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 necessarily 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.
Sinister Motives is an interesting box, in that it makes a few of the same mistakes as Galaxy’s Most Wanted, but manages to sidestep the major ones.
So first up: the heroes. Miles and Gwen are great additions to the game, and offer completely different playstyles. Miles is what we’d consider an “S tier hero,” able to fling out statuses like candy, including the most coveted one: tough. His recursion is strong so he’s consistent, and can generally handle any scenario in the game. To that end, he might be a little boring for some of the playerbase.
Gwen on the other hand synergizes nicely with a lot of the current card pool, given that her gimmick involves readying herself based on interrupts and responses. Unlike Miles, who has a fully self-sustained kit, she can grow over time as more cards are released, and is one of the current best Protection heroes, able to defend with ease for multiple people across the table.
The scenarios are mostly on point too. Sandman is an all-comers scenario, and another in a line of great “first of the box” villains. During Con of Heroes 2022, he was one of the most-played villains of the event. Venom provides a “risk reward” type concept that doesn’t fire on all cylinders and can be gamed with practice, but is by no means a dud, and much of the community has embraced him.
Mysterio’s big thing is throwing a ton of encounter cards your way, but like Mutagen formula, it does it thematically, and without feeling oppressive: he’s a big win. The Sinister Six scenario, while underwhelming thematically, does a decent enough job of throwing multiple (what are essentially minions) “villains” your way.
Now for the bad. So Venom Goblin was extremely overtuned, and requires a lot of proctoring to get all of his responses in a row. The campaign, especially on expert, is a bit obtuse, and lacks a strong theme throughput. While some players will resonate with the mathy “track” to figure out all of the campaign bonuses and punishments, others will opt to forgo it altogether. It’s endemic to the mix and match campaign strategy of Marvel Champions that hasn’t quite figured things out yet.
All that to say, this is still a Marvel Champions box. Other than Galaxy’s Most Wanted, the team has nailed the overall “value prospect” of boxes, with two heroes and five scenarios, plus modular sets. It’s really hard to mess that up.
Nova is a hero I really had to do some soul-searching for, as I could go either way on the “buy it/wishlist it” recommendation: but I’m strongly leaning toward buy it. So that’s what I’ll go with!
There’s nothing wrong with the hero, to be clear. He’s another thematic win for the game (and the choice of Sam was great), and he is distinct from other heroes in that he relies heavily on wilds to fuel his engine (which leads to nuanced deckbuilding sessions and ideas).
The tipping point is a few very effective Aggression cards. It lit a fire under the aspect for this wave, and if you play Aggression regularly, he feels like a must-buy in that regard. Also, an extra modular set (on top of his nemesis set) adds a tiny bit of value going forward to hero packs starting with Nova.
Ironheart is my current favorite hero in the game in terms of fun factor, and it helps that she’s also very unique.
Powering up with three different pieces of armor, Ironheart essentially “levels up” like an RPG by gaining counters from card effects and an alter-ego ability. There’s a meta-game going on where you’re trying to get stronger and stronger as time goes on, while playing the game with your chosen deck. It’s a thrill, to say the least, and if you’re looking for a hero that will make a splash at the table, this is it.
Her cards aren’t all winners, but she does come with several new allies, and a few leadership cards that open up more play lines. R&D facility is a standout, since it has the SHIELD trait and can synergize very well with certain heroes: especially in multiplayer. The Vivian ally is another huge card that can change the way you approach some scenarios, Ingenuity is fantastic for a handful of characters (Ironheart included) and Go for Champions is an insane card.
The extra modular set (again that’s on top of the nemesis set) is the cherry on top.
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.
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
“[MJ] Newman is the reason ‘Elite” even exists in our game. We wanted to make a minion special in some way, and [MJ] 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. [MJ] [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
“They’ve all got different strengths and weaknesses. I would say [my favorite] comes down to Star Lord, Drax, or maybe Venom.” – Boggs
If I had to switch things up, Groot in Justice works well…maybe Groot in Aggression. Rocket I think he’s not the best in Protection but he does well in Justice for the most part. And in Leadership too I have a lot of fun with Rocket. -Boggs
“There are situations where a specific mechanic doesn’t speak to a hero’s story. Gamora is a good example. When we looked at Gamora originally, we wanted to focus on her martial prowess. We tried a couple different iterations.” – Boggs
“The nemesis selection process, it depends on the hero we focus on. I think it’s great to break up the pace. We also tend to pick [them] that don’t interfere too much with upcoming scenarios. Taskmaster and Black Widow and Red Skull…was almost an exception to the rule. We also don’t want to use these huge big name characters.” – Boggs
“I would say probably my favorite but also the most challenging one is Nebula. To get that to work within the encounter deck was really tricky. We flirted with the idea of a set-aside deck in Red Skull…and it’s always nice to have things be more condensed if you can. She took a little big to operate in the manner that she needed to. I like the surprises she can throw at you. I don’t want to necessarily be able to math things out.” – Boggs
“Sort of the two element dynamic that can be found in four of the five scenarios. A lot of that came from how the Milano worked. I had different ideas, Caleb had different ideas. It almost worked like a character…if it got destroyed you lost. We played it that way and it eventually became one of those things where you could very easily math it out. It wasn’t as engaging. One was if it had a certain amount of damage you could repair it, and bring it back…I think Caleb suggested just make the Milano, make it simple, just give you a resource.” – Boggs
“For this box the idea was to make the villain the threat, and end the game sooner than you intend to. I think Collector 2 highlights that much better than the other scenarios. The others are meant to nudge you in that direction, at least a little. Ronan hits hard, he has a lot of stuff that he throws at you. Staying in the game too long can be your death sentence. It’s always a race to see who is going to defeat the other first. The Guardians box highlights that a little more.” – Boggs
“The raise of difficulty was intentional. There was this idea that the modular sets…that you could swap in another set. I was surprised…to see that a lot of players didn’t want to do that. I’ve seen a lot of comments over the last month or two that it’s not as thematic, and it’s almost cheating in some way…which is valid feedback.” – Boggs
“I think that when GMW was being developed, it was quite a while ago. We had a focus that was more directed at 2-3 player. We still test at 1 and 4…but 2-3 was our intended audience. As we go forward…into the next few waves and cycles, that will change over time. Single player it’s a very challenging box, with more [icons].” Four player can slow the game down a bit. Our focus was on 2-3 player for this box.- Boggs
“Ronan has given a lot of people headaches. I’ve also seen people say ‘I like the challenge, it’s fun for me.’ I talked to Caleb and said I wanted to introduce a change to Ronan that brought his power down in the campaign if they wanted it. It was that side scheme, more than any other campaign side scheme, that was made for the boss to feel like a big bad.” – Boggs
“When you play a campaign you choose if you want to have a normal or expert campaign. Each time you start a scenario you can decide which mode of play you want to play…standard…expert…heroic. If you’re playing in campaign mode, the campaign side scheme depends on the individual mode. I’m playing an expert campaign, but I’m playing standard Drang, I will use the standard challenge side scheme. If I go on to Collector and I say I want more of a challenge, and play him on expert mode, I’ll flip the Collector’s side scheme to the expert side. You keep that type of campaign until the very end.” – Boggs
“That was one of those things that came up…toward the end of testing [not being able to change your deck in the expert campaign]. I think it came from Caleb, actually. Caleb suggested it and it was an interesting idea, and it got good feedback. If you really hate that rule it’s not a big deal, if you change your deck.” – Boggs
“I stayed on top of all of the feedback. I know this was a bit more polarizing than I hoped it was going to be…but overall as the game continues on that people will return to this wave and achieve things they didn’t before.” – Boggs
“[A new challenge], Let’s say…Nebula…expert and heroic 1 Nebula, with the Electro mod.” – Boggs
“I lived in South Korea and started working in independent design. Working in South Korea it was easy to find foreigners from all over the world. And Thursday night we would have board game meetups. We had a smaller group…but also a larger outlying group. That kind of grew very quickly. To the point where we might have 10-20 people each night bringing their own stuff and having their stuff playtested.
Through that excitement and passion I was lucky enough to land a job with Fantasy Flight Games. I saw the job and applied. Originally I worked on Android Netrunner, worked on that for about a year or so, eventually that game came to a close. I helped with a few things…KeyForge, Legend of the Five Rings, Arkham Horror.” – Boggs
“I didn’t actually have much experience with co-op games before. The only co-op game I had played previously was Pandemic and Pandemic Legacy. I think a co-op card game is quite different…to board games. A competitive game you have to be so laser-focused on not only the balance of each card, but how it impacts the whole pool as a whole. A co-op game that becomes much less of a focus, a lot of the times you want to tell a story.
At the end of the day you aren’t worried about the entire card pool. I had Caleb Grace to help me, he’s been working on Lord of the Rings…for the last eight or nine years. I think, especially…Caleb was the lead on the products for early in the game’s life cycle.
Early we wanted to keep the challenge and complexity a lot lower…we agreed to increase the complexity…over time. Now we’re getting to the point where…there’s a community to jump into for questions.” – Boggs
“During the development of Galaxy’s Most Wanted the resounding feedback we got was the game was too easy, make it more of a challenge. Obviously that’s not going to be shared with every single person. Galaxy’s Most Wanted was designed with having the mods be more swappable…that’s something a lot of people are too resistant to. That hasn’t quite panned out the way I expected it to.” – Boggs
“It is a group effort (which heroes to pick). But it’s also a discussion with management. For Agent Venom…we talked about a couple characters that could go in that slot. Galactic characters. We had a few pitches, ultimately Agent Venom was picked…but Andrew Navaro.” – Boggs
“The Mad Titan wave sort of ties together the first wave, which is very Avengers focused, and the Guardians wave. We have Nebula with Warmachine. Adam Warlock with Vision. It takes those previous product waves and combines them.” – Boggs
“Maybe Adam Warlock. I didn’t know him…I had to read a couple of comics when Caleb was working on the box. My mom didn’t want to buy me comics growing up. I always followed Marvel through…all of the TV shows, and the video games. I can read hundreds of comics now…Marvel Unlimited…is the quickest way for me, I have a membership with the studio” – Boggs
“That’s very much the balance we’re trying to strike. Anyone who has grown up with the comics and has been a lifelong fan, we hope to pull enough obscure characters to keep their attention…but if you haven’t, if you only saw the movies or played the video games like myself…we try to keep it as broad as we’re able.” – Boggs
“Ms. Marvel…there was one time where I was working an eight hour day…seven hours of that was reading Ms. Marvel comics.” – Boggs
“There are times…we’d love to have more female characters than male characters, and people of color…but there’s times where they won’t fit with the theme.” – Boggs
“Looking for Trouble…it went through a couple of iterations…we eventually decided on the version it is now because it’s useful in the aggression pool to remove threat. But also because it was an effect that was sort of iconic to Thor, but by introducing it to the aspect pool, we could let other characters, specifically Rocket, do other things…and have a card that worked with a mechanic they were familiar with. We try to keep the cardpool as streamlined as possible. We felt like Thor didn’t lose his identity.” – Boggs
“Creating effects that sort of overlap in their functionality makes the character that already does that so much better at it…also it keeps the card pool simpler overall.” – Boggs
“I played Arkham quite a bit at this point, a couple summers back I had an LCG phase…Lord of the Rings less so, I played maybe eight or nine games in total. I don’t quite have time…and Arkham was sort of the new hotness before Marvel. Every now and then Jeremy Zwirn…he’ll pull out Lord of the Rings and I played with him a few times. Whenever I play Arkham I sort of take whichever character…I like the Guardian class, the Rouge class is fun too. I’m here to support whoever.” – Boggs
“For a long time my favorite game was Android: Netrunner. One of the games I’m always excited to return to is 7 Wonders: Duel.” – Boggs
“That’s one of the things I really liked about the Marvel Champions design, was the modularity of the deck. Earlier on we were monkeying around with that more than we ended up monkeying with it in the end. But you could always go, you could make whatever crazy villain deck you want in that game. And I really liked that. When there wasn’t a whole lot of content in the beginning, Team Covenant was like, let’s try mashing these things together. Earthborne Rangers is like that too, it’s very modular.” – Navaro
“The world is in a crazy place, shipping and deliveries are delayed all over. What I can tell you is that the goal is to still get Mad Titan out by the end of this year.” – Josh
“Mighty Avengers is a really exciting support card in the leadership aspect. What makes it exciting is that it’s the first team support card, it’s a subgenre we’ve been looking to explore in the game. Looking forward to doing more.” – Caleb
“Starhawk was a fun one. He was originally designed by Aaron Haltom…it’s one of those I wouldn’t really thought of. It’s a card I put in a lot of my protection decks.” – Boggs
“This [Living Tribunal] is going to replace your encounter card reveal on your turn…we were just trying to think of a thematically appropriate way to represent…the Living Tribunal…we represented that in the way that it shows up whenever it feels like showing up. And it might get discarded as…a dead boost. It has a player card back on purpose, this is a casual game, you can see the player card coming that’s OK, if you want you can sleeve it you can…we did not have the room…for [making it an encounter card]. Since this is my player card this will go to my discard pile. if it comes up as a boost, it’ll go to the discard pile.” – Caleb
“We wanted Justice to add another effect to their repertoire of effects [Making an Entrance]. The iterations that we went through I think they were a little more straightforward…remove threat from a scheme, and if you do it’s a bonus. Now if you can remove threat and heal.” – Boggs
“This was a character I didn’t know about until I read the Mighty Avengers comics. He’s basically a really powerful guy who’s been around a long time, and everyone’s really surprised like why didn’t we know you were here? He’s an absolute genius and really powerful, and he and Spectrum kind of form a relationship in the comic. Spectrum’s powers overloaded and she’s unable to regain control and Blue Marvel works his magic. That’s why I wanted him to have his ability to change forms.” – Caleb
“The way it’s intended is she has three energy forms, they all start in play facedown. When you change into hero you choose one to flip one. When you change forms you take the one you have and turn it facedown, and turn the next one faceup, so you’re constantly moving between the three.” – Caleb
“I think Boggs actually helped me come up with this one [Shawarma]. I had the five scenarios kinda designed and outlined, but I wasn’t really sure what to do with the campaign. Each scenario would kind of had an encounter side scheme that would be put into play that would ratchet up the tension in campaign mode. But on the flipside it could be a chance to gain a reward or a power-up. You’re in New York City, Avengers Tower is under attack.” – Caleb
“This Cosmo went through a couple different iterations. We wanted to represent his…psychic abilities. One suggestion was naming a card type. I’ve always had a lot of fun with this card, it was one that came about through playtesting. You can target decks…that are not the encounter deck…you can target Red Skull’s side scheme deck…you’d be successful every time. Some scenarios might give Cosmo quite a bit of consistency. If you don’t like that effect you can just choose your player deck or the encounter deck.” – Boggs
“That was something that Nate French actually requested…could we have a moment that felt like the snap. It made some waves in the playtester group, just about everyone loved it.” – Caleb
“My favorite modular set in The Hood? State of emergency? City emergency? It’s a modular set that has many side schemes, and they have when revealed effects, and I believe there’s two or three copies of a treachery, to resolve all of the side scheme when revealed effects in play.” – Boggs
“So that was something that came up in conversation in the studio in playtesting, ultimately we based our version off the comic book itself and as much as we love the movies…we did talk about dance battle quite a bit.” – Boggs
“The answer is…well there’s this whole story behind it. The original plan was pretty straightforward, Thanos was the final villain. When we presented that to the executives…the feeling was that it was a bit predictable. Can you do something unexpected, something that fans won’t see coming? We had a good conversation about that…everyone wants to see Thanos for sure. I think of the box this way. Instead of being a steady climb to the top…I actually think of this like a roller coaster ride.” – Caleb
“No…not necessarily [were these boxes designed with standard 2 in mind]. That started…toward the end of MTS development? So we were already finished with GMW and were well on our way with MTS. We knew in The Hood scenario with all these modular sets we wanted to offer new difficulty, but we weren’t necessarily designing these two in conjunction. Going forward the standard set is accessible. We will continue testing with just the normal one going forward…predominately going forward.” – Boggs
“We ended up going with Agent Venom because we had the GMW box and the Guardians team. Flash Thompson joined the Guardians at some point. We wanted another character who focused on weapons, and you have the five staple Guardians everyone is aware of, but we wanted to pick a sixth character to encourage people to look into the comics. I personally didn’t know Venom joined the Guardians.” – Boggs
“I feel like the more we delve into the lore of this game the more we come across these iconic heroes and villains and the pressure kind of mounts as our community grows. Like where’s my favorite hero? There’s absolutely pressure. It’s great to have a co-worker like Boggs and other people in my department to talk to about it.
Through our teamwork…we just help each other focus on the upsides and opportunities we have to do something fun and exciting with these hotly anticipated characters, and we’re good sounding boards for each other, like hey this is really cool, this is absolutely what I want to see. We get one shot at a Thanos scenario, we want to make sure it lives up to the hype, so it’s great to have a sounding board like Boggs. Thanos is very powerful but our focus was on fun, not necessarily difficulty” – Caleb
“We have so many heroes to do, Caleb kinda commented on that before. There are hundreds of thousands of heroes…we want to focus on new heroes. To stay thematically sound…I don’t think it’s impossible that we might ever do a different version of a hero.” – Boggs
“[Will Mad Titan’s Shadow close out the Infinity Stone arc?] Yes.” – Caleb
“That must have been almost two years ago [playtesting Galaxy’s Most Wanted” – Caleb
“The technical reading of the rules, you can’t [play Nebula versus Nebula]. If you really want to do that, you can do that.” – Boggs
“They sat down with the head of studio, and came up with…the [vague] stories they wanted to come up with. So we started thinking of them in these, these trilogies. So Rise of Red Skull and then the Guardians and then Mad Titan’s Shadow, and that’s the trilogy. And then Sinister Motives, and that takes us into the Spider-Verse…it’s almost felt prescient to me it’s like we were working on Sinister Motives when the Spider-Verse movie comes out, it’s like…we’re working on this. I don’t know if there’s conversations with Marvel where some of that information is given…not to me, so maybe they did have a little bit of foreknowledge. It’s been mostly Caleb and Boggs, some Nate, now some Tony, figuring out the best story.” – Glover
“There’s a lot of people involved, but….people have pretty clearly defined roles. Sometimes we hit some bumps and snags, but overall we’re a pretty well-oiled machine. Especially a few years in…Rise of Red Skull was our first story box…so since then we’ve had a lot more practice. So we’re always learning as we try and go and improve. It was a big adjustment [the pandemic]. At first I didn’t have software at my house. I was asking Boggs to enter things in the database for me, I didn’t have internet access, I had to setup a VPN and all that stuff. As far as the other card game lines, I used to know what was going on, but now I don’t. Yes, I am [still working remote].” – Caleb
“Traditionally me and Boggs [come up with ideas]. And we’ve added another person to the design team. And our producer Molly is a huge comic fan…we started inviting her…and that’s typically going to be it, sometimes. Sometimes a manager or someone at the executive level might want to join. So for the most part we know…if we know the next thing want to do is this…it’s just going to be the designers and the producer, we’re going to brainstorm who is going to be the villains in the box, what’s going to be the overarching story, who are going to be the heroes in this wave. Sinister Motives…that was almost all Boggs. We have this kind of leapfrog pattern…and uh, and I was really busy working on something else at that time. I got kind of caught up in what I was doing. Inevitably [the leap frog concept will change after adding a new designer]…it’s going to [change]. I’m excited to see what this new team member will do once they get their chance to lead. There might be a hero pack in the Sinister Motives wave that MJ helped design. MJ was a driving force for why we had this particular hero. I am very excited for everyone to open the next campaign box after Sinister Motives. I wish I could be in the room with you once you get the news…Sinister Motives is amazing.” – Caleb
“Quite possibly [we can expect another big story arc]…I can’t say too much…that [Mad Titan’s Shadow] was something I was pitching…once the game started to take shape, there was almost a meta conversation, like how do we approach this game? Where we finish a wave and say ‘what should we do next?’ I’m a big fan of the comics but also the movies, and they’re very much conceived by phases. You mean Loki and Hela? Yeah I felt like that was more of a group decision, so maybe she [Molly] was being generous [crediting the Loki and Hela secret to me]. She’s definitely not twisting the story. I think that was something everyone was keen…we’ll discuss something in one meeting but maybe someone really important, like the art director, couldn’t make it to that meeting…it felt like everyone was on board with trying to keep it a secret. I have to credit Andrew Navaro…not specifically for Loki and Hela, but for coming up with the secret.” – Caleb
“I had a lot of fun working on [Hela]. My Lord of the Rings roots were poking through. I miss going on quests…it was sort of the heroes driving the stories as they were progressing through the quest, whereas with Marvel Champions it was sort of the reverse with the villains driving the story by completing their schemes. So it was fun turning that on its head a little bit. I’m pretty confident you’re going to see more of those. I can’t say they’ll look exactly like Hela. There is keyword boat at a certain point, where people get intimidated to pick up a game…it’s a little different on the scenario side, it can be contained. For us it starts on the thematic angle.” – Caleb
“I think power creep is a bad thing in the way it’s used…in a negative connotation. No one ever talks about power creep in a positive sense. In any game…I play Marvel Strike Force, the mobile game and I’m in a team with that…every time there’s a new hero people say have you seen the power creep on this one? It’s never a positive thing. It’s such a subjective issue.
It’s a truly subjective issue, like when people say this card is OP. Those are my favorite comments, they clearly don’t playtest this, this is just OP. We spend a lot of time playtesting…we definitely keep an eye on power level, but like I said it is subjective, and one thing to keep in mind…is that no matter how robust your playtest group, there’s just no way that a small number of people in a six month period of time is going to break into a card pool that thousands of people will in a year or more. There’s always going to be stuff that slips through.
Some realities of power creep…the larger a card pool gets, the better every card gets…everything is getting more powerful with every new player card we put out there. Marvel is…every product is an extra point.” – Caleb
“It really depends on hero to hero [what goes into the pack]. We have some general practices…we’d get comfortable with the idea of reprints. It didn’t make sense to reinvent genius, energy, and strength for every pack, that would be tedious. At the same time we try to be very respectful…people are buying these packs for the new content…we really want to just make a great experience out of the pack, and sometimes that necessitates a reprint…but for the most part we’re trying to focus on new cards.
Even in the department there’s opinions on what is the right amount of reprints, and how often to use them. And I think that’s a good thing, if we were always agreeing on them we might have a blind spot. I believe those two [endurance and downtime reprints] are coming in the not-too-distant future. A campaign box and a wave of hero packs takes a lot of time…so we don’t have a lot of time to do scenario packs. A non-Marvel villain…from anywhere [to put into the game]? I like Darth Vader.”” – Caleb
“It’s as much art as it is science [difficulty]. There’s things we can do objectively to balance those, and there’s things that are open to interpretation. You just have to hope whatever it is you’re making that you’re passionate about connects with your audience. I’m happy that Mad Titan’s Shadow connects, but we didn’t radically change anything between any of our story boxes…the process was pretty much the same for all three of them. There was definitely not a shift were like oh that last one was too difficult so we’re going to make this one easier. Once GMW came out and we saw those comments it definitely started conversations, but MTS was already done by that point.” – Caleb
“Boggs wanted to do a set all about modulars…and I said The Hood, he’d be a great villain for that. That was my only contribution. With Lord of the Rings it was like, let’s be respectful to the IP. But with Marvel it’s all about doing crazy stuff. There was a comic book where there was a venom T-Rex. I think it was Old Man Hawkeye, and there was a legit Venomized T-Rex. At first the Infinity Gauntlet was just going to be in Thanos, and I was like why limit that.” – Caleb
“For the most part we take turns taking leads on different cycles, as you call them, and this [MTS] was my turn taking lead. That’s actually a complex….question and answer. While I’m lead on it every product we do, everyone signs off on it. Very early on before we finished the core set we were asked to come up with a line plan…for where we wanted to go with the first several waves of the game…but everyone signed off.
In this particular case Andrew Navaro was still the studio head…and was concerned that it was a couple years after the movie, and no one would care about Thanos. In Andrew’s defense, my original idea was to fight your way to Thanos through the Black Order…almost like a video game. I’m really satisfied with how it turned out. It gets heated sometimes [discussions]. Where people disagree with the boss.” – Caleb
“That’s like saying who’s your favorite child [what’s your favorite MTS scenario]. The first one definitely isn’t my favorite. The first villain is almost always going to be the easiest in the box…people might skip Rhino and go straight into Mad Titan’s Shadow. As a result the first is almost never going to be my favorite. And it’s almost never going to be the last one, because that’s the one we want to make the most difficult.
I really really like the Tower Defense scenario…I like the relationship between the two villains…the whole different loss condition. Thanos has gotta be up there because it’s Thanos. That was a Nate French request [snapping half the deck]. I think Hela…for its uniqueness…that Lord of the Rings approach…it has the most story. The reception to that one has been through the roof.” – Caleb
“I just thought of it now, how you don’t get to see Thanos brooding in a prison cell. Those comics are so small we can’t fit that in…we’ll see, hopefully the game is around that long…where we can pick up those loose threads.” – Caleb
“It was really Nate French that led that initiative. We knew on the hero side that each hero would have their 15 kit…then on the encounter side it was trying to learn every lesson we could from Lord of the Rings and Arkham. With Lord of the Rings and Arkham it’s a different one. The IP allows us to do stuff that we couldn’t do in other LCGs.
This idea of customizable encounter decks goes all the way back to the origins of the Lord of the Rings card game…that idea was a little too revolutionary at times…it was shot down. And Nate’s like here’s this thing I always wanted to do [with Marvel]. I wasn’t sure how many people would be interested in. I think Boggs saw the potential a little bit before I did. The Infinity Gauntlet is where I crossed that finish line. I thank my co-workers for helping me to get to that place.” – Caleb
“I think one of my favorite elements of Champions that I’d love to see in Lord of the Rings is that they really respond…they scheme in alter-ego. They feel more living and breathing as a result.” – Caleb
“The ally limit grew out of Lord of the Rings. That’s not a weakness…that is a fellowship game. With Marvel we knew it needed to be centered around the hero. One hero card wasn’t enough…we decided early on that it was going to be a kit. It’s going to be a theme…but lower the barrier of entry with new players.” – Caleb
“That’s a very deliberate thing we try to do with every wave of the game [do one of each aspect in a cycle]. So if someone really enjoys Leadership they don’t feel jealous, like Aggression has so many more cards than I do. War Machine is a long time Avenger, he’s been a leader several times, he’s an officer, we’ll make him Leadership so Valkyrie can be Aggression.” – Caleb
“It really depends, one of the goals of this wave was to be the capstone…War Machine allowed us to include some Avenger allies. We already have all the Avengers we really wanted to see by now. And I gotta say I don’t know if he’ll hear it, but my good buddy Tim Garret [sic] is a big fan of Machine Man, and [wanted to get him in]. I mentioned I was asked as a tentative line plan. We have not reached the end of that outline.” – Caleb
“Connection to the MCU and Disney+, that’s absolutely a consideration. Of course we want to piggyback off that. We’re absolutely going to be aware, but I want to dispel any myths…the secrecy on those projects is next level. There’s been a few characters we’re putting forward and people were like who is that? And then six months later Disney will announce this character is getting its own show. It’s more what do we want to do with the line at the time. Steve Horvath [ANA] said make sure you make Captain America really good. I like coming up with the hero first…then designing around that hero. It’s not out of the question doing it the other way.” – Caleb
“I think in the end almost every time…it pushes you to be a better designer. There’s something called low hanging fruit…it doesn’t mean they’re bad, but they get used up all the way. Sometimes it can inspire our best work…to differentiate them. From the beginning it has gone this way, on a whole your hero cards are the most powerful. Next come the aspect cards. Basic cards tend to be the lowest on the power curve.” – Caleb
“I’ve gotten a lot better at [MMA]…no I’m kidding, it comes down to our leapfrog strategy [who gets first pick between me and Boggs on heroes]. When Boggs is lead on something like Galaxy’s Most Wanted, it’s his pick, and I defer to him, because he’s lead on that. I can’t recall a time where it’s been like that…this week I can’t tell you about this product, but Boggs said if you’re not too attached to this hero I’d like to do it.” – Caleb
“[What’s your favorite aspect?] I like Leadership.” – Caleb
“Adam Warlock and War Machine [are my favorites of the wave].” – Caleb
“War Machine nemesis Living Laser [was the toughest nemesis to design in this wave. Just because sometimes a hero doesn’t have an obvious nemesis so we have to stretch a bit.” – Caleb
“Adam Warlock [I’d love to have lunch with from this wave].” – Caleb
“FFG is like a big ship, it doesn’t turn on a dime. I’m sure eventually we’ll figure out more [team-up cards]. Who doesn’t want to see Iron Man bounce a laser off of Captain America’s shield. The sky is the limit. My favorite one that’s out right now is Flora and Fauna. Playing Galaxy’s Most Wanted with Boggs…every time we played Flora and Fauna it was so clutch for whatever scenario we were in.” – Caleb
“I think right now one of the hardest things about being lead design is people waiting patiently for their favorite hero. I generally sympathize. Like there’s a lot of Daredevil fans out there who are disappointed with every release we put out…I personally love Daredevil. It’s tough, we want to get to all of them…we want this game to go on for a really long time. For every person dying for Daredevil there’s 100 people dying for X-Men.” – Caleb
“We [wanted] to make sure after the core set that there’s no single product you need. We didn’t want to put any hurdles into the game. I know that it’s a wide spectrum of people we’re trying to appeal to…I just wish [advanced players] would quit hating on them. I pretty much only play prebuilt decks.” – Caleb
“[If I had to propose a two week challenge from the MTS cycle for the community?]…The Hood recruiting the Black Order to his underground gang [with their two mods].” – Caleb
“The way things are currently setup is that if someone has a rules question they can go to our FFG website…that question gets filtered to the developers. It used to go into our work email…and the sheer volume of our Marvel questions got to be so much that we asked the IT department, can you setup a separate email account for Marvel Champions questions. That method hasn’t changed in over a decade…since I started working on FFG.
The questions have gone from maybe one here or there to a constant stream. As a studio we’re reviewing that whole process…it’s not just Marvel Champions, it’s Arkham Horror…[as for the top three questions topic posed by the interviewer, where we can post what the top three answers are every month] that is something we’re reviewing right now. I was so encouraged with the responsiveness.. Everyone wants their customers to have a good experience, I feel confident that this will be resolved soon. The one thing I’m confident of is that there will be improvements.” – Caleb
“Rocket was primarily Aaron Haltom…a good 80% him.” – Boggs
“Jim [Cartwright] and Jeremy Zwirn [championed the achievement list].” – Boggs
“It’s above my paygrade. But one of the things they’re exploring is how they can adjust the release cadence. Like maybe once every month is more than enough for somebody, but I think there was some discussion with two packs every two months or something. It’s not going to change our workflow.” Caleb
“At that point I was pretty much onto Marvel Champions and it was on to other people…I did asked to get involved some more when other people got real busy. The launch of Marvel Champions was a very hectic time for me…and everyone involved. But eventually we figured out the correct rhythm and cadence for that line…I said good news, Boggs and I are pretty ahead at this time, so I could take even as long as a month…for Lord of the Rings.” -Caleb
“[Is there a way for Peter Parker to be a web warrior?] I urge players to be patient because there will be an answer for that in the card pool.” – Boggs
“[Can you use Helicarrier to get around the new requirement keyword?] You still have to pay all requirements” – Boggs
“[Web warriors and the champions, and shield are all in this wave. What’s behind the decision to do that with Miles?] We wanted to explore Shield for a while, and we did it with Black Widow…but we never had a great slot to put it in and we talked about a few characters like War Machine as well. And with Miles and a relationship with Nick Fury….he’s obviously in Justice…it just felt like we had the space to do it and why not, we wanted to do it for a long time.” – Boggs
[How did feedback impact this box?] “Rise of Red Skull was out by then…we finished this…in 2020 [mid-summer 2020 is when we wrapped]. Almost two years ago. The feedback we incorporated was…Red Skull was received well but it was intended to be a box that was very introductory…the campaign was almost barebones, intentionally so [we expanded that].” – Boggs
“[Gwen’s] obligation is a weird one because sometimes it’s actually good.” – Boggs
[What abilities characters and locations didn’t make the cut for Miles/Gwen?] “I think for the most part we were able to solidify their personas and strong family relations. Miles early on we decided with his dad who has a connection to SHIELD. Gwen’s father plays a big role…those came in really easy, I can’t think of any locations.
Mechanically Gwen went through a lot of iterations, and readying from the response/interrupt we settled on. I think she had a card draw on the interrupt…Miles was the same way…it took al little bit of time.” – Boggs
[What is the Sinister Motives release date?] “It’s incredibly soon. Depending on logistics and your local markets. The official release date is April 8 [US].” – Josh
Sometimes it’s hard to discuss things like this in public because a design decision is always made by *someone*, and oftentimes that person is a close friend or coworker. To talk negatively about a decision runs the risk of hurting someone’s feelings.
That said, I do believe it is the job of a game designer to always be critical of their body of work. How are you ever going to get better if you keep yourself in an echo chamber?
The important thing about Hulk is that many large changes were made to his design right at the finish line. If I remember correctly, something like 12 out of his 15 cards were nerfed in one form or another. Given that I was the designer of Hulk, I obviously felt that his pre-nerfed level represented the best version of him, but development is a team effort and others disagreed with my opinion.
Personally, I wish we’d kept his original version because I do believe that would have resonated better with the community. Even if he was on the strong side (which, relative to the power of many heroes nowadays, I don’t believe he was overpowered by any means), he’s the freaking Hulk and he should be strong.
With all that said, there are cards in the pipeline that will make Hulk better. I don’t think he’ll ever quite be what the community wants him to be, which is unfortunate, but there are plenty of ways that he can be made more fun. – Boggs [Reddit]
In all seriousness, I do agree that surge has maybe been overused, and some of those instances were definitely my decision. That said, surge is an important keyword for the game for one key reason: simplicity.
The target audience of Champions is one where people who haven’t played a ton of card games in the past can sit down and still have a fun time with the game pretty much off the bat. With that in mind, there have been many times when we’ve gotten to the end of development and realized that some of our cards were too wordy, or some of the concepts were higher in complexity than we wanted. One of the largest hurdles for many casual players to overcome is wordiness—not even being able to process a card because there’s too much information presented at once—and in those instances, surge was considered a good replacement as it let us break things into more digestible chunks. Instead of a card with a lot of words and two tiny paragraphs, it became two cards that a player could look at and process independently, maybe even with fewer words overall.
However, surge has definitely made its way onto cards that absolutely should not have it (Fanaticism is the best example). In those cases, surge was often added at the end in the hopes of reducing complexity (replacing whatever text with surge), but sometimes also to add challenge or to make a card spicier. While the former has merit, I don’t personally believe surge should ever really be used to increase difficulty. If players want that experience, there’s already an entire mode that exists.
As the game continues, though, I think we’ll see this issue corrected. I believe it made its way onto more of my products overall not because I love surge, but because I would often push the game into more complex areas. That sometimes meant big changes at the end, and surge was often favored for its simplicity. But both Tony and Caleb are aware of the community’s feelings toward surge at this point, and I’d wager they’ll find other solutions. – Boggs [Facebook]
“…There are different elements of [Hulk’s] design that have bled into other characters. Drax got to call his mechanic “rage tokens,” Spider-Ham got to spend resources from taking damage, Nova got to use a specific resource as double resources, etc.
It was so long ago that it’s really difficult to remember the specifics of his cards, but I do remember that Hulk Smash was its own attack. I think it was 6 cost, dealt 10, had overkill, and each physical resource counted as double when paying for it. The idea was that you could always pay for it using just 3 resources because you could build Hulk using just physical (making it stronger than Swinging Web-Kick, which is still the benchmark for big hero attacks), but in doing so, you’d lock yourself out of deckbuilding options. However, because you could guarantee 3 for 10 and overkill, it was considered too strong and was changed to its current version to make it more susceptible to exhaust/stun. I also remember comments about how it felt more thematically like a “smash” if it was an ATK modifier instead of its own attack, which I totally get.” – Boggs [Reddit]
“I directly designed and developed Ms. Marvel, Hulk, Ant-Man, Wasp, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Gamora, Drax, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Ghost-Spider, Nova, and Ironheart. I contributed about 50% of the design to Venom, Nebula, and Spider-Ham, and about 30% to all of the heroes in the Core Set, Spider-Woman, Rocket, Groot, Star-Lord, and Spider-Ham.
And with every other hero, I helped in one form or another, most often assisting in brainstorming during early dev.
There are also a few more heroes I worked on that have yet to be announced.” – Boggs
[Do you think the game will be going strong five plus years from now?] “I do, yes. From a business standpoint, the game has done very well each year. When I left, there was absolutely no sign of it slowing down.” – Boggs
“It was a while ago so it’s hard to remember but I don’t believe She-Hulk changed all that much from her inception.
I know that quite a few players think I designed/developed She-Hulk because I once made a comment on Team Covenant’s stream about how I wished she had another copy of Gamma Slam, but that’s not the case. Nate, Caleb, and I worked together to create her initial concept. Nate was then the lead on her development for a time, and that eventually passed to Caleb. I was in charge of running and monitoring the playtesting forums, so I passed along tester feedback to the two of them, but I really can’t say what did or didn’t change based on that feedback.
“[Goblin Glider] This is one of those cards that changed dramatically at the end of development, arguably for the worse. All of your points are valid and I’m sorry for the frustration you’re having. That said, I do want to take a moment to point out something some players may have overlooked. HERO ACTION: Discard any number of ATTACK cards from your hand with a combined resource cost of 3 or more —> Discard this card.
It seems that some players believe they precisely need a 3-Cost Attack to discard Advanced Glider but that isn’t quite right. That is indeed the most efficient way to remove it, but you could also discard three 1-Cost Attacks, a 1-Cost Attack and a 2-Cost Attack, or two 2-Cost Attacks. A good majority of heroes can accomplish this in their own kit, but including additional aspect Attacks can increase your chances considerably, especially in multiplayer.” – Boggs
“…I am sorry for the frustrations you’re having with Ronan. He was never intended to be as difficult as he turned out to be. The Galaxy’s Most Wanted campaign was developed during a turbulent time at FFG and, unfortunately, many things slipped through the cracks that shouldn’t have. As far as advice, rushing Ronan down seems to be the best option (along with most other villains in the game).
Try to find a hero who can deal damage without needing a lot of time to set up but also has the versatility to remove threat and mitigate damage. Groot probably isn’t your best bet here. Captain Marvel/Captain America/Doctor Strange/Ant-Man can be good pre-GMW options though.” – Boggs
[I’ve seen you post a lot about mistakes or regrets in designs for the game but I’m curious. What hero and scenario are you most proud of developing?]
“That’s a great question. I’m pretty critical of my body of work overall—no matter the hero or scenario, there’s always something I wish I’d done differently. But I had to choose, for heroes it would probably be either Ms. Marvel or Ironheart. Ms. Marvel because she was the first hero I designed and I still love her playstyle; Ironheart because she ran into some big problems at the end of her development and required A LOT of extra work, but the reception around her still seems good and all that work paid off. For scenarios, it’s a bit harder to answer.
Many of the scenarios I was the lead on either had tight restrictions on what they absolutely must/couldn’t do or received rather dramatic changes during development. Designing a scenario often felt like working inside a tiny box, whereas designing a hero was often much more free and open. For this reason, I feel less attached to many of the scenarios I worked on because a lot of the final designs turned out quite differently than I wanted or envisioned. They don’t feel as much like “mine,” if that makes sense.
That said, if I also had to pick, it would be Mutagen Formula. It’s maybe the only pre-Sinister Motives scenario I worked on that didn’t run into the challenges I’ve mentioned, and it turned out way better than I expected it to.” – Boggs
“We also had to consider what the tools were available to us [to fix prior issues]. There were certain in company restrictions and ideas at Fantasy Flight at the time, that channeled us into a certain path. One of those ideas was ‘we will not ban cards, we will not restrict cards, we will not errata cards unless they are actually broken…like they literally do not function, like there’s a mistake or something. Thou shalt not use errata to solve balance problems.’
So from a sort of company standpoint, we couldn’t just start again. At least we would have had a hard time arguing that case. Maybe we should have…if I could do it again I’d probably come up with useable upgrade cards.
It is way less flexible to try and fix something after the fact than to just write it correctly from the beginning. And there were so many things wrong, with the proton torpedo [mechanic]. We would have had to come out with three different fixes for it, to get it to be where we wanted it in the first place.” – Alex Davy (Former FFG Game Designer for X-Wing and Star Wars: Legion)
“So my career at FFG started with Lord of the Rings, which is a huge love of mine. I had been there for eight years and thought what could I work on next that could possibly match that and we got the Marvel license, and I was like ‘woo hoo!'” – Caleb
“This is the second scenario in the box, the villain is called Sentinel, and the main scheme is Night of the Sentinel. Sentinels are hunting mutants and we need to rescue them. And this one introduces a new loss condition through a modular set that is required by this scenario.” – Caleb
“I was working on this when we all went home at the outbreak of COVID.” – Caleb
X-Mansion is for sure in Kitty’s [precon], it’s in one of these.” – Caleb
“I was really focused on the upgrades…someone reminded me that part of Cyclops’ power set is he can calculate angles, even better than Captain America.” – Caleb
“[After an obligation is given to another player] You would surge, because I gave it to you.” – Caleb
“[Why is the Phoenix Force so powerful?] She’s basically a mini villain with 12 hitpoints…it’s a bit of lore for comic fans. There’s some of Chris Claremont’s biggest stories, the Phoenix Saga.” – Caleb
“I think our players are perceptive enough that there’s no X-Men art in Avengers/Guardians stuff…and there’s reasons for why that is largely beyond our control…and it’s kind of a win-win at the end of the day…you get the new art.” – Caleb
“[How do you decide what flavor text to use] I want to do a tip of the hat to Michael Boggs. The core set we went the hard way. We wrote most of it. But time-wise, we didn’t have time to go through individual issues. So Boggs discovered a website that’s just like quotes for this character.
It’s a blend. I had a lot of help on the core set. Even Molly wrote some stuff for the core set. We’ll grab flavor where we can where it works, but we’ll add something on our own.” – Caleb
“You can go out and choose any 3-5 scenarios that already exist, in products that were released, up to Sinister Motives. Any scenarios, 3-5, put them in any order you want, choose any modular and encounter sets. Come up with any campaign rules, and any campaign log, and send that to us. And there will be prizes. We’ll be launching that on September 1. There’s an article on our page, which I wrote, about the details involved and the guidelines.” – Peter Schumacher (Marketing Writer)
“[Was it harder to make cards for Champions knowing the license was in play?] On some levels it was harder, on some levels it was easier. There were definitely points like we want to do X or Y thing and we have to discuss it with licensing and Marvel first…those instances were rare…they were mostly hands off. There were only a few things that come to mind that they like, had us revise, but mostly design specifically they really were not picky, they didn’t control anything, or dictate anything we did. The way we had these pre-defined and established characters, I could read one of the comics and watch a movie or TV show with Captain America, and I could model cards after that. With the new IPs…sometimes you need to be more imaginative, or more creative. I would say in retrospect it was easier a lot of the time to make stuff for Champions and not Netrunner, but not 100% it was probably 80/20.” – Boggs
“So when I was in college I originally started out studying animation and for different reasons it shifted into game design. I got over to Korea…I came to travel and explore and teach and the whole time I was there I was working on my own projects, originally I wanted to work in the video game industry, but I realized I didn’t have the skills to do that. There was a robust group of foreigners who played board games at the time…Magic was my introduction to the greater board game world, I did that for a couple of years, and one day I happened to see a post on FFG’s website, I wanted to go back to the United States…I was hoping to get a job in the industry. I had Netrunner as my top game, and it just so happened that’s what they were hiring for. It wasn’t any special skilll…it came down to timing and resume…it was actually kind of a dorky resume, I had games listed out of 10, so Netrunner was 10/10, and they were like OK this guy knows Netrunner. I talked with Nate French a year and a half or two years after I was hired…I never quite knew how I was hired…he was like oh no I just liked talking to you…all those years struggling didn’t matter…it was just a good conversation.” – Boggs
“The first part of it, you had to write a vision document…the second part was designing five cards for different factions…and during the actual interview, those two things were the topics of discussion. I was super nervous going in but after talking to the three of them, it was the easiest interview I had in my life” – Boggs
“[On how Boggs got started at MC] So when Netrunner was canceled I was sort in this weird in-between state where I was still the caretaker for Netrunner but I wasn’t developing active content for it…I was also on Star Wars Destiny. But that had Jeremy and Lukas…so it’s not like it needed a lot of help. When I first started with FFG I kind of helped out from the beginning, but it was always in the background, with art and stuff like that…so it wasn’t like I could do a lot with the design. The whole time I helped with Destiny, it was always in the background to help with art stuff. You can’t make a full time job just writing art briefs.” – Boggs
“I was kind of bounced around. I was put on KeyForge to help a little bit…they talked about having me help on Arkham. Eventually it was decided we were going to do a new card game. Potentially doing Android again. Potentially doing it in the Terrinoth setting, I don’t know how they came about it or how it was decided, but they got the Marvel license. And as soon as they did they were like we’re definitely doing a card game in the Marvel license.” – Boggs
“So for [Marvel] it was going to be myself and Nate French. Just the two of us on it. This was right before he was set to move into the lead developer role of the studio, so it was going to be his last big project. As we started the project up, all the developers in the LCG department heard about it and Caleb Grace who was working on Lord of the Rings at the time was like I’m a massive Marvel nerd…put me on this game I want to be on this game, and so they did. And it ended up being myself and Caleb and Nate. And that’s kind of that, they got the license and told all three of us to make a Marvel game. And we were deciding were we going to do a cooperative game, were we going to do a competitive game. Something with the license, I don’t know the specifics, but they told us you have to make a cooperative game.” – Boggs
“It was actually, so the game was…pitched as sort of being a standalone. Like Lord of the Rings. Almost like uh, I don’t know if this was ever an official conversation, with higher ups, but the conversation between Nate and Caleb, and myself, was an arcade type thing…you pick a level, you fight the villain and you’re done. And that was how we developed the core set. And after the core set with the Green Goblin and Wrecking Crew…it was always intended to be this standalone thing.
That was the case up until we started developing the first major expansion, we were deep in development, but I would say the product was roughly around 70-80% finished, and we were getting to the end, and I think it was Andrew Navaro [former FFG head of studio] that was like I want this to be a campaign. This needs campaign elements, you need some sort of thing that ties it together. I remember that Caleb was very much…not against it, but had a concern like how much development does a campaign take…any sort of thing you’re adding to a box it takes time away from someone else. From what Caleb has said there’s also a huge subset of players who play them standalones. For Caleb he wanted more time to focus on making each individual scenario and hero better, but ultimately we had to make time for the campaign elements.” – Boggs
“Campaigns do take a lot of time, but they’re also the thing in a way that’s the least important…having the scenarios function and be fun, those are the top priorities, and the campaign is sort of at the end of the process. I actually think Caleb’s original direction was probably better for the game overall, and I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the Marvel Champions campaigns…a lot of players don’t like them…and I think they don’t like them because they’re expecting something deeper and more interesting like Arkham Horror but the game was never built with that in mind. It was a secondary thing for sure.” – Boggs
“So I’ve been working at FFG for six or seven months. I joined back in March, so my job is broadly speaking, I offer internal support to the designers, as they build up their rulebooks. Part of that responsibility….is answering rules questions…I meet with our designers probably once a week, to discuss more complicated rules questions, before I answer emails. I’m actually very new to Lord of the Rings LCG.” – Alex
“So I’m a big fan and proponent of transparency, especially in terms of ransomware attacks…they’re so common at this point. I just think it’s easier to own up that hey this happened…it did happen at the end of 2020, I believe in November, and a lot of us working in…via VPN…into the server were suddenly not able to get access to a lot of data. Projects we were working on, we’d have to wait 30 minutes for a download sometimes…15 minutes just for a file to open. But the company left a lot of the…even the employees in the dark. It was not shared what happened. We roll into 2021, and COVID had been happening for a year at that point…I was one of the few people working in the office at that point.
The only people in the building were myself and the IT guys. I started just asking questions, like this seems odd, and just asked the head of IT at the time, we got ransomwared, right? And he said yeah probably, and just walked away. And I asked another IT person about it, and they were like you’re not supposed to know that. That’s when I realized…the ransomware had crossed, or there was a bug…the marketing department lost approximately six years of marketing work. So I started pestering people in my department, like MJ and Caleb and they’re like oh we’re going to look into that. And we started realizing source files were gone, and not accessible.
And that’s when a lot of employees started asking what’s going on and where can we get these things? And the company still never told anyone in the company what happened. Perhaps they did after I left in April of 2021, but up until that point it was hush hush, this didn’t happen, even to employees in the company. I think the upper management was just really embarrassed.” – Thompson
Josh: “So after looking at this and seeing other design processes, give other people an idea of what’s similar to what you might do.”
Tony: “Probably the first thing I’d point out…the comic panels in the rulebooks. Those are a very important part of Marvel Champions, it gives the game that comic book feel. Those are great but they can also be a little restrictive with what we can do with the campaign structure, so we’re limited. So all the branching stories…AH does a fantastic job of those, they don’t quite fit the structure of Marvel Champions campaigns.”
Caleb: “Yeah people reach out…have you thought of branching paths and failing forward…we only have so many cards we can put in the box, and only so many pages we can put in the rulebook. So far we haven’t cracked that code. We’re under some restrictions the people are doing this aren’t. We’re designing new scenarios. Space is a premium, we’re figuring out…we want all these different modular sets…so in order to fit this thing we need to share sets between scenarios. It’s a little bit like Jenga.”
Tony: “Another advantage the contest entrants have is they can combine many different products…whereas we make every product standalone, except for the core. As I was thinking about how I’d approach this contest, the scenarios that exist have story elements you need to kind of tie in, like Hela, she didn’t show up a lot, maybe that’s due to the story elements.”
“I was playing Venom [with Boggs], and was saying wow this hero is really fun…and he was like yeah you designed most of it.” – Caleb
“[My brother] was there for a really long time [at FFG]…but he’s moved on to a different job.” – Caleb
“I’ve been playing that game [the Star Wars deckbuilder that was just announced at Gen Con 2022] on a near weekly basis for two years now and I haven’t gotten tired of it.” – Caleb
“Boggs loved the characters…Nate loved the humor…I loved the stories. We jotted these things down, and it became our guide [on how to create Marvel Champions]. We really started with the Marvel experience.” – Caleb
“Most of the complexity comes from specific card interactions rather than the game mechanics themselves. The game mechanics themselves are pretty straightforward. It’s the cards that can build up the complexity and I think that’s an important distinction.” – Caleb
“[Precons] Was one of the smartest decisions we’ve maybe ever made. Our earlier LCGs were real trailblazers…but we talked about, what if we put the whole story in one box. We thought what if we built the decks for people.
“40 is the minimum and 50 is the maximum [hand size]. We had some interesting conversations about that. Nate he’s a stone cold killer when you play Game of Thrones with him. Boggs was a big part of the Netrunner community. Competitive gamers know deck consistency is one of the keys to success. The more that you can thin your deck. Deck minimum is really important to establish…and one of my favorite things is that you draw a new hand. 40 isn’t a number we pulled out of a hat, we just found it was the right number. After that it became a question of should there be a maximum. We just said look you don’t have to go much higher than 50.” – Caleb
“Five players was never on the table…well, it kind of came up…but it’s not something we’re going to curate. There has to be a cutoff point for us to design heroes and scenarios and that’s a bridge too far.” – Caleb
“[Do I have a favorite single card?] I don’t know that I do. Serious gamers will ask about balance. Casual gamers will ask about theme. Dark Phoenix was all about theme for me. If Dark Phoenix is going to be a nemesis it should be ferocious, it should be formidable. With Phoenix in particular you’re talking about our only 3 THW hero…with Spectrum there’s a small opportunity cost. You have the free wild resource right away, and formidable stats, and Mind Control is maybe the most powerful card in the game. When you have a hero that can do that, the counterbalance is what happens when I spend those resources?” – Caleb
“We were demoing the game at Gen Con 2019 and everyone’s first question was: ‘when are the X-Men coming.’ We hadn’t even done Captain America yet, or Rise of Red Skull, and Guardians and all the Avengers yet. It’s been a long time coming. I definitely felt the pressure. The X-Men are my favorite characters, and Cyclops is still my favorite Marvel character.” – Caleb
“We didn’t really get feedback until we were working on Galaxy’s Most Wanted. We had playtester feedback, but I think it’s important to make a little distinction. You don’t find a lot of casual gamers volunteering to be playtesters…well I guess you’re not volunteering anymore there’s compensation…to be interested in the playtesting process you have to be interested in the game. It’s going to be skewed more into the more advance players…so you need to keep that in mind.
That was a little like designing in the blind…like Rise of Red Skull. And we got some feedback that it was maybe a little easy. When Boggs was working on GMW there was that feeling that we had to ratchet it up a little…and Boggs was doing some really creative things to add difficulty, like not just putting surge on things or upping the numbers, but changing the way you play.
Rise of Red Skull was kind of our safe bet.” – Caleb
“MJ Newman…her big request [with Black Widow] was to put more aspect cards in the back of the pack, so you can play her with other aspects. We didn’t want to lock her in. I did the same thing with Cyclops.” Caleb
“There were people in the office who advocated pretty strongly that we should have a shared turn…and there’s validity to that. But I wanted structure…imagine teaching that to someone…you can do this…and this on your turn. I felt like it would lead to…people playing everyone’s turns for them. If you’re teaching someone you can say I’ll take my turn, then you can take yours.” – Caleb
“Mutant Genesis is intended to kickoff the next phase of Marvel Champions. The three-part story structure seems to be commonly accepted. We should have the first three waves pick up and culminate in that box. There are so many characters associated with the X-Men. “There are so many mutants coming in expansions.
Sometimes we do things to create player expectations, and sometimes we do things that can’t be predicted at all [like Web Warriors]. Cross your fingers knock on wood, this game could go for a long time, and our goal is to get to all of them [mutants]. Tony and Boggs did some great collaborative work on the follow-up to Mutant Genesis.” – Caleb
“As a rule for myself personally, I do not view any custom content. Just, ever. And it’s not because it’s not worthy or important to a game’s health. I don’t look at it because when I’m creating cards I’m not stealing ideas. As far as playing the stuff I’d love to, it’s hard to imagine when I can find time. And after the livestream, they asked if we wanted to come back and play some, and I’d love to.” – Caleb
“A lot of it comes down to alter-egos. The designers often have such a specific vision of how they want alter-egos to look that it can be very difficult to find comic art that meets the brief. Not many comics dedicate large panels to characters doing “boring” stuff, like Ant-Man chilling on the couch or Colossus painting. I look through ~500 comics for each hero and sometimes the art just isn’t there. And if it is there, it’s not always usable. These images are often too small to use as feature art and present cropping challenges. Other times they’re in an art style that doesn’t get approved by the Marvel licensing team.
Maybe there’s too much blood or too much cleavage showing. Maybe it is includes characters that Marvel has asked FFG not to feature together (Marvel says X-Men and Avengers characters can’t be on the same art). There are so many hoops to jump that the art options shrink really quickly. I try to give designers about 3-4 options for each card, but if none of them meet expectations, it’s commission time. Because of the restraints, alter-egos will almost always be commissioned pieces. Commissioning both alter-ego and hero ensures consistency between the art styles on both side of the card since they are often created by the same artist. At this point in the game’s life cycle, most of the high quality hero portraits are used for allies since commissioning hero cards has become the norm.” – Guzmán
“It’s not as simple as ‘just use their art’ because the designers have very specific ideas of what they want the cards to feature, and it is often very difficult to find existing art that fits each card in the design file. What if none of those top 5 artists have an image of Wolverine regenerating?
What if they do but they are all either too small, too graphic, too difficult to crop, too old, features another character, or fails to meet another requirement of Marvel’s licensing team? It’s relatively easy to find images of Wolverine fighting and slashing, sure. Not as easy to find workable art of his cabin, his skeleton, and everything else the designers want.” – Guzmán
“As for my role, I’m essentially given a list of card titles and the designers’ preferences for what kind of image they are looking for. I go through as many issues as I can within the deadline to give them 2-3 options that I think fit the bill. Ultimately, the designers have final say of what gets picked. If they really like one of my suggestions, they’ll use it. That’s what happened with ‘I got better.’
Sometimes I’ll suggest a piece and they’ll use it for another card instead. Other times Marvel will reject a piece for a host of possible reasons. If the designers don’t like anything I suggested, they’ll commission a piece or dig through the slush art. So my job is to go through comic art for the design team so they have more time to work on other parts of the product.” – Guzmán
“And you are totally right about cost being a hug factor. It’s really nice to hear how much people love this game! Like most of you, I love comics and games, and I’ve been so fortunately to work with such amazing people to make an incredible game. My role is a little unique in that I’m a contractor that pretty much works exclusively on Marvel Champions (I also did Keyforge art briefs for a bit but then…).
I started out as an intern and really liked working on the core set art. They asked me to keep working on it after my internship ended, and I’ve played a part in most releases. I’m not an FFG employee so I don’t get the same level of accreditation as the rest of the awesome crew but you’ll typically find my name in the rules inserts as ‘special thanks to José Guzmán.'” – Guzmán
Boggs talks Mojo and other development work on the Marvel Champions Discord
“[I like GMW, but I totally get the hate] I do, too. GMW has many problems. There were definitely changes at the end that shouldn’t have been made, but GMW was also created during the most turbulent time at FFG. Even without the changes, a lot of poor decisions got through that shouldn’t have. Oh man, it’s hard to remember. Ronan got super buffed (yay Fanaticism), various tweaks and adjustments to other scenarios/Rocket/Groot, market cards got changed, campaign schemes got changed. Lots of stuff.” – Boggs
“This wave [the first X-Men wave] is 100% Caleb” – Boggs
“I say this as someone who loves Spider-Man and all of the Spider-verse stuff…but many of the Spider-people are pretty much the same, at least in their power sets. Minor variations here and there, but it would be pretty difficult to design distinctly different hero kits for many of them. Spider-Man Noir was discussed at length, but Spider-Ham and Peni were chosen because their power sets are so different from the standard Spider suite. Also, Asmodee/FFG wants Champions to reach the widest possible audience, and it was thought that with the release of Into the Spider-verse, Spider-Ham and Peni would be more recognizable to a general audience (kids!).” – Boggs
“I got the ball rolling on MojoMania—wrote the vision document and designed the initial pass for each scenario. Tony was involved during that whole process but was sort of “training” to be on Champions and working on something else (Unfathomable, maybe?) during that time. Eventually though, I handed everything over to Tony and he took it from there. He did all playtesting, balancing, rules, flavor text writing, etc.” – Boggs
Marvel Champions is sort of the ideal game to have guest designers, in my opinion. Each hero’s pack is sort of its own standalone thing that can be designed entirely separate from the rest. In fact, we want each hero to feel unique and different from one another, so I would say having guest designers is a huge boon in that game, as each designer brings in their own ideas and their own mechanics. For Widow, I was a bit more aware what the cardpool looked like, since I had been playtesting the core set and first wave of heroes quite a bit, but for Sp//dr I had almost no idea what the environment was like. I just had a cool idea for the hero. For both, I did a bunch of research on the character, drew up some card titles and wrote art briefs, designed the core mechanics of the character, and then showed the team what I had done. Inevitably there would be changes, as some cards were above or under curve, other cards might already exist in some capacity, that sort of thing. Occasionally we would have to redesign something entirely if it didn’t fit the lead’s greater line plan or the rest of the cycle. But for the most part, it was pretty smooth. – MJ
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.
When building our solution, we picked 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.
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)
So you just picked up the core set for Marvel Champions (and maybe some more hero or villain packs): welcome! This guide will serve as a staging ground for newcomers and help direct you on where to go next.
A lot of folks refer to this as “the game away from the game.” Storage! It’s always a pain and can be very overwhelming at first. Here are a few tips from someone who has every current LCG product in various storage solutions.
Just roll with the insert in the core set
Unlike other LCGs, Marvel Champions contains an insert by default. Grab some toploaders to section each hero and villain off for the cheapest possible solution. Toploaders are long enough to serve as dividers into the grooves of the insert.
Note that most of the inserts are a very tight fit, and you may need to “hammer” them into the box.
Artist’s Supply Box
One of the most popular storage solutions for any LCG is the “Artist’s Supply Box” from Hobby Lobby. The MSRP is $49.99, but it is frequently on sale for $24.99 and there are countless coupons available on the site.
A 3-inch binder should fit the lifetime of Marvel Champions’ player cards.
It sounds hyperbolic, but note that a 3-inch binder comfortably fits all ofArkham Horror LCG’s player cards, andallof Lord of the Rings LCG’s player cards: and the latter game has been out for eight years.
Grab some binder card pages and these dividers. Use the red, blue, green and yellow dividers for Aggression, Leadership, Protection and Justice respectively, using white for basic cards.
Even if you’re against the idea of binders, knowing that you’ll likely be able to store every single Marvel Champions player card ever in them is comforting.
Sleeves are an eternal debate for any card game community, but I’ll just link a few here (no affiliation):
Marvel Champions makes things very easy for you from the start.
Grab the Rhino scenario (21 cards), as well as the Bomb Scare modular set (6 cards) and the “standard” set (7 cards). All of those cards will serve as your encounter deck. Place Rhino Stage I on the table and put Rhino Stage II under him.
If you’re playing solo, either choose Captain Marvel or Spider-Man (the latter is perfect, as Justice works great solo). If you’re playing with two people, grab the Spider-Man and Captain Marvel starter decks, which are separate from the rest of the box. You can find the full starter deck lists for Captain Marvel and Spider-Man here if you lost those inserts or accidentally broke their decks apart. Give the Learn to Play booklets and Rules Reference Guide a once-over!
If you have any rules questions, odds are you’ll find it here (this list is updated on a weekly basis). You’ll also be able to consult the current rules reference guide at that link. The “main” Discord is also happy to answer rules questions around the clock in the #rulings channel.
Out of the core set, Leadership (ally-centric) is generally considered the strongest aspect, followed by Justice (threat control), then Aggression (damage), then Protection (mitigation or control). The parenthetical approximations of each playstyle are almost a gross understatement of what they all do, especially with a growing card pool, but within the core, that’s the gist.
A perfect way to explore deckbuilding outside of the confines of the starter decks is by testing Black Panther Leadership and Iron Man Justice. Both are very flashy aspects that showcase the importance of both damage and threat mitigation: the latter of which is an unsung but very important part of the game.
You can find the Black Panther Leadership deck here and the Iron Man Justice deck here. Both only utilize the core set and have a miniature strategy guide included in their descriptions. Try to beat every core set scenario on standard first with the recommended modular sets. Then move into expert, making sure to include the three expert cards, and starting on the villain’s Stage II, moving into Stage III for the win.
Step 4: Expand your knowledge on Marvel Champions topics
The world of Marvel Champions is always moving forward, but here at Hall of Heroes we do our best to keep up with it. Here are some ways you can keep going after the core set:
Update: Black Widow, Doctor Strange and Hulk are all out in the US: no more importing needed! However, you may find the below information useful if there are stock issues and you need to find a pack elsewhere.
Yep, in case you missed it, Asmodee (and by proxy Fantasy Flight Games) has put a hold on all new product released from April 1, 2020 on. That includes Black Widow, as she just missed the cutoff along with new Lord of the Rings LCG and Arkham Horror: The Card Game packs.
But the bad news didn’t stop there. Black Widow was initially delayed until May, then subsequently pushed back to June. Doctor Strange is now taking a July slot, with Hulk due in August and The Rise of Red Skull expansion set for a September release. You can find all of the current release dates here in one convenient place.
While we can debate the logistics of the move until the cows come home, the fact of the matter is, Asmodee did what it thought it had to do, and hopefully all of the impacted parties are safe. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait until June (or beyond, if the pack gets pushed again) to play a legal, physical version of Black Widow. There’s options!
It also goes without saying that keeping your pre-order with your LGS (local gaming store) will help them tremendously in this time of need. Here at Hall of Heroes we are still keeping our pre-orders with two US stores.
Here’s where to import Black Widow and Doctor Strange
Again, the distribution stoppage ordered by Asmodee only impacts new products in the United States. That’s pretty specific, and old product like Captain America, Ms. Marvel and Green Goblin are still shipping in the US, if you can find them.
But Black Widow is also cleared for release in many countries, as Asmodee has varying agreements with global distributors that differ from the agreements in the US. Dr. Strange is also cleared for release in April and mid-May in several countries. Here are a few options for English-language cards.
Hulk is aiming for a worldwide August release. If we hear about any importing opportunities, they will be added here.
The initial batch of shipments already shipped and community members confirmed the receipt of legitimate packs. Barnes and Noble jumped the gun and sold the packs during the pandemic: it remains to be seen if they will sell more, or continue to sell Doctor Strange/Hulk before FFG gives everyone the green light.
The UK (or import to the US)
Black Widow shipped in the UK nationwide on April 21. Doctor Strange shipped on April 27 at some UK stores, and on May 15 in others.
One store that offers shipping to the US is Chaos Cards. According to several community members they are a reliable store and provide reasonably-priced shipping costs. Ordering the Black Widow pack, shipped to the US, comes to roughly $23 USD. Stock may fluctuate as people rush to order the pack, so keep checking back. You can find that Chaos Cards listing here.
The Bearded Card Trader is also selling Marvel Champions packs and ships to the US. This store is a bit pricier when it comes to international shipping, clocking in at roughly $32 USD shipped to the US.
Firestorm Games has packs on sale and ships internationally. One pack is roughly $28 USD shipped to the US.
Games Bandit is one of the most vocal purveyors of Marvel Champions product around the globe. They regularly post in various Champions communities and are very open about product availability and release timings.
Buying a hero pack from Games Bandit will run you roughly $38 USD per pack. You can find the listing here (Games Bandit says that they are out of Widow stock, and they don’t expect a restock until April 2021).
Doctor Strange will release on May 15, but Games Bandit shipped US orders earlier, as they should arrive by the time that street date hits. You can find that listing here. Depending on when you order, you could get it before the eventual US release. It’s pricey, but the store consistently has stock. .
Community members report that PoroMagia is a reliable option that also ships to certain regions. Buying it at PoroMagia comes out to roughly $22 USD, shipped, but they currently do not offer US shipping.
If your store is sold out in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden or the United Kingdom, this is an option.