About me: https://acrossthebifrost.com/author/mike.deluca
Hello and welcome to my first article! The idea for this column is that if I review the games that I’ve played where I learned something new, I can give you the context of my choices in the hope that you can walk away with how to apply the lessons I learn to your games of MCP. With that out of the way, lets dive into my TTS season five semi-final game vs. Ulysses!
If you’re not familiar with what I call “Turn Zero” it’s all the decisions that you have to make before the game starts. They are crisis selection, threat selection, squad selection, and tactics card selection.
I always create the following decision tree before every game in the league. Many games are lost on turn zero, so it’s best to flesh out a solid game plan so we’re not starting on the backfoot.
- Win priority → pick secures → SWORD preferred, Spider Portals backup. Playing 14 or 18 threat depending on what secure I get. Black Order doesn’t like either threat. They can’t play their core of Thanos + Mind, Corvus + Reality, and Proxima at 14 threat. They also have some funky squads at 18 because they typically want the Time Gem on Thanos putting them at 17 threat. I have heard they sometimes play a threat down at 18 because Time Gem Thanos is so important to their game plan.
- Lose priority → given secures → Spider Portals preferred, Gamma backup. SWORD is bad without priority because Wakanda does not like C secures at higher threat and he will not choose 14 threat. Spider Portals allows me to score VPs without having to split my squad up.
- Lose priority → given extracts → Spider-Infected preferred, Senators backup. Cubes are bad here because Proxima and Thanos (in a pinch) can carry multiple cubes leaving Corvus free, and they play Medpack allowing them to run away with VPs.
Nothing super interesting here because Ulysses only has two models so he will deploy to the center. I deploy mostly to the center to be as flexible as possible.
I have priority so I start with taking the topside flank. I like to start with Widow and Okoye because they don’t have any displacement. In normal games of SWORD you can play Shuri mid-round, move and attack with her, then she plays Advanced R&D giving one power to both Panther and Valkyrie turning on their displacement. Valkyrie can do her throw then interact for three power. Panther can move then pounce putting him on the centerline. He can then attack, gain one power, do the guaranteed push, then interact. If you’re not feeling spicy he can always roll the 50/50 or another model can interact after he displaces the enemy.
Ulysses has two models so he’s going to pass until he can’t anymore. Since I’ve now activated three models, he has to activate and chooses Corvus. Thanos is saved for last so that he can move models around with as little unknowns as possible setting up for the next round. He moves Corvus into the center backstopping on the truck. The backstop is to minimize the impact of the push from the SWORD crisis since I am scoring it this round.
Now I have to activate Shuri or Valkyrie. The Valkyrie line here that I considered was to double move to the center and throw Corvus off the point, following up with a Shuri push and/or SWORD push. The reason I didn’t go for this is I’d have two models in the middle for Thanos to throw into each other. Thanos will walk once to the middle, use Mind Gem and Cosmic Portal to line up Valkyrie and Okoye, send two strikes into the closer one, probably rolling wilds causing loads of collision damage. The name of the game here is to score the SWORD base and not die, so I play conservatively and shoot Corvus off the point. Note: I had to move Shuri towards the top because of the way the truck was orientated.
Thanos is up now, moves towards the center, Mind Gems Okoye forward, and strikes her for a whopping six hits. I roll an average of two blocks. She goes down to one Thanos strike which you really hate to see. Nothing I can do but hope the dice aren’t spiking against me going forward.
One line here is I could move Valkyrie towards the center into range three and set up for an Escort to Safety on Okoye. However, I still wanted to avoid the Thanos throw damage. The second line here is to move her towards Panther to line up an Escort on him, but she was still out of range with a double move. This was an error in my deployment.
Still in my conservative mindset, I walk her top side and opt to not roll for the core. If I get the core here, Thanos beelines me, murders me, picks it up, and I probably never get it back. If I’m going to get the core, it needs to be on the opposite side of the map from him so he has less time to respond.
I go up 3-0 and push Corvus into the car putting him outside range three of Panther. Since he’s base to base with Okoye I cannot get him outside of range to Death Blow Okoye with just the short push. Pushing Thanos is less valuable because of the Time Gem.
Ulysses has priority and opts to Death’s Decree a Death Blow into Okoye. Corvus rolls four hits and doesn’t get the flurry. Okoye blocks two and takes two damage. Things are looking better! Corvus takes his medium move to range two of Panther and strikes. He rolls five hits into my three blocks. Panther takes two. Corvus strikes again for three hits into my two blocks. Panther takes another one. Corvus uses All You’ve Got and rolls another six hits on a Glaive’s Edge strike. Two blocks and Panther goes down. I wasn’t expecting this kind of offense, which in hindsight was due to my inexperience against a well piloted Black Order.
Okoye, sitting on two health and next to Thanos needs to activate before she dies. I decide to run her over to Panther and secure the SWORD console. In hindsight, I should have used Field Dressing on Panther and forced Thanos to re-daze him. There wasn’t going to be another window for me to Field Dressing Panther anyways due to Thanos’ tremendous amount of displacement. Thanos activates and moves towards Okoye, Mind Gems her and kills her with a couple of Cosmic Blasts. Now things are going downhill pretty fast. Ulysses’ models are activated and I have Shuri, Valkyrie, and Widow to go.
I thought about setting up Shuri for an Escort to Safety on Panther next round, but she is still out of range after a double move. I move her to the opposite side of the board abandoning Panther. This is my biggest misplay of the game. I should have moved Shuri into range of Panther for rerolls next round. Still playing extremely conservatively, I camp my remaining three models on the topside of the board and whiff my rolls for the Kree Core.
The score is 6-1 my favor at the end of round two. I score another three for the SWORD base and Ulysses gets a VP for killing Okoye.
Start of the round I push Corvus with the SWORD base to force out Mothership. It looks like Ulysses could have backstopped on the light post, which might have been an error on his part. Corvus gets Mothershipped in front of Thanos putting him in range two of Panther. He strikes Panther for four damage. Did I mention my block dice have been hilariously bad this game? Corvus then Glaive’s Edge Strikes for exactly the two damage he needed to KO Panther.
Things are pretty grim at this point, but if I can get the core on the opposite side of the map, I have a chance. I activate Valkyrie and whiff her roll for the core. He passes. I activate Widow, roll for the core, and whiff again. Activating Widow here was a misplay because she was the only one who could double move to the middle and 50/50 the SWORD console due to a size four truck that was in the way. Thanos then activates, takes the middle SWORD console, and gets the alien core. Brutal. With nothing left to do I move Shuri to set up for the next round.
With Ulysses’ two models to my three he passes. I activate Valkyrie and move her up a bit to the edge of the sword console. She is still out of range of a move charge into Thanos due to my awful positioning. Corvus double moves to the middle console to get back into the fight. I have Shuri and Widow left, but I have to activate Shuri because I need Widow to 50/50 the middle as the last activation. I move Shuri onto the truck and shoot Thanos away. Thanos activates, moves to the middle, uses Cosmic Portal and Mind Gem on Shuri and does two not so great attacks for two damage. With nothing left to do, Widow double moves to the middle and gets the 50/50 on the middle console. Not whiffing that roll at least gave me a small chance to come back. Score ties at 9-9.
I push Corvus away with the SWORD base, but since he was base to base with Shuri, he is still in range for Death Blow.
Corvus Death Blows Shuri, she dazes, and he moves back to the middle console. Widow then dazes off his Flurry attack. With just Valkyrie left I charge her into Thanos with Warrior of Legend and Dragon Fang. I have an out here if I spike and manage to daze Thanos. I’d score five points putting me at 14 VPs. Valkyrie rolled six hits but no wild (she’s definately no Medusa). Thanos rolled one block and took four damage. Thanos then does another Cosmic Portal and Mind Gem combo to place Valkyrie all the way to my deployment zone. He finishes by shaking bleed, interacting with the SWORD console, and taking one damage from the Kree Core for not attacking. Ulysses scores both objectives giving him five points putting the score at 14-9. I don’t really have an out at this point unless Corvus completely whiffs next round, but he’s on ten power. So, unlikely.
Since Ulysses only needs two VPs to win, I have to score everything this round to not lose. Valkyrie gets pushed from the SWORD base and only has four power. Her dazing Corvus off a Charge + Warrior of Legend Strike is extremely unlikely. My next best play is to Sonic Crush Thanos, get the daze, and pray Corvus doesn’t kill me. I couldn’t Sonic Crush both Thanos and Corvus because of the size four truck blocking line of sight. I premeasured and saw that I could place Shuri outside range three of Corvus but also inside range two of Thanos. That way Corvus only gets one attack action on me and I can optimize my futile efforts to claw this game back.
I move Shuri, make the attack, she rolls five hits, dazes Thanos, and picks up the Kree Core. Ulysses then makes the obvious play to move Corvus and Glaive’s Edge a Death Blow into Shuri. As expected, she gets vaporized and Corvus picks up the Kree Core. With Widow still alive, my only play is to hope she one shots Corvus. Obviously that didn’t happen and he scores the Kree Core putting him at 17 VPs to my 12.
Playing against Black Order can be very dice dependent and is a completely different game of MCP. It is often better to also go down or tie on VPs if it means your models are not dying. To top it off, it’s hard to get reps in against them because of how specialized the roster has become and the amount of reps required to play it well.
Secondly, my positioning with Shuri was bad the entire game. I did a lot of range five shots which kept her out of range for rerolls. In this particular game if Panther had access to rerolls and rolled one more block he would have survived. Him surviving results in a Mantle of the Black Panther double tap + pounce on Corvus probably killing him, making this a completely different game.
The next thing to take away is that stacking all of your models together against Black Order (assuming you have defensive options like Okoye, Sacrifice, Escort to Safety, Life Saver, Heroes for Hire, etc.) creates a puzzle for them on how to kill you. They cannot effectively optimize Glaive’s Edge, Death’s Decree, or Grievous Wounds when they don’t know which model they are attacking. The unfortunate side effect of this is it puts massive constraints on how you build your roster.
Finally, I played five wide (Panther, Shuri, Okoye, Valkyrie, Black Widow) Wakanda on SWORD twice this season against top tier players. What I initially thought would be an amazing crisis for Wakanda, I’ve since changed my mind. Since Panther is four threat you are forced to bring two two threats. The double twos combined with Shuri really pillow fists your squad. As soon as your opponent starts to get any kind of attritional advantage, they give you priority which makes it impossible to last activate to score the SWORD base. Shuri also hates standing in the centerline. I’d only recommend playing Wakanda at 14 threat on SWORD if your opponent has a completely awful 14 threat squad or if you can guarantee a fast scoring extract like Research Base or Spider-Infected.
That’s all I’ve got for this Game of Future Past. If you want to offer any feedback, you can find me on any of the MCP discords.
As a last minute teaser, my next article is going to be about my experience with X-Men at Nashcon. GDNerd, Sploosh, and I have been dojo-ing on how to take them to the top!