Marvel Champions: Captain America Breakdown

With the Marvel Champions core set behind us, it’s time to move on to the Hero Packs! The first of these to be released was Captain America, one of the greatest heroes in the entire Marvel universe. Let’s take a peek at his cards, shall we?

Again, this post is only going to cover Cap’s fifteen-card unique deck, with a focus on how well the deck capture the feeling of being Captain America. Look elsewhere for tips on how to actually build a Cap deck!

The Hero
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Captain America is a terrifically well-rounded hero with no weak points in his stats. He’s got a solid 11 hit points and the usual hand sizes (6 in alter-ego, 5 in hero). On the Steve Rogers side he has 3 Recovery and a pair of solid abilities. The first of these is that during setup, you can search for the Captain America’s Shield upgrade and add it to your hand, meaning you’re always guaranteed to start with one of your key cards. The second ability is called Living Legend, and it reduces the cost of the first ally you play each round by 1. I like this ability a lot from a thematic standpoint–it’s a mechanical way of representing Steve’s inspiring speeches and ability to sway people to his cause.

Flipping over to Captain America, we’ve got 2s across the board; like I said, no real weaknesses here. He’s also got an ability called “I Can Do This All Day!” that allows you to discard a card to ready him once per round. That means that most of the time, you’re going to be able to get two actions out of him, which is fantastic.

Upgrades
Captain America doesn’t have a ton of upgrades, but the ones he has are all rock-solid. We’ll start with Captain America’s Helmet, 1-cost upgrade that has a simple effect: when Captain America would be defeated, set him to 1 hit point instead, then discard Captain America’s Helmet. I love the way this increases his durability and allows him to tank a really big hit; it’s not a super flashy card, but I’ve absolutely played games where it made the difference for our Cap player.

Next is the iconic Captain America’s Shield, which grants you +1 Defense and Retaliate 1 (meaning you deal one damage to any enemy that attacks you) for the low cost of 1 resource. Can’t complain about that, eh? The extra Defense gives you an impressive 3 total, and when you factor in the Retaliate and the ability to ready back up with “I Can Do This All Day!”, Steve becomes an excellent defensive character.

Finally, he’s got two copies of Super-Soldier Serum, a 2-cost upgrade that can be exhausted to generate a Physical resource. I love resource generation cards because the more free resources you get, the more cards you get to play instead of discarding; the fact that Steve gets two of these makes him a lot more versatile.

Allies & Supports
As per usual, Cap is working with one ally and one support. The ally is Agent 13, also known as Sharon Carter. I was a little bit surprised that he didn’t get Bucky or the Falcon as his iconic ally, but Agent 13 is a great choice too! She’s a great ally for handling threat, as befits a super-spy. For a cost of 3, she has 3 hit points, 2 Thwart, and 1 Attack, plus when she comes into play you can immediately remove 2 Threat from a scheme. Good stuff!

For support, Cap has Steve’s Apartment. Clocking in at 1 resource, Steve’s Apartment can be exhausted when in alter-ego to draw a card and heal a damage. Card draw and extra healing are both invaluable, as they can help you get back in the fight faster and with better options to boot, so this is a really great support; it’s just kind of a shame that they couldn’t find a more iconic locale than “a regular apartment.”

Events
Steve has some solid events in his deck. First off is Fearless Determination, a 0-cost card that gives you +1 Thwart until the end of the phase and allows you to draw a card–so, basically, it’s a free Thwart bonus, which raises your Thwart to at least 3 for the round. Hell yeah!

A bit pricier is the 3-cost Heroic Strike, which deals 6 damage to an enemy and, if paid for with a Physical resource (like, say, one generated from Super-Soldier Serum), stuns the enemy as well. A strong card that is very fitting for Captain America.

Next up is Shield Block, another 0-cost card that allows you to exhaust Captain America’s Shield in order to prevent any amount of damage. Another great defensive option! I love how much damage Steve can soak up, and how well his classic shield is integrated into his abilities.

Speaking of the shield, our last event card is the 0-cost Shield Toss. This one has you discard X cards and return Captain America’s Shield to your hand in order to deal 4 damage to X enemies. It’s very flavorful and potentially very powerful–you could theoretically wipe out a handful of minions and also deal a decent blow to the villain with this card. Plus, I dig that it only returns the Shield to your hand instead of discarding it. This is one my favorite cards in Cap’s deck because it finds a really interesting and unique way to represent one of the character’s signature attacks within the rules of the card game.

Nemesis & Obligation
Steve’s Obligation is Man Out of Time. You’ve got the usual option to exhaust yourself in alter-ego to remove the card from the game, or you can discard half the cards in your hand and discard the Obligation. This is actually not as rough a choice as some of the others, I think, though it could certainly be devastating if it came up at the wrong time.

The Captain’s Nemesis is not, as one might suspect, Red Skull. Instead, it’s the also-appropriate Baron Zemo. Zemo himself is a nasty minion with 1 Scheme, 3 Attack, 5 hit points, and Quickstrike (meaning he attacks as soon as he enters play). Worst of all, when he’s engaged with you, you can’t Thwart. His side scheme, Hit Squad, has Threat on it equal to three times the number of players and adds an acceleration token to the main scheme. Not only that, when it’s revealed each player discards the top card of the encounter deck and takes a damage for each boost icon revealed that way; since this card comes into play at the same time as Zemo himself, there’s potential for Cap to take a ton of damage when his Nemesis activates. Zemo’s deck also includes a few Hydra Soldiers, minions with 1 Scheme, 2 Attack, 4 hit points, and the Guard tag (which prevents players engaged with them from attacking the villain). Oh, and when these guys are defeated, the engaged player has to draw an encounter card! Yikes. There’s also Hail Hydra! When this card is revealed, each Hydra minion engaged with a hero immediately attacks. If you weren’t attacked, you have to search the encounter deck and discard pile for a Hydra minion and put into play. This is a rough card no matter what, but it’s absolutely diabolical if you’re playing against, say, the Legions of Hydra modular encounter deck.

Conclusion
Captain America came bundled with the Leadership Aspect, and while I think you could make a strong case for the Protection aspect at this point, it would just feel weird to me to play him with something other than Leadership. I mean, he’s Captain America! Leader of the Avengers! Of course he should focus on Leadership (plus, that Aspect is all about allies, and Steve’s got an ability that makes those better).

Captain America might seem like a pretty straightforward hero on the face of it–he doesn’t even really have superpowers, just ‘peak human abilities.’ Despite that, this game has found a way to make him very mechanically interesting. The shield-based cards are excellent, giving him lots of defensive potential on top of awesome attacks like Shield Toss. He’s widely considered a top-tier hero in Marvel Champions, and it’s easy to see why: great upgrades, powerful low-cost cards, and fun mechanics!

Next time, we’ll be taking a look at the second hero pack to be released: Ms. Marvel! Her deck is a little weird but very interesting, so don’t miss it!

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