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Rhino rampages through the streets of New York, Klaw peddles illegal weapons to the world’s most dangerous criminals, Ultron threatens nuclear annihilation. The world needs champions to stop these villains! Are you up to the task?
I can't say that I'm particularly impressed. First off, it's basically Sentinels of the Multiverse; a game that I mildly detest, despite my long history in comics and my undying love for the RPG, Villains and Vigilantes. I don't really like co-op games and, other than Spirit Island (and, recently, TE Defenders and some games of TE Zombies), I generally won't play them. So, that's one strike. One plus is that they indulged in a lot of the classic Marvel stuff, even with updated imagery. Nick Fury is there, looking like Samuel L. Jackson. There's Tigra and The Shocker and Hydra and the Helicarrier and so on. Each hero has a nemesis that will be brought out by a particular card in the villain deck if it's drawn at the right time. She-Hulk's is Titania. Each nemesis does different things and will add cards to the villain deck that make it more difficult. Each hero also has an Obligation that forces them to do different things if drawn at the right time. Each hero also has an alter ego, which performs in different ways (changes hand size, different abilities, means the villain can't attack you but instead furthers his scheme, etc.) So, there's plenty of variety in both game state and game play.
However, like many of these games, it's very mechanical, since you're not playing each other but against the game, and it's easy to slip into a state where basically all you're doing is helping other players do interesting things. Iron Man builds up an engine (appropriately) and that player had about two dozen cards in his tableau that he could do a variety of things with. In one turn, he almost singlehandedly lowered the Rhino's threat on his scheme from 2 below a loss to almost zero. On the last turn, he wiped out a full third of Rhino's health by himself and won the game. Black Panther spent a lot of time summoning allies to good effect, while Spider-Man spent most of the time trying to stay alive. I, on the other hand, spent more than one turn not able to do much of anything because I was resource-starved. I think the point of both She-Hulk and Aggression is to deal out big bursts of damage and then rebuild. I was able to kinda do that once, but not nearly as often as I looked at my hand of cards and said: "OK. I can make one play and do nothing to affect the game state, so I'm done."
That's the case with a lot of these kinds of games. I've had it happen in Sentinels multiple times, where someone ends up just feeding cards and/or opportunity to other players so that they can actually do fun and interesting things. This is no different. I mean, that's teamwork, but you might as well replace that one person with a waterbird for all the participation that they have. This is also one of Fantasy Flight's LCGs, which means a constant outflow of cash for the next year or two to build it to the game state where it seems like some of the heroes actually have options. They've already announced the first expansion, which is The Wrecking Crew. That's really cool for the nostalgia factor, but it's not a game model that I want a part of, for mechanical reasons and because it's still a collectible game.
So, yeah. It's not a bad game. It's most certainly not in my wheelhouse. But I can't say that I'd recommend it right now even if it was.
I'm not interested Marvel characters vs a deck of bad things. If it has any of the design DNA leftover from LOTR LCG, then I can tell you that I would only be interested in the game as a replacement for kindling around the campfire. At least the art looks better than Legendary. I think this is a hard pass from me.
It's obvious they've learned a lot about what didn't work in the LOTR game. I always felt like deckbuilding was the whole game in LOTR and that games were almost 100% dictated by how well you built your deck and whether the right cards happened to come up at the right time. Marvel Champions feels better to me in that far more of the game is decided by your card play DURING the game. Also, the theme. Never once have I thought "Man, it would be so cool to see Bilbo and Denethor tooling around in the Dead Marshes." But She-Hulk and Captain Marvel teaming up to stop Ultron? That's what comic books were all about for me as a kid.
The core set is a complete experience but definitely feels like the framework for a lot more interesting things down the road. I think I'm on board, at least for a while.
I did the one time I played it, which was years ago. Not sure how I’d feel about it now.
I should say that when it comes to superhero games, this is where a license will go much further with me than original characters made for the game. My investment goes way up if I’m playing as _the_ Spider-Man, not a thinly veiled Spidey analogue, so long as I’m doing Spidey things and Spidey things are happening to me. I care about that stuff and while it won’t give me the emotional gut-punch like when Peter tells Aunt May what really happened on the night Uncle Ben died in Spider-Man 2, I love seeing the alter-ego stuff come up in Champions because it’s well-executed enough.