Marvel Champions Card Game Review


Eric Kelley

Marvel Champions is a cooperative living card game created by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). For those unfamiliar, a living card game (LCG) is similar to a trading card game but with one major difference: There are no randomized card packs. Each box comes with a specific set of cards, eliminating randomness, card rarities and second-hand market pricing.
In Marvel Champions, you create and play with a deck of cards featuring heroes such as Captain America, Thor and Spider-Man and battle against villains such as Ultron.
The game is playable with 1 to 4 players cooperatively as players work together to attempt to defeat a scenario represented by a major villain.
You only need one Core Set to supply everyone with the cards
they need to play. This is a brilliant move by FFG as past LCG’s have required the purchase of at least two Core sets for a full playset of cards.
Every Core Set has 350 total cards with four fully playable decks and a fifth hero that can be swapped in.
The included heroes consist of Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Iron Man and She Hulk. The Core Set villains are Rhino, Klaw and Ultron.
Additional hero characters such as Thor and Captain America are available in separate character packs that players can purchase.
Each hero has an identity card that features a hero side and an alter-ego side, which affects your hand size, the cards you can play and how villains act.
A hero’s deck includes fifteen cards that are exclusive to that hero and must be included in the 40-50 card deck. Then, you choose an aspect – Aggression, Protection, Justice or Leadership. The remaining 25-35 cards of your deck must be of your chosen aspect. For instance, you could play Aggression Thor which would consist of 15 Thor signature cards and 25-35 Aggression cards – or you could play Justice Thor which would be 15 Thor cards and 25-35 Justice cards.
This is one of the best parts of the game since being able to play any hero in any of the four roles allows you to play your favorite in whatever role best helps the team.
A villain’s main deck consists of multiple versions of that villain (Klaw I, Klaw II, etc.). The players need to defeat every card in that deck to win. Similar to heroes, each villain deck has a distinct playstyle with strengths and weaknesses that the players must consider.
Each round has a Player phase and a Villain phase. During the Player phase, each player is tasked with utilizing their cards to get stronger, fight enemies and thwart the villain’s schemes. During the Villain phase, the enemies attack all heroes that are in hero form and add threat to their scheme for every hero in alter-ego form.
The goal of the game is to reduce the villain’s final form hit points to zero without allowing all heroes to be defeated or allowing the villain’s scheme points to reach enough threat where you lose the game. If a player is in hero mode, they are actively trying to defeat the villain in battle by attacking, defending, or thwarting the active scheme to reduce threat on it.
If they are in alter-ego form, the villain is free to scheme without interference and add more threat to schemes while the hero heals. Striking a balance between forms is one of the key components to the game and adds a layer of strategy that is key to controlling the chaos of the unfolding scenario.
There are five different types of cards used in the game: ally, upgrade, support, event, and resource. When you want to play a card, you pay for it by discarding other cards in your hand until you’ve totaled the required resource cost.
Any card with the word “Action” can be used during any player’s turn, allowing the possibility to help a teammate during their turn.
The game is a true triumph because it combines thematic flair with brilliant gameplay that allows friends to work together instead of against each other. Cooperative
games generally succeed or fail based on the strength of the engagement they create with the players at the table.
Fortunately, there are an abundance of important cooperative decisions and actions that need to be made during every turn. Not only do the players need to plan how they will attack but also how they will defend against the enemy attacks during the second half of the round.
Planning with your teammates how to best take advantage of each hero’s strengths while making up for their shortcomings is a constant balancing act and is one of the most fun aspects of the game.
Every hero has their own style of play that gives them a feel similar to their movie or comic book versions. For example, Spider-Man feels agile as he avoids damage and uses webs as a resource for his cards.
Captain Marvel launches devastating attacks when she has charged enough energy, and Iron Man must spend turns building his suit, collecting tech upgrades before becoming incredibly powerful.
Marvel Champions is an incredibly deep card game that is easy to learn. It works well with all player counts and offers a ton of replay value. It’s surprisingly simple to customize the hero decks, preventing new players from being overwhelmed by the many options available. The villains in the core box are beatable by the hero decks provided as well.
I don’t see any Marvel fan disliking this game and I would even recommend it to people who are not Marvel fans but enjoy cooperative games. This game would be a fantastic starting point for anyone who has never played a living card game as the need for only one Core Set makes it one of the most cost friendly LCG’s to start.
This game exceeded my expectations and should only get better as more hero and scenario packs are released. Whether you are new to card games or a veteran, the experience this game offers will not disappoint. Needless to say, for Marvel fans, this is a must-have.