The secure that’s actually an extract, or the extract that’s actually a secure; you can’t pick it up, but you sure can move it around; it isn’t win more but it does let you set your own terms.
The Red Secure. Literal tug-o-war. There’s nothing to pick-up here. The researcher must be secured, and preferably evacuated.
This Extract is a secure by another name, and any affiliation or player who prefers the secures will say a prayer not to discard it when they get stuck picking extracts. It is also an E layout that is worth enough points to spark a scrum. So, just any roster can pack this card with a good reason, but it doesn’t hit the table unless it looks like there’s an advantage to exploit or a weakness to fill.
Criminal Syndicate and Wakanda are especially likely to bring this in their selection as are Black Order and Cabal. Both are bringing it when they feel advantaged. I’ve seen Black Order play it into Syndicate, and Syndicate play it into Black Order – in other words, maybe we’re not good with this one yet or it really is incredibly flexible and allows for a multitude of lines of play.
This is another one where the threat comes in at a low value and the crisis forces a dedication of resources. While it starts as a somewhat low scoring objective, it can quickly escalate. If left uncontested or repeatedly lost, by the time you’re scoring in round 3, the Researcher could be granting four VPs a turn, possibly all to the same player.
The Researcher starts as the central point and moves range 2 during the power phase. Each player’s evac point is the opposite players home point. If it is within range two of your evac point, you score two points. The player controlling the point in the power phase controls this move. This means you can lose the point but still control the move, or score the point and lose the move. You can also score the evac without controlling the researcher. Assuming maximum scoring, the researcher will score you 12 by the end of turn four. Averaging just one other VP a round from the paired secure, and you’re across the threshold. The Researcher alone will score you 16 by the end of turn five.
With the power phase movement, there’s two basic approaches – closer to you to score me more, or closer to me to make it harder for you to score at all. You can push harder and farther into enemy territory, or fall back to a defensible position. Two somewhat direct moves will put this on the evac from the center. But there is a third option – swing it off the path and away from both evacs to move the fight off the center line and see who follows.
What About Secure Pairings?
Generally speaking, regardless of the secure, Researcher doesn’t care much about priority. Again, as it is effectively a red secure, control rosters with the last activation will have a strong play against the researcher – but having priority is occasionally game making.
One place having priority from round two can pay off is when paired with SWORD. Priority player determines the order of effects. Priority player can leverage or dampen the effects of the push and effect the researcher’s movement.
The secure pairing is huge factor for the Research Station (I swear I’m not going to say this every time). As an E it lines up with two of the most popular secures in Gamma and Demons. On Demons, it means the only points are central, and everyone is going to be constantly incinerated unless someone moves the researcher off the central-line of portals – in which case, the researcher is worth two portals, and doesn’t give an incinerate. The Gamma pairing is a different animal, as dominant play is almost certain to produce a three round game.
Paired with Extremis or Black Order Invades (the game’s stable D maps), the home secures become hotly contested and the flanks are often low priorities. Paired into Infinity Formula, the researcher often adds a third column but the B map also encourages moving the researcher off the track and closer to a “won” column on the map.
Flip secures allow a tremendous amount of pressure on the researcher, and may wind up bloodier than games on gamma – if only because the points aren’t quite as fast and the game goes longer.
Why Are You Better?
Because the Researcher is being included so often since its release, it’s important to know what you’re looking for on the station. If you’re thinking about playing it, you should have a plan. Are you bringing the research station to draw them in, are you built to weather their storm, control the point, or leverage the scrum into an attrition melt-down? Playing a secure into a roster that wants to play on the station, are you trying to spread them wide with a B or a D shape, or do you prefer to keep it central and joust?
Why are you playing research station over a traditional extract? What do you want to play into it?
Attrition, control – everyone loves this. Even Enchantress.
An all comers roster that includes the Research Station, Hammers and Spider-Infected, especially one capable of fielding a wide range of model counts and threaten safe centerline plays and a tough of control, is not going to present easy decisions in crisis selection or any other window of turn zero.
Where is it?
The Station comes with Wanda and Quicksilver, and Wanda is an absolute house. She doesn’t carry the control elements that MODOK or Cassandra, bring but on her unique ability to count skulls without any expenditure and have them function more like most characters treat wilds, she stands alone.
Quicksilver also has a surprising amount of game on the research station, as you can count on his speedster to remain online, as there are no extracts for him to carry he’s free to blast over to lightly defended or abandoned secures. Especially interesting plays for Pietro in Syndicate here.
Wanda and Pietro are both Brotherhood and Avengers, Wanda also lines up with A-Force and Defenders, Pietro with Inhumans. These are all affiliations that can make a strong case for answering why they are better on the station. Pietro has space to explore in Syndicate. Wakanda is an incredible control core, and while Wanda might not be affiliated, or have any built in repositioning, her dice’s extra face sure loves those Wakanda rerolls.
In the end, the Research Station is a wildly different extract (because it’s really a secure) that still has a ton of room to explore and lines of play to develop but the one thing you can count on is its popularity.
Obligatory Thanos Pic: