Written by Herohodgson
Marvel Champions is almost 2 years old, but as the interest in the Marvel franchise is still at an all time high, we can hopefully expect more and more players enjoying the game, particularly once lockdown restrictions ease up. To that end, here is a helpful guide for new players, but also one that might make more seasoned ones think on something a little differently. If you think we’ve missed anything, pop a comment down below! Don’t forget you can also join the I Rebel Discord for quick Q&A or discussion.
#10: Always be Thinking About Value
Because you’re discarding cards to pay for cards, each time you look at your hand think about value. You will need to ‘tap’ a 3 cost Helicarrier 3 times to break even, or 4 times to be up on value -so the cards that exhaust to give a return like the Helicarrier or Avengers Mansion are huge early game cards, but not something you should be looking at late game when you might only have 2 or 3 rounds to go. Also have in mind a simple ratio that 4 damage should cost no more than 2 resources, same for thwarting. That will help you maximize the return from your hand each time as well as help out with your deck building. Sometimes getting 3 or 4 cheap cards out your hand will be better than one big one. It depends on timing and situation and takes practice to do without thinking
#9: A Lean Deck is a Regular Deck
Marvel champions lets you have anywhere between a 40 and 50 card deck. 15 cards go in straight away by your hero, specific ones, which leaves 25-35 for you to customize and build with. Except that’s not really the case, as by the time you’ve thrown the essentials in, you’re not left with much room for creativity. It can be tempting to cram everything in for a 50 card deck, but that decreases the chances of you pulling your big hitters and then seeing them again late game. Instead of running three copies of that really good aspect event, try 2. A 40 card deck is one that is focused and will recycle your best stuff. This brings me onto…
#8: Build a Board State
So now you’ve got a 40 card deck, we can whittle this down even more. If you try mulliganing some of your events for upgrades and supports in the setup, getting those down that dilutes your deck in a positive way even more. Its sometimes worth having a round one that might be discarding 4 cards for an Avengers Mansion or getting lots of cheap, but useful, upgrades onto your hero, even if you don’t do any damage or thwarting. These cards don’t go into a discard or get recycled back into your deck (unless the villain discards them), so you’re more likely to get those big events and allies back quicker. It will also help you trigger those bigger combo rounds later in the game when you can draw more cards, make the things in your hand cheaper or buff out and ready up your allies twice a round.
#7: Play to Character Strengths, Not Fix Weaknesses
This one does sound a bit obviou,s but its funny how even experienced players make this mistake. While I’m all for creativity, some round pegs aren’t designed to go into square holes. Hulk is a classic example of this. His biggest issue is his thwarting capability, so many people early on tried running him with Justice builds to make up for this. Why make a character built for dealing damage something he isn’t? Likewise if you’re running a Leadership deck that relies on expensive allies or big ‘Avengers Assemble’ moments having a hero with a 4 card hand size will really strain your resource management. The other big big big one I see people forgetting, is the impact between your Alter-Ego and Hero modes. Characters like Ms. Marvel and Captain America have big abilities in Alter-Ego mode, and Ms. Marvel in particular has a Hero deck with Alter-Ego only triggers all over the place. So bear in mind that if you will be ‘flipping’ once a round or so, you will need to have the ability to both thwart and deal damage – not just one or the other – regardless of the aspect you’re playing with.
#6: Defend with Allies
This one is obvious to many, but new players may forget you can do this as they don’t have a defend value. Your allies can exhaust to defend in the villain phase. Any attack value can be placed onto them, however, if its more than their hit points remaining they die and go into the discard pile. If your ally has a tough status card then they exhaust to defend, but take no damage. Its why cheap allies like Ironheart and Clea are great to defend with as they come in, ping 1 damage or thwart, then take a hit for you. Sometimes this ability makes cheap allies more useful than big hitting expensive ones. They take the hits, allowing you to do your thing. Just be careful with overkill, as that means any remaining damage greater than their remaining hit points value passes onto you, otherwise a Rhino attack of 4, with a boost, can entirely be taken by a 2-health ally.
#5: Don’t Undervalue the Protection Aspect in Multiplayer
Like most people I took protection out the core set and just thought it meant using Med Teams and healing events for HP. Now with characters like Quicksilver being able to defend multiple times in a round, its an extremely important aspect – particularly in multiplayer. Think about it this way, Leadership can be used for thwarting and dealing damage. Aggression has a little thwart capability and Justice has some damage dealing stuff. But none of those three have the same defensive suite of cards as Protection does. My friends and I have recently played through the Red Skull campaign and my friend Luke was running Spider-Man Protection. Quite frankly, it was the best I’ve ever seen the aspect played. Using Spider Sense to constantly draw a card, Unflappable to draw more, and Indomitable to ready for multiple defends a round, meant that the rest of us weren’t worried about taking damage, staying in hero mode longer, and continuing to do our thing to move forward each game. My point is if you undervalue Protection as a useful aspect, you’re playing it wrong. Just get used to playing your hand in the villain phase rather than the hero one.
#4: Card Draw Can be Better Than Cost Decreasing
Most heroes have one or two cards in their arsenal that are bonkers good. You want to get to these quickly and often. We’ve already talked about how a lean deck is great, but also try to factor in how important drawing more cards is than just decreasing the cost of them. You could have a hand full of resources, but nothing to spend them on. That Helicarrier isn’t helping you out in this instance either. So sometimes cards like Assess the Situation, Strength in Numbers, or Spiritual Meditation are a great way of constantly increasing your options and getting to your best cards more regularly. Doing this definitely decreases the chances of bad hands ruining rounds for you and slowing you down.
#3: Plan for the Villain Phase
This one largely comes down to practice, but counting out how much damage a villain can do, adding in any minions should become second nature, and how you plan out your own hero phase. There is only one copy of Shadow of the Past, has it gone yet? Have you had both copies of Advance go into the encounter deck, discard pile, or could the villain still get a ‘double scheme’ off? Asking yourself these questions is a great way to survive and plan your character flips much easier. Marvel Champions is a fun game of course and you don’t have to remember each card that flies across a playmat, but making a mental note once the big hitters like Advance, Assault, your Obligation card, etc, are gone is a good way of making sure you can survive during the villain phase. Also pausing at the start of a new round and asking yourself and the team how much damage you can do if you all focus on that rather than thwarting can be useful when you’re close to defeating a villain. In a multiplayer game that could be when they have as much as 40 health remaining!
#2: Try Deck Building
Each hero comes with their pre-built deck, but I am yet to see any that make me say “wow, this can’t be improved”. Start off small, change the allies out, or one or two events, to get creative before you get to a point of ripping it up and starting again. If you play a few games with a deck, work out what cards you never use or you do but never feel like they offer the value that you’d expect. There is no cards that are set in stone, I’ve even tried running decks without some of the resource cards in the past for resource specific heroes like Captain Marvel and Hulk. If you’re really stuck then head to a card database online where people post their own decks to either copy or mimic. For a time during lockdown my friends and I had two sorting hats, one with Hero names and one with aspects. You’d then be forced to make the best deck you could given your random combination. My friend Luke making Hulk/Leadership work with repeated Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was one of my favorite builds I’ve ever seen. Is it “meta defining”? Certainly not, but pushing yourself to try something new is a sure-fire way to get more out of the game and have a few laughs along the way.
#1: Check Out Content Creators
If you’re still really struggling after a few playthroughs, the chances are high that you’re misinterpreting the rules slightly to the villain’s favor. I see a lot of posts from people upset that they’ve played Rhino out the core box and still haven’t won a game despite changing their characters. Not to be horrible, but that shouldn’t really happen. There’s always a chance someone is unlucky, but FFG haven’t made an impossible game for us all to be frustrated with. Watching a game or two on YouTube is a great way of just making sure you’re playing it right, and of course, getting some good play style or deck building tips. Some creators will even run custom content decks that they’ve designed or seen online, which are a great way for people to print and play with new heroes and are really fun to see in action.
Do you agree with our list? What other tips would you give to new-ish players?