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Marvel Champions The Card Game Rules for those who hate reading rulebooks

I hate the hassle of reading rulebooks and wish they could get straight to the point. I wrote this guide with the aim of helping you learn how to play Marvel Champions Card Game quickly.
If you are looking for a Marvel Champions Card Game overview, understand its gameplay and appeal, click here for our summary and video, click here.

Players: 1 to 4 | Game duration from: 45 mins | Game Complexity: MEDIUM

Looking for the official Marvel Champions: The Card Game rules pdf / rulebook, click here.

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

Select Heroes

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

Select Hit Points

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

Marvel Champions The Card Game 1

Select First Player

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

Marvel Champions Card Game - First Player Token

Select Aside Obligations

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

Select Aside Nemesis Sets

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.

Collect Tokens and Status Cards

  • 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

Shuffle Player Decks

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

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.

Select VIllain’s Hit Points

  • Set the villain’s hit point dial to the number near the bottom of the villain card multiplied by the number of players

Resolve Scheme Setup

  • Resolve any “Setup” instructions on the main scheme card.

Create and Shuffle Encounter Deck

Shuffle the obligation cards that were set aside.

Draw Cards

  • 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

Resolve Mulligans

  • 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 Character Setup Abilities

  • Resolve any “setup” instructions listed on identity cards in play.

First game scenario:

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


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.

Marvel Champions The Card Game 2

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).

Marvel Champions The Card Game 3


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.)
Changing Form

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.
Playing a card

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.

Marvel Champions The Card Game 4
Use a Basic Power

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
Marvel Champions The Card Game 5

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.
Marvel Champions The Card Game 6
Use an Ally

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.
Marvel Champions The Card Game 7
Trigger an Action Ability
  • 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.

Marvel Champions The Card Game 8

End Player’s Turn

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.

Marvel Champions The Card Game 9


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
    Marvel Champions The Card Game 10


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.

Marvel Champions The Card Game 11

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.

Step 1 – Place Threat
Step 2 – Villain and Minion Activations
Step 3 – Deal Encounter Cards
Step 1 – Place Threat


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