You can find a video version of this review here: Marvel Champions: Wasp Hero Pack Review [Living Card Game] – YouTube
The Little Big Hero
Wasp is the second hero to grace the game with a size-changing mechanic, though she functions quite differently than the previously released Ant-Man. The form swapping mechanic is neat, but a pain to sleeve with the giant-sized card. Wasp is similar to Ant-Man, and Captain America in the fact that she does a little bit of everything.
Unlike those two, Wasp is a jack of trades, and poor at pretty much all of it. I may get some flak for this, but I feel like Wasp is the first truly bad hero. At least with just her hero kit. Hulk and Thor aren’t incredibly popular within the community. But they have distinct and obvious strengths and weaknesses that allow you to account for them.
Wasp isn’t particularly good at anything. She can do a bit of it all, but there’s nothing that makes her noteworthy over any other hero. In most of my games with her, the aspect cards made far more of an impact than she did.
Most of her kit is boring at best, and sloppy at worst. She’s pretty squishy. Wasp has a big 3 defense in giant form, but she suffers pretty badly from being exhausted, as it stops her from taking advantage of her Rapid Growth card, Helmet and Giant Form ability.
That means she usually needs some allies to block for her. But she can struggle to provide enough resources to pay for a solid defense with enough left over to actually use them.
Part of the issue is her innate abilities aren’t really strong enough to warrant switching forms. On paper, her giant forms ability is pretty neat, but she rarely has the numbers to take proper advantage of it. And again, if she is exhausted from defending, she can’t perform her basic attack or thwart.
A lot of her kit consists of flat statistic buffs, but they aren’t strong enough to make her great at anything. Straight stat boosts are also kind of boring. Ant-Mans helmet was a key part of his gameplay style, Wasps Helmet just kind of exists.
The rest of her cards seem to be slap dashed together. Red Room Trainings Retaliate and Piercing feels odd with her character, and Bio Synthetic Wings is a pitiful attempt at keeping her alive. She loses control of the board so easily, it’s difficult to find the right time to play either of them anyway.
Pinpoint Strike and Wasp Sting are both really great offensive cards. If you can get Wasps feet planted on a solid foundation, they can feel pretty great. Her Ant-Man ally is also a versatile card that plays off of her size. If the rest of her kit was more focused, I think she would end up solid, the potential is there.
But as it is, she feels like she’s being held together by duct tape. Two heroes attempting to use the same size-changing mechanic was probably a mistake. It really seems like Ant-Man received the bulk of good mechanics that could be based around it, and Wasp got whatever was left.
In my time with Marvel Champions, most games are a back-and-forth tug of war with the Villian. With Wasp, I always felt like I was behind the 8 ball, solo or in multiplayer. It was a constant struggle just to keep up enough to contribute anything, and that was with any aspect.
You can certainly mitigate some of her failings with Protection or Justice. But I can’t find a solid reason I’d ever want to play her over another hero, and for Wasp fans, that really stings.
Fortunately, Wasp comes with a host of Aggression and Basic cards that might make up for her lacking kit. I could see some of these cards becoming absolute staples going forward.
The Power in All of Us grants Basic cards the same energy-giving double power as the aspect-specific cards, Such as the Power of Aggression. Basic is very quickly becoming a fifth aspect of its own, and the Wasp pack is adding some buzz to its journey there.
Miles Morales Spider-Man is a strong and versatile 3 cost ally, and Iron Heart joins her fellow champion as a two punch cheap ally with card draw.
The Aggression aspect gets some heavy hitters too. Into the Fray is probably going to be an auto-lock for many aggression decks. It not only hits a minion hard, but also shaves off threat from the main scheme using excess damage. Aggression decks tend to struggle with threat, so I think a lot of heroes just got a really big power boost.
Boot Camp lets you add a bit of leadership to your aggression by buffing your allies. I like that varied playstyles are beginning to evolve and be supported within each aspect. Or you could just play Spider-Woman, combine Boot Camp with leadership cards and tell the villain to pound sand. Boot Camp is another solid addition.
Janet Van Dyne’s Wasp is a fantastic aggression ally with a versatile cost. She allows you to balance what you need from her, with what you can afford to pay. That sounded, kind of dirty. But really, it’s a great card. Lie in Wait is a new preparation card that should make Widow fans happy, and it’s a decent minion thumper too.
Surprise Attack is cheap and works for characters who change forms frequently such as Wasp, Ant-Man, and She-Hulk. While Jane Fosters Thor is another nice two-punch aggressive ally.
Leadership gains All for One which is another card that leans into using allies for more than chump blocking, which is great. Running Interference is a solid threat removal for Justice, but I’d be lying if I said some of the justice cards weren’t beginning to bleed together in my head.
Perseverance is the defensive side of Surprise Attack, but I think its use goes beyond heroes who change form frequently. A tough status card straight out of alter-ego form is seriously nice. Athletic Conditioning is a simple, cheap card that can really benefit any hero who gets screwed over by status cards.
Like the Ant-Man pack. Wasp also has a “basic” card called Swarm Tactics for the team-up effect if they are both in play.
I think I ranted about it enough in my Ant-Man Review. Suffice it to say, it’s only usable with Wasp and Ant-Man, and each one came with a copy, so why the heck is it a basic card?
The team-up effect between the two is largely underwhelming as well, I never found it particularly useful or exciting. I’ll probably remove it in any deck I play with them.
Aside from Swarm tactics. The cards outside of the Wasps Kit straight up salvage the pack for me. If I never play Wasp again, I’ll still be glad to have cards such as the Power in All of Us, Spider-Man, and Into the Fray in my collection.
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m probably going to be disappointed with most nemesis sets. But Beetle isn’t too bad, relative to some other sets. The fact that Beetle has guard and can be shuffled into the deck multiple times can actually make her a pain in the butt.
Her armor can make it worse, and it’s nice that if Beetles not in play, it goes to the villain. Beetlemania is underwhelming though, it’s just going to surge most of the time, a low-health minion really doesn’t last long, especially when it has guard.
Mothers Orders is pretty nasty though. Forcing you to pay precious resources to use basic powers really hurts a lot of heroes, that makes it a side scheme that you can’t ignore and an actual threat. It also has three boost icons, so it’s all-around a worthy nemesis card.
Wasps obligation fits the same bill as most obligations and isn’t really worth mentioning.
I really hate that this review is mostly negative. But I can’t help but feel that the designers are losing the thread a bit when it comes to theme. I’ll probably write an article and make a video on the topic in the future.
Some of the Wasps cards make perfect thematic sense, Pinpoint Strike, and Wasp Sting, for example. Her large form innate has some logic to it as well. But how does being tiny deal damage when a minion or side scheme is defeated?
It goes beyond the Wasps kit as well. As much as I love Into the Fray It doesn’t make sense, how does throwing yourself into the fray and wrecking a minion thwart a villain’s plan? Isn’t the point of hiring a minion to be a meat bag in the way?
Why does Miles Morales Spider-Man get a +2 to one of his stats the turn he comes out, instead of something more Spider-Manish? Why does Iron Heart let you draw a card?
I can’t really say that playing Wasp feels like Wasp, because it doesn’t feel like much of anything outside of just playing cards that have effects. Marvel Champions theme is incredibly strong, and I really hope this is a one-off goof.
Even if you don’t think about it often, the theme is important in any board or card game, it helps sell the mechanics and gives games a specific feeling beyond just numbers. I’d hate to see Marvel Champions lose that uniqueness into the type of blandness I feel with Wasp.
Out of the Box
The goal of any premade deck is to give you something you can open and jump into a game. If you do that with Wasp, you’re gonna have a bad time, plain and simple.
The pack comes with fantastic aggression and basic cards. But without the proper synergy to work with, or in my opinion counter Wasps failings, it just doesn’t work out. Aggression is the aspect that I believe, needs the most care when deck building, especially with certain heroes. Premade aggression decks are rarely noteworthy, but hero kits can often make up for it.
Wasps, to be perfectly blunt, doesn’t. The premade deck has too many holes, poor defenses, poor energy generation, and poor threat removal. It actually has threat removal tools, but they are difficult to use while you’re trying to keep Wasp from being swatted.
At the very least you are going to have to tweak the deck if you want to have some fun, if not rebuild it altogether. I feel like Wasp’s weakest aspect is Aggression, since Pinpoint Strike and Wasp Sting can hold their own, and other aspects are more helpful in aiding their usage.
Wasp is a bit of a honey trap. She was very nearly the first hero pack I was going to advise players to skip. However, the other cards that come with the pack are absolute must-haves. Aggression gets such a substantial boost, and there are so many great basic cards that the pack just can’t be ignored due to Wasp’s lackluster kit.
So while I find Wasp herself disappointing, the theme stretched thin and the premade deck nearly unusable, I still highly recommend picking it up due to every other card in the pack. Despite what I’m about to score it.
If you end up feeling the same way about Wasp as I do, you’re going to be paying a premium for a handful of cards and a hero that will never leave the shelf. It’s up to you whether or not it’s worth it. If you’re a hardcore fan who has collected everything, it probably is. If you’re a casual player, perhaps not.
You might also be interested in my review of the Marvel Champions Core Set.
- Fantastic new basic and aggression cards
- Solid additions to the other aspects
- Decent Nemesis set
- Lack Luster and bland feeling hero that feels boring at best
- Some cards don’t make thematic sense
- Premade deck is constructed poorly
- Swarm Tactics as a basic card is silly
- Teamwork between Wasp and Ant-Man is underwhelming