Welcome back to SG Protocol.
Today we’ll cover the topic of dual leaders and dual affiliations.
Let’s start with the easier one in dual (or more) leader rosters. Many affiliations nowadays have more than one leader, some as many as four. What they bring to the table is often a very different way to play a specific affiliation. For our example today we’ll take Criminal Syndicate, which has four different leaders.
Those are Kingpin:
Shadowland Daredevil (SLDD)
Modok, Scientist Supreme (Nudok)
All four are very different in style and could all be build around in their own unique way.
What they share is the same affiliated characters and tactics cards.
Pros and Cons of Multileader Single affiliation lists:
Having a second leader can be invaluable when the crisis combination makes your first choice of leaders game plan unplayable (or at least significantly worse). Kingpin is a great example here. Kingpins leadership is fantastic until your opponent wins priority and gets a “Pay to Flip (P2F)” secure. Which makes Kingpins leadership basically worthless. For those cases it can be great to be able to just go with a different leader instead.
It also puts mental pressure on your opponents squad building knowing you could go two wildly different routes with your squad.
Also one important thing to note is: you only choose your active leadership once both squads are deployed. So having two leaders on your squad can be really helpful in some cases, as long as they are decent enough without their leadership and in the other leaders gameplan.
Sam Wilson and Core 1 Steve Rogers are a good examples of leaders you see hitting the table together sometimes.
Both work decent under each others leadership and can play into the game plan just fine leaving you to choose the way to go after deployment. And even then you might have gone in knowing exactly what you would do no matter how deployment would play out but your opponent doesn’t.
Another thing you can do if you have multiple leaders in your squad is try the Versatile Strategy team tactics card:
It’s a cool card in concept but often quite difficult to play.
Going back to our Criminal Syndicate example from above you could start the game under Kingpin and then switch to Shadowlands Daredevil once more of your characters are getting injured and thus can’t make use of the leadership anymore. If you want to do this it is even more important that your secondary leader is participating in the original game plan and not be wasted threat.
Which leads us to the Cons.
Having two leaders will mean you’ll most likely have to make list building concessions. If your first choice leader has a build around leadership like we talked about in part 3 of the series you want your roster to be build around that and it’s often difficult to do that for two leaders at once.
Having a secondary leader means you have to have two different game plans (why the second leader at all otherwise?) And that can lead to problems in crisis selection which then might affect tactics cards and maybe character selection.
It also gives you a very big turn 0 decision that has a major impact on your game. Sometimes the answer will be easy like choosing your secondary CS leader when your usually Kingpin led team is put on P2Fs. The decision isn’t as obvious when you face Malekith for example. It could be better to try and outscore him with Kingpin or try and put him down with the weight of attacks Shadowland Daredevils leadership provides.
Multiaffiliation rosters share most of the pros and cons of the single affiliation Multileader rosters but have some unique challenges and chances to them.
The way you go about creating a dual affiliated roster is usually recognising that a bunch of your characters you choose from your picked affiliation A are also affiliated in B.
The example I’ll go for here are Defenders and Midnight Sons. Let’s just build a list with every member of the Midnight Sons (as of September 9th 2023).
Doctor Voodoo and Black Cat are the only characters on this list who aren’t also Defenders and with Doctor Strange we have the leader right there.
So we can just pick whoever we want as our 10th character and should be able to go Midnight Sons or Defenders at every threat level.
With those two affiliations it’s rather easy to do as they have so much overlap on characters and don’t need too many affiliated tactics cards.
You can also dual affiliate with just a couple of characters affiliated for both halves or even none. But it gets harder and harder to squeeze in the second affiliation the less characters you have that are also affiliated in there.
Some affiliation also come with a lot of good affiliated team tactics cards which makes it difficult to have a second affiliation and not be stuck with less than ideal cards if your main faction had already taken up 4 or 5 team tactics card slots. A good example here might be X-Men and X-Force. Both share a lot of characters with Sabertooth and Deadpool being the only X-Force members that aren’t also affiliated in the Uncanny X-Men. But X-Men want to bring at least two, often three of their affiliated tactics cards into the roster for sure and X-Force adds at least one more. Making picking the 5 for your squad less flexible.
X-Men also are a team that frankly wouldn’t ever really need to switch to the secondary affiliation in a competitive setting as they can handle all comers just fine themselves. If you yourself want to be able to switch between a scenario and an attrition play style though the combination can be very satisfying.
Nowadays as more and more Teams get a second (or third, or fourth) leader dual affiliating becomes less and less relevant. But some teams like A-Force kind of need a back up plan to function in competitive settings as there are match ups where their primary game plan just doesn’t work at all. (You should give a listen to the interview Vincent Churkov had with Kurtis O. On Vincents YouTube channel or the Alfredo’s Size 3 Taco Truck podcast if you’re interested in competitive A-Force)
The Emma joker
Hellfire Club and also Dark Dimension have a unique selling point as a Backup affiliation as they require no affiliated models at all. In theory Hellfire Club only costs you one character and one tactics cards slot and Dark Dimension only a character slot.
So with Dormammu when he is included in your squad it is Dark Dimension no matter what. But it can be hard to fit an 8 threat model in your squad for obvious math reasons and Dark Dimension kind of needs a specific kind of support modeles to actually work on the table. Which is why you very seldom see him as the backup plan.
Fitting in Emma and My Hellfire Club is often easier and the leadership is great and flexible so it can work with the core you have in your roster. If you want to have a very good Hellfire splash in your roster adding in Beta Ray Bill and Lizard is a good idea. Luckily both are great splashes in their own right.
You can also use the dual leader bluff explained above just a couple of steps before. You could have a possible second affiliation in your roster that you never actually plan on using but your opponent doesn’t need to know that. It would require a leader you are comfortable with just as a character. Red Skull, Master of Hydra is a good example. He will often be included in a Malekith Cabal roster alongside Baron Zemo. And with most of the other Hydra members also being in Cabal it’s pretty easy to have your opponent guessing about whether Malekith is going to be your leader or Red Skull.
The big con against dual affiliating is the opportunity cost of optimizing your main affiliation with better splashes for them as well as the mental load it takes to decide which leader to go with in a given matchup. It’s why I stepped away from CS/ Spider-Foes dual even though the overlap of characters is great. I felt I never chose Green Goblin over Kingpin but probably should have more often than not. So taking away the decision in roster building certainly helped me a lot.
So that’s it for today.
Thank you for reading and cheers from Germany 🍻
Stat and tactics cards pictures from Jarvis Protocol.