Marvel Champions Expansion Guide

Written by Josh Bailey

Introduction

The purpose of this guide will be to help everyone keep track of what is contained in each release, and for new players to determine their best path of early purchases. It will be updated as I’m able with each release. Card images and FFG product pages will be linked throughout.

For Hero Packs, I’ll include brief overviews of how the hero plays to help you decide if it’s an expansion that you want to track down, and also overviews of the aspect and basic cards to help you determine if the expansion is worth it if you don’t plan on using the hero.

For scenarios, I’ll talk briefly about the theme, difficulty, and mechanics of each scenario as well as talking about any included modular sets and what they can bring to other scenarios you may own.

As of right now, we don’t know what the Story Boxes will contain, so I don’t know what format my reviews will take. Expect them to still be geared to helping with purchasing decisions.

Finally, this page is heavily inspired by the oft-linked Tales From The Cards New Player Buying Guide for the Lord of the Rings LCG and features images and card info from the great Hall of Heroes and MarvelCDB resources. Many thanks to those creators.

General Buying Advice

Like all other LCGs, I expect the day will come that new players will ask the age-old question, “What do I buy after the Core?”. With the new distribution model of this game, we may even start to see, “Do I have to buy the Core?” and “What can I buy instead of the Core?”.

My advice depends on your playgroup situation. If you have been introduced to this game by friends that already own it and you just want to be able to play multiplayer with them, then I’d say identify your favorite hero (assuming it’s not one from the Core set) and buy just that pack, and possibly a second pack containing the aspect you most want to play if it wasn’t already included with your hero. If you are someone who enjoys deck building, I would then buy another pack of the same aspect to give you more options.

If you are playing solo, hoping to start your own group, really want to play a Core Set hero, or want to experience deck building across all the available aspects, then you are you going to want to start with a Core Set. From there I would continue as above, identifying heroes and aspects that interest you and seeking them out. One or two Hero Packs should be enough to have a good player deck. If you are also trying to build your own collection of scenarios, the best first or second purchase right now is The Green Goblin. If it is ever possible in the future to obtain the Standard and Expert modular sets (necessary for most scenarios) outside of the Core Set, I will note that here. Currently it is not, but you can play against The Wrecking Crew without any encounter cards from the Core Set.

Contents

Core Set

Release Month: October 2019
Heroes: Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, She Hulk, Iron Man, Black Panther
Villains: Rhino, Klaw, Ultron
Modular Sets: Standard, Expert, Bomb Scare, Masters of Evil, Under Attack, Doomsday Chair (MODOK), Legions of Hydra (see all Villains and Modular sets here)

Overview: Well, you pretty much have to buy this if you want to play the game on your own. There will probably be a time in the future where you can go for a while without buying this product and instead just focus on buying whichever heroes you want to play and whatever scenarios you want to play against. You will just be missing out on components, which can be replaced with other tokens you already have, and the Standard and Expert encounter sets. The only scenario that can be played without any modular sets from the Core Set so far is The Wrecking Crew. It is worth noting, however, that a group of up to 4 players could be supplied by just one Core Set, especially if players are buying additional expansions. Such a group could split the cost of a single Core Set, buy their favorite Hero Pack, and have a decent amount of deckbuilding options provided everyone plays a different aspect.

Ultimately, the Core Set is a great value and should be the starting place for anyone wanting to play the game. You get 5 heroes and enough cards to build 4 decks simultaneously as well as 3 scenarios and a few extra modular encounter sets. That much content for the cost cannot currently be replicated by only buying expansions. It is roughly the equivalent of 4 Hero Packs and 2 Scenario Packs which would retail for a total of ~100 USD.

This may also be the best LCG Core Set product that FFG offers in that you can get away with just one copy and the contained scenarios are all worth your time. You will have a play-set of every card, so the only time you would potentially want more than one Core Set is if you’re determined to keep multiple decks built at once that share the same aspect or have multiple decks that want multiple copies of the same Basic cards. It is likely that many of these cards will be reprinted in Hero Packs so, if you can remain patient, even these situations may eventually go away for players with complete collections. As for the scenarios, other FFG co-op LCGs have made a tradition of the core set containing 3 scenarios with the first being a basic tutorial, the second showing off what the game can do, and the third being frustratingly difficult to the point it makes people quit the game. Thankfully, Marvel Champions keeps the good parts of that formula and gets rid of the bad parts. Rhino is very simple but the difficulty and flavor can be modified via modular encounter sets, Klaw is a fantastic scenario that can be dramatically altered by the minions that you include, and Ultron is difficult but hopefully won’t make you rage-quit like the corresponding Escape from Dol Guldur in Lord of the Rings or The Devourer Below in Arkham Horror. I expect to find myself revisiting all three Core Set villains in the future, especially as new modular sets are released.

Hero Packs

Captain America

Release Month: December 2019
Aspect: Leadership
Nemesis: Baron Zemo
Full Card List
Notable Cards: Squirrel Girl, Falcon, Avengers Assemble, Avengers Tower
Reprints (9 total): Hawkeye, Mockingbird, The Power of Leadership x2, Make the Call x2, Energy, Genius, Strength
Hero Overview: Cap can be built to do whatever you want, and do it well. A 2-2-2 stat line with a built-in readying ability and consistent access to his shield for +1 DEF and Retaliate means you can make Cap a good thwarter, attacker, defender, or all of the above. His alter-ego side even boasts an Ally cost-reducing effect if you want to go that route. Most of his cards are straightforward and efficient, making him a great choice for a teaching deck. He is also probably the best true-solo hero from the Core set through at least the first four Hero Packs. If there is anywhere that Cap is lacking, it’s in his relatively low REC of 3.
Player Cards Overview: Outside of Captain America, this pack contains support for an Avengers-themed deck or possibly an all-Avengers hero team in multiplayer. Avengers Assemble is the kind of card you probably build a whole deck around if you’re going to use it, with Avengers Tower likely being a key piece. Enraged could also be a card featured in future decks that focus on upgrading a monster ally.

Ms. Marvel

Release Month: December 2019
Aspect: Protection
Nemesis: Thomas Edison
Full Card List
Notable Cards: Like, all of them. Preemptive Strike, Nova, Energy Barrier, Tackle, Melee, Concussive Blow, Endurance, Down Time
Reprints (8 total): Get Behind Me x2, The Power of Protection x2, Avengers Mansion Energy, Genius, Strength
Hero Overview: They followed up the best hero for a new player with possibly the worst hero for a new player. Ms. Marvel is quite tricksy, requiring constant identity-flipping and hand management and using abilities off multiple cards in play to trigger big burst turns. She focuses on recurring events that have the “Attack,” “Thwart,” or “Defense” keywords, so most likely you will be building her to focus on one of those types of events. She tends to have a quiet turn or two and then will deal 20 damage or remove all threat in play in one big turn. Her deck has lots of moving parts and each turn is its own little puzzle to figure out. This hero is a personal favorite of mine and will be one of yours too if you’re into card combos and working out the best timing of multiple abilities.
Player Cards Overview: Holy moly! This pack was originally released at the same time as Captain America and Green Goblin, so I kind of think of all those cards together as one, big release. But looking back at just this pack, it’s almost-all-killer-hardly-any-filler. Protection gets some important tools to control the game and deal damage and not just defend. Energy Barrier, Preemptive Strike, and Nova are great for damage reduction and ping damage and make both Iron Man and Captain Marvel Protection very interesting due to the Energy Resource icons and Energy Barrier being a Tech upgrade. Tackle and Concussive Blow each give a bit more damage and control options to Protection and Justice, respectively. Down Time and Endurance are great for staying alive and thinning your deck, and throwing extra copies on teammates in multiplayer is solid. Down Time is perfect for Captain America with its Physical Resource icon and boosting REC.

Thor

Release Month: March 2020
Aspect: Aggression
Nemesis: Loki
Full Card List
Notable Cards: Hall of Heroes, Jarnbjorn, Heimdall, Under Surveillance, Second Wind, Enhanced Physique
Reprints (8 total): Chase Them Down x2, The Power of Aggression x2, Avengers Mansion Energy, Genius, Strength
Hero Overview: Thor is interesting in that he seems to be the first niche hero, meaning he quite clearly has a focus on one aspect of the game and therefore will likely be very strong against some scenarios and very weak against others. Thor wants to find a worthy opponent and that means engaging minions. His Hero ability and Defender of the Nine Realms grant you bonuses for engaging minions and cards like Hammer Throw and Lightning Strike help you deal with them. His 1 Thwart can make him difficult in solo, and multiplayer always increases the odds that there will minions for Thor to deal with. He also has a small hand size, so deck building for Thor outside of large multiplayer games will be challenging as you try to balance his strengths and weaknesses. Some players will not enjoy a hero that lacks the broad effectiveness of someone like Captain America, but it is good that the game will support more focused heroes as well.
Player Cards Overview: The Aggression cards in this pack share the same focus on minions that Thor does, which makes them pretty obvious includes for a Thor Aggression deck. The two allies Hercules and Valkyrie definitely want engaged minions to get full value, and are supported by Get Over Here! which may also save your teammates some damage. Jarnbjorn is going to get a lot of attention in Aggression decks for the foreseeable future, and I’m only highlighting Heimdall because his stats are big and cards that support keeping big allies around could make him very good. Under Surveillance is an amazing card for solo Justice players. Second Wind is expensive but it also can provide more healing than most heroes’ Recover stat and doesn’t care if you’re in Hero or Alter-Ego form, so it’s worth a look. This pack is probably going to be a must-buy for Aggression decks due to Jarnbjorn alone, but overall it is extremely focused on minion control so if that’s not your thing you could skip it.

Black Widow

Release Month: Expected May2020 (subject to change due to COVID-19 pandemic)
Aspect: Justice
Nemesis: Taskmaster
Partial Card List
Notable Cards:
Reprints (? total):
Hero Overview:
Player Cards Overview:

Doctor Strange

Release Month: Expected June 2020 (subject to change due to COVID-19 pandemic)
Aspect: Protection
Nemesis: Baron Mordo
Partial Card List
Notable Cards:
Reprints (? total):
Hero Overview:
Player Cards Overview:

Hulk

Release Month: Expected July 2020 (subject to change due to COVID-19 pandemic)
Aspect: Aggression
Nemesis: Abomination
Partial Card List
Notable Cards:
Reprints (? total):
Hero Overview:
Player Cards Overview:

Scenario Packs

Green Goblin

Release Month: December 2019
Scenarios Included: Risky Business, Mutagen Formula
Modular Sets Included: Goblin Gimmicks (Goblin Gliders and Pumpkin Bombs), A Mess of Things (Scorpion), Running Interference (Tombstone), and Power Drain (Electro)
Full Card List
Overview: This pack gives you a lot value and is probably the first expansion you should get aside from the Hero Pack(s) of your favorite hero and favorite aspect. The reason for that is it includes two scenarios, one of which is generally thought of as fairly easy (Risky Business) and another that can be one of the hardest scenarios in the game (Mutagen Formula). Additionally, it comes with four modular sets that can greatly enhance the variety in scenarios you already own.

Despite being not too difficult, Risky Business involves an interesting dual-personality mechanic for the villain that differentiates it from other scenarios and so can be a good first or second scenario for a new player if Standard Rhino and his single-scheme scenario is too boring. The damage heroes receive from Norman flipping to Goblin (due to Criminal Enterprise/State of Madness) provides a decision on when to attack and for how much rather than just as-much-as-you-can-all-the-time which is the best approach for other scenarios.

The more difficult Mutagen Formula features a full-time Green Goblin with the ability to deal extra encounter cards whenever he progresses to his next stage. This again forces the players to consider how to best time their attacks. Expert mode is a really tough test because each player will reveal 3 encounter cards in the very first villain phase due to the Green Goblin (II) When Revealed ability. The other focus of the scenario is minions. Most encounter cards either force you to draw a new minion, buff the minions’ stats, or do bad things based on the number of minions in play.

The modular sets each have a central mechanic so that you can tailor your scenarios as you see fit to challenge certain aspects of your player deck. Goblin Gimmicks features cards that mostly enhance the villain, or possibly minion, unless a Hero spends an action and resources. This is where you’ll find Pumpkin Bombs and Goblin Gliders to make for thematic battles against Green Goblin (or weird battles against Rhino, if you’re in to that). A Mess of Things features Scorpion and is focused on extra attacks and stunning your hero. Heroes with exhaust abilities or dependency on their basic actions (like Ms. Marvel and She Hulk) will be tested by this set. Power Drain features Electro and causes you to discard cards from the encounter deck, which accelerates threat accumulation on the main scheme. This can be deadly in a scenario like Klaw or against any hero that takes time to set up or is weak at thwarting. Tombstone appears in the Running Interference set which focuses on making you waste your actions and resources or otherwise be subjected to some pretty bad effects. Notably, the resources required for these effects are Mental and Physical, so heroes like Iron Man and Captain Marvel that depend on Energy resources can struggle to remove these obstacles.

The Wrecking Crew

Release Month: February 2020
Scenarios Included: Wrecking Crew
Modular Sets Included: None
Full Card List
Overview: The Wrecking Crew starts to show off how varied scenario design can eventually be. The gimmick here is that you are fighting against four villains at the same time, each with their own encounter deck, and there are rules and effects that determine which one is going to be punching you at any given time. There are no modulars in this expansion and the only way to alter the experience is to change the stage of the four villains, so it’s probably not an early buy for anyone hoping to expand their scenario options quickly. On the other hand, an advantage of this scenario is that it never has to be disassembled due to sharing cards with other scenarios so it is always ready to go.

Each of the four Wrecking Crew members have their own specialty in terms of how they put pressure on the players. Wrecker puts out extra damage, encourages you to defend, and messes with your ability to plan for which villain is going to trigger when. Thunderball damages and stuns you and your allies and builds up threat quickly. Piledriver can remove your supports and upgrades, Retaliates, and can heal or otherwise block damage. Bulldozer forces discards from your hand and deck to remove your options and also deal more encounter cards.

The community assessment of this scenario so far is that it’s somewhat solvable and lacks enough pressure to be a challenge. If you identify which villains’ threats you can suffer most easily and take out the villain who is most directly affecting your game plan, then you can usually cruise to victory for the remainder of the game. Solving this puzzle isn’t going to be super obvious for all players, so there is still a challenge here and a unique experience even if it does eventually lose some replayability.

Story Boxes

The Rise of Red Skull

Release Month: Expected Q3 or Q4 2020 (subject to change due to COVID-19 pandemic)
Heroes Included: Hawkeye (Leadership) and Spider-Woman (Aggression/Justice)
Scenarios Included: Crossbones, Absorbing Man, Taskmaster, Arnim Zola, and Red Skull
Modular Sets Included: 3 total, no other details yet
Partial Card List
Overview: My full takeaways and speculation can be found here. The basics that we know thus far about how Campaign Mode works is that the results of one scenario can feed into the way a future scenario plays out and that players can earn and use cards in their decks that are only available when playing Campaign Mode. There will be a Campaign Log provided to record this information (references have been made to the total number of “Delay Counters” accrued in the Absorbing Man scenario) and somehow this will influence cards or setup of future scenarios. No word yet on how deck building and Hero selection will be constrained by the campaign rules. All scenarios will also be playable as standalone scenarios. The designers have stated that the upgrading of decks and branching narratives will not be as complicated as it is in the Arkham Horror card game. This product was originally teased as a July 2020 release at the end of this article.

Future Releases

The above image was featured at the end of this article on the FFG website.