Marvel Champions: War Machine Hero Pack Review

War Machine’s Cards

James Rhodes, War Machine and Full Auto cards.

With the addition of War Machine, Iron Man isn’t the only guy flying around in a fancy suit. War Machine captures a very different feel from the Iron Man hero, despite wearing an armored suit designed by Tony Stark.

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War Machine’s suit is jam-packed with firepower that can rain destruction across the battlefield but he must periodically stop to rearm. He is incredibly strong but in short bursts. The challenge of managing ammo as an additional resource in the midst of everything else serves as a great counterbalance to his destructive nature.

War Machine gains five ammo counters when swapping to hero form, but it won’t take long to run dry. Most of War Machine’s cards require ammo in addition to resources to use them, and for good reason. Full Auto is a two-drop 8 damage attack with overkill that would be immensely overpowered without the ammo requirement.

Scorched Earth, Shoulder Cannon, and Repulsor Beam Cards.

Scorched Earth is capable of clearing the entire board of minions, even in a four-player game. Which is something I did several times by combining it with Shoulder Cannon. Shoulder Cannon can point strike for whatever amount of damage you need anywhere on the board, as long as you have the ammo for it. Finally, Repulsor Beam deals 4 damage for just one resource, which is just enough to one-shot a great many minions. To round things off he also has a Missile Launcher upgrade for even more targeted damage.

War Machine clearly excels at dealing with minions and one of the great things about him is he does it purely using his kit. This means you can build him with a secondary role using aspect cards without wasting an ounce of his own potential.

His weaknesses come in the form of his poor thwarting ability and ammo management. His kit does have Targeted Strike. Which is a cost-effective threat removal card, but much like the card’s name, its usage is more targeted rather than a generalist.

Missile Launcher, Targeted Strike and Munitions Bunker Cards.

The real key to playing War Machine effectively is by managing his ammo properly. He is another character that needs to flip to alter ego frequently since swapping back grants him ammo. Once War Machine is out of ammo, he is effectively useless. So as tempting as it might be to rain fire all the time. You really have to plan out when you can rearm yourself.

This is especially true with Munitions Bunker. You can use it to stockpile ammo in alter ego form, and transfer it to War Machine in hero form. It can pay to remain in alter ego for a couple turns to stock up on ammo. But that’s a fast way to lose the game if you don’t do it carefully.

His Gauntlet Guns double as ammo and resource generation, which is great. But it can only delay you from running out of ammo, not stop it. If you want to play the big cards such as Full Auto. Swapping to alter ego is inevitable, and his playstyle is built around it. War Machine’s Upgraded Chassis drives that point home by granting him toughness when he swaps back. That comes in handy as his kit lacks any other defensive cards.

Gauntlet Gun, Upgraded Chassis and Iron Man Cards.

James Rhodes himself can place a War Machine card back into the deck, but you will notice something peculiar. There is no limit to the ability, essentially allowing him to restock his deck with all of his hero-specific cards. Needless to say, that is incredibly broken.

I don’t have official confirmation on this, but I suspect that’s not intentional. I believe it’s supposed to be limited to once per phase. If so, that is a grievous error that should have never made it into printing. It’s literally one-half of the main card of the whole pack.

War Machine also comes with two copies of Two Against The World for a team-up with Iron Man. As with every other team-up card, using it with War Machine’s signature ally is putting a large reliance on luck. If you play with a friend manning the Iron Man suit, however, searching for and playing a tech upgrade is a very powerful effect worth using. The Iron Man ally is kind of bland, but very useful to help dig out War Machines’ powerful tech upgrades.

Two Against The World Card

War Machine is an exceptionally fun and effective hero that is designed with a solid balancing factor that keeps him from overpowering the villain. The best heroes are the ones that allow you to feel powerful while making you earn it through careful decision making, and War Machine does exactly that.

Other Cards

Command Team, Sneak Attack and Black Panther Card.

War Machine’s pack has a focus on leadership and is an unfortunate mix of reprints and new cards. The new cards are, however, very interesting. Although, they do continue to cement leaderships dominance as the strongest aspect.

Command Team is a new support that allows you to ready allies using a limited stock of counters. It’s exceptionally strong with heroes that have powerful effects when they attack or thwart, or if you have stacked upgrades on an ally such as Ronin.

Sneak Attack allows you to play the most expensive heroes for 1 as long as they share a trait with you. It effectively turns the ally into an event card as it goes away at the end of the phase, but is still incredibly potent and flexible.

Both Save the Day and Go Down Swinging allow you to discard an ally and do something equal to their printed cost, remove threat, or deal damage respectively. It can be used on an ally that’s about to be defeated but has exceptionally synergy with the more expensive allies such as Captain America.

Go Down Swinging, Captain Marvel and Vigilante Training Cards.

Speaking of allies. Captain Marvel and Black Panther both join the ally roster and are solid picks for plenty of decks. Black Panther in particular could let you hold on to a difficult to use, but extremely potent combo card such as Avengers Assemble without clogging your hand.

Outside of leadership, the pack comes with cards such as Vigilante Training that allows you to place Justice cards back into your deck. I’m sure that can be combined with quite a few strategies.

As One and Stand Together bring a new keyword called Alliance that allows other plays to help you pay for the costs of the card when played. They are potent but really require teamwork and planning to be effective, and I think that’s pretty cool. Although this is going to be another case of poor scaling. Stand Together is expensive enough that it may only work well at higher player counts when more players can pitch in.

Stand Together, As One and Sidearm cards.

To round things off. Side Arm is a simple but effective attack-boosting ally upgrade to make the likes of Blade, Ronin, and Yondu even stronger.

There’s a disappointing number of reprints, but the aspect cards design continues to innovate, and that’s great.

Nemesis Set

Laser Strike, Living Laser and Equipment Malfunction Cards.

War Machine’s Nemesis set is a bit bland. Living Laser is a bit of a wimpy throw-away minion, although Quickstrike with piercing is a nice touch. The side scheme Deadly Light Show is fairly unmemorable and pings everyone for a bit of damage once it’s defeated. Neither feel threatening the way that nemesis sets should.

On the other hand, it also comes with three copies of Laser Strike. Laser Strike forces you to discard upgrades and has a chance to do it even if it’s pulled as a boost card. Burning upgrades can be devastating for a lot of heroes, not just War Machine, so Laser Strike does lend the nemesis set a bit of punch.

Deadly Light Show Card

We have certainly seen worse nemesis sets, but also better ones. It’s always a bummer to see one of them fall back to a bland generic design. Laser Strike can shake things up, but the set overall fails at being as interesting or threatening as a nemesis set should be.

Theme

I’m notably strict when it comes to theme. If you have paid attention to my past reviews, you will know that I’m often disappointed in how clumsily the game maintains it.

I’m happy to report that this isn’t the case with War Machine’s pack. War Machine gives me the feeling I’ve always really wanted from an armored suit hero. I love Iron Man, but I don’t always want to play Tony Stark building his suit. I just want to blow stuff up with it. War Machine lets me do that.

At the same time, his cards feel notably different from Iron Man which is an accurate reflection of their differences. Iron Man fights like a genius narcissistic billionaire who enjoys being a superhero.

Save The Day card

War Machine fights like a soldier wielding an immense amount of firepower, and all of that is reflected in his cards. The need to periodically rearm fits the idea of War Machine’s more traditional weaponry compared to Iron Man’s arc reactor-powered energy blasts.

The aspect cards do a good job as well. I’m not a fan of vague concepts as card names. But Stand Together and As One make sense relative to what the cards are actually doing.

Sneak Tactic is wonderfully thematic in how an ally pops from nowhere and vanishes again. Save the Day and Go Down Swinging both have thematic implications of an ally sacrificing themselves to end a crisis or strike the villain. Overall I’m quite happy with how the War Machine pack utilizes the game’s strong theme.

Out of The Box

War Machine’s premade deck is largely competent. This is partially due to the fact that if all else fails, you can just use aspect cards to pay for War Machine’s potent hero cards.

The deck’s main strategy is to play high-cost heroes and use them for all they are worth. You take them down to one health and then blow them up with Save the Day and Go Down Swinging. You can then follow up with Make the Call to do it again. It works well with cards like Goliath that can already hit hard, or Captain Marvel and Falcon, who activate effects when they are played.

The main issue is. You never really have the resources to pursue the leadership strategy while also playing War Machine’s kit to the fullest. The deck will allow you to play against many villains on standard just fine, but it doesn’t exactly teach you to play War Machine the way it should.

Verdict on War Machine

The War Machine pack is another solid entry that doesn’t leave me with too much to complain about. War Machine plays great and the pack has a strong theme. The premade deck is serviceable, and it comes with a lot of great aspect cards.

It does feature a lot of reprints which is frustrating, and James Rhodes either has a very significant misprint or an overpowered ability. Neither of which is a good thing. But War Machine’s fun playstyle makes up for most of it.

Most Marvel Champions fans will end up with most packs as that’s the nature of an LCG, and your options expand greatly with each one. Even still, War Machine is an easy recommendation and doesn’t play second fiddle to Iron Man the same way that Wasp felt like the cutting board scraps of Ant-Man. He’s a different machine altogether.

My Perspective on War Machine

War Machine has become one of my favorite heroes. Playing him is always full of interesting decisions, and he fits into any of the aspects. I enjoy teaming up with someone else playing Iron Man, and I’m a fan of pretty much every new card in the pack.

It’s nice to have a pack that I appreciate all the way around, even if it’s not perfect. That said, I’m always concerned with whether or not the game’s flaws will be addressed or made worse, and while War Machine is great, there is a lot of things that give me pause.

If James Rhode is missing “once per phase” on his ability, that implies the hero is being rushed. If it isn’t, that implies poor playtesting. The game has also had a scaling problem for ages, and it’s speculated that lower player counts aren’t being tested. Alliance Cards certainly feel that way, as cool as the keyword may be.

I’m happy with the pack itself. But when it comes to LCGs, no individual product is in a vacuum. They interconnect into everything else, and I’d be lying if I said my concern wasn’t growing.

You might also like my review of The Mad Titans Shadow.

Pros

  • A great new hero that brings heavy firepower
  • Excellent new aspect cards
  • A Strong Theme
  • A Decent Premade Deck
  • An interesting new keyword with Alliance

Cons

  • The nemesis set is fairly bland
  • James Rhodes alter ego ability is either misprinted or broken
  • There are a lot of reprints present
  • Alliance cards don’t scale well At low player counts
  • Teamwork cards are still kind of clunky