Frank is on a mission, and that mission is PUNISH! Frank is a one man crime-fighting army, which might make one wonder how he might fit into a game all about teamwork. Let’s see shall we?
STAMINA – Frank is one tough cookie, and this is represented by a most respectable stamina of 6.
MOVEMENT – Frank is a mere unpowered mortal, and so a medium movement seems entirely fair enough for him.
SIZE – 2. How could it be anything else?
THREAT – 3 threat puts Frank at a nice level for some roster building. The 3 threat slot is a nice number for gap filling in a list.
DEFENCES – Frank has an entirely human defensive lineup of 3, 3, 3. Fair enough.
ATTACKS – And now we get to the biscuits. Frank’s first attack is physical and is called Hip Fire. It has a range of 3, strength of 4 and power cost of 0. After this attack is resolved Frank gains 1 power. This attack also has the Rapid Fire special rule which states that after the attack resolves Frank may make a second Hip Fire attack targeting the original target. As long as the target character does’t get dazed or K.O’d Frank will get a guaranteed 2 power each time he fires off this double attack. With back to back Hip Fire attacks that’s 4 power for Frank each round. Regardless of any damage done, that is pretty huge. Normally I would somewhat poo-poo an attack with a strength of 4, but given that you get to do 2 in each action and gain a power for each I can’t be negative about this. Especially if you have a way of manipulating the defending characters die rolls.
Frank’s second attack is also physical and is called Aimed Shot. It has a range of 5, strength of 7 and power cost of 3. Roll a wild and you can trigger Pierce which lets you change one of the defending characters critical hits, wilds or shields to a blank. Also, if this attack deals damage then after the attack resolves the target character gains the Stun and Slow special conditions. This is a nice big attack for a decent power cost, and having Pierce on there just adds to the fun. I have been prone to underestimate Pierce in the past, but the more I play the more I realise just how powerful it can be, especially on attacks with larger dice pools such as this, where you are more likely to roll the required wild. Stun and Slow are also not fun special conditions to be on the receiving end of either. This attack is all good from what I can see.
SUPERPOWERS – Frank’s first superpower is active and is called No More Second Chances. This superpower costs a whopping 0 power and requires that you discard 1-3 Punishment tokens (more on this later). During the next attack made by Frank this turn, add 1 die to his attack roll for each Punishment token that was discarded, once per turn. This makes for attacks with strengths of 7 to 10 power respectively – pretty huge! And for no power as well.
Next up we have another active superpower, this time called Spec Ops Training. I am assuming “spec” means special and not spectacle, but who really knows – can you picture Punisher undertaking an eye test? This costs 2 power and states that Frank gets to advance short once per turn. Out of turn movement is always a welcome sight, and using this to get Frank into position will be a tasty treat for all to eat, and an especially nice way of double attacking and then getting in place to trigger…
War Zone. This is an active superpower that costs 3 power and is also an action. This superpower states that Frank may choose an interactive terrain feature of size 3 or less and within range 4 of him. Enemy characters within range 1 of the terrain feature suffer 2 damage. The terrain feature is destroyed and removed from the battlefield. This is pretty mega. If there are enemy characters getting cover from a large piece of terrain you can just, you know, blow it up. This superpower covers a pretty whopping range, and considering how much movement Frank has, he can just bob about the board blowing stuff up and dealing damage. The strength of this superpower will vary depending on how your battlefield is setup terrain-wise, but there is no doubt that this is a powerful ability. The dream would be a double attack, then a Spec Ops Training to get into position, then a War Zone on multiple enemies. Yes please.
Last up we have an innate superpower called The Fallen. This superpower states that when another allied character is dazed or K.O’d by an enemy effect Frank gains a punishment token, and he can only have a maximum of 3 at any time. There are a few things to point out on this – it only counts for other allied characters, so when Frank gets dazed he won’t get a token. Also, only enemy effects give tokens, no gaining tokens from damage taken through team tactics cards like No Matter the Cost or from crisis cards that cause character damage. Dazing and K.O’ing is going to happen in a game, and it is nice to be able to get a benefit from it. Team Punisher up with Winter Solider and get all the bonuses!
INJURED SIDE – Alas Frank’s stamina drops from 6 to 5. Wah!
SUMMARY – I’m sold on Punisher for War Zone alone, that superpower is fantastic. I like the double attack of Hip Fire too, and chaining it all together along with his out of action movement will make for some real fun. I think Frank gets stronger the more weaker characters you play with. If you run him with a team of threat 5’s and 6’s then he isn’t going to get as many Punishment Tokens as he would if his allies were 2’s and 3’s, but then again you would be fielding stronger character as opposed to weaker ones so there is a decision to be made there with regards to how strong you want Punisher’s attacks to become. Even as they are, without any additional Punishment Tokens, they are plenty strong enough, although even 1 die to make Hip Fire a 5 strength attack would make a huge difference. I love how Punisher is self contained – he shoots, he blows things up, he attacks harder as his allies fall. Flavour-rich!
AFFILIATIONS – Punisher is (gasp) UNAFFILIATED! He doesn’t even have Winter Soldier’s Rogue Agent ability so that he can count as an affiliated character when roster building. But, that makes thematic sense so I am fine with it. Competition for 3 threat character is harsh though – will Punisher rub shoulders with giants like Valkyrie and Shuri? Time will tell.
Punsiher would benefit from Cap’s Avengers leadership ability, with a discount on his out of action movement and his mighty War Zone, but there is already a broad spread of Avengers characters available. I think I will throw him in an Avengers team to see how well he pays with them.
Cabal could be a good fit for Punisher, gaining him extra power when he does damage to an enemy, which will nicely fuel War Zone and Spec Ops Training, as well as that tasty Aimed Shot attack. Man, it has been a while since I played a Cabal team, I think I need to get a board out today.
Wakandan rerolls would be nice to smooth out Frank’s dice rolls, and Guardians of the Galaxy rerolls would be nice to help Frank with his attacks, especially if he can get some Punishment Tokens played as well.
Asgard doesn’t seem to be a standout affiliation for Frank, nor does Web Warriors really. Spider-Foes seems like it could be fun though, re-rolling an opponents defence die to hopefully sneak some more damage through – that would be good for improving Frank’s basic Hip Fire attack.
Black Order is a really interesting affiliation for Frank due to 1 team tactics card, so more on this in the next section of this post.
Defenders is just a generically good affiliation – who doesn’t benefit from being able to change an attack to any attack type?!
Criminal Syndicate could be a fun fit for Punisher as he has some additional movement and his attacks have decent range. He could sit on a back objective and just move around the local area blowing up buildings and denying enemies cover, whilst also scoring an objective.
TEAM TACTICS CARDS – The Taskmaster/Punisher box comes with 3 tam tactics cards, namely Blood Red and Personal, Extreme Conditioning, and Heavy Ordinance.
Blood Red and Personal is an unaffiliated reactive card which features some excellent Punisher art. This card states that during the power phase Punisher may spend 4 power to play it. Each time an enemy character is K.O’d this round, Punisher’s controlling player gains 1 victory point. Good grief. Not just the next time an enemy character is K.O’d, each time an enemy character is K.O’d! That could totally swing the game back your way when played at the right time. Work hard to get all your enemy characters flipping, get into position, fire off this card, then spend a round wiping characters off the board. Even if this gets you 1 or 2 points for a round it is well worth it. And this is where the Black Order come in. When Thanos is on his healthy side, every time an enemy character is K.O’d you score 1 VP. Run Punisher in a Black Order team and in the round you play Blood Red and Personal you get to score 2 VP’s for every enemy character K.O’d. The rub is that you need to ensure Thanos stays on his healthy side until this point as his leadership ability changes once his flips to his dazed side. So, healing cards like Medpack, Patch Up and Field Dressing for play on Thanos would be wise to consider if trying this out. You could even try to combine this with All You’ve Got to get an extra activation (maybe on Thanos) to do some more killing and net even more of those sweet, sweet VP’s. It sounds amazing and I am looking forward to trying it out.
Heavy Ordinance is a nice thematic card to play on Punisher. It is unaffiliated and active and stated that any character may spend 2 power to play it. That character has access to the once this activation Explosive Barrage attack which has a range of 4, strength of 6 and power cost of 0. Dice can only be added to this attack from critical hits, and dice for this attack cannot be modified. Best of all this attack has the Explosive keyword – before damage is dealt other enemy characters within range 2 of the target character suffer 1 damage. It might not be the greatest card in the world to play, but it is pure Punisher! Lay into someone with an Explosive Barrage, blow up nearby enemies, and then finish off with a War Zone to drop a building on them. Finger lickin’ good!
You could go all in on Punisher’s attacks by moving into position, setting up for an attack, discarding 3 Punishment Tokens and using (you guessed it) Battle Lust for an additional 2 dice (because why not). A 12 dice Aimed Shot anyone? And then you get to push the target character away short. Real swell.
As Punisher has physical attacks right across the board he could be a good candidate for Doomed Prophecy. He will lose his 3 physical defence for a round, but gain a rounds worth of 7 dice Hip Fire attacks (which trigger twice each remember), and 10 dice Aimed Shot‘s. Pretty nifty! This card has recently been added to the restricted list, but here I rarely play competitively so I just don’t care!
Frank has good range on both of his attacks, and so he could be a good candidate for Grievous Wounds which would let him pay 1 power to damage an enemy with an attack, and then that character cannot have damage removed from it for this round. A nice way of counteracting some of the powerful healing cards in the game, and enemies like Venom, Wong and Doctor Strange who can remove damage from themselves/other characters.
Lastly, I think No Matter the Cost could be good for an early round Aimed Shot attack. Frank would take 3 damage, but he could trigger this attack for free which is not too shabby at all. As this attack is range 5 Frank could reach across the board from a position of relative safety and strike first at the enemy characters which have advanced up to claim objectives.
So what do you make of Punisher? Will he make it into your list? Comment below!