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Introducing New Players to Marvel Champions

Marvel Champions is fun to play, easy to learn, and deep to master. That’s why we love it, and we love introducing the game to new people! But the new player on-ramp can be hard to see when you’ve got a huge collection and all the heroes. It’s easy to forget how you first got into the game, the hurdles and hoops you had to jump over and through to grow to love the game, and it’s a common worry that the game may be too complex for new players. So in this article, we’re going to share some tips on how to get other people started if you’re like us and want to avoid overwhelming the newly initiated while getting them into the game.

1. Let Them Pick Their Favourite Hero Without Bias

Look, I know it, you know it, some heroes aren’t as good as others. Hulk* doesn’t sit in the same tier as someone like Doctor Strange*. But you should absolutely not discourage a Hulk fan from picking the Hulk, or tell them that their favourite hero is bad. That’ll immediately put them off the game, and it’s also just… not true. Every hero in the game is strong enough to be playable and complete everything, just some heroes have a harder time than others. Should you take on Heroic level 5 Ronan with Hulk’s precon? No. But the vast majority of players will have more fun playing against a less challenging threat with their favourite hero, and you shouldn’t be throwing that at a new player anyway.

Ask who their favourite Marvel character is. If they have one, that’s the deck they should be playing. Even the most complex heroes are just… not that complex compared to a lot of games. Your friends are probably pretty smart, give them some credit. With a little help, you can guide them through playing anything. That being said, some people always ask the question, so here’s some quick ideas for heroes if they don’t have a favourite or take the easy route of “just give me someone who’s easy to play”.

"Welcome Aboard", a leadership card featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy

The Easiest Marvel Champions Heroes for New Players

  • Captain Marvel: Despite being straight out of the core set, Captain Marvel is an absolute S-Tier powerhouse without any major complexity. Mistakes made taking hits are mitigated by her innate healing and high health pool, and her abilities are generally simply “deal damage” and “remove threat” with no intricate interrupts and responses to deal with. Captain Marvel and the other core set heroes are intended for and great for new players – remember, that’s almost certainly how you and most other long-term invested players started playing. If it aint broke, don’t fix it.
  • Captain America: Cap is a hugely recognisable character, and he’s definitely easy to pick up and play. He generates a lot of resources, feels good to play, and has the defensive tools to not be punished too much by staying too long in hero form.
  • Quicksilver: A little higher on complexity in terms of what you can do with him, but Quicksilver has a very linear, enjoyable strategy. With the right deck, Quicksilver can Always Be Running and constantly do whatever it is you built that deck to do, over and over again.
  • Wolverine: Taking another step up, Wolverine’s a newer addition who has one complex decision – can you afford to pay the health? This makes him more complex again than the others on this list, but my personal favourite deck with him mitigates that choice so that you can just keep on swinging. Your friend may accidentally overreach and kill themselves occasionally, but they’ll have so much fun in the process.
MC Card: Core Set 10 Captain Marvel

2. Build the Right Deck

The deck choice matters hugely more than the hero you pick, which is why it’s fine for new players to pick their favourite Marvel character and run with it. But there are a few rules you should typically go by when building their decks, though you should be ready to bend these rules based on what you think your newbies can handle, and what they enjoy in other games if they play other card games. Importantly, a new player is going to be in no way equipped to build their own deck from game 1. Let them build decks later by all means, but for their first game, provide a simple, clear, and focused deck.

  • Avoid interrupt/response chains: Any deck where you need to respond multiple times to triggers, or regularly respond to responses that are responding to interrupts and… it’s too much. Don’t build these sorts of combos into decks for new players. Single responses of “When you do this, do this” are fine, and add to the layers of the game, but complex combo decks are overwhelming to most totally new players unless they’re veterans of TCGs like Magic. Even then, the timing is new and complex, so don’t go nuts.
  • Provide straightforward cards that are as un-situational as possible: The classic thwarting combo of spending The Power of Justice to play For Justice! is the perfect level of power to shoot for. Cards that are regularly unplayable unless you understand why they’re there are cards to avoid, for example while Stealth Strike can be extremely powerful in the right hands, it can be a lot less good-feeling for new players when they can’t pay for it, there’s no target for them to defeat, or the board state isn’t set up for them to play it, and they’re not going to be as good at communicating what they can do until they understand the game better.
  • Build the deck to do a specific job, and do it well: It should be possible for you to describe to them what their “job” is at the table. If their deck is aggression and focused on defeating the villain, or cleaning up all the minions, then tell them that! Make sure their deck does the job, has a clear game plan as to how it does that job, and is obvious as to why they play the cards that they do. Decision paralysis is a real thing, so you want to minimise the amount of decisions they need to make in a single turn.

3. Support Them, and Let Them Shine

Chances are, the new player you’re introducing to the game is playing with you, else the situation is a bit weird. This means for this game, you are not the main character. You are the plucky sidekick (who secretly does all the hard work behind the scenes). Your job is to make your new players feel awesome and save the day. All-rounder heroes like Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock, Rogue or Venom are great at this, and can also be built to focus on the bits of the game that the new player might struggle at, such as taking down minions, clearing side schemes, and generally keeping the board state in line.

Ensure that your deck is there where theirs fails. Never let them feel like they’ve let the team down, and most importantly never do the thing that you told them is their job. This goes during gameplay too – if you’ve told them it’s their job to kill minions, ask “Can you take care of this minion this turn?” before blowing it up yourself, even if you doing it is objectively the best play. Your goal is no longer to simply win, it’s to ensure they have fun, else they’re not going to play again.

Save the Day - a leadership card featuring Spider-Man

4. Build the Right Encounter

For your first game, the villain you play against matters, perhaps even more than the deck they play. Rhino isn’t exciting to us now, but he’s a great basic introduction. He’s predictable, has no really wildly different mechanics, and he’s easy to comprehend. There’s a reason he’s the introductory game’s villain. While 90% of the time I’d recommend playing against Standard difficulty Rhino (or Skirmish if you want a quicker game, which we definitely recommend for 4 players), there are a few other good options you might want to try.

  • Green Goblin’s Mutagen Formula is an exciting scenario, and might be suitable for people used to TCGs. He’s likely too challenging for people brand new to card games like this, but for new players who want a higher risk of defeat, he’s a good choice. Some people are easily turned off by a too-easy experience, so Green Goblin is a nice step up without going too far, particularly if they’ve chosen a strong hero as their character.
  • The Wrecking Crew are near the bottom of our buying list because they’re too easy once you’ve beaten them once, and don’t have a ton of replay value… but that also makes them fun for new players. I probably wouldn’t want to use them as the very first encounter for a new player, but if you play a second game, the Wrecking Crew are a good option for showing just how wildly the game can change based on the encounter you choose.

When it comes to modular encounters, keep it simple. Stick with the ones recommended by each main scheme in its setup instructions! Now is not the time to get fancy.

The treachery card "Buddy System" from the Wrecker encounter set, part of the Wrecking Crew scenario

Wrapping Up

Hopefully these tips will help you to get started with inspiring your playgroup’s latest Marvel Champions obsession. The key thing to always remember is no matter what else, your job is to make sure they have fun. Let them take the spotlight, remember to praise their best plays, and don’t overwhelm them with information. Most importantly, don’t play the game for them. Give them the pieces to learn how to play for themselves, and inspire them to want to learn to play, but from there let them take the initiative with you as a safety net.

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