So in this series, I’ll be going over each affiliation and diving into what I believe to be misunderstandings about each one, and why the echo chamber of online discourse is often wrong, or at least draws to the wrong conclusions. As I mentioned in the previous part, we’re now onto Asgard.
Asgard is actually a rather oddball faction, with only one leader and a bunch of characters that were at one point considered to be “The Best”, while also having a few powerful tactic cards. However, if you ask any tournament grinder, you’ll learn that Asgard is rarely played and rarely has any success. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because I literally copied/pasted this from the A-Force article. Call me lazy, but the two factions have a striking similarity when it comes to what people say are their issues, especially…
“They need a cheaper/new leader. Thor is a bad character.”
Ah this old chestnut, so let’s start with a deep dive into Thor. The God of Thunder has one of the best leaderships in the game in my opinion. For the low cost of a single power, you can remove any condition, including Stagger, or heal one health. So many characters would kill to have access to this at all times. He also has a fantastic builder and mini-spender, and some solid superpowers, but here comes the first problem Asgard as a faction. Thor has absolutely no defensive superpowers, and is possibly the squishiest 5-threat in the game (including 4-threats that can take gems.) This is another similarity Asgard shares with A-Force, as She-Hulk also has no defensive superpowers, but I actually think Asgard has it better in this regard.
Thor can be dazed, so while he has less health in total compared to She-Hulk, it’s not possible for your opponent to one tap him. On top of that, Odin’s Blessing is a nuts card and you should always take it in your five. You might be thinking “So what? He’s still weak.” Well this is where any experienced Asgard player will tell you he’s not. He’s inconsistent, which is a very different thing.
Thor can make two attacks, stagger a character and throw three characters a turn. Digging through the list of characters in the game, I think the original Hulk is the only other character in the game that can do that, and the jolly green machine needs ten power to do that, whereas Thor could literally do all of that even if he starts his turn with zero power. However, Thor needs to roll the dice properly to do that, and dice will be dice. Everyone with reps with Asgard will remember the games they lose when Thor does nothing, but will also remember when Thor pops off and will carry the game. Sometimes both will even happen in the same game.
I think this makes Thor a rather average 5-threat in terms of performance, if you look at his output across dozens of games. There’s certainly worse 5-threat leaders in the game, which we’ll get into one day. Thor could still use a tune up, especially to that absolutely worthless energy spender of his, but at the moment he’s just ok. This actually brings me onto our next topic.
“You need to bring Heimdall to fix Thor’s dice.”
No you don’t and you probably shouldn’t. Heimdall can reroll dice but must spend 2 power to do so, and you can only reroll up to 2 dice. Even if you want to reroll just 1 die, you still need to spend 2. This makes him the most inefficient reroller in the game, coupled with his reliance on building power on his completely vanilla 5 dice builder (it’s even called Strike like he’s a core set character) and Heimdall will just never have the power to do anything he actually wants to do. Remember, a 5 dice attack into a defense 3 character only does 1.7 damage on average, so you need to be rolling slightly above average to get the power to use his rerolls even once, and he has several other superpowers he wants to use and his only control effect is on his spender, meaning you’re just not going to do everything you want to do.
Also, if you’re rerolling two attack dice, you’re likely only going to get one more success on average, so a character using their builder will only get one more power. So in a way, you’re losing 2 power to maybe give a character 1 power… so you could argue that makes Heimdall worse than Wong for your team’s power economy. In case you couldn’t tell by now, I really don’t like Heimdall. Play Shuri, Sentinel Prime or even Armin Zola if you want a support piece. Speaking of power issues…
“Asgard has a good power economy.”
Ok I swear I like this faction but… no. They gain 2 power a turn and that’s it. Bill, Heimdall, Loki and Valkyrie all have superpowers they want to use multiple times a turn/round and all of them for some reason have 5 dice physical builders as their only source of gaining power. God help you if you play against a squad of physical tanks, like Avengers or X-Men… or Criminals… or Spider-Foes… I’m sure these aren’t popular affiliations though. Definitely not some of the most popular in the game, definitely. This is also really frustrating because the leadership also requires characters to spend power. Again, I like the leadership a lot, but if it wasn’t for the Asgardian superpower, most of these characters would be stone cold unplayable in my opinion.
To be fair, Loki and Valkyrie can circumvent this problem somewhat. Loki can take a gem, so he can gain 3 power in the power phase and Valkyrie can use Warrior of Legend to make her builder more reliable, though you still need to spend power but you’re likely to gain the power back even into a character with 4 defence.
The only characters with a good power economy in the affiliation also have issues. Ignoring Thor’s inconsistency, Angela and Hela have the opposite problem… They often have too much power and nothing worth spending it on most of the time, which will only get worse if Follow Me gets banned. The only characters that are in the goldilocks zone of power economy in my opinion are Skurge and Enchantress. While we’re on this topic, you should absolutely bring Skurge into every game you play, unless there’s a lot of mystic attacks. Skurge just does work and Meet My Executioner is like if Heroes for Hire and Brace for Impact had a baby, if that doesn’t sell you on the power level of that card, I don’t know what will.
“Doomed Prophecy is a bad card.”
Yes it is… on Enchantress and probably Bill as well. Every other character loves this card. This card has won me so many games I should’ve lost. The damage this card can do on Valkyrie or on Angela is quite frankly ridiculous. Let’s break down the math.
As we’ve already established, Valkyrie does 1.7 damage into a normal defence 3 character with her builder, and 2.8 damage if she also has Warrior of Legend. Doomed Prophecy makes her builder do 3.3 damage into the same target, boosted to 5.3 with Warrior of Legend. Don’t forget her spender can also trigger Flurry, which would also be boosted by Doomed Prophecy, though admittedly this does require a considerable power sink, but that means you can really punish your opponent if Valkyrie dazes.
Her ceiling becomes a 10 dice attack, 8 dice attack, 10 dice attack, 8 dice attack, adding up to a total of roughly 17 damage into average characters, with the potential for a move and a throw in there as well! Angela can do similar work as well, throwing out 10 dice attacks like they’re halloween candy and teleporting everywhere. Even Loki can make good use of this card if he uses I am a GOD! alongside this.
Now yes, it has a significant drawback, but also not. Because it turns off physical defense on the target character, your opponent can make quick work of them with most characters… but only if they get a chance too.
The number one mistake people make with Doomed Prophecy is playing it too early to get an advantage. That is not what the card is good for. What it’s good for is closing out a game later on, or as a sort of Helios Laser equivalent for taking out a big target in the mid game. It takes a lot of practice and a good reading of the boardstate to get the most out of this card, but it will absolutely swing games for you and you should play it as often as you can.
Boy, I certainly had a lot more to say about this faction than I initially thought. I genuinely love this faction and it must be popular as well with the player base as AMG continues to give them at least one new box every year. I hope more people give them a chance because they have some of the most fun characters in the game, and have a lot going for them, they just take a surprising amount of finesse and a better understanding of how to spend their power. Up next… well it might be a two partner because there’s going to be a lot to discuss when it comes to Earth’s mightiest heroes, the Avengers.