Fantasy Flight's Marvel Champions! Excelsior, 'nuff said, clobberin' time, I can do this all day, etc., etc.!

Ah, thanks. I think I see the problem. As a new user, I can’t “publish” the deck until tomorrow. I’ll take a screenshot instead.

OK, I’ve put the deck in a clicky below, in simple text form. The strength of the deck is its allies, who can help Panther thwart, defend, and maybe attack.

One weakness is the relative lack of healing. I had to hope Panther would don his Vibranium Suit sooner rather than later, because otherwise all I had were a couple bits of First Aid. Another weakness is that the deck has a hard time containing a burst of Scheming by the villain and his henchmen. Emergency x 2 is really all I’ve got. That’s kind of risky against Rhino, who can finish his Main Scheme pretty fast. Indeed, on another play, I lost while in Alter-Ego mode, oblivious as Rhino and his cronies cooked up a scheme while I wasn’t watching.

Deck list

Black Panther - Core - Leadership:

Black Panther
Packs: Core Set

Upgrades
1x Energy Daggers (Core Set)
1x Panther Claws (Core Set)
1x Tactical Genius (Core Set)
1x Vibranium Suit (Core Set)
3x Inspired (Core Set)

Events
1x Ancestral Knowledge (Core Set)
1x Wakanda Forever! (Core Set)
1x Wakanda Forever! (Core Set)
1x Wakanda Forever! (Core Set)
2x Wakanda Forever! (Core Set)
2x Get Ready (Core Set)
2x Lead from the Front (Core Set)
2x Make the Call (Core Set)
2x Emergency (Core Set)
2x First Aid (Core Set)

Supports
1x The Golden City (Core Set)
1x The Triskelion (Core Set)
1x Avengers Mansion (Core Set)
1x Helicarrier (Core Set)

Resources
3x Vibranium (Core Set)
2x The Power of Leadership (Core Set)
1x Energy (Core Set)
1x Genius (Core Set)
1x Strength (Core Set)

Allies
1x Shuri (Core Set)
1x Hawkeye (Core Set)
1x Maria Hill (Core Set)
1x Vision (Core Set)
1x Mockingbird (Core Set)
1x Nick Fury (Core Set)

Yup, 100% agree. I don’t mind doing the work to find difficulty levels that work for me, but it shouldn’t all be on me, and their refusal to even give a number or a simple difficulty level “easy, normal, hard, expert, whatever” is laziness on their part.

After episode four of Ms. Marvel, I finally feel like a bona fide comic book nerd who knows source material (well, source material once removed, I suppose). Thanks, Fantasy Flight!

-Tom

I hope this doesn’t come across as disparaging, but I think the decks you and I build won’t be very helpful to each other. When you’re playing with only a single hero, you have to make very different kinds of decks than when you’re using a team. Your Black Panther deck is certainly a well-rounded, general purpose Leadership deck, but it might be sub-optimal for folks also playing with, say, a dedicated Defense deck for some healing or a Justice deck to handle the thwarting.

But don’t you love how Black Panther builds up? He feels very different from Iron Man even though they have a similar gameplay structure. It’s so gratifying rolling out those vibranium cards and seeing them turn into suit upgrades, and then cycling through a few Wakanda Forevers, and making the tough choice about how to finish your combo (I even have a set of colored cubes I use to mark the card sequence!). It feels distinct from Iron Man leaping into the sky to fly around and do his own flurry of activity, doesn’t it?

-Tom

I low-key find Ms. Marvel to be one of the most fun heroes in the game. Her power has limitless potential. Enjoy!

No worries, that makes perfect sense to me. Soon enough I’ll be playing two-handed, and I’ll be delighted to compare notes then.

Absolutely! I also enjoy the very early stages of a Black Panther game, where I play one of his upgrades knowing it might go unused for a couple turns or longer. I feel vulnerable, which is what I’ve always enjoyed about Marvel comics: these heroes are imperfect, fallible, and human, not all-powerful like Superman. If I play the claws rather than an ally or Avengers Mansion, the claws may just sit there unused. Even if I have a Wakanda Forever, it’s not always optimal to play it to power just one item. I feel the game in a broader sense captures this sense of vulnerability, even though I concede that some heroes are over-powered.

And of course the endgame with Black Panther is super satisfying (so to speak). I enjoy the order-of-operations puzzle. I like your idea of using cubes; I might try that. But above all, I feel like a superhero, firing off several powerful abilities for the price of a 1-cost card.

Today I unpacked Sinister Motives and started the campaign, playing true solo once again, this time as Miles Morales. I really do want to pair him with Gwen Stacy, but her mechanics are unusual, so I figured I’d start with Spidey. I know it’s a little thing, but I loved the little one-page comic panel that introduces the campaign. I read it and re-read it. I played a couple of very entertaining turns – and then paused the game so I could watch “Spider-Man enters the Spider-verse” with my (adult) kids, who happened to be in the mood for a Marvel movie. I enjoyed the story (though I thought it was better when it was grounded in New York than in extra dimensions), and I loved the animation and music.

And now I’ll enjoy the card game’s version of Miles and Gwen and their allies much more. Spider-Man has always been my favorite comic hero. I read his comics voraciously a half-century ago, when I was a younger me. But I stopped by the time I got to college. I did read a Kryzinski SpiderMan book a few years back, but it’s great that a boardgame has rekindled my interest and helped me discover a new generation of Spidey.

Can I just say I hate how this card is universally useful and seems to belong in every single goddamn Marvel Champions deck? That, to me, is a sign that either a) the cards are NOT tuned very well or b) I don’t know the card catalog well enough to see past it. Maybe a little of both.

I’ve been trying to wean my heroes off Avengers’ Mansions and it’s really not taking (I have all the Marvel Champion cards, so it’s not like I’m missing any options). There is never a time that I don’t want a 4-cost card in my deck to give any character an extra card every turn. And when I can give one to each character? Even better. It’s just too useful a part of the game’s structure. So a consistent mechanic in EVERY…SINGLE…DECK is fishing for that damn mansion to get it in play and get the Mansion Machine revved up to spit out extra cards every turn for every character wherever I need them.

Marvel Champions might as well be called The Avengers’ Mansion Game. I consider that a legit weakness in the game’s design or my understanding of the game’s design. Or both!

-Tom

I haven’t tried either of them yet, but I do love Spider-Man’s Backflip card. I look forward to hearing what you think. There’s a great bit in Beavis and Butthead Do the Universe when someone tries to explain multiverses to our heroes. It’s not working.

“Did you see the cartoon Spider-Man movie?” he finally asks Beavis.

“No,” Beavis says simply. He’s not even curious that there’s a cartoon Spider-Man movie.

“Oh,” the person says, at a bit of a loss. “Well, it would be a lot easier if you did.”

Beavis and Butthead continue on through the movie with their limited understanding of multiverses. Spider-Man can only help so many people.

-Tom

So all I’m saying is that I, personally, do not use Avenger’s Mansion!

Playing it wipes out a turn, full stop.* After you do it, it takes five turns before it pays for itself. Only then do you start seeing true advantage. Now it’s more complicated then that, of course - by effectively increasing your hand size, the cards you get from it are sort of disproportionately advantageous, especially if you deckbuild around it, but I personally don’t see it as an auto-include at all. I like to fly light, move fast. Small wonder that I get so much joy from my Gamora deck, who absolutely excels in that playspace.

*okay, okay, usually.

Doesn’t it also require you be playing an Avenger? Which I think basically all the early characters were, but surely that’s changed at least a bit? Maybe? I guess there have been a lot of Avengers. :P

Nope, their doors are always open for any ol’ hero who flies in. Which is, let’s be honest, pretty on-brand for the Avengers, historically :)

One of my big woes with Netrunner was that the card pool was woefully balanced throughout. I think it’s soured me on deckbuilders and lcgs forever more (though I loved Netrunner - it was just a lot of frustration seeing how much better it could have been, and playing against NBN fast advance in every single tournament round…).

You would think, right? Because that’s how a lot of the cards work, and it’s specifically how Fantasy Flight seems to have done some of the tuning, as characters fall into different camps: Avengers, Guardians, Champions, and now X-Men. And while there are a ton of “Avengers only” cards that started to arrive alongside the Guardians set, the mansion wasn’t one of them.

I’d say your “it’s more complicated than that” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there. :)

Personally, I don’t think it’s more complicated than that. Especially when you’re playing with multiple heroes, each of whom will have an Avengers’ Mansion to share with everyone else, and especially if you’re playing the non-Standard difficulties, which rely on setting up your heroes for the long haul, which is where the Avengers’ Mansion is, pardon my French, de rigueur.

One of my issues with Marvel Champions’ difficulty scaling is that the Standard difficult is barely playing the game, and as such, it does a poor job of communicating many of the systems at play. You mentioned your preference for “fly light, move fast”, but I honestly don’t know what that means. When I play Marvel Champions on the non-Standard difficulty, there’s no “move fast”. It’s about setting up my “action economy” vs the progression of the villain’s AI system, and it’s probably going to take at least one run through each hero’s 40-card deck to get underway. That’s just one of the game’s systems that you won’t necessarily see on Standard difficulty, where you’re just quickly dumping damage onto some poor gimped villain.

In the course of that first run through those decks, when I get all of their Avengers Mansions into play – unlike Arkham Horror, this game is designed so that you can get into play any card you want – you’re going to have unparalleled flexibility in your economy.

I don’t use that words lightly: unparalleled.

A free card for any player, once a turn, for however many players you have in the game. Basically, that’s the equivalent of your choice of hand size increase, cost reduction, or the power of whatever card(s) you draw. You say it takes five turns to pay for itself, but you’re not taking into account the flexibility it offers, and how the advantage compounds over successive turns. I own all the Marvel Champions cards, but I don’t claim to know all of them. However, among the ones I do know, I can’t think of any that’s as universally useful as Avenger’s Mansion.

And it’s in the core set! It was there from the get-go. It was one of the very first things Fantasy Flight did. My feeling is that if you build a deck without it, you’re just tying a hand behind your back. Classic Fantasy Flight.

Now I say all this because I want desperately to be wrong. I don’t want to play Marvel Avenger’s Mansion anymore! I want to play Marvel Champions Who Go To Lots Of Different Places. I want someone to talk me down from including an Avenger’s Mansion in every deck!

-Tom

So far I’ve been playing the default hero decks in Marvel Champions with only occasional adjustments here and there. Mainly replacing some of the filler basic cards, but for the most part, just playing them “as is” in their default configuration. So basically, it’s been like Sentinels of the Multiverse for me: pre-built hero decks vs. the pre-built villain decks.

I strongly suspect that once I start actually building decks, the whole thing is just going to fall apart in my hands. And that’s one reason I have no interest in tracking down other players’ decks from online databases for Fantasy Flight’s games. I’m in no hurry to see my investment fall apart. :(

-Tom

You know, I think this is part of why I enjoy Monster Train so much. The game scales in such a way that you have to find card combinations that feel like you are breaking the game in order to succeed. Feeling absurdly powerful can be fun, but not when it removes any semblance of challenge.

I loved Netrunner and loathed fast advance.

My favorite games of Netrunner were near launch where the runner attacked so often that neither got much deck out. Pure mind games on a minimal tableau with the hand, draw pile, and maybe one server with ice and one without. That kind of maverick play felt completely in character for a certain type of runner. It wasn’t like fast advance because the essential playing and scoring of agendas was never abrogated. It just happened without a lot of face up cards and buildup disguising the core mind games.

Eventually the game developed to where that kind of fun was no longer viable because both corps and runners were expected to deploy more “interesting” options if they wanted fast decks. Sad.

Hmm, I might nominate Genius, Strength and Energy – the double-resource cards – as more universally useful. Their inclusion rate is over 90% if one relies on the decklist data at MarvelDCB. That data is not entirely reliable, since it’s merely a compilation of decklists, and some decks are just meme decks. Still, it has some usefulness. By contrast, Avengers Mansion is included only around 40% of the time. Helicarrier appears about 50% of the time. So it seems a lot of people balk at the tempo loss incurred by Avengers Mansion.

Personally, I always include the double-resource cards, but I don’t always include Avengers Mansion or Helicarrier, even though I agree with Tom that Avengers Mansion is a very strong card. It’s strong in true-solo play, and I imagine it’s even more powerful two-handed. I do wish there were more of a restriction on its use, and I might say the same of the double-resource cards. Like Tom, I want as varied a “metagame” as possible.

And that’s one reason I do sometimes exclude Avengers Mansion: for me, it’s more interesting to explore alternatives. Variety is more fun. Also, I like to roleplay.

Sinister Motives does not include Avengers Mansion, and the preconstructed decks therefore don’t include it either. (They do include all three double-resource dards). So for my first play of the campaign, I’m not using Avengers Mansion. So far I’m not missing it, but then I’m playing only on Standard.

I prefer Expert myself, but I’m not sure I agree that the “real game” begins only in Expert. The winrate difference between the two is only around 8.6%: 70.4% on Standard, 62.8% on Expert. The Standard success rate is about the same as that of a MLB pitcher, and having been a pitcher myself, I still think failing 30% of the time is enough to make a game interesting! That data is from the spreadsheet I linked earlier, which has logged almost 24,000 plays, so it’s a big sample size. Marvel Champions statistics - Google Sheets

Edit: Yes, the spreadsheet relies on user submissions, but social science tells us people are more likely to post their successes than their failures. So that 70% standard success rate might be significantly lower in reality. Humans are illogical. People Don’t Share Their Failures Often Enough | Psychology Today.

There were some wonderfully terrifying Jinteki decks toward the end (that were sort-of-but-not-really viable, though probably a solid pick as a punt in the very runner dominated phases).

There was also a great fun Criminal deck where you were never quite sure what your rig was going to look like by the time you ended the run, but you could usually figure out a way to break in. I had a lucky break and dodged all the fast advance decks with that deck, winning a pretty big tournament!

Amazing memories, and I can happily report I spent more on train tickets than the cards (which I sold on), but I’ll never go back.

Anyway, this Marvel thing does sound neat!

The Guardians of the Galaxy set felt like the perfect difficulty at standard in my opinion. Usually I agree standard feels… substandard (sometimes it feels like guaranteed wins!). I’m quite fond of the Standard 2 difficulty set for missions that aren’t from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Man, I really liked that Guardians run. Great character designs, weird and interesting missions, perfect difficulty…