Welcome back to SG Protocol where today I wanted to do a little comparison of the 5 threat ranged mystic attacker archetype of characters.
This came to me by accident somewhat as I realised that I’m kind of always drawn to these types of characters on paper and have collected all but Jean (I split the box of her and Cassandra with Brother B.).
The candidates for today are:
Cassandra Nova; Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme; Ebony Maw; Jean Grey ; M.O.D.O.K. and Scarlet Witch.
You could probably also put regular Doctor Strange on the list but he’s an energy attacker most of the time (which in more matchups than not is an advantage these days to be fair). Also Shadowking will join this list once he’s out. Possibly Xavier too but my guess is he’s gonna be 6 threat.
In general I just always love the concept of physically rather weak characters that wield this enormous power purely from the mind. But it also leads to them being high threat, high impact characters on the table that you can rarely fit multiple of in your roster.
Let’s look at them one by one starting with:
Cassandra brings a below average defense line and an OK health pool to the table and her 5 dice Range 4 builder isn’t great either. She evens that out with an incredible 1 power Spender at R3 that has automatic displacement no triggers or damage needed, the ability to negate any collision damage for 2 power, access to the very powerful root special condition, her traps, better stealth that can’t be ignored and finally a healing factor.
Cassandra’s biggest weakness might be her affiliation list: Cabal and Sentinels.
In RS1 Cabal I think she can be quite decent as she often wants to spend way more power than she has and going to a net 0 on Mind Possession is fantastic. She’s not that good at flat out killing models like Red Skull 2 or Ulik are so she usually won’t edge out either in Malekith. And under Skull 3 she can shine if you can trigger the leadership to damage her rather than taking a power off of her. Because you can heal the damage back with her healing factor. Leaving her on 0 power is scary though if any throws are out and about on your opponents side. And finally Sin…. is technically also a Cabal leader.
Sentinels to me very much feels like an unplayable faction at the moment. With only 3 affiliated models (two 5s and a 4 that you can take twice) and the leader already being a 5 it’s pretty hard to actually make functional squads. Her “efficient machines” tactics card is great though.
In terms of play pattern you’ll want Cassandra more in the thick of it rather than staying back and shooting. Mind Possession is really where her strength lies and you can use it to put people outside of Range 3 of you to profit from her super stealth again.
Automatic Displacement at Range 3 with good attack attached for 1 power.
Healing factor (which also means she can use the X-Ceptional healing team tactics card)
Small Base medium move (at least “flight”)
No extra power in the power phase
Short Affiliation list.
Supreme Strange has less total health and only range 3 on his builder. He makes up for that with a very powerful trio of innate superpowers which grant him two additional power per turn, a full reroll of all defense and attack dice including skulls and “reverse pierce” against Energy and Mystic attacks.
His scalpel of strange superpower is what really defines the character though. It brings the combination of giving yourself action economy and/ or displacement for opposing models.
If you can use it twice (or when you spike with your builder a bit even three times) in a Strange activation that’s feels fantastic.
Supreme Strange is also one of the very few candidates for the first turn central extract grab due to his medium base, medium move with fly and multiple power in the power phase.
Stranges affiliation list isn’t long either in only Convocation and Defenders. And Defenders isn’t really doing much for him. He can’t be in the same squad as his other self and being surrounded by enemy models in range 2 for Daredevils leadership isn’t where he wants to be in the slightest.
3 power per round
Full rerolls offensively and defensively
A bit of action economy with scalpel
Displacement with scalpel
Eyes on the prize central extract grab candidate
Range 5 attack
The range 5 attack costs a power (it is absolutely worth it but makes scalpel much harder)
No terrain throw
short affiliation list
Let me prefix this with yes I know Maw is a Gem bearer and the Space Gem is really good on him. We are purely looking at his gem less 5 threat version here today tough.
Maw brings a straight up better defensive stat line with the same health pool as Cassandra. Of course he doesn’t have her healing factor and super stealth. They share the two power reactive superpower to negate collision damage which would otherwise be very scary for both of them. The important difference is that Maw generates two additional power in the power phase and always has this online.
Instead of stealth Maws Defensive tech is that of Mysterio and Enchantress in your opponent having to spend two power for him to not use his mighty 6 Mystic defense against their attacks.
Offensively Ebony Maw is pretty much just brute force. His Range 4 6 dice Mystic gainer has a wild advance which can either pull characters in your danger zone or move them away to keep yourself save. His 8 dice spender doesn’t grant the defending model any power and has a wild throw (size 2 or less) on top of it. But probably the most exciting and most fitting part of Maws entire kit is his incredible terrain throw. It’s the best in the game without any competition. Not even Magneto can shug a building at you better then evil space Wizard dude here can. Because Maw pays only 3 for the same Range 3 size 4 L throw where Mags pays power equal to the size. Mags is more flexible of course and can do it multiple times (going to size +1 power for the next, size+2 power for the third and so on) of course and I’m not trying to say his throw is bad. I just want to amplify how good Maws throw is.
Maw is only affiliated in Black Order where he has fierce competition for a high threat roster and especially squad space.
3 power per round
Best terrain throw in the game
Can be focused down rather easily if your opponent has power to spare
only affiliated in Black Order so almost always a splash
Jean Grey has a shiny new card which now grants her two additional power per power phase turning her throw online at the start of the game. It’s only M here so she has to get a bit closer than Maw does. Matter transmutation is a cheaper but also much worse Scalpel of Strange. It does let you move allies or opponents but shorter, much more restrictive as it’s a push not a place and the character must have an activated token. This means Jean could never use it to get herself into position.
Shield mind is great if you happen to see any of our candidates here on the other side of the table.
By far and large the most interesting thing on Jean’s card is her spender. It’s costly at 5 power but is a guaranteed size 4 character throw (only S but from range 3) away with a wild trigger of AoE direct damage.
Jean is also affiliated in just a single place (Uncanny X-Men).
Great terrain throw
Multiple displacements or extra team movements possible
Shield mind can destroy an opponents game plan
3 power per power phase
Very good spender
No defensive tech
displacement/ team movement is very restrictive
Modok brings the weirdest stat card of today as fitting for what is basically a floating head on a hover chair. At first look his defensive stat line looks like it should be on a 2 and not a 5. But that is upset by the mighty 10 health on his front side, his ability to spend up to three power to reroll his attack or defense dice and most importantly turning all the attackers Wilds into blanks. Wilds usually carry the scariest triggers like throws, pushes or conditions like incinerate so turning them off is invaluable. Just be aware of characters with ways to count blanks as successes offensively like Corvus, Loki and Red Skull 2.
It’s just really sad times for Modok if he dazes because on his backside you should try to spend all his power as quickly as possible because he will not survive a round on his backside under normal circumstances.
Modok loves Hammers because 7 dice builders are nothing to sneeze at and he can grab a hammer without moving due to his 65mm base.
Mr. Tarleton brings a very good Range 3 size 3 L terrain throw for only 2 power as well as a 2 power advance an enemy S superpower. It’s called “Bow to the will of M.O.D.O.K.” and the reason we commonly refer to this kinds of superpowers/ effects as “Bows”.
Modok is in Cabal and Criminal Syndicate. He loves RS1s leadership and could be a good candidate with RS3 as he usually has lots of power. Both also have ways to move him which is his biggest weakness.
He could be decent under Malekith but has a very hard time outcompeting RS2 and Ulik. Sin… still has a leadership printed on her card.
In CS Modok can be great under Kingpin but you do spend 9 threat for two backboard anchors then. He’s not great for Klaw as he doesn’t die easily and can’t be used under Nudok as he’s the same character (though he would love the leadership…,). His favourite leader in CS is Shadowland Daredevil because it make the Mental Organism Only Designed for Killing better at doing what he was designed to do.
Brings his own rerolls
No additional power in the power phase
Injured side is very easy to KO
Wanda has the strongest builder of the bunch here because of her counting skulls as successes (for attack but also defense and dodge rolls). She also hands out a condition for each skull in the attack roll and the very powerful Hex and Incinerate are options.
She brings the same very good range 3 size 4 M terrain throw for 3 that Jean has and adds something that none of the other options here have in handing out the Judgement special condition for two power. Wanda is one of only two characters in the game that can hand out Judgement, the other being Ronan. It completely denies the model any power for damage from enemy attacks.
Wanda doesn’t generate additional power in the power phase like many of her piers here. She also doesn’t have any action economy or displacement.
What the Scarlet Witch has going for her is her laundry list of affiliated places. She is in A-Force, Avengers, Brotherhood of Mutants and Defenders. But to be honest she has fierce competition at 5 threat in all those places aside from the other mystic focus guys and gals here. A-Force has Angela and now Cosmic Carol who both outshine her in there in my opinion; Avengers have the freshly buffed up Cable as high damage ranged threat with a throw but much better action economy; Brotherhood has Juggernaut who of course plays a very different game from Wanda but Wanda is rather similar to Magneto and he has you mostly covered for the role. She also isn’t great under Mystique as she wants to double attack as often as possible instead of running around with an extract; Defenders has ASM, Strange and the former mentioned Supreme Strange. Bringing Wanda in Strange Defenders takes up 10 threat for two models attacking from Range 4 and Daredevils leadership works around being surrounded by enemies in range 2 which is exactly where Wanda never wants to be.
Great special conditions
No action economy
No additional power in the power phase
She feels very much like a homeless character despite her many affiliations.
But what she does bring is a fantastic team tactics card:
Less universally useful but also powerful in certain situations is her other card:
If Wanda is ever in the thick of things and also loaded with power this card can give your team a big boost or cripple the enemy team with the very good Hex, Root or Incinerate special conditions.
Ebony Maw brings with him the exact same card as Wanda’s No more Mutants in Shhh…
Jean and Cassandra have a card they can both use:
It’s rather hard to set up but an incredible effect basically giving Jean or Cassandra an additional attack for the round.
Supreme Strange doesn’t have any character specific cards but we have to talk about Modok:
He brings no less than four team tactics cards specific to him in the form of:
Giving an allied character an additional move action is well, quite good.
Cover is great and a Range 4 around Modoks 65mm base is a huge portion of the board. It can be a bit expensive though and Modok is rarely seen in the dead center of the board.
A great card if you can keep floaty boy on his healthy side where he is incredibly hard to kill. Really setting up for a late game push when you are just a bit behind.
Yeah my brain hurts too… Seems like a gimmick and is probably not something you would bring on a top table at a tournament but it can create an interesting puzzle for your opponent. The biggest negative of the card is the range 2 where you usually don’t want to be with Modok.
So with that all whose the best of the 6?
Luckily the answer as almost always in MCP is: it depends.
Affiliation, leadership, roster and game plan will of have a huge effect on where each of these can shine more or less.
Cassandra Nova: is essential to the “trap house” style of Spider-Foes
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme: is the core model in Convocation and can be a decent option if you’re looking for an Eyes on the Prize candidate.
Ebony Maw: probably best in Convocation where with the nature of the leadership you can almost always field him. And turning enemy physical attacks into mystic attacks is hilarious in the Books turns. Shhh… is also a card always worth bringing wherever you play Ebony Maw.
Jean Grey: I’ve yet to see her outside of X-Men but that might change now. She is great in X-Men though but faces strong competition for the 5 threat slot in Cable.
M.O.D.O.K.: Probably your pick if your team is either Cabal or CS. He also brings good support for any team with his team tactics cards. Great on E and D shape secures as he can pick the back extract without moving due to his 65mm base.
Scarlet Witch: Wanda is great if your game plan revolves around special conditions as she can hand them out like candy. She adores Baron Struckers Hydra leadership for that reason.
That’s it for today, see you next time and cheers from Germany 🍻
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