Marvel Champions: Venom Hero Pack Review

You can find a video version of this review here: Marvel Champions: Venom Hero Review – YouTube

We Are Venom

Since this cycle has been focused on the Guardians of the Galaxy. You may have expected Mantis to be the next hero, surprise it’s Venom! He is a bit of an odd choice for a couple of reasons. It’s definitely canon to the comics, but I would bet my bottom dollar that when most people think of Venom, they picture Eddie Brock’s version.

Second, we already had a weaponry-focused character this cycle, and Venom steps on Rockets furry toes. Either way, Venom is an interesting hero to play. Venom is another jack of all trades, master of quite a few things character. His kit allows him to tackle a bit of everything, making Venom a very versatile hero.

His multi-gun is the star of the show. It’s able to handle threat, deal damage, or ping multiple minions at once. Grasping Tendrils is likely the most powerful defensive card in the game. It not only CANCELS an attack but can also stun the villain. Savage attack does a nice chunk of damage with overkill potential. While Behind Enemy Lines can remove threat and confuse the villain all at once.

The interesting thing about him is how his playstyle incorporates several layers of mechanics rather than focusing on a single trick. Venom is, of course weapon focused. His alter-ego Flash Thompson means you’re always going to start the game with one. But he also has three different cards that have additional effects if you pay for them using a specific resource.

Grasping Tendrils, Savage Attack, and Behind Enemy lines, all have additional effects if you pay for them using specific resources. This means you have to put extra thought into deckbuilding with Venom so you can take full advantage of his abilities.

That’s probably for the best because beyond that, Venom is really strong, especially coming off of Drax’s heels. His versatility doesn’t end there either. Venom can heal very quickly with the help of Project Rebirth 2.0. I found that since Venom can control the situation easier than other heroes, flipping to alter ego with him was a safer tactic than with most.

Venom straight up hijacks Spider-Mans core ability with a two-cost upgrade. He can get a specific weapon with Lock and Load and, he can boost his basic powers with his pistols. Finally, Run and Gun allows you to ready Venom and all of his weapons. This often lets you completely wipe the board of threat or minions. Then there is Venom’s core ability, he can take one damage to generate a wild resource. Do I really need to say anything about how completely bonkers strong that is?

To break it down Venom can deal heavy damage, handle minions, remove threat, stun, confuse, cancel attacks, generate resources, and draw cards all pretty reliably. Now I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. The modular nature of the game means slightly overpowered heroes aren’t nearly as much of an issue as underpowered ones. But it’s disappointing that with each new release it’s always one of those extremes, too strong or barely usable.

Gaining the core ability of another hero with an upgrade card doesn’t sit well with me either, even if the ability its self makes thematic sense for Venom to have.

On the other hand, Venom is incredibly fun to play because your turns are always engaging with things to do and choices to make. His ability to cover several roles makes him a strong solo pick and a boon to any team game. Venom also fits comfortably into any aspect, and there is actually a ton of ways you can build him.

I had a Justice deck that didn’t include any yellow cards that had the words “remove threat”. It was a blast. I had an aggression deck that completely broke against Ultron by combining Hall of Heroes, Bring it On, and using Venom’s multi-gun on Ultron’s drones. Every couple of turns I had half my deck in my hand.

Playing a reactive protection deck works great on Venom since he can use his resource generation ability once per phase, and leadership is, well, leadership. Allies are strong on any hero.

In the end, Venom fulfills the most important requirement of any new hero, being fun to play. There’s nothing worse than a shiny new hero, feeling like a turd in the wind.

Other Cards

The cards outside of Venom’s kit pretty much make the pack a must-have and features very few reprints compared to the other heroes released in the Guardians cycle. The main culprit being Resourceful, but I can cut it some slack since it’s actually included in Venom’s premade deck.

I’m not sold on Scare Tactic yet, a conditional three damage card is iffy. I’d feel better if it was a zero-cost card like Turn the Tide. Sonic Rifle is amazing however, on-demand confusion is insanely strong.

Making an Entrance grants the justice aspect a bit of healing which is great because Justice has been in dire need of more diversity. Jack Flag is an exceptionally powerful ally. Especially if you can manage to boost his hit-points and take full advantage of his ammo counters.

Star-Lord is a basic card like the other guardians, and that’s great. A 2 drop well-rounded ally with ranged is great value if you can risk an extra encounter card.

Side Holster can have many applications for several heroes. It will probably give fans of a loudmouth gun-toting raccoon a red rocket. Plasma Pistol may not be flashy, but having pinch damage on demand shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s a great toughness breaker.

Fusillade is another strong damage dealer that plays off of weapon cards. Thor decks are getting a lot of love this cycle. Welcome aboard makes getting Guardians on the field even easier, and Shake it off is just fantastic. Toughness is great. I am sad that it’s limited to Guardians though.

Crew quarters is a bit iffy, but I found pretty great success including one copy in a few decks. For a lot of heroes, flipping to alter-ego sets you back. Being able to get the most out of the switch can help you maintain your tempo.

Overall Venom’s hero pack brings a nice batch of really great cards that leaves me with very little to complain about. I don’t like to complain, so I’m considering that an absolute win.

Nemesis Set

Venoms Nemesis set has to be one of my favorites simply because it works in such a unique way that’s totally thematic. If you pull Shadows of the Past, you are contending with not one, but four nemesis minions.

Each Enraged Symbiote may be squishy alone, but dealing with four at once has the potential to end the game. Especially since the side scheme, Klyntar Frenzy has a hazard symbol and can’t even be dealt with while any of the symbiotes are on the field.

The issue with this nemesis set is it’s kind of a coin flip on whether or not it’s gonna make you pee your pants or if you will just laugh at it. I pulled it several times when I had Multi-gun in play and a Run and Gun in my hand which makes the entire set as threatening as a fruit fly. You can wipe the whole thing out in one turn with that combo.

Other times, I straight up lost because I pulled it too early and didn’t have the multi-gun out yet. As much as I enjoy the set’s design it does kind of feel paradoxical to what a nemesis set should be.

Nemesis sets should counter the hero. Venom is literally tailored made to counter the nemesis set almost perfectly. It can be threatening if you’re caught with your pants down, but so is anything else.

Theme

Venom’s theme is kind of hard for me to judge. I’m less familiar with Flash Thompson’s Venom than Eddie Brocks. Do I feel like the Venom I know when playing him? Not at all. Do I feel like a gun-toting badass space knight? Yes absolutely.

The individual cards in Venoms’ kits do a pretty good job of making sense. A Symbiotic bond with an alien parasite has some give and take, so Venom’s resource generation ability is spot on. Messing stuff up behind enemy lines can definitely confuse a mastermind, while cards like Savage Attack, Run and Gun and, Grasping tendrils are straightforward thematically.

Guns go boom, so the Multi-gun mostly works out. Though I’m not sure how it can interfere in a villain’s plans to remove threat. The aspect cards tend to be hit or miss when it comes to theme, but the ones included in Venom’s pack are pretty solid.

Making an entrance provides an ego boost. Working with Star-Lord is risky with his recklessness, and A Sonic Rifle is disorienting as hell. Fusilade does what it says on the tin, and while I dislike generic concepts like Shake it off, it makes sense in the context of the card granting toughness.

Outside of my tiny nit-pick with Multi-gun, I have no thematic complaints. I think that’s a first.

Out of the Box

Venom’s premade is pretty impressive compared to the one’s most heroes ship with. There is some oversaturation of specific cards. Where the deck includes three copies of something I’d probably run less of, but the alternative is not getting a full set with these packs, and that’s not a road we want to walk down.

The main focus of the premade is to slap down weapons, blast the villain, then confuse him so you can flip to alter ego to heal up and do it again. It’s easy to grasp, and the premade’s design nails the concept pretty well.

It also includes additional ways to generate wild resources in order to help teach you to take advantage of Venom’s specific resource effects which is nice. It’s a great starting point with Venom, and it’s one of few premade decks that didn’t pain me to play while I reviewed it.

All of this means you can take the deck out of the box and jump into a game against most villains on standard just fine. That’s enough for me.

Verdict

Venom certainly crosses the line from being balanced to slightly too strong. But the more I test and analyze the underpowered heroes, the more I find that to be the lesser of two evils. It’s easier to make the game more difficult than it is to make it easier for heroes that have inherent design flaws. If I have to choose, I’ll take slightly too strong every time.

Most importantly, Venom is fun to play and build around. His core ability and multi-role kit grants you a lot of freedom to make decks that probably wouldn’t work with another hero.

The pack is full of great new cards, the theme is pretty spot-on, and the nemesis set is flawed but unique. He may not be the Venom I know best, but you know what, at least it’s not Topher Grace.

You may also enjoy my review of the Drax Hero Pack

Pros

  • Multilayered hero that’s engaging to play
  • Venom can fit into any aspect and deckbuilding for him is interesting
  • The pack is thematically solid
  • Almost every card is a great new addition to the pool
  • The nemesis set is unique and interesting
  • The new justice cards help diversify the aspect
  • The premade deck is impressive

Cons

  • Venom is slightly overpowered with no real weakness
  • The hero is tailored made to counter his own nemesis set, that’s strange
  • Venom has a card that completely mimics Spider-Mans core ability, that’s a technical foul