Hello and welcome to the first of our feature articles under the banner of “Odin’s Vault”.
This week our article is around team play and the synergies that can be developed by planning ahead with other players at the deck building stage to optimise your game and be able to work towards having more opportunities for player interaction and teamwork than perhaps previously considered.
This is the first of our articles discussing various aspects of the game to help foster discussion, improve game play and generate ideas about how to engage with Marvel Champions further.
The Importance of Teamwork
Marvel Champions has always encouraged players of all types to engage with the game at the deck building level. Typically this has meant via the marvelcdb, players have been able for the most part to build decks that showcase off a hero, a card or an idea and give others the opportunity to engage with that deck by building it themselves and bashing up the villain of their choice.
What has been less common but often spoken about is the way in which multiplayer operates in Marvel Champions comparative to the solo experience and how the decision point of player count influences both deck building and hero composition as a whole.
The game is by design built on the premise that players of all skill levels can join this Living Card Game and be able to pick up with ease a hero. This allows them to start playing straight away and therefore the combination of heroes will hopefully always be engaging. Hero composition and deck building for the table rather than the hero can offer deeper opportunities for the players to engage on the whole with both the game and each other.
Hero composition out of the box
What I’m suggesting by hero composition and by extension deck composition is players intentionally building combinations of heroes and cards to optimise a strategy that the entire team is working towards. This can create it’s own unique experience where rather than simply being Avengers at the table, as a group you can all feel part of the bigger strategy that was pre-planned prior to tackling the scenario. While this approach can be encouraged at all levels of difficulty where this strategy shines most is probably the newly announced heroic mode that already pushes teams to the limit.
So before we dive into the current opportunities for hero composition and deck building possibilities let’s take a quick look back at how the cooperative elements of Marvel Champions operated from the core set and how even with now just 3 (or 4) hero packs released players can start deepening their synergies as a team rather than individuals.
One of the first ways players learn that they can work together is by removing other players minions with more optimal attack events or supports. Sometimes players required assistance clearing a 3 or 4 hp minion with guard and another player at the table might have an attack event allowing them to remove the Armored Guard, Goblin Thrall or Hydra Soldier and open up the avenue for that player more optimally attack the villain with larger or stronger attacks. Similarly cards like Tac Team offered players the opportunity off turn to use their 2 damage to assist in clearing threats from the board.
One of the first ways many players experienced player interaction was via the defending mechanic. The ability for another player to take the attack for you which classically resulted in throwing allies under the bus such as Nick Fury offers a player their first opportunity to assist another player.
In the core set environment players could strengthen that approach by playing protection and running cards such as indomitable so that they could defend for more than one other player at the table. Allies such as Luke Cage offered the table one free block due him entering play with a tough status token as an alternative approach. This was a great way to showcase to teams that working together can be optimised by choice of aspect and card. Players could also learn to understand how Spider-Man and Black Panther fit this approach quite well due to their defensive capabilities and the benefit that brings to the team.
Staple core set cards such as Avengers Mansion and Helicarrier encouraged players to consider carefully their own hand as well as the rest of the table and try to optimise the available resources for everyone in a cooperative way. Again this mechanic helped strengthen the cooperative spirit and team focus with each player making a decision when to and where to offer the extra resource or card. These concepts were strengthened further by Captain Marvel’s Commander ability as well as everyone’s favourite ally Maria Hill who draws each player 1 card when she enters play. These cards help to re-emphasise the ways in which players can assist each other and introduced players to stronger interactions. Players could now see that perhaps blocking with Maria Hill for someone else and then the following turn using Make the Call to bring her back and drawing everyone a card further aided in building a cooperative spirit.
One of the easiest ways to become everyone’s best friend in the game is by healing their characters. First Aid and Med Team offered ways for players to help heal their team mates or more commonly heal valuable allies that players wished to keep on the board long term. In core set this could mean War Machine, Daredevil, Vision, all allies that you wished to keep around to keep assisting with the game plan. Healing heroes was also an important element that helped the entire team sustain themselves even when the villain was pressuring the group from a hp perspective. Given First Aid is a basic card, it allowed any player to make a decision in deck building to add this card in and find a way to offer assistance to others when required.
One of the primary ways in which players early on could engage with each other was via giving each other stat boost effects with the upgrade suite provided via the aspect cards. Namely, Heroic Intuition, Combat Training, Armored Vest and Inspired. These cards allowed players to make a choice about running 1, 2 or 3 copies depending on player count. In a 3-4 player game running multiple copies allowed for players to help each other by either providing further advantages in a hero’s strength or assist in shoring up a weakness. This gave the team more opportunities to be flexible in their play. Inspired offered the opportunity for allies such as Daredevil, Luke Cage, Hulk and so on to hit even harder which then offered the opportunity for players to include med teams to help keep allies with attachments in play for longer. The merging of these principles and concepts allowed for players in the core set to appreciate that the different aspects worked together and as a group you could build decks to further optimise these ideas.
The last way in which the core set reinforced the principles of co-operative play was via some of the events that allowed players to target other players or assist other players in need. Hero cards such as Enhanced Spider-Sense offered players the opportunity to cancel dangerous treacheries for others while Get Behind Me offered protection players a similar effect for a much steeper cost. Cards like Get Ready allowed for stronger uses of allies like Nick Fury, Hulk, Black Cat, War Machine and if you introduce healing/protection into the mix you allow a team to go even deeper on obtaining value from these interactions.
Leadership also offered Make the Call and Lead from the Front. Players running Make the Call could at any moment obtain allies from up to 4 discard piles rather than just 1 in solo play, this offered a greater consistency to the card and also invited some odd interactions where you could hypothetically for instance build a physical resource based deck and steal another player’s Hulk to try and make it more optimally suited for your deck’s approach. In core set this was a challenging proposition but the opportunity was certainly there. Lead from the Front allowed for players to optimally select another hero and give all their characters +1/+1, a resource heavy hero like Captain Marvel using it to offer She-Hulk that benefit while she has One-Two Punch in hand for instance helps create a more dynamic game plan and synergy that provided positive player interactions for all.
Hero Composition at Present
So where does that leave us now with 4 hero packs released? Well players now as a group have the opportunity to discuss interesting and engaging interactions that previously were not possible. A player may wish to play Black Widow and request someone plays Iron Man for the Stark Tower tech synergy provided there (previously showcased via Spider-man and his web-shooters). Others might discuss trying to focus a group of 4 on making Captain America an incredibly large hero and attempt to hit the villain extremely hard. The possibilities are already significantly larger and deeper than previously discussed below are some ideas that might encourage players to think about this concept further.
Avengers for All
In a 4 player game, players could play the 3 heroes with signature allies that are avengers (Black Widow, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel) with the 4th playing Captain America. The focus here at the deck building level is deciding on who plays each aspect while ensuring there is one of each aspect chosen. The leadership player can focus on playing avengers while the aggression player can also pump out some avenger allies to assist the team. The justice and protection protection players should still play allies with Captain America providing a discount for the table once per turn to bring the team closer together.
The principle here is that the leadership deck is running 3 x Avengers Assemble with the heroes are all running Honorary Avenger to give the protection and justice player’s allies the avenger trait. That way you can then have a focus around playing Avengers Assemble which then gives every single character in play +1/+1 until the end of the phase while also readying the controller’s characters. This style of deck is more for theme but also encourages players working together while building on the core set principles of healing, attachments and powerful events.
Larger than life
As a lot of these builds go, the focus is often leadership given it offers a lot of cards that can interact with other players. For this build players should decide on a character they wish to buff who has cheap/efficient ways to reset their character. Prime candidates currently are Captain America, She-Hulk and Iron Man. The principle and focus of this deck is that all 4 players run leadership with 3 x Morale Boosts and 3 x Lead from the Fronts, consistently buffing the hero of choice who is running as part of their build 3 x Tenacity.
This works best in Captain America where between 3 x Enhanced Physique and 3 x Tenacity alongside numerous Morale Boosts buffs and utilisation of Super-soldier Serum. Each turn he might be able to swing for quite large numbers frequently. This style of deck again is more for encouraging players to experiment with and try things that harmonise together. She-Hulk is definitely another interesting candidate where you might be able to get her to 5 ATK each turn and with a One-Two Punch this allows her to swing for 10 damage!
This deck concept is built around a leadership player investing in Wonder man and Vision while another player runs aggression. The synergy to focus on here is between Enraged and Teamwork where one player can have Wonder man at 5 ATK and then use Teamwork each time to swing for an additional 5 damage for 1 card from hand. Players can take this further and run lead from the front to add at minimum +2/+2 to the board via this interaction. Players can increase the chance of getting this interaction online faster by using Make the Call and potentially taking the aggression player’s Hulk and then have them play Enraged on their own Hulk which you can then play Inspired on (take the risk!) to swing for +6 ATK each time with a teamwork.
These are just three ideas for where discussion at the deck building phase between players can lead to unique approaches to scenarios that creates a more cohesive game plan that ultimately shouldn’t interfere with players been able to work towards their own set up goals simultaneously.
Wrapping it up
The last aspect of hero composition I wanted to discuss was around who to pick for a line up in multiplayer. A lot of online discussion and some recent polls suggests that some in the broader community currently don’t connect or engage with She-Hulk and Thor as much as the other available heroes. While She-Hulk personally may be a hero I consider quite efficient in solo play regardless I think these two heroes are both great examples of heroes that you can ‘pick’ for your line up to address certain weaknesses in your overall hero composition depending on scenario and present selection of heroes.
Thor for instance is great in the late game at both removing enemies with tough (via Lightning Strike) or guard minions for value with overkill (Hammer Throw). He can be considered as a hero who helps to control the board with some small assistance to to the overall game plan of defeating the villain (Lightning Strike helps significantly with this by offering consistent damage each deck cycle). She-Hulk similarly shines in multiplayer where she has a bit more time and focus to build up her engine of self damage card draw and attempt to play Gamma Slam for value in the late game. She provides strong board control elements along with late game damage to the board and can help teams with threat control even in alter-ego form.
I previously mentioned finding small synergies to help encourage selection between heroes. Iron Man and Black Widow/Spider-Man, Captain America and players running a large ally deck, Captain Marvel for card draw support all game. Right now these advantages seem small but overtime the selection of hero in multiplayer will hopefully help players have further discussions about combinations of both hero cards and aspect cards that can help strengthen play and discussion.
If you have any cool 3-4 player team ideas or combinations feel free to share them below or email as at firstname.lastname@example.org
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“Keep flipping those forms!” – Remedy