Jessica Drew, former agent of Hydra turned S.H.I.E.L.D spy was genetically altered with spider DNA to become the fearless Spider-Woman. Or so a cursor glance at her Wikipedia page tells me because Spider-Woman is the first Marvel Champions hero that I really have no connection to. Does her deck play like a double agent, super spy with spider powers… erm… no, but is it fun? Let’s find out.
Jessica Drew is fairly typical in terms of humans in Marvel Champions, her recovery is 3, hand size of 6 and a slightly elevated hit points of 11. Her Alter Ego ability gives her a chance to look at the top card of any deck. Often I’ll use this on the villain deck to know how many boost icons I’ll be facing. She is also the second hero with the Spy trait meaning she can make use of several cards from the Black Widow expansion.
The more interesting part of her Alter Ego ability is her setup power. Jessica Drew must include 2 different aspects in her build with an equal number of cards from each. This makes her incredibly versatile, able to fill any hole in your current team or to act alone as a solo hero with tons of replayablity.
Spider-Woman herself has rather poultry stats, 1’s across the board, which is where her special ability comes into play. For every aspect card you play each of Spider-Woman’s stats increases by 1 and often you’ll be able to play at least 2, making Spider-Woman frequently a 3 attack, 3 thwart, 3 defence hero, the highest stats in the game!
It’s also worth noting that the stat boost remains in play until the end of the round, not the end of the phase, allowing you to attack/thwart and still defend with your boosted stats. Because of this special ability Spider-Woman is going to be more affected than most heroes by villains that attack your hand. Also of note is that this is an interrupt effect so could trigger during the enemy turn if you play response cards.
Unlike nearly every hero before her, Spider-Woman’s unique cards are almost all events. She has one upgrade, Finesse which can be used to generate wild resources. One support. Jessica’s Apartment, which in alter ego allows you to dig for an aspect card. And one unique ally, Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers). Captain Marvel is pretty costly at 4, but each time she attacks or thwarts she draws you a card, slowly refunding her initial cost.
The rest of the signature cards are events, four of which are also aspect cards, one for each aspect. Venom Blast deals 5 damage, Pheromones stuns and confuses, Contaminant Immunity heals and grants Tough while Inconspicuous removes any 3 threat tokens from play. Her last event is Self Propelled Glide, which readies Spider-Woman for a single resource and allows her to make a second use of her boosted stats.
Because Spider-Woman must be built with an equal number of aspect cards from two different aspects she has 3 new aggression and 3 new justice cards.
Press the advantage deals 2 damage but can draw you a card if the enemy is already stunned or confused. Piercing Strike on the other hand deals 3 damage but discards a tough condition from the chosen enemy before dealing damage. There is also a new aggression ally in the form of Spider-Girl. Spider-Girl is fairly cheap at a cost of 2, but she has 2 attack and on entry can stun and confuse a minion. The downside to this is that at only 2 health she’s unlikely to stick around for long.
Clear the Area was a favorite of mine as I played through the campaign. It can remove 2 threat tokens from a scheme and if it removed the last threat you may draw a card. This is great for mopping up unfinished schemes and with the card draw kicker it is essentially free to play. When teamed up with Skilled Investigator it becomes even more powerful as you can exhaust Skilled Investigator every time you defeat a side scheme for yet more card draw.
The unique ally that joins the team for Justice is Spider-man himself, but at a cost of 5 I often found myself unable to play him, especially at the expense of playing other aspect cards for my stat boosts. Spider-man’s entry effect however does allow you to get rid of 3 threat per player and his 2/2 stats make him a good guy to have around in a fight.
Jack of all Trades, master of two. Out of the gate Spider-Woman is the most versatile hero for Marvel Champions, having access to all four aspects in her starting deck. But she will also be the most varied hero to play. Where every other hero has four possible builds Spider-Woman has twelve.
This core deck is split between Justice and Aggression making her, like many of the expansion heroes, capable of taking on scenarios solo. She can hit hard and thwart hard. Her special ability also makes her incredibly versatile as all her stats are increased equally, whatever you need she’s got you covered. Add to that the ability to ready a couple of times each time you cycle your deck and Spider-Woman is a beast.
To test Spider-Woman I ran her against the five scenarios in the Rise of Red Skull expansion. I won five, lost five, for a total of ten games, however I was also learning those scenarios for the first time.
Like almost all Heroes she struggles a little against horde decks, with Arnim Zola giving me the most trouble out of any of the scenarios I tested her against. Quest heavy scenarios, like Red Skull though proved to be a piece of cake with her ready access to cards like Clear the Area.
Spider-Woman is definitely a character I can see myself returning to to try different deck builds, purely because of the opportunities that she presents. She will also be a more intimidating hero for new players to get a grip on. Her core ability alone requires maintenance to track her boosts (I ended up adding a tracking token above her card each time I played a different aspect card). Her deck however is very responsive, every card has a clear usage and so you’ll know when you need to play it. The complexity of Spiderwoman will come from deciding what build you want to use, rather than her core engine.
Spider-Woman opens the door to the wider possibilities in Marvel Champions. Her ability to take two aspects makes her an ideal teammate or an excellent solo adventurer. Her upkeep might prove trickier for new players, but for those looking to experiment with Deck Building, there’s no better place to start.