Character Focus – Thor

I used Thor recently in my Deck Development article about him and got some good results, but yeah I’m definitely going to change that decklist!  I’ve played a lot of games since then (over 200 in fact!) and have learned quite a bit about Marvel Champions.  This hopefully means that I can showcase Thor reasonably well in part two of this article.  In the meantime, lets’s get on with part one and take a look at his cards.

Hand Size 5 is low, 14 Hit Points is very high, and 4 Recover is average.  Hand Size 5 in Alter Ego is pretty bad to be honest.  You’ll be able to mitigate this somewhat with Asgard and also Thor’s “Have at thee!” ability, but starting with less cards just gives you less options.  I know that you can use Odinson’s ability to go and fetch Mjolnir thereby bringing you up to six cards, but you still have less options to get started.

If I had to pick two things that I don’t like about Marvel Champions they would be the variable hand sizes between characters and the order of your discard pile mechanic.  I’ve played a few card games where you control a character and your hand size is one of the stats, and in my opinion none of them have been able to balance it properly (two of those games being UFS and Warhammer 40,000 Conquest).  I like that your Hand Size changes from Alter Ego to Hero form, but I honestly think Hand Size should have been the same across all characters.

As for the order of your discard pile mechanic (as used in Stark Tower), I personally hate it; it shouldn’t matter what order the cards are in my discard pile.  Players often like to rearrange their discard pile so that certain cards are near the top for recursion effects.  I think it’s a weak choice for a game mechanic and I hope that the designers don’t add any more cards with that effect into the game.

Not that every card game needs to be compared to Magic the Gathering, but even they got rid of this mechanic years ago (the last time a card was printed with this kind of ability was Volrath’s Shapeshifter in the Stronghold set, 1998).  Anyway, I’ve gone on a massive tangent here and it’s not Thor’s fault that there are a couple of design choices that I don’t like!

14 Hit Points means that he can take an absolute beating and gives you a bit more flexibility in choosing when you need to go and heal.  With Thor’s Helmet and Endurance, it is currently possible to get him to 22 Hit Points!  That’s more than a lot of Villains!

4 Recover is average and due to his large number of Hit Points you are likely to want to include Down Time to speed your recovery.

Worthy is a great ability that is also very thematic, allowing Odinson to reach out for Mjolnir and return it to his hand no matter where it is.  At the start of the game this will typically mean that you have six cards in hand (but I’m still going to grumble about Hand Size 5!).  During the game you might have returned it to hand via something like Hammer Throw, and then discarded it for a resource if you knew that you would be flipping to Alter Ego form soon to then retrieve it again with Worthy.  I like this ability a lot, especially as a few of Thor’s cards require/benefit from having Mjolnir in play.


1 Thwart is rubbish, 2 Attack and Defence are average (but you are going to have 3 Attack most of the time due to Mjolnir), and 4 Hand Size is poor.

Thor is another heavyweight character with a poor Thwart stat and as you’ll see below, not much in his kit to deal with threat.  In my Deck Development article using Thor I paired him with Justice and he managed to put in some decent results, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can do that with the other aspects.

I ranted above about how I think that having different Hand Size stats between characters is not a great choice, so I won’t continue that here.

Thor’s “Have at thee!” ability allows you to draw two cards after you engage a minion (once per phase).  This means that you can trigger this in both the Hero and Villain Phase.  Engaging a minion in the Villain Phase happens whenever your encounter card is a minion, as well as practically all the time in the Ultron scenario.

Outside of defeating something like Advanced Ultron Drone, engaging a minion in the Hero Phase is currently only possible with two cards, one of which only does that in multiplayer (Get Over Here!), the other is Defender of the Nine Realms (which will be covered below).

I also play the Arkham Horror card game and in that you can spend one of your actions to engage an enemy.  It would be nice if in Marvel Champions there was a way of doing so, perhaps even exhausting your character to do it?  I appreciate that for solo play this would make no difference, but it’d be an option for multiplayer.

“Have at thee!” will be great in minion-heavy scenarios such as Ultron or Mutagen Formula, often leading to big hands for Thor, but in scenarios with a low minion count he will plod along slowly instead.  Basically, Thor’s potency is greatly determined by the scenario he is facing, unlike some of the more all-round characters like Captain America or Black Panther.


2/2 with 3 Hit Points is nice, with her Thwart stat being the most likely to be utilised.  Four is a fairly heft cost for an ally, but her ability entirely justifies it.  As we’ve seen with other characters such as Iron Man or Captain America, the ability to ready your character card is very powerful.  While not as repeatable as those two, it’s still welcome, particularly as it can be used while in Alter Ego for a double Recover action.


There are three copies of this in his hero cards and it’s his main way of removing threat.  This card actually requires a decent amount of thought before using because it can lead to emptying the encounter deck and earning yourself an acceleration token (compounding the issue you were seeking to resolve by playing this card).  If the scenario you are playing doesn’t contain many minions in the encounter deck (such as default Rhino or Ultron), then it may not be worth using.

However, even in those scenarios, you are still likely to hit a minion (even if you have to discard a lot of cards to find one!) and doing so will trigger Thor’s “Have at thee!” ability, drawing you two cards.

Overall, I’d say that this was a decent card for Thor, particularly as it’s one of the few ways of triggering his ability during the Hero Phase, but it’s not one that you should use without some consideration beforehand.


There is one copy of this in his hero cards.  This can actually be a very helpful card to get you set up early on, as it’s able to fetch cards like Asgard (well, duh!) and God of Thunder.  Thor needs to get more resource and card generation out quicker than other characters (due to his poor Hand Size), making both of those key cards for him.

The restriction of only being able to play this in Alter Ego form stops this card from being great, instead relegating it to ‘useful’.


There are three copies of this in his hero cards and it’s one that you’ll become familiar with.  Three resources to do eight damage is exactly like Swinging Web Kick, but you must also exhaust Mjolnir and return it to your hand (you did just throw it at someone, after all).  However, it gains Overkill, possibly my favourite keyword in the game!

As a big fan of Relentless Assault and having a healthy fear of Rhino’s Charge, Overkill allows you to have your cake and eat it, simultaneously dealing damage to minions and Villains (or allies and Heroes in Rhino’s case).  It’s a powerful mechanic that I always enjoy using, as you can take out minions and still be working on the Villain’s Hit Points.

The downsides to this card are not being able to use it if Mjolnir is not in play, if Mjolnir is exhausted (through something like Mean Swing), and having to return it to hand afterwards.  However, I don’t think that any of these are deal-breakers, and I genuinely think that this is one of the best attack events currently in the game.


There are two copies of this in his hero cards and it is the primary reason why you’ll want to prioritise energy resources in the deck.  Depending on how much damage you want to deal (ideally enough to defeat all minions engaged with you), this can be quite a costly event, but with cards like God of Thunder or Quincarrier you can generate a decent number of energy resources.

If you have the Aerial trait (currently via Mjolnir), then this event will also ignore Tough status cards.  This means that you can easily deal with Frost Giants or Armored Guards without having to ping off their Tough status first.

This card is great for dealing with swarms of minions, typically encountered in the Ultron or Mutagen Formula scenarios.  Overall it’s a great card that entirely justifies the cost to use it.


This is a three-cost card that puts Thor on par with nearly every other character in the game in terms of Hand Size.  You’ll want to get it into play as quickly as you can, as more cards equals more options.  A boring card, but one that you’ll want to prioritise getting into play as quickly as you can.


There are two copies of this in his hero cards and I don’t have much to say about them other than get them into play as quickly as you can!  They help greatly with Lightning Strike (one of the main reasons to play Thor) and just improve your turns overall.  Only downside is that this is a Hero Resource, so remember to use them before you flip to Alter Ego.


Mjolnir!  I’ve mentioned this card a lot already, but what does it actually do?  Well it’s a bit underwhelming to be honest, considering how selective it is about who wields it.  That being said, +1 Attack and Aerial are both useful, so it’s not like I’m saying this card is bad or anything.

You’ll most likely end up using this as a resource early in the game to help get set up, then when you’ve got going you’ll want to get it into play so that you can attack people for three damage and then Hammer Throw a bit.

The Weapon trait means that it could (and should!) be used with Mean Swing when you are using Aggression.  Restricted isn’t currently an issue, but it may well be important with future releases.


Just in case Endurance wasn’t enough, here’s a way of getting even more Hit Points!  With both cards you can get Thor up to 22 Hit Points!

Depending on the scenario, I don’t think that this is a priority in the early game over cards like Avengers Mansion or Helicarrier, etc, but later on in the game it will be worth playing as it will allow you to stay in Hero form longer.


SUMMARY

  • Poor threat removal capabilities, meaning that you will want to include a good chunk of cards that make up for this, even ones that you might normally overlook.
  • Great at dealing with minions, meaning that in scenarios with a lot he’ll do well.
  • Low Hand Size and powerful but expensive cards means that he’ll want to get his economy (i.e. resource and card generation) cards into play as quickly as possible.

I really like Thor (which is probably why I’ve droned on for roughly 2000 words about him!).  He is not one of the top heroes, but I definitely think that he is worth using.

I don’t agree with what the designers said recently about all heroes being on the same power level, as based on what we know so far (i.e. the current card pool) they are not.  I’d be surprised if anyone could argue that Thor and Doctor Strange are equally effective, for example.  However, they don’t need to be, because if you only ever played what was the most effective character & aspect combo that’d be a pretty boring way to play Marvel Champions (or any game for that matter). 

In solo, characters like Thor are always going to have to work harder than others to get going, but I think with cards like Hammer Throw and Lightning Strike he brings some excellent minion control to the table.  In multiplayer, other characters can make up for his lack of threat removal and just let him do what he does best, charge into the middle of the action and smash some baddies!  Anyway, if you made it this far through the article, well done.

Cheers,

Tim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s