Article

A Hero Is Me

Written by Josh Bailey

INTRODUCTION

I wanted to explore some different areas of design space for this game so I thought a fun way to do so would be to design myself as a playable character. The idea behind these cards, thematically, is that I have no superpowers and weak stats. However my “Hero” form is me as a card-player/deck-builder, and therefore they are all supportive cards that can facilitate whatever weird jank you are trying to pull off. I have not playtested any of this, since it’s mostly just a jumble of ideas for designing and balancing cards. I may have to look into the homebrew community more closely to see about making some real assets for these. Apologies for the text-heavy nature of this post, by the way, I do not have much skill in creating custom card art and layouts. There is at least one picture of a cat further down.

All cards are one-ofs unless otherwise stated.

Alter-Ego/Hero

JOSH BAILEY
Alter-Ego
REC 2
BLOGGER
Hand Size 4, Hit Points 8
Cards in Piles – Action: Look at the top three cards of your deck and add one of the cards to your hand, place one back on top of your deck, and the other on the bottom of your deck. Limit once per round.
SETUP: Shuffle any number of cards in your discard pile back into your deck.

JBAILEY86
Hero
THW 1
ATK 1
DEF 1
GAMER
Hand Size 3, Hit Points 8
Happy Place Response: After you draw any number of cards due to a card effect, heal 1 damage.

So, like I said, no real powers and weak stats. Frankly, the 1’s are generous. The Cards in Piles action references something my wife always says about observing me while I’m deck-building: “You take the cards out of the box, you put them in little piles, and then you put them back in the box.” Pretty much sums it up. Mechanically, it’s a cross of Tony Stark’s Futurist and Aamir Khan which are two cards I really like for digging for and setting up combos. For the Setup: ability, I like the idea of a starting ability that helps sculpt your hand in a way that’s not just the “search for X card” that we’ve seen so far. I think the idea of mitigating the cost of a mulligan is cool. It will be especially necessary given my small hand size (don’t even) and the need to aggressively mulligan for combo pieces and supports that I will get to later. Happy Place reflects recharging from a stressful day just by playing the game and the joy of drawing cards. I also thought it would be a cool way to get access to healing while in Hero form to offset the low Recovery stat.

Signature Ally

KAx4aK5s

BEETLE
Unique Ally, 0-cost, Wild resource
THW 1, 1 consequential damage
ATK 1, 1 consequential damage
2 Health
CAT
Confused. (This character enters play with a Confused status card)
Forced: When this character defends, the attack gains Overkill.
Action: Discard Beetle and pay up to 5 resources -> move 1 damage from one character to another character OR move 1 threat from one scheme to another scheme for each resource spent this way.

My cat is dumb, y’all. His name is Betelgeuse but we call him Beetle (pictured above, confused). Having allies enter play with negative status effects as a means of balancing their stats seems like an interesting direction to go, and also seems necessary for a 0-cost ally (another thing I thought would be a cool addition) that has access to thwarting. It’s an alternative to the “-” for a stat like Hulk has. I also believe the day will come when defending with allies won’t be such an effective strategy, and I thought a Forced: effect such as the one above would be a good fix for an ally that thematically shouldn’t be able to take a Rhino Stampede for you.

When deciding on what my cat could do, besides be confused, I remembered how good he is at disturbing the tokens while I’m playing, and realized that would be a fun, kind-of-meta effect. I originally wanted to lean into it a bit more, and have any token able to be moved and transformed into any other. I decided that removing a threat and turning it into a Hawkeye arrow counter was probably too OP, and difficult to fit into a reasonable amount of words on the card. So I arrived at the nerfed and more easily explicable effect above. It’s similar to Legal Practice, so to differentiate it I changed it from discarding cards to paying resources. Meaning if you have a double-resource card you could get more value out of the effect.

Signature Supports

DECK BOXES
Support, 1-cost, Energy resource
STORAGE SOLUTION
Your hand size is +1.
Response: After you flip to Hero form, reduce the cost of the next card you play this phase by one.

CARD BINDERS
Support, 1-cost, Mental resource
STORAGE SOLUTION
Your hand size is +1.
Action: Exhaust this card and name a card type. Look at the top three cards of your deck and add a card of the named type to your hand. Shuffle your deck.

CARD BOXES
Support, 1-cost, Physical resource
STORAGE SOLUTION
Your hand size is +1.
Response: After drawing cards at the beginning of your turn, you may add one card attached here to your hand.
Action: Exhaust Card Boxes to attach any number of cards from your hand face down here.

I knew I wanted to represent the accouterments of card gamers into my hero and thought using them to increase hand size would be a neat addition. I had to greatly reduce printed hand size on my character. Thematically, the deck boxes mean that you are able to get up and get going faster when you switch from normal life to gamer-mode, and I would like to see more cards that trigger on flipping like She-Hulk’s ability. The card binders make it quicker to access a specific type of card when you need it, and the card boxes (something like this) allow for bulk storage but are slower to get cards back out of.

PRE-ORDER (3 copies)
Support, 0-cost, Wild resource
TRANSACTION
Interrupt: When you would draw a card, discard Pre-Order instead to search your deck for a card and add it to your hand. Shuffle your deck.

Even though they tend to be easily-abused, I like tutors. I want a deck I build to do a thing to be consistent at doing the thing. And in a non-competitive game I think it’s okay to have effects that can get problematic in competitive environments. And I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to represent another common facet of playing expandable card games. Of note here is that there is anti-synergy between this replacement effect and my Hero’s Happy Place ability.

I bet if you think about it a bit, you can predict the name of one or more of my nemesis cards…

HOME
Support, 2-cost, Mental resource
LOCATION
Your Alter-Ego gets +2 REC.
Alter-Ego Action: Exhaust this card to search the top five cards of your deck and add a support to your hand.

I should probably have a cooler name for this but I like juxtaposing all of the Mansions and Towers in this game with just “Home”. I guess it’s no worse than Steve’s Apartment. But yeah, it helps me relax and it’s where I keep my stuff. Pretty straightforward and unexciting.

Signature Upgrade

COMMUNITY SUPPORT
Upgrade, 1-cost, Mental resource
META
Hero Action: Exhaust Community Support to target another Hero or Ally and choose either Thwart, Attack or Defense. Until the end of the phase, your chosen attribute is equal to the target’s printed attribute of the same type.

I am a better card-gamer thanks to community resources like MarvelCDB.com, Discord, Reddit, podcasts, etc, and so this card represents that. Alone my character cannot do much but can be so much more effective with a group. It basically requires a solo deck to be Leadership but that’s where I tend to end up in solo play anyway. It’s a difficult ability to get across in words but the idea is you copy She-Hulk‘s attack or Spider-Man‘s defense or something like that in order to be more effective than your 1/1/1 stat line. One of my favorite cards in the early days of the LOTR LCG was Support of the Eagles and this is like an ode to that card.

Signature Events

CARD ADVANTAGE (3 copies)
Event, 0-cost, (1 each of Physical, Mental, and Energy)
Hero Action: Draw 2 cards. If you have more cards than your hand size, discard 1 card.

WOMBO-COMBO (3 copies)
Event, 2-cost, (1 each of Physical, Mental, and Energy)
Hero Action: For each exhausted card you control, you may choose to deal 1 damage to an enemy or remove 1 threat from a scheme. Draw a card.

These cards fuel the Happy Place ability on my Hero and, at one point, I realized I needed some ability to affect the game state as far as damage and threat within my signature pool. So, to represent pulling off the ultimate janky combo, if you can get out and use multiple cards in one turn then the Wombo-Combo card can go off and give you good value while being flexible. It’s probably too good with Helicarrier.

For Card Advantage, I thought it’d be interesting to interact with the hand-size in other ways. It also kinda pressures you to not follow the typical turn structure of using all of your draw effects first before playing any other cards. It gives you more value if you play other cards first and I thought that was interesting.

Nemesis Suite

FIRST-TIME HOMEOWNER
Obligation
Give to the Josh Bailey player
Flip to Alter-Ego form and exhaust Josh Bailey. Choose one:
-Discard your entire hand or spend [Physical, Mental, Energy] resources. Discard this obligation.
-Exhaust one Location and discard one other support from play. Remove this obligation from the game.

I think the Obligations we have so far are a bit weak. Or at least the decision is rarely difficult. I like that there is no choice regarding flipping and exhausting here. Maybe it’s too punishing. If you are also a homeowner you understand what this card represents. There’s no time to play games and shop around for that perfect custom storage solution when the city sewer line backs up into your basement.

RESPONSIBLE JOSH
Minion
SCH 0
ATK 0
5 Health
TRAIT
While Responsible Josh is engaged with you, your hand size cannot be increased.
Responsible Josh cannot be attacked.
Forced: When Responsible Josh engages you, if Real Life is not in play, search the encounter deck and discard pile for Real Life and reveal it.

I struggled with the idea of giving myself a Nemesis minion, but I am not ready to go down the path of a Nemesis suite that doesn’t include one. It would seem that the wording on Shadow of the Past doesn’t allow for it. I am interested in the idea of using the minion/side scheme system to represent some other challenges a hero might face outside of simply needing to punch someone in the face. This minion isn’t my inner demon or anything but rather the side of me that thinks “you know you probably shouldn’t be playing games right now” and therefore cannot be attacked physically, nor does it add to threat or make attacks of its own.

REAL LIFE
Side Scheme
5 Threat, Hazard Icon (extra Encounter Card)
Threat cannot be removed from this scheme by Thwarting.
Action: Discard X cards to remove X threat from Real Life. Only a player engaged with Responsible Josh can use this action.
When Defeated: Discard Responsible Josh from play.

I probably could have achieved this interaction to defeat the Nemesis without attacking on just the minion card itself, but I wasn’t sure what else to do with the side scheme. I do like the idea of a side scheme that requires a special method of defeating.

ALLOCATION (3 copies)
Treachery
Surge.
When Revealed: Each player must discard the top card of their deck, then discard a card from their hand of the same type (Ally, Support, Upgrade, or Event).

This is what I was alluding to in the Pre-Order section. The effect of this treachery, which I decided on first, may not be the best fit for the term “Allocation” but, given the recent events with The Wrecking Crew, I couldn’t resist. The overall effect of the Nemesis cards as a whole is to reduce your access to cards while accelerating the encounter deck, thus generating card advantage for the encounter deck in a mirror of what my Hero is attempting to do.

CONCLUSION

This Hero doesn’t do much on its own to win games, but the power is in getting the most out of the other cards in your deck and the synergy you can achieve with your fellow players. I think that’s an appropriate way to represent a powerless human who’s first gaming love is deck building. I would probably use this character to build some deck around making a supercharged ally like Hulk or Vision or the now-spoiled Iron Man with the knowledge that I could get out all of the needed pieces quickly.

I hope this design brought up some interesting ideas to think about regarding new ways cards could be designed and didn’t seem too self-indulgent. If you’re a member of the Marvel homebrew community I’d love to hear your feedback and advice on how to generate some images of these cards.

My next article or two will focus on running an organized event at a convention so I’ll be talking about teaching methods, deck preparation, scenario approach, and all of those related topics.

Thank you for reading.

1 thought on “A Hero Is Me”

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