Marvel Champions The Card Game

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Quick and Easy Online How to Play Guide on Marvel Champions The Card Game Rules

Check out our easy to read guide of the Marvel Champions The Card Game rules. We cover the objective and gameplay to make it easy and quick for you to get your game started. 

 

1 -4  players

45 – 90 mins

Age: 12 +

What is the goal?

Marvel Champions The Card Game is a:

  • cooperative card game for 1 to 4 players.
  • recommended for ages 12+

You are a Marvel hero, playing the game as that character and their alter-ego. In the game, the players work together to defeat a villain (controlled by the game) who is trying to complete an evil plan.

A Living Card Game
You can customize your game by buying regularly released expansions.
Hero pack expansions introduce a new hero starter deck that can be played directly out of the pack. It also provides additional customization options for player decks.
Standalone scenario packs and in deluxe story boxes introduce new villains and adventures.
Unlike collectible card games, all expansions contain fixed non-randomised content.

Game setup 

For your first game, it is recommended playing with only one or two players and using the heroes Spider-Man and Captain Marvel against the villain Rhino.

Instructions for setting up this set scenario are provided with each step.
The Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and Rhino decks have been pre-sorted in the core set for convenience. Only the cards in these three decks are used in the tutorial game.

Each player:

  • selects one identity card
  • places its alter-ego side face up in front 

For First Game scenario:

  • Take the Spider-man/Peter Parker and if 2 players are playing, Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers identity card  from their deck
  • Set each card to its alter-ego side

Marvel Champions the Card Game - Heroes and Alter Ego

Set hit point dial to the starting hit points of their character, shown at bottom of the identity card.

As a group, select a first player and place 1st player token in front of that player.

Marvel Champions Card Game - First Player Token

​For each played hero, set aside their obligation card.

For each hero in the game, set aside:

  • nemesis card and
  • the encounter cards for that nemesis

The nemesis cards do not start the game in play.

They may be brought into play by other card abilities during the game.

  • Create a pool of damage tokens, threat tokens, and all-purpose counters within reach of each player.
  • Place stacks of stunned, confused, and tough status cards near this pool.

Marvel Champions The Card Game - Tokens

Each player shuffles their player deck and places it near their identity card.

First game scenario:

The Spiderman/Captain Marvel deck consists of the remaining Spiderman/Captain Marvel cards, Justice (yellow) and Basic (gray) cards from their starter pack.

Select Villain and put their deck and main scheme deck into play.

First Game Scenario

  • Use Rhino as Villain, with Rhino (I) and Rhino (II) as the Villain Deck.
  • Stack Rhino’s Villain deck in sequential order, Rhino (I) on top and Rhino (II) on the bottom
  • Scheme deck for this scenario is 1 card, The Break-In! Put the card into play on its 1A side.
  • Set the villain’s hit point dial to the number near the bottom of the villain card multiplied by the number of players
  • Resolve any “Setup” instructions on the main scheme card.

Shuffle the obligation cards that were set aside.

  • Each player’s hand size is shown on the bottom left of their identity card
  • Each player draws a number of cards from their player deck equal to their hand size
  • Each player may discard any number of cards from their hand and draw up to their starting hand size
  • Do not shuffle discarded cards back into their decks
  • Resolve any “setup” instructions listed on identity cards in play.

First game scenario:

There are no character setup instructions for Spiderman or Captain Marvel.

Mid-game play area example

Gameplay

Marvel Champions the Card Game is played over a series of rounds.

Each round consists of:

  • the player phase where the players take their turns in player order and a player can:
    • play cards from their hand,
    • attack enemies,
    • thwart the villain’s schemes,
    • use the ally, support, and upgrade cards they have in play

After everyone has taken a turn, the player phase ends and play proceeds to the villain phase:

  • At the start of the villain phase:, threat is placed on the main scheme. Then, the villain activates once per player and either:
    • attacks the player or
    • further advances their scheme.

Next, the game reveals cards from the encounter deck, which adds minions, treacheries, side schemes, and attachments to make up the villain’s forces.

Once Villain Phase is complete, 1st player token passes to the next clockwise player, and the next round begins.
The game continues until either the players win as a team or the villain wins.

Key concepts during gameplay

The Golden Rule
If the text of a card directly contradicts the rules of this document, the text of the card takes precedence.

Per Player
The per player symbol next to a value multiplies that value by the number of players who started the scenario.

Ready and Exhausted
Cards enter play in a ready position (upright). In order to use some card powers and abilities, the card must exhaust, which is indicated by rotating the card sideways. A card in the exhausted position is not able to exhaust again until it is ready (upright).

 

Player Phase

 

Player Turn

During your turn, you may perform any of the following options, in any order. perform any of the following options, in any order. Each option (aside from changing form) may be performed as many times as long as you have the necessary cards and resources to pay the costs.

Player Options:
  • Change form from hero to alter-ego, or from alter-ego to hero. This option may only be performed once each turn.
  • Play an ally, upgrade, or support card from your hand
  • Use your alter-ego’s basic recovery (if in alter-ego form) or your hero’s basic attack or basic thwart power (if in hero form).
  • Use an ally card you control to attack an enemy or thwart a scheme.
  • Trigger an “Action” card ability on a card in play you control, on an encounter card in play, or by playing an event card with such a timing trigger from your hand. If the action ability is preceded by “Hero” or “Alter-Ego, you must be in that form to trigger the ability.
  • Ask another player to trigger an “Action” ability on a card in play you control or on an event card you might have in hand. The other player then decides whether or not to trigger the ability. (Another player may offer to use an action during the active player’s turn, as well.)

To change from hero to alter-ego, or from alter-ego to hero:

  • announce your intent and
  • flip your identity card to its other side
  • you may change form once each round, only during your own turn.
  • When you change form, your character remains in the same state (ready or exhausted)
  • Any upgrades, attachments, tokens, damage, and status cards on the character remain.

Perform the following steps:

  1. Place the card you want to play on the table.
  2. Pay the card’s cost. (See the “Resource Costs”)
  3. If the card is an ally, upgrade, or support, it enters play ready in the play area. If the card is an event, resolve its effects and place it your discard pile.

Ally Limit

You may have up to three allies in play under your control at any given time.
A player who controls three allies may play a different ally, immediately discarding one of their previous allies.

Basic powers can be found on the player’s identity card.
The hero side has the character’s basic attack power, basic thwart power, and basic defense power.

The alter-ego side has the character’s basic recovery power. To use a basic power, the character must be in the form that has that power.
To use a basic power,  perform the following steps:

  • declare the power you want to use
  • pay the power’s costs by exhausting the hero or alter-ego
  • resolve the power’s effect

Basic Recovery:

  • exhausts your alter-ego
  • heals a number of hit points equal to your REC value
  • Healing increases your hit point dial by the indicated amount but not above your maximum hit points

Basic Thwart:

  • exhaust your hero and removes an amount of threat equal to your THW value from one scheme of your choice. Any scheme can be thwarted unless a card ability (such as the crisis symbol) prevents it.

Basic Attack:

  • exhaust your hero and deals an amount of damage equal to your ATK value to one eligible enemy. Any enemy—villain or minion—in play is eligible unless a card ability (such as the guard keyword) prevents it.

Basic Defense:

  • power may only be used when any hero is being attacked by an enemy.
  • When this occurs, you may exhaust your hero to prevent an amount of damage equal to your DEF value.
  • A hero may defend themself or any other hero. The hero that is defending takes damage (tracked on their hit point dial) from the attack that exceeds their DEF value.

During your turn, you may use any number of allies you control to attack an enemy or to thwart a scheme.
To use an ally, a player performs the following steps:

  • Exhaust the ally. (If the ally was already exhausted, it cannot be used in this way.)
  • Declare whether ally is being used to attack an enemy or thwart a scheme.
  • Declare target enemy or target scheme. Any enemy can be attacked and any scheme can be thwarted unless a card ability says otherwise.
  • Resolve the attack by dealing the specified amount of damage to the enemy. Resolve the thwart by removing the specified amount of threat from the scheme.
  • Deal consequential damage. If the ally that attacked has any damage icons under their ATK, deal the specified damage amount to the ally.
  • If you thwarted and have any damage icons under your THW, do the same.

  • Action abilities are indicated by the word “Action” in bold. 
  • You can trigger abilities from:
    • your controlled cards in play,
    • from event cards played from your hand or
    • from encounter cards that have such an ability.
  1. Declare which action ability you wish to trigger.
  2. Pay the ability’s cost, which precedes its effect, and is separated from the effect by an arrow icon (→). This is done by generating resources, as detailed in the “Resource Costs”. The generated resources must match the resources shown in the ability’s cost. Not all abilities have a cost, and some abilities have additional costs, such as “exhaust this card,” which must also be paid.
  3.  Resolve the effect of the action ability.

A given action ability may be triggered any number of times per turn, so long as its costs can be paid and its effect can change the game.

Hero and Alter-Ego Abilities

If an ability is preceded by Hero or Alter-Ego or if an ability’s text references a specific form, you must be in the specified form in order to use or interact with the ability

If an ability does not specify a form, it may be used while the player is in either form.

Action Abilities on Encounter Cards

Some encounter cards have action abilities that players may use while the card is in play. During their turn, a player may pay the encounter card’s specified costs to resolve the ability.

There is no limit to the number of times this may be done during a turn, so long as that player pays each cost.

Other Triggered Abilities

In addition to action abilities, there are a few other types of triggered
abilities in the game:

  • Interrupts,
  • Responses, and
  • Resource abilities.

Use of these abilities is optional, unless the bold ability trigger is preceded by the word “Forced.”

Each copy of a triggered ability may be used once each time the situation described by its text occurs.

“Resource” abilities may be used anytime the player who controls the ability is generating resources to pay a cost. Unless otherwise noted, the player controlling the resource card must be the one pays the cost.

“Interrupt” abilities may be used any time their specified condition would occur, immediately before that condition occurs. These abilities prevent or preempt an occurrence, sometimes stopping it outright, and sometimes changing the occurrence to something else.

“Response” abilities may be used any time their specified condition is met, immediately after that specified condition resolves or occurs.

When a player has completed everything they wish or can do on their turn, that player announces that their turn is complete.

The next player (in clockwise order) begins their turn.

After all players have completed a turn, proceed to the “End of Player Phase” sequence below.

 

End of Player Phase

To end the player phase, perform the following steps:

  1. In player order, each of you  may discard any number of cards from your hand and must discard down to your hand size (located at the bottom of their identity card) 
  2. Each player simultaneously draws cards from their deck until the number of cards in their hand equals their hand size.
  3.  Each player simultaneously readies all of their cards.

After completing the above steps, the player phase is complete. Proceed to the villain phase.

 

Things to note: Resource Costs

  • Resource costs are paid by generating resources.
  • Resources are generated in 2 ways:
    • Discard a card from hand, which generates a number of resources equal to the number of resource icons on the card.
    • Use a card with a “Resource” ability, which generates the resources specified. Any resources generated beyond the cost are lost after paying the cost.
  • The resource type provided is shown in its bottom-left corner. The icons indicate the number and type of resources generated by discarding the card.

The resource types in the game are:

  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Energy
  • Wild

 

A Wild resource may be used as any other resource.

Usually when playing cards from hand, any type or combination of type of resources may be used to pay the card’s costs.

Many abilities and encounter card effects require a specific type or resource.

Things to note: Dealing Damage

Many card abilities and attacks deal damage.

Damage dealt to a minion or ally:

  • immediately place damage tokens on the card
  • each damage on a card reduces the card’s hit points by one
  • If a card has zero (or fewer) hit points remaining, the card is defeated and placed in its owner’s discard pile

Damage dealt to a player or villain:

  • immediately decreases the character’s hit point dial
  • If a villain’s dial reaches zero, villain’s current stage is defeated, and the villain advances to the next stage
  • When advancing stage, set the villain’s hit point dial to the amount indicated by the newly revealed stage
  • If the villain’s final stage is defeated, the players win the game.
  • If a player’s hit point dial reaches zero, that player is eliminated from the game.

Villain Phase

In the villain phase, the enemies strike back! The villain activates, minions attack, and new encounter cards come into play, challenging the heroes with additional enemies and threats.

To play the villain phase, the players resolve the following steps:

  1. Place threat on the main scheme.
  2. The villain activates once per player, along with any eligible minions.
  3. Deal one encounter card to each player.
  4. Reveal encounter cards.
  5. Pass the 1st player token and end the round.

The Scheme Deck

  • The scheme deck represents the villain’s primary objective.
  • If a villain the scheme’s final stage, the villain wins the game.
  • For some villains, the main scheme deck is just one stage.
  • Some main schemes start with threat on them. The amount of threat placed when it enters play is shown at the bottom of the card.

When a card or game rule instructs an enemy or villain to scheme, a number of threat equal to the enemy’s SCH value is placed on the main scheme.

Each main scheme has a target threat value (top-left corner) that indicates the amount of threat needed on it before the scheme deck advances.

Threat is checked continuously; anytime the amount of threat on a main scheme card is equal to or greater than the card’s target threat, the scheme deck advances to the next stage. (The threat from the previous stage is removed and returned to the token pool.)
If the final stage of the scheme deck advances, the players immediately lose the game.

  • Place the amount of threat indicated in the main  scheme’s acceleration field onto that scheme
  • If any side schemes with an acceleration icon are in play, they modify the amount of threat placed at this time

  • The villain activates once against each player, in player order.
  • After the villain activates against a player, each minion engaged with that player also activates.
  • If the player is in their alter-ego form, the villain or minion schemes
  • If the player is in their hero form, the villain or minion attacks.
  • After the villain completes its activation for a player, it activates for the next player (in player order), continuing until it has activated for all players.

Strategy Tip: 

  • Your character’s form greatly influences the villain’s behavior each round.
  • If you need to stop the villain’s scheme from advancing, make sure you are in hero form to confront them.
  • If you are weak and an attack could be dangerous, stay in alter-ego form to recover hit points and build up your forces
  • Just remember, in alter-ego form you can’t stop the villain from advancing their evil scheme
  • Finding the right balance between your hero and your alter-ego is one of the key skills to master as a Marvel champion.
Alter-Ego form: Enemies Scheme

If the player is in alter-ego form, the villain (and each minion engaged with that player) schemes. To resolve this activation, perform the following steps:

  1. Give the villain a facedown encounter card from the encounter deck. This is the villain’s boost card for this activation.
  2. Flip the boost card face up. For each boost icon at the bottom-right of the card, the villain gets +1 SCH for this activation.
    If there is a star icon in the boost field, the star itself does not provide +1 SCH. This icon indicates that the card’s text box has an associated ability, also marked with a star, that resolves after the card is flipped face-up. Discard the boost card at the end of this step.




  3. Place threat (using threat tokens) on the main scheme equal to the villain’s updated SCH value.
  4. Any minions engaged with the player resolving this activation will now scheme, one at a time. For each that schemes, place threat tokens on the main scheme equal to it’s SCH value. (No boost cards are dealt to scheming minions.)

Hero-form: Enemies Attack

If the player is in hero form, the villain (and each minion engaged with that player) attacks. To resolve this activation, perform the following steps:

  1. Give the villain a facedown encounter card from the encounter deck. This is the villain’s boost card for this activation.
  2. The attacked player chooses if they want to defend against the attack.  The player defends by either exhausting their hero or their controlled ally.
    If the attacked player does not defend, any other player may defend against the attack by exhausting their hero or their controlled ally
  3. Turn the boost card face up. For each boost icon at the bottom-right of the card, the villain gets +1 ATK for this activation.
    If there is a star icon in the boost field, the star itself does not provide +1 ATK. This icon indicates that the card’s text box has an associated ability, also marked with a star􀀉 that resolves after the card is flipped face-up. Discard the boost card at the end of this step.
  4. Deal damage equal to the villain’s updated ATK value, as follows:
    • If a hero defends against the attack, the amount of damage dealt is reduced by that hero’s DEF value, and the remaining attack damage is dealt to that hero.
    • If an ally defends against the attack, all attack damage is dealt to that ally.
  5. If no character is defending against the attack, all attack damage is dealt to the hero that is resolving this activation.
    If any minions are engaged with the player resolving this activation, those minions attack that player, one minion at a time. Resolve each minion’s attack as in steps two and four, but use only the minion’s ATK value to determine how much damage is dealt. (No boost cards are dealt to attacking minions.)

Deal one card from the encounter deck facedown to each player in player order.

All of the encounter cards dealt in the previous step are revealed and resolved, one at a time, in player order.

When revealing an encounter card, it is resolved by its card type, one at a time, in player order:

Minion —  Enters play engaged with the player who revealed the card. Place the minion near that player to show that it is engaged.

Treachery — Resolve its effect and then place it in the encounter discard pile.

Attachment — Enters play attached to the villain.

Side Scheme —  Enters play near the main scheme. Side schemes enter play with an amount of threat already on them. Threat may be removed from a side scheme when heroes or allies use their basic thwart power, or via card abilities. If a side scheme has zero threat on it, it is discarded to the encounter discard pile.

SIDE SCHEME ICONS
If a side scheme has the crisis icon, it must be defeated before threat can be removed from the main scheme.

For each side scheme in play with the acceleration icon, one additional threat is placed on the main scheme during step one of the villain phase.

For each side scheme in play with the hazard icon, an additional encounter card is dealt during step three of the villain phase. Additional cards are dealt in player order (first additional card to the 1st player, second to the 2nd player etc)

WHEN REVEALED ABILITIES

If a revealed card has “When Revealed” abilities, resolve them immediately upon entering play. (For treachery cards, which
do not enter play, the “When Revealed” ability resolves and the card is then placed in the encounter discard pile.)

WHEN DEFEATED ABILITIES

Some minions and side schemes have “When Defeated” abilities. These are triggered when the players defeat the minion, villain stage, or scheme card that has the ability.

ALTER-EGO FORM AND HERO FORM

If a revealed encounter card has an ability that specifies Alter-Ego” or “Hero,” resolve the ability only if the player is in the specified form.

NEMESIS SIDE SCHEMES

If a card instructs a player to put a nemesis side scheme into play:

  • the nemesis side scheme associated with the player that drew the card enters the play area, and
  • their nemesis minion enters play engaging that player
  • The other encounter cards associated with that nemesis are discarded to the encounter discard pile.
  • Each hero’s nemesis, side scheme, and associated cards are as follows:
    • Spider-Man: Vulture, Highway Robbery, The Vulture’s Plans, Sweeping Swoop (x2)
    • Captain Marvel: Yon-Rogg, The Psyche-Magnitron, Kree Manipulator (x2), Yon-Rogg’s Treason
    • Iron Man: Whiplash, Imminent Overload, Electric Whip Attack (x2), Electromagnetic Backlash
    • She-Hulk: Titania, Personal Challenge, Genetically Enhanced, Titania’s Fury (x2)
    • Black Panther: Killmonger, Usurpthe Throne, Heart-Shaped Herb, Ritual Combat (x2)

OBLIGATIONS

During setup, each player shuffles their character’s obligation card into the
encounter deck.

If an obligation is revealed, immediately give it to the player controlling the character indicated by the obligation. That player follows the card’s instructions.

  • Pass 1st Player token to the next player.
  • End the round, and begin the next player phase.

The game continues in this manner, alternating between the player phase and the villain phase, until the players win or the villain wins the game.

How do you win?

Winning

  • Villains are represented by multiple villain cards and each card has a stage number in its upper-right corner.

  • You defeat a villain stage by reducing its hit points to zero, which progresses the game to the next stage.
  • If the final villain stage is defeated, you win!

Losing

  • The villain wins the game if they complete their scheme. A scheme is completed if the villain accumulates the amount of threat stated by the final card
  • if all of the players are eliminated. A player is eliminated when their hit points reach zero.

Video Walkthrough

How to Play Marvel Champions: The Card Game

Marvel Champions Gameplay Runthrough

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