I feel like it’s about time for another Marvel Champions breakdown, don’t you?
This time, we’re going to be looking at the incredible, indestructible, immortal Hulk! Full disclosure, though: he’s not totally awesome. I’ll be up front here: I don’t really care for Hulk in this game (and, judging by Reddit, I’m not alone in that). Still, he’s next up in release order, so let’s take a peek.
Remember, these articles only cover the fifteen cards in Hulk’s unique deck, without looking into Aspect cards. I’m no good at deck-building, so look for that advice elsewhere!
Let’s take a gander at our hero. This is the classic Bruce Banner version of the Hulk (see, I told you he wasn’t totally awesome). Looking at the alter-ego side, we can already see that he’s a bit unusual, sporting a hand size of 5 and an astonishing 18 Hit Points. Damn! Plus, he’s got a meaty 4 Recovery, making him a relatively fast healer. His alter-ego ability is Experimental Research, which allows you to draw a card and then discard a card from your hand once per round. Pretty useful, though not amazing.
Flipping over to our “hero” side (in quotes because, well, this is Hulk we’re talking about), you might be able to see why I’m not a huge fan of the character. He’s got 0 Thwart. Yikes! He does come with 3 Attack and 3 Defense, though, which is quite nice. A low hand size of 4 is a bit of a turn-off. It’s his ability that really sours me on him, though: Enraged. At the end of your turn, you have to throw away your entire hand… making it pretty much impossible to plan for future turns. Is it extremely thematic and an interesting gameplay choice for everyone’s favorite rage-monster? Yes. Is it super fun in practice? Not really.
Hulk has only two upgrades. The first is a 1-cost upgrade called Boundless Rage, which gives Hulk +1 Attack… but must be discarded when you change forms. I feel the same way about this as I do the Enraged ability: sure, it makes sense… but it’s not very fun to throw away an upgrade, especially when there’s only one copy of this one in the deck and it’s fairly vital to the character.
His second upgrade, Immovable Object, is much better. For 3 resources, you gain +4 Hit Points and Retaliate 1–both solid improvements, and permanent, too. With this, you hit 22 Hit Points, and that’s just wild!
Allies & Supports
Rather understandably, Hulk has no allies in his base deck (not even Rick Jones. That’s cold, Rick). He does have one support, though: Banner’s Laboratory. This 2-cost support gives Banner +2 Recovery, bringing that total up to 6 and ensuring that you won’t ever need to stay in alter-ego for long. While in alter-ego, you can exhaust the lab to gain a Science resource. Again, I like this thematically, but in practice… when are you going to use that? You aren’t in alter-ego very much, and when you are, you don’t need many resources because most of Hulk’s cards are hero-only events. At least the buff to Recovery is helpful, I guess.
Events & Resources
Events make up the bulk of Hulk’s deck, starting with the 1-cost Crushing Blow. It’s a simple card that deals damage to an enemy equal to your Attack. The catch is that it can only be paid for with Strength resources, but almost all of Hulk’s cards feature Strength resources, so that’s not too big a deal (unless your Aspect cards really hinder you in that arena, I suppose).
Next we have Hulk Smash, for 3 resources. This is an interrupt event that adds +10 Attack to a basic attack, which is absolutely devastating; if it’s paid for with exclusively Strength resources (which, again, shouldn’t be too tough), it gains Overkill. This card is awesome, but the problem is that it costs so much–you’re going to have to throw away your whole hand to use it (unless you have some resource cards handy).
Sub-Orbital Leap is up next. Another 3-cost card, this one allows you to remove 3 Threat from a scheme, or 5 instead if paid for with only Strength resources. This is basically Hulk’s only way to Thwart outside of Aspect cards, and again, it requires throwing away your entire hand, which I just don’t care for.
Thunderclap costs 3 resources, too, and allows you to deal 3 damage to three different enemies. Good for clearing out minions, sure, but again–goodbye hand! And yeah, okay, I know, you have to throw out your hand anyway at the end of the turn… but still, it feels like a drag to me that you basically only ever get to play a single card on a Hulk turn.
The final event is Unstoppable Force, which costs 2 resources. It allows you to ready Hulk and, if paid for with only Strength resources, draw a card. I like this one, actually! Pretty good. I love being able to ready a hero, and this is cheap and allows you to draw up and maybe fire off another card that round.
Finally, Hulk has two copies of a special resource: Limitless Strength. This grants a snazzy 3 Strength resources, but can only be played in hero mode (not really an issue here). This is great, since it lets you pop off a Sub-Orbital Leap or Hulk Smash without getting rid of your whole hand! Granted, that’s not necessarily that useful when you only have a hand size of 4; after discarding the resource and playing the event, you’ll only have two cards left, and odds aren’t great that one of them will only cost 1 resource.
Nemesis & Obligation
For all the grief I’ve given Hulk, I actually really like his Obligation, Inner Demons. First off, it allows you to flip regardless of which mode you’re in, so you can switch to either Hulk or Banner. Then, if you’re Banner, you discard 2 cards, and if you’re Hulk, you exhaust your hero. Either way, you then discard the Obligation–there’s no way to permanently remove it from the game. This is very thematic but still not intensely punishing, which I really appreciate.
Hulk’s Nemesis is Abomination, who has a nasty 6 Hit Points, 2 Scheme, and 3 Attack. Worse, after he attacks you, you have to discard the top card of your deck; if a Strength resource is discarded (which is pretty likely), you’ll take an extra 2 damage. Abomination’s side scheme is Total Destruction, which has Threat equal to double the number of players, and that Threat can’t be removed while Abomination is in play. Luckily, all it does is add an extra encounter card to the encounter phase. It’s not ideal, but could be worse. Abomination also adds a treachery called Clash of the Titans; when it’s revealed, the enemy with the highest Attack attacks the character (either hero or ally) with the highest Attack. If there are no viable targets, the card gains surge.
Overall, Hulk is just not my style. His cards are very thematic, for sure, but I love to plan out huge turns and Hulk simply can’t do that. He’s stuck hoping he gets to do one big, cool attack, and… that’s it. There are probably Hulk decks out there that can pummel a villain into submission immediately (heck, one Hulk Smash can one-shot some villains if you’re playing solo), but that’s not a method of play that I particularly enjoy.
Hulk was the last solo hero released before the first big story box expansion, so next time we’re going to dive into Hawkeye, from the Rise of Red Skull box!