Let’s wrap up the Rise of Red Skull heroes by taking a gander at everyone’s favorite arachnid-themed super-spy, Spider-Woman! I’m a big fan of Jessica Drew, and she brings some very unique mechanics to the table in Marvel Champions.
As a reminder, these breakdowns are mostly about how well the character’s unique cards fit their theme. I’m not going to talk much about deck-building or strategy.
Spider-Woman immediately sets herself apart from other heroes by having a very interesting hero card. She has a respectable 11 Hit Points, and the standard hand size split of 6 cards in alter-ego and 5 in hero mode. She also has an average 3 Recovery; with all that in mind, you might wonder what makes her stand out. It’s her character ability, Double Agent: you choose two Aspects instead of one when deck-building and must include an equal number of cards from both aspects in you deck. This is the first major shakeup to the deck-building rules in Champions, and it makes Jessica a fascinating character to build. Oh, and she can also look at the top card of any deck as an action once per round–I like how that connects to the idea of her being a talented spy.
Flipping over to Jess’s hero side, we see a lackluster set of stats: straight 1s in Thwart, Attack, and Defense. Luckily, she’s got Superhuman Agility, an ability that gives her +1 to each stat until the end of the round the first time you play a card of a new aspect. In other words, the first time you play an Aggression card in a round, you get +1 to everything. Then, if you play a Justice card, you get another +1, putting all your stats at 3. However, if you play another Aggression card, you don’t get another bonus. If you can manage to play one card of each aspect on your turn (which is possible thanks to her very unique deck), you can have a whopping 5 in every stat for one round!
Spider-Woman’s deck only features one upgrade: the 2-cost Finesse, which can be exhausted to generate a resource for an Aspect card. I normally chafe at the restrictions on resource generators like this, but this one’s not bad; ‘Aspect cards’ is broad category, so you’ll still be able to get that resource most of the time. Plus, there are two copies of Finesse in the deck for double the resources!
Allies & Supports
In the grand tradition of Marvel Champions heroes, Spider-Woman has one ally and one support. Her ally is Captain Marvel, who costs 4 resources but has 2 Thwart, 2 Attack, and 3 Hit Points–good stats for an ally! She also lets you draw a card after she uses a basic ability, which is flat-out incredible. I also love that she’s Spider-Woman’s iconic ally, given their close friendship in the comics.
Her support is a little less interesting: Jessica Drew’s Apartment. I know it’s unavoidable sometimes, but these “Character’s Apartment” supports always feel so lame to me in terms of theme. At least the card is useful: it’s only 1 resource, and it can be exhausted when you’re in alter-ego to search the top five cards of your deck for an Aspect card and add it to your hand. Again, since most of your cards are going to be Aspect cards, this is pretty useful!
Events make up the bulk of Jessica’s deck, and most of them are kind of special. Of the five different events available, four of them are considered Aspect cards–highly unusual for a hero’s unique cards! There’s one event for each of the different Aspects; each of these Aspect events has two copies.
The Aggression event is Venom Blast, a 2-cost card that deals 5 damage to an enemy. Simple, but effective, and one of Spider-Woman’s signature powers!
For Leadership, there’s the 2-cost Pheromones. Another classic Spider-Woman power, Pheromones is a useful card that both Stuns and Confuses an enemy. Nice!
The 2-cost Contaminant Immunity is the Protection event. It heals Jessica for 3 and gives her a Tough status, which is always handy. Both this and Pheromones are a little bit weaker now thanks to new rules like Stalwart (prevents Stun and Confusion on villains) and Piercing (which ignores Tough), but they’re still useful for most villains; besides, they’re cheap and trigger Superhuman Agility.
Finally, Justice gets a 1-cost event called Inconspicuous. It allows you to remove 3 Threat from among schemes in play. I love the flexibility, and 3 Threat for 1 resource is a good deal!
The final event–and the only one without an Aspect–is Self-Propelled Glide. For 1 resource, this allows you to ready up Spider-Woman and give her the Aerial trait. Readying up is always good, and this is a cheap way to do it. There’s still not a ton to do with the Aerial trait, but hey, it doesn’t hurt, right?
Nemesis & Obligation
Jessica’s Obligation is Uncertain Loyalties, which features the classic “exhaust to get rid of it” option; the alternative is to place 3 Threat on the main scheme to discard it. That’s not terrible, usually. Also, the card art has the weird original Spider-Woman costume with a fully enclosed cowl, which I dig. I mean, I don’t like the costume, but I like that it’s on this card, since she wore it while she was spying on SHIELD for Hydra.
Her Nemesis is the Hydra agent Viper, who has a fierce 2 Scheme and 2 Attack on top of 5 Hit Points. While she’s engaged with you, you reduce your hand size by 1–ouch! Her side scheme, The Viper’s Ambition, adds an encounter card to the encounter phase, which, you know… isn’t great, but isn’t terrible, either. She also adds two Hydra Regulars to the encounter deck; these minions have 1 Scheme and 2 Attack, plus 2 Hit Points and Incite 1 (meaning they add Threat to the main scheme when revealed). Finally, she adds the Hail Hydra Treachery. When it’s revealed, each Hydra minion attacks the hero it’s engaged with. Any heroes who aren’t engaged with a minion has to search for one and engage.
Spider-Woman is a very cool, very unique character that I… am not that interested in playing, personally! As I’ve said many times in these articles, I’m not great at deck-building, and all the things that make Spider-Woman fascinating are related to her deck-building abilities. That said, I think Superhuman Agility is a fun ability to play with, and in general she’s only going to get more useful as the card pool grows and new inter-Aspect combos are discovered.