Showdown #1 – Crossbones

Welcome to another new series of articles!  In each Showdown article we choose one Villain to face with four different characters each using a different aspect.  We’ll present our decklists for these games, show our results, then suggest any deck changes we’d make or any observations in general.


HOW IT WORKS

  1. We pick a Villain.
  2. We choose which encounter module(s) we will be using.
  3. We pick a character to represent each aspect and construct decks.
  4. We play against the Villain five times with each character (true solo and Expert difficulty).
  5. We present our results!

THE VILLAIN

Since he’s only been released for a short while at this point, we thought that we’d take on Crossbones, one of the new Villains from The Rise of Red Skull.  He’s the first one that you fight if you are playing the campaign, but does that mean he’ll be the weakest?  It’ll be interesting to find out.

Since he’s new, we decided to use his recommended encounter modules; Hydra Assault, Weapon Master, and Legions of Hydra.  Unfortunately, the Attack on Mount Athena main scheme has an error on it, which is why we are using Hydra Assault rather than Hydra Patrol (as stated on the card).


THE HEROES

Who would be facing Crossbones?  Here they are:

  • Aggression – Ms. Marvel
  • Justice – She-Hulk
  • Leadership – Hawkeye
  • Protection – Spider-Woman

For this article I would be assisted by James.  He would be using She-Hulk and Hawkeye, while I would be using Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman.


AGGRESSION – MS. MARVEL

[Tim] Aggression has just received a good influx of cards with the Hulk Hero Pack and The Rise of Red Skull, so I wanted to include several of these as I think that they could benefit Ms. Marvel greatly.  In my opinion, Ms. Marvel is one of the most fun characters to use in Marvel Champions and I was happy to get the excuse to use her again.

Drop Kick is an excellent event if you can pay with only physical resources, which I believe that she can do, particularly with her Biokinetic Polymer Suit but also with the new resource-generator, Martial Prowess.  I also chucked one copy of Enhanced Physique into the deck just to make sure.

Press the Advantage is another new event and while this one only deals two damage, it will draw you a card if the target is stunned or confused, and can also be boosted by Embiggen! or returned to hand with Morphogenetics.

The final new event that I added is the somewhat bland To the Rescue!  However, for Ms. Marvel it’s another thwart event that she can boost with Shrink or can return to hand to use again.  It also has a physical resource printed on it, so will help with Drop Kick and Relentless Assault.

I included three new allies, Brawn, Sentry, and Spider-Girl.  Brawn will help with the much-needed threat removal, Sentry is possibly too good not to include, and Spider-Girl is cheap and will help me delay having to deal with troublesome minions.

I kept the deck fairly cheap where possible, opting not to include Avengers Mansion or Helicarrier.  With her cheap support cards and good Alter-Ego ability, I was fairly confident that I wouldn’t have to build up too much in order to deal with Crossbones.

Results

  1. WIN, 7 rounds
  2. WIN, 6 rounds
  3. WIN, 7 rounds
  4. WIN, 6 rounds
  5. WIN, 5 rounds

She absolutely smashed it!  Drop Kick was a great card for her and I never had any trouble getting the additional effect from it (it’s only worth playing if you can get the additional effect!).

The lack of the usual supports (Avengers Mansion & Helicarrier) wasn’t an issue, as her cards are generally quite cheap.

This deck was very effective and I think that the only change I would make to it would be to decrease Press the Advantage to two copies and increase Relentless Assault to three copies.  It was also a lot of fun to use!  I’d recommend to anyone that hasn’t really given Ms. Marvel a try to do so, especially with Aggression.


JUSTICE – SHE-HULK

[James] Between the Hulk hero pack and The Rise of Red Skull campaign expansion, Justice has received three new cards I was eager to try. As for the hero I was going to pair it with I wanted to use a character that I both had not used in a while and felt was not quite as powerful as Hawkeye. I ultimately settled on She-Hulk.

Clear the Area was the first of the new cards I added to the deck. It being half the cost of For Justice! and potentially replacing itself with another card, really helps out with She-Hulk’s hand size of 4. The mental resource icon is also relevant as I could use it in Alter-Ego to fuel Superhuman Law Division.

The second new card, and one that has a nice bit of synergy with Clear the Area, is Skilled Investigator. This zero cost upgrade allows its controller to draw a card whenever a side scheme is defeated, which is obviously good for any character, but its especially good for characters with a limited hand size. Using both of these cards together forms a draw engine of sorts.

The final new card added to the deck was Beat Cop. This support provides another source of threat control, and gives the Justice deck some much needed minion removal. It’s expensive to play, and slow to build up, but given the sheer amount of praise being heaped on this card I was expecting big things from it.

In regards to the rest of the deck I avoided any card that cost 4 or more. This was to ensure I could play any card I drew as She-Hulk without having to rely on resource generators, or also drawing a double resource card. This meant omitting staples such as Avengers Mansion and Nick FuryThe final result was the kind of tempo deck I prefer to play, but one I was not expecting to do as well with.

Results

  1. WIN, 8 rounds
  2. WIN, 7 rounds
  3. WIN, 4 rounds
  4. WIN, 7 rounds
  5. LOSS, 4 rounds (Damage)

She-Hulk slipped at the last hurdle, taking attacks from a tooled up Crossbones III and Madame Hydra that dealt just enough damage to defeat her. I was still very happy with the 4-1 result though. 

With one notable exception the wins with this deck took longer, not just in terms of rounds played but also in how long each of my turns were taking to complete. The games had a lot more flipping from Alter-Ego to Hero as you’d expect from a She-Hulk deck, and it was a lot of fun trying to set up optimal Gamma Slam and Split Personality plays.

Game 3 saw me fail to draw any of my resource generators, or other build up cards, and I got locked into a damage race. Crossbones was quickly beaten to a pulp as I drew, and played, all three copies of One-Two Punch over a two turn period. 

Finally, because I was worried about playing too many niche/situational/one of cards, the original version of my list also omitted Under Surveillance. However, on Tim’s advice I added two copies to the deck, and  they came in clutch so many times I dread to think what the results would have looked like without them. I used the card in just about every game to keep the main scheme locked down, and in two games actually played it twice when the main scheme was still able to advance.


LEADERSHIP – HAWKEYE

[James] Going into the first Showdown I knew Hawkeye was the new hero I wanted to try the most. I decided to pair him with Leadership as an excuse to use a few of the new Leadership cards that come with his pre-constructed deck. Additionally this hero/aspect combo is a good one to use the new basic card I was eager to experiment with.

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes allows you to exhaust an Avenger character you control to ready another Avenger character you control. This card has a couple of applications in this deck, but the main one is to ready Hawkeye so he can ready his bow. It’s not often that you’ll need, or even be able, to play three arrow events in a single round but it can be a powerful way to close out a game. More practically, it also enables Hawkeye to use his basic attack ability and still be able to flip to Alter-Ego in order to recover.

Moving on to the actual Leadership cards, I included three new allies. The first is Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), who is really just a cheap ally to chump block and enable EMH readies. The second is U.S. Agent who, thanks to his high health and retaliate keyword, can be an effective minion blocker. Last, but by no means least, we have Goliath.

Goliath is the ally I was most excited to use, because he has potential for such high burst damage. Triggering his ability enables him to attack for a respectable five, but this goes even higher with readying effects such as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes or Get Ready. The last new card I included was Team Training, which gives every ally you control +1 hit point, giving Goliath the potential to attack three times.

The rest of the deck was made up of the typical Leadership shell of allies with “enters play” abilities, and recursion to abuse those effects whilst giving Hawkeye plenty of meat shields to hide behind. Finally I added The Triskelion for the added ally slot, and the Down Time/Endurance combo to further increase Hawkeye’s survivability.  So how did the deck perform?

Results

  1. WIN, 7 rounds
  2. WIN, 5 rounds
  3. WIN, 4 rounds
  4. WIN, 5 rounds
  5. WIN, 7 rounds

Hawkeye Leadership managed a clean sweep with predominately quick games. For those that are aware of just how potent Leadership can be this will be unsurprising. Unsurprising, perhaps, but it does not actually show the full picture. In all but one game Hawkeye ended with barely more than 1-2 health remaining, and I always felt just one attack away from defeat. Game 3 was the fastest win, but the main scheme was also only two threat away from completion. 

Leadership is obviously in a very good place at the moment, and the Hawkeye variant is no exception. In terms of my specific list the only cards I felt underperformed were U.S. Agent, which I would replace with Wonder Man, and The Triskellion, which I never really needed. Quincarrier would probably be a better card to run in that slot, or you could chuck in another ally.


PROTECTION – SPIDER-WOMAN

[Tim] Spider-Woman has so many different options available to her that it can be somewhat daunting coming up with a deck.  For this article one of us needed to use the Protection aspect, so I decided to make a Protection/Aggression deck using as many stun effects as possible.

Protection brings Tackle and Iron Fist, while Aggression brings Drop Kick.  Add Mockingbird and along with Spider-Woman’s Pheromones would mean that the deck contained ten stun cards.  These cards aren’t cheap though, so I decided to include two copies of The Power of Aggression and The Power of Protection to help play them.

Brother Voodoo would be a helpful ally in this deck, not only for his ability to thwart for two but also to dig for events.

Due to the decent number of physical resources in the deck, Hulk might actually prove useful for more than just taking hits for the hero.

Results

  1. WIN, 6 rounds
  2. WIN, 6 rounds
  3. LOSS, 5 rounds (damage)
  4. WIN, 6 rounds
  5. LOSS, 3 rounds (damage)

I didn’t do quite as well as I’d hoped!  The games that I won felt super easy and if I’m honest I think that the ones I lost were due to some unfortunate sequences of encounter cards (but isn’t it always?).

Crossbones’ near-constant access to Piercing meant that the Tough status that Spider-Woman could get from Contaminant Immunity was wasted, which reduces its potency a lot.  I think that this build (‘stunlock’) has potential and I’d like to play it further.


SUMMARY

Rank Aspect Wins
1st Aggression 5
Leadership 5
3rd Justice 4
4th Protection 3

Crossbones managed three wins out of twenty games.  This doesn’t seem very good, but the results don’t tell the full story.  A lot of the games where we got a win it could have very easily gone the other way.  The character and aspect combos that we were using were also generally good ones.

Overall I think that Crossbones provides a good challenge, but also a fun experience.  Games always feel frantic and it definitely does a good job conveying the high-intensity situation described by the flavour text.

So that concludes the first of our Showdown articles, we hope you enjoyed the format.

Cheers,

Tim & James

1 thought on “Showdown #1 – Crossbones

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