Marvel Champions Mutant Genesis is the fifth major campaign expansion for Marvel Champions: The Card Game, the ‘living card game’ by Fantasy Flight Games featuring everyone’s favourite batch of superheroes and villains.
We recently placed the core set on our best Marvel board games list for its fun, fast-paced, but still varied and strategic gameplay that succeeds in bringing the game’s superhero theme to life. But, of course, I’m not here to talk about the big box – so without further ado, please can the slightly smaller box of Mutant Genesis take centre stage.
Released earlier this year, Mutant Genesis is – as the name suggests – Marvel Champion’s first foray into the much-loved (and much-neglected in the present MCU) world of X-men. It features two heroes (Shadowcat and Colossus) and their precon decks, and five scenarios. These include getting into scrapes with such well-known X-men villains as the sentinels, the Brotherhood of Mutants, and Mystique, culminating in an intense boss fight against Magneto.
I’m fairly new to the world of Marvel Champions, having only played the base game before diving into this expansion. On that note, I wanted to preface this review with a brief warning. I’ve seen some folks saying Mutant Genesis is a great jumping in point for newbies, but personally I found it a major step up in terms of difficulty.
I breezed on through the core set, mainly playing solo, with nary a care, but then lost every single encounter in Mutant Genesis several times before finally triumphing. If you’re up for a somewhat gruelling Dark Souls-like experience of learning patterns and tactics, you could still make this your second port of call with Marvel Champions – but otherwise you might have an easier time if you build up your collection a bit first
The heroes in Mutant Genesis are Shadowcat and Colossus, and they play off each other nicely. Colossus is a more straightforward hero that uses toughness cards as a resource and can tank a lot of damage, while Shadowcat requires more finesse, switching between phased and solid mass forms to make the most of a varied set of abilities – this can prove a little fiddly, however, as it’s tough to remember when you must switch and when you may.
One thing worth noting – many of the hero cards in Mutant Genesis lay the groundwork for future X-men packs – FFG has now released six of these – but won’t gel too well with other heroes from your collection. This is particularly the case for the aspect and basic cards – if you want Shadowcat to be able to team up with fiercer feline Black Panther, you’ll need to do some deckbuilding first.
The heroes aren’t the best part of Mutant Genesis to my mind. Instead, the standout here is the scenario design. There’s something interesting and original in each one. Marvel Genesis comes out of the gate hot with a regenerating villain (Sabertooth) and a hostage scenario, followed by a mission with an alternate loss condition and captured allies to save.
There is a bit of a dip in the middle though – sticking two sentinel missions back to back in the campaign was perhaps a mistake, even if one of them is more about side schemes and one more about minions.
But things get back on the right track with mansion attack, a brutally hard encounter against the Brotherhood of Mutants where both location and brotherhood member is randomised, providing loads of replayability. Magneto also creates a very challenging but enjoyable boss fight, featuring loads of thematic cards – such as a personal favourite of mine, where he chucks one of his own sentinels at you.
Overall, Marvel Champions: Mutant Genesis is a solid addition to the Marvel Champions stable. The heroes are every bit as interesting as the ones in the core set, while the scenarios are, if anything, more engaging.
The challenge here did impact my enjoyment quite a bit though, as a loss in Marvel Champions is rather anticlimactic and often feels like it comes out of the blue (this can also be true for a win – but that’s not such a feel-bad moment). I think it’s an easy expansion to recommend if you’re already invested in the Marvel Champions ecosystem, or if the X-men is your favourite part of Marvel. But a newbie may want to try out some easier packs first.
This hero work ain’t easy, bub!
The varied encounters are the best part of Mutant Genesis’ solid expansion, which provides excellent X-men action.