Welcome back to SG Protocol.
With the upcoming earth’s mightiest core set I’ve heard from a lot of people that they want to start getting into the game. Especially here in Germany the first release of a German version has a bigger impact than I would have thought.
So with hopefully a lot of new players coming into the game I thought it would be fun and helpful to give some guidance on what to buy to start out every affiliation in the game. We are just going to do this in alphabetical order.
We are going to assume that you did buy at least one of the core sets because I would always start with that no matter which affiliation you want to play. It gives you all the tools you need as well as a nice pool of characters to fill out your roster. To make it easier for us all here we are going to assume core 2 is the one everyone will start with and if it is helpful to have core 1 I will write it.
You start with She-Hulk (6, leader) as she’s your only leader. We have no current conformation but I’m going on a limb here and assume both Captain Marvel, Cosmic Avenger (Cosmic Carol, 5) and The Black Widow (Widow3, 4) are going to be affiliated. That makes a solid core but all are high threat models. I suggest picking up the Wakanda affiliation pack afterwards. Shuri is a decent affiliated 3 and Okoye is an almost mandatory affiliated 2 you bring to defend your rather fragile 6 threat leader. If you can find it cheap just buying their pack can be an option but both Killmonger (4, unaffiliated )and Black Panther (4, unaffiliated) are very good models to own for any future plans and the affiliation pack is comparatively cheap. BP also gives the option of an easy dual affiliation.
Another pack that comes with two affiliated characters is the Squirrel Girl (4) and Gwenpool (4) box. Personally I’m not super high on either but many people have had good success with them.
Boxes to consider are also:
Spider-Woman and Agent Venom. SW is an affiliated 4 threat L mover with stealth and a steal. AV is an unaffiliated 4 threat but likes the power he can get with A-Force a lot.
Core box 1/ Avengers affiliation pack. 2 threat Black Widow is awesome and 4 threat Captain Marvel has by far her best home in A-Force, where she can be fed the power to use her cool abilities.
Crystal (3) and Lockjaw (3, unaffiliated). Crystal is a Long moving character with flight. Personally I think using Special Delivery is a trap but if you want to go that route Crystal is one of the best characters to use it with. Lockjaw can be a good unaffiliated 3 pick to teleport your bruisers to the front line and hold the back point himself.
Angela and Enchantress. Angela is one of the two currently confirmed affiliated 5 threats and brings a central steal to the team. Enchantress (4, unaffiliated) is really cool but has a lot of competition for a spot here.
You absolutely start with the affiliation pack which includes your only leader in Thor (5) alongside the two 4 threats Loki and Hela as well as one of the affiliated 3s in Valkyrie.
Grab Beta Ray Bill (4) and Ulik (5, unaffiliated ) next. Ulik isn’t affiliated but plays well in Asgard if you have the room for two 5s while Bill will see the table in at least 90% of your Asgard games.
Skurge and Heimdall should be your 3. Box. I’m not super high on Heimdall sadly but both are affiliated 3s and Skurge firmly at the top of the 3 choices for me there. Having many expensive characters and often a locked in 9 threat core of Thor and Bill makes having some options at 3 very important.
The last box I’d get for Asgard are Enchantress (4) and Angela (5). Both are very cool characters but also very much specialist you take for a specific purpose.
And with that you have all affiliated models already.
In both core set versions you have a good affiliated core of 4 Avengers already. And even though they are the same alter egos of you want to focus on Avengers I would recommend getting the four of the other set as well.
I’m not a fan of his model and also think he unfairly dodged a nerf but you 100% want Hulk (6) to be in your Avengers roster.
You also want Sam Wilson (3, leader) in your life. He is just a fantastic affiliated 3 as leader or under either Steve. War Machine (3), who comes in his box, isn’t as universally useful but a decent role player for your tool box.
My next purchase would be Vision (4) and Winter Soldier (3, Rouge Agent). Vision is a fantastic affiliated 4 and Bucky, even after his recent nerfs is still a very good Rouge Agent 3.
After that you can really go in any direction you like.
Once again an easy start with an affiliation pack. It includes Corvus Glaive (4, TTC leader) who can be made your squad leader with a tactics card as well as Proxima Midnight (3), Ebony Maw (5/6) and Black Dwarf (4).
Chances are you want to play BO because you like Thanos (6-8) and he should definitely be your next purchase.
Supergiant (3) and Black Swan (4/5) aren’t really a must but fill out the affiliation so you might as well get them then.
Brotherhood of Mutants
Start with the affiliation pack. It comes with staples Magneto (6, leader), Mystique (3, leader) and Toad (2) and also includes a more niche but fine character in Sabertooth (4). And since Sabertooth, Magneto and Mystique are all also Cabal affiliated it bulks up your ranks of that affiliation significantly too. (Though playing Magneto under Red Skull feels very icky from a fluff perspective).
The next box you want is probably Juggernaut (5).
After him I would first pick up Pyro (3) and Blob (3) but Gambit (3) and Rouge (4) is pretty on par with it. Pyro and Rogue are your staple characters here with Gambit and Blob being more niche.
As he is really good now and affiliated in all three mutant teams Colossus (4) is also always worth a buy and I’m also very high on Magik (3, unaffiliated) though Brotherhood probably isn’t her best fit.
You have another option for a box with two affiliated models in Scarlet Witch (5) and Quicksilver (3). As much as I love Wanda I don’t think this box is your top priority. Quicksilver is great under Mystique but Wanda doesn’t like that play style at all and running her and Magneto becomes expensive very quickly. She also has a hard time being as effective as Juggernaut on the table in the affiliated 5 slot.
Probably more than any other affiliation maybe outside of Avengers this is really a pick what ever you like affiliation. The list of affiliated characters is almost as long as that of the Avengers but there sadly aren’t that many boxes with both characters in Cabal. If you are set on Cabal you’ll probably want to get Malekith (7, leader) at some point. He did get turned down quite a bit once again in the recent updates but remains an absolute force against wider teams.
One character you should absolutely try to grab if you “only” have the earth’s mightiest core set is 3 threat Baron Zemo. He remains one of the premier 3 threats in the game and will make basically all of your Cabal rosters. 4 threat Ultron is also pretty decent but the new 5 threat is probably more exciting to put on the table with his Grunts. Crossbones (3) and Red Skull (4) are more nice to haves then integral parts of Cabal at this point.
Sin (3, leader) and Viper (3) is a box with two Cabal affiliated characters but I wouldn’t recommend it here because neither has a particularly good home here. Sins leadership sadly is also better be forgotten. If you love either or both characters though fear not. They have a home somewhere else that fits them much better.
To start the Wizards you’ll have to grab Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme (5) and his wife Clea (3) as their box comes with many Convocation cards especially the Bar with no doors which is your leadership, that can be used by any Convocation member.
Next up I would get Baron Mordo (3) and Ancient One (4). Both are affiliated and also great here.
Picking up Doctor Voodoo (4) and Hood (3, unaffiliated) afterwards isn’t as much of an forgone conclusion as it was before the nerfs to Voodoo but he remains a great affiliated 4 threat while Hood has decent synergy with the leadership to at least be considered for a splash 3 spot.
You have to decide whether or not you also want to get Doctor Strange (5) and Wong (2) as you can only have one Stephen Vincent Strange in your squad (having both in your roster is fine though). Getting them is a good call if you want to dual affiliate with or start Defenders as well.
Colossus (4, unaffiliated ) and Magik, who is a great affiliated 3 threat here is also worth looking at. Colossus doesn’t have as much synergy here but helps to keep your rather fragile Wizards alive.
An affiliation that constantly keeps growing sometimes with rather surprising additions, too.
You also have 4 possible leaders who all want kind of different rosters.
I would start with getting both Kingpin (4, leader) and M.O.D.O.K, Scientist Supreme (“Nudok”, 4, leader) personally. Both are leaders but work well together as Nudok is decent under Kingpin and is great as your “emergency” leader when your Kingpin team is put on a pay to flip crisis.
Next purchase should probably be Rhino.
Criminals have this problem in often either coming in single boxes or only being one half of a box you’ll want.
Bullseye is great under all 4 leaders but comes with Daredevil who isn’t affiliated. DD is very good now so that’s maybe not as bad.
Obviously if you want to go the Shadowland Daredevil (4, leader) route you pick his box up first. He is paired with Elektra (4) and their shared Grunts. Elektra is also a Criminal but sharing Grunts is hard work on the table so that you might not want to run both at the same time.
Klaw (5, leader) comes in a pack with M’Baku (4) and both are affiliated but Klaw wants low threat chaff to make up his squads so he can trigger his leadership and M’Baku is rather tanky aside against energy attacks. Both are decent under Kingpin or Nudok though.
You start with Dormmamu (8) as he is your one as he is your one and only affiliated character. But when you include Dormmamu in any squad it automatically becomes Dark Dimension so who do you want to pair with him? Him costing 8 and his awesome tactics card Dark Restoration makes me want to suggest having a good selection of 3 and maybe 2 threats. Best ones who are great at spending power.
Earth’s mightiest core set doesn’t have the most 3 threats with only Crossbones, Merciless Merc and Spectacular Spider-Man qualifying but I would include both in your DD list if you started with that core set. If you have or can still grab Core box 1 then there are some more good options right out of the gate. I would absolutely include Iron-Man (3), Baron Zemo (3), Black Widow (2), Doctor Octopus (3) and maybe Crossbones (3).
For a box of two 3 threats or a 3 and a 2 I would first suggest X-23 and Honey Badger. Both have great ways to spend their power and thus benefit very nicely from Dormmamus leadership.
Baron Mordo (3) is thematically fitting and has very good synergy with Dormmamu, too. Ancient One (4) who comes with him in the box not as much sadly.
One of the biggest affiliations and thanks to the character updates now finally sporting two leaders. And right out of the gate you’ll have to make a big decision in who you want your first leader to be. If you want to go the classic Doctor Strange (5, leader) way you start with him and Wong (2). If you want Daredevil (4, leader) you pick him up first and get a good all-round unaffiliated 2 in Bullseye.
The next two boxes are probably the same for either leader. Luke Cage (3) and Iron Fist (3) are the very essence of Defenders and very good with both leaders.
And after that you’ll want a Hulk. Whether you go regular (6) or Immortal (7) is up to personal preference. If you plan to dual affiliate with Avengers classic is better and if you want to get into Midnight Sons Immortal is the way to go.
And then it really depends on who you want your leader to be. Daredevil likes bruisers and there are a lot of affiliated options in Wolverine (4), Valkyrie (3), Ancient One (4), or Blade (4) and Moon Knight (3) who are the other box with two Defenders in it. They also give you the Midnight Sons leader and two more affiliated characters so you can kind of build MS here on “accident”.
Doctor Strange’s leadership likes characters with Beams and Area attacks. So with the affiliated core of Strange, Wong, either Hulk, Iron Fist and Luke Cage (+ Spectacular Spider-Man if he is going to be affiliated like the other two Peter Parkers) you’ll probably want to look outside of affiliation for his roster.
Guardians of the Galaxy
You start with your leader Star-Lord (3, leader) who comes in a single box and the first addition are Rocket and Groot.
It’s up to personal taste if you go Gamora (4) and Nebula (2) or Drax (3) and Ronan (4/5) next. I would recommend getting both at some point.
Cosmic Ghostrider (6) is the new hotness but warps the game around him. He is very good but not necessary if you don’t want to bring him.
Agent Venom (4), who comes with Spider-Woman (4, unaffiliated), an always useful 4 threat, has his best home here.
You’ll also want to look at adding Beta Ray Bill (4) and, less importantly Angela (5) at some point. They come with Ulik (5, unaffiliated) and Enchantress (4, unaffiliated) respectively who can both bolster your Cabal Roster from the core set.
The other one model affiliation. So you have to grab Emma Frost(4, leader) and Psylocke (4) first. Since you can take any model in the game with Emmas leadership that would be enough with your core set minis.
But two stand out boxes I would always get for HFC are Beta Ray Bill (4) and Ulik (5) as well as Lizard (3) and Kraven (3). Emma, Bill and Lizard form the very core of most successful HFC squads. Ulik is a fantastic 5 in the Club, too and Kraven… is a very nice model to paint. He is a bit of a tax here to get super All-Star Lizard on your board. I’m not saying he is bad but HFC really isn’t where he shines. But giving the nature of Core 2 with so many 4s and only two 3s he gives you more squad building options.
Standout models out of your Core 2 for HFC are Invincible Iron Man and Crossbones, Merciless Merc. Emma likes tough models who can hold on to secures and/or hold extracts and having damage reduction is extra good in an affiliation that can heal.
I would start with getting Red Skull, Master of Hydra (5, leader) and the Baron Strucker (3, leader) and Arnim Zola (3) box.
This gives you all three Hydra leaders, a 5 threat, two 4 threats from the Core 2 set, and three 3 threats (assuming Red Skull, Master of the world and Crossbones, Merciless Merc are Hydra affiliated like their other versions are).
If you want to bring Sin (3) and Viper (3) on the table this is your best place. Both are decent but often undervalued 3s. Viper is an awesome objective runner and Sin is an absolute power generating machine.
A character you should absolutely be getting, just like with Cabal, is core 1 3 threat Baron Zemo. Crossbones (3) and Red Skull (4) are both affiliated and Crossbones can be decent if run together with Sin. Ultron (4, unaffiliated) can be a good user of the Baron Strucker leadership so grabbing a core 1 or the upcoming Cabal affiliation pack is not a bad idea.
In affiliation you also have Taskmaster (3), who comes with Punisher (3, unaffiliated), and M.O.D.O.K. Scientist Supreme (Nudok). Both are good models in general but not essential to playing Hydra. They also are the two of three who aren’t also affiliated with Cabal. Nudok is a Criminal Syndicate leader though and Crossbones, Sin and Taskmaster are also Criminals so starting them out of your Hydra models is easy. And Red Skull, Master of Hydra loves Nudoks leadership so he is a great splash there or the Hydra leader in a CS/Hydra dual affiliated list.
A staple Hydra character is Spider-Woman, who is a great affiliated 4 threat especially under Strucker but works well in Red Skull too. She comes with Agent Venom (4, unaffiliated) who also likes both leaderships a lot.
You start with your leader Black Bolt (5, leader ) who comes in a box with his wife and best in affiliation 4 Medusa.
Next purchase should be Crystal (3) and Lockjaw (3).
Miss Marvel (3) then comes in a single box and fulfills your actual Inhumans.
Having 5 affiliated characters would be enough for most lists and you can look at different splahes from here (I think Invincible Iron Man is particularly interesting from Core 2) or get 1-3 of Crystals husbands/boyfriends to fill out your affiliation list.
Ronan (4/5) is very good with his recently increased health. Drax (3, unaffiliated) who comes in his box isn’t seen as a splash very often but can be used as a power battery for your other characters with Black Bolts amazing leadership.
Quicksilver (3) is an awesome objective runner and with him, Crystal, Ms. Marvel and Lockjaw for teleports you can build an incredible fast team. Scarlet Witch as a splash 5 is very similar to Black Bolt though as a strong ranged attacker who lacks a bit of action economy, so I would see my self rarely ever putting both on the table. She could be decent if you want to dual affiliate with your core 2 box Avengers.
You’d have two options to get Beast (3): the better value X-Men affiliation pack or him and Mystique (3, unaffiliated). Beast is also fast so can play into an scenario style team nicely and unless you also want to start X-Men, getting him with Mystique would be the better call here as she is great at that style of play, too. But think strongly if you want to start X-Men and/or Brotherhood before making this purchase as both definitely want their affiliation packs and you’d end up with duplicates of Beast, Mystique or both.
You have to start with Blade (4, leader) and Moon Knight (3) getting your 4 threat leader and a very good affiliated 3.
Your next boxes should probably be Luke Cage (unaffiliated 3) and Iron Fist (3) as well as the Immortal Hulk (7).
After his nerfs Doctor Voodoo (4) isn’t as much of an auto take anymore but remains a valuable part of your core so getting him (in a box with Hood, unaffiliated 3) should be on your radar. The exact same is true for Black Cat (3) who comes in a box with Amazing Spider-Man (5).
Getting Doctor Strange and Wong brings in your affiliated 5 and 2 threat characters and fulfills the affiliation. And since Blade, Moon Knight, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Immortal Hulk, Wong and Strange himself are all Defenders you could play the roster with him as a leader too. Or get Daredevil and Bullseye as seen above in Defenders.
You have to get Sentinel Prime (5, leader) and the MK4 Sentinels (4).
The only other affiliated model is Cassandra Nova (5) and she is worth it here. She comes with Jean Grey (5, unaffiliated) who got a big boost in the character updates but bringing three 5 threats is not a realistic proposition and having only one Sentinel on the board at 15 threat is probably not why you picked them as your affiliation.
In all honesty Sentinels need to be dual affiliated to me because with only two 4s and two 5s making up their entire affiliation list the math just often doesn’t work out to build decent squads.
An affiliation now playable out of the Core set, but even when running Invincible Iron Man as your leader you’ll still want to pick up Nick Fury Jr. (4, leader) first as he comes with all the Shield tactics cards and especially his own (unaffiliated but much better in Shield) card Eye in the Sky.
Nick Fury Sr. (3) is a staple character you should absolutely get next.
Shield is also an affiliation that I would strongly recommend to get Core 1 / the Avengers affiliation pack to get Iron Man (3) and 2 threat Black Widow.
You’ll also want to grab Winter Soldier (3) and Vision (4, unaffiliated) at some point. Bucky got nerfed and isn’t an every game no brain piece like he used to be but remains very good and is a great user of both leaderships.
You could then think about getting Hawkeye (3) and … well… your third Natasha Romanoff in Black Widow, Agent of Shield (3).
An awesome box with two affiliated 4s is Spider-Woman and Agent Venom.
She-Hulk (6) probably isn’t worth buying for Shield if you aren’t looking to start A-Force, too.
The Original Human Torch (3) and Steve Rogers, Captain America (4) box brings you the best sculpts in Shield after SW and AV but both are really niche role players. Torch has good synergy with Invincible Iron Man with his A new Age tactics card though.
Taskmaster (3) is the last affiliated model and comes with Punisher (3, unaffiliated) who can play nicely into the wide gunline play style of the faction.
You have one leader in your core 2 box with Doc Ock, Sinister Scientist and you’ll want to wait to grab the upcoming SF affiliation pack which will include Green Goblin (4, leader), Doctor Octopus (3), Kraven the Hunter (3) and basically every game piece Lizard (3).
Next buy should be Rhino (4). Venom (4) is up to taste and I would probably buy him as part of the Web Warriors affiliation pack personally.
Mysterio (3) and Carnage (4) aren’t beginner friendly characters at all but especially Mysterio can be very good once you’ve figured him out. So I would absolutely get them at some point if you want to play Foes but wouldn’t put them at your top priority.
Kingpin (4) isn’t great as part of a Spider-Foes team sadly but since half of the Foes roster is also affiliated in Criminal Syndicate starting a CS list out of your Foes is very easy.
Rivaling Cabal and Avengers in affiliated models and expecting five more early next year X-Men have a lot of options but should always start with the affiliation pack. It comes with both currently available leaders in Storm (3, leader) and Cyclops (4, leader) as well as Beast (3) and Wolverine (4).
From there you have multiple worthwhile boxes to pick from and can really decide to taste.
I would strongly consider all of the following boxes in no particular order:
Rogue (4) and Gambit (3);
Colossus (4) and Magik (3);
Cable (5) and Domino (3);
X-23 (3) and Honey Badger (2);
Emma Frost (4) and Psylocke (4)
Not many affiliations have the luxury of having so many boxes where both characters are affiliated.
You’ll have to decide if you want to get Jean Grey (5) who comes in a box with unaffiliated 5 Cassandra Nova. And Jean and Cassandra for me aren’t different enough to warrant having both in the roster. Jean is very good now though so keep her on your radar but I wouldn’t make her the top priority.
Another easy to start affiliation because it has an affiliation pack including Black Panther (4, leader), Killmonger (4), Shuri (3) and Okoye (2).
I highly recommend picking up M’Baku (4, leader) and Klaw (unaffiliated 5). Storm is a much better Wakandan now since the update but I still wouldn’t get out of my way to get her if you aren’t interested in X-Men otherwise.
I would advocate for Winter Soldier (3, Rouge Agent) and Vision (4, unaffiliated). Since BP is an Avenger coming up with a dual affiliated roster is pretty easy.
I wouldn’t get the upcoming Warrior Falls until you are more practiced with Wakanda and can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to spend as much money on two models and a piece of terrain. The terrain looks awesome, and both King T’Challa (5, leader) and Killmonger, Usurper (4, leader) look very good and each have a leadership, but the terrain will only really work on the table if you also get the other Wakanda terrain. A giant floating waterfall in the middle of New York might look a bit weird.
You’ll have to bite the bullet here and start with the Weapon X rivals Panel. It comes with Logan, the Wolverine (4, TTC leader), Sabertooth, Apex Predator (4) and some Weapon X terrain. But most importantly it comes with all the affiliated tactics card including the leadership.
Next you’ll want to grab X-23 (3, TTC leader) and Honey Badger, as Laura can also be made your leader with the card.
Since it’s one of the few leadership only working for actually affiliated characters you’ll want to look through the rest of them and see which characters, especially those not in WX interest you the most as there isn’t another box with two affiliated models. Options are Deadpool (3) with Bob, Agent of Hydra (2, unaffiliated) or Domino (3) and Cable (5, unaffiliated).
You can either start with the affiliation pack including Miles Morales (3, leader), Ghost-Spider (3), Venom (4) and Peter Parker (4) or just get the Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Ghost-Spider box depending on whether or not you want Venom. 4 threat Peter is by far the worst of his three incarnations on the table threat for threat and also the most boring model. You already have Spectacular Spider-Man out of your core 2 set to put a Peter Parker on the table, which choosing Web Warriors as your first affiliation, might be something you could be interested in.
Next up I would pick up the box with two affiliated 4 threats in Spider-Woman, who is an absolute staple and WWs top 4 threat most of the time, and Agent Venom, who doesn’t play as nicely into the usual scenario based game plan of WW but is a good tool to have in your roster for more fighting focused crisis combinations.
Now you should probably pick up Amazing Spider-Man (5, leader) and Black Cat (3).
After those you can decide if you want to grab Daredevil (4, Defenders leader) who helps a more fighting focused play style but comes with non affiliated 2 threat Bullseye. Bullseye really isn’t a 2 you see used in WW basically ever as he is very much a damage character where WW want extract runners for their 2. Core 1 2 threat Black Widow is a decent choice here if you’ve got that on hand.
And lastly Moon Knight is another strong affiliated 3 and comes with unaffiliated 4 Blade.
If you grab both Daredevil and Moon Knight you’ve by accident collected a good start to a Defenders roster with DD, Moon Knight, Blade and all three versions of Peter Parker being part of that affiliation, too. (Assuming Spectacular SM will be a Defender too).
This is very easy.
You get Crimson Dynamo (4, leader) and Darkstar as well as Red Guardian (3) and Ursa Major (4). That’s already everyone and 3/4 are awesome characters on the board. Ursa Major doesn’t quite live up to many other 4s in the game sadly.
From here you can take the roster basically everywhere you want. I really like Taskmaster (3, Rouge Agent) here as he works well the leadership and him being a Rogue Agent helps a lot in squad building. Punisher (3, unaffiliated) who comes in his box sadly isn’t the best fit in Winter Guard.
You have to start with Cable (5, leader) and Domino (3). After them you’ll want to get X-23 (3) and Honey Badger (2) next.
If you aren’t planning on also collecting X-Men and/or Brotherhood some time in the future then the Wolverine (4) and Sabertooth (4) box will be worth it here. Otherwise it is better to just grab them in their affiliation packs.
Deadpool has received such a big glow up that he 100% has to be on your radar even though Bob, Agent of Hydra (2, unaffiliated) will probably not ever make your X-Force roster.
Psylocke (4) and Emma Frost (4, unaffiliated) is a box you should definitely think about as Psylocke is probably the best offensive 4 on the affiliation list and Emma Frost comes with the eas potential to play the roster as Hellfire Club should you decide that would be the better play in a given matchup.
And finally Colossus (4) and Magik (3, unaffiliated) is a box you should consider somewhere down the line a bit.
That’s everything for today folks. German players feel free to reach out for translations and definitely come join our German fan discord: https://discord.gg/jCbEdE2w
Thank you for reading and until next time, cheers from Germany 🍻