I love the X-Men. They are, by far, my favorite superheroes. I also love Marvel Champions, which over the past year has become perhaps my favorite card game. Naturally, then, I’m eagerly awaiting the day that X-Men decks start hitting shelves. That day is probably a long way off, but hey, a guy can dream!
The release structure of Champions starts with a campaign box, followed by four individual hero packs (and often, but not always, one scenario pack). Campaign boxes feature two heroes and five scenarios. That means that, when it’s time for X-Men to enter the fray, we can realistically expect to get six heroes and six villains. The question is: which ones? X-Men is an expansive property with tons of characters.
Let’s start with the campaign box. This is going to kick off the line, and feature the bulk of its villains. While there are some great X-Men baddies that could carry a box, I feel like the choice is pretty obvious the first time out: this box needs to center on Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
Magneto is the iconic X-villain (even if he’s spent a fair amount of time as a hero, too). Plus, the Brotherhood sets up a great series of scenarios for a campaign! You can start with Toad in Scenario 1–not a serious threat, easing you into the campaign. After you’ve bested him, move up the ladder to Pyro for a more intense fight. The midpoint could be Mystique, whose shape-shifting powers could make her hard to target–maybe she could disguise herself as other characters, making her hard to target with attacks. Scenario 4 could be a grueling bout with the Juggernaut, who I see as being a mix between Rhino’s physicality and the Collector’s non-standard game-design: you can’t physically stop the Juggernaut with damage, you’ve got to figure out a way to separate him from the Gem of Cyttorak (while weathering his deadly blows). Finally, the campaign caps off with the Master of Magnetism! I don’t know what that fight would be like, but it’s guaranteed to be a doozy.
As for heroes, I think there’s one that we’re pretty much guaranteed to see in the X-Men’s introductory box: Wolverine. As one of the most popular characters in Marvel’s entire catalogue, I feel like it’s an easy call for Fantasy Flight to put him in the box, since then Logan fans will have to shell out for the whole campaign set instead of just a cheap hero pack.
What about the second hero, though? There are a lot of interesting possibilities there. Cyclops seems like a long-shot to me, since so far team leaders have come out after their respective boxes (Captain America was the first hero released after the core set, and Star-Lord is hitting after Galaxy’s Most Wanted). If that trend holds true, it seems like Scott is probably destined for a post-campaign box hero pack. So who will we get instead?
Jean Grey is a possibility, but I sort of feel like she’s too big–they’ve already got Wolverine driving sales, why stick the highly popular Jean in there too when she could move her own hero pack instead? I’d lean toward someone who is still recognizable, but perhaps a little less exciting–maybe somebody like Beast or Colossus. That’s not to say that these characters aren’t great, but they’re both very physical; I could see them struggling to sell as many hero packs, just based on the idea that their powers aren’t as ‘interesting’ as some of the flashier X-Men.
Alright, so lets posit this: Wolverine and Colossus are in the box together (and each of their pre-built decks will have a team-up move for Fastball Special). The campaign focuses on Magneto and the Brotherhood. Cyclops is the first hero pack, followed by Jean Grey–because you sort of have to get those two in the game. That leaves two slots for heroes and one for a villain. Who else do we get?
Hero-wise, it’d be downright silly not to bring in Storm. She’s popular, she’s badass, she led the X-Men for years, and her powers are well-suited to a card game like this. For the last hero slot, I’m tempted to say they’d throw a curveball; this game likes to toss out the occasional obscure character to keep us on our toes. Someone like Dazzler or Longshot would be a fun pick, I think. However, I’m more inclined to think the last choice will be someone a bit more conventional, like Rogue or Gambit. I’d love to see Rogue, because I think there’s potential for some fascinating mechanics there, but Gambit seems a little more straightforward and is massively popular, so I think he’s the more likely choice.
As for the villain scenario, there are endless options. My vote would go to Sentinels, though. Make the core villain Bolivar Trask or Nimrod or Master Mold or something, toss in a modular set full of Sentinel minions, and call it a day!
Although X-Men aren’t coming to Champions any time soon, I can’t wait for the day they do. When that day finally comes, I’ll be very curious to see if I was anywhere close with this speculation!