The True Power of Protection (Two-Handed Solo Expert Project

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bsj06a · 715

Intro

I had finished beating every scenario and playing every hero, and was deciding what I wanted to do next with Champions. The possibilities are endless, but the decision I came to was to take my two favorite heroes, Star-Lord and Venom, and bring them through every villain on expert (because I hadn't played most on expert), using the recommended modular sets. The goal was to try to hone my favorite decks to be able to take on all comers, while not being able to specifically build towards any scenario. I've never liked the idea of "silver bullet" cards, as I feel like sometimes they take away from the game. If there was a 0 cost event that said "deal 20 damage to Ronan the Accuser", that card would be great against him but terrible against everybody else, so I'd never include it. I took down all the villains, found the two decks complimented each other greatly, but I do feel like both decks can also fully excel solo (with maybe a tweak or two). I will give my strategies below, and eventually will go over my experiences through the gauntlet (mainly how I lost the scenarios I lost) if you would be interested in reading those. It was an exciting journey, and I hope you enjoy the decks! And don't judge these decks for not being 40 cards, 45 was a solid number for wanting to deal with anything that came my way.

Companion Deck Link

Star-Lord Leadership

Deck Strategy

Venom is one of the very best heroes in the game. He does everything, has one of the strongest hero abilities, and his signature pool is incredible, flexible and consistent. He can play all four aspects at an elite level, but the one I've found strongest for him is Protection. The reason for this is I wanted to seek the efficiency brought out by his Symbiotic Bond ability being once per phase and not once per round. Protection is known for playing cards during the villain phase, and being able to generate a for a damage to play those cards helps in multiple ways. The biggest downside of defense events is card disadvantage. You're spending the card and often a resource to play them, so when you go to the player phase you're often down to 3-4 cards in hand and your options grow thinner. By having a free resource in exchange for a damage you save yourself a card. By having access to Spider-Sense and Unflappable, and a lot of control over attacks against you, it is not uncommon to go into your hero phase with 6 cards in your hand having taken no damage, while also reaping the benefits of defense triggers. While you can only have 1 copy of Unflappable in play, I made the decision to play 2 copies because in my games I discovered my games went so much smoother when I saw Unflappable, and with it sometimes going to the opening turn Venom setup mill I decided 2 copies was right and I don't regret it.

The next step is action advantage. While you often don't take damage from attacks, you will often take 1-2 damage per round from your ability, which makes What Doesn't Kill Me a natural fit. You can almost always play it, since you control your own damage and are inclined to block every turn, so you are often exhausted going into the player phase. Many defensive decks use cards like Machine Man or Plan B to mitigate turns where you flood with defense events, and these are good cards that I did test (if playing a solo game I would suggest swapping Starhawk with Machine Man). But in this deck our key resource sink is C.I.T.T.. This allows you to turn card advantage into action advantage every turn, which is especially helpful on turns where you go off with Repurpose.

Because your deck has a lot of readying (a whopping 9 cards that can ready you), sometimes the best thing to do is not use Venom's Pistol while defending, you can control the damage you take with your events. Preemptive Strike in particular is a great card for Venom, as you can block and control how much damage you'll take (outside of boost abilities that give extra boost cards), so you only use whatever Pistol you need to trigger the Unflappable you hopefully have. You can even factor Energy Barrier and Booster Boots into the equation. Energy Barrier can also be used in conjunction with your Symbiotic Bond ability to cancel your resource in favor of doing a damage, to knock off a tough status or something. Do not sleep on using Jump Flip against a minion attack if they hit for 2. Your most important resource type is , mainly because Grasping Tendrils is such a powerful card if you can pay the kicker cost, and What Doesn't Kill Me also requires , although that only needs the one resource so Venom has you covered. This is another reason we are on 3 Jump Flip instead of Side Step, along with our damage output being better than our threat mitigation and it covering that base better.

Other assorted cards: Professor X is just good, gives you a burst of thwarting, confuses the villain so you can safely reap the benefits of the amazing Project Rebirth 2.0, and can block for you or your partner in a pinch. Black Widow is there to bail you out of a worst case scenario, mainly if you didn't need to use Venom's resource for anything else. I always just include The Night Nurse in Protection builds because small healing and removal of statuses for such a low cost makes your life so much easier. Starhawk is in because he's just solid, but in this two handed situation he's also a Guardian so he reaped the benefit of Blaze of Glory from the Star-Lord deck.

So the strategy is this. Defend a lot, control the game with your powerful kit, tee up the villain with a power turn, often including Repurpose. If you're pushing for the win, don't be afraid to Repurpose your Multi-Gun. It might be one of the best cards in the game, but there was several times I was exhausted from defending, used Multi-Gun for 2 damage, Repurposed to ready and get plus 3 attack, attack for 5-7, play What Doesn't Kill me to ready for 5 more, use C.I.T.T to hit for another 5. It also helped that Venom is a Guardian and the companion deck was Star-Lord with Blaze of Glory, which lead to some cartoonish damage turns (on multiple occasions being able to take out stages 2 and 3 of the villain in one turn from full health). The economy of action efficiency in a way that's this consistent makes this deck have the capability of taking on any challenge.

If you try the deck out, let me know what you think! I think it's very good and very fun, especially paired with the Star-Lord deck, so I hope other people can enjoy it.

**Cards I Tried And Cut

Flow Like Water and Nerves of Steel - two 2-cost protection upgrades, they both can do good work. Nerves of Steel didn't make the cut because it gives resources, and that just isn't congruent with Grasping Tendrils, which is one of the best cards in the Venom kit. I switched out the Nerves of Steel with the Defensive Energy, since that cards works great with Grasping Tendrils and the wild resource can help Venom trigger the kicker on Behind Enemy Lines and Savage Attack. You won't get the draw from those, but still worth playing. Flow Like Water just wasn't doing as much as I wanted, damage was never the problem.

Hard to Ignore and Side Step - These ones kept coming in and out. I liked the threat mitigation of Hard to Ignore and loved the ability to cancel 3 damage with Side Step. When trying to find space for some other things the Hard to Ignore and Side Steps became 3x Jump Flip, which kind of marries the two while also providing the must wanted resource.

Never Back Down and Not Today! - These cards are super solid, but lost out to the flexibility of some other cards. I wouldn't think anyone was wrong for including them. The problem now with Champions is there's so many good cards you can't include them all.

Preservation - This card is fine, Venom takes a lot of damage and likes resources, but when it came down to it Defensive Energy was better.

The Expert Challenge

It was fascinating seeing how different some villains are in expert. Some are just tougher, some completely change how you have to approach them. Of the 41 expert scenarios I beat 34 of them on the first attempt. The closest calls of the ones I beat on the first attempt were Loki and Stryfe. Loki I wasn't going to be able to finish off the next turn and survive his retaliate, but he got the treachery to change his form into a version without it and was able to kill him. Stryfe was tough because of stage 2B of his scenario increasing the cost of every card by one. At my decks heart they are building up to a combo final turn, and that was very slowed down by Stryfe. For that one I pinged the final damage off him by using Energy Barrier to deflect the damage to Venom from Blaze of Glory!

The Losses

Ultron (1 loss) - I came to the end of the game saying I just needed to survive one more turn and fade a few bad encounter cards to finish Ultron off. Multi-Gun was there to wipe out the drones that would prevent Ultron from taking damage, I had a massive damage setup..... and then I revealed both copies of Upgraded Drones, putting an end to those hopes. I still went for it, but fell short and threated out. If I had been patient and just removed threat to try again next turn I could have won, so that one is my fault.

Drang (1 loss) - After one shotting the Rise of Red Skull box and feeling good I knew I was jumping into the fire of Galaxy's Most Wanted. I knew I wouldn't have a perfect record against this box, but I wasn't expecting a loss to Drang. This was just a freak loss, Star-Lord had a horrible opening hand and mulligan, not seeing a single ally in 13 cards (including his alter ego swap). I said I'd play it safe, not get an extra card, take a hit and prepare, remove Drang's Spear to help in the long term. I get hit, get my one encounter card, it's Under Fire which then reveals Assault and Gang-Up, Star-Lord dies turn one. Sometimes the game just gets you.

Collector (3 losses) - Ahhhh, everybody's favorite scenario. When you don't build for him he can be a bigger problem. Luckily the Venom deck in theory is very good against him. The one MAJOR downside is what happened in all 4 losses: Shadow of the Past. When the collection is a thing and Shadows brings in 4 copies of Enraged Symbiote that you have to get rid of before doing anything, it's pretty much a scoop at that point. Was happy to be done with this one.

Nebula (2 losses) - Maybe my least favorite scenario in the game? Nebula is wildly swingy, surges you all day, and can throw any of your plans out the window with random techniques at the drop of a hat. If you falter for one turn her ship gets out of hand, letting her get to 2B is a nightmare. Space Pirates is a horrifying modular set. I think Nebula is one of the villains that jumps the most from standard to expert.

Ronan the Accuser (3 losses) - You knew he'd be here. Ronan has a reputation for being the hardest villain in the game, and while I'm not sure that's true, he definitely gets the crown for most unfair. He just hits so hard and so often, and you have to deal with the Ship Command nightmare again. Kree Militants is also just a brutal modular set, minions with that much health shouldn't be allowed to have those keywords. Aggressively removing Universal Weapon was key, although we all know when you shuffle it in it's somehow going to be back next turn. Starhawk was key to fighting stage 3 Ronan with Retaliate, since he'd bounce back to hand every time he attacked while boosted with Blaze of Glory.

Venom Goblin (3 losses) - I think Venom Goblin is the true most difficult villain in general on expert. While Ronan spikes you out, Venom Goblin is like quicksand. You'll feel like you have things in hand, but it slowly sneaks away as you see the threat piling up and minions starting to swarm and you suddenly look and realize you've only dealt 4 damage to Venom Goblin. You get hit with several encounter cards turn one, and I think you have to build to flip him to stage 3 and kill stage 3 in one turn, because at that point in the game the extra encounter cards stage 3 brings are untenable. Luckily they do power up Sliding Shot very well, which was key to victory. Black Widow had one job in this scenario. Keep Advanced Glider off of Venom Goblin or die trying.

Magneto II (4 losses) - The villain that gave me the most losses surprisingly was my favorite villain in the entire game, Magneto. Expert Magneto is in the top tier of difficulty, but he does it in a fair way. Even as difficult as it is, I think it's still the best and most epic feeling scenario in the game, and really tells a story. But he just hits you from every angle. He goes through his deck quick with the magnetic counters, the schemes move pretty quickly, and your actions can sometimes be taxed by having to fight off the Acolytes, because if they get their Teamwork triggered that's so hard to come back from. Acolytes are a big reason Magneto is tough. Electromagnetic Blast wrecks Venom, Metal Shards wrecks Star-Lord, he's just tough. But I'd do it again tomorrow, I love that scenario so much.

Conclusion

This was a really fun thing to do, I had a lot of time off work and was able to play a ton of games, and it was enlightening to learn more about my favorite heroes and how to approach them while running them through the full gauntlet of all the expert villains. Maybe someday I'll do it again with some other heroes I love (Maybe Rogue and Domino?). I hope this was enjoyable to read, I know it was a lot of writing. If you have more questions on either of these decks, throw it in the comments and I'll happily answer any. I'd love for people to give these decks a shot, I worked hard on them and think they're both strong and fun.

15 comments

Sep 15, 2023 boothwah · 69

Thank you! That was an entertaining read.

Sep 15, 2023 bsj06a · 715

@boothwah Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I spent a lot of time with these heroes so it only felt fitting to spend a lot of time on the writeup haha.

Sep 15, 2023 mv2392 · 96

Nice. Love Venom and this looks like a fun deck.

Venom Goblin can be whack maybe even more than Ronan. I was playing through the sinister motive campaign a couple weeks back and died to him turn 1! I play standard 2 and triple attacks was too much coming out the gate like that.

Sep 15, 2023 bsj06a · 715

@mv2392 Give it a shot sometime and let me know what you think! I think it’s a super fun deck to play.

Venom Goblin also has a downside which came up in one of my losses, which is Shadows of the Past for Venom really hurts against him. The side scheme can’t have threat removed from it if there’s a symbiote enemy in play, and because Venom Goblin is a symbiote you can never get rid of it and are stuck with an extra encounter card every turn. It also works that way against the Venom villain, but it’s not as bad. Turns out an extra card against Venom Goblin is way more disastrous than against Venom!

Sep 15, 2023 Marctimmins89 · 291

Bravo! This is awesome. Off to check out the Star Lord deck now.

Sep 15, 2023 bsj06a · 715

@Marctimmins89 Thank you for checking them out, hope you give them a shot sometime.

Sep 16, 2023 boomguy · 550

Why not include Angel’s Aerie? Seems like a natural fit in this deck since Flash wants to use his health as a resource.

Sep 16, 2023 bsj06a · 715

@boomguy57 Because it isn’t out yet. It would fit the deck, maybe cut Defensive Energy for it.

Sep 16, 2023 boomguy · 550

@bsj06a I got my packs on already, I forgot it’s not technically out yet. It fits great in this deck. Nice build!

Sep 16, 2023 bsj06a · 715

@boomguy57 Makes more sense haha. It’ll definitely fit when it comes out. Although I rarely needed to heal more than what Project Rebirth would do for me. The What Doesn’t Kill Me’s do a good job helping you gain incremental health

Oct 16, 2023 Angelssen · 1

@bsj06a Hello, looking for some Venom play in solo, do u have any change with the new cards for solo expert ? I did Venom Gobelin in normal already but im affraid to need more damage for the expert one cuz he is no joke :)

Oct 16, 2023 bsj06a · 715

@Angelssen As far as new cards go, I would consider Angel’s Aerie, I haven’t tested it in the archetype but it seems to fit well.

As far as someone like Venom Goblin goes, if you’re building specifically for him I would suggest maybe adding in more allies, even ones like Clea. Groot is okay because he can soak minion attacks. If you want to add more allies your first cuts would probably be Defensive Energy and second Unflappable.

Oct 16, 2023 Angelssen · 1

@bsj06a like u I don’t like too much building for the specific vilain , I was just wondering if in solo u would change few cards cuz u we’re playing 2 handed, u did mention that in the beginning of the explanation but didn’t catch which change in solo u would do

Will look on aerie !

Oct 16, 2023 bsj06a · 715

@Angelssen Oh, I see. The answer is probably the same, I would cut Defensive Energy for Clea. Your damage output should be good enough in true solo, don’t forget that Multi-Gun kind of solves a lot of your problems.

Oct 16, 2023 Angelssen · 1

Thx look eager to try it !