Marvel Champions: Black Widow Breakdown

Look, it’s a new Marvel Champions breakdown! See, I told you I was going to talk about Black Widow this week. She plays a fair bit differently than the other characters available, which is always fun, so let’s dive right in!

As a reminder: these posts only look at the character’s unique fifteen-card deck. I won’t be talking about deck-building strategies or anything (because I’m bad at building decks).

The Hero
We’ll start, as always, with our hero. Black Widow has the usual hand sizes of 6 in alter-ego and 5 in hero, but she only packs 9 hit points–definitely the lower end of that spectrum (which makes sense, given that she’s a ‘regular’ person, insofar as she doesn’t have explicit superpowers). Her alter-ego form is Natasha Romanoff, which features a pretty basic 3 Recovery. She also has an ability called Mission Prep, which allows her to draw a card after playing a preparation card. That’s the interesting thing about Widow: she has an emphasis on these preparation cards, letting her build a huge board that prepares her for pretty much any situation.

Flipping over to her hero side, she features an impressive set of stats: straight 2s for Thwart, Attack, and Defense! Her ability, Widowmaker, allows her to deal 1 damage to an enemy after triggering a preparation card. A valuable ability, considering how often you’ll be using those!

Black Widow packs a whopping nine upgrades in her deck, most of which are–you guessed it–preparations! The first of these is the cleverly named Attacrobatics. This 1-cost preparation can be discarded when a boost card is flipped; doing so cancels the boost icons and deals 1 damage to the villain for each boost discarded that way. An excellent way to avoid big damage if you draw a nasty boost!

After that we’ve got the 1-cost Black Widow’s Gauntlet, a more traditional upgrade that can be exhausted to generate a Wild resource for a preparation card. As with similar resource generators in preceding decks, there are two copies of this (in fact, almost all of Widow’s upgrades get two copies). While this is certainly useful, I’m always a little disappointed when the resource is limited to a certain card type. At least these are super cheap to get out, though.

Grappling Hook is up next. This preparation costs 2 resources, but can be discarded when a treachery is revealed to cancel that treachery and discard. This is maybe the most useful preparation in Natasha’s deck; getting rid of something like Shadows of the Past, for a mere 2 resources? Yes please!

The most expensive upgrade here, clocking in at 3 resources, is the Synth-Suit (this is also the only single-copy upgrade in the deck). When equipped, Black Widow gets +1 Defense and can be exhausted after a preparation is triggered to ready Black Widow. This is a hugely useful card no matter how you slice it; bare minimum you’re increasing your defense, and if you’re playing to Black Widow’s strengths, you’ll be able to ready up off it consistently, too!

Last but not least is Widow’s Bite, a 1-cost preparation that can be discarded when a minion enters play to deal 2 damage to that minion. Considering that’s enough to take down some weaker minions and deal serious damage to some tougher ones, it’s well-worth the low cost!

Allies & Supports
Natasha has, as one might suspect at this point, one ally and one support. Her ally is fellow spy Winter Soldier. Bucky boasts 2 Thwart, 2 Attack, and 4 hit points; he costs 4 resources, but you can reduce his cost by 1 for each preparation card you control. That means you’ll likely be able to get him out pretty cheap, making him (potentially) highly cost-effective!

For a support, Widow’s got Safe House #29. This 1-cost card can be exhausted while in alter-ego form to choose a preparation card in your discard pile and add it to your hand. As you probably noticed earlier, preparation cards tend to make you discard them when you use them, so the Safe House is invaluable in allowing you to keep those precious preps on the field! I think that’s really smart from a flavor standpoint, too–Nat is hitting up her Safe House to get equipped with all the gear she needs.

With most of the deck’s real estate taken up by upgrades, there’s not much left for events. The two we do get are both stellar though. First is Covert Ops, a 3-cost card that removes 4 Threat from a scheme and confuses the villain–a nice one-two punch when Threat is getting out of control!

Second is my personal favorite, Dance of Death. It costs 3 resources, but it allows you to make three attacks. The first deals 1 damage; the second deals 2 damage; and the third deals 3 damage. This is great for hitting multiple targets, clearing out minions without wasting damage through overkill. Alternately, it’s nice to just slam the villain for 6 damage!

Nemesis & Obligation
Natasha’s Obligation is Burn Notice. In addition to the usual alter-ego exhaust, you can choose to discard the highest-cost preparation card you have; if you can’t, the Obligation gains Surge. This one’s not too bad, honestly, since a lot of preparations are cheap, you can get it back quickly if you have Safe House #29 out, and you might be able to just Surge into something less dire.

Her Nemesis is Taskmaster. His Scheme and Attack are equivalent to the number of upgrades you control, which could make him very nasty if you’ve got a preparation-stacked board. He’s also got a decent 4 hit points, and if he’s drawn as a boost, he upgrades the villain’s Attack and Scheme by +1 for each upgrade you control. Yikes! His side scheme, Killer For Hire, is nothing to write home about, though; it just adds an acceleration token and gains Threat equal to the number of players plus 3. Taskmaster’s other encounters consist of Hydra Mercenaries and the Deadly Shot treachery. The Mercenaries are minions with 0 Scheme, 1 Attack, 3 hit points, and Guard. Not too threatening, but a little annoying. Deadly Shot, if drawn while you’re in alter-ego, forces you to discard an upgrade and place a threat on the main scheme; if drawn while you’re in hero mode, you must instead discard an upgrade and take a damage. While Taskmaster’s encounter deck isn’t very impressive, I think the minion himself is very cool, and a great way of handling his unique ability to perfectly copy his foe’s moves.

Black Widow is an interesting hero because her turn is mostly about setting up future turns; you need to be thinking five steps ahead, which is very fitting for a super-spy like Natasha! I think Justice has the most preparation cards right now, so that’s currently the safest bet for Aspect.

While Black Widow is sort of tricky to learn, she’s immensely satisfying once you’ve figured her out. It feels great to cancel out an otherwise-brutal villain phase with a few carefully deployed preparations!

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