So, you’re interested in exploring the Marvel universe through the Marvel Champions LCG (aka Marvel Champions the Card Game) and deciding what that means in terms of all the product types – Core Sets, Hero Packs, Scenario Packs, and Campaign Expansions. Keep reading our Marvel Champions Buyer’s Guide, we’ve got you covered.
How many Marvel Champions Core Sets do I need?
You will only need one Core Set for a ~full playset (with caveat below)! This is a big change for FFG, and a welcome one. Every Core Set has 350 total cards with four fully playable decks, and a fifth hero that can be swapped in – so up to four heroes can be played at the same time, and there is a total of five playable heroes in the Core Set.
Caveat: There are eleven Neutral cards that can be used regardless of the Aspect of your deck. There are four of each of those Neutral cards. So, if you have four players, technically all four of those players might want to run the maximum three copies of each of those cards. To do so, you would need twelve copies of every Neutral card (3 Core Sets), not one. But stick with us, this isn’t a real problem, and you should not buy four Core Sets to accommodate this.
Most importantly, five of those Neutral cards are necessarily “one per deck”, so that won’t be an issue. That leaves six cards. Two of those cards are limited to “one per player” – so it’s quite reasonable to just have one copy in the deck. Which leaves us with just four Neutral cards that you might want to run multiples of in a four-playergame (remember, this is FOUR players we’re covering with one Core Set). Those cards are simply not meaningful enough to warrant an additional Core Set purchase. They slot pretty obviously into certain aspects/heroes, so sharing them won’t be a problem.
And remember, there’s no advantage to having additional copies of the Encounter Deck set of cards, so all the more reason to just stick to one.
The Core Set is the ideal place to start for everyone, whether you’re playing solo or with a group of 2, 3, or 4 players. If you split the cost and buy one from us at the standard 20% off, that’s $11.99 per player – and you get our exclusive strategy guide. This is the cheapest LCG by a long shot, especially when you’re splitting across a group.
For some groups, players will all prefer to buy their own Core Set – and that’s just fine too. In that case, none of the above really matters. Everyone gets the Core Set and then brings whatever deck they want to the table (just remember you can’t play the same hero). This strategy does open up some very cool setups, like a team that is all Leadership, or a team that is two Aggression and two Protection decks. That is the advantage of not splitting the Core. It’s a matter of budget v. potential, as it usually is.
However you get the Core Set cards in your hands, the first thing you should do is play the game and, presumably, greatly enjoy it. If it gives you the spark and you realize that you’re “in” for the long haul, the next question is – what to buy next?
What are Marvel Champions LCG Hero Packs?
Hero Packs are the main unit of distribution for new Heroes and aspect cards. Each contains a new iconic hero (the first Hero Pack is Captain America), a fully playable deck built with a single aspect (for the Captain America pack, it’s a Leadership deck), and a playset of cards for each of the other aspects (for the Captain America pack, that means three copies of one new card for Justice, Aggression, Protection, and Neutral).
This means that Hero Packs serve two functions.
- If you want to start playing Marvel Champions and you’re joining a pre-existing group, you can choose your favorite Hero Pack, buy it for ~$15, and start playing immediately. Every Hero Pack acts as a pre-build Starter deck; so even if you’re getting in three years after release, just buy a Hero Pack and you’re good to join in.
- All Hero Packs contain a majority of new Hero cards (and sometimes a few reprints) from every aspect, so buying Hero Packs is the way you build your pool of available cards for every Hero. Dedicated players will buy every Hero Pack so that when they decide to build a new deck, they have every card available from every Aspect.
You can buy these Hero Packs in the usual ways – both online and locally at a store supporting the game. We imagine that the latter might have a wall of every available Hero. That’s what we plan to do.
We also have a Hero Pack Subscription available online if you want us to send you every new Hero Pack automatically, as soon as it releases. We’re confident in saying it’s the best way to get these packs online if don’t want to worry about pre-orders and release dates.
But of course, the game wouldn’t be much if we just ran the same scenarios over and over with different Heroes. Enter the new Villains and Schemes found in a Scenario Pack!
What are Marvel Champions LCG Scenario Packs?
Scenario Packs are the primary way that new Villains and Schemes (the combination of which is known as a “scenario) are introduced to the game. Because each one contains a plethora of new encounter cards, buying a Scenario Pack gives you a number of new challenges and narratives to explore – extending the replayability of the game and further challenging you during Hero deckbuilding.
As you might expect, we have a Pack Subscription for Scenarios, too.
What are Marvel Champions LCG Campaign Expansions?
So far, we do not know the details, but we’ve gathered that they’re bigger, thematic boxes that feature significant story arcs. We’re guessing there might be an Avengers Campaign Expansion, X-Men Campaign Expansion, Guardians of the Galaxy Campaign Expansion, etc. Could be totally wrong, but that makes the most sense! Or they could be more like Infinity War Campaign Expansion, like the Saga Expansions from Lord of the Rings.
There’s a lot of speculation about whether or not the Campaign Expansions will add actual “campaign” play, where you go from scenario to scenario in a more extended gameplay session – like in Arkham Horror: the Card Game. Technically Heroes could level up, swap in different cards, change their stats…who knows. Either way, it’s a product type we’re tremendously excited about.
And yes, though we don’t know the contents, we already have a subscription up for that too!
What is the release schedule for Hero Packs, Villain Packs, and Campaign Expansions?
We’re expecting to get one release every month. That might be a Scenario Pack, then a Hero Pack, then another Hero Pack, then a Scenario Pack, and then a Campaign Expansions. Or it might be a Scenario Pack, then another Scenario Pack, then four months of Hero Packs, and then a Campaign Expansion. It’s unlikely to be “set in stone” in any capacity aside from “one release every month”.
And based on precedent, 1-2 Campaign Expansions per year is a reasonable expectation.
So, then, what do I need to buy for Marvel Champions?
If you are playing solo, buy a Core Set. If you are playing with a new group, buy a Core Set and consider splitting it among the group. If you’re joining an already-established group, decide what Hero you want to play. If that Hero is available in a Hero Pack, buy that Hero Pack. If that Hero is available in the Core Set, buy a Core Set or ask if you can borrow.
If you want all possible deck-building options, buy every Hero Pack. If you don’t mind having limited options or are on a tighter budget, only buy a Hero Pack if you love the included hero.
If you want to be able to play against every possible scenario and have the maximum amount of replayability, buy every Scenario Pack. If you’re part of a group, consider splitting the cost or having a rotation on who picks up the next Scenario Pack for the group to play against.
We’re unable to advise much on Campaign Expansions since they’re still a mystery, but assuming they’re a combination of a Hero Pack and Villain Pack with a little spice added in, just smash together the advice above.
What accessories will upgrade my Marvel Champions Core Set?
Cards are an investment, so it is worthwhile to protect them – especially when doing so also enhances the quality of every game! These accessory purchases might be right after buying a Core Set or after you dive a little bit deeper into the game. Either way, you will want to get card sleeves, a playmat, one or more deck boxes, and maybe upgrade your cardboard tokens!
Playmats: There’s a multitude of options for playmats, as they are essentially the currency of card games. Often given out as prizes, used as promotional incentives, or utilized as a canvas for great artists, it is easy (and a lot of fun) to find the perfect playmat. Fantasy Flight Games has character-themed playmats available. The 4-player mat is quite small, as you can see in our livestream, so don’t count on it covering your entire playgroup. You can always do a quick Google search for “Marvel Champions Playmats”, or head to an official printer like Inked Gaming to browse their collection or upload an image of your own.
Card Sleeves: We use two kinds of card sleeves based on 20+ years of in-game testing – Matte Dragon Shields and Ultimate Guard Katanas. Katanas have a very slight edge in quality (both brands are top of the line), but Dragon Shields are often favored because the sleeve box is big enough to hold a sleeved deck (basically becoming a deck box after you remove the sleeves). You can buy both types from our store in various colors, or pick up our Champions Accessories Bundle that comes with all the sleeves and Aspect-colored deckboxes you need to protect your Core Set.
Deckboxes: It is a box to hold your deck of cards, and while that may seem pretty simple, there’s a myriad of options. The cheapest and most common choice is the Ultra Pro Deckbox, but high-end options like the Dex Pro are also available. You can buy the former from our store for $2 a piece.
Marvel Champions Tokens: You can track everything you need with the cardboard tokens from the Core Set. But, if your approach to games is similar to ours, you’ll probably feel that something is missing. We always enjoy bringing upgraded, non-cardboard components to a game, but this is especially true with Champions using dials. The dials v tokens debate is a good one – so much so that we recorded an entire podcast about it.
In pursuit of the ideal Marvel Champions experience, we created our Cosmic Tokens. These tokens remove dials from the game and add a ton of story elements to essentially create a living comic book on the tabletop. The Hero Cosmic Token Set covers everything needed for your heroes, including allies and the minions, while the Villain Cosmic Token Set covers the villain, main scheme, side schemes, and anything else happening on the middle of the board.
To take the entire experience to the next level, we addedCosmic Boards to beautifully house and clearly raise the heroes, villains, and main plot elements right off the table. They keep the focus where it needs to be and complete the comic book layout that inspired the entire set.
There are other sets out there too, and generally they just replace the stock tokens with acrylic versions of the same or similar designs. If you’re on a strict budget and not as interested in a holistic token system, the options are out there.
Fantasy Flight Games has done a notably good job in this iteration of the LCG (living card game) format, solving many problems that have grown increasingly off-putting since its debut in 2012. Most significantly, new player entry is vastly improved, the Core Set is a “just buy one” product, and the entire line is impressively modular. By these measures, it’s far and away the best living card game to date.
You can craft your experience to match any taste and/or budget, so do not be afraid to dive in and explore. We’re convinced it’ll be worth the time and money you put into it!
If you’re looking to do the latter, we have a fully stocked local and online store, both of which feature our exclusive 8-years-running subscription service.