Marvel Champs Monday: Release Patterns Matter

Luke: Marvel Champions is a fantastic game for many reasons. Clearly, we feel that way, as it’s a game we discuss pretty regularly.

Phil: There’s something about the deck-construction, the genuine feeling of cooperation, and the tension that many of the villains pose that just works really well for us.

Luke: And yet… there’s something rather substantial that holds this game back. Not from a design perspective per day, but from a structural, corporate perspective; the release schedule.

Phil: Now, to be clear, we aren’t talking about the frequency of the content releases. Obviously, this has been a weird year for that, considering recent events, and we aren’t about to criticize anyone for such a world-altering event beyond anyone’s control.

Luke: What is under FFG’s control, though, is what content is released and in what order.

Phil: When Marvel Champions was first getting started up, the release schedule was one of excitement, interest, and hope, even before folks got their hands on it. After the base box, we would see a villain, then 2 heroes, and then another villain, a pattern that, to many, would seem reasonable and conducive to keeping the game alive and fresh.

Luke: It made sense for Norman Osborn to show up so soon after the base game, as players had 5 characters they were still learning and trying out. And with Cap and Ms. Marvel adding some new deck creation options and experiences all their own, it looked like this would be a formula that would carry the game far into the distance.

Phil: Regardless of the fact that all these pieces were eventually released simultaneously, the intent was that they would be released in this periodic manner, and in that way, it created a great feeling of progression for many gamers.

Luke: After the release of the largely disappointing Wrecking Crew, players were told to expect a new series of releases; 4 hero packs followed by a big box expansion, promising a whole bunch of new baddies to fight.

Phil: This makes sense in theory; we’re bound to see a bunch of new scenarios to fight down the road, so it’s obvious we’d see less of them in the regular cycle, right?

Luke: And yet, here we sit with a lot of the community vocally complaining about the few villains that we have to fight as it stands. With Wrecking Crew being a less popular release and Risky Business being criticized for being easier than Rhino, that leaves us with 4 villains that a majority of players find satisfying adversaries. I personally enjoy Risky Business as well, but I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Phil: This means that, as we get more heroes to toy with, we’re fighting against the same, small pool of villains, which can make the game feel stale. Even if you regularly circulate all 6 villain sets, it can feel tiresome after a while.

Luke: As someone who’s played 100+ times at this point, I’m craving more villains to take down in battles of glory. Custom Content can help with this, but there’s no replacing an official release from the game creators.

Phil: And looking forward, it appears FFG is intending on repeating this unfortunate cycle. After the Rise of the Red Skull set, set to double the villain pool, we’ll get yet another villain, the newly revealed Kang, followed by 4 more heroes before we see any other villains.

Luke: This looks like history ready to repeat itself, players getting a ton of 1 kind of content, then a ton of the other kind of content, rinse and repeat. The choice to release Kang immediately after the big box set is particularly baffling.

Phil: Are we excited for more villains, absolutely, but it would seem smarter to pace it out a little bit. Frankly, there ought to be a change to how the Marvel Champs content is released as it stands

Luke: That’s not to say that the big box is poorly formatted; we think 2 heroes and a bunch of new villains is exactly what the doctor ordered, allowing for the campaign mode to be a more realistic endeavor.

Phil: We’re not even suggesting they release a different quantity of content or in different sales packages. Rather, the change would be incredibly simple; FFG could release a big box set, then 2 heroes, then a villain pack, and then 2 heroes. Rinse and repeat.

Luke: Sticking the solo villain pack in the middle of the series of heroes allows for players to get some new deck-building options, then get a fresh villain to try them out against before getting more of the same content, all culminating in a mix of both.

Phil: It’s a subtle shift, but one that we think would help the game last that much longer.

Luke: Still, we have yet to see how satisfying the Rise of the Red Skull set is, and who knows what Marvel Champs has in store moving forward. But it’s worth notating a pattern that’s started and has been hurting the experience for some time now.

Phil: What do you folks think? Should the release schedule get shaken up, or are you happy with the pattern in which content is being released? Let us know your thoughts, and we’ll see you next week!

3 Comments

  1. Brad

    Luke’s comment about Mutagen Formula being easier than Rhino, does he mean Risky Business?

    I think it’s going to be up to the players to pace themselves. FFG seems like they’ll be releasing Villains mostly in the Story Boxes and Heroes mostly in packs.

  2. Phil

    Is there a known ETA for Red Skull in the States? I’m excited for Hawkguy.

    If I had to guess, villain packs probably don’t sell as well as hero packs, at least with casual players, and that would help explain the release schedule. The stock availability this spring/summer seemed to reflect this — both scenario packs were readily available at most outlets, even when the heroes were out of stock. Hopefully Red Skull will sell well, and we’ll keep seeing beefy boxes.

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