Marvel Champions: The Rise of Red Skull

Marvel Champions: The Rise of Red Skull

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Marvel Champions is a co-operative card game for one to four players, published by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). Embody your favourite hero, team up with friends and take on Marvels most infamous villains! The base game enables you to play as Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and She-Hulk. Together you will combine your powers to take down Rhino, Klaw or Ultron.Mark…
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Marvel Champions is a co-operative card game for one to four players, published by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). Embody your favourite hero, team up with friends and take on Marvels most infamous villains! The base game enables you to play as Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and She-Hulk. Together you will combine your powers to take down Rhino, Klaw or Ultron.

Marketed as a Living Card Game (LCG), FFG will support Marvel Champions with regular releases of new products, including Hero Packs, and Scenario expansions. It will also release new Campaign Packs, such as The Rise of Red Skull. Note: This product is an expansion to the base game. To play with Rise of Red Skull you will require a copy of the Marvel Champions base-game.

Hydra has secretly spread its tentacles around the world, corrupting governments and subverting justice. Your battle against evil is far from over. The Rise of the Red Skull is packed with new content to enhance your game. Pre-built, ready to play decks for Hawkeye and Spider-Woman, add these two new heroes to your roster. Also included are five new villains for you to pit your team against. Taskmaster, Zola, Crossbones and Absorbing Man are all unleashed, alongside the Red Skull. These villains can be taken on individually, or, if you want a greater challenger, consider the new Campaign mode!

Player Count: 1 – 4
Time: 45 – 90 minutes
Age: 14+

Awards

Dice Tower

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Additional new heroes
  • Additional new villains
  • Keeps game fresh

Might Not Like

  • Narrative/branching story not strong
  • Some villains can be tough
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Description

Marvel Champions is a co-operative card game for one to four players, published by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). Embody your favourite hero, team up with friends and take on Marvels most infamous villains! The base game enables you to play as Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and She-Hulk. Together you will combine your powers to take down Rhino, Klaw or Ultron.

Marketed as a Living Card Game (LCG), FFG will support Marvel Champions with regular releases of new products, including Hero Packs, and Scenario expansions. It will also release new Campaign Packs, such as The Rise of Red Skull. Note: This product is an expansion to the base game. To play with Rise of Red Skull you will require a copy of the Marvel Champions base-game.

Hydra has secretly spread its tentacles around the world, corrupting governments and subverting justice. Your battle against evil is far from over. The Rise of the Red Skull is packed with new content to enhance your game. Pre-built, ready to play decks for Hawkeye and Spider-Woman, add these two new heroes to your roster. Also included are five new villains for you to pit your team against. Taskmaster, Zola, Crossbones and Absorbing Man are all unleashed, alongside the Red Skull. These villains can be taken on individually, or, if you want a greater challenger, consider the new Campaign mode!

Player Count: 1 - 4
Time: 45 - 90 minutes
Age: 14+

Marvel Champions is a 1-4 player superhero game. Each player takes on the role of a Marvel hero to battle it out against one of three villains. Each Hero is represented by a deck, consisting of basic cards, Hero-specific cards, and aspect cards. Each Villain is represented by a deck of cards, comprising similarly of basic villain cards, villain-specific cards, and a modular encounter set.

Marvel Champions is a Living Card Game (LCG). As such, the publisher, Fantasy Flight Games, is expanding the game with new Hero & Villain packs all the time. You can check out the ever-growing list here

Set-Up

To set up the game, each player will select a Hero to play and place their identity card, alter-ego side up in front of them. The identity card will number the hit points they have and these are entered into the hit point dial. Each Hero will have an obligation card and a set of Nemesis cards, which are set aside for the moment. The player then shuffles their player deck which will consist of Hero specific cards, basic cards, and aspect cards. Hero decks come pre-constructed, but players are free to build their own decks whilst complying with the deckbuilding rules. 

Next, a Villain is selected and is placed on the table along with the Villain’s main scheme and the Villain’s main deck. The Villain’s hit points are entered into the Villain’s hit point dial. The main scheme may have some setup instructions which are followed and resolved at this stage. The relevant encounter cards, modular sets, and the Heroes obligation cards are added to the Villains the main deck and shuffled to form the encounter deck. 

Each player then draws a starting hand of cards, as detailed on their identity card, and can discard any number of cards drawing back up to their hand limit. If a Hero has any setup instructions, these are resolved and followed now. 

The game is played over a number of rounds, alternating between the player’s turns and then the Villains turn. On a player’s turn they can perform a number of actions:

  • Change form from alter ego to Hero or Hero to alter ego, but only once per round.
  • Play cards from their hand, paying the relevant resource costs.
  • Use their Hero’s basic attack or thwart ability (only in Hero form, exhausting their identity).
  • Use an ally they control to attack or thwart (exhausting the ally). 
  • Activate an action card they control (and exhausting the card if applicable).
  • Use their alter-egos recovery ability to gain hit points (only in alter ego form, and exhausting their identity).

Once a player has performed all of their chosen actions, the next player performs their actions until all players have passed. At this stage, players can discard any remaining cards in their hand (if they want) and draw up to their hand limit (This may change depending on the form they are in). Each player then readies all of their cards (identity, allies, action cards). 

Next is the Villain phase. At the start of the Villain phase, threat is placed on the main scheme as detailed on the main scheme card. The Villain and any minions then activate against each player. If the player is in Hero form, the Villain attacks. If the player is in alter ego form, the Villain schemes and adds a threat to the main scheme. Each time the Villain activates, they draw a card from the encounter deck and add the number of boost icons to his base attack or scheme value. The Villain then deals each player an encounter card, face down and in turn order. Each player reveals and resolves the encounter card.

The first player token then passes to the next player and the player’s start the round again. 

The game continues this way until the Villain has been defeated, by reducing his hit points to zero, for both stages and the player’s win. Players lose if the Villains scheme threshold reaches its maximum or they all have their hit points reduced to zero. 

Strategy

What I love about Marvel Champions is the way the Heroes and Villains play differently. The key to success is figuring out how the Heroes play. Their strengths, weaknesses, and how to best utilise them to take down the Villain. Certain Heroes require a certain amount of setup to become strong. These Heroes are best left in alter ego mode as you build up their suit, armour, and weapons. Once they are up and running they can be formidable characters.

Figuring out when to stop building and when to take the fight to the Villain comes with practice and experience, but it is worth that time investment. Where it might seem that you are not making progress by hitting the enemy, it’s wise to learn the “arc” of the Hero and play into that. Being efficient with your cards and trying to not have any cards left in your hand at the end of the turn is a good idea. 

The board state needs to be managed very carefully. Often the best move is not necessarily just smacking the villain in the face. Controlling the minions and the side schemes that can mount up is often a better move. Keeping an eye on the main scheme threshold is also key. Knowing how the Villains play and what’s in the encounter deck can help you decide how best to defeat them. At some point, you will have to start dealing damage to the Villain. But knowing when to push and when to hold off and control the threat/minions is critical. Like the Heroes, each Villain and modular encounter set has a different feel. Knowing how to handle them is essential. The timing of when to defeat one stage and advance to the next is often a critical step. 

Aspects

There are four aspects in the game that all have their unique playstyles. 

Aggression. As the name suggests, this is all about hitting the enemies hard and fast. Generally, aggression based Heroes are not great at thwarting and removing threat from a scheme. Subsequently, it is often a race against the threat build-up and taking the Villain down

Justice is more focused on removing threat from schemes. Justice based characters are good at managing threat and keeping things under control however they are not typically hard hitters. 

Protection is all about defending, preventing damage, and healing. It can react to incoming attacks, prevent that damage, and sometimes cause reactive effects based on that. 

Leadership is a very versatile deck and can do a lot of things, but is mostly about bringing out Allies. Allies can be good for attacking, thwarting and defending and is a good all-purpose aspect if used with a large selection of ally cards. Protection is reliant on these allies so Villains that target allies can make this aspect weak.

Editors note: This blog was originally published on September 12th, 2019. Updated on June 10th, 2022 to improve the information available.

Rise of The Red Skull

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.

In Rise of The Red Skull, you have the choice to play as Crossbones, Taskmaster, Zola, Absorbing Man and, of course, the Red Skull! Exciting new additions.

During a players 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 to thwart his schemes. Players can also switch from alter ego to hero form once per turn. And activate their characters special ability 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.

Villains Rising

Next is the villain phase. During the villain phase, the threat is added on 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 number of threat tokens that are 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 his scheme. 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) 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.

Rise of The Red Skull Cards

Expanding the Universe

So as you can probably tell from what I have covered so far for Zatu l that I am a big Marvel Champions fan. I like the IP and really enjoy the card game as well. So what does Rise of Red Skull bring to the table? Does the campaign mode offer a good narrative? Is this expansion a “must-buy”? Read on to find out more.

Missing Villains

Marvel Champions has had a decent amount of heroes released so far. But has been a bit lacking in villains. This expansion addresses that in a massive way. There are five villains in this one box. Each villain plays and feels very different and offer different challenges to face. “Bang for your buck” RoRS adds a ton of variety to the villain pol available and is worth buying just for the villains. Crossbones has his weapons with a new keyword piercing (which ignores tough status) and the experimental weapons stolen from P.E.G.A.S.U.S.

Absorbing Man uses environmental cards in a very interesting way with him taking on the traits of the environment in play and special abilities triggering depending on his trait. Red Skull has numerous side schemes that come in to play which do all sorts of shenanigans. Zola throws out mutated minion after minion with various attachments. There is so much to talk about with the villains but part of the fun for me was finding out some of these things for myself when playing the game so I don’t want to spoil too much. Suffice to say they are very thematic and add so much to the villains released so far.

Rise of The Red Skull Cards 2

Encounters of the Many Kind

The villains also come with their recommended encounter sets but these are modular and can be added into some of the other villains from the core game or previous releases. These can make for some interesting combinations and fun gameplay elements. The expansion adds a lot of extra replay-ability, diversity and customisation for the players.

Bringing the Fight

It would not be a big box expansion without some new Heroes to take down the villains. Rise of Red Skull introduces Hawkeye and Spider-woman. To very different, yet equally cool and thematic Heroes.

Hawkeye has a lot of arrow cards in his deck. These can be used for big points of damage, dealing with the threat of taking out multiple targets at once. Hawkeye’s Bow needs to be exhausted to use it and the bow provides a +1 attack to Hawkeye when in play. Hawkeye’s quiver is a fantastic card that lets you store arrows under it to be played in future rounds. Some of the combinations that you can pull off are brilliant. A new keyword “ranged” is introduced which ignores retaliate.

What FFG have implemented with Spider-Woman fundamentally shakes up the game. All heroes, up to now, ave one aspect. Not Spider-woman. When building her deck she can use equal cards from two aspects. This simple change adds so much potential to the hero. Again, the combinations and customisation are abundant and some of her hero specific cards are amazing. My favourite being a justice and aggression combo. So much potential for some cool deck building with Spider-Woman. Rise of The Red Skull Cards 3

5 Step Campaign

The expansion also comes with a campaign. This is laid out in a comic book style narrative, very fitting with the theme of the game. You pick your heroes and use them to battle your way through the five new villains. New cards are added and removed and what you do in one mission will affect the game state in future missions. I don’t want to spoil too much so not going to go into specifics. I will however say that the campaign side of the expansion is the weakest part of the expansion. It works and it tells a story, but that the story is going to be the same every time you play.

The adding of new cards and effects of one game to another are great, don’t get me wrong. But the story is the same from campaign to campaign. Don’t expect Arkham Horror level of narrative and campaign. It just feels like you are playing five villains in a row with some minor deck tweaks. As I said, it works and there is nothing wrong with the campaign and I had fun playing through it the first few times.

Despite the campaign feeling a bit lacking, the Rise of Red Skull is a must buy expansion for any Marvel Champions fan. The five villains, two heroes and modular encounter sets are totally worth it. The expansion adds new mechanisms, customisation and replayability that I can overlook the campaign side of things.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Additional new heroes
  • Additional new villains
  • Keeps game fresh

Might not like

  • Narrative/branching story not strong
  • Some villains can be tough