Spicing up Marvel Champions LCG: Extra Ways to Play

Or, how I learned to conquer expert and love custom variants


Is the relatively low difficulty bar of Risky Business getting you down? Or maybe you’ve bested Rhino, Klaw and Ultron on expert one too many times?

You’ve entered the twilight zone (non-capitalized, do you think I want to get sued?) of “Marvel LCG difficulty blues,” but there’s plenty of variants to keep you going beyond the official expert and extreme settings created by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG): you only need to look to custom variants.

Custom variants are often created by passionate fans as a way to extend the life of a game they care about. For Marvel Champions, most of those efforts have been focused on making scenarios harder, so that they were more fine-tuned deckbuilding strategies or make otherwise low-stakes concepts much more intricate.

Here are a few of the best variants from the Marvel Champions LCG community, all of which can be used with the default materials provided by FFG. If you want more homebrew-oriented content like unofficial villains or scenarios, there’s an entire Discord server that caters to that.

The core set challenges

As the only official ancillary piece of content provided for Marvel Champions LCG to date, the core set challenges (achievements) list should be your first stop.

Some of them are fairly clever (assemble Iron Man’s entire suit) and some of them are very tedious (deal 16 damage or more with Black Cat in a single turn in multiplayer), but they are options nonetheless.

Give them a go at least once.

Marvel Champions Monthly also added new challenges in July of 2020!

Play Rookie or Heroic Mode

FFG introduced official variants into the mix in mid-March.

Rookie:

Once you defeat stage I of the villain, you win.

Heroic:

Deal [x] more encounter cards in the encounter phase per player. [X] denotes the current heroic rating, with FFG recommending heroic 1 to start, challenging players to beat expert Klaw with the Doomsday Chair mod.

Hazard Mode (community variant):

Another alternative the community has come up with, particularly for multiplayer play, is Hazard Mode, or “Heroic .5.” In short, you only give out additional encounter cards for the whole table. So for Heroic 1, it’s one extra card for the table (going to player one), for Heroic 2, it’s players one and two and so on.

If Heroic is too punishing, you can try this method instead.

Try making decks with heroes you don’t normally use

Okay, this might be the lamest way to extend the life of the game. But have you tried She-Hulk Leadership? How about Ms. Marvel Justice?

While there are some very obvious choices for some hero pairings, variety is the spice of life, and we’re looking to spice things up here, aren’t we? A very easy way to challenge yourself is to attempt to beat every expert scenario in the game with every combination of hero. Here’s a full list of every card in the game. Get brewing!

This is likely not all that appealing of a prospect for some people and I can feel your interest waning on a deep spiritual level, so let’s move on to what you came here for: actual game-changing variants.

That includes Proteus: a “hero” that only uses cards from the core set in a draft-like fashion (a concept divined by Board Game Geek member fissionessence). Or trying to build a deck with just basic cards and no aspect cards (thanks BananaCrapshoot!).

Environments

This is probably the simplest way to modify Marvel Champions, and currently, my preferred method.

You don’t need to memorize certain rulesets: you just plop one card on the table, re-read it if necessary, and follow the instructions. That’s it! Some environments can be used in any scenario and others specifically address certain villains.

These were created by KennedyHawk, a host of the Marvel Champions Monthly podcast, Critical Encounters and The Side Scheme. They are displayed here with permission.

Rule variants

Sometimes a scenario requires a little more of a push to satisfy certain players. That’s where more intricate rules variants come in. Here is the most common rule variant that the Marvel Champions community has used:

  • Deal two encounter cards per player instead of one at all times

It’s so simple, right? Of course you can go harder, like making Rhino tough every time you attach a card to him or buff his minions so that they gather attachments for him (Thanks Theorel).

Here’s another one for Risky Business. Note the crisis icon on the Criminal Enterprise environment.

Fan-made campaigns and progression-style deckbuilding

In an LCG, you can play “progression style,” which is only using cards that were out at that current moment in time when playing a scenario.

In other words, you can only use core cards if you fight Rhino, Klaw or Ultron, or only use the core plus Captain America/Ms. Marvel for the Green Goblin scenarios. Sometimes, that can alleviate a lot of the power creep issues on its own and make for more engaging playthroughs. You can consult this list for a full rundown of chronological release dates.

Nio_Darkwind over at Board Game Geek took that concept a step further and created a whole story campaign based on progression. Not only does their campaign have an actual story to link each scenario together, but they also provide Arkham Horror LCG-esque rules to help you slowly build out your deck as you progress.

For example, starter decks cannot use certain cards (like Nick Fury or Daredevil): you earn them by playing through the campaign. Give it a shot if you find yourself wanting a more interconnected way to play Marvel Champions!

Austin Charlie on Board Game Geek also came up with a way to play the Red Skull campaign across the whole experience.

You can find a Kang campaign here.

Marvel Champions Monthly created a campaign.

Try our thought puzzles for a creative spark

Give them a go here!

Fall back on custom content

Check out our full custom content page!

Modest Mod Suggestions: Mutagen Formula


Well, Fantasy Flight Games is making things pretty easy on me here: there’s only two scenarios to talk about in the latest Green Goblin pack. We already covered the first with the Risky Business writeup. Now it’s time to suggest a mod pairing for the second: Mutagen Formula.

It’s Goblin Gimmicks. Goodnight folks!

But in all seriousness, the Goblin Gimmicks set pairs perfectly with Mutagen Formula. It’s impactful in that every card has meaning and forces you to deal with them right away. Half of the cards (4/8) have boost effects on them, making them effective cards for the villain activation phase: with two more featuring the coveted three-boost icon bonus. It allows for a form of symmetry with the actual Mutagen deck itself. Goblin Glider and Pumpkin Bombs are only “one-ofs” in the Mutagen scenario, so adding two more of each helps those very thematic cards come up more often.

Each treachery card tells a micro-story, and seeing the depths of depravity that Green Goblin would sink to with Intimidation is important to get the point across on just how dangerous this standalone villain really is. It’s also a sensible pick in terms of theme because the Green Goblin is out in full-force for the entire scenario: completely giving up the farce of his Norman Osborn persona.

The lack of a Green Goblin villain in the set itself (compared to all three other Green Goblin pack mods, which do have specific villains in Scorpion, Electro and Tombstone), says it all. This mod was made for Mutagen Formula.

Goblin Gimmicks (Modular Set)

Modest Mod Suggestions: Risky Business


Welcome to the first issue of “Modest Mod Suggestions!”

In this series I’ll muse on what modular sets to include in future scenarios, both from a practical and thematic standpoint. Our inaugural episode tackles Risky Business, one of the two scenarios included in the Green Goblin scenario pack. So what’s up with the need for this very blog? Well, after the core set, Fantasy Flight Games ceased to provide suggestions for modular sets, so I’m going to do my best to help you out.

Given that the core set mods are either played out, are too easy, or lack theme (it doesn’t make much sense for Hydra, the Masters of Evil, Ultron, or MODOK to show up in Risky Business), we’ll choose from what we have left: Goblin Gimmicks, A Mess of Things, Power Drain and Running Interference. Naturally you can include multiple modular sets in any given scenario, but going forward I’m sticking with the recommendation of a singular additional mod for the purposes of this blog.

It might be controversial, but I ruled out Goblin Gimmicks right away for Risky Business due to thematic reasons. The whole point of Risky Business is that it focuses on the fickle duality between Norman Osborn’s business savvy and Green Goblin’s madness, so having pumpkin bombs and gliders fly willy nilly when Norman is chilling in his office building wouldn’t make much sense: it takes away from the lower keye theme of battling a deranged businessman, and you’ll have plenty of room to fight off his Goblin persona in the Mutagen Formula scenario.

It feels the most thematic to have hired help come in and stop our heroes from foiling Norman’s plans while he’s scheming from the comfort of his office. From there, I moved on to A Mess of Things, which features classic Spider-Man villain Scorpion. Scorpion isn’t a bad pick per se, but there isn’t a lot of synergy here as the set mostly focuses on stuns, which aren’t as effective when you’re scheming against Norman. The included copy of Gang-Up (joined by another copy from the standard set) also isn’t as impactful with the 1-Attack Private Security Specialists from Risky Business.

So what about Running Interference with Tombstone? While Tombstone does fit the thematic bill (he’s a crime boss after all and would feasibly work with Norman Osborn), I wasn’t feeling his discard mechanic, though the card Media Coverage is very spicy when coupled with the myriad “when revealed” effects of Risky Business. He’s a firm second place pick.

In the end I went with Power Drain. Electro has worked with Green Goblin numerous times, and is a Sinister Six-sized thematic home run. He also provides a more formidable threat for everyone on the table with the Power Drain side scheme, and his deck cycling helps keep you on your toes constantly even if Norman is in play. Power Drain also has a ton of boost icons, so things are constantly happening in addition to the cavalcade of boosts from Risky Business. After extensive playtesting I found it to be the most exciting choice.

As always, get creative and try out any modular set you want! These are just suggestions.

Power Drain (Modular Set – Green Goblin)