Marvel Champions! It’s Pretty Good!
I’ve been enjoying Fantasy Flight’s Marvel Champions LCG since it was released last Friday. It’s fast, it’s challenging, and it has both She-Hulk and Captain Marvel as playable characters1, not to mention Ms. Marvel coming very soon!2
But Hellcat is around! Jen powers down and her best friend and sometimes-investigator Patsy is able to join the Superhuman Law Division (by jumping to my hand and being a wild resource) and finish the scheme.
I assume by serving a noise complaint. pic.twitter.com/mLTv7jSIoZ
— Fiona Hopkins (@fionawhim) November 7, 2019
Things I Like:
Quick set-up. You build a villain scenario by shuffling their deck, a “standard” set of villain cards, and a “modular” set and you’re off to the races. (Compare with the tiny symbols of other co-op LCGs.)
Quick play time. I can do a solo round of She-Hulk vs. Klaw in 20–30 minutes. 2-player games have been less than 45. It also feels fun and low-stakes (Arkham’s campaigns stress me out).
Very thematic. As a player, you’re playing cards that directly do the things a hero does in the comics: stop the villain, get help from allies, and punch/blast/kick as necessary. You have quiet, pick-yourself-back-up turns, and epic, save-us-from-the-brink-of-defeat turns.
Be who you want. Heroes play differently and have different strengths and weaknesses, but because you can pair any hero with any of the four “aspect” card pools, you can pick a hero based on who you want to play as, not who has the right stat line for this scenario or player count.
Heros vs. Alter-Egos
The signature mechanism for Marvel Champions is the choice between being your hero or their alter-ego. You can choose to flip between the Hero and Alter-Ego sides of your identity card once during your turn.
As well as being totally thematic, this affects what actions you’re able to take. Heros can fight (damage the villain) and thwart (remove the threat tokens from the villain’s schemes), while Alter-Egos can rest and recover hit points.
You need to consider how you sequence your turn so that you do everything you need to in one form before flipping to another.
A further wrinkle is that heros typically have smaller hand sizes than alter-egos. (They’re out there in the action, rather than resting / preparing.) If you end your turn as a hero, you’ll need to rely on the cards you already have out during your next turn, since you won’t see many more.
But there’s more! Being a Hero or Alter-Ego has a huge effect on what the villain does during their turn. If you’re being a hero, the villain (and their minions) will attack you, since you’re out in the thick of things. If you’re cooling off as your alter-ego, the villain is free to “scheme” and advance their own win condition by placing threat tokens.
Especially playing solo, this gives you huge control over how the game comes at you.
Choosing between the two feels a lot like your house choice at the beginning of a KeyForge turn. It’s a straightforward choice that doesn’t daunt new players, but as you get more experience with the game you can make it more skillfully.
Team Covenant has gone all-in on Marvel Champions and has made a bunch of videos of unboxing, play-throughs, and deck strategies for each of the core heroes. I would totally subscribe to their service if I wasn’t committed to supporting Comicazi.
r/marvelchampionslcg appears to be the most active sub-Reddit.
I’m still looking for podcasts. When I checked earlier this week none of them had recorded since actually getting the game, and they also all seemed to be roundtables of dudes.
Have you tried it yet? If you’re in the Boston/Cambridge/Somerville area then Pandemonium is hosting a launch event on Sunday, 24 November 2019. I’m planning on going! There will also be promo cards.
As always, this blog doesn’t have comments but I do have a Twitter account: @fionawhim