Ms Marvel is one of the rising stars of the Marvel lineup. Like Peter Parker before her, she has a youthful vibrance and fallibility but she also brings diversity and sense of hope to the Marvel Universe. She names herself for her favourite hero, Captain Marvel, in a type of hero worship that we, as the reader, can relate to. And now she arrives into the world of Marvel Champions to embiggen our gaming experience… But is Ms Marvel worth picking up? Let’s take a look...
Kamala Khan/Ms Marvel
Kamala has an excellent recovery value of 5 meaning she can quickly get back in the fight after taking a beating. Her hit points might be lower than some of her contemporaries, at only 10, which combined with her low defence means you’ll probably need to recover more often. Her power in Alter Ego form though allows her to discard cards until she finds a signature card, combined with a hand size of 6, which means any time you start your turn in alter ego form you can have 7 cards to play making it a tempting proposition, although you will burn through your deck much faster than other heroes.
In her hero form Ms Marvel has low stats, 1’s across the board, but you’ll likely not want to use her for her stats and instead for her power. After she plays an event she can exhaust to recover it to her hand. This is not only great because it allows you to play an event twice in a row, but can also be useful for resource recovery.
Ms Marvels signature cards fall into 3 main categories. The first are the boost, Shrink and Embiggen. Both of these cards, once played, can be exhausted to add +2 to any Thwart Event or Attack Event respectively. When I can I like to get these into play as soon as possible because events are the main way that Ms Marvel interacts with the game state.
The next set are Persona cards, these three support cards are Kamala’s posse. Unlike allies they wont take a hit for you but they are extremely useful for generating resources. Bruno allows you to store up cards underneath him, allowing you to stash cards you can’t use and then pick up upto 3 of them for a big attack down the line. Amir allows you to put a card from your discard pile at the bottom of your deck, allowing you to recycle events or other cards you might want access to and then gives you a card draw. While Nakia simply reduces the cost of the next card you play by 1.
All of this, combined with Kamala’s power means that you can have 11 cards in hand and the next card you play costs -1. That’s an insane amount of resource generation.
Finally we have the Events. Ms Marvel has 3 events, one attack, one thwart and one defence. Wiggle room cancels 3 damage and gives you a card draw while costing a sweet sweet nothing to put into play. Big Hands does a big 4 damage (boosted to 6 with Embiggen) and Sneak By does 3 Thwart (boosted to 5 with Shrink). And because you can you can use Ms Marvels power to pull any of these back from the discard after use you can get double the benefit, assuming you have the resources to pay for them.
Ms Marvel comes packaged with the Protection Aspect but she could easily shine in any of the four. Easily my favourite Protection card in this pack is Nova, who not only packs a punch in combat but can use energy resources to deal 2 damage each time an enemy initiates an attack against you, without exhausting! Tackle also saw a lot of table time during my plays, dealing 3 damage and stun as long as you used a strength resource to pay for it. Preemptive Strike was a good card for countering boost cards and dealing damage back to the villain. Get Behind Me, which cancels treachery cards and causes the villain to attack instead never really saw much use, after all the villain attacking was usually not an outcome I wanted, however I can see this being a card that higher defense heroes might want to pack.
There aren’t many new neutral cards in this pack. Endurace, which gives you a 3 hit point increase for 1 resource was one I always played when possible. Lockjaw who enters the game as a new ally, however, only ever hit the table once. He can be played from your discard pile, which is cool, but at a cost of 4 I struggled to justify him. His stats are okay, 2 & 2 but each time he attacks or thwarts he takes 2 consequential damage meaning you can only get 2 uses out of him, compared with 3 for Nova or Red Dagger.
Ms Marvel’s Nemesis set was my ruin more than once. Her primary villain is Thomas Edision, who is easily taken out, but can’t be attacked while you are engaged with other minions. And with a scheme of 3 you really can’t turn your back on him. Worse still, if his robot turns up, it has 8 hit points and can’t be damaged unless you spend a mental resource. At least the side scheme is largely easy to clear.
With Ms Marvel I breezed through the core box villains. Like Captain America she can cover a lot of bases, being good at attacking and thwarting and with her ability to dodge damage and recover health quickly the villains rarely get a chance to get out of hand.
Unlike Captain America though Ms Marvel is definitely a nuanced character. She’s not a blunt instrument. You need to know when to flip between forms, when to build up your cards and when to lay the smackdown on the villain.
However, then I hit the Norman Osbourne/Green Goblin scenarios and I discovered that while Ms Marvel is great at clobbering the big bads, she’s not really geared up for taking out hordes of minions and clearing multiple side schemes. All of Marvel’s attacks are big, 3 hits or higher, but they also cost a lot of resources and while other heroes can chip away at minion and clear them in a round or two Ms Marvel would take 3 rounds to kill a basic 3hp minion and during that time a bunch of his mates have turned up.
The same is true of a side scheme, even a simple 2 threat scheme takes 2 turns to clear, unless you draw Sneak By but you’ve only got three copies of that and do you want to waste it on a side scheme when the main scheme is getting out of hand?
For these scenarios though you can tweak the formula. For Green Goblin swap out the defence aspect for aggression instead and you’ll make mincemeat out of the goblin and his minions. Need to clear schemes instead, throw in some Justice cards and Ms Marvel will keep you on a nice clean 0 threat for most of the game. Whichever aspect you choose make sure to lean heavily on Events to make best use of her power and her upgrades.
So she’s a powerhouse as long as you know how to use her cards. She has tons of resource generation, can hit super hard or clear away threats in the blink of an eye. Her allies are costly and, in general, only Nova is really worth playing, but she can handle herself and has a good support team in place when she needs to lick her wounds.
Ms Marvel is great solo hero, a good all rounder who can beat almost all the scenarios straight out of the box, but with just a few small tweaks you can really tailor her to any scenario. She is a nuanced character with a unique playstyle, but once you master it you really can take on all comers.