The Marvel Champions 20 Questions Hotseat, Issue #16: Elessar010

Welcome, Elessar to our Marvel Champions 20 Questions Hotseat. Thank you for taking time out of your day to answer our questions.

Thanks for having me!

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 think like a lot of people who grew up in the 90’s, I was introduced to Marvel stuff through the Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons. But, to be honest, I was mostly a DC guy. Superman is my favorite fictional character. In high school I started collecting comics, including some Marvel, Iron Man, Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers to name a few. Of course, the MCU got a hold on everyone in massive pop culture since 2008.

2. Moving into Marvel Champions, where and when did you learn about the game?
I am a pretty avid Fantasy Flight Games player, and before Marvel came out, I was already well hooked into FFG’s products with the Lord of the Rings Card Game, Star Wars: Legion, and many of their other properties. So, I was very excited about the announcement of a Marvel Living Card Game, since I enjoy their line of games a lot; and I knew Caleb Grace would be a great designer for this one, coming from LOTR LCG.

3. Before playing the game, what was your first impression?
I was very pleased to see many of the mechanics being similar to Lord of the Rings, during their announcement articles and previews. Although, there was enough difference to feel like a new experience, instead of a direct copy. I didn’t buy the core set upon release, mainly because I was investing so much in other games, I figured I’d wait til the holidays.

4. When did you play the game your first time and how did it affect your first impression?
Well, the holidays came and my sister bought the core set for me, and I spent a good week or so playing through all the heroes in the box. I loved the way it worked, and the various decisions it offered, with regard to how to play cards or spend them as resources. That was quite a change from my brain, which was stuck in Lord of the Rings mode. What got me hooked, though, was the design of Iron Man. Building his suit like that, and combos with Futurist, Pepper, and Stark Tower, it just really struck a chord with me, being such a big Iron Man fan.

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 had already invested a lot of time and energy into a series for the Lord of the Rings LCG, and once I bought a few of the Champions hero and villain packs, I started thinking about expanding my YouTube presence to this game as well.  But, unlike my LOTR videos, I didn’t want to do digital games on OCTGN or TTS; so I decided it would be fun to play with the physical cards, and that would be a little unique, although, also present some kind of new challenges as a creator, as I needed some additional equipment, but that just added to the fun!

6. Speaking of content, what kind of content do you do for the game and where can people find it?
I mostly play the game solo, and single-handed. So, my content simply features those types of games, as I sit at my table with the physical cards. Although I did feature one two-player game with a friend on my channel, the whole pandemic put a hold on further two-player, in-person games like that. People can find “The Hall of Cards” channel on YouTube.

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 think it has mostly reaffirmed the ways that I enjoy playing games, in that, the immersive theme is most important to me. I have never been a min/max player of any games, and often, in games of all types, I find myself gravitating to something that may be subpar by community, or “meta,” standards, but is quite thematic, or fun for me personally. I was just lucky that my favorite hero is so good in this game. My LOTR series focuses on me using Aragorn in every deck. But, I didn’t want to box myself in so much for Champions, so I’ve tried to use different heroes and aspects along the way. I also think, with the card pool still in its infancy, trying to play more variety is good from a content perspective.

8. Diving into the game itself, who is your favorite hero to play as, what aspect is your favorite and why?
Iron Man is definitely my favorite hero, and has been my favorite Marvel character for ages. He starts slow, but building up the suit of armor, and then, all of the action economy it gives, is just so enjoyable. It provides a lot of options and decision points; although, the full suit can feel a bit auto-pilot later in the game.

As for the aspects, I most enjoy Leadership. The Iron Man deck I play most often, nicknamed “Director Stark,” for when Tony was Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., hopes to create as much action economy as possible, through Tony’s suit of armor, ally actions, and things like Make the Call, etc. I really enjoy deciding how to utilize allies and when. Also, I’m a player that likes to take advantage of Alter-Ego abilities and actions, so Leadership allows me to flip over to Tony when I want to, and still have allies to do some of the work (or, take some hits for me).

9. How about the villain side, who is your favorite villain to play against, which encounter set is your favorite so far and why?
I love Green Goblin, particularly the Risky Business version. It’s such a fun balancing act, and really can throw your plans awry in unique ways by switching from Goblin to Norman or vice versa. I think Risky Business is currently my favorite scheme. Having to manage things like Hostile Takeover, State of Madness/Criminal Enterprise, is a fun puzzle, and it felt so perfectly like Norman.

10. How do you prefer to play and if it is not alone, what does your playgroup look like?
I play solo, primarily, mostly just because it’s difficult for me to get out and play with a group, although I do have a few friends I play with via OCTGN and through Skype, as one of them is out-of-state. For solo, I am also not really a 2-handed player; it just takes too much for me to track two decks at once, and I much prefer the experience of feeling like that one hero, as opposed to controlling two at a time.

11. Do you customize your gaming experience anyway that goes beyond the official rules for the game, if so how and why?
Not really; I’m a pretty stickler for the rules. Usually, I try to become as well-versed as possible in the rules, interactions, and official rules clarifications or erratas. I like to have as much knowledge as I can, and in my head, I want to play the game “correctly.”  I wouldn’t call myself a “rules lawyer,” as I forget plenty, but I don’t want to take any liberties with the rules.

12. As is, how does Marvel Champions stack up to other games you play or have played?  It’s a great, fun experience! Whether it is my own experience or skill as a cooperative card gamer, or the nature of the game, but it felt a lot easier to get into and play right out of the core box than Lord of the Rings, which I found so difficult and to have such a high barrier of entry when it came out, that I shelved it for over a year. But, Champions felt very quick to set up, and a blast to play. I am sure I had an easier time with the mechanics because of my experience with LOTR, but that also means I have to keep an eye out for when I mix and match mechanics or rules out of habit. I am a huge fan of these cooperative card games, mostly because I think I’m bad at PvP competitive card games ha. Champions is similar enough, but also unique enough, to provide some new enjoyment, and of course, is an IP that I already very much enjoy, so it will be able to compete with the other games I play quite well for a long time.

13. Is there anything you would change with how the game currently is? If so how, If not why not?
I don’t think so! Like most of us, I am just eager for the card pool to expand to open up more deckbuilding options. But, there are still many deck combinations I haven’t even tried yet. I wouldn’t want to alter anything about the mechanics or gameplay, because as I said before, they offer a different experience from FFG’s other LCG that I play, and that is a good thing! Although, maybe they could make Expert Ultron a little easier, ha.

14. What was the craziest game you’ve had so far or your favorite memory from playing the game to date?
Funny, I know I said I play solo primarily, but just a week or so ago, I was playing on OCTGN with two friends against Expert Klaw, and I was playing Justice Iron Man. With the suit fully set up and things like For Justice, and Repulsor Blast in my hand, I was able to thwart away a side scheme, the main scheme to zero, and I hit, I think if I remember well enough, like 9 damage per Repulsor Blast. It was kind of a moment where we were planning how to finish him off, but Iron Man did what he does sometimes, and you realize, “oh, okay then, that’s the game, I guess.”

To be fair to the villains, on the flip side, once while we were playing Expert Rhino (I know, lol), we had our next turn planned out, and I was using my “Director Stark” Leadership deck this time, and calculated I could thwart for 15, and attack a ton as well, with allies, etc., and we said “okay, let’s just get through this villain phase,” as we’ve all done, I’m sure. Well, of course I get business problems, and I had to exhaust all my upgrades, so my plan went straight out the window, and we lost one or two turns later. Just goes to show how sometimes, the Encounter Deck and Villain can take you down quickly, even when you’re prepared for the win.

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?
Interesting! I would love to see a consistent flow of kits for stores, with promo cards that are easily accessible. One thing I hate in other games is the “collectible” nature of many of them, and this is another reason I love cooperative, Living Card Games. From promotional hero arts, to foil hero cards, or even alternate art player cards for your deck, would be amazing. And of course, a store could get a lot of mileage out of a kit by handing out those promos to players at events. Also, it would be cool to see some of those alternate or foil cards for villains as well. I would never want to see unique abilities or cards in promotional kits, as that could negatively impact player experience overall, and is something from collectible games that I just don’t enjoy.

Also, for events, I think it would be fun to come include some “designer challenges” as well, whether that includes unique combinations of encounter sets, unique cards printed for villains to affect them (that would of course, then be made available to all players for their own collections), or something like that, so your “events” have a cool unique feel to them.

16. If you could bring any hero into the game, who would they be, what would they do and why?
Apart from Iron Man, my favorite Marvel characters are the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom. They are the characters I want to see in the game as soon as possible! Of course, since the FF are a family, I am not sure how to bring them in, because designing them as four unique heroes, each would be a lot of energy. But, a “hero pack” for the Fantastic Four would be incredible to offer players not only 1 hero version of all four characters; but also ally versions of them as well! So, you could build a Reed deck, or Sue, or Johnny, or Ben, and still have cards for their family members in your deck as allies. This would possibly make the unique hero cards more generic, I guess, but now that I’m thinking about it, this sounds a lot like the player version of a Wrecking Crew pack.

17. If you could bring any villain into the game, who would they be, what would they do and why?
To jump off the last answer, Dr. Doom would absolutely be the one. He has such potential from a villain perspective to be grounded on earth, but also that huge cosmic threat, like God Doom, etc. He has plenty of Doombots to be his minions and Guard effects, but, he would also not only have interesting attacks, but his intellect should also be on display in his encounter deck. This should make for a high Scheme, and possibly some unique star abilities when he Schemes. Some kind of test of intellect between the player and Doom would be cool.

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?
I think I would definitely be an ally. I’m quite introverted in person, and never one to “Lead from the Front,” so to speak. I work as a book editor, so I would guess I’d be a nice thwarting ally. I’m not that social in person, but usually available digitally to chat and stuff, so perhaps I can be played from your discard pile, like Lockjaw. Or, I have an action that can only be triggered from your discard pile.

19. Time to head towards the conclusion but we need to touch on the MCU. What is your favorite MCU film and why?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is still my favorite MCU movie. I love it as a callback to classic 70s spy thrillers, and also, I just really enjoy the grounded nature of Captain America in that setting. But, mostly, the tragedy for Steve and Bucky to be reunited in the way that they are; and for Steve to still find a way to reach Bucky, is very touching. “I’m with you til the end of the line,” still gets me.

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 am not sure many in the community know much about me to begin with! I’m a very private person; but I will end on a funny anecdote that I sold Bill Murray a TV once while in college. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina, at least partially, and that’s where I went to college, and worked at Target. Well, one day a guy asked me for help in buying a smaller, decent TV for a spare room and I turned around and it was Bill Murray. And this is 100% true, I swear. He was so nice, and very down to earth, but still extremely funny. He talked with another woman about trying yoga while he was checking out. So, believe that Bill is a funny, nice guy in real life, too, not just in our collective imaginations!

Thanks again Elessar for answering our questions. We wish you the best in your content and would like to thank you for giving back to the community.
Thanks so much for having me! It was really fun to think and talk about the game for a while, considering all that is going on in the world.

If people would like to find you or your content, where can they find it?
People can find me on YouTube, “The Hall of Cards,” and I’m also on Discord, lurking mostly! Some technically troubles arose that stopped me from making videos the past month, but I will certainly have new ones to post soon!

Thank you readers for reading this article and stay tuned for our next entry into this series, coming soon. Till then, we wish you nothing but the best and stay safe out there.

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