Hello and welcome to a very special article! To celebrate the fact that at the midpoint I am the only undefeated Foes player across all brackets (with some luck involved), I wanted to break down what I’m doing, why its winning, and why I’m sticking with Foes for the rest of the season.
First off lets travel back to the inception of Spider-Foes as a possibility to this season. We’re in the aftermath of Nashcon where both my dojo-mates Sploosh and Mike DeLuca took X-men to semi-finals playing it as primarily X-men and unaffiliated respectively. After Nashcon’s showing there was a lot of pessimism about the ceiling of X-men at the time as we had no inkling of the goodies that were coming in the Ministravaganza. So we all knew the next project would be something different. We pretty quickly came to the conclusion that out of all the new stuff available Convocation was not up to snuff (this was pre-Magik or the back side of their leadership card) or at least was too weird to master in time. We were pretty certain the big 3 in season 6 would be Sam Spam, Web Warriors and Midnight Sons, with certain Black Order extract abuse lines being highly problematic. We had a detour into exploring Dormammu as he could do similar stuff to the Black Order lines, but only Sploosh found kinship in the Dark Dimension. But we quickly came to the realization that the X-Men unaffiliated teams were all TECHNICALLY A-Force, which began the great A-Force dojo.
At first, A-Force was a DREAM. So many of the game’s greatest hits happen to be in A-Force: Valkyrie, Medusa, Okoye, Angela, Domino, Scarlet Witch just to name a handful. And as the cherry on top you get to play a heretofore unloved 6 threat: She-Hulk. Jennifer Walters is a hell of a centerpiece to play around – hits like a truck, throws characters medium and bodyguards for days. But she can be a bit of a liability if you aren’t careful in the All You’ve Got meta we’re in. Until you’ve had a Medusa AYG down your She-Hulk before she can do anything you don’t know pain. And while Mike has enough affinity to pull it off flawlessly (at the time of writing his margin of victory is greater than anyone else’s TOTAL VPs scored so far this league), I could tell it wasn’t for me. So I decided to sow a little bit of… Carnage…
Carnage right now is the hardest All You’ve Got pop off play you can play, full stop. Doomed Prophesy plus Paint the Town Red plus Carnage Rules means an All You’ve Got activation from Cletus pumps out FIVE 10 dice attacks and one at TWELVE assuming things don’t go horribly wrong, and that’s not even counting the insanity of doing a Doomed Prophecy spender (which I can say from personal experience is quality). If you want pure unadulterated murder you basically can’t do better than this symbiote equipped serial killer. But, I didn’t start with Foes for him.
Initial testing brought him in Sin Cabal. The premise here was to hold prio all the time by compressing activations between Sin and Crossbones, layer offensive tools like Illicit Tech and Bitter Rivals, DP carnage or a rapid fire character and go to town. But, the list proved to be surprisingly brittle. Rapid Fire characters would go pop before they could be delivered and the team would be picked apart before carnage could shine. A similar version was tested where rather than Sin Cabal it ran leaderless Criminal Syndicate with Sin and Crossbones so you could All According to Plan to forcibly take prio on the round after dropping their whole team and let Carnage finish what he started.
However it just didn’t feel right so I finally turned back to the natural choice I should have gone for from the start: Spider-Foes. I had been finding a lack of tank stats to be the problem, well here comes a bunch of wonderful tank options – Venom, Lizard, Ock, Goblin are all excellent physical defenders, medium based and all but Ock are size 3 to prevent certain control effects. From here things started to fall into place – B force on secures as I can shove in with my tanks, F force on extracts because I can play them without prio thanks to Sinister Traps. Set up Carnage to pop off on round 2 or 3 while stalling with your tanky bois, and use that big turn to build a VP lead and disengage. So, I decided to throw together a one day event on Longshanks to put my foes to the test and this happened:
But despite the record I knew I was on to something. Great scenario play, better attrition and a LOT of weird interactions that nobody knew about because of the fact they haven’t been legal for any major events up until now. All I needed to do was put my head down and get the reps in. And after grinding a few dozen games I landed on this for the first half of season 6:
- Angela: 5
- Carnage: 4
- Doctor Octopus: 3
- Green Goblin: 4
- Enchantress: 4
- Lizard: 3
- Okoye: 2
- Toad: 2
- Valkyrie: 3
- Venom: 4
- Advanced R&D
- All You’ve Got
- Blind Obsession
- Carnage Rules
- Doomed Prophesy
- Lethal Protector
- Sinister Traps
- Well-Laid Plans
- Fear Grips World as “Worthy” Terrorize Cities [D]: 18
- Spider-Infected Invade Manhattan [F]: 17
- Struggle for the Cube Continues [F]: 17
- Demons Downtown! Has Our Comeuppance Come Due? [E]: 19
- Infinity Formula Goes Missing [B]: 17
- Mutant Madman Turns City Center Into Lethal Amusement Park [B]: 18
First I want to talk to you about the two obvious exclusions: Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio. They both were in the roster for a VEEEEEEEEEEEEERY long time, but ultimately got cut. The reason is simple, you don’t need more than 2 affiliated 3s in this roster and Doctor Octopus and Lizard fit the playstyle the best. Which is not to say that Kraven and Mysterio are bad. Kraven is a nifty little flank fighter with way more damage and mobility than you’d expect – almost a Gwen without the control tools and more murder to compensate. Mysterio is a wacky control piece that can make any board state feel insecure for your opponent, admittedly hampered by his short move which makes him problematic on round 1.
But this roster doesn’t need those tools. The purpose of the 3s you take is to throw them into the meat grinder and hold things reliably until Carnage does his magic. Also they are both medium bases with medium move which means they can threaten to grab/hold B/F secure/extracts on the opponents side of the board (of which I’m forcing on both extracts and secures). In fact with Carnage and Green Goblin you have FOUR characters who can do this which opens up an incredible amount of flexibility if an opponent underdeploys a flank. If I was trying a D focused gameplan Kraven and Mysterio would become much more attractive pieces, but people are taking those so infrequently at the moment that it isn’t even worth it to include them as “sideboard” pieces.
Naturally after talking about the affiliated exclusions we move on to discussing the unaffiliated inclusions: Angela, Enchantress, Valkyrie, Toad and Okoye. Toad and Okoye are simple enough, they allow me to play 5 wide at low threat. In fact on SWORD playing Carnage Lizard Ock Toad Okoye with Sinister Traps is a pretty solid move to slow down the early game scoring until you can do some damage with Carnage assuming they can’t set up a single move onto the middle line on both flanks like Midnight Sons.
Angela in particular is there for priority plays with my extracts, being able to grab the middle and retreat if I want to play a slow Well Laid Plans round 4 score-out plan, and also can bring suffering to Sam Spam lists alongside Carnage with their reset-on-kill mechanics.
Valkyrie and Enchantress are somewhat self-explanatory: generically good in their slot, great control toolsets and power generation, and both can pull off a solid All You’ve Got in a pinch. But you might have noticed out of all the members of the roster the one I haven’t mentioned much so far is Green Goblin.
Green Goblin in his current state is what a lot of people would call “bad”. He is not intuitive or easy to use at all, and his upcoming buffs are going to be an absolute game changer for him. But there are three words that explain when/why you should play him right now: Well Laid Plans.
I distinctly remember trying this card when Green Goblin came out and saying “man that card is great but its 100% not worth playing Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus”, which at the time was true. Foes only had Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Venom, and Kingpin, and while a core of GG Doctor Octopus and Venom CAN get occasionally played today its only occasionally as the main stars of the Spider-Foes currently are Carnage and Lizard. BUT, when you are playing extracts and have the particular game plan it can work. Hammers, Cubes, and sometimes Spiders you can pull this off and its a simple (but not always easy) game plan.
The goal is to score 4 (or sometimes 5 on the F extracts with prio) every round with the plan of winning on round 4. And Well Laid Plans is key. Assuming you’re playing cubes or don’t pick up anything on them Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus have enough power guaranteed on round 3 to play Well Laid Plans. Here you play a slow game of doing the bare minimum engagement while maintaining priority and scoring 4. Then at the top of round 3 Carnage pops off and dazes as many enemies as possible. This should already screw up your opponents scoring as they drop extracts left and right and the ability to stand on secures becomes harder and harder. If they manage to pick up their extracts anyways with the remainder, Well Laid Plans after their whole team has activated (Carnage ensures you go last in round 3 unless something has gone wrong). Your opponent now has to come into you, functionally staggering a large chunk of their team and even if they stop you from scoring out on round 4 its unlikely they manage to outscore you or even score out themselves unless they drop your whole team and at that point you were probably going to lose anyways. Plus you can stack a LOT of non-attack damage between this, sinister traps, and Cubes leading to a lot of dead characters on the enemy team even without Carnage’s help. One of my favorite things is to see an enemy ASM across the table on Cubes, trap the extract he’s going for and ensure he starts round 2 half dead while constantly threatening to Well Laid Plans to finish the job.
But this obviously isn’t always the plan. Sometimes your opponent picks extracts into you so they can jam Research Station or Alien Ship down your throat. And while Well Laid Plans on Alien Ship sounds not terrible insurance, your 5 tactic slots are filled already at that point: Doomed Prophecy, All You’ve Got, Sinister Traps, Carnage Rules, Advanced R&D/Blind Obsession based on the secure is usually the superior choice. Know WHEN to put Goblin on the table or of course you’re going to lose with him because in his current state hes a niche piece. And a niche piece means you can use it in the appropriate context but not all the time. Obviously with his impending buffs he becomes a much more broadly useful character and can be played every game (though I’ll probably still leave him out in certain scenarios I’ll explain in the future) but for the meantime understand that he is a specialized tool.
Now lists have unlocked for season 6.5 and you might notice some strange changes, namely Toad and Blind Obsession coming out for Hulkbuster and Helios Laser. This is based on a bit of theory and a bit of dojo that I’ll either break down victoriously or as a postmortem explaining where things went wrong depending on how the next three weeks go (perhaps a bit of both). If theres any particular aspect of the roster you want to hear deeper details on feel free to ask in the comments wherever you find this article or DM me on discord/reddit/facebook!
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