Welcome back to another character breakdown for Marvel Champions! Today we’re wrapping up the heroes from the game’s core set by checking out our fifth character, Spider-Man! I’ve got a lot of love for Spidey, so let’s get right to it.
Remember, these breakdowns only look at a character’s unique fifteen-card deck, and the focus is more on how well the kit fits the character than it is about how powerful or useful the cards are.
We’ll start, of course, with our hero himself. Spider-Man has a respectable 10 hit points, with your standard 6-card hand in alter-ego and 5-card hand in hero form. Nothing out of the ordinary here!
This is the classic Spidey, so we’re dealing with Peter Parker as the alter-ego (I’m hoping we get Miles as a playable character someday, too, though there are apparently no plans for that currently). Pete’s got 3 Recovery and an ability called Scientist that allows him to generate a Science resource once per round. Generating free resources is always nice!
Flipping over to the Spider-Man side, we’re looking at 1 Thwart, 2 Attack, and 3 Defense. These are decent stats, and I like that Web-head is a good defensive hero–as we’ll see, this deck leans into his agility and Spider-Sense to allow him to avoid harm. Speaking of Spider-Sense, that’s his printed ability; it allows him to draw a card when a villain attacks him. This is a really solid ability: card draw is always good, and I like that this is pretty much always going to happen in the villain phase, after you’ve already drawn up to your full hand size–any cards drawn from this will go beyond your regular limit. It also doesn’t have a hard limit, so if for whatever reason you get attacked twice, you can draw both times.
As befitting an inventor, Spider-Man has a decent amount of upgrades–two copies each of all three of the cards I’m about to cover. The first is the Spider-Tracer, a 1-cost card that is attached to a minion. When that minion is defeated, you can remove 3 Threat from a scheme. While the usefulness of this card can vary depending on who you’re fighting (some villains don’t have a lot of minions, others have tons), at root it’s a cheap card that brings some much-needed Thwart capabilities to the deck. Plus, it’s a classic Spidey gadget!
Speaking of classic gadgets, next up is the Web-Shooter. Another 1-cost upgrade, the Web-Shooter enters play with 3 counters on it. You can exhaust it and remove a counter to generate a Wild resource. Like I said earlier, I love ways to generate resources, but I’m a little conflicted about this one. It’s useful, for sure, but there are a lot of other cards out there with similar effects that aren’t limited-use like this one. That said, I’m a sucker for mechanics that tie into narrative, and making the Web-Shooters able to run out of web is comics-accurate, which I love.
Finally, there’s my favorite of Peter’s upgrades: Webbed Up. Like Spider-Tracer, this one doesn’t go on Spidey, but an enemy. When that enemy would attack next, they discard Webbed Up instead before gaining the Stunned condition. Essentially, this acts as a double Stun, which is phenomenal and well worth the 4 resources it costs.
Allies & Supports
As has become the norm, Peter only has one ally and one support. His ally is Black Cat, a 2-cost card with 1 Thwart, 1 Attack, and 2 hit points. After you play her, you have to discard the top two cards of your deck, but you can add each card with a printed Science resource that you discarded to your hand. It’s a neat little nod to her status as a thief, but also, I’m not a big fan of discard effects like that. The real benefit to having Cat, though, is that she doesn’t take reciprocal damage when attacking, so she has the potential to live a lot longer than most allies.
Peter’s lone support is, of course, his dear Aunt May: a 1-cost card that can be exhausted when in alter-ego form to heal 4 damage from Peter Parker. That boosts Pete’s potential heals to a whopping 7 per turn! That’s bananas! It’s also the perfect effect for sweet Aunt May. I love everything about this card, thematically and mechanically.
Spider-Man has three different events in his deck, and they’re all pretty solid. The first is Backflip, a 0-cost card with an incredible effect: it prevents all damage from an attack. Yes, for real–all of it. Got an angry, charging, late-game Rhino with an enhanced horn? No worries! Toss out a free Backflip and you’re good to go!
Similarly excellent is Enhanced Spider-Sense, which allows you to cancel the effects of a treachery card from the encounter deck for the low, low price of 1 resource! There are some nasty encounter cards out there, and the ability to completely shut down, say, Shadow of the Past, is invaluable!
Finally, there’s Swinging Web Kick, a 3-cost event that deals 8 damage to an enemy. You’ve got to love a good high-damage attack every now and again, and Swinging Web Kick delivers. It’s simple, it’s effective, and fits Spidey’s skillset!
Nemesis & Obligation
Peter’s Obligation is called Eviction Notice, and it’s… pretty much the same as every other Obligation: either exhaust in alter-ego, or discard a random card, draw another encounter card, and discard the card. If you can choose, the latter is always preferable! Of course, for the first time, we’re dealing with a character who is actually decent at defense, so there’s a better chance that you might not be able to exhaust. If so, oof, that’s rough!
His Nemesis is the Vulture (an excellent choice, given that he’s the first real villain Spidey faced). Vulture has 1 Scheme, 3 Attack, and 4 hit points, making him a decently powerful minion. He also has Quickstrike, allowing him to attack as soon as he enters play. His side scheme, Highway Robbery is pretty brutal: it has Threat equal to three times the number of players, adds an acceleration token to the main scheme, and forces each player to place a random card underneath it until it’s been taken care of. A nasty effect, but I love that it ties into Vulture’s thieving roots! Vulture also adds Sweeping Swoop to the encounter deck, which stuns your hero and gains surge if Vulture is in play; if it’s drawn as a boost on an attack that deals damage, it stuns you, too. He also brings in The Vulture’s Plans. When this treachery is drawn, every player must discard a card at random, and a Threat is placed on the main scheme for each different resource type discarded that way. That’s… that’s just rude.
Initially, I would’ve paired Spider-Man with Aggression (to back up his Swinging Web Kick with even more damage) or maybe Justice (to shore up his lackluster Thwart). However, now that there’s a better selection of Protection cards, I think I’d run him with that Aspect and just make him untouchable.
Spider-Man is great at avoiding damage, either by avoiding hits altogether or getting his enemies too Webbed Up to strike at all. He’s also good for the occasional big hit. All of that feels in line with his penchant for dodging around and wearing his enemies down before taking them out with his spider-strength, and his nifty gadgets are a nice touch, too. Once again, I’m floored by how on-point the themes are in this deck!
That wraps up all the core box heroes, so next time we’ll move on to the hero packs that Fantasy Flight has been steadily releasing over the past year. I can’t wait!