Written by Josh Bailey
This weekend I will be running two sessions of Marvel Champions at the Mace West Tabletop Gaming Convention in Asheville, NC. This article will cover my planning and preparations for the event, and my next article will cover specifics of how I ran the games and notable things that came up. I am hoping these two articles will be beneficial for anyone running demos of Marvel Champions.
First, I have to decide how I am going to present the player deck options and scenario options to the players. I could go with Standard Rhino versus the suggested pre-built decks from the Core, but we are now roughly four months into the life game and I think having a wider array of options is warranted. I intentionally did not list my game on the sign-up page as a beginners-only demo of just the core set. I feel it is likely that there will be people at this convention who have not yet bought the game but have already sat through that Core set demo somewhere, or at the very least have spent the time watching reviews and play-throughs. They may appreciate being able to also sample some of the recent expansions if they are trying to decide on whether or not to make a purchase. I feel like players of all experience levels will appreciate variety and options as long as I take the time to cater to those who need the most help and not overwhelm anyone with deck building.
With that in mind, I am going to present some pre-built “pools” of cards that can be combined to build a deck without selecting cards one by one. All hero signature pools are 15 cards, and there are 7 Basic cards that I think are playable in just about any deck you can think of. This leaves me with 18 card slots for aspect cards, so I just have to pick a list of 18 cards that are close to universally playable for each aspect. Once that’s done, a player will just have to sit down, pick a hero, grab their basic cards, pick an aspect, and then put them all together and they’re ready to go. This is essentially the same “deck building” process that happens in all LCG core sets, but with a slightly larger card pool.
It’s important for me to note here that the expansions available at the time of this convention are Green Goblin, Captain America, Ms. Marvel, and The Wrecking Crew. I do not expect to receive Thor in time to include him.
Below are the lists I came up with for Basic cards and each aspect:
The Aspect Pools
It’s rare for me to not include all of the above in any deck I build right now. The most likely changes on a deck-by-deck basis are more or fewer copies of Avengers Mansion and Helicarrier and possibly dropping Mockingbird. For a pickup learning game, however, I think this list is pretty solid.
The most difficult include above is maybe Hulk, but just because of the popularity of the character and the fun effect I had to keep him in. Another question here is if I should include more copies of Melee and cut one or more Uppercut, but given that this will be at least partially a teaching game, Uppercut is easier to grasp but you still may have the opportunity for a cool Melee play.
All of these seemed pretty straightforward. The most questionable for me was Great Responsibility, but it’s a cool moment for a player to pull off so I wanted it in there.
Protection gets an extra ally compared to the non-Leadership aspects just because I like all of them. You will notice in these aspects that I have a lot of 1-of and 2-of cards. I am building these with variety in mind to show off the cards rather than building for efficiency.
This one is all over the place, which is kind of how I feel when I build a normal Leadership deck anyway. Hopefully any non-ally card you draw here will be useful for someone at the table.
Presenting the Options
As I said above, players will just have to pick a hero, pick an aspect, and grab a stack of Basic cards to get going. With 7 heroes and 4 aspects, however, that still may seem daunting so I am going to make some index cards with simple explanations/recommendations to help players make their choices. Of course, I will also be there to further elaborate and help out. Here is what I plan to put on each card for the aspects and heroes:
- Defeat Villain
- Minion Control
- Suggested Heroes: Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Captain America, Ms. Marvel
- Prevent/Remove Threat
- Slow Down Villain
- Remove Bad Effects
- Suggested Heroes: Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel
- Defend/Control Villain
- Suggested Heroes: Spider-Man, She-Hulk, Black Panther, Captain America
- Support, Versatile
- Stat boosts
- Lots of allies
- Suggested Heroes: Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Iron Man, Captain America
- Card Draw and Resource Acceleration
- Suggested Aspects: Justice, Protection, Leadership
- Burst damage
- Card Draw
- Suggested Aspects: Aggression, Justice, Leadership
- Consistent Damage
- Frequent form-changing
- Hand Management
- Suggested Aspects: Justice, Protection
- Weak early-game
- Late-game Powerhouse
- Suggested Aspects: Justice, Leadership
- Card Combos
- Resource Rich
- Suggested Aspects: Aggression, Protection, Leadership
- Suggested Aspects: Aggression, Protection, Leadership
- Big Turns
- Suggested Aspects: Aggression, Justice
I will try to read the groups I get to decide what scenario I’ll suggest. Rhino is obviously the go-to but if any players have tried that already I’ll lean towards something else. I actually think Risky Business could be an okay scenario here because the pressure is low and, even though it’s a little wonky mechanically, it shouldn’t be too hard to grasp for new players. I could go with Klaw if it seems everyone is moderately experienced with the game or other card games, and I’ll try to steer away from Ultron and Mutagen Formula for my own sanity since I’ll be managing a 4-player board state. As to modular sets, I’ll probably make them all available and just let people pick their favorite minor villains to include. I wouldn’t mind including more than one modular scenario in this setting. The encounter deck setup I have the least plans for going in and just intend to go with whatever the group wants. I will detail how that went in my next article.
I have also been trying to plan out the components/play-area side of things. I use Burger Tokens and I have the promo Identity cards from the launch kit, but I plan on using all of the standard, out-of-the-box stuff so that I have enough tokens and to make sure all of the identities have the same layout/graphic design so that pointing out stats will be uniform across the heroes. I also want to make sure I don’t give someone a false impression of what the game will look like when they purchase it. I plan on using the 1-4 player mat for all of the encounter area and token supplies with the understanding that not all player cards will fit on there. If the size and shape of the table makes that mat awkward then it will be the first thing to go.
I also had to think long and hard about sleeves. I use Dragon Shield Mattes for my player decks, generally of a color that makes sense with the hero and/or aspect that I’m playing. That isn’t really going to work for my smash-together deck building, however. I also – brace yourselves – don’t sleeve my encounter cards. I never have for the Lord of the Rings LCG and I have continued that practice with Marvel. A convention setting with strangers may make me change my mind at least temporarily. I have never used them before but, due to cost, I am going to sleeve everything – player cards and encounter cards – with penny sleeves so that the deck building and adding of nemesis cards to the encounter decks don’t require any breaks for re-sleeving. As of the time of this writing, I have not yet sat down and sleeved everything so I will have to report back on that in my follow-up article. I am not looking forward to those sleeves.
Look for my next article roughly two weeks after this one where I will detail how all of this planning actually worked out in practice. I will talk about what worked, what didn’t work, and how I’d do it differently next time. I also plan to go over specifics in how I teach and run the game. Here’s hoping it all goes well.
Thank you for reading.