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Marvel Champions

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14 Aug 2021 14:05 #325592 by Shellhead
Wanted to try out the fan-made Nick Fury hero deck. Thought about pairing him with obvious thematic choices, like Captain America or Black Widow, but instead went all Strange Tales and picked Dr. Strange. Played basic level, with Strange (protection) and Fury (justice), against Green Goblin and his Mutagen Formula.

The Fury deck is apparently modeled after the Gandalf deck in the Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth card game. Nick is a solid 2-2-2, but only has 10 hit points and 3 REC. Fury's most obvious gimmick is that he constantly plays with the top card of his deck face up, and is allowed once per turn to play that card as though it is in his hand. He gets that ability in both hero and alter ego form, plus he can look at the top four cards of his deck and rearrange them as an alter ego action. Holographic Projection is a nice defense card that can potentially confuse the attacking enemy. In general, his deck offers a wealth of resources, including one upgrade that lets him draw the exact card that he wants from his deck.

The game started out rough, with goblin goons piling up on first Strange and later Fury. For the first third of the game, there was a real struggle for control between Green Goblin and the heroes. with Strange and Fury getting roughed up while Goblin was unscathed. Strange is notoriously powerful, but lacks attacks that can address more than one opponent at a time, and Fury has the same issue. I actually ended up using allies to help fight the minions to a greater degree than I would normally choose, though still saving battered allies for chump blocking. Fury's obligation came into play, but it was actually convenient and he got three points of healing out of it. Strange's nemesis Baron Mordo nearly entered the game, but Strange was able to cancel that treachery card.

By the midpoint of the game, Strange and Fury had both built up an array of upgrades, support, and allies. Goblin never even got close to advancing to stage 2 of his scheme, and was finally taking some hits. There was one more point where the goons showed up in numbers, but by the second time Goblin went through his encounter deck, victory for the heroes was inevitable.

This Fury deck was the best of the five fan-made heroes decks that I have tried so far. The Black Knight deck was more interesting due to the manipulation of the curse of the ebony blade, but felt a little over-powered. Moon Knight was weird and inefficient to play. Blade was a little disappointing, but should probably be played as an aggression deck instead of protection. Daredevil should have been a little better on defense, as he seemed to be taking an excessive amount of damage when I played him.
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17 Aug 2021 16:50 - 17 Aug 2021 16:56 #325710 by Shellhead
Full preview for The Mad Titan's Shadow boxed set is up:

hallofheroeslcg.com/the-mad-titans-shadow/

I wasn't initially enthusiastic about the Monica Rambeau hero deck, because it just looked like a mechanical imitation of the Ant-Man deck concept. But her core cards offer more opportunities for efficient changes between forms, which does a nice job of expressing her speed via mechanics. And her leadership cards offer more synergy than I have seen in other preconstructed leadership decks, though her Captain America ally is a little too expensive even with the discount. Her weakness/obligation card is novel and appropriate, and I really like the implementation of her nemesis, Radioactive Man.

Adam Warlock was once one of my favorite Marvel characters, but he has become more indistinct over time, after too many iterations. His deck is fine, though, requiring a player to include all four aspects in exact balance. A number of his cards will contribute to him burning through his deck quickly, making it a little harder for him to build up a number of upgrades and supports in play at first, as well as take on a few more encounters than most heroes in any given scenario. The inclusion of the cosmic entities is a nice touch, but their actual impact on a game seems minimal. His weakness/obligation card is unusally nasty and could potentially trigger loss of the game. The Magus was the right choice for his nemesis module, and is suitably challenging.

The campaign follows the same formula as the two previous campaigns: five scenarios linked by a framing story. Two of the scenarios focus on three particular followers of Thanos who got some decent screen time in the 3rd and 4th Avengers movies. Thanos himself stars in a scenario and is suitably powerful. The big surprise is that the other two scenarios focus heavily on Asgardian villains. As an old school Thor fan, I am very happy with the characters featured in those two scenarios.

This set ramps up the power level of the game a notch. There are some characters with an ATK of 4, and some encounter cards with 4 boost symbols. Taken together, that means there could be some villain attacks for 8 damage, and possibly higher if they have weapon attachments. The Thanos scenario includes a special Infinity Stones deck, offering some punishing card effects. If Thanos reaches his second stage scheme, each player must shuffle their discard pile back into their deck and then discard HALF their deck [edit] FROM THE GAME.
Last edit: 17 Aug 2021 16:56 by Shellhead. Reason: FROM THE GAME
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17 Aug 2021 17:37 #325717 by boothwah
Drax arrived last weekend, and Venom will be here tomorrow or Thursday - really looking forward to trying out rocket as Justice after the Venom pack -

Drax is really fun. Probably pigeonholed in deck building, but really fun - A better version of Hulk mebbe? He's like Hawkeye in that there are a few card in his kit (Quiver) that dramatically change your enjoyment in playing him - The mastery card that lets you draw a card when he attacks, and CITT (Technically CITT isn't part of his kit but I couldn't imagine playing without it.) He ran very well in protection and it felt like aggression, because he was hitting for 10-20 a turn mid game - I could see also running him in aggression playing towards big Moment of Triumph heals, ..... Drax needs healing to function - I have yet to flip him down after going hero, though and I'm up to Ronan in the campaign with him and Justice Gamora.
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22 Aug 2021 16:13 #325928 by Shellhead
Downloaded and played some more fan-made content: Maestro (villain) and Wolverine (hero).

Wolverine has a very thematic set of cards, doing everything you would expect from Wolverine. He heals a lot, and he tears things up with his adamantium claws. The only odd design choice is that the claws are not starting gear. Every time you use the claws, you take a point of damage to gain +1 ATK and piercing for the rest of the round. Besides having a couple of cards that do healing, Wolverine can also untap for free once each turn right after performing a REC action, potentially allowing him to recover twice for 6 hit points per turn.

Maestro is a future version of the Hulk who has greater strength than the Hulk plus the intellect of Dr. Banner, plus evil. He has time traveled back to the present to hasten his own future with a serious of terrorist attacks with nuclear weapons. Most of his minions have been Hulked up with exposure to gamma radiation, making them somewhat tougher than normal minions. Maestro's special gimmick is that he Dazes his opponents if he inflicts damage during an undefended attack. Daze is a new status card. A character that is Dazed will automatically fail their next attempt to defend against an attack, losing the Daze card instead of defending. Maestro's main scheme is a single stage with a high target of 13 per player. But he has various side schemes that come out, and if any of those side schemes gain enough threat, it gets discarded and adds scheme to the main scheme.

I went up against Maestro with Hulk (aggression), Wolverine (aggression), and Nick Fury (Justice). They put up a really good fight but ultimately lost as Maestro schemed his way to victory. Wolverine's deck performed quite well, kicking out some decent damage and even some thwarting. Hulk did his usual, which was to kick out a strong attack nearly every turn, plus do some decent blocking and a little thwarting. I needed Nick to do a lot of thwarting, but there were a few turns where it didn't work out. Also, Maestro was hitting really hard, and nearly took out each of the heroes at various points in time. To make matters worse, both Fury and Wolverine saw their nemesis characters enter play. Since there wasn't any other Hydra cards in play, Baron Strucker wasn't a big problem, but Sabretooth was nasty. Also, Sabretooth regenerates every time he attacks.

I want to replay this soon, but my current team needs more thwarting ability. Will probably add Black Widow (justice) to the team, and her particular abilities may also keep the nemesis villains out of action.
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22 Aug 2021 21:22 #325941 by Shellhead
Since my first game against Maestro ended abruptly, I thought that I would try again with a slightly different team: Hulk (aggression), Wolverine (aggression), and Black Widow (justice). It went even more poorly this time around, and it seems possible that this fan-made Maestro scenario is broken. Just to make sure, I will take one more run at it with Hulk, Wolverine, Dr. Strange, and Scarlet Witch.

The problem with Maestro is the side schemes. Each of his side schemes start at 2 scheme per player, and they all gain a point of scheme each time a character gets Dazed. When one of these side schemes reaches 3 scheme per player, it adds 2 scheme per player to the main scheme. To make matters worse, some of these side schemes have 2 icons, like say 2 acceleration tokens or a an acceleration and a bonus encounter icon. It's like fighting a nastier version of the Red Skull, and the Red Skull is already the hardest scenario that was published before Galaxy's Most Wanted.

Wolverine performed well this game, and Hulk did his best. I'm not great at playing Black Widow, but I got a better handle on her advantages this game. She is obviously good at prep, but sometimes I have failed in the past to use that prep to full advantage. More importantly, I caught on this game to how unusually useful she can be while staying in her alter ego form. However, I didn't do well at getting allies out this game, which meant my heroes were getting more beat up.

Everything Maestro did this game felt excessive. When he attacked, he often hit for 5 damage. He got more minions out this time. He got a lot of surge effects off of cards, causing him to burn through the deck for the first time in record speed. And those side schemes kept coming. To top it all off, Sabretooth showed up again this game and got in a couple of cheap shots. Last game, the heroes nearly beat down Maestro to his second form, but this game they only got halfway there before he schemed his way to victory.

Like Red Skull, heroes absolutely need to come after Maestro with a strong combination of aggression and justice. I am probably handicapping myself too much by playing Hulk, but he is all about the aggression, and thematically he should be in the mix. Wolverine is my new favorite of the custom heroes, so he stays. So I need two strong thwarting decks, and I think that Scarlet Witch (justice) and Dr. Strange (protection) will help carry the day. In theory, I should run two justice decks, but Strange is good at everything, and he is also good at manipulating or dismissing status cards, which would be useful against Maestro's Dazed status cards. Scarlet Witch (justice) will obviously help with the thwarting, but her ability to manipulate boost icons will also be useful.
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23 Aug 2021 12:43 #325952 by Shellhead
Out of suspicion, I have been looking at the Ronan and Kree Militant cards from GMW, to see how that scenario compares to Maestro (plus his recommended custom module Future Imperfect). Veteran players online tend to agree that Ronan is the hardest official scenario, and the recommended Kree Militants module adds some beefy goons.

link to the Maestro set review at BGG: boardgamegeek.com/thread/2703987/custom-...view-maestro-villain

Kree Militants is a tougher module than Future Imperfect. Kree Militants consists of 8 fairly tough minions, ranging from 5 to 7 hit points, plus all are capable of scheming. Each one has a special trait: patrol (prevents hero from thwarting), guard (prevents hero from attacking villain), or quickstrike (a free attack when entering play). The ninth card is an armor attachment that is difficult to get rid of and reduces damage to the wearer by one point per attack.

Future Imperfect is a more normal six-card module, but still pretty nasty. The side scheme adds 1 threat to other side schemes as they enter play, plus dishes out an extra encounter card per turn. There is a nasty attachment that causes the attached hero to add threat instead of subtracting threat during the next attempt to thwart a scheme. There are a couple of tough minions, but they also grant overkill and piercing damage to both themselves and the villain. And then there are a couple of treachery cards that each trigger 1 or 2 surges.

Ronan himself is a very challenging villain. Each of his three stages starts with toughness, and his stage 3 gains retaliate: 1. His scheme/attack abilities go from 2/2 to 2/3 to 3/4, and that 4 base attack set a new high mark for the game at the time it was published. He has two stages of main schemes, but they both start out with some threat already on them, so the combined target for his victory is 14 threat per player. He also has multiple attachments that add to his attack, and two of them make his attacks overkill and piercing. He has a few cards that give him surge. Three of his four side schemes are nasty. One has a crisis symbol (no thwarting the main scheme when there is a crisis symbol in play), and the other two have 2 acceleration tokens each. Ronan doesn't have any minions in his deck, but his recommended module of Kree Militants is nearly all minions.

Maestro is also nasty. None of his stages get toughness (which seems thematically wrong for a future version of the Hulk), but his stats range from 1/3 to 2/3 to 2/4. If he hits an undefended character, that character is Dazed (character will fail next attempt at defense), and he gets a +1 when activating against a Dazed hero. His deck includes treachery cards that cause a hero or ally to become Dazed. Maestro's main scheme has only one stage, but his target number of 13 per player gives him an edge over Ronan. His two attachments assist his scheming, and then there are his side schemes. Each side scheme is a ticking bomb, and when one goes off, it adds 2 threat per player to the main scheme and then gets discarded. There are five of these side schemes, and three of them have double icons, including one that has double acceleration icons. Maestro also has five beefy minions, and two of them help bring out those side schemes.

So Ronan and Maestro is pretty similar in challenge level, but I think Maestro is harder to beat because of the synergies involving his main scheme. It is also possible to get a number of bonus encounter cards per turn. In a typical villain scenario, it is not unusual to get one or two bonus encounter cards per turn, not counting an extra encounter card when a hero exhausts his deck. With Maestro, it is entirely possible to get more than 3 or 4 bonus encounter cards per turn due to side schemes and surge effects. In my second game against Maestro, the last few turns of the game featured 3 encounter cards per turn per hero, minimum, plus surge effects. At one point, Wolverine got 6 encounter cards in one turn. In that same game, every single side scheme was in play with at least one more point of threat than the starting amount. And the main scheme was already spiraling out of control. This might be a good challenge for an experienced player with well-tuned expert-level decks, but I don't want to build decks and just want to play for fun at the basic level.
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23 Aug 2021 18:39 - 23 Aug 2021 21:55 #325966 by Ah_Pook
Ronan has tons of cards that give him extra attacks, on top of being Stalwart (immune to stun and confuse) from his shitty hammer (which is shuffled into the draw pile when you get rid of it, and comes into play when it shows up a a boost card so there's no way to really get rid of it) and having Overkill/Piercing a lot of the time on top of that. Plus he gets a permanent extra encounter card a round, so youre more likely to draw into all those attacks. That all combines into him one shotting heroes regularly with little you can do about it, even from full health. He will just kill a hero turn 1 not infrequently. My personal record was taking 6 attacks in a single villain phase versus him (in a two hero game).

No idea how he compares to Maestro, but Expert Ronans not very fun to play against I'll tell you that for free :laugh:
Last edit: 23 Aug 2021 21:55 by Ah_Pook.
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23 Aug 2021 22:33 #325981 by Shellhead
Ronan gets more attacks, but dazed characters can't defend against Maestro. That weakens all Leadership decks and chump blocking in general, and results in heroes taking more damage.

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28 Aug 2021 10:21 #326068 by Shellhead
Went after Maestro with my revenge team of Hulk (aggression), Dr. Strange (protection), and Scarlet Witch (justice). I know that many players swear by leadership/chump blocking, but that Dazed status tends to screw up the chump blocking.

For most of the game, things went really well. Hulk got out a card on turn 1 that gave him +4 hit points and Retaliate: 1 for the rest of the game. Scarlet Witch had a slightly off game, but managed to do a lot of thwarting. Dr. Strange was the star (as usual), handing out Tough cards to the good guys like Halloween candy, and occasionally converting a Dazed card to Tough. His friend Night Nurse was also hugely valuable, removing three Dazed cards over the course of the game. I had to use her sparingly, because she lacks a mechanism to get discarded after her three charges are used up. Maybe there is an errata. Also, either Hulk or Dr. Strange was stunning Maestro every other turn.

Late in the game, it got ugly. All three heroes and all but one ally were Dazed, so no defending against attacks. Multiple nuke side-schemes came out in short order, and the main scheme was getting dangerously high in threat. Scarlet Witch took a really hard undefended hit that would have taken her out of the game if she didn't have a disposable magic shield in play.

But Maestro was in trouble. All those retaliates from Hulk had taken a toll, along with occasional big hits from each of the three heroes. We had him down to 25 hit points around the time he nearly eliminated Scarlet Witch. Less than two turns later, Hulk finished him off.

I realize that this custom content like Maestro may be of limited interest to some players, since it was not professionally designed or playtested. But based on my previous comparison, it looks like the Maestro creator took the Ronan scenario and did some swaps, then added in this Daze status and the nuke side scheme structure. Based on this fight, I feel like I can go ahead and get Galaxy's Most Wanted after all, as the scenarios won't be completely impossible for me to beat on basic setting.
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28 Aug 2021 10:37 #326070 by Ah_Pook
Cards with the Uses keyword are automatically discarded when their counters are used up, that's part of the rules for the keyword. Just gotta be careful once you start getting things that have counters on them but not the Uses keyword (Rocket's gear is the only stuff released so far is memory serves).
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29 Aug 2021 07:34 #326083 by Shellhead
That makes sense. I had assumed that Night Nurse was just so good that the lack of discard after the third use was just a balancing mechanism.

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30 Aug 2021 16:29 #326108 by boothwah
I have such a blast with this game, and have converted a handful of my friends into fans/collectors of the game....but it is getting harder and easier at the same time to recommend it to folks that haven't gotten into it - Currently it's a $430.00 ticket to jump in right now if you are a "have to have it all right now" person. And by December there will be an additional $75.00 worth of stuff....already pre-ordered :)

If you are a Marvel fan, it's the real deal. It's deep enough to hit almost all of the Marvel beats (Especially once the Hood pack is out and brings more street level modules.) Eventually they will do FF and X-Men and Defenders and I will be the happiest clam on earth. The release schedule isn't grueling, and I get more enjoyment out of my $15 pack of new super hero puzzles/stories than I would for 2 hours at the movie theater with some greasy popcorn.
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30 Aug 2021 17:10 - 30 Aug 2021 17:24 #326109 by Ah_Pook
Yea it's the curse of the format. Once there's a lot of stuff out it gets VERY unfriendly to get into. Marvel has a few big advantages on that front since it's coop and the stuff is a la carte. The base game is a lot of game, and then you can just get stuff that interests you from there without having to buy into cycles like Arkham or keep up with a competitive meta.
Last edit: 30 Aug 2021 17:24 by Ah_Pook.
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30 Aug 2021 18:42 #326112 by Gary Sax
The lack of a competitive meta thing for this, arkham, and I'm sure LOTR make those communities so much better.

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30 Aug 2021 21:11 #326117 by Shellhead
I've been pondering the cost issue. Because of the high solo playability and also that I got a friend hooked, there is no chance of this becoming a shelf toad before I get in a large number of plays. But this has been a lousy summer for unexpected expenses, including a couple of car repairs, a house repair, and a very sick but beloved cat. Even though I have overcome my worries about the playability and fun of the Galaxy's Most Wanted (GMW) set, a very positive early review of Mad Titan's Shadow (MTS) has convinced me to skip GMW for now. I'm still going to get the smaller expansions for The Hood, Vision, Valkyrie, and maybe War Machine, and then definitely MTS.

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