This excellent deck construction game recently became one of my favourite solo experiences, and this page will slowly reveal some thoughts ranking the heroes as i try them out, completely biased by my own clouded nostalgia and whether i enjoy the mechanics of playing them. I am very late in joining the party on this game and the content available is a little overwhelming.
Spider-Woman – a spy and double agent, this hero can build decks from two aspects, meaning you can create a really well balanced solo character. Her pre-built deck is justice and aggression, with Captain Marvel as her main deck ally, providing extra card draw, and her new support allies include Spiderman (justice) and Spider Girl (aggression). Her cards provide great mitigation with pheromones causing both stun and confusion to an enemy and contaminant immunity giving her toughness and healing. Low basic stats are boosted each turn by the number of different aspect cards played which always offers up decisions. I find she can really grind out epic confrontations and is a really enjoyable all round character to play.
Spiderman – my favourite comic hero it was no surprise i started playing here and his mechanics seem so cool. Playing with a pre-built justice deck providing decent thwarting to negate an apparent weakness, he is a master at mitigation and i love the way he can web an enemy into a double stun to buy time, avoid a treachery from his spider sense or backflip to prevent the full damage of an incoming attack. He can fight back with a really strong web kick attack and his deck ally is the lovely Black Cat, and I also like that the justice deck adds Daredevil as a supporting character. Generally good all round, when Spiderman backflips his way out of a huge incoming attack it feels so sweet and i love playing him.
Captain America – an avenger and one of the most iconic heroes, this was my first expansion pack. Arriving with a leadership deck, this hero is so versatile as he can ready every round by discarding a card, and has his amazing shield which can not only mitigate damage like Spiderman but can be thrown around to cause enemy damage. He also marshals the avengers by adding Falcon, Wonder Man and Squirrel Girl allies alongside Hawkeye for a strong team, and new cards in this pack utilise avengers for extra card draw or to ready for more action. His deck supporting ally is Agent 13 who is a help to mitigate threat, and if you like playing with a team of allies then this deck is great.
Black Widow – one of my favourite avengers, a great acrobatic spy who comes with a justice deck containing allies Agent Coulson and Quake. This character is all about preparation, building a responsive card board which reacts to the encounter deck reveals to minimise the villains abilities and threats. She has a great thwart remover with covert ops which also confuses the villain, and her dance of death hits up to 3 targets with increasing damage. Her athletic moves are thematically well captured, and her main ally Winter Soldier is good all round and can be played at low cost. Playing takes a little more thought to build your board and to follow her reactions to the villain, but it feels different and enjoyable, with a little extra finesse.
Thor – another great comic hero, the god of thunder exiled to earth. He is a damage dealer and comes with a pre-built aggression deck with heavy hitting supporting allies Hercules, Heimdall and Valkyrie. His great assets are his hammer, complete with throwing cards, and helmet granting a hit points boost so he can soak up damage. He plays off engaging and killing minions to generate extra card draw or threat removal, but thwarting is a weak point. Asgard plays an important role, boosting a low starting hand size, and his ally Lady Sif enables Thor to ready. He is a tricky character to play well solo without deck alterations, but his weapons are powerful and great fun to use, and i really enjoy the card interplay he provides.
Iron Man – my second favourite hero from comics, Iron Man starts from a weak position with minimal hand size and builds into a very strong one via suit upgrades. Alter ego and Stark’s Tower allows you to aim at cards you need, while Pepper Potts provides extra resources, so there is good deck manipulation available. Thwarting remains a tricky prospect though so a justice deck may be considered a more useful aspect than the suggested aggression where Hulk and Tigra provide even more fighting power. Building up and then using all the suit upgrades with repulsor blast and supersonic punch is great fun to play. His deck supporting ally is War Machine who deals out damage at his own expense.
Captain Marvel – not a hero i knew that well until the film lifted her profile. She benefits from regular extra card draws and has an aerial trait which can occasionally add mitigation bonuses. She also powers up resources by absorbing energy to unleash a photonic blast attack and is a bit of a powerhouse, and with some intervention thwarting available she comes across as good all round. The regular card draws mean you always have options available when playing this character, and as she is supported in her deck by Spider-Woman who confuses the villain, this becomes the girl power team. Whilst i enjoy the power of her pre-built aggression aspect, she is probably even better using leadership where Hawkeye and Vision can be extra allies.
Hawkeye – a great ranged avenger relying on his amazing bow, firing different arrow types dealing either heavy piercing damage, adding stun or confusion, exploding to hit multiple targets or even remove scheme threat and ignoring crises. His quiver enables him to find and store arrows to use at a later stage, outside of your hand. Mockingbird is his core ally who can help mitigate damage like an ever present shield, and his pre-built leadership deck packs a number of new allies in Goliath, Black Knight, US Agent and alternate Hawkeye, plus War Machine for the standard pool. Similar to Spider-Woman he has tricks up his sleeve to deal with the villain and his bow weapon makes him a consistently strong damage dealer.
She Hulk – a character i am less familiar with but she is powerful with higher starting health and alter-ego healing. Using the suggested aggression deck she aims to bring enemies down quickly by boosting attack power and a one-two punch combination. However, using legal knowledge to thwart schemes by discarding cards and a small hero hand limit makes her feel more limiting than others in reactionary play, and you will tend to switch a lot more between hero and alter ego forms. Her gamma attack when she is low on health though is a fun and devastating game finisher to try and pull off. Her deck supporting ally is Hellcat who you can return to your hand when injured.
Black Panther – a hero gaining notoriety from the films. Black Panther has solid enough all round stats, an inherent retaliation when attacked and a suit with special abilities such as transferring damage onto an enemy. He comes in his deck with Shuri as his ally to help him get his suit upgrade cards out, Golden City provides extra card draw, and relies on the Wakanda event to activate his suits special powers you have in play. There are some similarities to Iron Man in the progressive build of upgrades, and using the suggested protection aspect he has great allies in Luke Cage and Black Widow, but whilst he can be tough for a villain to take down, you can end up waiting around for the Wakanda cards to appear.
I will not be collecting every hero as i do not feel the need to complete this as a set, being happy to focus on characters i know and love, or come with some great play mechanics. The Spiderman world will be a heavy focus alongside my favourite Avengers from my comic days, and after that it will be a balance of aspects and interesting game mechanics.