Extra dice! Extra power! Tactics are overrated or overpowered, you want my VP? Pay more for them. Here’s an extra die to help you generate some extra power. There’s another one, right over there – maybe you should have two hammers? Three? How many can you hold? How many do you want to?
Few crises are as hot darn throw-down awesome as hammers. Know the name. Love it. It is the true name of this crisis, the headline is a non-starter. It could have been called the worthy, but it chose to be named hammers – get three of these on a gem’d-up Thanos and the headline starts to hit home – Fear Grips World as “Worthy” Terrorize Cities.
So you want to play a lot of MCP? You should probably plan on playing a lot of hammers. Seriously, everyone loves playing on it, and there’s a better than not chance that one out of every two players is running it. If you’re including it, your roster should be able to answer the question oft asked: why are you better at hammers than they are?
I first encountered this question on The Danger Room podcast’s Season 4 Finalist interviews, asked by Jacob over at Xavier Protocols – if you want to hear some top notch reasons why a team is better at hammers, I encourage you to check out that series.
Hammers has been one of the highest percent taken extracts in the online leagues since its release. It pairs incredibly well into Gamma, and Infinity Formula, two of the more popular secure options – and basically, hammers makes every secure more fun to play. The bottom line is that even if you’re not better at hammers than they are, you should still be prepared to throw down on it.
While a lot of my interaction with MCP comes from a competitive mindset, there are two aspects of playing the game that I love in-particular. First, that you can just play some fun stuff and throw dice with super-heroes. Second, focused or directed practice comes in bazillion flavors for this game. While I love the optimization of playing competitive, focused rosters and games, even focusing on a crisis, or a crisis combination with the most casual of rosters, gives you great reps into understanding the crisis pairings in MCP and how to win on the scenario.
In practice, and in casual play, I almost prefer to select my crisis combinations as a negotiation with my opponents. What do you want to play on? How do you want to throw this out? Outside of structured events, even prio can be a decision between players – with some or all of the benefits and rewards. I don’t know if anyone gets as much time playing MCP (or any other games) as they want to – but if you want to get better at a roster, a crisis or a specific match-up this sort of focused practice is a great way to ensure you’re getting the reps you want with your time.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk, let’s get back to talking Hammers.
When is it Hammer Time?
Hammers is one of the few extracts that doesn’t provide a clear advantage to the priority player. This is at least partially due to its symmetry. With each player having easy access to a home hammer – models on the largest base size (65mm), when deployed purposefully in the center of the board, are able to interact with their home hammer without moving – the centerline, flank hammers become the points of contention.
Though priority isn’t a major consideration for when to throw down hammers as your extract choice, squads with models or other abilities that enable them to approach the centerline, grab and retreat have a great advantage on Hammers. Roster construction is where you have to answer, why am I better on Hammers than the other guy?
When both players have a plan for Hammers, priority becomes a factor, but many of the initial decisions are made in turn zero and activation order is still more of a factor than who gets to literally act first on the round. When MODOK sitting on the home point – no one is getting close enough to grab his hammer, and get away from him. Priority doesn’t matter much there. On the flanks, if both players line up hammers plays on the same side, priority can matter, but only if that leaves the other side weak or otherwise exposed.
A time gem’d Thanos, Amazing Spider-Man, Angela, Quicksilver with three power, Defenders jumping through a Pentagram all have amazing plays on Hammers. There’s more too, but those are the obvious ones – when you see those across the table, Hammers might not be your best call. When you’re running those, and you don’t see a play across the table, you probably have an advantage on Hammers.
Strong hammers plays with priority usually involve leveraging the threat points to your favor and safely grabbing the centerline or flank hammer your opponent lined up to grab. Strong hammers plays without prior are being able to grab the other centerline hammer or being able to punish a stranded model. In either case, priority on turn two is often more important – as now, we’re throwing hammers boosted attacks into each other trying to claim more hammers. What’s better than one hammer? Two? Three? All the hammers? Maybe it’s a bit meme-y, but it is the greedy truth of a game on Hammers.
When isn’t it Hammer Time – or – some examples of Hammers plays
So you’re lined up against a Time Gem’d Thanos, hammers? No. Well, maybe? But probably not. Hammers add incredible value to models who can cheat extra attacks into their activation. Rapid fire attacks and flurries, certainly – Medusa and Sin come to mind. Two other models stand out in Angela and Thanos, specifically Thanos with a time gem.
Angela, with all her movement and her follow-up attack after a daze or KO, is capable of safely grabbing a centerline hammer, and make good use of it over the course of the game. When Amazing Spider-Man finally breaks through the wall of shipping delays keeping him from boards around the globe, Angela will have company in this niche. Jacob over at Xavier Protocols has a more thorough write-up of the execution of some of the plays available to Angela in A-Force.
Time Thanos is uniquely positioned to be able to grab multiple hammers turn one, while still keeping a somewhat safe distance from the centerline. A Thanos bearing Time & Reality gems is truly a beast on hammers, often leveraging those extra dice into three, reality gem attacks – often against another hammer carrier. This allows Thanos to collect hammers, while remaining one of the most difficult models in the game to remove. There is a saving grace here in that Black Order isn’t the biggest fan of 18 threat games, but Thanos pops up enough elsewhere to keep this on your radar.
Toad is another interesting double hammer grab with advanced R&D, he can reach the home hammer and double move to a flank. He’s not going to do very much with them, and you probably don’t want him anywhere near the scrum, but park him on a secure and let him score three points a turn – they’ll look his way soon enough.
Plenty of fun to be had with Lockjaw or (and?) X-Men Gold here too. There is a surprising amount of options for getting to the centerline and back to safety. The part that makes it so interesting on Hammers, is the interplay between the two teams as they both line up to make their grabs, make plays for the hammers they couldn’t pick up AND try to maximize their score on secures.
The Cost of Power
Hammers do have a draw-back. For each hammer a character is wielding, they must pay a tax to play a tactics card – one power per hammer. This tax is separate from the cost of a card and doesn’t count towards the cost or limitations of the card itself. Two examples from the rules forum are All According to Plan and Patch-up. This tax also applies to free cards, such as No Matter the Cost. Pay a power for each hammer, play the card and pay its costs.
In many cases the hammer tax is negligible or easy to work around. In others, the tax may effectively turn off your tactics hand.
Where does when find Hammers?
While hammers is shamelessly based on the events of “Fear Itself,” the hammers are found exactly where you think a Hammer should be found – with Thor (and Valkyrie) for that matter. Valkyrie is another model who benefits incredibly from holding a hammer, more dice means more shots at a juiced up flurry. Thor might not have been mentioned, but he’s no slouch himself. Hammers is practically an auto-include for Asgard rosters, so this one is an easy pick-up if Asgard is a direction you’re hoping to build into.
Catch you playing hammers some time – until next time.
Obligatory Thanos pic: