Wrecking Crew Overview
Wrecking Crew is a scenario pack that pits you against four villains at once while they stage a prison break, well, kind of anyway. You do fight four villains at once, but only one is active at a time. Part of the scenario’s core mechanic is that the active villain swaps frequently and often in unpredictable patterns.
To win, you have to defeat Wrecker, Thunderball, Bulldozer, and Piledriver. Each with their own hit points and side scheme that is always in play alongside the main scheme. These side schemes are unique in the fact that they can’t be removed. They trigger effects once they hit ten threat, and then reset afterward to do it again.
You can attack and thwart against any villain, regardless of who is active, but it’s the active one that attacks and schemes against you. It’s the active one’s deck that you draw encounter cards from.
Each villain in the Wrecking Crew has their own small villain deck and all the normal rules apply to it. There is only one scenario in the pack, though the villains are double-sided. The backside of the villain is more difficult, granting them higher hitpoints and stats but everything else remains unchanged.
Meet The Crew
Each of the four villains has a unique gameplay style. Some cards and minions share some crossover between villains, but each villain deck feels unique.
Wrecker punishes you if you don’t defend, and his side scheme damages all friendly characters in play if it triggers. As the leader of the group, his cards often buff the other villain’s side schemes. He has solid stats and hit points.
Thunder Ball is a schemer with a low attack but makes up for it by dealing damage to every character by using that long ball and chain. His side scheme stuns every friendly character when it triggers making him a solid crowd control villain and some of his cards reflect this.
Piledriver is the defender villain with retaliate, meaning he deals damage to you when you hit him. He has some cards that can force you to target him and he will pick away at your supports if you leave him on the field. His side scheme in particular will drop every player down a notch at once.
Bulldozer is the heavy-hitter with overkill. In addition to smashing your face, Bulldozer likes to force you to discard from your deck, and in turn, encounter more villain cards as a consequence. His side scheme will discard 10 cards from every player’s deck if it triggers.
The uniqueness of each villain is one of Wrecking Crew’s strongest points. Taken individually, all four of them are interesting and I kind of wish they were their own villains with full decks, or perhaps Wrecker with the others as modular encounter sets. This is because the execution of the scenario ruins the rest.
The Concept and Theme
The core concept of Wrecking Crew is battling four villains at once. It’s a cool concept, and thematically, it ends up pretty strong. In practice, however? It’s clunky, messy, extremely easy, and lacks the replayability that other scenarios have.
Firstly you have four villains and only one Villain HP dial. This means you must use paper, dice, or an app to track all four. It’s annoying but not a deal-breaker.
Each villain also has their own deck, in addition to taking up far more table space than other scenarios, that is a lot of shuffling. The game begins with the main scheme and four side schemes in play that remain in play as long as its corresponding villain is undefeated.
Every time threat is placed on the main scheme during the start of the villain’s phase, every other side scheme also gets a threat, THEN the active villain counter moves to the one with the most threat. It is a ton of clunky and slow bookkeeping that is pretty easy to mess up or forget mid-game.
A lot of encounter cards will also move the active villain counter, even in the middle of the encounter phase which can lead to some shenanigans between villains.
It thematically fits. If it was a movie, the camera would be cutting to various villains fighting different heroes while enacting separate pieces of the break-out plan. At the table, it means you’re drawing from different decks that are easy to mix up on a full and busy table.
The clunky design could be worth it if the mechanics of the scenario were satisfying, but they aren’t. When villains scheme, they place the threat on their side scheme, not the main scheme. This means you are never really pressured under the threat of losing. Even if you need to swap to alter ego form and heal, the worst that is going to happen is a side scheme might trigger.
While the side scheme effects certainly aren’t ideal, none of them are “Lose the game” and far more preferable for that reason. This makes the whole scenario incredibly easy since you only occasionally need to wipe some threat that drip feeds onto the main scheme to avoid losing. If you take absurdly long, it will accumulate acceleration counters, as any villains deck running out of cards adds one. But it’s largely inconsequential.
The hard mode doesn’t function the same in Wrecking Crew as it does in other scenarios You simply use the backside of the villains that have increased stats and nothing more. An underwhelming increase in challenge at best.
The Wrecking Crew also offers the least replay value of currently released scenarios. They do not use modular sets, they don’t even use the standard or expert cards that go into every villain deck. The heroes nemesis cards or obligations are not used either. The whole concept cuts off several significant pieces of the Marvel Champions DNA.
Wrecking Crew ends up wearing thin quickly. Half due to the hassle of playing the scenario and half because it isn’t modular in any way.
Marvel Champions has a ton of room for unique and cool new ideas. So I definitely don’t hate the fact that Fantasy Flight Games shot for the stars. The problem is they didn’t miss and land on the moon, they got obliterated by an asteroid mid-flight.
Any of Wrecking Crew’s possible redeeming features, such as the unique villains, is overshadowed by literally everything else. It’s a pain to set up, annoying to play, and unsatisfying to win. It has no room to be changed in any meaningful way and cutting out swaths of Marvel Champions mechanics by nixing modular sets hurt the scenario.
When I first started reviewing Marvel Champions products, I was sure I would recommend that you buy everything, since even packs that I like less than others are worth having. Wrecking Crew proved me wrong. Because it’s completely stand-alone, it offers nothing to the game as a whole if you buy it and you lose out on nothing if you don’t.
It doesn’t have any modular encounters to be used in other scenarios, nor can it use modular encounters. It has to rest on the laurels of its own concept, but it’s execution is strikingly bad. The best I can hope is that it serves as a learning experience for Fantasy Flight Games in future scenario designs.
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- Each of the four villains are unique
- The four villain prison break is thematic
- Four villains, only one villain HP dial, unless you buy more.
- Four Villains, side schemes and decks is messy and a pain to set up
- Tons of extra clunky bookkeeping between schemes
- The scenario isn’t challenging at all due to how it’s concept is executed
- Lacks replay value due to the fact it can’t use standard, expert, modular or nemesis encounter sets
- No modular sets in the pack to use with other scenarios