1-4 player 45-90 minute ages 14+ language dependant : yes
Written by Arnuald
Fantasy Flight Games is an editor who likes to flirt with licenses. It regurgitates them in many versions and even created its own style of game: the Living Card Game. The LCG is a card game that will be provided with, depending on its success, many extensions packets to enrich it with new challenges. After Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, A Game of Thrones and Arkham Horror, the newest Universe to be given an LCG treatment is that of Marvel. Here we have the right play cooperative card game in which the players will each play a hero and fight together to triumph over a scenario linked to a villain. Heroes and alter egos. For now, only the basic game box is available and allows you to play 4 of the 5 heroes present. Peter Parker aka Spider-man is a young student looser on whom rests all the weight of the world following the death of his uncle Ben. Torn between his odd jobs, the College, the girls, he is the representation of the ordinary hero, human and tortured.
The multi-billionaire Anthony Stark aka Iron Man is an arrogant playboy whose technological genius allowed him to manufacture an almost indestructible armor and endowed with the top of the armament of his company.
Jennifer Walters is a lawyer and cousin of Bruce "Hulk" Banner. Following an injury, her cousin gave her a blood transfusion which transformed her into Miss Hulk. Less powerful than her cousin, she manages to control her transformations.
T'challa, the Black Panther, is the heir to the throne of Wakanda, a small country in Africa which owes its wealth and technological advance to Vibranium, a rare metal teeming underground.
Carol Danvers is a former US army pilot. An accident contaminated her DNA with that of a Kree, a powerful alien race. Become Captain Marvel, she acquired extraordinary powerful powers, like flight, the projection of photonic energy and a great strength.
Form a deck team!
This duality is important since it is part of the heart of the Marvel Champions game. Each hero is represented by a double-sided character card: one side with their alter-ego and the other their superhero version. An important concept since depending on which side is face up will determine that characters, powers, actions, the hand size and the cards they can play. All will differ.
The card deck of a hero is made up of different types of cards: · Events which are generally the most emblematic attacks of each character (repellant rays of Iron Man or kick of Spider-Man)
· Allies who will be able to support them (Spider-Man is really well off with Black Cat, the delicious Félicia Hardy in a leather costume too small for her)
· Improvements which are generally emblematic objects of the character and which will remain in play (with Iron Man, we have the whole panoply of the character with armor, helmet, gloves, boots and the reactor!)
· Supports, in the form of characters or places (Aunt May makes an excellent regenerative soup while the Avengers mansion allows you to draw additional cards). Each player adds their affinity cards to a deck. These cards are specialized in a way of playing. There are 3 special affinities in the basic box, as well as basic deck of cards. The affinity Justice makes it easier to manage the villain's scheme, the affinity Protection … protects and treats the affinity then Aggressiveness increases the damage inflict
Using all these cards, players will therefore design decks based on the character and the way of play they choose.
Cards in hand
Marvel Champions is played in two phases: in turn order, each player performs all the actions on their cards, then move on to the violent turn of the Bad Guy. What actions are there? Each card has a resource cost (there are 3 different ones in the game) which must be paid by discarding cards containing this same number of resources. And that's all ?
Not really. Some cards have a temporary effect, others remain in play and are immediately usable to attack the villain immediately, or for any usual game effect (drawing cards, healing, lowering the threat, etc.). Once per turn, the player can decide if they wish to turn over their character's card, from their secret identity to hero form (or vice versa). Because it is on one side or another, the actions available will be presented to you. On top of that, some cards may require a particular identity side.
This system of play is rather traditional. And therefore necessary to master the terminology of all keywords to get the best use possible out of your cards. You must optimize because the challenge is not easy. Once all your actions are done, it passes to the next player. Once all the players have passed, they straighten all their used cards, raise their hands to their maximum size. And they will need it because we are going to ...
The Evil Phase !!!
We almost forgot that one! Three Villains are available in the basic box.
The first two are more of the underlings: the Rhino, a recurring enemy of Spider-Man is ideal for learning the game, as he does not pose a great threat; Klaw, the sound master is an enemy of the Black Panther and will bring a little more difficulty.
Finally Ultron gratifies us with his presence, and here we enter a category of Villain not easy to fight, a real challenge.
At the start of the game, you will therefore have chosen an Enemy, two cards among three to determine the difficulty of the scenario played, Scheme cards, deck of cards to which you must add Encounter cards (additional scenarios like bomb alerts, civilians to save or enemies who will come to support the Evil One).
And here we are at the very heart of the game. To win, you have to remove all the hit points of all your villain cards, while preventing the threat from reaching the value indicated on the Scheme card. Otherwise it's instant defeat.
And the level of scheme goes up quickly, very quickly. The Villain's first action is to gain Threat, then they attack all of the Heroes. If players have kept their alter-ego face, he is Scheming instead!
Then each hero receives a card from the Villain deck which they will have to resolve alone. This tour of the Villain is fast, but particularly brutal.
The Players must really cooperate as best they can with each other to manage the Threat to bring down, attack the Villain, get rid of the minions who come to help them and go back under their secret identity to be able to heal themselves. Each choice is essential, the game really gives the impression that the bad guys are powerful and harasses the players.
The game also attacks the poor costumed heroes, since every super hero's weaknesses arise from time to time: their Obligation. Each hero has a weakness (money problem for poor Peter Parker or a need to take care of his kingdom for T'challa) in the form of a bond card. This card is put in the Villain's deck during preparation and is given to its owner as soon as it is drawn. They will have to solve it before doing anything else!
With great power comes great responsibilities!
Marvel Champions is for me a real success in the adaptation of the super heroic license. Marvel Legendary had already been a good deckbuilding game, but it didn't allow you to play a single Character and missed that personal touch to each character. Here we embody a superhero, their strengths, weaknesses, allies, and enemies. The villain of the script of course, but also a Nemesis which is unique to each hero and which can come and play the spoilsport at any time.
The components are impeccable. The illustrations really stick to the comics and the identity of each character. The choices are really difficult between keeping cards for later because they are very powerful, or getting rid of them to take the corresponding resources. The hero's strategy can be changed due to the villain's threat level. During his turn, he can indeed gain more threat than expected. Thus, the hero can be forced to try a finish him to prevent him from running away.
The only big black spot of Marvel Champions remains its distribution. Problem of success, orders or production capacities, the basic box quickly found itself out of stock. And its first extensions are taking the same direction. Released on January 31, they are almost impossible to find ...
The game also remains strangely very anchored only in the universe of the Avengers. No cosmic hero, no X-Men, no Fantastic Four, all that leaves questions about the very content of the license. Unless boxes of extensions are planned to open this universe to the ship of the guardians of the galaxy, the laboratory of Red Richards, the Manor of the gifted young people of Professor Xavier or the coming of Galactus, preceded by his faithful Silver Surfer . Characters and scenarios that make fans of Marvel comics dream, questioning where the game will take them.
Technical score 9/10 As usual for the editor, the material is impeccable; the illustrations of the cards, without being produced by recognized comic book authors, are in tune. The rest of the material is made up of tokens, made of very thick cardboard, colored as necessary to permeate the Marvel Universe. FFG keeps its habits by providing its two famous usual rule books (learning and lexicon). A note of 8 that my fan side goes to 9, I still grew up reading the Golden Age of the X-Men by the pair Claremont / Byrne!
My BGG score 8/10 A game that will appeal to fans of card games: Marvel Champions is fluid, fast, combinative, ideal for the more gamers who will be able to optimize their decks thanks to the basic affinities, and to the new cards which will come to grow this brand. For players who are less demanding but a fan of the license, the pre-built packages will be more than enough to have a good time.
Combined score of 8.5 / 10 And now it's your turn to play ...
Do you have a little time in front of you? Are you a fan of the Game of Thrones? Do you love Bruno Cathala's games? Want a game that's easily transportable? Why not take a look at this game that seems to have everything to please you ... The King's Hand is a game that Fantasy Flight Gamesreleased in 2016. This is a little collectible game by Bruno Cathala.
The King's Hand is based on the license of the most watched series of the moment: Game of Thrones. Here, we are closer to novels with the presence of characters absent from the TV series. Once played, you won’t make that mistake again. The theme could have been anything else. Fortunately, the game has the talent of illustrator Mihajlo Dimitrievski. This one offers his personal vision of the characters. Halfway between realism, the cartoon and sometimes the manga, his touch are easily recognizable. The game is based on the license without going beyond offering a specific gameplay. We are clearly in a collector's game, leaning strongly towards the abstract game. The seven great families are represented by characters: Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Targaryen, Greyjoy, Tully, Tyrell. Your goal will be to collect the maximum in order to win their coat of arms. To become the King's Hand, you will need to get support from the houses. At the end of the game, the player with the most banners behind them, wins.
The game consists mainly of thirty five cards, representing families. Each family is made up of a different number of characters. This number is recalled on the cards. For example, there are seven Greyjoy members while there are only two Tully. So you take all these cards, you mix them well and you place them on the table in 6x6 square. This play area represents King's landing. Among these cards, there is one special card: Varys. The spy master is not part of any family. It is with him that you will play. On your turn, you will move him on a column or line.
The player, who’s turn it is, will choose one of the cardinal directions and will indicate a family. They have to move Varys to the last card of this family in that direction. They then gains this card (the Spider takes its place) as well as all those with the same family name that Varys passed through. The player then counts the number of cards of this family that they own. If they have the majority or equal with the player who has the most, they take the family's coat of arms. They then keep this until another player equals or exceeds it. Depending on the family, some banners will be easier to win than others. But that's not all, whether you own or not the coat of arms, if you take the last card of a family in King's landing, you win a bonus. The game ends when it is impossible to move Varys.
During the installation, you have to mix some smaller cards. Companions. You draw six that will be the only ones used during this game. The companions correspond to emblematic characters of the works. Each brings you a specific bonus to play immediately. Thematically, they feel that there was a semblance of effort to stick to the universe. You win a companion when you take the last card of a family in King's landing.
There you go. Besides the universe, the strength of the game is its simplicity. The rules are explained and very quickly understood. During the first games, we played with very little feeling. But very quickly, we felt that this abstract game hides something more tactical. From there, the game takes on another meaning, another flavor. I’ll just tell you right now, if you play against someone accustomed to chess or other tactical games, you will have little chance of winning.
When reading the rule, the game seems to offer luck that allows everyone to have the chance to win. But in reality, the luck is absent from the game. If we want to quibble, the only time you’ll feel this is at the time the game is laid out. But it is also what allows the game to be replayable. This setting up different for each game is a real bonus and allows The Hand of the King to renew itself from one game to the other.
The interaction is ubiquitous. You must continually pay attention to what you do and what the other player has so not to risk giving them a big advantage. At every moment you have to visualize the progress of the game and plan a turn in advance. And again, it is a minimum. If you play like a jerk, you will quickly find yourself behind.
The addition of companions is nice. It also hide a little unexpected side that allows you to have more surprises and twists. There are also some neat little deceitful moments. On rare occasions, using the right character at the right time can turn the situation around. But they are not so easy to obtain. Companions alone will not save the game against players who want a real turn of events or make the game more fun.
We can legitimately ask questions about the replayability of the game. To be too computationally, the only real thing that renews the games is the positioning of the maps in King's Landing and the available companions. This may be enough for a dozen games, but in the long run the game is less likely to come out, only to be played occasionally.
The big advantage of the size of the box and its ease of transport are offset by the place it once took on the table. The square of 6x6 occupies a rather important place. So, it will not necessarily be able to be played anywhere.
Contrary to what is stated in the rules and on the box, the game is clearly a game for two players. Playing with four and especially the three are to be avoided. The game loses all interest, becoming largely less controllable and favoring Kingmaking. The team mode or the raven variant does not save the game either. We really feel that to sell more, the number of players has been artificially increased. I can only advise you to stick to two.
Even if the theme is clearly there to sell, the game serves to be something other than a derivative product. I feel that the author tried to do what he could to stick closer to the original work. Whether you like it or not, the illustrations bring a unique stamp to the game. The speed of the game is a real quality for this type of game. You will be surprised to chain them easily together. Ideal for two players, perfect for those who hate luck, The Hand of the King can surprise you with its qualities. Sold at a small price, it would be a shame to miss this little game that can fit in the hand ... the king.
Technical Score 6.5 / 10 The game is quick to install, easy to carry. The graphics add to the atmosphere. Everything is clear and easily playable. Having something other than a card for Varys could have been nice to better spot his presence. Contrary to the box size, once installed, it takes up space. By cons, for the price, the fun factor is there.
My BGG Score 6/10 (Ok game, like to play from time to time) I admit that the license Game Of Thrones plays a lot in my desire to play again. But the theme is quite abstract. The game is short, tactical, devoid of chance ... Maybe too much. It may be the surprise side or the possible reversal of the situation.
Combined Score 6.25/10 Now, it's your turn to play ...
January. What a month it has been. Stuffed after Christmas. Marinaded on New Year. Then tickled pink on the Birthday.
I did get to play quite a few games as well. Some family favorites as well as some new ones that flew under my nose. From the wonderful Clans of Caledonia (Karma Games) to the Wall in Catan (Fantasy Flight Games), with the Brotherhood of the Watch. I hiked around the beautiful Okanagan: Valleyof the Lakes (Matagot) and visited an old favoratite place with a Splendor (Space Cowboys) new view of the city.
And I delve into board game app's. As there were a few time in the month where I played Mansions of Madness (Fantasy Flight) alone. Or I was joined with my daughter in the fight to save the galaxy in Rising 5 (Holy Grail Games). playing with these app's got me thinking, are they good or bad for the hobby? And most importantly, do they work?
But you can see and hear about all these things, in my double-back monthly blog
What is "the Monthly Video?" 0:20 A Review of Reviews 1:41 First and the Last 3:15 Question Time 12:50 The Monthly Giveaway 21:52
Let me know in the comments, what you think about board game app's. And if you have a question that you'd like me to open up in Question Time.