Updated: a day ago
Clint Barton’s Hawkeye was an obvious omission when FFG announced the Avenger’s line up for Marvel Champions, so his inclusion in the Rise of Red Skull campaign box was met with a collective sigh of relief. Hawkeye, like Black Widow before him, is one of the few Avengers that isn’t super powered, he’s a mere human who happens to be really good at shooting arrows. How did the designers approach this projectile powered puny human? Let’s find out...
Clint Barton is not a particularly impressive human, in fact he’s distinctly average with 9hp, 3 recover and a hand size of 6. However his special power is vital to the Hawkeye strategy and that is his ability to get his bow. Unlike Cap or Thor who can start with their signature weapons for free, Hawkeye will need to pay a resource to find his, but should he lose it he can always flip back to alter ego and find it again.
On the flip side we have Hawkeye, his stats are not great, his trump stat is attack at 2, but his Defence and Thwart are both 1. Hawkeye’s Bow which you should have in play throughout the game will boost his attack by 1 bringing him into contention with some of the strongest avengers, like She-Hulk and Hulk.
Hawkeye’s built in ability is that he can exhaust to ready his bow, trading his own 3 attack to fire an arrow, most of which deal 3 damage and some kind of kicker. Hawkeye’s ability is also not limited to once per round, meaning if you have ways to ready him again you can really rain down plenty of projectiles on your enemies.
Hawkeye’s signature cards almost all revolve around Hawkeye’s bow, which is of course highly thematic. Most of these cards are events in the form of single use arrows Hawkeye can use to create different effects, such as stun, confusion and tough removal, along with threat removal and area effect attacks. However he also has a couple of other cards that really help fuel this arrow heavy strategy.
Expert Marksman can be used to reduce the cost of an arrow card and with two copies in play you wont need to pay anything for the first arrow you fire each round. Hawkeye’s Quiver allows you to dig through the top 5 cards of your deck and add an arrow card to the quiver, allowing you to store up arrows for a rainy day or to find the one you need in the heat of battle.
However to make your arrows work you’re going to need Hawkeye’s Bow. A free upgrade that needs to be exhausted to use an arrow, limiting your shots per round, but also granting Ranged to your arrow attacks and a +1 Attack boost to Hawkeye himself.
Hawkeye may be one of the first heroes to have no upgrades or supports that only work in Alter Ego meaning you’ll likely want to stay in heroic form unless you need to recover or collect your bow should it be discarded.
Hawkeye’s signature ally is Mockingbird, a 3 cost ally that you can return to your hand to completely cancel all damage from an attack. However you won’t need to worry about what she does because in every game I played as Hawkeye, Mockingbird ended up captured by one method or another!
For the Leadership aspect we have three new cards. Sky Cycle is an attachment which can only be used on an Avenger ally but can be exhausted to ready them. Team Training is a 2 cost support that boosts all your allies HP allowing you to keep them around for that little bit longer and Ready for Action is an event that grants tough but only to an ally you control, making it less useful in multiplayer.
Hawkeye also ships with a metric ton of allies. Kate Bishop, Black Knight, Goliath and US Agent (along with a neutral version of Warmachine) Like other heroes before him his deck includes Avengers tower which ups your ally limit to allow you to get most of these allies into play. Kate Bishop is cool as she can deal damage without taking consequential hits. U.S Agent isn’t very exciting but certain works well as a meatshield to soak up hits and deal back retaliation damage. Black Knight’s attacks have piercing making him a great choice when dealing with bad guys with tough. And Goliath will help out with Hawkeye’s generally poor threat removal but can also be sacrificed to deal a big hit, or multiple big hits if he’s riding a Sky Cycle.
I’m not super pumped about the new neutral cards here. Rhodie is on the expensive side so rarely hits the table. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is a nice card, allowing you to ready any Avenger for free as long as you exhaust a different one. However again it is limited to your own heroes and allies and most of the time I’ll use this one as a resource to play more arrows instead.
After not seeing a nemesis set hit the table for 20+ games, I was rather shocked by how often Shadows of the Past triggered for Hawkeye and it always went off at the worst possible moment.
Hawkeye’s nemesis minion is Crossfire, 2 attack, 4 health with Quickstrike. He’s not too difficult to get rid of, although his Quickstrike is a pain, especially as he has Piercing too so he’ll strip any tough card you might have. However his HP of 4 is just outside the range of most of Hawkeye’s attacks unless you waste a Vibranium arrow for 6 attack.
Meanwhile the nemesis scheme is Marked For Death, which will capture Mockingbird from wherever she is at the time, deck, discard or in play. Not only that but Hawkeye will have a tough time clearing the scheme of it’s 5 threat and it has an acceleration icon to boot.
Hawkeye is a squishy hero that knows how to deal damage but has a bit of a glass jaw when it comes to taking damage. His major downside is his lack of Thwart. He can compensate for this slightly with Cable Arrows, but you only have two of them so you can’t rely on that. Even among his allies only half of them provide a reasonable Thwart and they cost 3 or 4 resources to get in play.
Hawkeye was tested against the Rise of Red Skull campaign. Initially he won every single scenario, powering through Crossbones, Absorbing Man, Taskmaster and Arnin Zola without really meeting too much resistance. He has good access to reliable damage, not huge damage, but generally enough to whittle away the health on a boss or eliminate a couple of minions every round. His access to stun, confusion and piercing makes him pretty capable in a toe to toe battle with most villains and compensates for his lackluster defence.
Red Skull, however, proved to be a different beast altogether. While I sailed through this final scenario as Spider-Woman, Hawkeye was immediately on the back foot due to Red Skull's propensity for side schemes. I also made the mistake of randomly adding Legions of Hydra as my modular set which Hawkeye is simply not capable of dealing with, especially when you are practically guaranteed that it will come out. After switching modular sets, it still took me two further games to put an end to the machinations of the Red Skull and retrieve the reality gem.
Overall I really enjoyed the puzzle of Hawkeye’s deck, combo-ing the bow, quiver and expert marksman to ensure not only did I have access to my arrows but I also had the resources to play them. If retooled into an aggression deck Hawkeye could become a serious heavyweight contender for damage output, while switching him to a Justice deck might just help shore up his shortcomings. In his Leadership build he makes a great ally, but his ability to function in solo games feels a little compromised.
Hawkeye is a fun hero to play, his play style of rapid fire events definitely make him feel different, but his reliance on his bow is also his weakness, without it he is sub par at best and a reliability at worst. Hawkeye functions perfectly against boss fight scenarios and horde decks but comes a cropper against more cunning enemies.