Here’s a selection of decks, hero-by-hero, that help draw out their strengths and will assist new players in tackling standard and expert mode: and beyond. These are hand-picked by Hall of Heroes, but also sourced from some of the most-liked decks on MarvelCDB.
This is a classic deck that uses some old cards, but will provide a great baseline for how Spider-Man should play. It was also one of the first origins for a “swarm” deck, before mass-allies were popularized.
Spider-Man is the first hero a lot of people play, and one of the most underrated. Definitely give him a go in several aspects before moving on.
With so many energy resource cards Justice is a no-brainer for Tony, and this can work very well for solo play or multiplayer. Justice Iron Man was one of my favorite core set combos and that mantra is still true today.
I love this deck because it serves as a perfect tutorial for what you should be doing with Black Panther. It walks you through everything from card choice to strategy, and it has made many converts out of non-Black Panther believers.
I promise, this is probably the last Brian-V deck in this current incarnation of this writeup. Probably.
In another fantastic outing, Brian-V truly brings Protection to life with Captain America’s “stun lock” archetype. Many players after have replicated it, but this is one of the first. Cap truly is an all-comer hero, and this deck will show you why.
Ms. Marvel is a very unconventional hero, but at launch, she slotted very nicely into the Aggression and Justice aspects due to the high amount of synergy between many of those aspect cards. Dr00 was one of the first players to truly pick up on this.
If you haven’t tried Ms. Marvel yet, give her a go in Aggression. She can handle thwarting just fine with her hero kit, unlike a lot of other heroes.
So there are several great Aggression decks on MarvelCDB, but Thor Justice is a favorite of mine.
It shores up several of Thor’s weaknesses that Aggression just can’t really handle at the moment, and this deck from KingOfRohan shines in all player counts: solo included. If you’re having issues with Aggression, try this one.
Speaking of another great deckbuilder, KennedyHawk, of Marvel Champions Monthly fame, is a paragon of the community and a good person to follow.
Very early on I was drawn to Black Widow Protection, and this deck explains why. The moniker “solo protection heroic” also draws people in immediately. This is how you sell a deck: it’s no wonder it’s the top choice for Widow. If it works in heroic, it works in standard/expert.
So this is where I toot my own horn a bit with my own deck.
If you noticed, an early trend of strong/well-liked decks was to pack in Leadership cards. This is no different, roughly six months into the game’s lifecycle. However, Doctor Strange is one of the strongest heroes in the game, and is able to tap into what makes Leadership so strong more than most.
I’ve heard testaments from tons of players at this point on how this deck has helped them through every difficulty setting of every scenario. I’m proud of it!
Given the rather large lull the game had after Red Skull, activity on the DB dropped a bit, but there are still folks out there posting decks, like ImpossibleGerman.
Like them, Justice is where I took my Ant-Man tests first, and I don’t regret it. Ant-Man is a really fun hero and the Justice aspect can handle pretty much every single thing the current incarnation of the game can throw at it.
I also really dig the use of Coulson here, a secret weapon for many Justice players.
Scarlet Witch is a powerful hero, and a lot of that is due to her card draw. L3w15 7 cleverly taps and leans into that, in addition to sticking with the Justice angle of her prebuilt. L3w15 7 knows that Scarlet Witch will see a lot of her impactful cards often because of insane draw potential, so you could be casting Chaos Magic roughly every two turns.
This deck has a few heavy-hitters but mostly a ton of low-cost draw potential. It’ll get you going if you don’t “get” Scarlet Witch yet.
Here’s a few straight-to-the-point pointers for Marvel Champions LCG villains
Key tech cards: Under Surveillance, treachery cancellation, tough
Rhino is a very straight-forward villain, but he can trick people up, especially in solo play. There are two main things you want to watch for with Rhino: threating out, and charge.
Although it’s a bit counterintuitive for new players, you really don’t want to go into alter-ego often with Rhino. Unlike a lot of other villains (and unlike everyone else in the core set), Rhino only has one main scheme stage. If you threat out, you lose. This can happen often if he draws Advance and gains a triple-boost; even if you’re safely in hero form.
Because of that looming, instant loss condition, you’ll want to make sure you can keep the main scheme down at all times. Alternatively, you can bring Justice, as several key Justice cards can help crush the main scheme (Under Surveillance, Counterintelligence), allowing you to entirely focus on Rhino while threat is in the rear view mirror.
Charge is the other big bad card. This grants Rhino overkill, one of the most devastating effects in the game. Overkill goes through chump blocking (and splashes big damage onto your hero), so you really want a way to deal with it if it comes out. High defense, damage mitigation (like Wiggle Room in Ms. Marvel), or tough status cards are options.
Klaw is one a huge jump up from Rhino in the core set.
If you’re playing on expert, you’re starting with two side schemes and a minion in play. Insane! How tough that minion is may depend on your modular set. Hopefully, you’ll get a Weapons Runner, which does not surge because it wasn’t revealed, it was put into play.
In any case, you need to be able to deal with that minion right away, especially if it has guard. Klaw is interesting in that he can kind of do it all. He can scheme. He can hit you with crazy-high damage if he draws into high boosts. So to shut him down, you’ll want to rely heavily on stuns.
By stunning Klaw you are taking away his main weapon: double boost cards. Just note that you may have to deal with an attack from him via the encounter deck, as Assault or Gang-Up can trigger another attack. In that case, allies are wonderful tech against Klaw, as he can double-triple-boost into eight damage in Stage III and not put a dent into your hero; so long as you chump block.
Key tech cards: Stuns, threat mitigation for stage 2B, retaliate
Ultron was one of the most unique encounters in the first year of the game. He also benefits from having the highest single health pool at the time of his release.
Because of this, you will need to rush down Ultron somewhat. You may decide to keep him at Stage II in expert before you push to III (depending on your strategy), but ultimately, you do need to kill him before he starts overwhelming you with drones.
Stun tech works great for stopping Ultron II from spawning too many minions. But using powers like Jennifer Walters’ alter-ego ability, Great Responsibility, and Counterintelligence can actually stop Ultron 2B from triggering. That’s one less drone you need to worry about.
Retaliate is excellent drone tech, as are AOE (area-of-effect) abilities like Lightning Strike. Out of the core set, Black Panther is a great tool for cutting down drones. He can face-tank them and kill them instantly (non-upgraded), and use allies to take Ultron hits.
Risky Business is often cited as one of the easiest scenarios in the game, and there’s a reason for that.
Generally, you want to avoid flipping Norman to the Green Goblin side unless you are ready. Setup to your heart’s content, keep the Criminal Enterprise tokens low (preferably hovering around one), then when you’re good to go, chip damage him, have him go Green Goblin form, then let it rip with the perfect hand and setup.
If you keep flipping Norman to Goblin constantly, you’re going to have a bad time dealing with a ton of indirect damage. You don’t want to do that. Ideally, you’ll flip Norman twice all game – once to get him to the next stage, the next to kill him.
For the most part, you won’t be flipping to alter-ego when Norman is active, so you won’t be schemed out of stage 1B. This leaves you plenty of time to take null “attacks” from Norman as you stay in hero form all game.
As a final tip, remember that indirect damage from Stages I-II of Green Goblin can be assigned to any of your characters. It does not need to exclusively go to your hero.
Key tech cards: Anything high tempo that doesn’t require setup, treachery cancellation
Mutagen expert, on the flipside, is cited as one of the toughest scenarios to date.
This is because on Stage II, Green Goblin instantly deals two encounter cards to each player. In other words, on expert, you’re resolving three encounter cards turn one. As you might expect, tempo is important. The concept of tempo refers to how quickly you are outpacing the villain’s turn. For Mutagen, it’s key that you don’t waste multiple turns setting up.
You simply do not have time to have the villain play passively, because they are firing on all cylinders turn one. Because of this, hitting Goblin immediately with damage will help you slowly chip him down. Heroes like Spider-Man or Doctor Strange, which have treachery cancellations, can also assist with early tempo losses that might stem from those three starting cards.
Finally, you will need something to deal with those three-health guard minions. Cheap three-damage solutions (allies included, who can block for you after) are key. You’ll want to use the rest of your hand to swing at Goblin.
A final tip: The “damages You” in Green Goblin’s forced response only refers to the hero. If you block with an ally, it does not resolve.
Key tech cards: Burst damage
Everyone has a different order for killing the Wrecking Crew, but mine usually involves taking out Wrecker and Thunderball quickly, then Piledriver and Bulldozer.
Here’s the big “cheat” for Wrecking Crew. You are always in control of who the active villain is, even if the encounter deck “changes it.” This is the secret. All you need to do is have the villains that you want to be the two potential “main” choices throttled at the lowest and highest threat on their schemes. That’s it.
With practice, you can completely avoid having Bulldozer ever activate once in an entire game, to avoid his overkill ability. You can also wait to take out Piledriver and avoid having him whittle down your upgrades/supports, and avoid taking slow, painful retaliate damage. As a general rule, the active villain will be the one that has the highest threat. However, ties are broken by the player, and all the other “random” encounter card changes involve “the least threat.”
Once you have this down, the encounter is a cinch. All you need to add is burst damage to potentially kill a Wrecking Crew member on your first turn, and you’re good to go.
Crossbones isn’t a super tough villain, but he’s one of the most fun. And he’s very spiky. He’s a lot like Rhino in that way, and even has a charge-like secret weapon.
The biggest problem card in Crossbones’ arsenal is Full Auto. There are two copies in the deck, and when you’re in hero form, he can hose you down for a ton of indirect damage. If you don’t have ways to mitigate it and/or allies out, you can die outright.
If you can get Full Auto and Machine Gun damage under control, you’ll eventually best Crossbones. The rest of his kit is very straight-forward, and by default, his minions are very easy core set threats. His low health also ensures that you should be able to take him out before he uses several of his own tutor cards to kit himself out with goodies.
Focus first on mitigation and second on damage, and you’ll burn Crossbones before he burns you.
Key tech cards: Low-cost cards, Under Surveillance
Absorbing Man’s kit has two main faults: a very high threat threshold main scheme (1B), and the limitation of only having one environment out at a time. 12 threat is a very high ceiling, so you don’t necessarily need big threat mitigation cards to keep him down. Environments are also very easy to handle, as he generally will attack with a pre-arranged, already setup environment.
For instance, if stone is out, he’ll place threat on the main scheme, and the stone environment will allow him to heal. That’s it. You know what’s coming, so outside of a new environment surge into an assault, Absorbing Man is very predictable.
Having a well-balanced kit that can deal with damage and threat is key, so you can adapt to his snail-pace environment shifts.
A final tip: using Under Surveillance on any single-stage main scheme will help wonders. If you’re Justice, bring just one copy of it for more leeway.
Key tech cards: Healing, hero-centric buildsthat don’t rely on alter-ego
Taskmaster is another straight-forward villain that has one main scheme stage.
To really lay into Taskmaster, stay in hero form all game and watch as his main villain power goes to waste. Use allies to help you accomplish this while you put in small packets of damage. If you’re trying to take his Photographic Reflexes away, ping him for one measly damage, take one back, then discard it. Easy.
The only heroes that might have issues with Taskmaster are Ant-Man, or alter-ego heavy heroes like Ms. Marvel or She-Hulk. They like to flip a lot, so going back and forth to hero can make you take unnecessary damage.
A final tip (hey, it’s just like Absorbing Man!): using Under Surveillance on any single-stage main scheme will help wonders. If you’re Justice, bring just one copy of it for more leeway.
Key tech cards: Cards that provide packets of 3-5 damage
Zola can be brutal for multiple reasons. Like Klaw and Mutagen he has a very taxing setup, forcing you to deal with multiple things at once. If you can live without your signature ally (for some heroes this is a boon), you can ignore Hydra Prison.
Minions are the main thing you want to watch out for. and in the base scenario, they range from 3-5 health. Make sure you don’t get caught with damage values that aren’t enough to take out a minion, and build your deck accordingly.
Zola’s baked-in retaliate is also a major issue for ally swarm decks. To mitigate this, use allies to thwart or take down minions, and use your hero to really hit Zola hard. That way your swarm army can stay up to take hits from Zola directly. This is especially key because Zola can draw into Assault, Gang-Up, and Mind Ray: all of which dish out an extra attack.
Key tech cards: Low-cost burst thwart cards like Clear the Area
Without the campaign upgrades to help you, and with high-tempo modular sets involved, Red Skull can be a beast. But like all villains, he can be beaten.
You’ll want to bring lots of thwart for Red Skull, so you can take out one side scheme (at least) per turn. In this own set, that averages around three threat per player. Many heroes can handle this without excessive setup, like Quicksilver.
Low cost-curves are key here, because you may need to deal with a minion, deal damage to Red Skull, thwart a side or main scheme, and remove an upgrade in the same turn. Oddly enough you can “tech” against Red Skull by bringing easier modular sets. Sets that don’t tutor out additional threats are a good way to learn the encounter.
Key tech cards: Burst cards, setup cards (more on that in a moment)
It seems antithetical to ask players to build for both quick and slow tempo in their decks, but hear me out.
Kang is a very tricky villain in that he requires you to immediately deal with him, then he has a lull period, then he gets back to business. You’ll need some burst to get him out of stage one quickly before the board state gets too crazy.
While you’re in stage two, especially in solo play, you can relax. The only negative impact you’ll have when “threating out” in the second stage of Kang is an extra copy of Kang’s Dominion. In solo, that’s just three threat and an encounter card in exchange for one to three (or more) turns of setup. In multiplayer with a full board, one Kang’s Dominion is 12 threat. If just one person gets a huge setup out of it, it’s worth it.
You’ll need a decent amount of buildup for stage three too. Kang III can dish out damage and threat, while commanding a hefty hitpoint value. If you have minions, side schemes, and obligations piling up, you may never defeat him. By default you don’t need heavy minion tech (his Macrobots have four health by the way) for this one, depending on the modular set you chose.
Key tech cards: Stun and confuse, to prevent Drang from adding barrage counters
Galaxy’s Most Wanted brings the heat, and Drang is no pushover.
Drang can dish out a lot of damage if you let him, but he doesn’t have that many ways to gain access to overkill in his base kit. Instead, Drang overwhelms you with “barrage counters,” which charge up his ship and blast every player with two indirect damage after he acquires four counters.
Think of this like a soft timer on the scenario. You need to take him down at a decent pace, but not too quickly, because moving him into Stage III before you’re ready for it can be disastrous. The Badoon set itself doesn’t throw too many wrinkles at you, but thwarting is paramount, even in bursts. Unlike a lot of other scenarios, it’s totally OK to “fail” Stage 1B and drop to Stage 2B if you need a breather. There isn’t a huge penalty.
If you’re starting with Drang II on expert, try and get rid of his spear as soon as possible. You really want to remove stalwart, so that you can stun or confuse him to keep the heat off. This is especially the case for Drang III, as any activation will charge up his ship. Replacing that entire process is a great way to keep his ship at bay: so make sure when you flip Drang to III, you’re ready! Those barrage counters can add up really fast.
The Collector: Infiltrate the Museum
Key tech cards: Beefy permanents that aren’t meant to be sacrificed, heavy thwart to pay for dropping to alter-ego to prevent chumping allies into the collection
Infiltrate the Museum is one of the most contentious scenarios in the Galaxy’s Most Wanted box, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Here’s the main gimmick: Collector will “steal” in play cards from you and his own encounter deck (like allies, upgrades, or even minions). If the collection grows to five per player cards, you auto-lose. No pressure!
As you can imagine, this is monumentally easier to build for in standalone play. First off you want to make sure you aren’t taking too many low HP allies. Now this can be tough to handle in the campaign — where you can’t change your deck on expert mode — but generally you want a decent spread of capable allies if at all possible. Make sure that when you activate them you aren’t always just chump blocking with them, or activating them down to their very last consequential damage.
Instead, keep your allies alive and “save” them to chump with in emergencies, or when the collection is low. You’ll want to face-tank hits from the Collector, or consider taking Endurance (x1 copy) in a campaign to allow you some breathing room. Swapping to AE to take a breather (especially when the Collector is confused) is helpful.
Also, Justice is extremely effective against this entire box, but on Collector 1 in particular because he only has one main scheme. If you slap an Under Surveillance on there, it’ll give you even more room to work with. Do not underestimate the power of even one Under Surveillance in multiplayer, even if it doesn’t “scale.”
Additionally, you will want to make sure that you aren’t just killing every minion that comes out, as soon as it comes out. Sometimes you can soak minion damage with your hero without blocking. Sometimes you may need to use a high HP ally (like US Agent) to defend. On other occasions, you may need to swap to AE, let them thwart, or even stun/confuse them if you have a spare (Spider-Girl works great for this).
On expert, immediately take the three damage penalty for his when revealed Stage II effect to avoid losing a card to the collection turn one. You want to spend that momentum instead to build up or thwart off some threat from the schemes in play.
As a final expert tip, make sure you’re ready to push Collector to stage III. As soon as he flips, you’ll have to put a card from your deck into the collection, then place one threat on the main scheme for each card in there. That can automatically threat you out if you’re not careful.
I lied, here’s a final final tip. Remember that cards with “victory” points do not go in the collection! They go in the victory display.
The Collector: Escape the Museum
Key tech cards: High threat removal
The second go around with The Collector isn’t nearly as punishing. There is no collection tis time, you’re just going to have to take him out the old fashioned way: thwarting.
In this encounter, thwarting is the fastest way forward. You need to thwart out three main schemes to win. That’s it. If you manage to “kill” the Collector, who cannot be defeated, he’ll flip to his other side, you’ll remove three per player threat from the main scheme, and then he’ll flip back at the end of the round. Also, you can thwart off five threat from the library labyrinth environment by taking a facedown encounter card.
Okay, so there’s a lot going on, but the main takeaway is thwarting is king. It’s a lot of work to kill the Collector over and over, so you want to dedicate your main efforts to thwarting the main scheme directly. Similarly, Library of Labyrinth is very enticing, but you may not want to take an extra encounter card every turn. Just keep steadily thwarting off the main scheme in bulk and you’ll be part of the way through in no time.
Stay in hero as often as possible to prevent the main scheme from going up, as you don’t want to be thwarting off a small amount per turn, then have Collector undo your entire efforts.
Let the damage to Collector be incidental. Mechanics like Overkill will work, as well as damage from characters that have 0 or “-” thwart. If you happen to “defeat” and flip him for three per player threat, it’s a bonus. But don’t rely on it.
Once you get to stage 3A, the Library Labyrinth environment will go away and you’ll start to get blasted for two or three per player indirect damage across the table. Make sure you’re absolutely ready for this, because you can’t rely on Library of Labyrinth to win now.
Key tech cards: Stuns, target acquired, the ability to heal or duck into alter-ego
Nebula is very much a cascading avalanche of an encounter. Sometimes she won’t feel as powerful. Sometimes she’ll have a ton of “technique” upgrades and wreck your day.
Here’s how she works. When Nebula activates, she fires off all of her “special” abilities on her techniques. These include: “place one threat on the main scheme, you are stunned, give Nebula a tough status card, take one damage, discard one card from your hand at random.” Afterward, you discard one technique (in Stage III, you need to remove the top card of your deck from the game to do it).
This creates numerous problems if she’s surging into multiple techniques, and they’re firing off constantly, and you’re only removing one per activation. It’s a smart move for the entire campaign, but bring at least one copy of Target Acquired to prevent her techniques from being attached to her via boost effect. Nebula is prone to being chump blocked. This is especially effective because it can keep the Power Stone on your hero.
She also has a ship at her disposal, which adds an “evasion counter” wrinkle in. When the villain phase starts up you add one evasion counter to her ship (as well as card effects that add them), and it dictates how much threat the main scheme increases by as a result. It’s very important to always keep Nebula’s Ship at zero evasion counters all game. It can quickly add up and in some cases, you may not be able to remove as many counters as you like, especially if you’re discarding cards and resources.
As a result, big-economy heroes who can afford to remove multiple evasion counters for the table are paramount here. And Nebula can be easier with more players in the mix, as the evasion counter increase is a flat one per villain phase.
Key tech cards: Full card cancels, tough status for your hero
Thus far, Ronan is probably the toughest villain in the game. So naturally, we have a lot of tips!
If you’re playing campaign mode, let Nebula keep the stone at the very end, then take her out. This will help you with Ronan as he won’t be angry at you for having the stone, and you’ll deal with one less encounter card at the start.
Ronan’s main gimmick is that he starts with multiple side schemes in play if you’re running the campaign, and begins with the Kree Command Ship, which is a permanent hazard icon for the table. If you’re playing solo, you’re essentially playing heroic mode. Ronan also starts with his hammer, the “Universal Weapon.” In short, he’s already set up to wreck you, he doesn’t need multiple turns to do so.
Turn one you’re going to want to take his hammer away, full stop. Just take the damage and the encounter card cost, and treat it like you’re starting the game that way. It’ll remove Stalwart, and remove +1 SCH and +1 ATK from the equation. Stunning and confusing is crucial for Ronan, to prevent him from doing any damage. You’re going to want to stay on stage 1B for reasons I’ll explain in a moment.
So here’s the thing. You want Ronan to keep the Power Stone as much as possible; all game if you can. That way he doesn’t draw two boost cards, which can wreck your board state. Instead, ping him with packets of one or two damage, and use allies or non-attack abilities to prevent you from taking the stone back with the forced effect. The extra +1 ATK he gains from the stone is very small potatoes compared to a devastating additional boost.
Once he’s at Stage III in expert, or the Superior Tactics side scheme is out, you’ve trapped him. This forces him to keep the Power Stone until it’s removed, which lets you then nuke him down. If you drop to 2B, the main scheme prevents you from removing threat from it if Ronan has the Power Stone, which is a massive issue. Then this strategy of “letting him keep the Power Stone” is null and void, and you’ll have to also thwart out Superior Tactics, as well as any crisis icon side schemes. Do not drop to 2B.
The main card you’re going to need to watch out for is Fanaticism. To counter this card, you can opt to cancel it with options like Black Widow ally, or Spycraft. If it comes out (and it will in many cases), tough is a viable strategy. Wait, Fanaticism pierces, right? Well, sort of! If you have tough on your hero, and your ally is the target of the attack, the pierce hits your ally first, then overkill goes to your hero, which you can soak with tough. Always use the Milano to cancel a treachery if possible, as well. Good luck!
Naturally, a lot of folks were left wondering what to do with their FFG sleeve collection, as they were out of luck in terms of purchasing further product to keep up with future card game releases. To wit, Sleeve Kings decided to create a “Premium Sleeve Line” to fill that gap that was left, and provided us with the product you see above. That line is being tested now before it rolls into full production.
Because this is an LCG blog, we will be looking primarily at the “standard card game size” sleeves, which can be used for Marvel Champions, Arkham Horror, and Lord of the Rings LCG.
As you can see here, Sleeve Kings (right) is aiming to replicate the FFG line down to the sizes and the microns. For the “standard card game size” line that LCG players will be the most interested in, packs come with 55 sleeves (five more than a typical FFG pack), are 100 microns thick, and are 63.5 x 88mm (same as the original FFG sleeves, even down to the exact same nomenclature).
It makes sense when you look at the image of all of the Sleeve Kings premium SKUs together at the very top of this post, as well as the “FFG Sleeve Sizes” list on the actual official FFG sleeve packaging itself.
See how everything nicely lines up?
When Sleeve Kings first announced that they intended on creating a 1:1 version of FFG’s sleeves months after FFG’s line ended, it seems like they meant it. Just like FFG’s line, the sleeves leave a little extra room at the top of the card.
Look at this comparison of — from left to right — [old] FFG art sleeves, [new] Sleeve Kings premiums, and [old] FFG’s standard card game size (red):
We were also able to test out FFG clears separately. In all of the below images, FFG sleeves are on the left (Lord of the Rings) and Sleeve Kings are on the right (Marvel).
In my tests, the Sleeve Kings clears are remarkably close, to the point where the hand feel when shuffling feels the same. Again, they’re the same measurements and the same micron level, so this makes perfect sense.
While FFG sleeves are sometimes criticized for their quality, as a whole, I find them to be extremely serviceable, especially for the price. In terms of hand/shuffle feel, the quality of the microns, and the actual size comparisons, the Sleeve Kings premium brand looks very close; if not difficult to pick out of a lineup.
Many Marvel Champions sites have been running buyer’s guides for some time now, and we’re going to be doing one by popular request. However, note that this is a very brief, highly opinionated “quick guide” in terms of what’s worth picking up. It’s one of many resources you should use if you’re picking and choosing packs.
Although the game doesn’t have direct benefits from playing “progression style” (also known as buying and playing every pack in release order), this list will be sorted chronologically, so you can get an idea of how the game has evolved over time. It may also be altered over time depending on how packs impact other releases.
The core set is going to be the starting point for most people as a no-brainer first buy.
The first three scenarios should give you a good idea of what the game is all about, with Rhino easing you into the game and expert Ultron showcasing the high-end difficulty curve fairly well. If you dislike the core set, we recommend trying to spice up the game a bit with this guide before you give it up for good.
So is the core set required to play Marvel Champions? Yes and no. It depends on how you plan to normally play the game.
If you’re playing completely solo, the Core Set comes with the standard and expert modular sets (seven and three cards respectively), which go in nearly every scenario deck to date (read: with the exception of Wrecking Crew at this time). It also packs in five heroes, a ton of player cards (with full playsets), extra mods and three scenarios. It’s the strongest LCG purchase to date from a value perspective.
If your friend is providing the scenarios for you and you’re just along for the ride, you don’t need the Core Set; but you might be missing out on a few staple player cards. That “staple” pool is shrinking all the time as more cards are released though.
Green Goblin is one of the best packs released to date: full stop.
If you dig the core set, you need to pick up Green Goblin as soon as possible. So far in the game’s lifecycle, the value of two scenarios and four modular sets in one villain pack is pretty much unheard of. That’s like, half a story box.
Risky Business, one of the two included scenarios, suffers from some design flaws in that it’s very easy to “game,” but thematically it still feels sound and may satisfy a more casual audience. The idea of a “flipping” villain is intriguing and has not been replicated in the first year of the game’s existence.
Mutagen Formula, however, is one of the most fun scenarios in the game and one of the most challenging. It’s well-balanced in that standard play should feel doable, and expert play is incredibly punishing upfront: in a good way, to prevent the “solitaire” feeling you can sometimes get with a few scenarios.
The extra mods are the icing on the cake and it’s great to see another non-MCU villain after Rhino. With just this pack and the core set you can get a lot of mileage.
Captain America’s pack is kind of all over the place, but he still very much is worth a buy. I mean, he’s Cap: enough said.
Iconic stature aside Captain America is a very strong hero that pretty much every player should own at some point. Although his pre-built deck is trying to do two different strategies at once (break it apart as soon as you can), it comes with some staple cards like Squirrel Girl and several other great Leadership cards.
Cap embodies the “powerful” nature of how heroes should feel in Marvel Champions without going too overboard. When he was released he did feel highly effective, but the card pool has enhanced several other core set heroes that can hang with him. While he isn’t the most unique, generally, this is how a basic Marvel Champions character should feel.
While everything so far has gotten a “buy it” rating, we’re entering polarizing territory now.
Ms. Marvel is one of the best-designed heroes in the game, but she isn’t going to appeal to everyone. She has a very specific playstyle and an involved strategy that includes swapping to alter-ego often to trigger a lot of her alter-ego specific cards. She’s one of my go-to heroes and designer Michael Boggs did an incredible job developing her. She also has a few staple Protection cards in her pack like Energy Barrier and Tackle, that should appeal Protection-centric deck brewers out there.
However, she doesn’t necessarily feel essential. I’m going to try and be fairly tough with this guide so every single pack doesn’t get a “buy it!” rating, and this is the first in the game’s lifecycle that I can honestly say is going to be a “maybe” for a lot of people.
Likewise, we aren’t going to shy away from recommendations to outright avoid packs, and Wrecking Crew is the first release that truly feels like a complete misfire.
Wrecking Crew, like Risky Business, can be easily “gamed” but feels even more rote, as the “fight four villains at once” fantasy isn’t fully realized. It’s also very fiddly to get to the table, with multiple decks to get on the table and several provisos that can make any game a pain: from solo play all the way up to four players.
To add insult to injury, Wrecking Crew’s total lack of modular sets feels antithetical to the entire modular nature of the game. It sadly came at a really bad time too, as it was supposed to last us from February 2020 all the way through July 2020, when the Red Skull box was set to originally arrive.
I hope the team learns from this and avoids such a lengthy drought in the future: or putting so much responsibility on a lone scenario pack to deliver. It’s great that they are taking risks this early, but unlike Risky Business (which felt like a bonus for a fully-featured release), Wrecking Crew comprises the entirety of the pack: what you see is what you get.
And what you get is my least-played scenario by a country mile.
Thor is a tricky one. Some people love him, some hate him. I fall somewhere on the latter line (hate is a strong word), but not for the reasons you expect. I say this with authority: Thor is not a bad hero.
I cracked open Thor the first day he was available at retail, built a Justice deck from scratch sight unseen, and beat every scenario to date on expert. Thor can be strong at any player count with the right deck. However, a lot of his kit feels like it’s cherry-picked from other heroes and his efficacy in solo play with other aspects might frustrate some people. A lot of his kit is simply “plus stats,” which is not that compelling, even a year into the game.
The cards in his pack also feel very situational, including the Jarnbjorn archetype — that, while fun — relies on getting a single card out on the table to combo off of. Thus far (read: everything above), he’s the most skippable hero.
To date, Black Widow is my “Green Goblin” of hero packs. Translation? Pick it up right away and don’t look back if you have a background playing other card games.
Black Widow is the baseline for how all hero packs should be presented, and guest-designer Matt Newman (of Arkham Horror LCG fame) did a fantastic job of really making that happen alongside of co-designer Caleb Grace. Widow feels thematic, strong and engaging at pretty much every turn.
She also comes with some killer cards that Justice absolutely needed to become a more fleshed out aspect, while introducing the preparation archetype into the game for every single hero. Like Cap, this is how an LCG purchase should feel: you buy a pack, the hero is fresh and unique, it feels competitive without being broken, and it comes with a ton of good cards.
Like Thor, I waffle on this hero constantly. He’s fun…at times. He can also feel boring at that very same moment.
I think the designers went a little overboard with Doctor Strange from a power perspective. At some tables, he’s banned for being too powerful. At others, he’s simply not used because he trivializes the entire game, even on Heroic difficulty. I haven’t seen hype die down in just about every community faster than the initial Strange reveal to his actual release: people just seem bored with him.
A lot of the problem is that his Invocation deck has no downsides or penalties and can be gamed very easily with several cards. His hero deck (his 15 cards) do not feel particularly thematic: that honor is reserved for his Invocation deck, which again, is a smidgen too strong. It’s a catch 22 and Strange is caught in the middle. He also feels weird with Protection as his pack aspect, despite the fact that several of the pack’s cards are big wins for Protection as a whole.
If you want a very powerful hero and think the game is too difficult, pick up Doctor Strange. If you want a challenge or feel like the game is too easy, you can probably skip him.
Hulk is another “Thor,” but I think he edges out the God of Thunder in more ways than one.
No, I’m not talking about power level. Hulk is a very fun, very smashy hero that feels thematic outside of his dull alter-ego side. Hulk can smash for 13 damage (or more) turn one and keep swinging.
However, like Thor, his Aggression cards are sometimes too niche to use in most decks, with the exception of a select few like Toe to Toe, which is one of the most exciting and best-designed cards so far. He also doesn’t shine in every aspect out of the box.
If you bought him and are banging your head against the wall playing him (I told you to wishlist it below!), try this deck. Or make him one of your last buys. I have not seen a hero as disliked as Hulk by the community to date.
The Rise of Red Skull, at the time of its street date, practically doubles the currently available scenario pool. That’s good! It also comes with two very fun heroes (Hawkeye and Spider-Woman): that’s good too! There really aren’t a lot of bad things to say about this box even if it may not wow you.
Not every scenario is mind-blowingly good (Absorbing Man feels very non-interactive at times and Taskmaster doesn’t quite live up to the fantasy), but the box more than delivers what you’d expect out of it. Those expectations, mind, are going to differ for everyone. If you want a “super deep campaign akin to Arkham Horror” you’re going to be disappointed.
Each scenario’s resolution is typically binary, with one card added to your setup/deck. In that sense, it’s more like Lord of the Rings LCG’s campaign, which is a perfectly fine way to go about Marvel Champion’s first box. I appreciate that there’s a few extra mechanics for expert players (persistent health, with healing between scenarios costing you an obligation card that goes into your player deck) and I hope to see that idea live on in each story product.
While I’d like to see story boxes pushed further in the future (and there is a hint of that based on the Galaxy’s Most Wanted stream), The Rise of Red Skull is a long-awaited and satisfying release.
When Galaxy’s Most Wanted is out, the status may change to “wishlist it.”
Kang is here, and he’s mixing up the previous Green Goblin scenario pack cadence of “two scenarios, four mods.” Kang is actually one scenario and three mods, but there’s a twist: his second stage has four possible characters to tangle with. From solo to four player, you’re going to be facing a different villain each time you play, coupled with the strong theme of new mechanics and different artwork for each villain stage (I, II, III).
Because of these reasons and more, Kang feels like a more polished scenario overall. The art is fantastic, the mechanics are unique (Kang flips the prior obligation system on its head) and on expert, it can be on the difficult side depending on your deck. There’s one issue with solo play (the second stage doesn’t really penalize you as much as it should), but overall I’d say it’s a success.
Part of the reason for that is due to the strong foundation of the modular sets. All three add more minions to the game (which is decidedly a good thing), with varying degrees of difficulty. The toughest set is minion-heavy and fairly brutal, which should elevate most of the scenarios overall. While I’d like to see more scenario packs follow the Green Goblin model of multiple missions per pack, Kang is arguably stronger than any single scenario in the Red Skull box outside of Zola.
Ant-Man is a terrific hero that swings for the fences and mostly achieve what it sets out to do.
Marvel Champions feels like it is at its best when it tries to do something unique. Having a hero with a giant folding card with two hero forms is perhaps the epitome of “Year 1” ingenuity for this game. I much prefer wacky designs over say, Thor, who mostly consists of “plus stats” cards. Flipping is one of the most fun things to do in this game, so even if “flipping down” from hero to alter-ego isn’t an ideal move in specific instances, flipping from hero to hero often can be.
But Ant-Man is also efficient and powerful. He’s far from “broken,” but manages to slot into every aspect, which is an absolute win over several heroes that feel pigeonholed into specific archetypes. He has a decent amount of attack and thwart, and has a hand size of six in alter-ego form and five in tiny hero form. It checks all of the right boxes.
We’ve had access to Wasp thanks to Amazon UK, and we’ve taken her for a spin with each aspect. As of right now, Wasp feels a little sterile, mostly due to her hero kit that basically amounts to “extra stats.”
Even her helmet, which is otherwise one of the most interesting parts of Ant-Man’s kit, is “plus stats.” Where she shines is her ability to distribute her attack and thwart values in giant form: it can be a fun math problem for a certain kind of player to make the “most efficient play.”
Since this is a discerning buyer’s guide though, I’m going to cautiously advise folks to wishlist Wasp rather than outright buying her. If you can only choose one “tiny/giant” hero, make it Ant-Man. He’s much more versatile and fun to play. That said, Wasp comes with some killer cards in her pack, especially Ironheart.
We also have access to Quicksilver via Amazon UK; call me surprised, but Quicksilver has become one of my favorite heroes thus far.
At first glance, Quicksilver’s kit seems surface level, but once you really pilot him over the course of a few expert/heroic games, you’ll find his niche, and then some. Quicksilver’s ready ability is a blast, not only in terms of card interaction, but pure efficacy. He can essentially thwart or attack for two from turn one (or a combo), and Friction Resistance really allows his kit to come together.
He’s fun in every aspect, thanks to his raw readying power. The added cherry on top of readying once in the villain phase (don’t forget that free block, even if you use it on a minion!) is a nice touch. Oh, and given that players were starving for more Protection cards at this point (it’ll have been seven full months since the last entirely-Protection-based pack when he’s out in February of 2020!), it’s a no-brainer.
So, having played her across all difficulty settings (mostly heroic), she is a monster. On the flipside of the coin, she’s Strange as he should have been: more fun and interactive.
Year 2 hero design (read: from Ant-Man on) feels significantly different in myriad ways. It really feels like the team is hitting their stride in terms of making heroes feel “powerful.” Scarlet Witch overdoes this a tad, but only just so. She is, quite simply, a blast to play, even if she semi-trivializes some scenarios.
Again, this guide is attempting to be a little more discerning when possible, because “buy every pack” isn’t viable, financially, for everyone. And in that vein, many of Scarlet Witch’s actual aspect and basic cards just don’t cut the mustard. Out of all of the packs so far in Year 2, she is arguably the most skippable, if we’re just talking non-hero cards. Click the link above and peruse them yourself.
Even still, no Year 2 hero is a bad buy. Shove them up to the top of your list.
I never thought I’d see the day where I’d wishlist a story box. So is it bad? No! Let’s talk about it.
So Galaxy’s Most Wanted is a tough nut to crack. I want to make it clear: I like the box as a standalone experience. But I also run a Marvel Champions resource site and heavily invest in constructed deckbuilding. As a play-on-standard out of the box product, Galaxy’s Most Wanted can be pretty rough, and openly hostile to casual players.
If you’re entering it with the “buy what you want” mindset, you may want to think about picking up Red Skull first. Although the heroes are very flavorful and fun to play when they are piloted with constructed decks, Galaxy’s Most Wanted’s precons leave a lot to be desired, and are ill-equipped to handle at least one of the latter encounters in the box. If you’re a casual fan, Ronan (the final encounter) is far beyond anything standard has ever offered before.
Now, that’s not inherently a bad thing if you only play expert and want a challenge (raises hand). Standalone, Galaxy’s Most Wanted eliminates the need for heroic play for the most hardcore playerbase, as it provides a sufficient enough challenge (and then some) on its own. The villains are also much more charismatic both in terms of how they play and their encounter cards and recommended modular sets. I consider chucking heroic to the curb an upgrade, if these scenarios can stand on their own within the confines of the original expert mode concept.
Again, part of that is because of the strong theme. Piloting the Milano is a very small thing on paper, but it adds an air of uniqueness to the box that most of the previous villains couldn’t offer. The Collector’s first scenario gives players an alternate loss condition and his second scenario provides an alternate win condition. The market is mostly bland, but is otherwise an innocuous experience that doesn’t really hurt the box; so much as take up space that other modular sets could have filled.
Galaxy’s Most Wanted has been a blast to play and critique, because it represents a very interesting juncture for Marvel Champions as a whole. I’m both very excited and somewhat anxious to see where encounter design goes next.
Although Organized Play is generally more applicable to competitive card games, where players need to organize to actually participate in tournaments, Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) has extended efforts to cooperative card games like Lord of the Rings LCG, Arkham Horror LCG and Marvel Champions LCG to provide “OP” promos. These include things like playmats, scenarios and promotional player cards.
The idea is that FFG sends “kits” to stores, who put on organized events (usually on a digital calendar) to get people to come to the store and play a specific game. FFG wins because their games are marketed for free with big events and people likely buy in; the stores win because people are going to the store when they otherwise wouldn’t have and are potentially sold on more product. These kits are not supposed to be sold directly to consumers, but some store owners do order OP kits for this purpose.
What has been released so far for Marvel Champions LCG?
Although it is not strictly “OP-related,” full art promos have been provided on location at Gen Con 2019, which were later distributed at PAX Unplugged 2019. These are colloquially referred to as “Gen Con Promos” on storefronts like eBay.
In November of 2019, a “Launch Kit” was distributed to stores. It contained four promotional playmats and “comic style cards” of each core set hero. Prices for all of these have bottomed out for the most part in the secondhand market. You can find one full set of the core Gen Con or Launch Kit promos for around $30 per set. The playmat is anywhere from $20-$30 (you can also find it bundled with core sets if you look carefully), with the empty cardboard OP box going for roughly $5.
In November of 2020, two other OP kits were distributed to some stores. These are titled “2020 First Story Kit” (44 extended art promo cards, 4 playmats) and “Open Play Kit – Season 1” (96 extended art promo cards). The retail price for this kit is $20 for stores for the former, and $8 for the latter: though they will be sold for a lot more than that by scalpers. The “story kit” actually isn’t story oriented, but is more for stores to hold their own events based on the existing story. Ms. Marvel, Thor, and Black Widow, as well as several player card promos, a Green Goblin playmat and villain promo cards (Risky Business, Wrecking Crew) are part of these sets. You can find the full breakdown above.
On February 21, 2021, a new kit started to roll out to stores (images via Jason B.). This kit was originally due in January of 2021, but was pushed back a month.
It contains the Hulk, Captain America, and Doctor Strange hero cards, as well as Avengers Assemble x3, Desperate Defense x3, and Drop Kick x3.
There is no mat (or any other contents) confirmed for the box at this time. This brings the current promo set up to date with the first cycle of content. As of now, expect Red Skull and beyond promos.
As of August 2020, FFG has stated that “more OP kits for our game lines will start reaching stores in November and a revised schedule for our games for 2021 and beyond will be made public at a later date.” The statement did not specify Marvel Champions by name.
So what’s the deal? When are these actually coming?
So, COVID-19 is definitely going to delay anything OP related as it is physical product, meant to be displayed and shipped to stores: many of which are closed. But in the past few years, the Organized Play section of FFG under Asmodee has been undergoing many changes.
Right now, according to sources, the FFG Organized Play team that is handling card games is sparse. Perhaps the easiest scene to get a big-picture look at OP from is The Lord of the Rings LCG. Last year’s “Fellowship Event” was delayed indefinitely in the fall of 2019, pre-COVID-19. LOTR LCG players have been waiting for more information for over a year on when this event might occur, or if it’s even still happening. There has been no communication.
In the meantime, FFG OP has been posting plans for KeyForge even during COVID. On June 24, 2020, FFG OP confirmed that “stores will be able to host chain-bound events again worldwide.” So while OP has slowed down for cooperative LCGs before the pandemic, things are still happening on the competitive side after the pandemic.
It’s become increasingly clear that co-op OP is on the backburner. OP plans may change at any moment, but for now, expect to wait a while.
Evidently, this idea came from Andrew Navarro, former head studio at Fantasy Flight Games/FFG.
In short, Ant-Man and Wasp can swap between three forms at will, just like how any identity can “flip” once per turn innately. This includes an alter-ego, tiny and giant form. You can find more info on Ant-Man’s identity here, and more on Wasp’s identity here.
So what does that mean for card storage?
Well, there’s options.
Use sideloading sleeves
FFG says that the cards are great quality, and do not inherently require sleeves or storage. The sturdiness of Transformers TCG cards backs this up, so long as they are the same technology.
“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
“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
“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
“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.”
“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
“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
“[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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
Evan: Our current plan and this is subject to change….but, the current plan is that in the United States Black Widow will release on June 5, that Friday. Doctor Strange in July. Then Hulk in August.
So basically we’re returning to one hero pack per month. With Hulk in August, we will be returning to global releases. Our current directive and strategy is to have no other country release the Hulk hero pack until August. And we’ll all get this at the same time.
“The seven Marvel releases in June” rumor includes Crisis Protocol from Atomic Games. They are not Marvel Champions products, just the Black Widow pack.
For Hawkeye’s quiver, are you supposed to shuffle the top five cards into your deck?
Boggs: No, we decided to introduce a new language with this into the game, this language will become more common. You look at the top five cards, pick the one you need then put the rest back in the same order.
Of all the cards you designed for Champions, what’s your favorite?
Boggs: It’s in the upcoming Hulk pack, it’s Toe-to-Toe. I like the playstyle and the story it brings about. I like cheesing it too as it’s not a cost but an effect. You can stun them or have tough on your character, or still defend.
Is there a card that you wish you would have designed or released differently?
Boggs: I think in retrospect the card “Great Responsibility.”
I see a lot of people overlook that card. It’s a powerful card especially in multiplayer. In retrospect we should have done a simpler effect in its place, then saved that effect for later once the playerbase understood its functionality.
Will there be reprints for errata-ed cards?
Boggs: Yes if we’ve errata-ed something we issue a reprint change with our production team, it should be fixed in reprints later.
Do allies foreshadow how future heroes will work?
Boggs: That’s an interesting question. Not necessarily.
I think it’s cool when they’re somewhat parallel. The She-Hulk ally was just spoiled. That’s something I enjoyed in testing. But that’s not a rule. We want to show the hero the best way we can. Sometimes there will be similarities, but not every time.
How do you decide how to represent each hero? Which personality, or ally versus hero?
Boggs: Generally speaking we try to represent heroes the way we feel has the broadest appeal. So we pull from multiple versions of the hero, we pull from multiple comics. It’s hard to have that greater scope but we try the best we can.
In competitive card games we often see keywords pull the game forward. How do keywords inform your design for our present mechanics and card types?
Boggs: We definitely want to introduce new keywords into the game as time goes on. But we are in a fortunate situation where we can push the boundaries of the mechanics in those current kits.
We’ll see that going forward, there are kits for each hero that help them stand out. We don’t have to rely as heavily on keywords as other games. We won’t be pushing as hard on it as some other games do.
What Marvel comics are you reading right now?
Boggs: Immortal Hulk for sure when I was doing design work on him. Every now and then I’ll try to keep updated on Ms. Marvel, as she was a character I discovered when designing her kit. There’s a whole host of comics I can’t talk about right now.
Who is your favorite villain of the new campaign box?
Boggs: I’m partial to Absorbing Man. He was one I really had to discover. Any material he touches he can turn into that, wood or whatever it is.
But when I’m playing the box, Red Skull is the villain to have at the end of the box, Caleb Grace did a great job with him. Mechanically I love Red Skull, thematically I love Absorbing Man.
If you had to open the Red Skull campaign box who would you choose as a hero?
Boggs: I would choose Spider-Woman. She’s more intricate than Hawkeye. That’s intended and I like that playstyle.
Getting boosted up on all her stats based on the number of aspect cards she’s played, that’s like a new puzzle to solve. You can do some really cool combos you can’t pull off with other characters.
Is there a mechanic from another LCG you can think of that you’d want to add?
Boggs: From Netrunner, not really. From Arkham maybe, Matt is always there to help us and has inspired a lot of our designs. Not really any I can think off of the top of my head.
A lot of people were making comparisons to Red Skull’s campaign and expected it to be Arkham Horror-esque. It’s a bit different but there is that sort of “want” there so maybe we can take some lessons down the line from Matt.
When assigning heroes to their starting aspect in their pre-built decks is it more about mechanics or theme?
Boggs: A lot of times we’ll establish the hero’s 15 cards first before we put them into an aspect. But we knew with Captain America he was going to be Leadership. We knew Hulk was going to be Aggression. For Ms. Marvel we debated for a long time between Justice and Protection.
Black Widow went Justice so Ms. Marvel was the Protection pick. We try to make sure those cards work well with the hero they come with, and that there isn’t anything too wonky.
What’s the highest Heroic level that someone from FFG has achieved?
Boggs: To my knowledge Heroic level 2. I personally haven’t seen above that. I also haven’t seen anyone beat the Klaw challenge I put in the article defeat [Klaw on Heroic level 3 while using The Doomsday Chair as the modular encounter set].
When I first wrote that article I thought about Heroic 2, but I wanted something more that people had to reach for. If it takes a few times it’s worth it, it’s nice to have that achievement.
With all the heroes, aspects and modular sets the game has a lot of replayability. But the game has the same arc to it, beating the villain down at the end with building tempo and tempo hits. Do you have plans for more encounter cards for variance?
Boggs: Oh yeah definitely. Early on in the core set and the early scenarios we didn’t want to overwhelm players with new mechanics. So we really wanted to keep things introductory and straight-forward.
Going forward we can start playing with new challenges and new mechanics that throw curveballs at players with things they haven’t seen before.
Are there plans to reblance the four aspects in the future to have identical card counts?
Boggs: We’re not necessarily striving to have identical card counts but we try to strive for balance in general. Spider-Woman we knew would upset that balance a little bit, but we keep them as close as we can.
A lot of people are going to be drawn to Aggression and Justice because they are really simple in their gameplan. There’s not a whole lot more to them in the core set and even going forward that’s our focus.
Many of the game’s side schemes are simply a combination of a regular side scheme icon or a similar effect and feel the same. Are you adding more flavor to them over time?
Boggs: Yeah for a long time in the core set we had more varied side schemes. We had forced interrupts and triggers there. But as time went on we found that it was easy to miss those things.
You’re sitting there in a two player game and looking at your stuff, sometimes it’s easier to forget things, especially with inexperienced gamers. Using those big symbols was the way to do it. Going forward there is room to spice things up and create new challenges.
If you were to make a fifth aspect what would it revolve around?
Boggs: If we did do it we’d go back to the core set development aspect that was cut. Determination’s color was purple, we had that as a fifth aspect. The idea was to deal yourself encounter cards, put threat on the main scheme or deal yourself damage to knock out the villain. That aspect didn’t stand on its own.
Some of those could be ported into other aspects. Toe-to-Toe was even a Determination card, but we changed it to Aggression and it was just as thematic. I don’t know if we’ll go back to a fifth aspect but it would be a good start and that’s where we’d go.
Will there be additional statuses or conditions added?
Boggs: Yeah we could maybe do that. If we introduced that it would have to be in a box. Though, if we wanted to play with that in the future, it would be unfair to introduce them in the Red Skull box then ask players to do different mechanics if they just bought a hero pack.
It would have to be a very thought out…planned out way. But it’s not off the table.
How much do you value balance? Is the focus on balancing all the heroes or making them more fun and unique?
Boggs: Yeah we try to make sure the cards are balanced and won’t break the game. But because we want players to feel as heroic as possible we do push the power on players a bit. As long at the end of the day those characters feel like they should and have those strong storytelling moments, that’s fine. If we do miss that mark it won’t destroy any meta or anything like that.
Evan: By the way, we aren’t pulling too many rules questions. Boggs would have to read cards and it would slow down the AMA. You can submit questions on our rules form.
Was there another name for Marvel Champions at one point?
Boggs: At the time I really liked the name Marvel Crisis. This is before we knew about Crisis Protocol. I pushed for that and there was a reason for not going that way.
Nate French actually pitched “Marvel Champions” and Andrew Navarro, who was head of the studio at the time, he completely agreed. And I think it’s fitting, I think you feel like a champion while playing the game.
Is there an ability you’ve changed on a hero, or have you ever bumped up heroes at one point, ability-wise?
Boggs: I don’t know about that, but we definitely saved ideas for later. Spider-Woman’s dual aspect mechanic was something we tried out in Hulk, because of his split personality. But it made Hulk way too thoughtful.
There should be more smashing, there’s not a lot of brain power behind that. But Spider-Woman’s double-agent spy thing allowed for that split down the middle. We ended up saving for that her, and we do that all the time and think of mechanics that are really cool and save it for another hero then come up with something different.
I want an equal number of scenarios to hero packs. What are the ratios of hero and villain packs going to be in the future?
Boggs: We talked about this early on, how we were going to release packs. We’ve explored these systems with other LCGs. There are pros and cons to both. Right now it feels like there aren’t enough scenarios to play against, but with the release of Rise of Red Skull there’s five more, which will double them and there’s more modular sets.
Going forward that number will get even bigger. In the future getting more heroes will be more exciting because you can customize those sets to your liking.
A lot of the game seems to be focused around deckbuilding for solo play. What are your plans for group play?
Boggs: So when we want to support single-player but this is a co-op game. And most of the aspects shine in that co-op aspect. We tried to create varieties for settings like single-player and vice-versa, but as far as team-ups are concerned, Black Widow and Hulk really compliment each other: smashing and controlling.
In the core set I like Iron Man and Spider-Man: Iron Man swings at the villain and Spider-Man locks down the board.
Will we see characters that work similarly? Like Scarlet Spider to Spider-Man?
Boggs: I think we’ll do it similarly to She-Hulk and Hulk. Those two are functionally the same with gamma and rage. But both She-Hulk and Hulk do things differently. Nate French believes that there are 100s of different ways to do each character, with each iteration feeling different but still like that character. There’s a lot of ways to do that.
Is there a PVP plan? Maybe tying it to Civil War?
Boggs: We’ve talked about it. It’s been mentioned. It’s something we can maybe see it one day. I’ve heard quite a few of the same sentiments. Maybe something we’ll see down the line.
Some aspects lack enough versatility and thwart potential, especially on Heroic. We have to pick Leadership and Justice to win. Are you going to add more flexible cards to Aggression and Protection?
Boggs: Yeah we’ll see more versatility for each aspect. Each aspect should be able to succeed in their own right.
How many comics do you think you’ve read when designing characters?
Boggs: Easily over 100. Maybe 200. For the core set I wanted to delve as much as possible for the hero and villain backstories. Especially crossovers, and Ms. Marvel. For each character I want to read an entire series for sure.
Did you have a superhero you pretended to be and why?
Boggs: I have a younger brother. He’s three and a half years younger and my cousin is two years younger. I picked Spider-Man. But when I was on the playground I got stuck with Colossus as the biggest kid in my class. Colossus was cool but I secretly wanted to be Wolverine or Iceman. But I couldn’t be those, I was too tall. I still play Spider-Man today in my house though.
If you could have a beer or drink with anyone in the Marvel universe who would it be?
Boggs: Probably Peter Parker. That’s a default answer but he seems like a cool guy who has seen a lot.
Do you follow any of the custom fanmade decks? Have there been any you’ve wanted to produce?
Boggs: Honestly we don’t look at the fan made content too much. Caleb and I agree that we don’t want to cloud our vision. We don’t want to look at content and have someone say we ripped them off. Not that we would do that but we want to go in fresh.
Are X-Men a possibility based on the licenses you currently have?
Boggs: Potentially. We’re still exploring things. Both Caleb and I are huge X-Men fans. We want to do it. I hope we can down the line.
For X-Men I want to design Iceman. For Fantastic Four I’m a little less familiar with them, I’ve never really read their comics much. I saw the movie in 2005, I think that’s when it came out, but I’m not super familiar. But I would pick Sue Storm, I like her force bubbles. I don’t know how we’d represent invisibility mechanically but I’m sure we’d find a way.
How soon before we see repeating heroes with a different alter-ego?
Boggs: It would probably be a long time, if ever.
There’s a lot of new heroes we want to do but it is a possibility, if we felt it was appropriate.
How much new content is in the pipleline or designed?
Boggs: More than three waves or four waves worth. Over 20 packs are waiting.
Evan: So that’s….two years worth of releases.
How do you choose what heroes to work on for each cycle?
Boggs: We created a line plan. We have a skeleton in place kind of like how the MCU structured their movies. We have that in place for a long term plan.
For heroes that have become villains or vice-versa in the comics, will we see both sides of them in the game?
Boggs: Yeah there’s nothing stopping us from doing that.
I want to see Ghost Rider. What’s up with him?
Boggs: I don’t know a lot about him but he’s one we could see for sure.
What other lesser known characters are you thinking about?
Boggs: The big names draw people in. But lesser characters are equally important because they show that the Marvel universe is much greater than the big characters. But a lot of people are also fanatical about smaller characters like Moon Knight.
I don’t know a lot about him and haven’t read a lot of his stuff but the miniature side of the office even talks about him. We want to release as many of those characters as possible even if they haven’t made it to the big screen yet.
If someone came up to you and asked to have you sign a card for them, what would it be?
Boggs: One of Ms. Marvel’s cards or the hero card. I’m proud of her. She has a special place in my heart because she pulled me into the comics.
Is there a question you’d like to be asked?
Boggs: “How’s my day?”
Will Marvel Champions be the only Marvel game published by FFG?
Evan: I can answer that. No. And that’s all we’re going to be saying about that today.
Similar to Arkham’s “Return to” series, is there a chance to revisit old scenarios with new twists?
Boggs: Yeah we’ve talked about that. It’s something that could maybe happen down the line. We’d prefer to do new scenarios. There’s so many characters and so many situations that it would be exciting to make new content.
Are you happy with how the standard and expert sets work?
Boggs: We did that intentionally. Early on in the core set we wanted to make each villain act differently in their base activation cards.
Over time we realized that having a standard and expert set allowed us to not create the same effects over and over. Maybe down the line we’ll see an expansion or tweak on that.
If you could design any villain what would it be?
Boggs: Venom. I love Spider-Man. Venom was so big in the ’90s and he’s just a fun villain. He’d be fun to design.
Are we going to see more gameplay streams?
Evan: As soon as we can get back in the office we’ll be doing more of that. You can see something showcasing Strange, Widow and Hulk playing together. We’re looking forward to it.
Would you say Namor is a hero or villain?
Boggs: I’ll admit I’m not really knowledgeable about him, but a bit of both? Going back to the earlier villain or hero question, he could be both.
Is it hard to recall the public meta and your private design meta at the same time?
Boggs: Yes! In my head I’ll think “why don’t they like this combo?” but it hasn’t been released yet. It is a bit of a juggling act.
When will Thanos come?
Evan: It’s safe to say he will come at some point.
Boggs: Yeah it would be a missed opportunity to not do him eventually.
How has remote work impacted the design process?
Boggs: It’s made some things easier, some harder. When it’s me by myself it’s easier to get into the zone and focus. But at the same time there’s a lot of things I need to communicate with Caleb on or the art team. It’s been an adjustment but it hasn’t slowed things down and in some ways it’s sped things up and made it more streamlined.
Are there going to be street-level heroes or villains soon?
Boggs: Yeah potentially, I love Daredevil and Kingpin. Those are very fun heroes and I know Caleb likes them as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them eventually.
It sounds like the Rise of Red Skull box includes the Reality Stone. More to come?
Evan: Thank you for joining us. Again, the plan is to have global releases in August again, but plans can change, things are crazy.
Hall of Heroes’ approach to storage is multi-faceted: a 3-inch binder for player cards, individual deck boxes for heroes and wooden storage boxes for encounter cards/scenarios. This is the approach we use for every single LCG.
A 3-inch binder holds all player cards for Lord of the Rings LCG, which is an eight year old game. All Arkham Horror LCG player cards to date are also comfortably stored in a 3-inch binder. Odds are, Marvel LCG’s entire lifetime will be stored here too. Dividers are used to separate each aspect (this set gets you every single aspect color, with white used for basic cards). A note: you may want to go 4-inch just in case.
As for the deck boxes, each box is catered to a specific hero, usually corresponding to the logo/color (Black Widow is on the left, Thor is on the right). All contain a pre-built deck for every hero (perfect for get-togethers pre-and-post-pandemic), obtained through multiple core sets and buying two of every hero pack.
They have a card divider in them to separate obligation/nemesis sets. These specific high quality boxes are designed for Magic: The Gathering and will run you $15-25, but you can re-use them as needed for other card games.
Hero cards are stored inside of Ultra Pro “Mini Snap” card holders for extra effect. It adds a cool little weight to slamming the card down on either side when you’re flipping between alter-ego and hero form.
The tokens and the hero board are from Buy the Same Token, which is highlighted below.
The next step is to pick up a Broken Token insert (or any insert) for the case. As you can see with the above image that has all of Arkham Horror’s encounter sets (all deluxes and mythos packs up to the end of The Circle Undone at the time), as well as standalone scenarios stored, there is plenty of room to grow. Or you can opt for the Go7Gaming insert.
These tend to run on the pricey side, but if you’re constantly going from place to place, they can do the trick. We’ve tested out the Enhance Backpack, and have found that cards stay very snug when walking around.
Having gotten our hands on it, the book itself is fantastic. The front logo is very pronounced, and opening up a “S.H.I.E.L.D.” file should add a bit of thematic flair to your game.
The idea is that you use one page for an entire campaign, recording your player names, hero identities, and notes that are relevant to your playthrough (like how many delay counters were left on Absorbing Man, and so on). There’s also extra “scoring” sections, for defeated minions, side schemes removed, the last round, and the highest damage dealt in a turn.
You can even record how much fun you had (on a scale of 1-10), as well as how difficult you felt the encounter was; and whether or not you won or lost. It’s sort of a comprehensive way to suit competitive and casual players alike. Players can record 51 games in the book at present, with four pages serving as a tutorial for how each section works. There’s also a full notes page at the end, just in case.
The current incarnation of the log book also comes with heavy-duty insert that serves as a “checklist” for finishing off villains with specific identities and aspect combos. It’s going to be pricey for some, but it’s definitely worth it; especially if you’re doing multiple Red Skull campaigns as we wait for Guardians to drop in April.
[Disclaimer: A log book was provided to Hall of Heroes for testing/review. Nothing else was exchanged.]
Prusa has been recommended by at least one token maker in the LCG community. The Prusa I3 MK3 is described as a “no fuss” 3D printer that can handle a wide variety of products. Pre-assembled, it costs roughly $999.00. Assembling it yourself as a “kit” costs $749.00.
There’s no coincidence they are listed first: Buy the Same Token is by far my favorite token shop for Marvel Champions.
Not only do they provide multiple flavor-specific tokens like Enterprise/Madness Counters for Risky Business (double-sided), but also tokens like arrow counters for Hawkeye, which flip into “two damage.”
One of the reasons everyone in my playgroup loves these tokens is because of how clear they are. A few other tokens solutions are a little smaller and less clear, which leads to confusion across the table. Many of these are double-sided with different counts (which allows you to buy less for more utility). They’re amazing. The outfit also sells easels.
Aurbits are high quality fiberglass tokens and some of the most decadent things you can purchase for Marvel Champions.
You can find Aurbits tokens here. They come in prices of $6.99 through $15.99 for individual sets, with a “full set” (Stunned, Confused, Tough, Counter, Acceleration, and First Player Tokens) costing you $69.99. You can also get a “full pack” of Damage and Threat tokens for an additional $46.40.
Burger Tokens is a beloved staple of the Marvel Champions LCG community. Not only are the folks over there very communication-oriented, but the price is right, as you’re partially making the tokens yourself with coins.
Team Covenant is known throughout the Marvel Champions community, most notably for streaming the game before it was released and bringing awareness to it pre-launch.
In addition to offering LCG monthly subscriptions, they also sell “Cosmic Tokens.” They’re a bit on the pricey side (options usually clock in at $20 or $50, with $20 covering each hero), but you can find their high quality tokens and boards here.
The board measurements are: ~4 3/8″ x 4 3/8″ (11.11cm x 11.11cm)
Token measurements are: .68″ x .68″ (17.175 mm x 17.175 mm)