Centre of Gravity Analysis

There are members of the Strike Better team that have military experience, which includes training in critical analysis and problem-solving techniques. Some of these techniques translate well to problem solving in tabletop games such as Marvel Crisis Protocol. This short blog series aims to provide players of Marvel Crisis Protocol with some alternative analytical methods–adapted from military planning processes–to improve their game. 

This first article seeks to help players identify the key capability of their roster, as well as that of their opponents. By doing this, players can understand what gives their roster, and their opponents roster, its strength or its source of leverage. Once you can identify what this source of strength is, you can better understand how to defeat it. This technique is known as centre of gravity (COG) analysis.

There are many definitions of a COG, but to make the meaning more relevant to the game of MCP, we have developed the following definition: A COG is the primary entity of a roster that possesses the inherent capability to achieve victory. The COG can be a characteristic of a roster, such as the ability to control an opponent’s list. However, more often than not, the COG is a capability, such as a specific character or leadership bonus. It is the primary “doer” in a squad. By deriving your opponent’s COG, you can then figure out how to undermine it, and by identifying your own, you can then work out how to protect it.

There are six steps to follow to determine the COG of a roster. To help visualise this process, let’s use Morgan Reid’s’ devastating TTS season 3 Black Order Roster:

Characters:
Thanos, Mind Gem, Corvus Glaive, Reality Gem, Proxima Midnight, MODOK, Kingpin, Valkyrie, Okoye and Wong

Tactics:
Advanced R&D, All You’ve Got, Blood to Spare, Climbing Gear, Execute, Field Dressing*, Medpack*, Mothership

Crisis:
Secures: Mayor Fisk Vows To Find Missing Witnesses (16), Riots Spark Over Extremis 3.0 (17), Demons Downtown! Has our Comeuppance come due? (19).

Extracts: Mystic Wakanda Herbs: Fact or Fiction (15), Skrulls Infiltrate World Leadership (17), Alien Ship Crashes in Downtown! (20).

Step One: Identify the roster’s desired method of victory. For Morgan, his roster seeks to win by attrition–KO’ing as many of his opponents’ characters as possible. Now that we now how the roster aims to win, we can move to step two.

Step Two: Identify the ways the roster can achieve this method of victory, and select the one that is most likely to work. The ways are actions that are expressed as verbs, which will achieve the desired method of victory. These are known as critical capabilities. Morgan’s roster has the following critical capabilities:

1. Moving out of activation
2. Attacking out of activation
3. Increasing the likelihood of dice success
4. Manipulation of priority
5. Reducing incoming damage

Step Three: List the means needed to enable and execute these critical capabilities. The Black Order has some of the following means:

1. Tactics Cards:
a. Mothership
b. Blood to Spare
c. Execute
d. Climbing Gear
e. All You’ve Got

2. Corvus Glaive with Reality Gem (Glaive’s Edge and Husband of Proxima)

3. Proxima Midnight (Wife of Corvus, enabling back-to-back activations)

4. Slow Crisis
a. Herbs
b. Skrulls
c. Alien Ship
d. Demons Downtown!

5. Thanos
a. Mind Gem
b. Leadership ability
c. Death’s Decree
d. Cosmic Portal

Step Four: Select from this list of means the entity (the primary “doer” in the list) that has the innate way to achieve the desired method of victory. This selection is the COG! For Morgan’s list, the COG is Corvus Glaive. Corvus has the innate way to achieve Morgan’s method of victory. Corvus himself can do all the listed critical capabilities from step one. He is the lynchpin to Morgan’s list. Therefore, Corvus must be stopped!

Step Five: From the remaining items on the above list, select the ones critical for the execution of the critical capabilities. These become critical requirements. The Black Order has the following critical requirements:

1. Mothership
2. Blood to Spare
3. Proxima Midnight (wife of Corvus Glaive)
4. Thanos (Mind Gem, Death’s Decree, Cosmic Portal)

Step Six: The final step looks to identify what critical requirements in Morgan’s list are vulnerable to your roster. These elements are essential for the COG to achieve its desired method of victory. For example:

Thanos with Mind Gem reduces the model count in Black Order teams, making Corvus and the squad vulnerable to rosters with larger model counts.

Mothership is crucial to out of activation movement for Corvus in Black Order, therefore forcing D shaped crises can make him and affiliated characters vulnerable to isolation on the board.

Blood to spare can make dazing Corvus a dangerous endeavour, therefore Corvus is vulnerable to being dazed at ranges beyond R3, as the tactics card becomes irrelevant.

Moving/slowing Proxima can also deny the ability to be within R4 of Corvus to manipulate priority, again, making her ability to help Corvus manipulate priority irrelevant.

Figuring out where the requirements are vulnerable is key to finding your way to defeating the opponent’s list. Just remember, sometimes there is nothing you can do to some of these critical requirements, so just focus on the ones you can influence!

The six-step process is an effective and methodical way of analysing rosters. You can see that by following this process, you can really get to the heart of a list and figure out its strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, in MCP, removing the COG from the board will be a great way to gain an advantage. But. if you can’t remove the COG from the board, then look to target the roster where it is vulnerable. Doing COG analysis with your own roster allows you to see your vulnerabilities and figure out ways to protect them from your opponent.

Alternatively, it may provide you with possibilities on roster changes to reduce the number of weaknesses you have. If you find it too hard to do, at least you have analysed rosters in a way you may not have before and found some areas to strengthen for yourself, or avoid from your opponent!

Whilst the six-step method is effective for analysing your own roster, as well as your opponent’s ahead of time, (like in the TTS league) it can be time consuming. An alternate method for when you are time-poor, such as in a one-day tournament, is the Godzilla method.

First, figure out what the desired method of victory is for your opponent’s roster. For Morgan’s Black Order—Attrition. Once you’ve done this, list the strengths the roster has to achieve this method of victory. For example:

1. Corvus with Reality Gem
2. Proxima Midnight
3. Thanos with Mind Gem
4. Mothership
5. Slow Extract Crises
6. Blood to Spare

Next, remove these strengths and examine the roster again, one at a time. The Godzilla method states that one of these strengths is the COG. To figure out which one, after you remove a strength, ask the question: can the desired method of victory still be achieved without this strength? If the answer is yes, then the strength isn’t the COG. If the answer is no—boom!—You have found the COG. 

Hopefully, the above analytical tools will help you in your roster creation and in analysing your next opponent. Understanding yourself and your opponent is not only essential to defeat an adversary on the battlefield, but it is also critical in a tabletop game like Marvel: Crisis Protocol!

The above methods for finding a COG are adaptations from methods by well-known military theorists and not inventions of the author. For more information on COG analysis methods explained in this article, and its application to military contexts (including the six-step Eikmeier method or James P Butler’s Godzilla method) checkout this article.

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