Marvel Champions is a 1-4 player superhero game, where each player takes on the role of a Marvel hero to battle it out against one of three villains. Play as Captain Marvel, Spiderman, She-Hulk, Black Panther or Iron Man and face off against Rhino, Klaw or Ultron. Each Hero is represented by a deck of cards, consisting of basic cards, Hero-specific cards and aspect cards (one of leadership, justice, aggression and protection). Each Villain is also represented by a deck of cards, comprising villain-specific cards, basic villain cards and a modular encounter set.
The Scarlet Witch hero pack comes with a pre-constructed justice deck, along with additional cards for further deckbuilding possibilities, as well as her very own nemesis, Luminous. Interestingly Scarlet Witch also comes with not one obligation (as typical for all other heroes) but two with both being shuffled into the encounter deck at the beginning of the game.
During a player's turn, they will play cards, paying the cost by discarding other cards from their hand. Then they will activate cards and perform a number of actions, all in an attempt to defeat the ‘big bad’ and thwart his schemes. Players can also switch from alter ego to Hero form once per turn and activate their character’s special ability, as well as the basic recovery, attack, or defend actions. Once a player has performed all of their actions, it passes to the next player. They repeat the process until all players have performed their actions.
Time to Defend
Next is the villain phase. During the villain phase, threat is added to the main scheme based on player count. Then the villain will either attack (if you are in hero form) or scheme (if you are in alter ego form). When they attack or scheme, a boost card is revealed from the encounter deck and added to the Villain's base attack/scheme value. Each player (in turn order) is then dealt an encounter card. Any minions in play will also attack or scheme.
Players will need to manage the number of threat tokens that are placed on a scheme. If a certain quantity of tokens is placed on the scheme, it will advance to the next stage, taking the Villain closer to victory. In addition to the threat/schemes, players will also have to take out minions and deal damage to the Villain to reduce his health to zero and win the game. Marvel Champions is a living card game (LCG). As such, the publisher, Fantasy Flight Games, is constantly expanding the game with new Hero & Villain packs.
Bend & Twist
So, let's take a closer look at the Scarlet Witch hero pack. Scarlet Witch has the power to bend reality and create random events. Does she have control of her powers, or do the powers control her? Who knows? But either way, she is unpredictable, slightly out of control but also very powerful. A scary combination to possess. She can cast Chaos Magic and has the ability of telekinesis and telepathy.
Wild & Untamed
Scarlet Witch is a very interesting hero to play. She feels wild and untamed like you just don't know what is going to happen when you fire off a hex bolt, or when activating her Chaos Control ability. When the stars align, you can pull off some absolutely devastating turns and it feels good. She makes you, as the player, feel powerful and gives you the sense that you are trying just as hard as Scarlet Witch to control and bend the magic to do your bidding.
Take her Chaos Magic card; it is a zero-cost event that allows you to play a card from your hand ignoring the resource cost. Super cool right? But you have to discard cards from the top of the encounter deck equal to the cost of the card you play. This burns through the encounter deck quickly and will eventually result in more acceleration tokens being put in to play.
The Magic of Chaos
When playing Hex Bolt, you discard three cards from the top of the encounter deck. Depending on the number of boost icons revealed on each card, you get a different kickback. There is a level of unpredictability to this, a feeling of firing off a spell and not quite knowing what is going to happen. It feels a little bit wild and a little bit chaotic, but in a very fun and exciting way.
Another card, Molecular Decay, deals five damage to the enemy and discards two cards from the encounter deck. One additional damage is dealt for each boost icon discarded. You know you are going to do five damage but if you need that extra one or two to defeat the villain, it is a gamble. When the gamble pays off, it's a great feeling.
Firing off the Spells
As you can see, a lot of Scarlet Witch's signature cards resolve around discarding cards from the encounter deck and you can quickly burn through it. Therefore, careful planning and only using these powerful spells at the most opportune moment is key. There are also some fun justice cards in the deck. Swift Retribution, for example, makes the villain scheme but you get to deal four damage. There's also Turn the Tide, which lets you deal three damage to the enemy after thwarting and removing all threat from a scheme.
Scarlet Witch is also the first hero to feature two obligation cards in her deck, which get shuffled into the encounter deck. This is not a massive thing, as you might not even have to deal with them if they are revealed as boost cards. Still, as you are burning through the encounter deck quickly, it feels right to include an additional obligation card.
All in all, Scarlet Witch is another very thematic hero to add to the Marvel Champions mix. Her unpredictability can make for some great moments, both good and bad, and the way you get through the encounter deck adds another level of gameplay to the game. I am very much looking forward to building some new decks with her and taking the fight to the villains.