Oh Snap!: The Thanos Thesis – Chapter 3: Tactics Cards

Coming to you in a joint effort of Ulysses, Fingerguns and UtilityCookie, we will try to shine a light on how to play the ultimate badasses of MCP, Black Order. If you like to win by absolutely dominating the opponent and showing them who’s boss, Black Order is the right affiliation for you. Black Order does not care how many points your opponents’ models cost or which models they are. Are you tired of facing Angela and her running away? Are you sick of Enchantress stealing your stuff? Do you just hate M.O.D.O.K? Come join the Order and watch them fall.

Selecting your tactics cards
Most of the tactics cards for a Black Order roster wind up being pretty self-evident.  We are constantly leveraging priority and dice fixing to get ahead in the long game. Corvus needs to be on target, every turn and his attacks need to count. Tactics space is a premium commodity, and fills up quickly. If you’re playing a roster that looks like the one we’ve described to this point, then All You’ve Got, Medpack, and Mothership should be going to the table with you almost every game, but those aren’t the only options.

Restricted Tactics Cards
One of the biggest decisions in roster construction is the consideration of which restricted cards to include. While most of the restricted tactics cards are universally useful, All You’ve Got and Medpack stand out from the pack for Black Order.

All You’ve Got
For four power, All You’ve Got allows a character to take a second activation at the cost of dazing or being K.O.ed, depending on if the character is healthy or injured when playing the card. It should be noted that characters must be 6 or less threat to play this card. Since infinity gems add to the threat of the character, this means Thanos with any gems cannot play All You’ve Got.  Ironic given that he is the focus of the card art, but them’s the rules. This makes Corvus the primary target for this card, although other characters can use it, too. Luckily, Corvus can do ridiculous things with this card (more on specific All You’ve Got plays in Chapter 5).

For two power, Medpack allows a character to either heal themselves or another allied character within range 3. As discussed previously, healing is more valuable for Black Order than most affiliations due to the damage mitigation on Thanos, Corvus and Proxima. This makes an already easy to use, efficient, and powerful card even better. If you bring it, you will play it.

Prior to All You’ve Got’s addition to the restricted list, you would often see Field Dressing or Brace for Impact next to Medpack as the second restricted choice.  Either remains viable but carries some baggage and doesn’t fit quite as tightly in our niche as All You’ve Got. If All You’ve Got isn’t your cup of tea, or you don’t have access to it, any of these will work.

Field Dressing
For four power, field dressing allows a character  to undaze another allied character within range 2 and heal them for one damage. This pairs well with All You’ve Got, since you can lessen the negatives of using that card on a healthy character. For Black Order, however, consistency may be an issue. Considering where we want to spend our power, and our typically low model count, it can be hard to get the right amount of power on a character in the right place to use this card.

Brace for Impact
Brace for Impact allows you to spend one power to ignore the damage from a throw. This is an extremely cheap way to mitigate damage. However, each character in your core already has damage mitigation that applies to throws.  So, unless you’re running Black Dwarf, the value of this card is lessened for Black Order, and other restricted cards may be more beneficial for your roster.

Patch Up
Patch Up allows one of your characters to spend up to five power to remove one damage for each power spent from another allied character within range 2. Patch Up is often overshadowed by Medpack. The case for Patch-up in Black Order is stacking it with Medpack and damage reduction. Healing is helpful in Black Order, but doesn’t directly further our game plan and, as your opponent’s squad leaves the play area, an abundance of healing loses value. You don’t get extra points for being at full health.  

Doomed Prophecy is another option on the restricted list that may seem interesting, but, at the time of the writing of this chapter we file it under “win-more” and do not recommend it.

Doomed Prophecy
For three power, Doomed Prophecy allows a character to add their physical defence dice to their attacks until the beginning of their next activation at the cost of not rolling physical defense dice for the remainder of the game. Doomed Prophecy must be played at the start of the activation phase. This caveat is not a huge negative for Black Order, since Black Order usually has priority. Losing physical defense dice for the rest of the game, however, is a huge negative for Black Order, since one of their strengths is being relatively tanky. This is particularly true for Corvus with the Reality Gem, because if you do not roll defense dice you cannot take advantage of the Reality Gem turning skulls into crits. In many cases, Corvus with the Reality Gem, Glaive’s Edge, and Thanos’s Death’s Decree does not need the extra dice to Daze/K.O. an enemy model, so the gains from using Doomed Prophecy can be minimal. This is different from using All You’ve Got on Corvus, because it allows Corvus to make additional attacks on additional enemy characters.

Black Order Tactics Cards
While restricted tactics cards are usually very powerful, affiliated tactics cards can be as strong or stronger. In particular, Black Order has quite a few cards that really shine.

Mothership is one of the key tactics cards, if not the key tactics card, available to Black Order. It should always be in your roster. For two power, any Black Order character that is not holding an objective can play this card to be placed within range 1 of another Black Order character that also pays two power. This card gives Black Order extreme mobility, allowing them to reposition to almost anywhere on the table. A common play with this card is to have Proxima get into a good position, use Mothership to place Corvus within range 1 of her, and then use the husband and wife combo to immediately activate Corvus. (Mothership-based plays will be discussed in detail later.)

Execute is technically not a Black Order affiliated card, but it is a character specific card that requires you to take both Corvus and Proxima, so it is close to one. Execute allows Corvus/Proxima to stop an opponent from rolling ANY defense dice for an attack if Proxima/Corvus is within range 1 of the target and both Corvus and Proxima spend two power. Combined with Glaive’s Edge and Thanos’s Death’s Decree, this can create an extremely powerful strike opportunity that is likely to do a lot of damage and generate a lot of power. Execute is particularly good against characters that can increase the number of defense dice rolled, such as Doctor Strange, Magneto, and Cable, and against characters that count blanks on defense rolls, such as Black Panther. One thing to keep in mind when planning Execute plays is that the use of Execute is before the Bodyguard superpower needs to be used, meaning that your opponent can use Bodyguard to redirect your Execute attack.

A Corvus & Proxima Mothership is the easiest way to set-up an Execute.  It may not always be the best play, but it can be. As a result, there is a comfort in having them both in your eight.

Blood to Spare
For three power, Blood to Spare allows a Black Order character that would be dazed to make an attack before dazing. Out of activation attacks are powerful in Marvel Crisis Protocol, making this a strong tactics card. The main target for this is Corvus, particularly when he has seven power to both play Blood to Spare and use Death Blow. Using Death Blow gives Corvus a guaranteed attack, a guaranteed M move, and a potential second attack on a wild trigger. This play can be game changing, allowing you to do damage and reposition Corvus. However, the damage is dice dependent and cannot be buffed by Glaive’s Edge, since that is an active superpower. Doing this play can leave Corvus low on power, especially if you do not get the flury strike. This means that sometimes it may be better to not spend the power in order to allow Corvus to have the power to have a more powerful activation next round. Also, Blood to Spare can only be triggered off of enemy effects, so there is some anti-synergy with All You’ve Got, since you will most often want to use both on Corvus while he is on his health side. However, playing Blood to Spare might make taking a different restricted list card more appealing.

Shh… is Ebony Maw’s character specific card. For three power, it allows you to reactively stop a superpower being used by a character within range 5 of Maw. The cost of that superpower is not refunded, and the target character cannot use that superpower for the rest of the turn. This card can be amazing for setting up plays for Corvus and Proxima by stopping things like Magneto or Strange adding defense dice and the Bodyguard superpower. It can also be used to stop key game changing plays, like Enchantress’ superpower that allows her to steal an extract off of one of your characters, or inhibit an enemy character’s mobility by stopping charge-like superpowers and superpowers that place characters. This can be extremely effective at 14 threat, since you are stopping a relatively larger percentage of your enemy’s capabilities, relative to higher threat games. While this card is powerful, it can be difficult for Maw to pay for it and still be able to do other things that round. If he has the Mind Gem, however, Shhh… becomes slightly easier to afford.

Price of Failure
Price of Failure is a Black Order card that lets you K.O. a friendly character. Other allied characters then gain 3 power. The power gain is nice, but not the main use of this card. We mentioned earlier that on some point values you downgrade Proxima to a 2-threat, the downside is this will lose you priority control through the husband and wife combo. This card actually gives you back that control for 1 round, as ruled here:
https://forums.atomicmassgames.com/topic/1167-priority-with-price-of-failure/ .

Let’s say you dazed/K.O.’d enough models from your opponent so they have 1 activation left and you have your 2-threats ’s activation left. They activate and, after that, you have to activate your 2-threat, which loses you priority. But wait! We can also play Price to Failure on our turn, but before we activate our 2-threat. This makes the opponent’s model the last one to have activated, and thus gives us priority with a powered-up Thanos and Corvus, as well. Sometimes, it is worth it to just kill your own model, if that means you will K.O two to three enemy characters in return at the top of the next round. Nebula has great synergy with Price of Failure, since she can’t score.  Bob is another fine candidate for this. You can do his big shot at a key moment for some big damage output, the next round you do the above (mind you you will lose bob to this since his superpower will not save him here).

Power of the Cosmos
This is a card that is not seen often, but is pretty strong on narrow secures when Thanos carries a gem or two. For four power Thanos gains a one-time-use  AOE attack that increases in range for each gem he wields, which currently ranges from A1-A3. It is an energy attack that lets you roll six dice and, if you do damage, push the damaged model S. Now imagine a Mind and Time Gem wielding Thanos on Gamma Waves. You will easily have at least three enemy models in range, maybe even more. Activate Thanos first, strike twice on models in range and, after those two actions, use the attack from this card. Oftentimes on Gamma this means you will have made five to six attack rolls with Thanos alone. Corvus and Proxima can then clean up the mess.  Power of the Cosmos can also be a noteworthy deterrent to a swarm going all-in on Thanos.

Now that you have selected the restricted cards and the Black Order cards that you will have in your roster, it is time to fill out your tactics card slots with other unaffiliated unrestricted tactics cards.

Assuming you are running All You’ve Got, Medpack, Mothership, and Execute, there is only space for four more tactics in your eight.  Less, if you’ve decided to make any additional picks from the affiliated and character cards.  From here we’re looking for two cards to fill out our regular five, and a situational card or two from the following options.

Other Unaffiliated Unrestricted Tactics Cards

Climbing Gear
For three power, Climbing Gear allows an allied character to immediately advance S and gain Wall Climber for the round. This advance can be out of activation, which makes this card very strong. This card can be particularly good when used by high threat models to maximize the impact of their actions, which can often be difficult into control matchups.

Disarm allows two of your characters that are within range 3 to an enemy character to each spend one power to make that character roll two less dice on all attacks that they make that round. This card is especially powerful when it can be played on a powerful, high-threat enemy character before they can activate. This makes Disarm great in Black Order rosters, since Black Order often has priority.

Bitter Rivals
For 3 power, one of your characters can play Bitter Rivals on your turn, whether it is their activation or not, to make all enemies within range 3 of a target enemy character anywhere in play roll one less die on attack and defense rolls for the round. Note that this effect remains active even when the target character is dazed. This is a brutally strong card that becomes even more brutal when you have priority and when the shape of the crisis makes it so that enemies are likely to be grouped up. Black Order can often make both of these occur, since, as we have often repeated, Black Order can often keep priority for most of the game and Black Order plays at least one E shaped secure (Demons), if not two with Gamma. The power for this card is often played by Proxima or one of our unaffiliated characters, leaving Corvus and Thanos to use there power to wreak havoc on your opponent.

Advanced R&D
Advanced R&D allows one of your characters, whether active or not, to pay up to five power. For each power paid, you may give up to one power to a character for each power spent. This card is often used to set up round one plays, although it can still be useful in later rounds. In Black Order, giving one power to Proxima to enable a round one Mothership play and giving one power to Corvus to enable a round one Glaive’s Edge are common uses of Advanced R&D.

Grievous Wounds
Grevious Wounds allows an active character to pay one power when making an attack and, if they deal damage to that targeted enemy character, that character cannot be healed for the remainder of the activation phase. As discussed in Chapter 1, Black Order’s game plan involves dazing your opponent’s key characters ASAP. However, Field Dressing can counter such a play style, by allowing your opponent to undaze and heal that key character. Grievous Wounds stops the healing from Field Dressing, making it not undaze the character that was damaged when Grevious Wounds was used. This makes Black Orders alpha strike much for punishing and can be a key tool in accomplishing the game plan.

Blind Obsession
For 3 power at the start of the activation phase, an allied character can play Blind Obsession to roll two more dice against a target enemy character and roll two more defence dice when being attacked by that enemy character. If the character that played Blind Obsession gets attacked by another enemy character, however, that character rolls two less defense dice. The effect of the tactics card lasts until the enemy character targeted by the card is K.O.ed. Blind Obsession can allow Black Order characters to dominate 1v1 situations, and sometimes even 1v2 situations. Blind Obsession benefits massively from you having priority, since you will have more opportunity to maximize the strengths and minimize the cost of the tactics card. Blind Obsession can be particularly good on wide secures (such as Ds), since they can induce a lot of 1v1 and 1v2 situations.

Space can fill up quickly when it comes to team tactics. Two restricted list picks, Mothership, and Bitter Rivals leaves four tactics card slots. There are several attrition-focused options, such as Disarm, Blind Obsession, Execute, and Grievous Wounds, all making a strong case for inclusion. Advanced R&D can open-up unexpected lines of play and Climbing Gear allows our high threat characters to have more impact with their limited number of actions, while cards like Power of the Cosmos, Price of Failure and Shh all offer their own niche flavor that you probably won’t see outside of Black Order. And that’s just considering options for a mono-affiliation Black Order build. If you want to go dual affiliation, tactics space in the eight is truly at a premium. In the next section, we will specifically discuss the tactics cards that are commonly added to a Black Order roster when dual affiliating with Brotherhood and Wakanda, two of the most popular dual-affiliation options.

Additional Tactics Cards for a Black Order and Brotherhood Roster
When adding a Brotherhood option to a Black Order roster, the two tactics cards that are most commonly taken are Asteroid M and Deception.

Asteroid M
Asteroid M is exactly like the Mothership tactics card except it is used by Brotherhood affiliated characters. Much like Mothership is a key Black Order card, Asteroid M is a key Brother card. It is most commonly used to place Magneto into the center of the action. One tip is that you can use Magneto’s leadership to hand out power in order to set up Asteroid M plays.

As alluded to when we discussed Mystique, Deception allows Mystique to force an enemy character to advance towards her. This is useful when running either Black Order or Brotherhood, because it allows you to move an enemy character closer to your heavy hitters (e.g. Corvus for Black Order and Magneto for Brotherhood). 

Additional Tactics Cards for a Black Order and Wakanda Roster
Wakanda is a popular dual affiliation for a lot of rosters not only because of the Wakandan characters, but also because only one tactics card is needed to make the Wakanda part of the roster tick, Wakanda Forever.

Wakanda Forever
Wakanda Forever is a Wakanda affiliated card that lets each Wakandan character spend one power to make one attack. With Black Panther and Shuri having automatic pushes on their strikes, this card can not only be used to do damage, but can also be used for massive control that can lead to a turn of scoring massive VPs from secures. This is a must take card when planning on playing Wakanda at all.

For most mono-affiliated Black Order rosters, the synergy and flexibility of All You’ve Got, Medpack, Mothership, Execute, Bitter Rivals, and Grievous Wounds make them stand out from the other options. This leaves two flex tactics spots to fill. Season to flavor. These extra slots make fitting in Wakanda Forever easy if you are playing Black Order and Wakanda. If playing Brotherhood and Black Order, Execute is likely to be cut, opening another flex tactics card slot. This results in one overall flex spot, since you will be taking Asteroid M and Deception. This illustrates one of the main issues with many dual-affiliation Black Order rosters, the difficulty of fitting in all of the desired tactics cards. This is one of the reasons that we tend to run mono-affiliation Black Order rosters.

Now that you have selected your tactics cards, you should be ready to put everything together into a completed roster. To help with this, we will use the knowledge that has been presented in the first three chapters to break down some example Black Order rosters. So, stay tuned for the next exciting chapter of Oh Snap!: The Thanos Thesis.

Missed the first two chapters? You can find them here:

Part 1

Part 2

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