Galaxy’s Most Wanted was certainly a divisive box. It brought a lot of great content to Marvel Champions as a whole, but it’s undeniable that much of it was poorly balanced, especially at lower player counts.
You can find a video version of this article on my YouTube Channel.
It never feels great to have entire scenarios remain tucked away in a box never to be used. So I’m going to propose some relatively simple fixes for the Infiltrate the Museum, Nebula, and Ronan scenarios.
If you haven’t already read my original piece on Fixing The Imbalance in Marvel Champions, I highly recommend doing so as my suggested fixes take root in the foundation I laid out in it. But I’ll recap a few points here.
- Most of the game’s imbalance usually stems from a mismatched action economy.
- The fixes I suggest try to remain on the simple side without requiring anyone to print out custom content.
- I do all my testing with the ally deckbuilding restriction I propose in Fixing the Imbalance. This means I limit non-signature allies to 3 per deck, or 5 if I’m playing Leadership.
- I primarily play the game at 1 or 2 players.
- Video games get patched. It’s not as simple with board games, so homebrewing should never be shunned or shamed as taboo. Fun is the goal after all.
Additionally, while attempting to fix Galaxy’s Most Wanted, most of my testing was done while playing expert.
Nearly all of my fixes aim to lower the difficulty of these scenarios, but I want to note that lowering the overall game’s difficulty is never my goal. My deckbuilding restriction increases it, for example. These scenarios aren’t just difficult, however. They are fundamentally broken in some way, and I will explain the how and why as I go.
The Problem with Infilitrate The Museum
Funny enough, I don’t think that the Infiltrate the Museum is particularly difficult. It is, however, swingy, frustrating, and punishes all but a single playstyle so significantly that it’s a struggle to enjoy. Especially at low player counts.
This boils down to one problematic mechanic. The Grand Collection. Any card that is discarded from play goes to the collection, if you allow too many cards to enter the collection, it’s an instant loss.
The Grand Collection itself isn’t an issue. It’s actually a pretty clever and unique mechanic that should ideally force players to think carefully about what kinds of cards to put in play because there are also cards in the scenario that force you to discard cards into the collection regardless.
The issue stems from the fact that all of the encounter cards are able to be taken into the collection, Minions, attachments, and side schemes. That not only makes the flow of the game unreasonably hard to predict, but it also doesn’t make any sense at all. Why does The Collector win…by collecting…his own things?
The solution seems obvious enough, make the encounter cards exempt from going into the collection. But that actually makes the scenario far too easy, we want balanced, not easy, so we have to add a counterweight to the scales.
Fixing Infiltrate the Museum
Now that The Collectors’ own cards don’t enter the collection we have cut out most of the swingy frustration, and now the scenario feels a lot better thematically. However, I found that the scenario became toothless after that, and the collection was far too easy to manage.
I have two goals when I fix something in Marvel Champions. I want it to be simple. While I could easily just create my own versions of cards, that’s a lot more effort for folks to use. It requires printing cards, getting them to fit right with existing cards, and a lot of time.
Secondly, I like my fixes to make sense from a thematic perspective. It would be hypocritical to point out the thematic flaw in The Collector taking his own things and then implementing something equally weird.
The Collector hires all kinds of folks to acquire items for his Collection. Say hello to Space Pirates. Space Pirates is an encounter set that comes with Galaxy’s Most Wanted. It’s a brutal module that removes your cards from the game when you get hit by one. We are going to add Space Pirates as a mandatory encounter set alongside Galactic Artifacts. You still add one other module as well for variety.
When playing Infiltrate the Museum, anytime a Space Pirate card would remove one of your cards from the game, place it in the Collection instead. This gives the scenario the extra teeth it needs to make up for the fact that we’re no longer putting The Collector’s own cards into the collection.
I found this to be a much more satisfying way to play the scenario. If you’re worried about the encounter deck being diluted with three encounter sets (Galactic Artifacts, Space Pirates +1 more) You may remove all of the standard set cards except Shadows of the Past. Leave the expert set in if you’re playing expert. I never found dilution to be an issue myself, however.
I also like to add the expert version of The Gallery of Splendor from the campaign to the encounter deck. It is a double-sided card, so you will need to use sleeves. I slide it in front of one of the standard set Assault cards. Adding The Gallery of Splendor is optional, but I’d recommend it if you’re playing with more than two players as it can keep the pressure up when it’s pulled.
The Problem with Nebula
Every villain or scenario generally has a unique mechanical quirk. Nebula’s issue stems from the fact that she has one, and then half of another one that feels equally half-baked.
Her primary quirk is her technique cards that can combo into one another. This alone makes her a formidable opponent. But she also has the evasion counter mechanic where her ship acquires Evasion counters. The threat placed on the main scheme at the start of the villain phase is equal to the number of evasion counters X the number of players.
On top of that, her main schemes have laughably low threat thresholds. At low player counts, this is incredibly unforgiving. Rhino is already notorious for unfairly ending games in solo with an unlucky Advance, and Nebula is way worse. Sure she has two main schemes, but at a threat threshold of 6 and 9, that means very little, especially when she very easily can gain two or three threat per turn with evasion counters.
The problem is further compounded at low player counts due to the action economy. The only way to slow Nebula down is to exhaust the Milano and spend two resources to remove 1 or 2 counters. In a four-player game, this tax would be spread equally among the players.
In solo, you have to cover it 100% of the time and in two players 50% of the time. Two resources every turn is a big ask, and since Nebula likes to combo into multiple cards via her techniques, some of which make you discard cards, it’s nearly impossible to keep up.
To be perfectly honest, the entire evasion mechanic is really bad. It’s just a simple resource tax, and that’s frankly boring design. The problem is, I can’t really tinker with it because a good chunk of Nebula’s cards interacts with it.
Tweaking Nebula was more difficult than I was expecting because of how isolated the evasion mechanic is. With The Collector, having Space Pirates place removed cards into the Collection was a simple interactivity tweak that makes sense. I had no such options with Nebula.
What I settled on, however, turned out to be very simple. Once per round when Nebula takes 3 or more damage from a single attack, remove an Evasion counter from her ship.
It’s so ludicrously simple I’m ashamed I sat at my table with her cards spread out in front of me for so long before I thought of it. It gives you an extra alternate way to remove evasion counters without neutering them all together.
It also lets more resource-intensive heroes still contribute in multiplayer without slaughtering their action economy. The more players there are, the less meaningful the change is, but Nebula’s biggest issue is at low player counts anyway.
Thematically speaking, I see it as Nebula’s piloting skills faltering when she gets injured. I’m going to ignore the fact that you’re also thematically punching her in the face while she’s in her ship and you’re in the Milano because I already complained about it in my review of Galaxy’s Most Wanted.
In true solo, you may also want to treat The Art of Evasion as requiring 12 threat instead of 6, as that is insanely low for any villain, let alone Nebula. These tweaks make her much more enjoyable to fight.
The Problem with Ronan
Well, the problem with Ronan is he shouldn’t exist. His whole scenario is so fundamentally broken on a mathematical level that I have no idea how he was ever allowed to hit the printer. Fixing him was by far the most difficult, and I nearly gave up, it seemed impossible. My stubbornness has no limits, however, and while he requires the most tweaks of any fix I’ve proposed thus far, the result is a scenario you can feasibly play.
I could write a book about all of Ronan’s problems, but most of it is comes down to action economy, which is really just math. Ronan simply gets too many encounter cards each round. On top of that, his stats are extremely high. Since he pulls so many encounter cards, and his kit has cards that make him attack you, in addition to Assault, it’s not uncommon to sustain two to three attacks that deal 8 or more damage in a round with boost cards.
Let’s have a look at the expert setup. The first player starts with the power stone, and Ronan gets two boost cards when attacking a player with the power stone. Stage 2 Ronan already has 3 attack. But he also starts the game with Universal Weapon boosting it to four. The weapon never really goes away, it just gets shuffled into his deck and can come out as a boost effect.
Interception has a low threat threshold of 7 per player and starts with threat on it. Cut The power is also in play which has to be dealt with before you can touch the main scheme, so staying in alter ego for a round isn’t an option. So he is swinging four damage at you on turn 1, plus 2 boost cards.
On top of that, Kree Command Ship is an environment with a freaking hazard icon. Sure you can negate a treachery with the Milano and a resource tax but that’s rarely viable because you are already starting way behind Ronan’s power curve and other cards in the Ship Command set will force you to exhaust it or tax you even harder.
This is all on the table before you play a single card. As it stands, I truly believe Ronan is flat-out impossible to beat except in the most fringe cases of using an overpowered hero like Doctor Strange and having lady luck in your favor the whole time.
I’d never accuse anyone who says otherwise of lying, but I would have to assume that a rule was missed somewhere if anyone claims to have beaten him legitimately, at least at lower player counts.
To hammer the point home, despite implementing the changes I’m about to suggest. Ronan is still by far the most challenging villain in the game and you will lose far, far more often than you win. But the difference is, victory is actually attainable and with more than a select few heroes.
Ronan takes several tweaks. However, it can all be done with cards that come with Galaxy’s Most Wanted. I won’t always be able to limit fixes to specific expansions, but I did manage it with this one, somehow…
The first thing we have to tackle is the Kree Command Ship. Hazard icons are the worst scaling mechanic in the game. With four players, a hazard icon is only a 25% increase in encounter cards, in solo, it’s double. Playing Ronan solo means playing Heroic mode, and Heroic mode was always mathematically broken.
Anyway, take the STANDARD side of the Kree Supremancy side scheme and slide it in front of the Kree Command ship in a card sleeve. Shuffle Kree supremacy into the deck like a regular side scheme. Alternatively, simply remove the Kree Command ship altogether. Kree Supremacy is brutal if it hits the table, but at least manageable if you get set up. Don’t include it in solo play at all.
Next, do not place Universal Weapon on the table, shuffle it in the encounter deck. It will show up at some point, but hopefully after you have the ability to remove it, rather than the start of the game.
Treat Ronan’s main schemes as 1 threat per player, not 2. Don’t place any starting threat on them either. With Ronan’s earth-shattering attack power, you have no choice but to swap to alter-ego form at times. The main schemes will still always be in danger of breaking, but you may get to take an occasional breath between hammers to the face.
Finally, during set up bring out all the Milano upgrade campaign cards. Take a look at the unit cost of each card and select one with a unit cost of 6 and two with a unit cost of 4 and put them in play ATTACHED to the Milano. When control of the Milano switches to another player, the Upgrades go with it, so essentially the strongest version of their abilities is always available. To keep it balanced, if the Milano is exhausted, you can’t use the upgrades.
The reasoning for such a big boost to the players is even despite the other tweaks Ronan still has a two-fold problem. With the number of boost cards, boost effects, and surges, keeping up with his action economy is extremely hard. At the start of the game, it’s almost impossible. Secondly, Ronan has no weak points.
He accumulates threat very quickly, attacks harder than any other villain. Pulls multiple encounter cards, bypasses ally defenses with overkill, can gain stalwart, and can even hit you in alter-ego form.
There are no gaps in his armor, you can only survive while chipping away at his health. If you’re playing at a lower player count, you are going to have holes in your coverage. By choosing Milano upgrades to cover the weaknesses in your team or decks, you give yourself just enough room to make some moves. Upgrading the Milano before the hardest fight ever also seems like a reasonable thematic compromise.
It is a statement too just how broken Ronan is he remains incredibly difficult despite several rather large tweaks. But with these changes, he is beatable, and dare I say it? Even enjoyable to play against.
I’ve summarized the fixes for Galaxy’s Most Wanted below. Don’t forget, you can find all of my past, present, and future homebrew changes compiled into a PDF by becoming a Golden Shieldbearer on my Patreon, in addition to some other perks. I hope these changes improve your enjoyment of the game and allow you to use the entirety of the expansion!
Fixing Marvel Champions Part 3 is now live!
Infiltrate the Museum
- Encounter deck cards do not enter the grand collection
- Space Pirates is a mandatory encounter set
- When a space pirate card would remove a card from the game, it enters the collection instead.
- Optional – Remove all the standard set cards except for Shadows of the Past
- 3 or more players – Add the expert version of The Gallery of Splendor to the encounter deck
- Once per round when Nebula takes three or more damage from a single attack. Remove an evasion counter.
- True Solo Optional – Art of Evasion requires 12 threat to break instead of 6
- Replace Kree Command Ship with the Standard side of Kree Supremacy, or just remove Kree Command Ship
- Universal Weapon does not start in play
- The Main schemes gain threat equal to 1x Players instead of 2x and they do not start with any threat
- Select one Milano upgrade with a unit cost of six and two upgrades with a unit cost of four. Attach them to the Milano during setup. If the Milano is exausted, the upgrades can’t be used
- When control of the Milano switches to another player, the upgrades go with the Milano.