Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Marvel Super Hero Squad CCG - Two-Player Intro Pack Analysis

The contents of the two-player introductory pack
Upper Deck  wisely released a two-player introductory pack for the Marvel Super Hero Squad CCG. 

I consider this absolutely essential product for the game and a great deal.

This pack costs $20 and you get two 30-card themed decks, two booster packs, a coin, a rule book, and two battle mats. That's a great value considering the booster packs go for $4 a piece on there own so two would be $8. That's $12 for everything else - not to bad! You're getting 80 cards for $20 - that's 25 cents a card. 

While the coin is nice, it's not essential. Any die or coin would serve the same purpose. Still, it's nice that it has the same design as in the online game. 

The "play zone" maps, I think, are essential, especially if you're teaching young people how to play. It organizes the space for you and has a brief rules summary on it as well. 

The rule book, it goes without saying, it necessary. Although the print is small, it is the source to end rules debates and answer questions. Is it comprehensive? No, but it's good enough for most players, I'm sure.

The two booster packs are, of course, great. In addition to having six commons, three uncommons, and one rare in each pack there's also a code inside the wrapped that can be redeemed for stuff in the online game. So don't throw those wrappers away!

Now, on to the main show - the decks. First, the theme is very timely - Avengers VS X-Men.

The Avengers deck has the following 30 cards (all cards have the Avengers "A" logo on them - not all of the introductory themed decks actually have all of the cards in them according to the theme):
1x War Heroes 
2x Huge Breakthrough
1x Time Bomb
1x Heroic Effort
2x Marvelous Strength
2x Stars and Stripes
2x Reality Shift 
2x Hurl the Shield
2x Shadow Warrior
3x Jab of Justice
3x Attack of the 2-Inch Woman
2x Holographic Wings
3x Thunderous Impact
2x Colossal Assistance
2x Avengers Assemble!

Card Levels (the power cost to play the card):
level 1 - 6 cards
level 2 - 5 cards
level 3 - 3 cards
level 4 - 4 cards
level 5 - 9 cards
level 6 - 0 cards
level 7 - 3 cards
No card has a level higher than 7 which means this deck accelerates quickly. You won't have to hold cards turn after turn waiting for the power level to reach 10, 11 or higher. Having 6 cards, 1/5 of the deck, at level one almost guarantees you'll draw one very early in the game.

Card Factors
Red (Animal) - 3 cards
Green (Strength) -10 cards
Blue (Elemental) - 3 cards
Purple (Energy) - 2 cards
Gray (Tech) - 5 cards
Orange (Speed) - 6 cards
Multicolor - 1 Gray/Orange card
I can't say I'm thrilled with the factor breakdown on this deck. The fact that there's only two purple cards and three blue and red cards means that your opponent is much more likely to have a block for those cards. The green cards are the meat and potatoes of this deck and I'd pound away with them.

Red (Animal) - 6 cards
Green (Strength) -5 cards
Blue (Elemental) - 5 cards
Purple (Energy) - 5 cards
Gray (Tech) - 3 cards
Orange (Speed) - 6 cards
This deck has a slight vulnerability to tech cards but otherwise has a very balanced defense.

This deck is extremely well put together. There are only one or two cards that have questionable offensive value. The theme is well executed in a simple and direct fashion that should be easy for novice players to pick up and play.

The X-Men deck has the following 30 cards (I place an * next to the cards that are not actually X-Men team cards):
1x Paragons of Brilliance 
2x Mystic Fire*
1x Call the Tempest
1x Decision of the Heart
2x Whisk on the Winds
2x Fast Hands
2x Strong Leader 
2x Let's Play Twister
2x Surprise Interception
3x Adrenaline Rush
3x Phase and Rescue
2x First Strike
2x Having a Blast
2x Savage Leap
2x Fast Healing
1x Samurai Slash

Card Levels (the power cost to play the card):
level 1 - 5 cards
level 2 - 4 cards
level 3 - 5 cards
level 4 - 5 cards
level 5 - 3 cards
level 6 - 2 cards
level 7 - 5 cards
level 8 - 1 card
You should see good opening hands most of the time with this deck because it the card levels are well distributed and it avoids cards with an extremely high casting cost. This deck may be slightly slower than the Avengers deck

Card Factors
Red (Animal) - 5 cards
Green (Strength) -2 cards
Blue (Elemental) - 6 cards
Purple (Energy) - 7 cards
Gray (Tech) - 0 cards
Orange (Speed) - 9 cards
Multicolor - 1 Blue/Purple card
I like the factor balance of this deck more than the Avengers deck. By excluding gray the deck causes some of the opponent's blocks to be worthless while quickly burning through the blocks of the most prevalent factors such as orange and purple. Note that most of the high level cards are blue. 

Red (Animal) - 6 cards
Green (Strength) -6 cards
Blue (Elemental) - 4 cards
Purple (Energy) - 4 cards
Gray (Tech) - 5 cards
Orange (Speed) - 5 cards
Extremely well balanced defense!

This is a high power deck. Cards like Strong Leader and Adrenaline Rush allow you to blitz keepers while cards like Whisk the Wins, Phase and Recruit, and Samurai Slash let you keep the pressure on with vicious attacks from your hand. Decision of the Heart is without proper support to be in this deck and First Strike is an all-or-nothing that I could do without. In conclusion, this deck is exceedingly well constructed.

I haven't had a chance to play these decks yet but I'm sure that they're very well balanced against one another. I would guess that the victory percentage for each deck would be very close to 50%. Both decks are well designed and easy to use. What's great is that once you become a more advanced player you won't have any problems using some of these versatile cards in other decks you build.
The two-player introductory box is a must-have for the MSHS CCG.

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