Welcome, Josh to our Marvel Champions 20 Questions Hotseat. Thank you for taking time out of your day to answer our questions.
Thank you for asking me to be a part of this. I can’t wait to expose myself as a total poser when it comes to the Marvel universe. I’ve always been more of a Star Wars geek, but they’re all under the Disney umbrella now anyway.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
1. Let’s kick this off with your history with Marvel. What was your history with Marvel, if any, before you discovered Marvel Champions?
I never really read any superhero comics as a kid, unless I got them for free with a Pizza Hut kids’ pizza, so mostly I just knew the cartoons. My touchstones were the Spider-Man, X-Men and (not Marvel) Batman cartoons from the 90’s on Fox Kids. And then there were the Spider-Man video games on the Super Nintendo, Captain America and the Avengers, and the X-Men arcade game. I didn’t play the VS System CCG the first time around but I did play a Marvel-only port of that card game on the Nintendo DS. That was the totality of my Marvel knowledge prior to the MCU. I still am not a big comics reader so I mostly just follow the movies and some of the TV shows now (Jessica Jones season 1 being the best).
2. Moving into Marvel Champions, where and when did you learn about the game?
I think the day of the in-flight report through various channels. I had been involved in a few of the FFG LCGs before so I heard about it between the Lord of the Rings LCG discord I’m in and friends of mine who are also plugged in to all things FFG.
3. Before playing the game, what was your first impression?
My first impression was honestly a little bit negative. I didn’t think I was going to buy into it at first, which I wrote about in my first article for I Rebel. It seemed too mechanically light and not narratively rich enough to pull me away from LOTR or Star Wars: Destiny. The main thing that keeps me coming back to those games was the deck building and Marvel seemed too restrictive on that front with the mandatory signature cards and the inability to splash multiple aspects.
4. When did you play the game your first time and how did it affect your first impression?
I played it when I got a copy on release day. As is obvious from that article I linked, my impression had already changed prior to that. Or at least my feelings about what I originally saw as negatives about the game had changed. It is lighter, it is narratively shallower, and the deck building is less interesting for now. But that was also true of the other games I played for the first year or two until the card pool expanded. Also, some of those features make the game easier to bust out and play. It is more streamlined. I think it’s easier to play multiplayer, and it’s easier to play solo as well. It’s also fairly easy to teach. Compared to at least LOTR, I think it has a head start due to all the lessons the design team has learned over the years and so I am willing to bet the game will be equally if not more interesting from a deck building perspective after a few waves of content.
5. Clearly you love the game enough to do content for it, what was the final push that made you want to do content?
I wanted an outlet to do more writing and I liked that the community was still being formed as the game was brand new, so it seemed less daunting than trying to get into a well-established ecosystem of online content. I have always appreciated the online resources for other games made by community members and I wanted the chance to provide that kind of assistance to others.
6. Speaking of content, what kind of content do you do for the game and where can people find it?
I write articles of varying formats for this website, and you can find them all here: https://irebeldestiny.com/tag/josh-bailey/
7. Has doing content for the game taught you anything about the game or yourself that you may not have learned? If so what was it, If not why not?
I have learned that I have a weakness for parenthetical statements and asides (like this one).
8. Diving into the game itself, who is your favorite hero to play as, what aspect is your favorite and why?
My favorite heroes right now are Spider-Man and Captain Marvel. Spider-Man, though I don’t play him enough, appeals to the control player in me because he has enough defense and healing to last long enough to pull off whatever deck building strategy you’re going for and also has the card draw and resource generation to pay for it. He’s just a really good all-purpose platform to build a deck around. Captain Marvel is similarly an all-rounder in my eyes because she can thwart and attack equally well, and the built-in card draw and big resource cards make a lot of strategies viable. The thing I think they both have in common is that their signature pools do not overcommit you to a particular strategy, so they’re good jumping off points. I also really like playing Ms. Marvel from a mechanical perspective but, as of right now, it feels like her signature set is so strong that the rest of the cards don’t matter, and most Ms. Marvel builds play similarly.
My favorite aspect is Leadership because I play a lot of single-handed solo and it allows you to build decks which can easily do a little bit of everything, which is a theme for me. I also like having multiple characters in play despite the apparent design goal of making you identify as a single hero, and early-on Leadership seems to be the most combo-y of the aspects which is something that I like.
9. How about the villain side, who is your favorite villain to play against, which encounter set is your favorite so far and why?
My favorite is Klaw because he tests you on just about every front. There will be scheme pressure, he can put out damage, he can give you status effects, he puts out side schemes, you’re guaranteed to face minions, all of it.
My favorite encounter set is the Masters of Evil, because rather than being focused on one big minion that you may or may not see, there are multiple medium-sized minions that are more likely to come into play, and the different abilities on them are fun.
10. How do you prefer to play and if it is not alone, what does your playgroup look like?
I think I prefer 2-player games, though most of mine are one-handed solo. I don’t have a regular group but amongst my gaming friends, there are others that own the game and some that will play the game if we bring it to game nights. I hosted a Marvel Champions night just before stay-at-home began locally and we had two 3-player games.
11. Do you customize your gaming experience anyway that goes beyond the official rules for the game, if so how and why?
Other than the occasional “let’s pretend I didn’t draw that encounter card,” no. I was thinking about trying some games with mixed aspect decks but then they announced Spider Woman, so I’ll just wait. I am an avowed tokens-for-health player and never use the dials if I can help it.
12. As is, how does Marvel Champions stack up to other games you play or have played?
I think it is the easiest LCG to get on the table and play, and so once it reaches a point where the cardpool is large enough to support multiple deck archetypes for each aspect, it will stand even with Arkham Horror as the best cooperative card games.
13. Is there anything you would change with how the game currently is? If so how, If not why not?
The only thing that comes to mind is that allies seem too powerful. The ability to defend an attack with an ally at 1 hp left and usually no penalty for the defending player is too strong. I think there should be more Overkill or effects that trigger off characters being defeated.
14. What was the craziest game you’ve had so far or your favorite memory from playing the game to date?
Favorite memory is one of my first games using Spider-Man and defeating Rhino with a Swinging Web Kick. Just so thematic.
15. If FFG came to you and said they wanted to put you in charge of creating OP for this game, how would you do it and what would that look like?
One or two events per year would center around villain scenarios that are tailored to “massively multiplayer” events like they’ve done for their other LCGs. I would love it if there could be different scenarios that all come together to determine a single resolution, so different groups would play different scenarios but all of the results would feed into the overall story. Like the big story arcs that happen in comics, like Civil War or War of the Realms, that then spill over into multiple series. (So I did read a few comics, I guess).
To incentivize more frequent game nights at local stores, print-on-demand alt-arts of Core Set staples would be nice.
16. If you could bring any hero into the game, who would they be, what would they do and why?
I have previously written about my ideal Professor X expansion, but for the sake of coming up with something new, I will say that my favorite X-Men character is Nightcrawler, so I’d like to see him as a hero. I think his “BAMF” ability would need to be flexible as either offense or defense.
Here’s an idea: “BAMF! – Response: After Nightcrawler exhausts to defend, spend 1 resource. If that resource was:
Physical – Deal 2 damage to the attacking enemy
Energy – Ready Nightcrawler
Mental – Discard a Boost card’
17. If you could bring any villain into the game, who would they be, what would they do and why?
The main reason that I like season 1 of Netflix’s Jessica Jones so much is David Tennant’s Kilgrave/Purple Man, so I’d like to see him as a villain (although I assume he’d also be Jessica Jones’ nemesis minion). That would be a difficult villain to design though because I’d imagine he would be all about turning your cards against you and preventing you from being able to do the basic things you need to do to play the game. It could easily become a Negative Play Experience. It’d be like playing Magic: The Gathering against the most annoying Blue deck you could think of. I’m sure the design team would come up with something good though.
18. If you had to turn yourself into a card for the game, what kind of card (it can be a hero, upgrade, event, hero, villain, minion, etc) would you be, what would you do and why?
At the risk of too much self-promotion, I wrote an article about that too. The idea was to present a relatively weak, non-powered human whose abilities were meta-references to being a deck builder and card player. Otherwise, I’d be a Resource that gives you an extra Click at the cost of a Tag (winks in cyberpunk).
19. Time to head towards the conclusion but we need to touch on the MCU. What is your favorite MCU film and why?
This one is tough because Taika Waititi is great and so is Thor: Ragnarok, I love Paul Rudd and Michael Peña so either Ant-Man is hard to deny, but I would have to choose Spider-Man: Homecoming. I have a lot of nostalgia for Spider-Man and the cast is really good. I was kinda shocked by the reveal of Vulture being his prom date’s dad and that whole scene was really tense in a great way. I was used to MCU movies being kind of predictable in a way but that caught me off guard. I also really appreciated Vulture’s motivation and the focus on how everyday people were being affected by the rise of superheroes and supervillains.
20. Before we get out of here, what is something you would like to share with our readers that most of them may not know about yourself?
I would love to double down on my usual lie and say that I’m the Josh of the Joshua B from Android Netrunner, but that’s (probably) not true. I was a playtester for the Core Set of that game though (I’m in the rulebook!), so maybe my name was visible to Lukas at the time he was designing the card. Who can say?
Thanks again Josh for answering our questions. We wish you the best in your content and would like to thank you for giving back to the community.
It’s been my pleasure. What we need right now more than ever are communities centered around things that bring joy and hobbies that can be enjoyed at home. Luckily, Marvel Champions provides both of those things.
If people would like to find you or your content, where can they find it?
I’m on Twitter and Discord as Jbailey86 and you can find my articles for I Rebel at https://irebeldestiny.com/tag/josh-bailey/.
Thank you readers for reading this article and stay tuned for our next entry into this series, coming Monday. Till then, we wish you nothing but the best and stay safe out there.