Marvel Champions: Captain Marvel Breakdown

Howdy, folks! I had so much fun writing my Iron Man breakdown that I thought I’d take another look at a Marvel Champions hero. Today, I’ll be checking out Captain Marvel’s deck! Just like last time, I’m only going to focus on the unique cards that make up Captain Marvel’s kit; I’m not a great deck-builder, so if you’re looking for in-depth analysis of Aspect cards and strategies, you’re in the wrong place. This is going to be about the Captain’s playstyle and how well her cards capture the feel of the character.

The Hero
We’ll start, of course, with our marvelous hero! The hero side is, naturally, Captain Marvel, while the alter-ego is Carol Danvers. She’s got a very solid 12 hit points, with the standard hand sizes of 6 in alter-ego form and 5 in hero form.

On the Carol Danvers side of the card, there’s a lovely 4 Recovery–even when injured, she’s quick to get back in the fight! She’s also got a simple but extremely useful ability called Commander: a player of your choice can draw a card (limit once per round). Drawing cards is hugely important in Marvel Champions, and getting an extra card in hand very frequently makes a difference, whether by giving you something new to play or just upping your resources for the round.

Flipping to Captain Marvel, we get a solid hero with 2 Thwart, 2 Attack, and 1 Defense. Her special action is called Rechannel, and it allows her to spend an Energy resource to heal a damage and draw a card. Again, that card draw is nice (though since you’ve got to spend a resource to get it, you’re really only breaking even) and a quick heal is nothing to sneeze at, either! I like that she has low defense but solid healing options; she’s a very offense-focused fighter, so it’s nice to see that reflected here.

Carol doesn’t have quite as many upgrades as Tony; she’s more focused on throwing out damaging events than building up a massive board. That said, she’s got a few toys to play with. First, there’s Captain Marvel’s Helmet, a 2-cost upgrade that grants her +1 Defense (or +2 instead if she’s got the Aerial trait). I don’t love this card, since as I said before, Captain Marvel is more about making big hits and healing quickly as opposed to defending. Still, it’s cheap and could help out in a pinch.

Next up is Cosmic Flight, which also costs 2. On top of granting Captain Marvel the Aerial trait, you can discard Cosmic Flight to prevent up to 3 damage to the Captain. Not too shabby! Paired with the Helmet, this can do solid protection work, upping your Defense and letting you shrug off anything that gets through. I’m always a little leery of upgrades that you have to discard to get the full effect of, but that’s mitigated here by the fact that Carol has two copies of Cosmic Flight, meaning you can discard one and still keep the other equipped to maintain your Aerial trait.

Finally, there’s Energy Channel. Energy Channel is free to play, which is always nice! As an action, you can spend any number of Energy resources to put an equal number of Energy Counters on Energy Channel. You can then, as a separate action, discard Energy Channel to deal 2 damage to an enemy (to a maximum of 10 damage, meaning it’s pointless to have more than five Counters on the card). I’m a big fan of this one, despite being a ‘discard’ upgrade–it can pay out fantastic damage, and it’s extremely thematic! Carol’s powerset allows her to absorb and redirect energy, so the idea of spending Energy resources to launch a big attack is wonderful way to represent that.

Allies & Supports
This is by far the thinnest section of Captain Marvel’s deck, with only one ally and one support. The ally is Carol’s long-time bestie Spider-Woman, a 3-cost card that boasts 2 Thwart and 2 Attack, but only has 2 health. She confuses the villain when she enters play, though, which is a great bonus (and a nice nod to her disorienting pheromones)!

Her support comes in the form of the Alpha Flight Station (Carol’s base of operations in the Butters/Fazekas run; as a side-note, good lord I loved Kris Anka’s covers for that series), which costs 1 resource. You can exhaust the Station and discard a card from your hand to draw a new card, or two cards if you’re Carol side is showing. Again, a great draw option here, especially if you’re in alter-ego! I don’t think it fully clicked with me before just how much draw potential Carol was built for.

Events & Resources
Now we get to the meat of the Captain Marvel deck! For events, we start off with Crisis Interdiction, a 2-cost event that allows you to remove 2 Threat from a scheme, followed by another 2 Threat from a different scheme if you’re Aerial. In the right situation, this can be a powerful card; assuming you’re Aerial and a side scheme is in play, you can knock off 4 Threat for fairly cheap. However, if you’re not Aerial or there’s no side scheme in play, it’s not so great. At least it’s worth an Energy resource, which this deck needs to generate fairly consistently!

Photonic Blast is a bit better, in my opinion. Though the cost is steep at 3 resources, it deals a solid 5 damage; even better, if it was paid for with an Energy resource, you get to draw a card! Even more draw goodness!

Now, here’s where things get interesting: unlike Iron Man, Captain Marvel actually gets a unique resource to play in the form of Energy Absorption. Energy Absorption generates 3 Energy resources. That resource generation on a single card is already cause for celebration, but the fact that it’s Energy makes it significantly better; a single Energy Absorption can pay for a Photonic Blast or nearly fill up an Energy Channel. It’s a phenomenal card for Carol, letting her quickly fire off devastating damage.

Nemesis & Obligation
Carol’s Obligation is Family Emergency, which forces you to choose between exhausting your alter-ego to get rid of the card for good, or take on the Stunned condition to discard the Obligation. As with most Obligations, I can’t see a good reason not to just exhaust yourself and get this thing out of the encounter deck. I suppose if you were close to the end of the game and the Stun wouldn’t slow you down? Either way, this Obligation is pretty standard and not all that interesting.

Her Nemesis is much more threatening, however: Yon-Rogg of the Kree. Yon-Rogg himself is a fairly formidable minion, boasting 2 Scheme, 2 Attack, and a whopping 5 hit points. Even worse is the fact that whenever he attacks you, you have to add a threat to his special side-scheme, the Psyche-Magnitron (the device that originally gave Carol her powers; nice!). The Psyche-Magnitron itself is a relatively simple side-scheme, forcing players to draw an extra encounter card each Encounter Phase until it’s gone. It starts with Threat equal to 3 plus the number of players, but that number is only going to go up as long as Yon-Rogg is alive.

The Kree Manipulator treachery card in Yon-Rogg’s deck sticks with the theme of upping Threat, automatically placing a Threat on the main scheme and also featuring the Surge keyword, which forces the unlucky player to draw another encounter card. Oh, and if it’s drawn as a boost and the villain is making an undefended attack? You’d best add another Threat to that scheme, fella!

Finally, there’s Yon-Rogg’s Treason, which forces the player who drew it to discard all cards with Energy resources from their hand. That’s potentially rough for any hero, but it’s especially brutal on Captain Marvel–imagine having to toss a perfectly good Energy Absorption into your discard pile! Even if you luck out and don’t have any Energy resources, the card just gains Surge and makes you deal with some other threat. Damn you, Yon-Rogg!

Just like her comic book inspiration, Captain Marvel is great at slinging huge damage toward her opponents. Her personal deck doesn’t feature a lot of Threat mitigation (though Crisis Interdiction is solid if you can draw it at the right time), which can be compounded by Yon-Rogg if you’ve got the bad luck to draw Shadow of the Past early on; therefore, it’s tempting to say that Justice is a good Aspect for her, shoring up her defenses. I think I’d rather just double down on the damage and go Aggression, though, hoping that I can knock the villain out before the Threat becomes a problem.

This is another deck that feels great thematically. Carol is a bruiser who can soak up damage and send it right back at her foes through her energy manipulation powers, and this kit does a great job of replicating that–high health, low defense, a few options for healing, and some strong Energy-based attacks. The fact that you have tons of potential for drawing extra cards each turn means your odds of having the right resources for your bigger attacks are fairly high, too, so you frequently have the chance to blast your foes to bits in that classic Captain Marvel style.

I’ll admit that I don’t often play Carol, in large part because my wife is usually using her. That said, I’ve seen what she can do in a round; with the right hand, you can pull off devastating damage, so she’s a great choice for anyone who wants to hit the enemy hard. After thinking about her kit a little more critically to write this, I think I might have give her another go myself!

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