Jean Grey is an extremely powerful mutant and The Dark Phoenix Saga is one of the most popular story lines. This pack does a wonderful job combining both of these key features to bring a powerful new hero to Marvel Champions. In this article, we’re going to take a quick look at her strengths, weaknesses, and the aspects we think work the best for playing one of the most powerful threats and heroes in the X-Men, Phoenix.
The unique setup card for Jean is the iconic Phoenix Force. This permanent shows if you are Restrained or Unleashed and changes your basic stats accordingly, with higher attack in Unleashed form and higher Thwart when Restrained.
This one card is pretty much the root of almost all of her strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to have a handle on how it works. Most of her cards care if your restrained or not (including her Obligation), and almost all of Phoenix’s events do something extra if you are Unleashed. She starts with 4 counters on the unleashed side, and while taking counters off Unleashed is easy, especially with her ability to remove counters to generate resources, it’s much harder to put counters back on and get the Phoenix back in its cage.
- Strong basic powers.
- Can revive after the first death.
- Can control minions.
- Can be steady or have retaliate, with aerial.
- Can generate a ton of resources, or deal a ton of damage, depending on her form.
Phoenix has a 3 base stat in Thwart and once unleashed she gets a 3 in Attack instead. This makes her very flexible depending on what you need at each stage of the game. It can be hard to get back into Restrained once Unleashed but not impossible by any means.
You cannot have a phoenix without rebirth. That is represented by the pricy upgrade Rise from the Ashes. With the new villains and modules, with indirect damage, surges on every other card, and attacks that can immediately murder you even in alter ego form, having this upgrade on the field can be the difference between winning and losing.
Mind Control is extremely good value when dealing with a villain or a module that has healthy strong minions. For example, the sentinels come with a 8 health non-elite minion. For 4 resources, you not only remove a 8 health minion, but gain an ally that has 3 attack, 3 thwart that can perform 8 attacks. With a such powerful potential, no wonder it is a single copy.
Phoenix Suit is a favourite of mine, as it gives you Steady (two status cards per condition are needed in order to be confused or stunned) when you are Restrained, or Retaliate 1 (deal 1 damage after you get attacked) when Unleashed. On top of that you can always be Aerial, which is not to be underestimated with the powerful cards that came with Star-Lord Hero Pack, which can only be used when you have the Aerial trait.
- Her nemesis side scheme can and will lose you the game.
- Her nemesis side scheme cannot be removed once in play.
- Her nemesis is very strong.
- Once Unleashed it is hard to go back to Restrained.
The biggest problem with Phoenix is her nemesis, Dark Phoenix, and her side scheme Consume the World. This is the first nemesis side scheme that not only cannot be removed but also can lose you the game. If that was not bad enough, Dark Phoenix is a 12 health villainous elite minion that can be really hard to get through. This is wonderfully thematic, because while Phoenix is incredibly powerful, the threat of the Dark Phoenix is extremely scary and could lose you the game at any time.
Another problem with Phoenix is controlling your Phoenix Force. It is easy to become Unleashed, which is great as most of her powers are made to be used in that form and are considerably powerful, but that means that being Restrained feels like you play half a character, unless you lean into her resource generation, which goes away once Unleashed, resulting in dead cards in your hand. Going back to Restrained so you can have high thwart, does feel like you’re restraining the character. That said, it is a problem only if you want to play her in Restrained side. If your deck is instead built around her Unleashed side (which we recommend), it doesn’t feel like a downside, and is simply part of your setup.
Aspect Pairings for Phoenix
When it comes to aspects, Phoenix is incredibly flexible, and can probably flex to fill any role, so let’s look at how each of the aspects works with Phoenix.
Phoenix comes with a prebuilt Justice deck, but that deck is very weak and needs a lot of reworking, like most prebuilt decks. Phoenix may have 3 thwart, but that is only when she is Restrained, and her full potential and power comes when she is Unleashed. That being said, Justice is actually extremely powerful on her, as you can fill your deck with thwart events like For Justice and Multi-tasking in order to really lean into her ability to blow things up while unrestrained and take care of threat. The real star is Psychic Manipulation, which feels like a must have with her, only because it is such a good card which currently only she can play.
In one card, you not only prevent a Scheme by the villain, but also remove threat from the main scheme. This means for the steep 3 resource cost, you can essentially remove up to 10 threat from the main scheme if the villain schemes for 5 (because you’re effectively preventing 5 threat and removing 5). Do not sleep on the power of this card.
Leadership and Phoenix makes for some interesting deck options. Cerebro allows you to pull out any X-Men ally, and paired with Danger Room (Cyclops #21), you can instantly attach Danger Room Training (Cyclops #15). You can power up your allies even more with Psychic Kicker, and get even more out of your Professor X (Mutant Genesis #19).
Aggression Phoenix decks can revolve around her Unleashed trait, going in for a one strong hit. That being said, her hero cards do plenty of damage, and you don’t always want to kill all the minions when you can potentially control one of them for yourself, which is not something Aggression likes to do.
Protection with Phoenix doesn’t come naturally, as her biggest strength is gaining retaliate and not dying the first time she would die, but it’s still not bad at all as Phoenix is a generally powerful character. Phoenix may not have her own defence cards like Ms. Marvel or Spectrum, but she can use Psychic Misdirection.
Our Phoenix Deck
This Phoenix / Justice deck allows you to deal damage while Unleashed and clean up the threat from schemes. This deck works well cleaning up multiple side-schemes, and can clean up low health pool minions. It is built for two or more player games, and can be played with our Cyclops deck (and was actually intended to do so!).
Marvel Champions’ Phoenix feels great to play, and very true to the character, unlike in the other X-Men game by Fantasy Flight Games’ X-Men Insurrection, which I think we’ve complained enough about by now. Ugh.
Phoenix is incredibly powerful, but held back from the ranks of the best characters simply because Dark Phoenix and her nemesis side scheme are such a huge threat. But that’s how Phoenix should absolutely feel, and they’ve done a fantastic job of translating her character into Marvel Champions.
If you feel like Phoenix seems too complicated for you, check out our How to play Phoenix guide.
- Great board-state control and damage output
- Incredibly thematic and true to the character
- Balancing Unleashed and Restrained feels extremely strategic
- Dark Phoenix will ruin your day