Marvel Champions: Wrecking Crew – A Crowbar in the Works

  • Designer: Caleb Grace
  • Artists: Uncredited, Various
  • Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
  • Release Date: February 2020

Phil: The Wrecking Crew, the last villain-based expansion until July when the big-box expansion releases.

Luke: I find it odd that they didn’t release Thor first, then Wrecking Crew, as they are typically a Thor villain and it would give more of a buffer between now and the next time we see a new villain set.

Phil: Regardless, here we are, a month later, and some people still don’t have it.

Luke: It’s a shame that the expansion was allocated, but I’m honestly all that surprised these days, what with the difficulty moving products overseas with the coronavirus being something on everyone’s minds.

Phil: Focus, Luke. Haaaaaaaappy thoughts.

Luke: Right. Wrecking Crew is a unique villain set for a couple of reasons. Firstly, rather than there being phases, this set pits the player against 4 villains simultaneously. Only 1 will act each round, based on how far along their unique side schemes have progressed.

Phil: How do you lose this time around?

Luke: There’s 1 main scheme that threatens to boil over, but it only gains 1 threat per player per turn. All villain scheming goes directly to their side schemes instead of the main scheme, meaning it’s nearly impossible to time out unless you’re really taking your time.

Rather, Wrecking Crew threatens to overwhelm you with the various enemies you have to balance and the punishing effects of their side schemes. If any villain side scheme reaches 10 threat, it activates for a generally punishing event before dropping back down to 3 threat. Additionally, they all attack for high values, keeping you on the defensive as much as the offensive.

Phil: The fact that there are 4 villains on the field is interesting, but how is the villain deck handled?

Luke: Each villain has their own deck of 15 villain cards that are used only when that villain is activated. While villains have their own cards, about 1/3 of each deck is reused across the other characters, removing a certain amount of their uniqueness in that regard.

But here’s the rub; the standard and expert villain cards are not used with the Wrecking Crew, meaning no arch-rivals, and no modular sets are used with the Wrecking Crew, meaning variability is boiled down to whether or not villains are in their Standard form or Expert form in any combination.

Phil: Oof, that’s kind of rough. I know one of your favorite parts of the Green Goblin expansion was the various modular sets that showed off a bunch of Spider-Man’s more memorable villains. To not have any of those here both robs Wrecking Crew of variation and robs the other villains of cool combinations to try.

Luke: Plus, after playing the Wrecking Crew a few times, you have an idea of what you’ll see pretty consistently. Since many of their cards are shared, you’ll see the same handful of minions come out and the same general effects fairly frequently. When the character-specific cards show up, they can be interesting and sometimes brutal, but you’ll just as often see them get tossed for attack or scheme actions.

Phil: So how are the villains different?

Luke: The leader of the team, The Wrecker, will destroy anyone who doesn’t block his attacks, adding +2 to his swing. Thunderball deals 1 damage to all your characters every time he attacks. Bulldozer has Overkill always and packs a big punch. And Piledriver has Retaliate 1 and removes your upgrades and supports.

Each does something different, but Thunderball and Piledriver can be more situational, as you may not have allys to damage or supports/upgrades to remove, than Wrecker and Bulldozer, who can always swing for high numbers.

Phil: And that’s really it, huh?

Luke: Yeah, due to how many cards were needed for the 1 villain scenario, that’s all you get. It’s a pretty disappointing package overall, in terms of content.

Phil: But how is the scenario we did get?

Luke: It’s alright. I find that Wrecking Crew highly encourages dealing as much damage as you can, removing each teammate one at a time. When a villain dies, so does their side scheme, meaning you can cancel out an awful effect just before it can trigger. You can use a more thwart-based build, but I’ve found it’s often better to take the bad effects than waste your actions on removing threat from anything but the main scheme.

Phil: So Aggression’s the name of the game?

Luke: Or Leadership, either will do. Even Protection will do a great job assuming you’ve got the damage to back it up.

Phil: So it doesn’t sound particularly hard.

Luke: It is and it isn’t. I’ve lost a few times, once timing out the game with a She-Hulk Justice deck, but usually it’s due to how villain cards have the potential to combo off of each other. Some cards in the set will allow another villain to scheme, which then draws a card that will let another villain attack you, and so on. The cards aren’t too common in any respective deck, but it’s happened enough times to feel frustrating to deal with. This combined with the stats some these villains are attacking with and you can find yourself dead very suddenly.

Phil: Which makes the end of a game feel sudden unsatisfying.

Luke: Exactly. In other villain scenarios, I rarely find myself getting smacked so hard I burst unless I have a general idea that it could happen and I’m playing a bit riskier or due to how the game has been playing out up until that point. With Wrecking Crew, games can either feel like a cakewalk or they can feel insurmountable.

Phil: Does the scenario get easier the more villains you defeat?

Luke: It can, but the more a couple of villains activate, the worse they can become to deal with. And if there’s only 1 villain left, some of their cards can make them activate multiple times.

Verdict: To me, Wrecking Crew is the least satisfying expansion to be released yet. It provides 1 thing to play with, and that thing feels inconsistent, and not in a good way. It’s a neat concept and was fun the first few times, but I already find myself being drawn back to Klaw and Mutagen Formula rather than face these bozos again, at least until I get my hands on Thor.

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