Card Review – Core Set (Protection)

We’re getting closer to finishing off the Core Set card reviews!  This week Tim and James will review the Protection cards.

We are going to be rating cards between 1-5 using the system below.  Our ratings are an overall score taking into account True Solo and Two-Handed/Multiplayer.

This time we are going to be rating the eight Protection cards from the Core Set.  If you’d like to rate the cards yourselves to see if our opinions match up, here’s a link to marveldb for a visual reminder of the cards we are rating.

[Tim] (3/5) Black Widow is an ally that you will want to have sit in play for the rest of the game so that you have access to her ability.  Since she only has 2 health, you could use her once (probably for thwarting) without defeating her. 

It’s common to include Honorary Avenger to bump her health to three, meaning that she can be used twice then receive the maximum benefit from cards like Med Team.  Then you also need a mental resource to be able to use her ability, which still draws you another encounter card anyway.  Is all of that worth it?  Yeah probably, and not just because Protection lacks for decent allies.

[James] (2/5) Black Widow feels over-costed for what you’re getting. Her 2 THW gives Protection some desperately needed threat control, but with only 2 health she’s not offering much of it. The ability to cancel an encounter card is nice, and unlike most other encounter deck manipulation Black Widow can discard any encounter card that is revealed, but again it just feels over-costed.

Requiring an exhaustion and a specific resource to simply change the revealed card to whatever the next card is might save you in certain situations (Advance springs to mind) but for what you’re paying I’d expect full protection.

[Tim] (1/5) This rating might be a bit harsh, but I really don’t rate Luke Cage at all.  Yeah he enters play with Toughness, but if you want to activate him the round you play him then he’ll lose the Toughness to consequential damage.  If you instead choose not to activate him during the hero phase and use him to defend against an attack in the villain phase (taking a bit hit to the face for you), then you just paid four resources for no immediate effect.  Even when I’ve included him in decks I don’t generally actually play him, so that’s probably a sign that he should stay in my binder, at least until the Defender trait becomes relevant (if it ever does).

[James] (2/5) Luke Cage is another Protection ally that just feels over-costed. Having Tough on an ally is obviously fantastic, but to make the most of it you have to not activate him the turn he is played. I’m not really a fan of emptying my hand for a card that has no immediate effect on the board.

Two turns after you play Luke Cage you can finally start attacking with him. His 2 ATK and 5 health means he offers a nice amount of damage before you chump block, assuming you get all those activations out of him, but the two turn delay is just not worth it.

[Tim] (2/5) This 2/5 is very close to being a 1/5 for me.  I only see Counter-Punch being useful with heroes that have 3 Attack or greater, and even then I’d only use it against minions as damage versus the villain (at least early on) is not a priority, meaning that you’d have to defend against minion attacks.  The only reason I can’t rate this card a 1/5 is because 3 damage for one card is good (but you have to jump through some hoops to access that).

[James] (2/5) On paper Counter-Punch seems fine for most heroes. Even with an ATK of 2 you’re still on curve damage wise whilst also mitigating damage with a defend activation. The problem is the opportunity cost of having your hero exhausted the following turn, and thus not able to contribute to threat control via thwarting, which most heroes playing Protection really need to do. Of course there are ways to build around this, Indomitable for example, which is why I rated it 2 over 1. It also has more appeal in Multiplayer, especially if paired with a 3 ATK hero. Overall it’s just another core set Protection card that’s probably not worth it.

[Tim] (2/5) This is another card that I don’t use very often, but I recognise that it could be useful in the right deck.  Cancelling an encounter card is a powerful effect (even if this card does cause you to get attacked), so it will have a place somewhere.  I think that these sort of cards will see a lot more play once there is a bit more redundancy with these kinds of effects; i.e. if you can reasonably guarantee that you will have access to one of these kinds of effects during every villain phase.

[James] (2/5) Cancelling a problematic “when revealed” treachery effect can save you in certain situations, but a lot of the time being attacked by the villain again is going to be just as bad. Where this shines, in my opinion, is when used against cards like Rage of Ultron or Stampede. You were going to be attacked again anyway, but at least now you’re avoiding the added effect of those attacks. Overall it has some niche appeal, but probably is not worth including now the card pool has expanded.

[Tim] (4/5) While a large number of the events for Protection only cost one, this card will still be useful for playing allies and support cards like Med Team.  It also means that you can play Energy Barrier with one card, so there’s that.

[James] (3/5) Protection, much like Justice, is reaching a point where The Power of no longer feels like an auto-include. There’s still a number of cards that benefit from its inclusion, such as Energy Barrier, Iron Fist and Tackle, but the aspect also has a fair amount of low cost cards that do not require it. Given Protection’s current ally line up it’s also possible to run The Power in All of Us instead to make running the basic ally/support package a little smoother.

[Tim] (3/5) Personally, I like this card a lot, but I do recognise that it’s expensive and very low impact early on in the game.  It’s best used to keep allies going for longer, so if your strategy is focused around them I would consider this an auto-include.  

[James] (2/5) Med Team has all the same problems as the other “team” support cards introduced in the core set, but it is by far the best of them. The trickle healing it offers is versatile, being able to target any friendly character, but is also very situational. For example, if you’re playing a zero damage defence build then you’re not as likely to need the healing yourself, and there’s not many in aspect allies that benefit from it either. The healing it offers is going to be more impactful in multiplayer of course, but even then it’s still pretty situational.

[Tim] (4/5) There are two main types of Protection decks; those that care about their Defence value and those that don’t.  If your deck does care about your Defence value, then this is an auto-include.  If your deck doesn’t care about your Defence value, then this is probably a waste of a deck slot, but that’s only probably and not definitely.  

Characters like Quicksilver will most likely include a copy anyway just due to being able to get a free defend every round.  Characters like Captain America who have a higher Defence value already and easy access to a ready effect might also choose to include a copy even if they’re not focusing on a pure defence build.  

[James] (2/5) Armored Vest feels like the least impactful of the ability boosting upgrades, but it’s still worth playing in the right Protection deck. Takes a fair amount of setting up to get the “zero damage” deck running smoothly, which makes it a less tempting choice for true solo, but once its up and running it can feel good IF you’re a fan of that play style (I’m not).

[Tim] (3/5) If you’re building a defence-focused Protection deck, this is definitely a card you will consider for the deck.  As defending causes you to be exhausted once the hero phase comes around, using Indomitable means that you could be ready instead (or you could use it to allow you to defend against another attack in the villain phase).  How useful that is depends on if you need to use your character’s basic action; being able to use your Recover would be a big reason for wanting to be ready. 

[James] (3/5) When it comes to best Protection card in the Core Set Indomitable pretty much wins by default, but even then it’s a card that’s only good in a certain type of Protection deck. The action economy it offers to the defence deck can make playing it a smoother experience as it helps mitigate one of the aspect’s biggest problems at the moment, which is threat control. Obviously this is less of a problem in multiplayer, as threat control should be handled by the Justice and/or Leader player(s), in which case Indomitable allows the Protection deck to defend multiple times in a single villain phase.


Rank Card Average Rating
1st The Power of Protection 3.5
2nd Armored Vest 3
Indomitable 3
4th Black Widow 2.5
Med Team 2.5
6th Counter-Punch 2
Get Behind Me! 2
8th Luke Cage 1.5

This is the first time there has been a big difference of opinion on a card; Tim rated Armored Vest a 4, while James only rated it a 2, giving it an average score of 3.  What’s your opinion on the matter?  Also, join us next week as we complete the Core Set review by looking at the Basic cards.


Tim & James

One comment

  1. I have a soft spot for Luke Cage; I played him a lot in a deck early last year. He is efficient but so slow and expensive. He gets you the same 2 blocks and 8 damage you can get out of Iron Fist in 3 turns but in 6. I used to heal him with Med Teams but frankly you only need 3 HP to make that work and really want 2 thwart. So Sentry, in one of my few forays into MP, was great in that role. Still if you are carrying the Protection aspect with your hero anyway you can probably carry him too if you really like the card.

    I tend to agree with the lower ratings you gave. Armoured vest is not really worth it unless you are going to defend or you are deck thinning, so probably a good 2 to 3 but no way a 4.

    Counterpunch I rate even lower than you based on my preferences. I don’t really nickel and dime the villain down so the good efficiency is not interesting and I rarely defend against minions so I never got any value from it. I think it’s worth trying in Quicksilver though as he often defends even against minions.

    Get behind me and Black Widow are too unreliable and expensive. BW has the added opportunity cost of sitting on the table and not chumping which makes her even worse.


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