Today we are reviewing Marvel champions the card game. The latest living card game (LCG) published by FantasyFlightGames. Marvel champions takes you into a world where you are controlling your hero and are tasked by defending the world from the next big threat.
The gameplay of the game is quite easy, but there are a lot of small things that might take you back to the rulebook to figure them out. You start a game by choosing your own deck which includes a hero, the cards of the hero, cards of one of the four aspects in the game and some general cards. Based on your hero, you also have an obligation card and nemesis cards. Those are removed from your deck, but are part of the game that you are playing with your hero. Obligation cards can be used by the villain to have the hero perform a certain action and the nemesis cards can be placed into play through the villain.
Along with your deck, you'll choose a villain to fight. Here you pick all cards specific to that villain and some general cards. You are also able to add extra modules to your fight and each hero has a recommended module that you can add to the fight. More about modules in the modules chapter. The goal of the hero is to defeat the villain.
Now you are all done to start playing the game, right? Almost. We, of course, have to put our tokens down, put the life counter of our hero and our villain to the right spot, draw to our hand size and trigger any effects from the villain. The villain starts with a scheme. The goal of the villain is to either finish his scheme or defeat all heroes.
There are two phases in a turn. You first start out with the player phase where you control your hero. Your hero is able to do multiple actions:
- Spend cards to play cards: Each card generates a resource and each card costs a certain amount of resources to play. You are able to discard cards to generate the resources to be able to play a card. There are different types of cards that you can play. There are cards that can only be played when a certain condition is met or cards that are allies that'll help your fight against the villain.
- Flip your hero: Hero cards have two sides. The alter-ego side and the hero side. You can flip your hero once every turn.
- Use the abilities on your cards: Each card has its own ability that you can use while it's on the field. Usually, you'll have to turn your card sideways to indicate that the ability has been used and some abilities require resources to be used.
- Use your hero/allies actions: Each hero/ally has the following actions (Recover, Thwart, Attack, Defend). Recover is only available on alter-ego form, while the others are only available on hero form.
The second phase is the villain phase. Here the villain either attacks you or schemes depending on what side of your hero card is showing. This is very interesting, because you control what the villain will be doing. Is your hero low on health? Well if you switch to your alter-ego, the villain might be able to finish their scheme.
The villain has his own attack and scheme value. The villain will also draw a card from their deck. On the bottom right corner, there is an x amount of red triangles. This value will be added to their attack/scheme value. So depending on the card that the villain gets, it might be a big attack or a smaller one which keeps the game interesting, but can also just completely kick you out of the game if you have bad luck.
Then as the villain's latest action, it will draw a normal card from his deck. This card will then be played. The cards are thematic to the villain that you are fighting against and range from additional enemies to more schemes that boost the villain's main scheme.
The gameplay is quite easy once you figure it all out. Expect to use the rulebooks a lot on your first game, but the rulebook has all the information that you need.
There is a total of 5 heroes in the game. We have Black Panther, Iron man, Spiderman, Captain Marvel, and She-Hulk. The game starts with two premade tutorial decks for the player. Those are great decks to start out with and start to learn those heroes. The rulebook also contains decklists for all the heroes. Using this will give you the chance to learn how all the heroes play.
Each hero plays very differently because their hero card is different, but also the cards that are part of that hero. Iron man starts out quite bad because he is still "inventing" new upgrades. Once iron man has all his upgrades equipped, he is almost unstoppable. It's great to see that the stories of the hero also play a part in how they play. With some heroes, this is better executed than other ones.
Some heroes are also better to fight certain villains than other ones. This might feel like they are a bit underpowered sometimes, but I think this is part of the game. Sometimes a hero isn't the ideal match for a villain, but the hero should adapt to their villain and eventually beat them.
There is a total of 3 villains in the game. They also have 2 difficulties. Each villain has a normal and hard mode. Each villain has its own story, scheme, and deck of cards. The difference with other games of this type is that there is no campaign where you can beat the villains in a campaign like order. Instead, you are able to choose who'll fight and every fight is a new game. However, there is actually a story that connects all three villains with each other. I won't spoil it here, so you can try to figure it out yourself.
Each match, you are able to add modules to the villain's deck. The villain itself has a recommended module that you can add to the deck, but there is nothing stopping you from adding even more modules to the deck. If the hard villains are too difficult, you can always try playing normal difficulty with more modules. Because the modules are only a few cards of the whole deck, it could be that they aren't even played. I think modules are great because they change the battle against the villain without changing the core of the battle. It also adds a lot of replayability to the game by mixing all the heroes with the different modules.
The game gives you various decklists for your heroes, but that doesn't restrict you from making your own deck. The game has a total of four aspects that you can choose from together with a pile of general cards. If you want to create your own deck then you'll start out with choosing your hero and your aspect. You can then decide how many cards from the aspect you want to take and how many general cards you'll include in your deck.
This game has a lot of replayability. You can play against different villains, with different difficulties, with different heroes, with different amount of modules with a customizable deck that you can create yourself. You can basically choose so many own things that your games will never be the same and I think that's great! Apart from that, I think there is also a big community around the game that's always coming up with something new. What about a custom made villain or a campaign mode with the 3 villains. Make your own rules and share them with the community. I am sure they will appreciate it!
Aspects are a big thing for the deckbuilding part of the game. There are a total of 4 aspects in the game:
- Aggression: As the name applies, this aspect is for very aggressive gameplay. It has a lot of cards that deal damage to the villain and/or enemies.
- Justice: The justice aspect is excellent in removing threat from the various schemes. If your hero doesn't have a lot of ways to deal with a lot of threat, then this aspect can help you a lot with that.
- Leadership: The leadership aspect is all about multiple allies and cooperating with other players in your team.
- Protection: As the name applies, this aspect is for heroes that want to defend a lot, but still deal some damage.
I think those aspects are really great and very diverse. They change the way you play a hero. If you use protection, you'll do a slower game than when you are using the aggression aspect. It also lines up if you are playing with other players as everyone will have their own aspect. For the players that aren't into the deckbuilding part, the rulebook consists of a deck for every hero with their own aspect.
As of right now, there is already new content planned for the game. This future content consists of individual hero/villain packs and also a pack with multiple villains teaming up together. And I have a mixed feeling about it. On one side, I am totally down for more new content to consume and review the new cards of the different heroes/villains. And I think it's brilliant that you are able to skip new content if you don't like it. For example, the miss marvel expansion doesn't really appeal to me, so I can decide to skip it and the only thing missing is the hero itself and the cards that come with it. But I can still play against the same villains and still have a lot of fun.
On the other side, I can already see myself getting every type of new content and not having enough time to actually play it. It seems like they are aiming to have new content every month and that sounds like a lot. I don't know if that's normal for a game like this, but I can see people being burned out from all the content after a little while. The base game still has so much content I have to play around with and soon the new content will drop. (Although the content has been delayed to the start of next year).
According to the box, the game can be played solo and up to 4 players. I think this game is ideal for solo and it wouldn't surprise me if this game was built up from solo gameplay. There are only a few cards/mechanics that interact with other players and they also pay fine for solo plays. For example, target an ally can be one that you control or one that your friend controls. This game is played best with 1 or 2 players because it reduces the downtime between turns. Each player has their own turn which, because of the limited interacting with other players, is just downtime for other players.
This game only has a few components. It has a total of 4 player life counters, 1 villain life counter, a lot of tokens and a lot of cards. If you want to read more about the content, you can do that at our What's in the box. The components are great and the art on the cards are amazing! You can see that they took a lot of time to get it all right and that multiple artist are/were on the team to get the amazing art together. Unfortunately, there is one small thing that's missing in the box and that's dividers. The box is made for dividers, but there are none in there. Luckily the community went creative and created their own dividers. I suggest this one: Marvel champions dividers.
Marvel champions is a fantastic game that I'll be playing for a very long time to come and will probably cover more on the website when the new content drops early next year. It bothers me a bit that there is already so much new content announced when the base game isn't even that old yet. If this was a video game, the people would be raging on the internet about it.
I love the amount of replayability especially because I am able to play this solo. If I have some spare time I can pick up this game, choose a hero, a villain, some random modules and get started with my game. Every game is different because of the different things I can choose for my game. This is also great for two players because it keeps the game very fresh. I just don't think I'll be playing this with 3 or 4 players, because it's so much better at 1 and 2.
I also very much like how the villain plays. The villain can quickly go through his deck, but he doesn't actually play all those cards. So after a few games, you can still encounter cards that you have never seen before. Currently, I have played around 10 games and I have yet to find the card(s) that put my nemesis into play. The other thing is that danger is always lurking around the corner. One moment you think you are safe and the other moment you have to add a lot of threat to the schemes. But this can also be a bad thing as sometimes you just lose without you being able to prevent it.
Should you get it?
I think this game is great for anyone who really likes solo games. I am sure you'll have a lot of fun with just the base game. If you are looking for a fun game for your gaming group, maybe skip this one unless you are prepared to take some more time between turns to play. The game will be getting a lot of new content in the near future, so if you want to keep up with that, you might have to put down a lot more money on this game, but if you are fine with that or are content with just the base game and/or the occasional expansion, then this game is great for you.