Let’s get something out of the way first – there isn’t a single hero in the 37 released at the time of writing that isn’t strong enough to beat pretty much everything in the game (though Ronan Expert II is… not fun…). One of the best parts of Marvel Champions is that you can take a hero you like and tweak and refine their deck until you succeed at whatever challenge level you find fun, whether that’s playing quick single-phase games, or full expert mode campaign slogs. Some heroes, however, are just plain stronger than others. That is, after all, how we’re able to put them into our Tier List. In this article, we’re going to take a quick look at the 5 heroes that come in the Marvel Champions LCG Core Set, and how they stack up against each other, as well as what aspects we recommend when building their decks. We’re going to go strongest to weakest, because frankly, it’s less annoying than trying to make it seem like a mystery. You came here to see the best at what they do, and that’s what you’re going to get. So let’s get into it.
The Best Core Set Heroes
1. Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)
Captain Marvel is an S-Tier all-rounder powerhouse. She’s got built-in card draw, healing, a good hand size, and energy resource cards that allow you to throw down some of the most powerful cards in the game with ease. Not only can she stack her own hand, but she can donate card draw to other heroes, which is often one of the most powerful tactics you can offer – characters with low hand-sizes are typically balanced around that fact, and the moment you give them cards… something explodes. We recommend trying Captain Marvel as Leadership or Justice, but she can really do pretty much anything. Leadership is just fun due to her ability to easily play high-cost allies and find combo pieces via drawing, whereas Justice helps to account for her somewhat reduced thwarting ability, making her a true generalist hero. Justice Captain Marvel is actually the hero we featured in our guide to Building Your First Deck, so you might want to check that out if you’re excited by her character and the prospect of being the mightiest Avenger at the table.
You’ll especially enjoy Captain Marvel if you enjoy drawing and discarding cards from your hand while building up for huge final attacks.
Recommended Aspects: Leadership, Justice
2. Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
Coming in at number 2 is good ol’ Pete, your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. He’s got great resource generation, and the ability to completely negate attacks thanks to cards like Web Up and Backflip, allowing him to stay in hero form for considerable periods and dodging some of the most dangerous villain attacks. As your collection grows, Spider-Man only grows more powerful as the impact of negating attacks and powerful treacheries only grows more useful the worse those effects are. Even more crucially, his ability to stop back-to-back activations with Web Up slows your progression through the villain deck, and most interestingly, allows you to effectively stun a villain that is immune to stun, as it’s a pure attack cancellation rather than the literal stun condition. This is often a huge opportunity for your team to strike back, as villains that are immune to being stunned typically rely heavily on their damage output, making Spider-Man a perfect counter. While Spidey works with most aspects (as in fact, do most of the heroes in the Core Set, so we’ll stop mentioning it), we tend to recommend playing him either Protection or Aggression. Protection allows you to really lean into his control capabilities, preventing attacks, blocking damage, and making use of his powerful 3 DEF base stat. Aggression, on the other hand, lets you put his resource generators to work, as most aggression cards in the core set are surprisingly expensive for what they offer, as well as offsetting his low THW stat.
You’ll enjoy Spider-Man if you enjoy Blue in Magic: the Gathering and just saying “No” to whatever the villain tries to do.
Recommended Aspects: Protection, Aggression
3. Iron Man (Tony Stark)
Iron Man just feels good to play. He’s extremely slow to get started, and not a hero we’d recommend for solo play (unless playing two-handed), but when he’s online… Oh man is he strong. Iron Man is one of the most popular heroes in the Core Set, and for good reason, once he comes online he’s easily the most powerful. So why is he number 3? The simple fact is for the truly hardcore, high-challenge content, Iron Man is just too slow to set up. The majority of the challenge in Marvel Champions comes in the early game – dealing with threats while trying to set up, chipping away to get to the late game, finding the upgrades you need, and generally surviving until the board state stabilises. Iron Man is the absolute extreme version of that, borderline useless until he gets multiple upgrades in play, at which point he catches up and starts to surpass everyone else to finish the game. Don’t get me wrong here, he’s still more than deserving of the number 3 spot, and I’d accept arguments for him to move up to number 2, but generally I see Iron Man as a “Win More” hero – by the time he wins you the game, you’re already going to win. Pretty much any aspect works for Tony, because most of his strength comes from his suit. We tend to recommend Leadership or maybe Justice for him, however, as those provide the right kind of resources for him to go aerial, as well as making up for some of his main weaknesses.
You’ll enjoy Iron Man if you enjoy assembling an on-board engine with your cards and feeling like Tony Stark, spending half the game tinkering in your workshop only to turn up at the last minute with some outrageous technology to save the day.
Recommended Aspects: Leadership, Justice
4. Black Panther (T’Challa)
Black Panther is surprisingly similar to a more tempered Iron Man in that his core kit requires you to get tons of upgrades in play, which pay off in the late game. The biggest difference is that unlike Iron Man, the setup is faster (as you get to search up one of your upgrades at the start of the game), and he’s not reliant on his upgrades for his hand size, making it possible to contribute with his deck throughout the game, not just at the end. So why is he lower down this list than Iron Man? While the floor on his power is higher, the ceiling is also lower. When fully upgraded, T’Challa doesn’t have the same overwhelming finishing power that Tony Stark does, and you have to have a lot of draw effects that aren’t as available with a smaller card collection. The Leadership Wakanda Forever-focused deck that we play whenever I feel like playing Black Panther focuses heavily on card draw eclipses both Spider-Man and Iron Man, but that requires a bunch of cards from hero packs and expansions that most people reading this article won’t have access to yet. In the meantime, Protection allows you to make full use of Black Panther’s Retaliate ability, and his high health, defence, and regeneration allow you to stay in the fray and keep on ticking, particularly if you focus on keeping his Vibranium Suit in play. Leadership still works well on him, thanks to the best superpower of being rich – paying for high, specific costs with Vibranium.
You’ll enjoy Black Panther if you enjoy proudly declaring Wakanda Forever until everyone asks you to stop. And then saying no. You’ll also enjoy him if you enjoy assembling a combo engine, or taking hits to the face and punching right back.
Recommended Aspects: Protection, Leadership
She-Hulk suffers from having a small hand size, and an ability that emphasises her changing forms almost every turn. This can put a lot of strain on your Justice player (somewhat offset be her ability to prevent threat even from alter-ego form) while making it awkward to pay card costs. She-Hulk has some extremely powerful cards, but they can be tricky to play, and often you’ll only be able to make one play per turn instead of two. She’s still fun to play, and as mentioned earlier, being the worst of 5 extremely solid heroes is far from a bad thing, we’re not saying don’t play her, but be prepared to fight a little harder than with some other heroes. We typically run She-Hulk as Justice, which allows you to really offset her threat issues and allows you to have a greater chance at playing more cards, as Justice typically has a lot more cheap, situational cards to play, but you can also just feel free to go all-in on smashing the enemy with an Aggression deck if you so choose, allowing you to ensure that her bigger hits can land on the villain where they matter most.
You’ll enjoy She-Hulk if you like the idea of yelling “OBJECTION” when the villain schemes, and balancing the two sides of your Hulk-self.
Recommended Aspects: Justice, Aggression
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that this ranking doesn’t exactly match our standard tier list. That’s because the cards in your collection make the impact of these characters vary immensely. Black Panther gets a massive power boost from access to cards like Strength in Numbers from the Captain America Hero Pack, and Assess The Situation from the Ant-Man Hero Pack. She-Hulk gets a ton of upgrades from the SP//dr Hero Pack, and Captain Marvel… just keeps getting stronger the more powerful cards you own. But it’s unfair to rank the Core Set heroes based on their power when you have an unlimited collection, so this is their power rankings fresh out of the box, with no further upgrades. If you’re not sure where to start with these 5 awesome characters, why not check out our Core Set Decks, designed for players who don’t have huge collections at their disposal!
I want to reiterate as one last note here that no matter who you pick, the power level of these characters is more than good enough to get through the content of the Core Set. Back when the game first came out, in fact, we completed everything on expert difficulty with She-Hulk and Black Panther! So don’t feel discouraged if your favourite heroes are low on this list or our tier list. They’re all good heroes, and deserve their time in the spotlight. This is not one of those games where only the best are worth playing, and honestly you’ll tend to have a lot more fun in the A- and B-tiers than with the S-tier roster.