From The Dread Dormammu to the Dreaded Red Skull, there’s no character in Marvel Crisis Protocol which can be taken lightly. Sometimes you just need to understand why it is someone might be worried about seeing that particular thing across the table from them. Today let’s look at The Dreaded… Machine Organism Designed Only for Killing!
MODOK was one of the first characters released outside the core set, and for a long time he was an absolute terror – able to gain and then spend power better than any other character in the game, he has dropped off somewhat in popularity since he was retuned in the card pack update, but he’s still one of the most dangerous characters in the game and well worth his 5 threat!
There’s an awful lot of text on MODOK’s card and a lot of it synergises together to become more than the sum of its parts, so let’s break down the core components that make MODOK so potent.
Firstly there’s the Psionic Blast. A 6 die mystic attack at range 4 with sap power on wilds and gaining power equal to damage dealt is arguably the best free attack in the game. It’s certainly in the conversation, allowing MODOK to threaten a large area of the board and making him a terrific answer to popular characters like Captain America and Black Panther who are difficult to hurt with physical and energy attacks.
His Doomsday Chair is a 7 die physical attack which always causes a second 7 die physical attack against any target within range 2 of the initial target – importantly this second target does not also need to be within range 4 of MODOK. Wild bleed is a nice secondary benefit, but you’re essentially getting two 7 die attacks for 3 power which can be highly relevant when MODOK finds himself surrounded by TINY FOOLS who are trying to overwhelm him with sheer numbers.
Bow to the Will of MODOK is a power so iconic it spawned the term ‘bow’ to describe any superpower which allows a character to advance another character. Originally this was not limited to once per turn, but even though it now can’t displace the entire enemy team all by itself (which is probably for the best) the ability to advance a character every turn is still one of the most useful tools a character can have.
Imbecile! All the World Is a Weapon to MODOK! Is a Long range terrain throw of any terrain within range 3, letting MODOK catch a surprising amount of targets and hurl around massive amounts of terrain. MODOK tends to generate power extremely easily so you can reasonably expect to use this every round until you run out of terrain within range 3 of MODOK – and because he generates that power so easily even throwing those size 1 pieces to try and push through an extra point of damage here or there can be relevant.
Pea-Brain! MODOK’s Genius is Infinite! Allows MODOK to, once per turn, spend any amount of power and reroll the corresponding amount of attack and defence dice. This is what really makes MODOK’s offense shine as he can cause his Psychic Blasts to become extremely consistent and often refund the power spent on them causing more damage and earning him more sap power.
And finally MODOK’s Psionic Force Field means that opposing characters turn wilds into blanks when they attack him. This power was, until recently, unique – now Black Swan has a similar ability, but she has to spend power to activate it. MODOK’s Psionic Force Field is innate, meaning that it happens even when Mystique attempts to confuse him with her shapeshifting and he simply cannot suffer wild damage effects… at least until he dazes and flips onto his healthy side.
This final ability is what makes MODOK sing as a character. His 10 health pool on his front side is expanded far beyond what is apparent but this ability to negate wild hits, and his relatively unimpressive 2/3/3 defensive statline matters far less when you are simply blanking out your opponent’s attack dice.
All of this combines to make MODOK a very tough, hard hitting piece with great control and damage consistency it is rare to find elsewhere in Marvel Crisis Protocol.
His weakness is in the fact that he is slow (although his large base does help somewhat there), that he is size 4 – which means that he can become a liability if your opponent is able to repeatedly throw him into your team, although it does help protect him from some control elements. And of course on his injured side he only has 4 health and he loses his Psionic Force Field which means that once he is injured he tends to be KO’d very quickly.
MODOK is a character who can make use of support like few others in the game. Ideally you want to keep him on his healthy side and in range to make two attacks each round, throw a piece of terrain and advance an enemy character without having to make move actions. If you can accomplish this goal, he can be game winning – and Cabal has the tools to enable this.
Red Skull can move him up the board with his Master of the Cube which prevents him from having to expend valuable actions moving around the board under his own power. Cosmic Invigoration lets you get a second activation out of your MODOK in a turn, which can be devastating, and Dark Reign as a tactics card enables him to get full rerolls against a valuable target for free, before then deciding if he needs or wants to spend any extra power to get even more rerolls.
Master of Evil also helps MODOK gain the extra power he needs to keep at his maximum performance. I have played games with MODOK where he is stunned and poisoned, but still consistently has power he needs to be a menace between his sap power, the one damage from the attack itself, and the extra power from the leadership.
Hood is also an excellent support piece, able to heal MODOK and extend that 10 health pool as long as possible. Enchantress, Mystique and Mister Sinister can advance characters into range of MODOK either through their own power or with Deception. Baron Zemo being able to provide an extra reroll on attack and defence can also be very useful in the early game when you are trying to get MODOK’s initial power online.
I am also an increasingly big fan of Doctor Strange as a support to run alongside MODOK. This is a 10 threat combo but Strange can both heal MODOK’s damage and increase his defensive dice – increasing the value of MODOK’s defensive rerolls. Strange also brings access to a little-used tactics card: Vapors of Valtorr
This card is often a little difficult to play with, requiring a complex setup, 3 power from Doctor Strange and providing a random benefit – it is possible for you to draw the silhouette each time the character is targeted and gain no benefit.
However, the ability to reroll your opponent’s attack dice allows MODOK to potentially reroll those hits and crits which do get through his Psychic Barrier into more wilds, blanks, shields or skulls. For one turn, this can significantly bolster MODOK’s defence and is far more useful to him than potentially any other character in the game. Buying one round where opposing characters are strongly disincentivised from attacking MODOK at all (or may simply do very little if they do) is huge as MODOK is very often a key piece that opposing teams will feel obligated to take down as fast as possible.
MODOK is affiliated with the Cabal and Criminal Syndicate, and in both affiliations he is supported well by the leaderships on offer. With Red Skull he can generate power more easily which he can translate into the consistent damage and control that the affiliation needs, with Kingpin his deceptive staying power on his healthy side, his high damage output and control play well into letting him contest a point and with Shadowlands Daredevil he can enjoy free rerolls on his psionic blasts which let him reroll a skull his additional rerolls can’t touch.
We’ve already mentioned Dark Reign, but it is worth noting that Cosmic Invigoration lets you get a second full activation in a round out of MODOK. For a piece with such high and consistent damage output this can be enormously useful and I have seen MODOK reliably daze 3-4 characters between his wide suite of attacks and two size 3 terrain throws. MODOK also makes a great battery for All According to Plan in Criminal Syndicate, though whether you want to spend that power to seize priority when he could use it for his own superpowers is often a difficult choice.
I’ve also enjoyed using MODOK in Web Warriors, where Miles’ leadership enhances his ability to reroll his own dice and the additional reroll on his defences can help make up for the relatively low starting numbers. Web Warriors often feel a little lacking in the attack department, and MODOK definitely fills that gap whilst still having some ability to offer control when needed.
MODOK also brings access to two useful tactics cards – AIM Lackeys grants any character a free move action as an additional action during its next activation that round. This does not have to be played in MODOK’s turn so you can use it at the start of your turn. For characters who otherwise struggle with their mobility this can give them a pseudo-charge where they can move into position and still be able to attack twice, which is always great. It can also be used with characters like Enchantress, Black Cat or Voodoo to help them move into position to take an extract from an opposing character and then still be able to retreat to safety. Combined with Ghost Spider’s Spider Technique, Gwen can make three long moves and two attacks all in the same activation, which also feels fantastic.
Psychic Fortress is similar to Magneto’s Magnetic Refraction – though it has a longer range at range 4 vs Magnetic Refraction’s Range 3. Allied characters within that bubble gain cover. It’s worth remembering that it is only cover from terrain which doesn’t apply at range 2, so for the entire round you will be able to set a defensive die result to a shield. On tight crises like Gamma Wave or Research Station this can be a significant durability boost for your characters.
There are however some definite weaknesses in MODOK’s kit – and there aren’t many characters who experienced players have had as much practice playing into.
The most obvious weakness is that MODOK is a slow mover and size 4, which means that he hates being displaced – especially M or L – as he ideally wants to be attacking twice every turn. He also has difficulty claiming cover himself, and his low physical defence means that he dislikes having terrain or other characters thrown into him.
D crises are also difficult for him to deal with as these often reward high degrees of mobility and the M in MODOK definitely does not stand for Mobile. Having to reposition repeatedly over the course of the game can really punish MODOK’s damage output, which is probably his most significant draw.
The last thing to watch out for are characters who can count blanks on their attack rolls. At present that is only Corvus Glaive and Loki, but both of these characters mean that MODOK’s primary defensive technique does nothing and he can quickly find that his ten health evaporates and leaves him in his injured state.
All of that said, there are ways to mitigate these weaknesses. Whilst I wouldn’t necessarily recommend running MODOK into Black Order, where Thanos’ control and Corvus’ damage will melt him pretty quickly, cards like Indomitable and Brace for Impact can help mitigate some of that control and impact from terrain hitting him. Taking your own characters who can throw size 4 terrain to get it off the board and using his throw to eliminate size 3 terrain can help with that as well.
Sacrifice is also a card which works really well both ways with MODOK – it can be used on him to protect him from Loki or Corvus strikes and buy the time needed to Patch Up his deep health pool on his healthy side, but he can also Sacrifice to negate a hit on a key ally who needs to avoid the wild triggers on an attack.
As with any character in the game you should always consider whether you expect the situation to favour MODOK – but I think there’s more common situations where he shines than you might expect!
In conclusion, your opponent should fear MODOK if:
- They don’t have a lot of ways to spread around and mitigate damage.
- They are bringing one large, key piece that you can Dark Reign to burn down quickly.
- The crisis forces fights and makes it difficult to run away and avoid conflict.
- They have a limited number of size 4 throws and other control effects which can move size 4 characters.
- You are bringing ways to move MODOK around and keep him relevant (healing him, cancelling throws, absorbing attacks or pushing attacks at him onto other characters)
But perhaps the infinite genius of MODOK should dread if:
- The opposing team has a large number of displacement effects and size 4 throws.
- The secures will make it difficult for MODOK to stay relevant. (SWORD, D secures)
- The enemy team has a lot of anti-mystic attack powers or naturally high mystic defense. (Convocation, Ultron)
- Loki and/or Corvus will be coming in.
So that’s MODOK! The Machine Organism Designed Only for Killing who also has some good control and defensive elements… but is definitely extremely optimised at killing his way through an opponent’s team if he’s given the opportunity to do so!
I hope you now understand why your opponents should dread the MIGHTY MODOK! If you have a character you’d like to understand why your opponents should dread, feel free to send an email over to ADreadedGoose@gmail.com and perhaps I can help!