It’s time for another Quick Hits from the Vault, the series where many of the BGQ team gathers together to give you our quick thoughts on a new or popular game. Today we are going to look at the hotness from Fantasy Flight Games, Marvel Champions: The Card Game. This is the newest Living Card Game (LCG) to come out of Fantasy Flight’s design room and this one uses one of the world’s most popular IP.
Marvel Champions: The Card Game
Marvel Champions is a cooperative LCG where players must work together to defeat one of the core game’s three villains (Rhino, Klaw, or Ultron). Each player gets to control a unique hero (Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-Man or Black Panther) and customize their deck in a familiar LCG style (Hero deck, choose an aspect, add in some basic cards). Players will be attacking the villain, trying to thwart his scheme, and defending against his attacks and treachery. Throughout the game they will be able to play upgrade, support, and event cards from their hand using an easy “cards as currency” mechanic. If the players can defeat the villain before he completes his scheme, they will win!
I’m always hesitant when it comes to LCGs. I buy the core set, love it, get a couple of expansions, and then lose interest because I don’t have time to tinker with deck construction. Arkham Horror, Netrunner, Star Wars…I tried them all and they were all out of my collection less than a year later. But the fourth one stayed up! I’ve played Marvel Champions about 7 times over the past month and have been loving it more and more each play. I think it helps a lot that deck construction is so simple right now. Choose a hero, choose an aspect, grab the ten basic cards and you are done. And since it’s fully cooperative, I don’t have to worry about creating the best deck. I can toss the cards together, sit down with my friends, and enjoy giving Rhino a much-deserved beat down.
Ok. This one is a no brainer.
You: I’m a gamer who likes Marvel comics and cooperative card cames.
Marvel Champions: Awesome! I’m the only game in town! Buy me!
You: Wait a second, but are you a good game? Sounds like you’re a rehash of the Lord of the Rings LCG and some of Warhammer Adventure Card Game.
Marvel Champions: Excelsior indeed! Buy me!
Tahsin: Look, you both clearly love each other and Marvel Champions is a pretty good game. Who am I to stand in the way of a relationship meant to be? Even though it’s not a game with the flashiest components or mechanisms, it’s got longevity and loyalty, that’s a warm comforting blanket of value to cozy up to. Go have fun you two!
My experience with LCGs has always been short-lived. I never find myself invested enough in them to really dig into the deck building and expansions. Marvel Champions may very well be the exception. The suggested starting decks work perfectly well and since it’s fully cooperative you don’t feel an immediate need to start tinkering to be better than your fellow players. And each hero really plays differently and feels like the superhero they represent. I’m looking forward to the upcoming expansions and plan to play a lot of this game!
I am neither a comic book junkie nor a fan of the MCU. I generally dislike deck construction and shy away from buying CCGs/LCGs (except for Lord of the Rings and Arkham Horror). All that being said, I really enjoyed playing this game! Tony and I have been playing games together for YEARS and this is the first game that we played three times in a row. What makes it so good? Fully cooperative. The easiest deck construction I have experienced in the LCG format (you can simply pick your hero, aspect, and neutral cards and you are ready to go). Engaging card play where you discard cards in your hand to pay for the cards you want to use. A fun mechanic where the villain is attacking you in two ways—either physically or through establishing their scheme, depending on if you are in your hero or alter ego identity. I absolutely cannot wait to see what future expansions have in store for this game!
I’m a LCG virgin so I can’t give you any comparison of Marvel Champions to others that have come before it. What I can tell you is that I’ve played it 5 times in the last two days, 4 of which were solo while my kiddo enjoyed Disney+. Disney already had my money with the MCU and now a subscription service. Looks like they have my time now too. Solo games play pretty quick and setup isn’t too involved beyond choosing your hero and villain and maybe changing up their decks. That’s a huge plus for me when time is already a commodity. I have had a number of times where the villain’s deck was just punishing to me and bad things happened very quickly. Some people aren’t going to like that randomness, but I just took it as a challenge to figure out how to get out of the mess. Even though I’ve lost all but once, I have really enjoyed each game. There is nothing more satisfying than when your Iron Man goes aerial and drops hellfire on the villain. Fantasy Flight and Marvel will be doing the same to my wallet for the foreseeable future.
Tony and I played Marvel Champions at a launch event at a FLGS and I was shocked how good the game was. It can be random with the card draws of both the hero and villain decks, but there are balancing factors on each hero card that allow you to flip between the hero and their alter ego side, and within each deck as well. In our GenCon 2019 Recap, I highlighted this game as a disappointment, and I can admit that I was wrong about the hype. But…I still have an issue with the villains that were included. Ultron is perfect as the hard level villain but Rhino and Klaw as the easy and medium seem like poor choices thematically. You’re not just beating down the criminals in-game but you’re trying to thwart their schemes. Rhino is not a schemer and Klaw is a meh villain. I just think there would be better options in the Marvel Universe then these two for this core set.
Fantasy Flight finally gets one right, but not for all the reasons listed above (many of which I agree with.) No, FFG nails it because they finally listened to their customer base and released an LCG that does not require more than one core set to be able to play a full game. I can open up the box, play a game with full decks with 4 players, and not have to worry whether I am getting the complete game experience. Deck-building is a snap, which is also a huge selling point for my house because, quite honestly, I do not want to do a lot of thinking about tuning decks and optimization. I want to be able to pull the game off the shelf, make some quick decisions about heroes and villains, and jump into all the comic-book action I can handle, and Marvel Champions 100% delivers this.