You can find a video version of this review here! Marvel Champions: Gamora Hero Pack Review – YouTube
The Deadliest Woman in the Whole Galaxy
Gamora is a deadly assassin and master strategist. This is reflected in her ability to break the standard deck building rules as Spider-Woman did but in a different way. Gamora may include up to 6 Attack and Thwart events outside of her deck’s chosen aspect. This really blows open the deck-building possibilities when playing her compared to most heroes.
On the flip side, much like Spider-Woman, Gamora is an upper-tier hero, to the point of being slightly overpowered. While I wish everything was perfectly balanced, as all things should be, I’d much rather a hero be slightly overpowered than underpowered. Simply because it’s easier to raise the difficulty than it is to fix a busted hero.
Gamora’s power lies in the fact that she has no weaknesses. No matter what aspect you play her in, she can cover every role. Her innate powers bank off of attack and thwart events, dealing extra damage and thwart when you play them.
She is always capable of dealing damage and spreading it out, as well as removing threat from multiple sources. Cross Counter aids in her defense, and honestly, she’s pretty capable of flipping to alter ego to heal anyway because she clears threat so easily. On top of it, she’s got 2 in every stat.
When you combine her well-rounded nature with card combinations you wouldn’t be allowed to have with another hero, it’s easy to see why she is so strong. But that’s only half of it. Her kit alone is solid enough that you could probably shove her in a deck of 25 random cards, and she would do decently well.
Most of her cards are cheap, no seriously. She has two 0 cost cards. Acrobatic Move deals two damage, and Set the Pace removes one threat from a scheme. But also keep in mind, they bank off of her innate ability once per phase. If you read my article on Fixing the Imbalance with Marvel Champions, you will understand where I’m about to go with this. Action economy and tempo.
Having multiple effects bounce off a zero-cost card is a big tempo increase, but most of her other cards are also pretty cheap and do multiple things. Cross Counter is a one-cost defensive ability that stops 3 damage, deals 1 damage, and removes 1 threat.
Cross Counter also has both, the attack and thwart keyword, meaning it triggers both of Gamora’s innate abilities. Since it’s once per phase, you can almost guarantee that Cross Counter is blocking three damage, dealing two damage, and removing two threat…at a cost of 1. That is a massive value.
Decisive Blow and Forward Momentum are two halves of the same coin. One is threat-focused and the other damage-focused, with both getting a bonus if you have played the other keyword that turn. Both cards are really good for a cost of 2.
Conditioning Room when combined with Gamora’s Alter-ego ability can help stack your hand. Gamora’s Sword adds even more damage each turn if you get it on the field. If for some reason you did have trouble paying for cards, she also has two one-cost resource kickers for events, Keen Instincts.
This all combines to form a playstyle that is very fitting for a badass like Gamora. She’s simply good at everything thanks to good stats, high-value but low-cost cards, and the ability to include out of aspect events in her deck.
The reality is unless a hero trivializes the game like Doctor Strange, strong heroes are always fun to play. Especially compared to the alternative with heroes like Hulk. They, maybe, get to play one card a turn and then take a nap while the rest of the table gets to actually engage with the game.
Gamora is a blast to play, she always has options. Plus deck building for her is extremely interesting. You can forge some wicked combos. She’s more than capable of playing any aspect without question, no matter which one is your favorite.
Gamora is also one of few heroes I actively enjoy swapping to alter-ego form, for more than a last resort. Her ability to potentially draw an extra event combined with Conditioning Room makes it worthwhile. I’ll find myself swapping just to avoid a heavy attack. That’s something that usually only the Justice aspect can do safely in smaller games. Yet, Gamora clears so much threat she can take the risk, even in solo.
The entire game certainly needs rebalancing in this regard. Threat removal is a bit too important which can really screw over some heroes. And for reasons I’ll never understand, the Confusion status effect is regulated to Justice, the one aspect that doesn’t need it. But I digress. Gamora lets me enjoy another potential strategy that I normally only use because I’m about to die. That makes her even more appealing to play.
Gamora’s pack is primarily focused on Aggression, but since she breaks the deckbuilding rules there is a stronger mix of aspects included than in most hero packs.
Clobber and Impede are really neat low-cost attack and thwart cards that bounce back to your hand if you play them first in a round. I enjoy new mechanics like this because it forces you to put even more thought in how your turns play out.
Angela is interesting. She’s a fairly average ally, but with no cost. Instead, you have to dig out a minion to play her instead. That could be a decent trade, but it’s going to very much depend on the scenario and encounter set. However, Thor players will love her.
Plan of Attack is a great tutor card. Obviously, it’s fantastic with Gamora since she’s event-focused, but potentially getting the exact attack card you want in your hand for no cost should not be underestimated.
First Hit introduces another great new mechanic, an event card with dual purposes. You can play it for the damage, or use it as a forced interrupt when a minion initiates an attack, potentially destroying it before it can damage you. Another layer of strategy to think about, I love it.
Hit and Run is a bit costly but its versatility can really help out certain decks and Drax is another great basic Guardian. I am super happy they made so many of the Guardian allies basic.
Godslayer brings another new mechanic, a bonus to damage against unique enemies, and that’s fantastic. But, look, I try to stay in my lane. I can criticize game design because I can design mechanics myself. I don’t really critique bad art because claiming that I can draw stick figures is overselling my artistic abilities. But, come on. Look at Gamora’s face on this card…it’s like Ron Perlman Cosplaying as Gamora.
Additionally, other aspects also get Pivotal Moment, True Grit, and Comms Implant, which are all great additions. However, there are quite a few reprints. The one that annoys me most is the fact that Enhanced Reflexes is reprinted and isn’t even in Gamora’s deck. But seriously, the whole pack brings a lot to the table even without Gamora.
Like Groot and Star-lord, Gamora’s Nemesis is certainly on the fiendish side. Her Nemesis is Nebula with Retaliate 2, which is pretty nasty. But what makes her more interesting is Nebula is also Gamora’s signature ally. She gets discarded if her nemesis comes into play, signaling her thin allegiance. It’s brutal, thematic, and unique. I love it.
Sibling Rivalry is a unique side scheme in two ways. First, its effect is to grant the villain additional boost cards. Second, Gamora is the only one allowed to remove the threat from it. Other players can’t help. Again, it’s unique and menacing.
Both Waylay and In a Bind only target Gamora, regardless of who draws them, but that makes perfect sense. It’s a fight between her and her sister, and the effects of both are nasty and capable of slowing down Gamora’s power streak. It’s nice to have a nemesis set strong enough to compete with a hero that is really strong, unlike some others that have been released…. Yes, I’m looking at you, Baron Mordo.
I really want to see more interesting and unique nemesis sets like Gamora’s. It’s fitting and threatening, which is all you can ask for. Drawing Shadows of the Past should never be a ho-hum situation, and Gamora’s isn’t. Even if you defeat Nebula and the side scheme, you will always feel the weight of Way Lay and In a Bind residing in the encounter deck somewhere.
Gamora is incredibly skilled, cybernetically enhanced, and a great tactician. Most of her kit is just plain badassery that’s difficult to get wrong from a thematic standpoint. If I were to nit-pick. I’m not sure how her core ability actually makes thematic sense. How does attacking hamper a villain’s scheme, and how does thwarting schemes deal damage, but that’s fairly minor.
Her overall feel is that of a badass. It’s how I imagined Black Widow would play, but I’m glad they saved the style for Gamora. Gamora’s thematic feel begins before you even start playing. She’s an assassin, which means preparing to target the weaknesses of your mark. This is why she can choose a limited number of event cards from other aspects, to adapt to the mission before her.
Aspect cards have been flailing with the theme, and it is a bit of a mixed bag here. Comm’s Implant makes sense, but how does True Grit? I’m not sure getting punched in the face is gonna affect Ultron’s plans all that much. But to some degree, I’m willing to accept that theme will need to suffer to evolve the aspects in ways that they direly need to evolve.
The box nails the important bit. Playing as Gamora feels like playing an intergalactic assassin trained by the mad titan himself.
Out of the Box
Whether it’s because the deck is constructed well, or Gamora’s just that good is up for debate. But the premade deck is perfectly solid. There are changes that feel like a no-brainer for me to change out, but you can open the box and play against most scenarios on standard just fine, and that’s the intent of a pre-made.
Gamora’s well-rounded nature makes learning her pretty straightforward, and you can use the premade deck for this purpose before your ready to build her yourself.
No premade deck is optimal, but as I said before, Gamora’s kit alone makes her formidable. The premade deck does a lot to synergize with her kit and abilities in ways that work which is nice. Honestly, the strangest fit might be Angela. She’s by no means a bad card, but her place with Gamora is questionable, from a gameplay standpoint at least.
I don’t expect much from premade decks. Most of the time I’m literally dying inside as I play them. I only do so for the sake of the review, and I normally can’t wait to tear them apart. With Gamora I didn’t have that impatience. She was enjoyable while I was evaluating the premade deck and that’s not something I can say very often.
The biggest thing riding against Gamora is the fact that she’s an upper-tier hero. You can feel a distinct power difference when playing heroes like her and it can make other ones less appealing. In multiplayer games, they can overshadow other heroes, which is never a good thing.
However, while Gamora is up there with the likes of Ant-Man, Quicksilver, and Captain America, she, like them never truly flips the table. She can still lose games. While perfect balance would be nice, it’s unrealistic. Yet I do wish she had more of a weakness somewhere. Her nemesis set slaps back pretty hard though.
The fact is, she’s a lot of fun to play and build decks for. You always have a lot of options each turn, and that helps keep you stay engaged with the game instead of scrolling Twitter when it isn’t your turn. It’s a card game. Playing cards and feeling useful is fun. Her design and playstyle are unique. While I loathe thinking of the day when heroes begin to feel similar, today is not that day.
The rest of the pack is pretty much a must-have as well. Other than the reprints, there are no dead cards. Each of them adds something to the card pool, and many play with the mechanics in new ways. It gives me hope for the game’s development moving forward.
You might also enjoy my review of Star-Lord
- Powerful and unique hero
- Gamora alters the deckbuilding rules, making deckbuilding for her a blast
- Her nemesis is thematic and threatening with unique mechanics
- The aspect cards are great and play with the mechanics in new ways
- Gamora is thematic and feels like playing a highly trained space assassin
- Gamora’s unique playstyle makes swapping to alter-ego more viable outside of Justice
- The premade deck is solid
- Gamora is slightly overpowered with no real weakness
- A fair number of reprints, including cards not in her deck, which is a bummer
- A couple of aspect cards are thematically weird
- The art on Godslayer is questionable