GenCon 2020: Let’s Talk About Those Marvel Champions Announcements

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I’m a big fan of the living card game Marvel Champions. It’s a great take on the LCG formula that makes the most of the massive Marvel comics roster. I was looking forward to publisher Fantasy Flight Games’s GenCon stream about the game, and it did not disappoint! So, without further ado, let’s dig into what exactly we can expect from next chunk of expansions for Champions. I’m going to focus specifically on the new hero packs today–I want to hold off on talking about the next big box expansion, “Galaxy’s Most Wanted,” until the first big box is out and we have a better idea of how this type of expansion will play.

The speculation was right about all four of the upcoming hero packs that had been teased–Avengers mainstays Ant-Man, the Wasp, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch are indeed the next four hero packs. No surprises there, but it’s good to get confirmation!

Let’s start with Ant-Man, since he’s releasing first. This is, as many suspected, the Scott Lang version of the character. Makes sense, as he’s the active Ant-Man in the MCU and it would be silly not to synergize with that powerhouse. As for his cards, Ant-Man is going to come with the Leadership aspect, though none of his cards for that aspect have been teased yet.

The big news around Ant-Man is that he’ll be the first character to have two separate hero forms: one version where he shrinks and another where he grows! This will be accomplished by his hero card being a unique ‘folding’ card that can accommodate all three sides. It’ll probably be a bit annoying to sleeve this guy, but ultimately I think it’s a neat gimmick that will make him feel a bit more flexible and unique than the other heroes we’ve seen. It also gives him a distinct playstyle from Ms. Marvel, despite their similar powerset.

His nemesis will be Yellowjacket, whose side scheme renders Tech cards useless–a definite pain for not just Ant-Man, but other heroes like Wasp and Iron Man as well.

Next up: Nadia van Dyne, the Unstoppable Wasp! I adore Nadia and I’m pumped that this is the version of the character that is being used. Don’t get me wrong, I love Janet too, but Nadia means a lot to my wife and I. Wasp is going to come with the Aggression aspect, though none of her aspect cards have been teased yet.

Like Ant-Man, Wasp is going to have three forms. I’m actually quite surprised by this–I was expecting this hero to be Janet and focus on turning small and using her energy blasts. Borrowing Ant-Man’s ‘three forms’ gimmick is… hm. I understand that the two characters are meant to work together and share similar themes, but I hope they don’t play too similarly. One thing I like about Wasp over Ant-Man: in her giant form, she can split her attack and thwart power between multiple targets, which could be very useful.

The most exciting thing we’ve seen from her deck, though, is actually a neutral card she comes packaged with: Swarm Tactics, which is an event card with the ‘Team-Up’ property. Team-Ups allow you to make powerful moves if both listed characters are in play (either as player heroes or allies). Swarm Tactics allows the player to switch their hero to its other hero form and then ready their hero; I’m excited to see what other types of Team-Up come in the future!

Confession: I’ve never been a huge fan of Quicksilver. I don’t dislike him, and I actually really enjoy him in some events (like Avengers: No Surrender), but I’ve never been compelled to seek out his stories. That said, I’m interested in seeing how a speedster is adapted to the Marvel Champions format. It looks like he’ll come with the Protection aspect–an aspect I’m starting to really enjoy thanks to Doctor Strange!

Quicksilver’s hero side is ones across the board when it comes to his statistics, but he’s got a fantastic hero ability: once per phase, after using one his basic abilities, he can immediately ready back up. This makes him very versatile, and it’s a great way to map his super speed to the game’s format. I imagine this will put upgrades at a premium for Quicksilver, as you’ll get more mileage out of stat buffs since he’ll be able to benefit from them multiple times per round.

While that’s very cool, it’s not what has me most excited for him. No, what really has me eager for Quicksilver’s release is the Protection ally that was teased for this pack: none other than Warlock, of the New Mutants and X-Factor! I absolutely love Warlock, and I’m beyond excited to see a mutant character enter the game–even if he is just an ally. He looks like a good one, too: for one science resource, he can heal two damage, meaning he could potentially stick around for quite a while.

Scarlet Witch
From a character perspective, Scarlet Witch is the pack I’m most excited for–I’m a big fan of Wanda. I don’t think her aspect has been officially announced (though I might have just missed it), but presumably, based on the other three hero packs, she’ll be Justice. It’ll be interesting to see what she brings to the table!

The few cards of hers that have been teased look very interesting. Her focus seems to be messing with the encounter deck: discarding boost icons, ignoring treacheries, and so forth. That could be a very fun mechanic, and it’s definitely different than the characters we’ve seen so far! It also makes a lot of thematic sense with Scarlet Witch’s ‘probability manipulation/chaos magic’ powerset. She’s also got some ways to synergize with her brother Pietro. All in all, this looks like a solid pack that will do justice to a severely underrated character!

All of these packs are shaping up to be great additions to the game, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them. Scarlet Witch is the standout, in my opinion, but they all show a lot of promise. Plus, setting these four aside for a moment, there’s also the “Galaxy’s Most Wanted” expansion to look forward to, which will presumably kickstart a Guardians of the Galaxy-focused set. What more could you want for the future of this game? (Well, aside from X-Men, of course–but it sounds like even those are on the horizon now!)

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