So you’re looking to be the very best, like no-one ever was? That’s the wrong card game franchise, but I admire your moxie. In this article, I’m going to break down what I believe to be the strongest Marvel Champions heroes in our 2023 Tier List! But first, a disclaimer that’ll explain why you may disagree with some of my picks.
- We play exclusively 2-player. The strength of certain heroes absolutely scales with how many heroes are in your team, and this is my experience with two people and sometimes four. Solo play will have a completely different tier list which you will not find here!
- I’m rating these based on no particular build or combo. Some heroes suck, but have a combo or magical Christmas-land hand that can win them the game instantly, others work as hard counters to particular villains. That doesn’t make them good enough for me to put them in a high tier.
- This is based entirely on our experience playing these characters. Some we have played more than others. You may disagree with some of my picks
- This, like every tier list, is a very 2D view of hero strength. Don’t take it as gospel. Hero strength will vary dramatically based on how many packs you have available, the aspect you pick, and what other heroes you pair them with.
- Pretty much every single hero on this list is fun to play, and you can easily adapt the difficulty of each challenge to suit the heroes you’re playing. C-tier is far from unplayable.
With all that out of the way, let’s dive in.
S-Tier – The Strongest There Is
These heroes are fully capable of carrying pretty much anyone else on this list, and have few weaknesses. This is the sort of hero you can take into Galaxy’s Most Wanted or Mad Titan’s Shadow and not feel like you’re getting completely man-handled. These heroes are so strong that if you take them to a lesser challenge, you may find yourself… slightly bored. And no, despite the heading, I’m afraid Hulk’s not up here.
These characters I would regard as some of the strongest in the game at what they do, and here’s why:
- Doctor Strange is a master of control and conditions, with the most consistent play in the game – and in card games, consistency means power. His invocation deck allows him to keep the villain stunned and confused, and keep tough on the team with startling efficiency. The only times this doesn’t work out is against some of the newer villains with Stalwart and Piercing more readily available, which shut him down dead in his tracks. Doctor Strange is absolutely at his best when played Leadership, and I don’t think the other aspects begin to compare, but there’s a compelling argument to be made for Protection in multiplayer.
- Captain Marvel is a surprising pick to some, as she’s from the core set, which would normally mean that the power level creeping up would leave her behind in the dust. This isn’t true in this case, however, as Captain Marvel’s features boil down to three key things. First, she can generate an obscene amount of resources thanks to Energy Absorption’s whopping 3 energy. This lets her play… anything, with ease. Avenger Mansion? Two cards, or one card and a Quincarrier. Job done. The second major reason she’s up here is her hero abilities. For 1 energy resource, you can draw a card (remember, consistency=power), and heal once per round. When combined with her massive 12 health, this ability means she can effectively ignore a 1-damage minion indefinitely, or keep going in hero form long after lesser heroes would need to switch to alter-ego. Lastly, when in Alter-Ego, her ability allows other people to draw a card. This basically ups the power of anyone else at your table, as when she eventually does need to finish up her turn in Alter-Ego, she can use this ability to guarantee the next person has a great turn, offsetting the inherent issue of someone ending their turn in alter-ego significantly. Card draw should never, ever be underestimated, and Carol Danvers can use her power pretty much however you want – she’ll shine in any aspect (but I prefer Justice or Leadership on her, personally).
- Gambit is an insanely powerful all-rounder who has the most power in Alter-Ego that we’ve seen from any hero to date, combined with explosive bursts of damage.
- Spectrum is a new addition to the crew, but she’s massively useful. While I wavered on putting her in S vs. A, I believe she deserves her spot in this tier simply because of her versatility and sheer numerical output. Spectrum is one of the few characters who, regardless of her aspect, can dedicate her turn to doing a truly massive amount of damage or thwarting, allowing her to be who she needs to be at any time. She can protect herself while not wasting her next turn thanks to Pulsar Shield and her Pulsar form, which is uncommon for a lot of heroes, and she has resource generation out the wazoo thanks to a whopping two copies of Energy Duplication. Spectrum should absolutely never be underestimated, because she can become the right tool for the job almost every round. Spectrum’s versatility means you can pretty much rely on her in any role. We typically play her as Justice, but Leadership is a strong option. But then, so are Aggression and Protection. Seriously, just do whatever, she’ll cover the rest regardless.
- Venom is super strong! You can read more about Venom’s strengths and weaknesses here.
- Spider-Man (Miles Morales) is similar to Doctor Strange, as he can apply and exploit a lot of conditions. We have a review over his abilities and suggested decks.
- Ghost-Spider has similar versatility like Spectrum, and her innate ability to ready up during the enemy phase makes her strong during every phase. For more detailed look on her strengths and downfalls, read our hero review.
- Spider-Ham – The toon counters are very strong, as you can spend them as wild resources. He also comes with very strong damage cards, defence cards, and draw. However, Clarity of Purpose is what pushes him to S tier, as it allows Spider-Ham to damage himself on-demand for toon counters without requiring and enemy to attack him.
A-Tier – The Best at What They Do
These heroes are some of the best in the game, and in a fair and reasonable universe would be the top tier. In the interests of time, I won’t give a full paragraph for each of these, but they’re all the best at what they do. Man, now I wish Wolverine had a hero pack. Someday.
- Captain America – An absolute god solo, and a consistently strong Protection or Leadership pick multiplayer.
- Spider-Woman – Versatile, consistent, and powerful. Boot Camp builds in particular shine on her as an Aggression/Leadership hybrid.
- Scarlet Witch – Truly frightening damage output and wild magic capabilities make Wanda impressive, but playing fast and loose with the encounter deck can really bite you with some more challenging villains. Regardless, she’s strong enough to be a real contender!
- Quicksilver –
- Ant-Man– Ant-Man almost made it to S-Tier, and I keep moving him up and down. He’s one of the few heroes with a theoretically infinite damage combo, if you take him that way but even if you don’t, Ant Man hits hard. Most importantly, he almost never needs to flip to alter-ego, which reduces the threat your team generates significantly.
- Spider-Man (Core Set) – Spider-Man’s control abilities are extremely potent, and he’s one of the only heroes I’m aware of that can stun a villain in back-to-back activations thanks to Webbed Up (and even ‘stun’ a Stalwart villain!).
- Adam Warlock– I’ll admit, I’m biased. Adam Warlock is my current main character, and I love tinkering with him. His strength is utterly dependent on your deckbuilding and card pool, and he’s probably too inconsistent to appear up here. But this is my tier list, and he’s been smashing the villains I’ve played my personal deck with, so he gets to stick up here in A-tier.
- Black Widow– We’ve not had the most experience with Widow, but I repeatedly see reports of her dismantling extremely high-level content and controlling villains with ease, which is a typical indicator of a good hero. We’re going to have to revisit her soon, as on paper she has all the hallmarks of an A-lister – consistency, control, and focus.
- Valkyrie– We’re still experimenting with Valkyrie, but on the surface, Valkyrie appears to be absolutely excellent at the things she does. As an aggression character, she can take out minions without breaking a sweat, and as a protection character she can take hits like a champ and recover quickly afterwards. Her only issue is it’s easy for the Death Glow to get stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time, but generally that’s not big enough of an issue for her to drop a tier.
- Sp//der – She has really good resource generation and that would put her in S tier, if it wasn’t her her small hand size.
- Shadowcat – She has a great offensive playstyle that feels great when you get going. With more testing she might move up the ladder, but for now she’s down in A as her ability to ignore guard and patrol is extremely situational.
- Phoenix – She is a strong , aggressive character, but her nemesis is so crippling it knocks her down a tier.
- Rogue is a great all-rounder who’s an aggressive yet durable powerhouse who specialises in identifying lines of play that exist on the board and using them to set up massive combos. She’s definitely weaker than Gambit, however, particularly in solo play, due to her lack of resource generation and inflexibility with applying her touch.
- Wolverine is an absolute blast to play, and will absolutely dominate most villains, particularly in solo play. Unfortunately, some of the real heavy-hitters will stop him from making full use of his power fast, because it turns out Wolverine isn’t completely unkillable. To be quite honest, Wolverine is just a better Drax.
- Storm is extremely strong in 1-2 player, but her symmetrical effects can be a pain to manage, particularly in multiplayer. She’s still extremely strong, but she’s definitely harder to play than a character like Wolverine, and the results you get when played well don’t outstrip those of less annoyingly fiddly characters.
- Cyclops moves up the ranks with the release of more X-Men hero packs, particularly Storm. He’s honestly not deserving of this tier without additional support, which makes him somewhat of an outlier (we don’t like ranking heroes based on having bought other packs), but Cyclops effectively just keeps getting better the more X-Men they release. If you want to play Cyclops, at least pick up Storm as well.
B-Tier – Imperfect, But All We’ve Got
These characters are fine, but they have critical flaws that keep them out of the higher tiers. Most of the rationale here is negative, but they’re all perfectly playable, it’s just… they have problems.
- Black Panther – I love Black Panther, but only when played with Strength in Numbers – with a build focused around that, I would absolutely rank him up in the S-tier. This tier list isn’t nuanced enough to capture that, though, so he slips all the way down past A-tier because every other Black Panther build is just not that good
- Iron Man – My original favourite character, but I cannot truly justify keeping him in a higher tier when considering harder content. Iron Man’s biggest issue is his setup time, during which he absolutely needs to be carried by other heroes. This is, unfortunately, where you need the most power – once the board is stabilised, you’re winning, and all Iron Man will help you do is win more.
- Ms Marvel– Ms Marvel is a favourite of a lot of people, and probably the one I’ll get the most flak for putting down here, but she’s just not that good. Ms Marvel’s need to exhaust with every power is crippling, and as more cards have been added to the game, she’s just gotten worse with time.
- Vision – His ability to tank multiple minions and get away without a scratch is very useful, and gets him to the cusp of A-tier. However, he is missing the consistency and versatility of higher ranking characters. As a Protection- and Justice-focused hero, Vision doesn’t disappoint, but he doesn’t steal the show.
- Gamora– Gamora is an interesting mixed bag of tools. She’s an all-rounder who can thwart and attack with some of the best, but she’s very fragile and not the most reliable, in our experience. Definitely a character who shines more in solo play than duo or higher numbers of multiple players.
- Thor– Thor’s power is pretty much inherently tied to the power of Aggression as an aspect. He needs minions in play and engaged with him to matter, and as more and more cards that make that happen are added, he slowly moves up the list. The problem is, some of the new minions are brutal, and a character that relies on getting them in play is not always what your team needs.
- Star-Lord – Another controversial one, because Star-Lord can do some absolutely insane damage that will sometimes just kill the villain outright before anything else happens. But his power is too unreliable, and can lose you as many games as he wins you. As content and encounter cards get harder, Star-Lord gets weaker, and that’s just inherent to how he’s built.
- Rocket – Rocket is fun to play, but just too much of a glass cannon. He has no inherent resource generation, and his guns, while powerful, are vulnerable to discard and just plain bad luck. His health is low, saved only by his upgrade, so a lot of the time, Rocket requires someone to protect him far too often, and his contributions don’t justify the cost
- Nebula – Nebula’s awkward to play at times, and can have some really explosive turns, but she’s too inconsistent, and her need to constantly set up for the next turn instead of the current situation means that in multiplayer in particular, she can end up behind the times.
- Colossus – Great defender, but you can do only as much when you reply on a very fragile status card – tough.
C-Tier – The Rest
These heroes just don’t shine as brightly as the others. They’re good, but typically only at one thing, and they need help from at least an A-lister to succeed at the hardest challenges.
- She-Hulk – She Hulk’s limited hand-size means her options are extremely limited. She’s seen some more play recently in Strength in Numbers builds, but her limited versatility and need to flip to alter-ego every single turn can be a liability for the team.
- Hulk – Again, a limited hand-size leads to a low tier ranking. Hulk’s nowhere near as unplayable in multiplayer as some would have you believe on the internet, but he has some pretty extreme challenges. In lower numbers of players, you pretty much have to build entirely around mitigating his weaknesses, but if you’ve got someone who can handle the threat solo, that frees Hulk up to do what he does best – smash.
- Hawkeye – Hawkeye is just too conditional. To do things that other heroes do with a flick of their wrist, Hawkeye needs his bow in play, and then he can only use one of his arrows per round. His health is low, the amount of value he can provide is limited, and there are just other heroes who are better at all the things he does. Sometimes a guy with a bow is just a guy with a bow.
- Wasp – Wasp is probably somewhere between C and B tier, because she’s certainly better than others down here, but she’s just not… that good. Ant-Man being such a powerhouse with similar mechanics really dropped her into the shadows, but Wasp’s cards just aren’t impressive for what they do.
- Groot – Groot’s kit is at odds with itself. It’s totally fine, but Groot’s abilities scale with growth counters. To gain growth counters you have to not take damage. Groot’s biggest contribution to his team requires him to take damage. So you end up with one of two things – a tanky protection hero who does nothing but defend, or a weird build that requires him to avoid damage at all costs. The former, other heroes can do with ease and allies, while still contributing to the team. The latter, other heroes can do without needing so much protection. This leaves him in an unfortunate place when compared to other heroes.
- Drax – This one hurts me. I love Drax. He’s fun to play, feels great, and is exactly the playstyle I expected and wanted from him. The problem is his entire design is based around getting hit by the villain. Against some villains, this is fine. But the truly dangerous villains like expert Thanos or Ronin can deal upwards of 8-10 damage every attack. Drax simply cannot survive the heaviest hitters, and there are now just too many villains where being attacked is a liability. Drax can absolutely have fun with lower difficulty villains, but on an objective power scale, he’s just not an option for the hardest content. You can read more about Drax’s strengths and weaknesses in our hero review.
So there you have it. That’s my take on the current roster. Disagree? Feel free to tweet us over at @cardboardchamps on Twitter, and I’ll take the time to remind you that this is all just my opinion after playing a few games with each character.