Ant-Man, the Marvel Champions expansion, came out very late in 2020. It adds the Scott Lang Ant-Man to the roster of Marvel Heroes you can play in Marvel Champions. Although I have been strictly collecting all the Marvel Champions expansions, I have only played the heroes that I really like so far! Ant-Man is one of my favorite characters and I can say I liked the Scott Lang Ant-man before it was cool!
I picked the original Marvel Premiere #48 (see above) back at my local paperback shop back in March 1979!! (You might ask “Rich, how can you pick up the issue in March when it came out in June?” At the time, Marvel and DC’s “release dates” were about 3 months ahead of time: the explanation I got from someone in a Comic book store is that there was a “race” between Comic vendors to make their comics look “newer”: at some point, the date on the cover drifted to 3 months in advance!)
I loved this incarnation of Ant-Man! It was the culmination of John Byrne on Pencils (who was VERY HOT drawing the original X-Men about the time of the Dark Phoenix Saga), Bob Layton on Inks (who was VERY HOT on Iron Man), and Dave Michelienie (who Layton worked with on Iron Man). This was the dream team for me! Bob Layton’s inks were always very clean. In fact, when I first saw this page from the Marvel Champions manual, I thought, “Is that from the Iron Man 123 or so with Layton inking?”
Not quite, but it definitely had that vibe (see below).
It turns out the first appearance of the Scott Lang Ant-Man was Marvel Premiere #47! I had missed that issue, so I had to go hunt it down at the paperbook shop (ya, there weren’t a lot of specialty shops for comic books back then). In fact, I remember getting a lot of Comic Books at the Menaul Book Exchange back then.
The Scott Lang Ant-Man is very similar to the Ant-Man Marvel Movie, but the Scott Lang Ant-Man of Marvel Premiere is depicted as smarter and less of a comic foible. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Ant-Man movies, but the current direction of Ant-Man was a little more comic than the original.
Oh, but you want me to talk about the expansion, right?
Ant-Man: Marvel Champions is a small expansion with just one blister pack.
The coolest thing about Ant-Man is that he has three forms! Scott Lang (alter ego), Ant-Man (tiny) and Giant-Man (giant)! See below for the normal Ant-Man (tuny mode)
And see above for the Giant-Man form! Notice that it’s twice as big as the normal cards. It’s actually a jumbo card folded in half (see below).
Basically, the Ant-Man form is good for foiling schemes, the Giant-Man form is good for doing damage, and the Scott Lang form is good for healing (like most Marvel Champions forms). This “jumbo card” is actually a pretty cool gimmick! My favorite part of this new system (most heroes only have hero and alter ego side) is that switching to one of the new forms causes things to happen as well! It’s very thematic that when Scott becomes giant man that he does a damage AS HE GROWS! Scott defeats some scheme AS HE SHRINKS. I thought this was thematic for the character and his powers. (Pictured below, Ant-Man growing and attacking!)
Ant-Man’s deck is pretty typically (Allies like Hank Pym Ant-Man):
.. but he has also some cards that only apply if he’s giant or tiny form!
For example, Giant Stomp (above) only works if you are in Giant mode and Hive Mind (above) only works if you are in tiny mode. Again, very thematic!
Of course, Ant-Man’s obligation is Cassie-related (Cassie is the reason Lang stole the suit in the beginning):
And his nemesis that can come out is YellowJacket.
Some Extra Rules
Each of the single hero packs comes with a neat little poster on one side (see above) … and new rules on the back (see below).
The rules tell you how the 3 Modes work (you can switch from any mode to any other mode, but you can only do it once per turn (like normal switching)). They also introduce a new rule called TEAM-UP! Now I poured through the Ant-Man deck 3 times before I found exactly one card that has the TEAM-UP keyword.
It was weird to me that so much space was devoted to one rule on one card, but I suspect we will be seeing more of this keyword.
Set-up And Gameplay
Set-up is real easy: there’s not too much “new” for Ant-Man: his default deck sets-up like most heroes.
Once the game gets going, Ant-Man plays easily. It’s fun going to Giant size (see above) and causing havoc just by changing size! Throughout the game, I went back and forth between Ant-Man (tiny) and Giant-Man (giant) quite a number of times! A Side Scheme comes out? Go to Ant-Man (tiny) size to get rid of the scheme! Then go back to Giant size to beat things up! And occasionally Scott form to heal.
Ant-Man is a good generalist. He can do a lot of damage in Giant form when needed or reducing the threat of the scheme in tiny form. I really enjoyed that I felt like Ant-Man could take on any situation and still do something. He was fun to play! It was a real joy switching between modes all the time!
So, I have been quietly collecting everything for Marvel Champions (and reviewed and looked at The Rise of Red Skull here). Here’s the thing: I haven’t played all the characters! I have really only played the characters I tend to like in the comic books: Captain America, Spider-man, and Ant-Man. I suspect a lot of people will only get Ant-Man if they actually like the character! He’s a minor character (with his own Marvel movie, sure) and probably not super popular.
I enjoyed my plays with Ant-Man! He’s a good generalist with a fun twist with the different modes and size-related cards. He’s easy to play, with not too many surprises, but still fun.
If I had played this a little more before 2020 ended, Ant-Man would have made the Top 10 Cooperative Expansions of 2020.