Marvel Champions: Galaxy’s Most Wanted Review

Galaxy’s Most Wanted is an expansion for the Marvel Champion’s LCG, the core set is required to play with Galaxy’s Most Wanted.

A video version of this review can be found here: Marvel Champions: Galaxy’s Most Wanted Review (Big Box Expansion) – YouTube

Overview

Marvel Champion’s go’s to space in the second big box expansion to release. So far the game has pretty much been about the Avengers, but now it’s the Guardian’s time to shine. Well, two of them for now anyway.

Much like Rise of Red Skull, Galaxy’s Most Wanted is a massive content drop for the game. The box features five unique scenarios, seven modular encounter sets, two heroes, and a new campaign mode that’s different from the one featured in Rise of Red Skull.

Another significant difference is Galaxy’s Most Wanted is a step up in complexity and challenge. Anytime someone is knocked out of their comfort zone, hostility is a natural reaction. Galaxy’s Most Wanted comes at you with a hammer to the knee. No seriously, have you seen the size of Ronans Hammer?

This is simply the natural evolution of any card game, but Galaxy’s Most Wanted does bring several of the core game’s design flaws to the forefront, most of them could simply be ignored before now. That subject is beyond the scope of this review, but you can look forward to future content where I explore some of the flaws and what we might be able to do about them.

Heroes

Galaxy’s Most Wanted features everyone’s favorite loud-mouthed Trash Panda and his friend tree. Rocket and Groot are a great way to introduce the Guardians to the game. Both of them have unique playstyles that honestly have a different thematic feel compared to the rest of the heroes. While Marvel is clearly about superheroes, the splash of Sci-Fi the box brings to the game is refreshing.

Both Rocket and Groot have a teamwork mechanic that featured in a few previous hero sets. Flora and Fauna play directly to the strengths of each character and are a direct boon to a team using Rocket and Groot.

Like other team-ups, you can use the teamwork card with an eligible ally, but that’s inconsistent. Unlike other heroes featuring a team-up, the intended allies are basic cards instead of being locked to the heroes kit. That means they can be swapped out instead of being dead cards when two players play Rocket and Groot. A fantastic change.

On top of that, both the Groot and Rocket allies are great cards. Groot being able to hold off some minions for several turns and Rocket being a great minion killer. It’s still weird that team-up cards are basic, but this is a much better implementation than in the past.

Sadly the premade decks for both heroes feature a ton of reprints, which is a huge disappointment if you have been collecting everything. Furthermore, it stains the Guardian’s unique feel, as you have many cards with Avengers artwork rather than new Guardians artwork.

Rocket

Rocket is all about guns, guns, more guns, and bigger guns. The furball is in fact a genius, but unlike some of the other Marvel big brains, he channels his into pure destruction. His tool kit is about playing restricted weaponry and overkilling everything in his way to draw cards.

Once he has exhausted his weapons of ammo, he can switch to alter-ego form and pitch the empty tech for even more cards. His arsenal includes pistols for targetted damage, rockets for an area of effect, and a Particle Cannon for when things really need to die.

The main sources of Rocket’s damage coming from his upgrades make him pretty versatile and leave his actual hero card free to address separate situations. He can thwart very well, especially when using his I Have a Plan card. Both his Attack and Thwart can be upgraded via Cybernetic Skeleton and Thruster Boots, but he a literal glass cannon.

After all, weapons and cybernetics aside, the little dude really is just a walking-talking trash panda. He has low HP, 1 defense, and only a couple of minor options to mitigate damage. Though the pure glee of battle can heal him up through Schadenfreude.

Rocket’s kit and playstyle are well designed, and it captures the feel of playing a gun-obsessed angry raccoon quite well. The great thing about Rocket is since his kit is so cohesive, he can be plopped into any aspect, and each one compliments him in some way. Whether it’s Protection covering his weakness, or Aggression adding more cannon to his glass.

Rocket’s premade deck is fairly decent in a specific context. That context is a three to four-player game where you are the designated minion killer. His premade deck is pretty much nothing but a minion-wrecking powerhouse, and it works if you’re covering four players’ worth of minions. In smaller games, you have a lot of dead hands.

Groot

Groot’s interesting because his core design can branch off in a couple of directions depending on your aspect and build. At face value, he is a super tank. His alter ego ability, and cards like Fruition allow him to build up growth counters. Growth counters block damage and then are discarded, which makes Groot one of the strongest defensive heroes in the game.

On the flip side, Groot has great offensive and even thwarting potential with I Am Groot, and I. AM. GROOT. As well as versatile upgrades such as Lashing Vines, Entangling Vines, and Vine Spikes. But they all use his growth counters. It’s an interesting dynamic forcing you to choose to use the growth counters to protect Groot or use Groot’s strong defense to protect the counters.

Alternatively, with the right build, you can do a little of both by flipping to alter-ego mode often, and it’s really fun to decide on that build and balance. Both when making the deck and during each and every game.

Groot’s premade Protection deck faces a similar problem to Rockets. It has one job, which is to protect the player who is playing Rocket and not much else. It does a poor job of showing off Groot’s potential. Some of the new cards make sense, such as Fighting Fit, Dauntless, and Hard to Ignore. But they aren’t properly supported in a meaningful way. You just struggle to keep growth counters on Groot to use for offense or defense at all.

The problem with all that is, that’s Groots weakness. Without the ability to use the counters, he largely becomes deadwood. He needs to be able to use them decisively, and the inability to keep them at all could give you a bad initial impression of an otherwise very strong hero.

Scenarios

Galaxy’s Most Wanted comes with five scenarios, most of which are unique and can fundamentally change how you think about the game. All of them across the board are a stronger challenge than other scenarios, even on standard. There’s an argument to be made that standard should be easier across each of them, but I disagree.

Standard is just a catch-all term for simply being easier than expert. But that varies wildly depending on the scenario, hero, and modular set used. Rhino is significantly easier than Ultron in the core set, and I doubt many would argue that he should be an equal challenge. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Four of the five scenarios include the Ship Command Encounter set. This signifies the battle taking place in space where the players get to control the Milano and it swaps to the first player each round. The Milano can generate a resource but is also used for other functions in each scenario. On paper and even mechanically, the idea is cool. Thematically, it’s a mess.

You have Spider-Man swing kicking Nebula in the face when he is in the Milano, and she’s in her own ship. It’s incredibly weird, and I know I tend to harp on the theme a lot, but the theme is the only thing that makes the cards your playing anything but a blank piece of paper with numerical game mechanics on it. So while the space aspect is a cool concept, I feel that it was poorly executed.

Drang

Compared to the other four scenarios, Drang feels the most familiar and is mostly in line with previously released scenarios. But Drang still has mechanics that make him fairly unique. The space combat concept is at the forefront with his Badoon Ship that charges up every turn and pelts everyone with damage when it fully charges.

Drang himself will also charge the ship if you give him time to scheme, so there is always an ever-present threat of getting nuked from orbit mid-fight. His scenario also utilizes the Milano, allowing you to remove threat from the main scheme with it and in a later stage, attack minions since his fleet invades the planet. A decision point players must always think about.

Several cards in his deck interact with the Badoon Ship such as Badoon Engineers and Bombardment, and Drang himself can be pretty nasty when equipped with his Spear. The overall feeling of the scenario is that you’re fighting off an army of invaders, and it feels great.

It can feel noticeably strange if you use him with a modular set that isn’t minion-focused. Drang only has 13 cards to himself, and you can lose the invasion feeling pretty quickly. Overall, Drang is a well-designed and fun encounter and is definitely the one you should start with after picking up Galaxy’s Most Wanted.

Collector (Infiltrate the Museum)

Infiltrate The Museum is going to be a point of contention for sure. The scenario itself is very challenging because it turns every expectation you have ever had about the game upside down. Every card that enters play gets moved to the Collection when discarded. If the Collector acquires five cards, per player. You lose.

Allies are considered the strongest card type in Marvel Champions, but they can easily become a losing factor in Infiltrate the Museum. Likewise, supports and upgrades must also be used with care, but on top of that, the Collectors own cards count, such as minions, side schemes, and attachments.

In other scenarios, you rarely need to think twice about swatting a minion, but you do here. You can remove cards from the collection by exhausting your hero or paying resources, and that’s one of the key balancing acts to winning. It’s a whole new facet of strategy to account for, and it’s frustrating until you hit the right rhythm.

Mechanically I think the scenario is great. It’s an interesting puzzle, and while I’d never want every scenario to follow suit, it’s a great change of pace from the standard method. Thematically, the scenarios a mess.

You’re infiltrating the Collectors Museum, but also attacking and getting attacked by The Collector and his minions. In fact, you win by beating the crap out of him. It makes sense to lose because The Collector stole too much from the heroes. It makes zero sense that The Collector can win by…Stealing his own things? It’s weird.

Collector (Escaping The Museum)

In a contrast to Infiltrate the Museum, Escape the Musem is one of the strongest scenarios in the game, thematically speaking. It progresses in three phases, finding the captured Milano, navigating the Labyrinth, and escaping from the Collector’s Museum ship.

You can’t actually defeat the Collector. Each time you wipe all the threat from the main scheme, it progresses to another stage and you win by wiping it all from the third main scheme. But attacking the Collector is still important.

He becomes stronger in each stage, and reducing him to zero HP weakens him for a turn before he regenerates AND wipes some threat from the main scheme. The whole setup and design are brilliant, each stage alters something and makes the pace feel different between them. It’s one of my favorite scenarios to date and is a great example of an alternative win condition.

Nebula

Nebula is another scenario that forces you to factor in additional resource bookkeeping. Her ship gains evasion counters each turn which directly dictates how much threat is placed on the main scheme. You can use the Milano and resources to remove evasion counters.

It’s somewhat similar to Infiltrate the Museum in this regard, but I actually find it to be worse. As I mentioned before, Infiltrate the Museum feels like a puzzle. Nebulas evasion counters feel like a resource tax. Something you pay not in order to not lose.

I feel like if she shrank your hand size by one, it would feel the same, and I think most would agree that it would suck. The rest of her kit is actually quite cool, however. She utilizes techniques that have special effects and can often combo into one another. Fighting her feels like fighting a wily and unpredictable assassin, which is fitting.

The evasion counter mechanic feels tacked on to her and disconnected from the rest of the scenario, and that’s a shame. It’s not enough to ruin the scenario, but it certainly feels as though it’s holding it back.

Ronan

Ronan is the most challenging villain by far, the rest don’t even come close. His entire kit is deviously evil, and he hits incredibly hard. Sometimes he can hit damage numbers in the double digits more than once per turn if you don’t manage him well.

Making any headway against him comes at a cost. His Universal Weapon makes him Stalwart, so you can’t stun or confuse him. To get rid of it, you have to deal yourself an encounter card and take damage. This hurts because his Command Ship is always in play… which deals you an extra encounter card.

That’s right. Playing Ronan is a straight jump to heroic, that’s a problem for me because I find heroic to be a terrible, ill-conceived band-aid solution for higher difficulty. The math just doesn’t work out for heroic mode to be anything other than a swingy exercise in futile frustration.

I still love Ronan’s scenario, however, because it has a built-in mitigation ability once again using the Milano. You can use it and pay a resource to cancel a treachery. This leaves you making key decisions about how to manage the encounter cards and what else you want to use the Milano for.

Furthermore, you also get to constantly play hot potato with the Power Stone. Anytime a villain or hero deals three damage to someone who has the power stone they steal it. Ronan hits you harder if you have it, but you also can’t beat him while he has it. It’s another factor to juggle that’s quite clever.

Overcoming Ronan’s sheer brute force while also juggling the power stone and how you use the Milano is no easy task. Defeat can come at you in a flash. For now, you can consider Ronan the final boss of Marvel Champions until more scenarios release. And you should treat him as such. Underpowered heroes don’t stand a chance, but that’s not a flaw with Ronan, it’s with those heroes.

Encounter Sets

Galaxy’s Most Wanted comes with seven encounter sets. Now, going purely by the wording of the rule book, it implies that three of them aren’t intended to be used in other scenarios. But I also don’t see anything in their mechanics that would indicate that they can’t. So go wild. I mean, it would be super weird to battle Rhino in space using Ship Command, but that encounter set makes no thematic sense anyway, so screw it.

Four of the sets which are explicitly said to be modular are very minion-focused, and some of the most challenging sets released so far.

Band of Badoon is full of minions with various side effects. It includes grunts slapping you with encounter cards, heavy-hitting assassins, and bulky Sentries.

The Menagerie Medly can be brutal, with four Psionic Ghosts that can enter play as a boost effect. Servant Bots that block you from attacking or thwarting and Star Sharks. Yes, you read that right.

Kree Militants are beefy hard-hitting minions full of quick-strike and action blocking keywords as well as Kree Armor, which can be hideous on some villains.

Space Pirates literally hijack your cards when they deal damage, removing them from the game. It’s brutal when they pull key cards from your deck. Oh, and they have quick-strike.

The other three encounter cards aren’t directly noted as modular but, it’s your game, do what you want.

Ship Command is all about the Milano, you get to use it, and nearly every card in the set will slap you if you don’t exhaust it to counter it.

Galactic Artifacts is full of oddball side schemes and attachments, from the hard-hitting Cloak of Hercules to a devastating poison. Everything in the set makes you suffer if you leave it on the table.

Badoon Head Hunter is a small set with tough minions and nearly every card in the set surges.

The variety of encounter sets is a definite highlight of Galaxy’s Most Wanted, and they all have their own personality compared to the generic offerings that came with Rise of Red Skull.

Campaign

Galaxy’s Most Wanted features a campaign mode where you go against specific villains in order with certain actions carrying over into future games. Earning units being the primary concept. Between rounds, you can spend units on the campaign-only market cards for your deck.

I like the concept, and I’ll totally steal the idea and homebrew my own, but the execution is kind of boring. The market cards lack any sort of theme or spirit. You’re buying philosophical concepts such as Creative Solution or Ardent Resolve.

There are a few mods for the Milano, but you can use them without the Milano, they just aren’t as effective. It makes no sense. Am I carrying a ship laser on my back? How do I use the Milanos armor plating, if I don’t have the Milano?

If I can be truly petty for a moment. There are 28 market cards, some of the scenarios only have 12 to 13 cards to themselves. Campaigns lack the same replay value as most of the game because they don’t have modularity. I would trade those market cards for a sixth scenario in a heartbeat.

On top of that, every campaign fight also uses a campaign-only side scheme with a massively inflated amount of threat on it. It really makes the whole campaign favor the Justice aspect and is a giant middle finger if you aren’t using it.

That said, if you want a true challenge, the expert campaign will wreck you so hard, you will feel it in other timelines throughout the multiverse.

Verdict

Galaxy’s Most Wanted is incredibly bitter-sweet. There is a lot I love, and a lot I don’t like. The overall direction is great. It brings a boost of complexity and challenge that the game needed. Five new scenarios quench a thirst everyone’s had since the game released, and for the most part, the scenarios are good.

Featuring seven encounter modules is awesome, whether or not they are all “officially” encounter modules matters little. Groot and Rocket are also great new heroes. But there’s just so much baggage and little issues that add up over time.

The premade decks are unlikely to survive the built-in campaign. The campaign is kind of bad, favoring Justice heavily, and the market is so uninspired it hurts. The market deck is twice the size of more than one scenario in the box. Ship Command makes no thematic sense what so ever and nearly every scenario uses it and in cases like Nebula, simply for a weird resource tax. The theme, in general, takes a decently large hit, as seen in “Infiltrate the Museum”

There are a ton of player card reprints for both premade decks, many of which feature other Marvel artwork as opposed to Guardians, and it really grinds my gears.

Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the day it’s very nearly a must-have. Five great new scenarios had me like Thanos chasing the infinity stones. Plus Rocket and Groot are great heroes. It’s just that there is so much wasted potential in the box. The half-assed space ship concept, the reprints, and even the campaign itself are honestly a waste of space that could have been replaced with something more meaningful.

The content in Galaxy’s Most wanted makes it easy to recommend. If you enjoy the game, you need this box.

I just really don’t like the trend the big boxes are following. And the game’s once strong thematic nature seems to be growing ever thinner.

You may also enjoy my review of Rise of Red Skull.

Pros

  • Two great new heroes with clear strengths and weaknesses
  • Five unique scenarios that feel significantly different from existing scenarios
  • Seven solid modular encounters not including the Power Stone Card
  • An Overall boost in complexity and challenges
  • The Ship Command concept is mechanically strong adding additional decision points to the gameplay
  • The market concept is great

Cons

  • A lot of player card reprints
  • Ship Command and Infiltrate the Museum make no thematic sense and Ship Command is overused in the scenarios
  • The Market concept is cool but the cards are bland and uninspired
  • The campaign mode is unbalanced, tacked on, and takes up space that could have had meaningful content
  • A couple of villain mechanics feel sloppy