SG Protocol: how to build a roster part 5, Accounting for the meta

Welcome back to SG Protocol, where we continue our roster building series with the topic of according for the meta today.

What even is the “meta”. Luckily it doesn’t have anything to do with Mark Zuckerberg 😉

What we call the meta is basically the sum of players and rosters you encounter. Be that at your local store / club, a particular event or TTS. So metas can differ based on where you play. Thanos might be very popular and often played in your area while you don’t encounter him once in a TTS event for example. Predicting the meta is especially difficult because basically all events only lock the lists a couple of hours before they start or not at all like in the main TTS league.

That said there are three things you can always try to include in your roster unless your game plan would be actively hindered by them.

  1. Safe grabs

What is meant by safe grab is having a character that can move to the center line of the table, pick up an extract and retreat back to relative safety. Core argument here is, that you can’t just stand on the center line and expect to live. This will often but not always be true. Here are some ways you can include a safe grab in your roster with varying levels of safety and commitment.

The cheapest and easiest safe grab is Toad:

Toad can interact from range 2 so he can stay further from the midline than other characters after spending two movement actions. His slippery power also let’s him retreat further to safety if he gets damaged. So while being the cheapest it’s also the least safe.

Only costing a character slot as well but this time coming at a hefty 5 threat cost are Amazing Spider-Man (ASM) and Angela.

These two are the only characters so far with L movement on medium bases (50mm) which means if they deploy directly opposite a midline objective they can move, pick up the extract, and move again.

Next we have a play you can use with a couple of characters which uses the tactics card Eyes on the Prize:

It makes one of your characters Toad for an activation basically. New Baron Helmut Zemos leadership lets you use it on any character (the leadership refunds 1 power after paying for a tactics card) or you can use it with someone who generates 2 or more power natively like any Asgardian (or Asgard adjacent character), Iron Fist, Ancient One or Supreme Strange.

The best users of the card however are characters with multiple power per power phase on a medium (or large) base with M movement. Those are for example Beta Ray Bill and Supreme Strange, who are the two most popular users for this strategy as they can also fly. That’s because those characters can play Eyes, move once, pick up the extract and move again if deployed right opposite of the objective. (There are some more characters to do that with like Ulik, She-Hulk, Hela and Red Skull Master of Hydra though he has to damage himself to do it. Malekith and Hulkbuster could also do this but that’s quite the investment).

These are the common ones but there are some team specific ones:

Both Hulks under Steve 1 can Gamma leap for 2 and have a power left to pick up the extract to get it and retreat.

Also Wakanda can help Ancient One and Viper to get safe grabs with a very special turn 1 play. It needs the Tactics Cards Advanced RnD as well as Spirit of Wakanda.

Ancient One activates first and as she has 2 power natively she plays Advanced RnD and gives a power to any Wakandan character (my favourite targets here are M’Baku and Okoye). That character then plays Spirit of Wakanda. Assuming you deployed your models within 2 of the Spirit playing character Ancient One spent 1 but gained 2 power having her on a sum total of 3. Now she can walk, spent 2 for her placement superpower, pick up the extract and retreat to safety again. Viper can potentially do almost the same as she has she same place as AO but she doesn’t build two power natively so she can’t be the character playing Advanced RnD for it to work. Meaning she can’t be your first activation giving your opponent the option of grabbing the extract you want to get with her before you.

There might be more faction specific ways to do it but those are the ones I know of.

So let’s move on to

2. Extract steals

Once again it has something to do with extract objective tokens. Steals have been in the game since Miles Morales was first released but the number and importance of them has increased heavily in recent times.

With steals we have different versions which can broadly be placed in three different categories:

Spender attacks, superpowers and Team Tactics cards.

Miles falls in category a):

Miles’ Venom blast has the target drop all objective tokens it is holding. Spider-Woman has a similar spender that does the same thing.

Superpowers we have to further categorise into b1)

Superpowers that make opponents drop objective tokens like the spenders. An example of that can be found on the Original Human Torch:

Be careful though as it is Assets only so no dropping of Skrulls or Senators.

b2) are superpowers that not only make the enemy drop the token(s) but also automatically pick them up for themselves. Most infamously Black Cat:

Enchantress can do the same thing but isn’t as fast nor can she place herself to get more distance between her and the bestolen character:

For Enchantress being able to steal is a nice to have feature that will honestly very seldom ever come up. For Black Cat it may be good enough a reason to include her in your roster.

Having a steal that also prevents the model that lost the extract to contest or interact with secure tokens? Sounds pretty good right? It’s the main reason why Doctor Voodoo is considered one of the best characters of his threat level: Update: the secure part was taken away in the 2023 character updates.

c) is with a tactics card. The two most commonly used at the moment are the fantastic This is a Robbery:

And Pyrotechnics

Now why do you want to include an extract steal in your roster? It helps you swing VP parity in your favour often by not only denying your opponent VPs but in the best case score them for yourself instead.

Are steals only good for scenario focussed teams? No. Having a steal in an attrition focused roster can be really valuable too, as a way to stop your opponent to outscore you before you’ve taken their models off the board. Of course there you have to way up if having the steal outweighs giving up a bit of attrition opportunity cost. Which will be a case by case decision and just needs practice.

Now we come to our last point for today:

3. Dealing with high threat models

From Malekith over Hulk, Immortal Hulk to new hotness Cosmic Ghost Rider. Many list will include some big nasty high threat model. Dealing with those without having a plan can feel really overwhelming. And while we can’t cover how to play against each high threat model in every situation the one thing you should always try to do in some way or another is to have them bad activations. Playing a high threat model means it is an investment that has to pay off. Here we want to find ways to hinder that. A fantastic way is to Stagger them:

So characters with Stagger triggers or even automatic Stagger (like Black Cat ☝️) are great here. Even better (and much less common) is giving them an activated token which characters like Ulik and Doctor Strange can with a bunch of dice results on their spender attacks or Iron Fist whose is automatic (but costs a whole lot of power accordingly):

Danny’s The Iron Fist also hints at a great combination: Stagger plus displacement. Having the big guy (or gal) spend one action to shake the Stagger and then having to walk back hurts a whole lot. It also shows where we go if we can’t get a reliable source of Stagger into our roster:

Displacement. Having size 4 (or unrestricted) character throws or pushes is extremely helpful. Throws you can even use to use your opponents big center piece model as a bowling ball to throw it into their other models. And both pushes and throws help you get a “pseudo- Stagger” as they will have to reposition.

Beta Ray Bill is a fantastic value model with a size 4 character throw:

Another way to make a high threat models turn worse is to tax their superpowers. There are two ways to do this. First the root special condition:

Some characters can hand that out but most prominently Pyro:

Firewall not only hands out Root but also Slow continuing our theme of making the opponents turn less efficient.

Similar to Root is the innate Superpower to Loki “God of Mischief”:

Loki’s biggest weakness is his very average defensive stat line and his below average health pool for a 4 threat character. What helps is that you can use “I am a God” on defense rolls and that “God of Mischief” gets even worse for your opponent on Loki’s flipside. So maybe that means they will avoid dazing him, or spent more resources than they should in taking Loki fully of the board. Either way is a win for you. If you feel the disruption is worth the 4 threat cost of Loki will once again be a case by case decision.

The best counter to Loki are characters that deny the use of any enemy reactive superpowers or tactics cards during their activation like Emma Frost and most popular Mystique:

Though it still can’t deny the “Aura” of God of Mischief.

Shapeshifter and similar abilities can also help deal with a big target. Hydra can basically give it to an unaffiliated character with the Sleeper Agent tactics card:

A popular user for the card is Beta Ray Bill for his size 4 throw that the opponent now can’t do anything against.

Another popular user of Sleeper Agent and the lead in to our last point for today is Hulk:

The idea here is a classic fight fire with fire, or if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, tactic in that to deal with opponents “big bads” you just bring in your own one. Not everyone will like this plan (I’m not too big a fan of it myself) but it’s always worth to try different things. Being the high threat models controller also helps you to understand what can be best done against them.

And that’s it for today.

Thanks to Darkhaine, the creator behind Jarvis Protocol where all the cards here are from.

Next time we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of dual leaders and dual affiliations in your roster.

See you then and cheers from Germany 🍻

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