Marvel Champions is a one to four player superhero game where players take on the role of one of five Marvel heroes 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 made up 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.
During a player’s turn, they will play cards (paying for the cost by discarding other cards from their hand).
Then, activate cards and perform a number of actions all in an attempt to defeat the “big bad” and thwart their schemes. Players can also switch from alter ego to hero form once per turn. And activate their character’s special abilities as well 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.
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 Villian’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 amount of threat tokens that is placed on a scheme as if a certain quantity is reached the scheme advances to the next stage and eventually the Villain will win by completing their scheme. In addition to the threat/schemes players will also have to take out minions and deal damage to the Villain to reduce its health to zero and win the game.
Marvel Champions is a living card game (LCG) and as such the publisher Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) are supporting the game with new Hero & Villain packs to further expand the game, the combinations and replayability. Check out a full review & final thoughts of the core game here.
FFGs latest big box expansion has just been released. Sinister Motives features two new heroes to play and five new villain sets. Miles Morales (Justice) and Ghost Spider (Protection) swing into action to face off against Sandman, Venom, Mysterio, Sinister Six and Venom Goblin for the ultimate web slinging, web blasting and web binding action packed campaign.
Start To The Campaign
First off, let’s talk about the campaign. As with other Marvel Champions big box expansions, this features a “campaign”. I use that term loosely. Let’s face it, the campaign is never the strongest part of these boxes. There is an overarching narrative, but it is the same narrative each playthrough. You do get to choose new upgrades and tech to add to your deck and there are some cool new customisation aspects which I did really like (trying to keep it spoiler free here!).
I also liked the way the reputation track worked and the more powerful you get the stronger the villains get. But the narrative is just there to tie multiple battles together. It works, but it is not amazing. What is amazing is the content. Value for money, the campaign boxes are great. Two new heroes and five new villains along with modular encounter sets, new cards and a bunch of content to throw into my ever growing collection of Marvel Champions.
Into The Spiderverse
The heroes themselves are fantastic. Precon decks have been hit or miss with me in the past but I successfully went through the whole campaign with both precon decks, straight out of the box.
Ghost Spider heavily relies on response and interrupt abilities and you can pull some fantastic combos and high damage/thwart actions which just feels satisfying. Ghost Spider’s response ability is pretty awesome when combined with various event cards.
Miles Morales brings the SHIELD keyword to the forefront with a lot of interesting justice cards that can trigger this. Miles also features some interesting basic allies like Dum Dum Dugan who has three thwart and three attack but is a five cost ally. Check out his special ability, which triggers further with the SHIELD keyword and you have one powerful ally. Some of his event cards will trigger with his “special” actions Venom Blast and Special Camouflage for some fantastic turns.
The Villains bring some new and interesting twists into the game. Sandman with his sand counters and the City Streets environment can really ramp up and put pressure on you if not managed correctly. Mysterio puts encounter cards in your deck, clogging up your hand and making it harder to fight back. Venom can rack up encounter cards and can be quite punishing at times and hits hard. But is vulnerable to the Bell Tower.
Fighting the Sinister Six (Dr Octopus, Electro, Hobgoblin, Kraven, Scorpion & Vulture) all at once is a blast and is not just about defeating the villain but focuses more on removing the ton of threat that starts off the scheme at the beginning of the mission. The Sinister Six can have you going from “I have this under control” to “Arghh…what has just happened” in a single turn and I love the ebb and flow of this set.
Venom Goblin is the final showdown. With three main schemes in play, all gaining threat each round and with Venom Goblin having Steady he can be a real beast to fight. Oh, how I hate Steady (requires two status cards). Venom Goblin stage I has two attacks and two threats and the deck contains Symbiotic Berserkers, Symbiotic Thralls and a Symbiotic Monstrosity who can really put you through the wringer.
Despite the villains being tough in this expansion they feel beatable and, at least for me, offer a decent challenge without being ridiculously hard (I am looking at your Ronan). They offer some fun twists on the gameplay and a fairly tough challenge.
Sinister Motives is probably my favourite big box expansion to date. I love the two heroes and can’t wait to start deckbuilding with them. The Villains are interesting, offer a decent challenge without being soul destroying hard and have a ton of content to the game.