Marvel Champions Breakdown: Groot

I’m on a roll with Marvel Champions! Today, I’m going to look at one of the heroes from the Galaxy’s Most Wanted expansion box: everyone’s favorite flora colossus, Groot!

As a reminder, these breakdowns only look at a character’s 15-card unique deck, with no attention paid to Aspect cards. I’m mostly looking at flavor and how interesting the mechanics are, rather than how ‘good’ a deck is.

The Hero
Groot’ alter-ego side has the standard 6 hand size, a respectable 10 hit points, and a juicy 4 Recovery. More importantly, though, it has the Growth Spurt ability, which will define his playstyle: once per round, you can place 2 growth counters on Groot (to a maximum of 10). What are growth counters? You’ll soon find out as we flip to Groot’s hero side!

As a hero, Groot has a hand size of 5, alongside 1 Thwart, 2 Attack, and 3 Defense. He also has the Flora Colossus ability, which is a forced interrupt: when Groot would take damage, remove that number of growth counters from him instead. He’s all about spending these growth counters to soak damage and add extra effects, which we’ll get into more in a moment; I really enjoy this playstyle!

I do, however, feel like making Flora Colossus a forced interrupt instead of an optional one complicates things for Groot players. Taking some unexpected damage can burn through your growth counters quickly, ruining your next move. The constant need for growth counters also means you’ll be spending more time in alter-ego than you might like.

Upgrades
Groot’s first upgrade is Entangling Vines, and it sets the tone for the rest of his upgrades. This 1-cost card offers an interrupt effect: when making a basic Thwart, you can exhaust Entangling Vines and spend a growth counter from Groot to gain +2 Thwart. I sort of wish you didn’t have to exhaust the card as part of the payment–it’d be nice to be able to use this more than once if you have ways of readying back up, and you’d still be paying in growth counters anyway.

Next up is Lashing Vines, and speak of the devil–this 1-cost upgrade lets you ready Groot for the price of 2 growth counters (and exhausting the card)! See, wouldn’t it be nice to use Entangling Vines for a big thwart, ready up with Lashing Vines, and thwart again with Entangling Vines? You’d have to burn through 4 growth counters, sure, but I’d like to at least have the option.

Vine Shield is a 1-cost upgrade that follows the Entangling Vines formula: when defending, exhaust it and spend a growth counter to get +3 Defense. That’s certainly going to cost you fewer growth counters than taking an attack undefended!

Finally, there’s Vine Spikes, another 1-cost card. You can–you guessed it–exhaust the card and spend a growth counter to add +2 Attack to a basic attack. Again, I like this card, but I wish it didn’t exhaust; if you want to burn through a bunch of growth counters to get two big swings, why not? You can already spend a bunch of growth counters to use Entangling Vines, then Lashing Vines, then Vine Spikes–why can’t you do two Entangling Vines or two Vine Spikes instead?

Supports
Groot doesn’t have a signature ally–most of the Guardians are included in this cycle as Basic allies instead of signature ones. He does have a support card, though: the 1-cost Fertile Ground. While in alter-ego, you can exhaust Fertile Ground to gain a growth counter and draw a card. Since you need growth counters pretty much all the time (and card draw is always a good thing), this is a card you want on the field early.

Events
Groot is loaded up with events, starting with the 0-cost Fruition, which allows you to add 2 growth counters to Groot. Handy, free, and it can be used in either form! Nice!

Next up is “I Am Groot,” a 3-cost event that removes threat from a scheme equal to the number of growth counters on Groot. This can definitely come in handy if you’ve stacked up a lot of counters–you can toss it out early, wipe a big chunk of threat off the board, and then burn some growth afterwards on Entangling Vines or what have you.

Then there’s the 2-cost “I. AM. GROOT!” event, which works the same way, but for damage. Again, if you can get a bunch of growth, this card is great!

Of course, those two events are only good if you’ve got the growth for them. Root Stomp is more broadly useful. For the cost of 2 resources, Root Stomp deals 5 damage to an enemy. If that defeats the enemy, Groot gets a growth counter! A handy way to wipe out a minion and build some growth.

Finally, there’s We Are Groot, a 1-cost event. When you play it, you can remove up to 4 growth counters from Groot and give an equal number of friendly characters a Tough status card. I like this card a lot–it works great from a flavor perspective, and it’s a useful way to protect your friends if you’re expecting a nasty villain phase.

Nemesis & Obligation
Groot’s Obligation is Wilt, which can be dealt with the normal way (alter-ego exhaust) or you can remove 3 growth counters from Groot to discard it. That would be… very frustrating!

His Nemesis is Furnax, who has 2 Scheme, 2 Attack, and 6 hit points–oof. Even more oof: after Furnax activates, he deals 2 indirect damage to each player! That’s a spicy meatball! He comes with the Blazing Inferno side scheme, which is packed with 3 threat per player and deals 2 indirect damage to each player at the start of each villain phase. Really going hard on that indirect damage, huh, Furnax? It doesn’t stop there, either: this Nemesis deck is rounded out by Fan the Flames, a treachery that deals 2 indirect damage when revealed, plus an extra indirect damage when Furnax is revealed, plus another extra indirect damage if Blazing Inferno is in play.

Conclusion
I really like Groot’s growth counter mechanic, but I feel like there are some issues with it. Being forced to spend them when you take damage can play havoc with your strategy, and his event cards incentivize you to keep growth while his upgrades encourage you to spend it. You’re guaranteed to be flipping a lot to build growth up, even though you probably won’t be taking much damage. It’s a weird, interesting playstyle that just doesn’t quite click for me.

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