Luke: We’ve seen it time and again, with She-Hulk, then Thor, and now Hulk. Characters with smaller hand sizes, across the board, have seen heavier scrutiny than any of the other characters in the game, generally speaking.
Phil: We’re not here to rail against that scrutiny; in fact, we think it’s a trend worth taking note of.
Luke: While it may be strange to some players that this can be such a sticking point, it’s clear that hand size is a wildly important element of how any hero plays, forming their play style and strategies. Those with fewer cards in hand are often faced with different issues and have to employ wily tactics to make up for the disadvantage.
Phil: Of course, there is one big boon when drawing fewer cards; you’re making your way through your deck more slowly, meaning you’re triggering fewer Encounter cards.
Luke: Sure, on the surface that can be helpful. One Encounter can make all the difference, depending on what it is. However, this can also lead to some sizable issues, namely in regards to building your engine. By drawing fewer cards, it may take longer for you to dig for that one card that you needed 5 turns ago, making some games particularly difficult, depending on how the deck has been shuffled.
Phil: That can certainly be a huge sticking point, leading to swingier games due to the luck of the draw than those that have more options in their hand on average.
Luke: Having more options provides more flexibility, which allows you, as a player, to be able to react to more on average. We’ve all had those games where She-Hulk drew 4 ally-related cards with no allies in play to use them with, and it can be infuriating to draw into a bum hand.
Phil: I know I almost smashed my deck when my Leadership Hulk drew nothing but resources.
Luke: That’s another thing; because a player’s hand size is smaller, they need more resources in their deck to pay for things more consistently. Yet by adding more resources, you are more likely to get those bum hands.
Phil: It’s a vicious cycle for sure, for some heroes more than others.
Luke: Of course, Hulk is the biggest offender of this. Not only does he have a tiny hand of options, but when he has cards that can’t be used, they’re thrown away, regardless of how useful they might be in a turn or two.
Phil: Because of this need to limit the price of many of the cards in your deck, these heroes often need decks that have a low-cost barrier and a bit of versatility in how their deck works.
Luke: This often pressures these characters into the Leadership Aspect, which has low-cost allies that can make up for what the hero can’t do in a given turn.
Phil: Yes, other players can make up for your hero’s deficiencies, but being able to do something of value every turn is too important, often necessitating a flexible design, which allies inherently provide.
Luke: And with more and more tools that keep allies in play for longer, it can seem like the most straightforward option.
Phil: That’s not to say that these heroes can’t be successful in other Aspects, but it’s rare that these heroes can survive as Protection heroes. The fewer cards you can draw, the less likely you can pay for cards during the villain phase and have enough to pay for cards during the hero phase as well. Protection also forces the hero to stay in their hero form for longer, drawing fewer cards for longer stretches of time.
Luke: In many ways, hand size can become a barrier to entry for certain play styles, and while that’s all fine and well, it can make them feel less interesting to design decks around. To me, designing a deck is only as fun as the number of ways you can build an effective deck. If I have a character that can be played in 6 or 8 different ways, it’s fun to figure out the particular way that suits me. It feels individualized, like I have ownership over that version of the character.
Phil: But if a character has to be built in a particular manner to do well, that can feel deflating, like you’re just copying off of someone else’s notes during a test.
Luke: A feeling that I’ve gotten a lot when tooling around with Hulk.
Phil: Say what you will about hand size and the characters that have a lower card draw, but it’s an element that affects how effective a hero can be. It can encourage a certain playstyle, which can be fine, but it can also pressure players to do certain things with that hero too regularly, resulting in boring and repetitive iterations.
Luke: We’re sure to be revisiting this topic when we tackle the green goliath next week. But until then, play more Champs, and we’ll see ya’ll next time!