How to build a roster part 4, the Morlocks approach

Hello and welcome back to SG Protocol where today we continue our how to build a roster series with the Morlocks approach.

As a reminder the Morlocks approach is named after Lexa Whites Podcast of this name (give it a listen if you haven’t already) where the premise is to take an older, maybe underplayed character and build a roster specifically to help that character shine. Lexa has a rule against putting the model in one of its home affiliations which we will exclude here. For our purposes it also wouldn’t have to be an older oder underplayed model. But I wanted to take one that would somewhat fit the description:

Mr Sinister

Nathaniel Essex is one of my favourite Marvel villains, has a great mini and I would love to play him more. His biggest problem is how many good 4 threats there are in the game now but today we will build a roster that helps him shine.

That is a very wordy card. But we see that almost all of his kit requires genetic sample tokens. You get them in two ways: first His 1 Power beam, which is also the best of his three attacks (his builder is decent; is 6 power cost spender is far to expensive, especially as he has better ways to spent his power).

The second way is with a tactics card:

So we want a team that either as some affiliated characters with healing factor to lessen the blow of the forced extraction, or one that can power him up reliably.

The most affiliated healing factor characters are probably in Weapon X but that is a leadership that Sinister can’t use ever (as it only works for affiliated models).

Lets look at the power up leaderships next. M.S. doesn’t gain much from Steve 1, as he actively needs the power rather than a reduction of his superpowers.

Our other power up teams would be A-Force, Inhumans, Red Skull 2 Hydra, Doc Ock Spider-Foes, Dark Dimension, Brotherhood of Mutants and Hellfire Club. You could argue that Red Skull 1 Cabal is a power up team as well but it is a reward power up and doesn’t help us in getting power to attack with the Beam as soon as possible.

We had Hydra for our Leadership approach so we will exclude that. Hellfire Club is a pretty good home for him as you can just fill the roster with strong healing factor characters like Lizard, X-23 and Apex Predator and the leadership has double synergy with Essex. Being an affiliation that only exists as a tactics card and not having any affiliated characters makes it a bit awkward for the premise of this article though so we go another way here. Dark Dimension falls in a similar vain.

A-Force and Inhumans both don’t offer quite the right affiliated characters for me here.

Doc Ock Spider-Foes is interesting. Firstly because Mr Sinister and the Sinister Six sounds like a 60s band name and secondly because he fits their style in being very mobile (Medium Base, Medium Move plus Fly) and being pretty tanky. Despite the roster getting pretty crowded at the 4 threat spot I think this is a good home for Mr Sinister. It is a clear cut scenario team which we did in our leadership approach so I want to look at one other option for today’s article.

Brotherhood of Mutants.

Brotherhood comes with two leaders with very different leaderships that both have something to do with power.

First we have Magneto:

Magneto is the attrition leader for the Brotherhood. And while his leadership can’t be triggered by Sinister he is a very good benefactor of the power it generates. Nathaniel can use “such little play things” to move enemy characters into Magnetos range which is a real danger zone for most models in the game. He also brings decent attacks that are Energy and Mystic to grind down models with either weakness.

Mystique is the other leader and come with a very different leadership and game plan. Where Magneto is really focused on attrition Mystique is the Brotherhood’s option to play a scenario focused game. The leadership enhances Sinisters play in round 2 more than helping him get going right away. Being as fast as he is he should be able to grab an extract easily enough and since the power he needs to pick it up is immediately refunded on some maps he might be able to use his beam right away but more likely is that he could be able to use it twice in round 2. Sinister is generally really good in defending a flank by himself, although he isn’t likely to win it. But he can keep enemy models occupied while the rest of your squad gets as many VPs as quickly as possible.

So we do take both leaders for a dual leader roster. We will talk more in depth about the pros and cons of going multi leader or even multi affiliation in your roster.

With Magneto and Mystique is pretty clear cut. Central fights you think you can out damage your opponent, Mags it is. Wide spread Crisis with loads of VP on the board, Mystique is your girl.

And Sinister helps in both teams here.

So we’ve picked an affiliation and the leaders. Next up we look at affiliated characters. Brotherhood has quite a lot:

As we want a good mix of characters that can play either of the leadership or preferably both ones well I chose these girls and boys:

One of the best overall 2 threats in the game. Works especially well under Mystique but with our 10 threat locked up in two models when we go with Magneto he is also great there for math reasons.

The prime example of being great at both scenario and attrition here. He is incredibly fast, tanky and 8 dice builders are no joke either. He gives us a very scary attrition 15 with Mags and Sinister, too. He could even reduce the damage he would take from a theoretical forced extraction. Since he gains power for a movement action he would still be able to grab an extract (or try and flip a point on a pay to flip secure).

He is also a character that can trigger Mags leadership a lot with his Nothing stops the Juggernaut superpower.

Apex Predator is one of my favourite characters to play in this game. He sometimes is a bit slow to get rolling but once he has a bit of power he will tear the world apart. And, in a pinch, be a decent scenario piece, too. He is probably better under Magneto but I would always consider him under Mystique, too.

Another fantastic all around character (and one of my favourite mutants) that works great under both leaders.

An absolute nuisance on the board and a great character to reign in enemy big guys with his Firewall. He can also bring an extract steal with his tactics card. And once again a character that can work well with both leaders. Under Mystique he is going to be more of a scoring control piece. If you get a center of the board brawl for Mags he adds another Beam to the one we bring with Mr Sinister making it quite the death zone.

Probably the most controversial pick here. Blob is often considered to not be very good but I like him as a flexible low cost objective sitter here. Him not getting pushed or thrown by attacks means he is often really good at safe guarding the rear secure and he brings control with Hahaha that tickles and, importantly he has a terrain throw to make him participate in Mags leadership. It’s his flexibility that lets me choose him over someone like Wong for this roster.

You could make a good argument for Quicksilver in that spot if you want to lean more to Mystique as your main leader. I love Gambit but I don’t think he really shines with either leadership sadly.

Emma, OG Sabertooth and Colossus are all OK characters but don’t work too well in the roster we’ve build here. Neither does Wanda who sadly has a hard time ever making rosters for me even when she is affiliated. She has a great kit aside from action economy and this roster has no real means to fix that.

So that leaves us with one character slot for a splash character. We could basically go to every threat level having 1x 6, 1x 5, 3x 4, 3x 3 and 1x 2 so far. As Mystique likes to go wide more often than not I think another 3 threat could be a good choice. And frankly theres a lot of them.

There would be a lot of decent options here and it basically comes down to whether you want the chosen character to be better at attrition or scenario. Valkyrie would probably be a good fit for the latter as she is a good attrition character that also brings a throw for triggering the Mags leadership. Beast would be a thematic choice that’s very fast, brings a throw and decent attacks. And finally Lizard is a character you can put in basically every roster you build and always expect him to do something useful. He also has healing factor which has double synergy in this roster due to Forced extraction and being a second potential target for X-Ceptional healing making that card even more appealing (which we’ll come to in a bit).

So as much as I would’ve liked to stay pure mutants here, I have to give the edge to my favourite miniature in this game (with Hulkbuster being a very close second), Lizard.

Let’s move on to crisis cards.

My idea for this roster is that if we get priority we play our secures which we will be focusing on the middle of board fights to make the most of Magneto and Sinisters beam. And if we loose prio or play a team we think we can better outscore than outkill we go with our Extracts which we will focus on Mystique wide team.

That had me come up with this combination;

And last but not least we look at tactics cards starting with the character specific cards this time. I feel that we have enough characters in here we would be willing to damage so we keep Forced Extraction in the roster. Cloning banks which is Sinisters other card we leave at home.

Deception (R)

By many people argued to be the single strongest tactics card in the game and rightfully restricted nowadays. There has been the argument that it should have been Brotherhood affiliated; be during Mystiques activation; cost her power or any combination of that. And while I agree with it I don’t think it’s going to come. And for purely marketing reasons. The Brotherhood affiliation pack isn’t out too long (less than a year at time of writing) and AMG is really serious about not invalidating physical cards people bought unless they really need to. And just restricting the card did accomplish just that.

Sorry for the side track 🙂

Magnetic Refraction

Probably as stapled to Mags as Deception to Mystique. Cover is a real big help for your survivability as any X-Men Gold player will be able to confirm. And here it is unconditional cover for everyone in range 3 around Magneto. Combine that with the narrow setups we want to play him on and the list of already tanky characters and it should be rather hard to remove our squad from the board once we have this online.

Do You Know Who I Am?

You would always pay 3 power for a size 4 terrain or character throw. Throwing it L is amazing but what can really catch people off guard is, you don’t have to use the card in Juggs activation. Being an active card means it has to be your turn but you can use it during any of your characters activation. It’s probably strongest when you can manage to use it during Mystiques turn as that turns off any defensive superpowers and tactics cards your opponent could have used to save his model.


Not as much of an auto take with Pyro as people thought when it was first revealed but not at all because it’s bad. Pyro is just already really good without it. To our roster it brings the important extract steal which is very useful in both game plans.

Next we look at affiliated cards:

It is similar to the often taken global card “Recalibration Matrix”. It is 1 power cheaper and allows your character to reroll Failures (Skulls) but it doesn’t reroll the opponents dice. Recal is often used to try and negate an opponents spike into you which Books here can’t do. As we are already relatively tanky we go with Books here to help our own output. (Choosing Recal instead would also be totally viable though)

A rather expensive card but teleporting a model to where it needs to be can win the game. Also important: it doesn’t need to be either of the two models activation.

Now we can look at which second restricted card we want to use. And while boring I think Brace wins out once again. You could make the arguement for Sacrifice too I think.

And finally unaffiliated non character specific cards.

We’ve mentioned it before and since we bring Apex and Lizard it’s absolutely making the 10:

That leaves one slot which we can kind of fill to our liking. Fall back, Recal, Escort to Safety or Mission Objective are all generally useful cards that never hurt to have in your 10. We go with Mission Objective here for our Mystique plan.

And that is a full roster:

Characters (10)
Mister Sinister (4)

  • Magneto (6)
  • Mystique (3)
    Juggernaut (5)
    Pyro (3)
    Rogue (4)
    The Blob (3)
    Toad (2)
    Sabretooth, Apex Predator (4)
    Lizard (3)

Team Tactics (10)
Asteroid M
Brace for Impact (R)
Deception (R)
Do You Know Who I Am?
Magnetic Refraction
The Books of Truth
Mission Objective
X-Ceptional Healing
Forced Extraction

Secure Crisis
Gamma Wave Sweeps Across Midwest (E, 15)
Mayor Fisk Vows To Find Missing Witnesses (H, 16)
Demons Downtown! Has Our Comeuppance Come Due? (E, 19)

Extract Crisis
Mutant Extremists Target U.S. Senators! (L, 19)
Skrulls Infiltrate World Leadership (J, 20)
Struggle For The Cube Continues (F, 17)

Next time we’ll cover the topic of “according for the meta” with deeper thoughts on extract steal, midline grabs and dealing with the big boys. And go deeper into the pros and cons of dual leaders and dual affiliations after that. (Maybe with a little insert in between, we’ll see)

See you then and cheers from Germany 🍻

All cards here came from the great Jarvis Protocol app.

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