At long last we have been blessed with not only the Black Order affiliation ability, but the whole of Thanos’ character card. The abilities of the big cheese himself have been revealed for all to see! What impact will the Purple People Eater have on the battlefield? Let’s see!

STAMINA – Coming in strong right out of the gate Thanos has a whopping 8 stamina. We’ll take it!

MOVEMENT – A medium move on a 50mm base makes Thanos pretty mobile.

SIZE – Thanos fits nicely into that somewhat rare territory known as “size 3 character”, very welcome indeed, especially for those partial to throwing stuff.

THREAT – At 6 threat Thanos is firmly in Hulk territory, so he better be powerful!

DEFENCES – Thanos has a defensive lineup comprising 3 dice for physical and energy respectively, and 4 dice for mystic. I’ve got to be honest, I was expecting higher defences, but perhaps he has some good defensive powers further down the card. Let’s hope!

ATTACKS – Thanos’ first attack is a physical attack called Strike, which has a range of 2, strength of 6 and power cost of 0. After this attack is resolved Thanos gets to gain power equal to the damage dealt. Also, roll a wild and you will be able to throw the target character away short before damage is dealt. This is almost identical to Thor’s Strike which, if you have played with or against Thor, you know to be powerful – that extra die makes all the difference! The only difference between Thor’s Strike and Thanos’ is that Thanos throw does not have a size restriction, meaning that should we ever get any characters larger than size 4 added to the game, Thanos will be able to lob them. And now you’re picturing Thanos throwing Galactus.

Thanos’ second attack is an energy attack called Cosmic Blast, which has a range of 3, strength of 5 and power cost of 0. When creating the dice pool for this attack Thanos can spend up to 3 power to add 1 die to this attack roll for each power spent this way. So Thanos can spend 3 power to make this a strength 8 attack, pretty cheap! This attack also has a wild ability called Titan’s Will which allows Thanos to push the target character away short and then give it the Slow special condition. Just like the throw on Strike this push is regardless of size – always nice to see. And getting to put Slow on a character for free is great, especially when you consider that in its base form this is a free attack. I really like this attack, if you just want some control you can fire it off for free to push and Slow a character, but if you want to do some damage and have the power available you can just spend to increase the strength. Nice and versatile.

LEADERSHIP ABILITY – The Black Order leadership ability is called Death’s Agenda, which is a nice nod to the comics where we see Thanos’ obsession with and love for death. The affiliation ability states simply that when an enemy character is K.O’d Thanos’ controlling player gains 1 victory point.

This is an interesting ability, and seems to be a nice balance to not being able to field a larger team to sit on objectives. It plays into what the Black Order want to do, namely kill everything, but the ability specifically states you only score VP’s when K.O’ing, not just dazing. This is going to make for some interesting decisions even before a game begins – if you show up to a game and see your opponent is running a Black Order affiliation, you will have to make a decision as to how many characters you are going to field to meet the chosen crisis threat value. If you were to, for example, field a large team of cheaper characters such as might be found in a Guardians of the Galaxy affiliation, you would be giving the Black Order player more opportunities to score VP’s from this affiliation ability. Rocket Raccoon would be an easy 1 VP!

On the flip side, if you are running a team like Red Skull, M.O.D.O.K and Hulk then the Black Order player is only going to be able to ever score 3 VP’s for the game, and that is pretty unlikely considering how tough some of these higher threat characters are. Plus, if all 3 of your characters are K.O’d then your opponent wins the game anyway.

In a first for the game, the affiliation ability changes once Thanos flips to his injured side. Once injured the ability states that during the modify dice step of an attack, an allied character may suffer up to 3 damage. For each damage suffered it may reroll one of its attack dice (if the attacking character becomes dazed or K.O’d during the attack the attack ends immediately). Damage for rerolls is a hard pill to swallow, especially if you have become accustomed to the easy access to rerolls from a Wakanda or Guardians of the Galaxy affiliation. Still, in a pinch this could get you what you need. I love it from a thematic point of view, and towards the end of the game this ability could bring you the win.

Together, these 2 parts of the leadership ability are very interesting indeed, and I am really looking forward to getting to grips with this aggressive playstyle.

SUPERPOWERS – Thanos’ first superpower is an active one called Cosmic Portal and costs 2 power. This superpower states that Thanos may choose another character within range 4 of him and place it within range 2 of its current position. A character can be placed by this superpower only once per turn. When reading this superpower it is easy to miss that it is not just allied characters that can be moved, but all characters within range 4, allies and enemies alike. That makes this superpower AMAZING. And cheap too – Red Skull has a similar ability, but his costs 3 power and only applies to allied characters.

And there is no limit to how many times this superpower can be used each round, the only limit is that each character can only be affected once. This will be superb for more bunched up crises like Gamma Wave, where Thanos will have his pick of characters to move. Plus it will be great for getting your characters in position on the battlefield.

And this ability adds to his toughness too – if your opponent is moving a character into range ready for an attack then on your next activation you can just move them back out of the way.

Next up is a reactive superpower called Death’s Decree which also has a power cost of 2. This superpower states that whenever another allied character within range 4 of Thanos targets an enemy character with an attack Thanos may use this superpower. If the attacking character is healthy it adds 2 dice to its attack roll, if the attacking character is injured it adds 4 dice to its attack roll. This superpower can be used only once per turn. 2 power for 2 dice is equivalent to some of the team tactics cards which we have available to us, but 2 power for 4 dice?! – that’s a kind of fresh madness! And extra incentive to just go in all guns (blades?!) blazing with the other Black Order team members. Having this kind of ability on tap and being able to use it on all allied characters is superb – imagine having access to 6 copies of One Two Punch on top of your other 5 team tactics cards, and being able to double its effects. Wow.

Thanos’ next superpower is innate and is called Being of Immeasurable Power. This superpower states that when Thanos would suffer damage from an enemy effect reduce the amount suffered by 1. Additionally, Thanos may have 2 Infinity Gems rather than the normally allowed 1 and may use the active or reactive superpowers of Infinity Gems without paying the power cost.

There’s a lot to unpack here – first of all there is no minimum of 1 on Thanos’ damage reduction, meaning he can reduce incoming damage to 0, which is yet another way that Thanos’ toughness is increased.

Being able to carry 2 gems and use their abilities for free is glorious and powerful. This ties in with Thanos’ next innate superpower which is Gem Bearer [Mind, Power, Reality, Soul, Space, Time], Immunity [Stun]. The only cost that Thanos will have to bear is the threat of the gems selected. The problem will be in choosing which 2 to take! This makes Thanos very versatile, both in terms of overall threat value, and in abilities which he has access to. I will be writing a separate article on Infinity Gems at some point, but below is a brief summary of what each one does:

  • Mind – 1 threat – Advance an enemy character within range 3 short.
  • Power – 1 threat – Gain 2 additional power from wielding a gem, rather than the usual 1.
  • Reality – 1 threat – when attacking, defending, dodging or interacting treat one critical fail result as a critical hit result (does explode crits).
  • Soul – 1 threat – Gain 1 power when an enemy character within range 4 uses an active or reactive superpower.
  • Space – 2 threat – Place allied characters within range 3 to within range 2 of their current position.
  • Time – 2 threat – Perform an additional action this activation.

So, use the Mind Gem or Space Gem to control character movement, use the Time Gem to get more actions out of your turn, use the Soul Gem or Power Gem to ramp up your power gain to fuel your abilities, or use the Reality Gem to improve your damage chances. Personally at the moment I am liking a mix of power gain and character control. Power to use his Cosmic Portal superpower often, and extra character movement from a gem to double down on Cosmic Portal. Goodbye enemy characters! But if you are running a few gems in your roster then you will have real flexibility in adapting to different crises and opposing teams.

INJURED SIDE – As mentioned above the Black Order leadership ability changes on Thanos’ injured side. In addition to this, Thanos loses the Cosmic Portal superpower. Woeful times. Keep him on his healthy side for as long as possible! Additionally, as if 8 stamina wasn’t enough, on his injured side Thanos’ stamina increases to 9!

SUMMARY – Thanos looks to be an amazing character. I love his versatility, not just in being able to wield all the different Infinity Gems, but also his built in control through his attacks and superpowers. I think out of everything on his card I like the look of Cosmic Portal the most as it affects both allied and enemy characters. I really am looking forward to fielding him in some games.

As the leader of the Black Order affiliation it makes sense to run him in a Black Order affiliation. He doesn’t seem particularly attack focused, he has minions for that, but he does support the rest of his team in getting them where they need to be, getting enemies out of their way or into range of their attacks, and giving allies extra attack dice. Great.

We seem to say this for most characters but Thanos does make for a good Avenger. Cosmic Portal and Death’s Decree for 1 power? Yes please! I think he will be OK in a Cabal team, but I don’t see him attacking often enough to gain real benefit from the affiliation ability, there are better unaffiliated characters to run in a Cabal roster.

Wakanda would add to his defences, as would Guardians of the Galaxy, and Asgard would add to his toughness and rid him off any pesky special conditions.

With regard to team tactics cards there are a few Black Order cards to talk about which Thanos would have access to. 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. Probably not wise to sacrifice Thanos to this card as you will lose a lot of threat power on the board, and your leadership ability! But by all means use it to power him up!

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. An extra attack before a character goes down could do some well needed damage. I’m not sure where the removal of damage comes into it, but perhaps that is just future proofing on AMG’s part.

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 states that 2 Black Order characters may spend 2 power each to play it. Place one of the 2 characters not holding an objective token within range 1 of the other character. OH. MY. GOODNESS. This is an amazing card! 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! 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. This will be great for getting Thanos into a central position to be able to do lots of board control, but also pull him out if it looks like he is about to get dazed.

Thanos also has a character-specific card called Power of the Cosmos which is an active card that costs Thanos 4 power. This gives him access to the Power of the Cosmos attack which has a range of A1, strength of 6 and power cost of 0. Additionally, you get to add 1 to the range of this attack for each Infinity Gem he has to a maximum of A5. Any character damaged by this attack is pushed away from Thanos short. In a regular game Thanos will be able to make this A3 as he can carry 2 gems, which makes this a pretty bonkers area attack. Hopefully in the Ultimate Encounter he will be able to carry all the gems and we can all have fun firing off a range 5 area attack. Drool! And the short push is a nice extra. This will be an amazing card to pull off if you can get it setup to hit a few enemy characters.

Keeping Thanos on his healthy side for as long as possible to take advantage of his Cosmic Portal ability and the better half of the Black Order leadership ability will be key, so running healing cards like Medpack, Patch Up and Field Dressing would be good cards to consider including in your roster.

It may surprise you to learn that at this point I am not going to talk about Battle Lust, as Thanos doesn’t really need it because both of his attacks have enemy movement included. Next time, i’ll sneak it in next time…

Throwing things at Thanos from a safe distance is going to be a viable way of chipping away at his massive stamina, so Brace for Impact would be a card worthy of consideration. Thanos would also be a good character to Drop Off into the middle of the board, then use his movement shenanigans to pull his teammates forward and shift enemies away.

If Thanos is looking a bit beaten down then Inspiring Monologue (woohoo) would be a nice way of helping out his defences for a round. Considering how tough Thanos is and how you probably want to keep him on his healthy side for as long as possible, it may be be worth considering Mission Objective to shift an objective token onto him. He can just cling onto it for all the time, scoring you points and making your opponent have to work very hard to get it back.

So, what do you make of Thanos?  Will he make your roster? Comment below!