The time for irony has come at last as we get released unto us a very large character called Black Dwarf. His character card could be blank and I would buy this set because Ebony Maw looks ace and I am very much looking forward to painting the Black Dwarf model. So, what else does Black Dwarf do other than secretly pine for Black Swan? Let’s see.
STAMINA – Black Dwarf has a nice chunky 6 stamina, always a welcome sight.
MOVEMENT – As is currently traditional for characters on the larger 65mm bases, Black Dwarf has a short movement. This isn’t too bad considering the size of the base, but can be frustrating when the character is needed across the board. At least Hulk has his Gamma Leap which allows him to be placed within range 2 of his current position. Still, there is a way to get black Dwarf where he needs to be, but more on that later.
SIZE – As per Hulk and M.O.D.O.K, Dwarf is size 4. Nice and chunky. This also makes him a good size for throwing at his allies.
THREAT – Black Dwarf is up there at threat 4, our cheapest large character yet.
DEFENCES – Dwarf has a solid 4 for physical defence and 3’s for energy and mystic. When combined with his superpowers (more on that below) these defences make him pretty darn tough.
ATTACKS – Black Dwarf has 2 attacks to choose from, the first of which is a physical attack called Axe Strike, which has a range of 2, strength of 6 and power cost of 0. Nice to have something other than Strike written here! If you have played Thor then you know how powerful that 1 extra die on a basic attack can be. 6 dice for 0 power is a strong attack for sure. As usual, after the attack resolves power equal to the damage dealt is earned. Simple enough so let’s move on.
Dwarf’s second attack is another physical one and is called Brutal End. This attack has a range of 3, strength of 8 and power cost of 4. Roll a wild and you will get to trigger Stagger which, unsurprisingly, lets you give the Stagger special condition to the target character. Stagger is most certainly one of the more crippling of special conditions in the gam, as it effectively robs the staggered character of half their actions for their activation. This compares somewhat to Hulk’s big attack, but has a slightly longer range which is very welcome indeed (would have been nice to have the throw too, but alas it was not to be).
SUPERPOWERS – Black Dwarf has 4 superpowers, the first of which is an active superpower called Black Fury (not to be confused with Kung Fury), which has a power cost of 3. For this princely sum you may choose a piece of size 4 or smaller terrain, or an enemy of size 4 or less within range 2 and throw it medium. A size 4 throw is most welcome, especially when it let’s you throw enemies as well as terrain, as Hulk and M.O.D.O.K are now viable targets and will mean that characters allied to them are now having to dodge 5 incoming damage. Medium is a decent range for a throw, and having to be within range 2 of the target seems fine enough considering Dwarf’s large base size.
Superpower number 2 is another active superpower, and is called Enforced Oblivion, which is also an apt description for how we may feel about life in quarantine at the moment. For the cost of 2 power this superpower can be used, and it takes an action. Black Dwarf takes a move action and then the next attack he makes this activation adds 2 dice to its attack pool. So, a bit like Charge, but without the free attack. This superpower explicitly states that the action is a move, so you would get to either advance or climb, unlike some superpowers which restrict you to only being able to advance. Dwarf’s attacks are already beefy, with 6 and 8 dice being rolled respectively as standard, being able to up that to 8 or 10 is pretty darn cool. To put it into a little more context, Hulk rolls 8 dice as standard on his big attack and he costs 2 threat more than Black Dwarf…
Dwarf’s third superpower is a reactive one and is called Intimidating Presence, and costs a mere 2 power. When an enemy character within range 2 of Black Dwarf targets another allied character with an attack, Black Dwarf becomes the target of the attack regardless of range and line of sight. Now, lets read this again carefully because a cursory look may make you think of Bodyguard and, although this superpower is similar, it is not the same. Bodyguard let’s you take an attack for an allied character near to you, however Intimidating Presence lets you redirect an attack targeting an allied character anywhere on the board, as long as Dwarf is within range 2 of the attacking character, not the target of the attack. This is pretty huge. Bodyguard can be somewhat restrictive because it requires that you keep Captain America or Okoye close to a character who you want to protect. Perhaps restrictive is the wrong word as that is clearly what the character was designed to do, but, it is a “cost” that you have to pay when fielding these characters. Dwarf clearly wants to be wandering around punching people, and Intimidating Presence allows him to continue doing that whilst also protecting allies in the process. Awesome!
Last up we have the innate superpower Invulnerable Skin. As with the other Black Order characters revealed so far, this superpower allows Black Dwarf to reduce the amount of damage suffered due to an enemy effect by 1 to a minimum of 1. This just makes Black Dwarf even tougher. Lovely stuff.
INJURED SIDE – As if Black Dwarf wasn’t tough enough already, on his injured side his stamina increases from 6 to 8. MEGA!
SUMMARY – I am really looking forward to running a Black Order affiliation, and Black Dwarf seems to be a great addition. Although slow to move, he is a heavy hitter, but it is his Intimidating Presence superpower that really appeals – just because he has got the stamina to take the punishment! Although he can hit hard and redirect attacks his way, it is going to be getting him to where he needs to be that is going to be the issue. None of his superpowers aid him in getting additional movement. If only there were small rectangular pieces of cardboard with text on to help us out in this instance…
Dwarf is a listed member of the Black Order, with Thanos in place as the affiliations leader. The Black Order leadership ability is two-fold. On Thanos’ healthy side whenever an enemy character is K.O’d you score 1 victory point, then on Thanos’ injured side an allied character may take up to 3 damage to allow them to reroll one attack die for each damage taken. Dwarf’s attacks play very nicely into the Black Order ability.
There are other affiliations which we can talk about however. Black Dwarf makes for an interesting Avenger. His throw becomes 2 cost, his move with +2 dice becomes a trifling 1 cost (meaning you could trigger it every round consistently – terrfiying to have coming at you), and his “bodyguard” ability would also cost 1, nifty savings for the thrifty-minded!
As Black Dwarf is very “attacky” running him in a Cabal affiliation could be good, but you do run the risk of enemies scattering somewhat, leaving Black Dwarf to have to spend actions to get into position rather than attacking.
An Asgardian affiliation would be fine for removing any special conditions that may get stacked onto Dwarf, but considering how resilient he is the ability to remove a point of damage each round does not seem hugely beneficial. This affiliation does not seen as profitable for Black Dwarf as Avengers and Cabal.
I don’t see any great benefit to running Black Dwarf in a Wakanda or Guardians of the Galaxy affiliation other than the smoothing out of his attack and defence rolls really. But if you have got 4 points spare why not throw him in a give it a try?
Let’s now talk about team tactics cards. There are a number of Black Order cards to discuss, some which came in the Proxima Midnight/Corvus Glaive pack, and some which come along with Black Dwarf and Ebony Maw. Price of Failure is an active card that allows you to choose an injured allied character. Other allied characters gain 3 power each and then the chosen character is K.O’d. This is an interesting card, and powerful. If you have a character who is super low on remaining stamina and it is looking like they are going to get taken out soon why not activate them, let them do their thing, then take them out with this card to give allied characters some motivation to perform a bit better. Thematically, this card is flavour heaven! Or, would you be willing to sacrifice a low threat character who has more or less fulfilled their function on the battlefield in order to power up your 3, 4, 5 threat characters? Something to consider. Bear in mind that the 3 power boost doesn’t just go on to affiliated characters but allied characters, meaning every single character on your turn suddenly gets 3 power. That’s huge.
The second Black Order card is called Blood to Spare (which is just a great name for a card) and is reactive. This card states that when a Black Order character would be dazed by an enemy effect it may spend 3 power to play this card. The character immediately performs an attack before gaining the dazed token. If the attack results in the character removing damage then it is not dazed. This is a very interesting card as it allows a character to do one last swing before going down, with the potential to not even go down if the character can remove damage. The more interesting thing is that neither Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw or Black Dwarf have attacks that allow self-healing, which means that this card must be talking about the leader of the Black Order, Thanos. It may be that Thanos can heal himself whilst attacking, or it may be that the Black Order leadership ability allows characters to heal after performing attacks and/or doing damage, we will just have to wait for those Thanos spoilers I guess. But still, for now, an extra attack before a character goes down could do some well needed damage.
The last Black Order card which we need to talk about is called Mothership and requires you to be sat down in a safe place prior to reading, lest you get over excited and fall on your noggin. This is an active card that stated that 2 Black Order characters may spend 2 power each to play it. Place one of the 2 characters not holding an obective token within range 1 of the other character. OH. MY. GOODNESS. This is an amazing card! We have already discussed how Black Dwarf moves slow and has no other abilities to help him shift across the board. Well, we have Mothership. No matter where your characters are on the board, you can move any 1 Black Order character to within range 1 of another. All of a sudden range 5 seems super restrictive! This is going to be especially good for if the fight moves away from Black Dwarf, you can just slam this card down and get him back into the fray. It seems like it will also be great for playing defensively, moving a character up and doing some attacks, then pulling them back to a safer position. Utterly superb and a cornerstone of the Black Order affiliation methinks.
As for unaffiliatied team tactics cards, if you are running an allied M.O.D.O.K then A.I.M Lackeys could be a good choice as M.O.D.O.K will be able to spend 3 power to give Black Dwarf an additional move action this round.
It wouldn’t be a character summary if I didn’t talk about my perennial favourite card, Battle Lust. I think this works nicely with Black Dwarf – he can play it before triggering Enforced Oblivion for 2 power, take a move action, pay the 4 power required for Battle Lust and then swing in with a 12 dice Axe Strike, or if he is fully powered up, a 14 dice Brutal End. Attacks this big should do at least 1 damage, unless the dice gods are not smiling upon you, whereupon Battle Lust will let you push the target character away short – yay!
If the unthinkable happens and Black Dwarf gets dazed, then Field Dressing will allow a brief resurrection, hopefully giving him another activtion which he can use to do some damage.
If you are running Black Dwarf along with Hulk then you might consider Gamma Launch for a truly frightening early play. Launch Black Dwarf deep into opponent territory and watch them squirm! Then, if need be, you could pull Black Dwarf back with Mothership, or put another Black Order character near him ready for the next ativation. Squee! Granted, you need to have the power to pay for all this so it may be round 2 or 3 before you can fire it off, but it is something to consider and will no doubt be fun to execute.
Rocket Boots?! is an interesting, albeit risky, way of getting extra movement for Black Dwarf, and would be worthy of consideration if you find yourself playing on a terrain heavy board. Fingers crossed that you don’t roll a critical failure or blank at the end of the round! Tactical Analysis is a more straightforward way of getting Black Dwarf an extra advance action, and best of all you can get an allied character to pay for it!
Here’s a card I haven’t talked about much on this blog – Smash. Black Dwarf could pay 2 power to destroy a terrain feature of size 3 or less within range 1 of him to add dice equal to the size of the terrain feature destroyed to all his attacks this activation. Not just 1 attack, all his attacks this activation! This is no small thing!
So, what do you make of Black Dwarf? Will he make your roster? Comment below!