision. It takes those previous product waves and combines them.” – Boggs

“Maybe Adam Warlock. I didn’t know him…I had to read a couple of comics when Caleb was working on the box. My mom didn’t want to buy me comics growing up. I always followed Marvel through…all of the TV shows, and the video games. I can read hundreds of comics now…Marvel Unlimited…is the quickest way for me, I have a membership with the studio” – Boggs

“That’s very much the balance we’re trying to strike. Anyone who has grown up with the comics and has been a lifelong fan, we hope to pull enough obscure characters to keep their attention…but if you haven’t, if you only saw the movies or played the video games like myself…we try to keep it as broad as we’re able.” – Boggs

“Ms. Marvel…there was one time where I was working an eight hour day…seven hours of that was reading Ms. Marvel comics.” – Boggs

“There are times…we’d love to have more female characters than male characters, and people of color…but there’s times where they won’t fit with the theme.” – Boggs

“Looking for Trouble…it went through a couple of iterations…we eventually decided on the version it is now because it’s useful in the aggression pool to remove threat. But also because it was an effect that was sort of iconic to Thor, but by introducing it to the aspect pool, we could let other characters, specifically Rocket, do other things…and have a card that worked with a mechanic they were familiar with. We try to keep the cardpool as streamlined as possible. We felt like Thor didn’t lose his identity.” – Boggs

“Creating effects that sort of overlap in their functionality makes the character that already does that so much better at it…also it keeps the card pool simpler overall.” – Boggs

“I played Arkham quite a bit at this point, a couple summers back I had an LCG phase…Lord of the Rings less so, I played maybe eight or nine games in total. I don’t quite have time…and Arkham was sort of the new hotness before Marvel. Every now and then Jeremy Zwirn…he’ll pull out Lord of the Rings and I played with him a few times. Whenever I play Arkham I sort of take whichever character…I like the Guardian class, the Rouge class is fun too. I’m here to support whoever.” – Boggs

“For a long time my favorite game was Android: Netrunner. One of the games I’m always excited to return to is 7 Wonders: Duel.” – Boggs


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