Marvel Champs Monday: Hydra Modular Melancholy

Note: This is a part of a collaboration of creator content, Hydra Rising. For more content from this series, click here.

Phil: Rise of Red Skull has provided players with a much-needed boost to their villains roster, with new adversaries to duke it out with and some exciting new deck-building options to consider.

Luke: If only the modular sets lived up to the other content in the box.

Phil: Duuuuuude, I thought we agreed we were going to be positive this article.

Luke: I’m sorry, I’m just too broken up about it. After the wildly disappointing mess that was Wrecking Crew, which came with 0 – count ’em – *0* modular sets, I was rearing to get 5 more modular sets to throw into the mix, same as the base set. And what did we get? 3 measly modular sets, one of which feels rather derivative.

Phil: I mean, 3 isn’t so bad-

Luke: The Green Goblin pack, a stand-alone villain pack, had *4* modular sets, each of which was incredibly different and is still a ton of fun to see in play. Electro is rude, Tombstone is the worst, and Scorpion is easily one of the most challenging modular sets released yet, not including Ronan.

Phil: That pack was a treasure-trove of content, wasn’t it? Good times…

Luke: So yeah, compared to modular sets of the past, the offering on display this time around is pretty lackluster to me. But let’s take a look at each and why I find them to be disappointing and indicative of a greater issue within the game.

Phil: Well, I think we can both agree that the best of the lot is Weapon Master. While the weapons included aren’t necessarily the most powerful, when combined with already powerful villains like Ultron or to villains that play off of attachments like Rhino, this can be a pretty brutal and exciting bunch of cards to add to the mix.

Luke: Even if the weapon effects are underwhelming, the fact that you have to spend resources to remove them from play can be overwhelming its own right. Attachments have a knack of wearing down the players whether you choose to deal with the effects or actively seek to remove them.

Phil: I know you’ve said that it was the inspiration for a custom campaign that you’re currently building?

Luke: Yeah, at some point in the near future I hope to share that with folks so they might provide some feedback. But enough about that! Let’s move on to Hydra Assault, a sneaky but somewhat unexciting set.

Phil: Leaning almost entirely on 2 new minions, Hydra Assault borrows from sets of the past, looking to make a nuisance of itself. The minions aren’t particularly difficult, but seek to undermine the player by removing Support cards from play and dealing extra damage.

Luke: To be fair, each minion introduces some subtle ways of being obnoxious, and Hail Hydra! helps keep them in play more often than not. Even when boosted, they can haunt players with less than savory cons.

Phil: I think what makes these guys kinda boring, though, is the theme. Sure, this is a Red Skull set that focuses on Hydra, but we already have a ton of Hydra agents already in the game. Many villain Nemeses employ Hydra soldiers and we already have Legions of Hydra. I’d have rather seen this as an extension of Arnim Zola’s experiments, something more creative than a new type of the guys in green spandex.

Luke: But the far bigger offender of this is Hydra Patrol. This modular encounter is a mess. Almost entirely based on Legions of Hydra but less punishing, it barely has anything unique or original about it.

Phil: We’ve seen Hydra Soldiers again and again in this game, so they aren’t anything new or special. And Hydra Regulars, while new, are also in Spider-Woman’s Nemesis set and have pretty boring stats, making them underwhelming and repetitive.

Luke: The only truly special card in this set is Hydra Patrol, which is basically is Hail Hydra! was a side scheme. Nothing about this set stands out as incredibly fun or exciting.

Phil: But what makes this all the worse is that this modular set is required for the Taskmaster fight, making it essentially an extension of that combat. Sure, you can use this fairly underwhelming set in other fights, but in my mind, this might as well not be a modular set, as I’ll just leave this attached to Taskmaster for the foreseeable future.

Luke: The idea of a modular set that is required for a specific villain really irks me in a big way. The point of modular sets, to me, is customizing a fight, making it more or less difficult and creating scenarios that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

But by requiring a specific modular set for a certain villain, you are basically saying that this is an integral part of this fight but can be ripped out wholesale and be used elsewhere. Why couldn’t Taskmaster just require 2 modular sets, shifting his set-up to require a different side scheme to start in play?

Phil: It is a choice that seems to make little sense, devaluing the modular nature of that set. And if you are going to make a modular set that is required for a specific fight, why not make it a more unique experience? These generic Hydra soldiers could have easily been replaced by, I don’t know, a modular set that features the captured heroes from this same villain?

Luke: Or maybe the Experimental Weapons set from Crossbones? The cards already have their own name, unlike other sets that include separate decks.

Phil: At the end of the day, a modular set is far more satisfying when it is fully modular rather than sometimes required. But if FFG insists on them being there, why not make them more interesting?

Luke: Rise of Red Skull, while giving us some great content to play with, is certainly a mixed box in terms of how it’s presented and the quality of content. But for today, I think our message is clear; modular sets are methods of adjusting the difficulty of encounters that are fun and thematic while adding flavor. This is most certainly a factor that contributed to the disappointment that is Wrecking Crew, the least enjoyed set thus far. Hopefully, Kang’s set will show us a generally better experience in this set, benefitting from the knowledge of the past and future.

Phil: What do you think, are the modular sets as disappointing as we suggest? Let us know your thoughts down below, and we’ll see you next week!

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