Marvel Champions – First Thoughts

This article represents my impressions after the first play of a game. It should not be regarded as a full critical analysis of the game. I may write a full review later. This article contains Amazon Affiliate Links(AL).

Spiderman is engaged with the minions that have joined Rhino on his mission against S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. Tony Stark takes his time getting the suit together. Mine is on. I am Black Panther. Wakanda Forever!

Marvel Studios’ AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR..Black Panther/T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), in b/g M’Baku (Winston Duke), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018

Champions Assemble

Marvel Champions: The Card Game (AL) from Fantasy Flight Games, pits heroes against a nemesis in a cooperative game where simple choices are tied up with tricky resource management.

Every card in your deck evokes a part of your character: part of their costume, a signature attack, locations and allies that are prominent in the lore of the comics. A simple combination of all the cards for your character and all the cards from a particular aspect; leadership, attack, defence etc. form your deck.

The nemesis sets their plot in motion, every turn they get closer to their goal. They have their own deck full of minions to fight, side plots to defeat and all manner of comic inspired disasters.

Heroes thwart the plot, attack the nemesis, and tackle minions. The nemesis reacts, attacking every turn and here is where things get interesting. Heroes must take the hit but if you are in your day wear, adopting your alter ego, then you can avoid it. The plot advances just that little bit more if you aren’t around to stop the Villain.

The alter ego gives you access to different cards in your deck, the ability to heal and allows the designers to play with the dual aspects of many heroes in the Marvel universe. Flipping back and forth between your hidden identity and your heroic persona becomes a constantly evolving decision point that was really enjoyable to play with.

Paying for cards is the real core of the player’s turn and you do this by discarding several cards to pay for one. This gives each turn a tug of war between what you need now, what is vital later and the space between the two that allows you to pay for cards. Lovely design.

The graphic design is not so lovely.

Some bizarre graphics choices

By way of example the above picture contains triangular threat tokens in yellow on the plot card. The black number highlighted on both plots indicates how much threat to put on the card. Any reason these aren’t the same colour and shape?

Rhino’s health pool is also visible in this picture. Can you see it? Let me zoom in a bit for you.

There it is!

In tiny black and white writing as it is in on the hero cards. Minions have their health in a nice bright circle just above the text box and I could see no reason why it shouldn’t be there on the hero and villain cards as well.

I enjoyed my first play of Marvel Champions: it’s more replayable than I imagined and is very approachable in its deckbuilding. I’d have liked them to take a little more time on the graphic design and it is way too expensive for what you get, especially considering it is part of the LCG model.

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Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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