Mitigating MODOK – A Strike Better approach

Dealing with MODOK is difficult.

A well-played MODOK is a problem character and when playing competitively, I think every Roster needs to build in their version(s) of MODOK mitigators that can be made available at every threat level. If you go into a game against a well-played MODOK without a mitigation plan, then you are in for a bad day.

At time of writing (post Drop Off ban and before X-Men release), I don’t think MODOK has any direct ‘counters’ and in my opinion, he has been the strongest character in MCP since launch due to his ability to excel in most aspects of the game. MODOK can attack, defend, control and survive better than most other characters and he does all of those things in one package.

There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers here but I started writing this with a view to help newer players after Grant Wakefield asked me to provide some feedback on how I approach fighting MODOK for his new blog ‘Around the Meta’. Worth a read.

I’m happy to share what I’ve found to be somewhat effective when dealing with the big-headed monster and the way I look at it, players have a few of options to mitigate MODOK: strategic, tactical and employment of specific characters.

I’ll break down my thoughts on each so you can assess for yourself and see if an approach might work for you.

Strategic

This happens pre-game in your own Roster construction and analysing the opposing Roster before dice are rolled. I’ll split strategic between Roster construction and opposing Roster analysis.

Roster construction
Crisis selection is important in Roster construction as this is your first chance to build in some MODOK mitigation, so I recommend you select your Crisis with big George in mind. MODOKs influence is generally at its weakest on D shaped Secures, so I generally include a D Secure in my Roster. If I see an opposing Roster with MODOK as the centrepiece, I might try and force that D to weaken his influence on the game.

B shaped Secures are another option but far less effective than D. The subtle benefit of B is that MODOK will generally have to pick one side of the B and will remain there for the game. You can use this information to move vulnerable pieces away from MODOKs side of the B secure and potentially put your MODOK mitigating characters on the same side as him.

Taking one D (or to a lesser extent, a B shape) is not a reliable plan due to priority rolls and random discard of a Secure, but it is a strategic choice you can make as a player that can pay dividends. Multiple D shapes in your Roster could be a strong option if it also suits your affiliation and game plan.

Character selection is the key part of Roster construction, but I will discuss specific characters that have some reasonable MODOK game later in the article . Tactics cards are another tool you can put in your kitbag that help mitigate MODOK and whilst I won’t detail specific cards (as there are many!), the principles of this article will allow players to review their available cards and see if any have the anti-MODOK tech they are after. Keep an eye out for cards that can displace, reduce damage, inflict damage or inflicting conditions etc.

Opposing Roster analysis
MODOK is expensive at 5 points and you can sometimes use this information against him. When doing your pre-game opposing Roster analysis it is worth trying to figure out if MODOK can fit in at every available threat level and keep affiliation. You may find that the opposing Roster simply cannot take MODOK at a certain threat level and have an affiliation/leadership bonus. If you can identify this, you can try and target that threat level if you have won priority.

Tactical

This happens in-game where you are making specific decisions and employing specific actions or Superpowers that seek to mitigate MODOKs influence on the outcome. This section can easily overlap with specific character selections, so I will keep it broad.

As a player you can assess the shape of the secure Crisis, the location of MODOK vs your own characters and make assessments of how you can best reduce his influence whilst still advancing your VPs towards hitting 16 first.

Tactical decisions you might make are choosing to use Attacks, Superpowers or Tactics Cards that don’t seek to damage MODOK (and subsequently give him Power) but aim to control him though displacement or Special Conditions. You may also choose a less subtle approach and have a crack at the heavyweight title by going toe-to-toe with the big-headed monster and seek to win the war of attrition. May the force be with you.

Displacement
Displacing MODOK through Push and/or Throws is generally very effective as more often than not, you can Push/Throw MODOK out of his Attack range (Range 4) or ‘Bow’ range (Range 3). This forces MODOK, if not accompanied by his best mate Red Skull (or similar), to use one of his actions to move back into range for Attack/Superpower abilities. Instead of being attacked twice (or 4 times..) by MODOK, you have halved his number of attacks and likely also reduced his Power generation. Winning.

Special Conditions
Special Conditions are another way to mitigate MODOK as a Stagger, Stun, Shock, Hex, Root and/or Judgement can significantly reduce his influence on the game. As a player you can look to your own characters that inflict Conditions on MODOK, and you may make a tactical decision to not use a potential high damage attack in favour of a Superpower (or attack) that inflicts a deliberating condition on MODOK instead.

Attrition
Last but not least in the tactical actions is the path of attrition. Sometimes you might decide that your best bet is to simply throw all the attack dice you have into him and hope you come out ahead when the dust settles. The path of attrition into MODOK is a common choice I see from newer players and whilst it can be effective, it usually isn’t. Attrition into MODOK will work sometimes but MODOK generally has more dice modifications than you, a higher health pool and excellent defensive tech with his infuriating ‘Psionic Force Field’ that will turn all your hard-won Wilds into Blanks. Sadness.

Having said the above, there are some characters that can match up pretty well into him and will be discussed below.

Mitigation characters

This is likely the easiest place to start for newer players when considering how to best mitigate MODOKs dominance in-game. My good friend and regular opponent since game release has been running MODOK into me almost every game we play, and I learnt quite quickly which characters melt to MODOK and which characters can stand up to the big bully and offer some resistance.

This is not an exhaustive list and there are other characters I have not listed that can be effective as well, but the below forms the core of MODOK mitigation characters I consider when constructing a competitive Roster (high to low threat order):

– Thanos with Mind Gem
– Magneto
– Dr Strange
– Thor
– Corvus with Reality Gem
– Loki
– Shuri

Whilst seasoned players will intuitively understand why each of the above have reasonable anti-MODOK tech, I’ll briefly identify why I reach for these characters when I’m seeking to reduce MODOKs influence.

Thanos with Mind Gem. Thanos is quite a good MODOK mitigator as he brings 4 Mystic Defence and -1 damage built in. This is not his primary reason for being good anti-MODOK tech though, but it does allow him to survive long enough to control the menace. When Thanos takes the Mind Gem he will generate 2 Power per turn and can displace MODOK twice with a ‘Mind Gem’ short move followed by a ‘Cosmic Portal’ Range 2 placement. This single (or double) displacement of MODOK can significantly reduce MODOKs ability to attack but does not stop MODOKs ability to displace your characters (with Bow) and score Secure/Extracts etc. It is worth noting that Thanos+Mind comes in a 7 threat to MODOKs 5 so the MODOK player might be happy for their 5-pointer to keep Thanos occupied for the game.

Magneto. Whilst Magneto is not released at the time of writing, there are many positive reports coming from players who are testing him on TTS into MODOK. Magneto’s ability to Throw multiple terrain pieces each turn can bypass MODOKs dice manipulation and take advantage of his poor Physical defence dice to enable a straight attrition game 1v1. Magneto also has a good base attack that offers automatic displacement at Range 3 or full rerolls at Range 2. Added to this, Magneto has excellent Mystic defence of 6 to defend against MODOKs base attack and can pay 2 Power to use this 6 dice defence against MODOKs Physical Doomsday Chair attack and any terrain that is thrown his way.

Strange. Strange has shaped up to be a strong 5 pointer in his own right and his ability to roll 6 Mystic Defence and re-roll his dice pool on a bad handful means he can be capable of holding his own 1v1. Relying on dice luck against MODOK (as one of the best dice fixers in the game) is not a approach I love but it’s workable, especially when Strange can usually stay in the fight with his ability to heal himself 3 Damage through ‘Oshtur’s Refuge’. Strange has nice MODOK control tech with his ability to displace him on damage with his base attack and will auto Stagger with his ‘Crimson Bands’ attack. Strange is a good point-for-point option into MODOK but players need to consider the pros and cons of priority in this fight. Strange in his own affiliation can also give MODOK Hex which is nice.

Thor. Thor generally gets a bad rep when considering his poor Mystic Defences against MODOK, but Thor’s strength in this fight is his ability to control MODOK. Thor can auto Shock MODOK with his ‘Hammer Throw’ and has a better than average chance of inflicting Stagger from his ‘For Asgard’ Superpower. I think one of Thor’s most underused abilities into MODOK though is his Throw to displace him. In many games I have had enough Power for Thor to ‘For Asgard’ into MODOK to Stagger with his first action, then follow it up with a ‘Strongest Avenger’ Throw to displace MODOK before Thor uses his second action to retreat to a safer location and claim a moral victory on positioning (and hopefully VP scoring) for the Round. Versatile.

Corvus with Reality Gem. Pre-Drop Off ban the combination of Corvus+Reality, Proxima, Rocket Boots and Drop Off was a hard counter, post ban Corvus is still good into MODOK if players can find a way to safely deliver him within Range 2 and having enough power to use ‘Glaive’s Edge’ attacks. Corvus’s access to the Reality Gem and -1 Damage offers some reasonable resilience to find his way to MODOK on his own but I don’t like his chances without support.

Loki. Loki has good anti-MODOK tech in his native 4 Mystic Defence, ability to count blanks as successes thanks to ‘I am a God’ and his tax on MODOK Superpowers with ‘God of Mischief’. Often Loki can go 1v1 into MODOK and give him a close to even fight. Loki has access to ‘Trickster’ to potentially reduce amount of incoming MODOK attacks if dice are not going his way.

Shuri. Finally, everyone’s favourite low-cost pusher. Shuri is a great MODOK mitigator that can not only push the big head around the map with ‘Panther Gauntlets’ but she can support your squad with her ability to hand out re-rolls thanks to ‘Upgrades’. There is a certain ironic satisfaction when your 3 point Shuri continuously pushes the opposing 5 point MODOK away again and again, often inciting the MODOK players frustration with how unfair the little Wakandan’s rule set is. I think Shuri players might enjoy it because she can give MODOK a little taste of his own OP medicine. Karma.

Future characters. No doubt AMG will continue the rapid-fire character releases and we will see more MODOK mitigators added to this list as time goes on. As players review future characters, the thought processes and principles identified in this article can give a start point to figure out if more anti-MODOK tech has been made available and if they might be worth including in your Roster.

Summary

MODOK is a difficult character to face on the table and doubly-so if you don’t have some tools available to mitigate his influence. Whilst there are no correct answers and each player may find something that uniquely works for them, this article has sought to provide some basic ideas to consider along with some specific methods that can be employed through decisions made at the strategic, and tactical level as well as plain and simple employment of specific characters.

MODOK can be frustrating to play against and I hope this article will empower those who are struggling against him to find a path to victory and I’ll finish with a short summary below:

Strategic:

1. Crisis selection.
D shaped Secures

2. Threat value.
Identify if a threat level exists that MODOK cannot fit in and have squad affiliation/leadership bonus.

Tactical

1. Control.
Displace
Special Conditions

2. Attrition

Characters

– Thanos with Mind Gem (displacement)
– Magneto (1v1 and displacement)
– Strange (1v1 and displacement)
– Corvus with Reality Gem (1v1)
– Thor (conditions and displacement)
– Loki (1v1)
– Shuri (displacement)

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