Once again Chris Gerber, Head of FFG studio, is presenting for the 2021 InFlight Report.
Gerber notes there will be “some updates to some of our biggest product lines, including new things we’re going to tease for the first time.” He also explains that FFG “will not be able to give precise release dates for anything.”
Descent: Legends of the Dark
Gerber: “This beast of a game is one of FFG’s crowning achievements…over three years in the making”
A Terrinoth Legends universe has been teased
High quality dice from LevelUp are shown as is the new book.
“Pleased to confirm Act 2 is well on its way through development at FFG.” A “tricky new foe for Ghosts of Grayhaven” is confirmed. Incorporated in the main Blood and Flame campaign. This is a prototype.
Early tease of Act 2: they are “upping the ante” in terms of scale (Act 2 is on the right)
Gerber re-iterates that the game is “going on hiatus for a bit.” [Context] They still “hope and intend to launch a digital version.”
A new faction of merchants about trade and exchange is confirmed. House Mars returns.
That was it for KeyForge.
“All of your power is shared with one neighbor or the other.” [Context]
Planning to release the game in “late fall of this year.”
“We hoped to get it into your hands by the end of September. Just like every other company in the world right now we’re facing shipping and logistics delays.
We will keep you all posted…and hope to have it in your hands by the end of the year.”
Journeys in Middle-Earth
“Last big box expansion” reconfirmed as Spreading War.
Mini DLCs coming. “Check the website to stay up to date.”
Arkham Horror LCG
Machinations Through Time standalone confirmed, which will be at GenCon’s popup at Gamezenter.
Edge of the Earth recapped as two big box expansions.
“We’re also doing it for the old stuff [the new model].” The first repack is Dunwich.
Aiming for “first quarter of next year.” Investigator expansion coming first, and scenarios coming “a month or two later.”
Lord of the Rings LCG
“Revamping this core set to support 1-4 players out of the box.”
It will add a campaign mode with brand new boons and burdens. If you own the original you won’t need to buy the revised core. Those boons and burden cards will be freely available as print and play content. Early 2022 date.
There will be a campaign box and player box for each cycle. “Getting into the game will be easier than ever before.” Each of these will contain the boons and burdens.
Also available as print and play. Unlike Arkham they will not be releasing “all of the old content.” It will be a “selection of stories.”
The Dark of Mirkwood will be released in early 2022 (from the two-player starter set) and can be played as a mini campaign or as part of the core set.
Vision confirmed for “first quarter of 2022” as a Protection pack. Article coming in 1-2 weeks.
Sinister Motives confirmed (Miles and Gwen) with an article in the “coming months.” Additional Web Warriors coming.
A new line of graphic novels at CMON are coming for Twilight Imperium.
What’s the deal with Mad Titan’s Shadow in the US?
To put it bluntly, Mad Titan’s Shadow has been delayed in the US beyond the original August 27 date. In fact on an FFG Live Marvel Champions stream on August 25, the company confirmed that they “hope to get it released by the end of the year” in the US. The thing is, it’s already being shipped in the UK! Here’s a few community-vetted places to pre-order from.
Note that while Canada was supposed to get shipments on August 27, many stores are reporting that they are not arriving on time. Keep that in mind when picking a place to pre-order. Although Canada did get Return to TCU (Arkham LCG) early, that does not seem to be the case for Mad Titan’s Shadow. Right now the UK is one of the only vetted countries to import from.
Stock is fully confirmed to be landed in the UK for many stores; the image above is from Ludoquist, a London-based store. Note that as time passes, not all of these stores will constantly have stock. Keep them bookmarked and/or contact them for when they might get a restock.
I can personally vouch for Board Game Extras, having used them in the past for Arkham content imports. You can find Mad Titan’s Shadow here. Shipments from here generally take a week to reach me and you can get tracked or untracked. Untracked shipping can come out to £39.33 in some locations, which is roughly $54 US.
In case you missed it, we held our first-ever poll to see what your “favorite scenario” was to date, at the release of Galaxy’s Most Wanted. We asked, and you showed up! In just over a week, we received 777 results! This makes it, to our knowledge, one of the largest surveys for Marvel Champions to date.
Here are the full transparent results, as well as a breakdown of some interesting highlights (image slightly altered to accommodate multiple results).
So Kang won out by a landslide! Kang garnered 209 votes, and it’s well-deserved after all of the heavy lifting it did getting players from October 2020 through April 2021 with zero new scenarios to play. With three great modular sets and a wonderful take on the “Foundations of Stone” scenario from Lord of the Rings LCG, it’s no wonder that it’s the current darling of Marvel Champions.
Then, Mutagen scored second place with a respectable 139 votes, over double the amount of its nearest competitor. Comparatively, the top two choices are extremely telling: they’re both non-story-box content. The fans have spoken, and standalone packs rule the roost.
I mean, Risky Business is third! That puts the combined pack of Mutagen Formula and Risky Business at roughly Kang’s level of popularity. That’s a very important thing to point out, as Green Goblin is still the only pack to date that contains two scenarios: it’s still our favorite Champions product as well.
From there we move on to murky territory. rounding out the rest of the top 10. Red Skull is next, followed by Klaw, Ultron, Taskmaster, Wrecking Crew, Collector 2, and Drang.
That puts two out of five Red Skull box scenarios in the top 10. Collector and Drang snuck in too to represent Galaxy’s Most Wanted, and people have really taken to the former’s unique Lord of the Rings LCG “questing” approach.
Then we start to go into the weeds. Crossbones is next at 11, followed by Zola, Rhino, Nebula, Collector 1, Absorbing Man, and Ronan.This might be the most eye-catching dataset of all. Here, we have three out of five Galaxy’s Most Wanted scenarios in the bottom five spots. Typically, when a pack comes out the reception is positive due to recency bias. But the community has decidedly gone the other way. Perhaps some of it due to the fact that some folks don’t have the box? Either way, that’s the data we have.
Thanks to everyone for voting! Our first poll was a huge success and you’re a big reason why.
The confusion of “You” is one of the most contentious elements of Marvel Champions, and naturally, it has the biggest section of the FAQ.
Nearly every facet of “You” is now explained. For the most part, it deals with how cards interact with your identity by and large. This is codifying the “allies don’t count for cards like Hall of Heroes” ruling that has been floating around development circles and communities for nearly a year now.
Here’s what you need to remember: events, resources, and upgrades are part of the identity. Allies and supports are not an extension of your identity.
So there’s a lot to unpack, but the big takeaway is that defense events now count as a defense. So if you use Wiggle Room, you can trigger abilities like Unflappable, which require a defense. RRG 1.2 controversially claimed that using cards like Wiggle Room was not a defense.
The new RRG also clarifies that only one player at a time can defend against an enemy attack, preventing players from stacking defenses upon defenses and breaking certain interactions.
What’s the takeaway? Protection got a huge buff. The original change did not make a lot of sense, and Protection can now use a lot more cards in their pool in both solo and multiplayer.
This aspect is still being debated by various members of the community because of the sheer number of card interactions, but a lot of prior (defense) cards are now back on the menu and more viable for play. It’s a very good change (on a change on a change).
Since the core set, people have been wanting a “timing chart” for the game, which previously shipped with both other co-op LCGs at launch. A year and a half removed, we’re getting something similar.
Although it’s not a “chart” per se, under the triggered abilities section of RRG 1.4, we have some more clarity on how abilities work.
In short, it goes
This lines up with prior rulings in the past, but it’s good to have clarity, as usual. Some timing bits are also peppered into the RRG throughout, like the “ability” section, which goes into more detail of each of the above bullet points.
Hall of Heroes provides community errata for cards that are printed incorrectly, and now the official RRG is getting with the times.
For reference, Honorary Avenger (max 1 per character), Wrecking Crew’s I’ve Been Waiting For This (gains changed to heals), Iron Fist (response to interrupt), Warning (removed defense trait), Inner Demons (removed “then”), Avengers Tower (Red Skull’s version was misprinted and should have had the Avengers trait), Marked for Death (stage to scheme), Hail Hydra (shuffle only occurs if the deck was searched, which is now the primary way to resolve all three versions of Hail Hydra), and Attack on Mount Athena (Hydra Assault is correct) were all errataed.
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.
Just like Groot, I basically assembled this deck sight unseen, and it turned up nearly identical. NocturnalAnimal and I might actually be the same person.
Gamora doesn’t really care so much what her aspect is, as she can take powerful cards like Clear the Area in any aspect. But for the most part, top decks have settled on aggression or justice, taking events from the other side. Justice is my current favorite.
Having tried Drax in very aspect, I can say that at launch, he is best in Protection: so if you want Drax decks, look there first. TrashPanda provides an excellent writeup on why Drax works so well with the aspect, while showcasing a few Drax hidden gems like C.I.T.T. and Med Team.
With Mantis support and readying effects, Drax can last a long while in hero form: ideally all game.
This is basically the deck I built myself the minute I got my Venom pack, with a few alterations. Think Fast is an amazingly good card for any Guardian, but Venom in particular since he highly benefits from swapping to alter-ego. With the confuse “paying for” the swap, he can use his deployed Aunt Bay (Project Rebirth 2.0) to draw cards to pay for allies/heal, then draw a card/heal when flipping back up to hero form. Pretty much any form of using Think Fast and Sonic Rifle will catapult your Venom games into success.
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 on the same day.
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? Not entirely. Let’s talk about it.
So Galaxy’s Most Wanted is a tough nut to crack. I want to make it clear: I like some of 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.
The theme is hit and miss. Piloting the Milano is a very small thing on paper. 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 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.
So Star Lord’s recommendation is a bit weird, as it kind of takes a fork depending on what your priorities are.
If you’re a standard player, Star Lord is a buy. You can freely use his gambling ability each turn for fun gains, and interact with a good amount of his kit. On expert, you’re going to find him fairly inflexible in anything but leadership.
Star Lord shines in leadership because of his passive ability, which is essentially his second hero power. He can command swarm decks in any aspect, which makes him a very neat prospect for future ally-heavy decks. His entire toolkit in his pack is also tailored to ally play (mostly Guardian-variety) similar to Ant-Man.
Gamora has become a “love her or hate her hero.” I like her. But I wouldn’t recommend her to everyone.
She’s a very strong hero, with access to status tokens, mitigation, and a very cheap economy. Some turns, on expert, I’ve cleared a main scheme out from starting threat, and dealt the villain six or more damage. She’s incredibly good in terms of tempo, which is just what you’d need if you’re an expert GMW player or heroic player for old content.
That said, she’s very straight-forward and isn’t going to appeal to everyone. She smashes through standard without much issue and her deckbuilding opportunities aren’t nearly as interesting as they’d seem. Keep an eye on her unless you want another really strong hero to take into GMW and are bored with your current choices.
Drax, like the rest of the Guardians cycle is…interesting. I keep using that word! But it really describes the cycle as a whole.
Drax is kind of like how Hulk should have been. He’s a four hand size hero, but with some work, he can draw into six. That’s conditional, and that’s not always going to happen (it needs setup and at least one deck cycle), but on the way there, you’ll have some fun.
On the flipside, he mainly works in Protection, and you might get bored of him after a while. He really shines in multiplayer as well, which is another strike against him. Still, he is fun and engaging to play, and his hero kit has a good amount of worthwhile upgrades and powerful events.
Venom is an incredibly strong hero that benefits from a thematic kit with lots of stun/confuse options. Although it might not be the Venom some people wanted, the gun-heavy Flash Thompson is engaging to play, if a little strong, approaching Mystic level in terms of power level.
Better yet, Justice needed more variety, and we got a little bit of it from this pack. Even just Sonic Rifle and Think Fast alone are enough to shake up the meta, and highly benefit Venom in his own pack. Side Holster also greatly enhances Rocket, and the list goes on.
Not to mention the crucial Protection addition of Shake it Off, which frankly should have been in Drax’s pack.
So figuring out how this one is going to land is exceedingly difficult because of how it follows up the polarizing Galaxy’s Most Wanted. I rate every set on its own merits, but I also totally get the fatigue that GMW caused.
I’ll start with the heroes, both of which showcase exactly how a box should handle heroes. Spectrum is a ton of fun and one of the most standout characters yet. Her gimmick of three form changes is something I want to see more out of heroes: a big way to differentiate herself from the pack. As usual the Leadership inclusions are insane, bringing Avengers Leadership up a notch somehow, which is crazy to think about. Her cards are now on Hall of Heroes. Oh, and as per the rulebook, Moxie et al DOES proc on her “form” changes. Her deck even comes with Moxie.
Adam Warlock is more interesting than I thought he would be. I’m not a fan of some of his art (including a bit of his nemesis set), but his singleton deck(singles of any given non-hero card) is cool in practice, especially in standard, where consistency isn’t as paramount. His prebuilt deck in standard is one of the most dynamic and fun yet because it’s unpredictable, and he can handle standard with that style of play. Where I don’t dig Adam Warlock so much in terms of the deckbuilding aspect. The lack of consistency really hurts in some of the tougher scenarios, and building for him can be really fiddly. Solo players also aren’t going to like his leadership hero power proc and his cape interaction (it doesn’t quite line up). He’s a tad clunky, but again, standard players are going to love him, I think. Scenario-wise, this box is classic Caleb. And as long time LOTR fans know, that’s a good thing. This box is extremely thematic, putting GMW to shame in that department. In fact all of it puts GMW to shame as a whole.
I have to say Caleb really did right by standard players in this box. So many Stage Is lack a “gotcha” element which is really going to make for a smoother experience. Oh! And Spectrum and Adam Warlock being so powerful helps! This time they’re actually viable out of the box and have decent precons – following the classic Champions principle of “these heroes could likely have 25 random cards and still do work.” It gets the job done compared to some of their past efforts. The campaign (as in playing all five scenarios in a row with campaign rules) is also the best yet, I’d contend. It’s not overly complicated, but it’s also not as auto-pilot-heavy as Red Skull. There’s typically one choice (conveyed via an optional side scheme) and you get a bonus for completing it (or a negative aspect for not finishing a few). While it’s not going to blow anyone away, the cards you do get from it are very thematic. So, onto the scenarios.
First up is Ebony Maw. So this might be my least favorite of the “starter” story box scenarios, but that’s not neccesarily bad news because of how long Crossbones and Drang were beloved by the community. Ebony Maw is a bit fiddly, especially on expert, where you start with two spells in play per player by default (one from the main scheme, one from Ebony Maw Stage II). The spells are really his bread and butter, as his deck is going to be very familiar otherwise. The drag is that all eight spells have surge, and they’re environments, not treacheries, so there isn’t a catch-all cancel for them outside of a few options. The fact that you can see them coming though is fun, and allows for some counterplay. This scenario is really going to be fun in four player, where his spells are spread out.
Next is Tower Defense. I think this one is also going to be a bit split but I personally enjoyed it quite a bit, especially in the campaign mode (usually campaign mode makes things less interesting for me, so it was a shock). I didn’t really feel like I was “defending” the tower at any point, and although there are a few chump block tech encounter cards, for the most part, it’s not that punishing. That said, I really enjoyed the two villain tandem here and thought it was really fun to play. The campaign adds another wrinkle in with a “Shawarma Place” side scheme that’s pretty fun to put in and has a little surprise. It also introduces a very interesting and (importantly, in the actual rulebook) way to adjust its difficulty. The book actually says if you want, you can put one per player damage on the tower in standard, two per player in expert, and three per player in heroic mode. This concept comes back in the last scenario. I really like how much more elegant this is than the way GMW handled difficulty, and how much it flip-flopped in terms of how it wanted to actually commit to that difficulty level. Here in Mad Titan’s Shadow the box gives you options; no need to check rulebooks or random email rulings.
Thanos is yet another scenario that improves upon GMW’s warped idea of standard, while expert players will be able to enjoy the challenge of full stalwart the entire match. Some of his deck is brute force oriented, but overall he’s a much better experience than Ronan, especially in the campaign. A big reason for all of this is because hinder, and the main schemes, aren’t as insane. I don’t know who “pumped up” those numbers in GMW, but however toned them down in MTS, thank you. Hinder, as a rule, is generally “hinder 1” and “per threat” totals for main schemes are “1 per player,” often with high thresholds. Alter-ego actually feels viable again.
Hela (who is fourth, after Thanos) is far and away one of the craziest scenarios yet, and like Collector 2, it shows what the game is capable of. Hela takes things even further though and basically turns this game into LOTR. To progress, you’ll actually need to fight off a “per player health” boss enemy, then complete subsequent (reasonably threatted) side schemes three times, which simulate a journey. So you kill a miniboss that prevents you from thwarting a location side scheme, then finish that side scheme, then another miniboss and side scheme come out, and so on. And all the while, Hela is buffed for each side scheme that’s in the victory display. I know some people are going to find it fiddly, but it’s incredibly thematic and feels like a LOTR-like journey through Asgard/Hel. It’s for sure fiddly in any sense, but I suspect LCG fans of other games will take to it very easily. Also, after a few games, you get a sense of the linear nature of it. While I don’t want to spoil too much here, Hela is memorable and will probably work my way into demo sessions to show new players that the game isn’t always just about beating down a villain.
Loki is the last boss and is also as unique as Hela. He has five random villain cards and you shuffle them and randomly choose between them (sometimes they shift out and in via card effects). To kill him you’ll need to defeat a certain number of “Lokis,” so one on rookie, two on standard, three on expert, and four in heroic (yes heroic is specifically listed). Oh and Loki has the Infinity Gauntlet, so you have to deal with that.
The variable difficulty in the rulebook is a Godsend here. It’s so clear how you can change things up and the game even acknowledges rookie and heroic, rather than the “play how you want, actually you can mix rookie and expert” muddled message of GMW. This box feels like it has an actual vision. I really enjoyed it, and the addition of Loki and Hela (both of which are good) ensure that it isn’t boring thematically. Both of them offer up two of the most unique scenarios to date in Marvel Champions.
I’m not sure how this box is going to be reviewed overall but the community. I would posit “positive, but safe.” Like GMW it offers glimpses at the potential the game has in the future, but instead of fumbling them, it embraces them. Here’s hoping the next box is more like MTS and GMW was a fluke.
Nebula is an interesting pack, as her Justice kit sparks some much-needed variety into the aspect. One Way or Another is one of the most unique cards in the game, and Wrath is basically an on-demand Target Acquired that stays on the board and can flex into damage or blocking.
Nebula herself has been mostly positively received, especially in multiplayer. She can do some interesting things with her techniques in terms of timing, depending on what player order they actually go off (and when you want to trigger them with Lethal Intent).
That said, she’s generically strong, and might not suit everyone’s personal playstyle. Take a look at how she plays before you decide to pick her up.
War Machine is very similar to the rest of the wave: many like him, many are “okay” with him. That’s not a bad place to be! No hero in this wave is a dud per se, but it’s impossible for each hero to appeal to everyone.
Over time, War Machine’s optimal strategies tend to homogenize. Flip him often, load him up with his bunker, and unload the shoulder cannon. This strategy completely trumps so many other ways to play him that you’ll eventually sidle up to it over time, especially on harder scenarios.
Unlike Nebula which features generally useful new Justice cards, War Machine’s aspect cards mostly cater toward a new “sacrifice” ally style, which you might not like.
And now we’ve come to the scenario of the wave. And what a scenario it is! So to speak.
So The Hood suffers from the same uneven issues as Galaxy’s Most Wanted, in that it’s very random. Some rounds you might trounce The Hood in a few turns and he’ll do almost nothing back. But because of his “Foul Play” ability and frequent surge, sometimes he’ll turn a standard game into Heroic 4.
Standard 2 (the second standard modular set that comes in the pack) doesn’t fare much better. It’s meant to be a “harder” version of Standard 1, but it’s basically just a carbon copy “plussed up.” It doesn’t offer much variety or fun from what we’ve already had since the core.
The modular sets, however, are fantastic. The whopping nine mods (11 if you count Standard 2 and Expert 2) add some much-needed street level variety to Marvel Champions with modular sets that try new things. Buy it for the mods, if anything, to sprinkle into stronger scenarios.
This is a really interesting pack for several reasons. One: Valkyrie can be tough to build for and pilot in solo play, and tends to favor rush builds. Two: the aspect cards she comes with aren’t universally great. But I like her anyway.
Built around a “dueling” concept, Valkyrie can attach a Death-Glow item to minions (or the villain) and get specific bonuses for it. It’s a bit clunky, but I appreciate the team trying something new, and Valkyrie can operate very differently if you play her in multiplayer.
But because she’s a very niche hero, we decided to wishlist her.
Vision is one of the “generically strong” heroes of the wave, but also one of the highlights.
Like many recent heroes (and upcoming ones, based on the Sinister Motives box tease), Vision simply has high numbers and the ability to flex into attacking or thwarting in his base kit. There’s some clunk, especially in his precon (and the defense mechanic interacting with his intangible form), but he can power through it.
While I’m not the biggest fan of Vision personally, and find that like War Machine and Nebula, his playline blends together over time (and a lot of his hero kit is repurposed core set concepts); he is a bit more interesting than those two because of his form abilities, and has a lot of deckbuilding potential as more unique aspect cards arrive. He also ushers in a few fun and useful aspect/basic cards to use in other decks.
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) for the box. This brings the current promo set up to date with the first cycle of content. As of now, expect Red Skull and beyond promos.
In the fall of 2021, a new promo OP set will arrive under the SKU G21MA.
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. 2019’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.