How to (Strike) Better Prepare for your Online Games

This month just saw the end of the fifth MCP online league. With the pandemic continuing to deny us the opportunity for in-person MCP competition, the popularity for the online platform is continuing to grow. With this growth in popularity, however, comes with more tough competition. Thanks to AMG, the ever-expanding character roster is being met with more competitive players, meaning gone are the days where you can fluke your way through the swiss. If you want to make the cut in the upcoming sixth season, you might need to better prepare yourself.

This aim of this article is to assist those players who want to improve their preperation for the weekly online games during the league. The Strike Better team have pulled together some of their strategies to help prepare you for facing your online opponent. Some of you MCP veterans out there might already do these techniques to ready yourself for game night. However, if you find yourself nervous before a game, not knowing where to start, and fumbling your way through the game set-up, then try some of these strategies before your next online game night.

Some of these strategies are time consuming, and not everyone can dedicate the time needed to prepare themselves for every scenario. If this is you, then target the areas you are less confident with. The main reason for preparing yourself is to reduce the decisions you need to make before your game even starts. Reducing your decisions during the game will make you calmer, minimise your mistakes, and allow you to focus on responding to the board state. For those who haven’t even got time to read all of this article, there is a cheat sheet at the bottom for reference during your preperation time (or lack thereof).

Review the Lists

This tip sounds simple but is crucial for your pre-game preperation. Reviewing your opponents list, as well as your own, provides you valuable information that could shape your entire game.

1. Determine your opponent’s strategy. Begin by asking yourself a few key questions. Are they looking at winning through attrition or control? What characters do they have in their list to help them achieve this? How can I stop them doing it? By studying thier list, you can find out a lot about your opponent and how they are likely to approach the game. If you would like a deep-dive on how to do this analysis thoroughly, then check out our article here on centre of gravity analysis.

2. Build the Squads. Whilst this next step becomes easier with more experience, building squads out of your opponents roster at the threat values that are possible (based on their crises cards and your own) will help you understand what you could face across the table. This helps in so many ways. It can prevent you becoming surprised when that hidden zone disappears, it allows you to focus your practice matches, and it prepares you to counter their obvious strengths. Please don’t forget to have your own roster’s pre-built at all the threat values in the game (14-20 at the time of this article) before the league starts. It was alarming during game set up in previous online leagues how many times people have said over discord, “hmm 16 threat, what can I play at this value?” Get rid of that doubt and gain some confidence by going in knowing the squad you will play as soon as the threat value is known.

3. Research previous lists. This step is obviously only available in later rounds, but is a critical step to help understand the opponent you are facing. Is there a specific character they always bring? Or, is there someone in their roster that has never seen the board? What results have they had using their roster? This last question can help with understanding your opponent’s strategy. Low scores, but winning in previous games could hint toward attrition squads. High scores in low round counts could see you facing a control list. The bottom line is – if the data is there, go through it!

Review the Map

Whilst recent TTS League rules have changed from known maps to random draws, there is still merit in dedicating time to reviewing the map before selecting crisis and threat. Analysing a map with the crises available, even if it will not be the map that is used on the day, can still provide you a lot of useful information. It also can help you understand the areas you need to focus on once the map is revealed prior to the start of your match. The TTS mod provides all the tools you need to help you get ready to set up your game, and even lets you visualise your first moves during round one.

1. Terrain. The first step is to review the terrain on the board once it is revealed. Find out all the sizes and where the terrain is positioned. See if the map favours a list that throws a lot of terrain, or lends itself to more flexible characters with wall crawler or flight. Perhaps the terrain restricts lists that focus on pushes or ones that rely on more open spaces for their large character models. All of these queries can be answered by taking a minute to analyse the map before the game begins. Often, the terrain is in the deployment zone, meaning you can’t easily stack your pieces where you would like, which limits your flexibility. The first button you should be heading for in the mod, which leads into our next step, is the rotate terrain button.


2. Flip it! Rotate that map, but please ensure you do this before Crisis tokens are placed (as that would be against the rules!). See where the terrain needs to be to favour your strategy, or reduce the effectiveness of your opponents. Remember, you get to determine the board state if you lose priority, so know what you want to do if you get in that position. Ask yourself, can I rotate the map so my opponent has trouble deploying his characters? Is there terrain that will limit his flexibility? Can I rotate the map so his pushes/throws etc aren’t as effective? Maybe you have brought Magneto and want that juicy size 4 terrain in range early, so find out how the board needs to be rotated to make that happen for you.

3. Place down the tokens. With the knowledge of your opponents roster prior to the match, you now know all the crises possibilities that could occur. You have the chance to visualise the map layout for each crises and place the tokens down before match day.


Don’t forget to do step 2 and flip the map to visualise the different token locations with a rotated map. Consider all the options where the crisis tokens could end up. Perhaps on a C map, the token could be on a building, or if it is a B only a character with wall crawler/flight can make it to the token from the deployment zone. Perhaps if you flip the map a certain way, a token becomes inaccessible without some sort of character displacement. Go into your match knowing these answers to prevent losing the game during turn zero.

4. Consider the Deployment. This step is trickier, as often you must respond to your opponents deployment to ensure you are matched up across the board appropriately. However, some maps such as the E shape restrict character movement to the middle, and stacking them up for a good ol’ fashion dice off is the only option. Regardless, considering your deployment is critical. There could be a rotation that prevents M.O.D.O.K from being central to the board, or where you cannot get Lockjaw within range 2 of another character. Alternatively, there may be a play that you want to have that could be unachievable because of the terrain. Your pre-game minute (or so of consideration) can allow you to go into your match knowing what turn 1 moves are possible from all 4 deployment zones.

Practice

1. Verse the likely squad. The best way to prepare for your match is to play practice games into the most likely squad with a friend. This allows you to see all the characters, triggers, and gotcha moments that are becoming more frequent in the recent releases. Consider discussing the most logical counters and moves with your friend to see if they could work on game day. Don’t be afraid to reset and go through crucial game actions again to see the results. And be a good practice buddy, do the same for them.

2. Play with your opponents squad. This can be a great way to see how the characters and triggers work with your opponents squad. Sometimes you can only see how a character combination or meta-style move can work if you experience it yourself. You never know, you might find that the squad suits your plays style better, and your knowledge base of the game itself can grow.

Research

1. Rules Forum. There are some rules combinations that are tricky to understand in MCP. Luckily for us, the AMG rules forum is a great place to go if you are unsure of a character or tactics card that you might see in your opponents list. Don’t assume your opponent understands it either, and go into your game knowing the rules of the squad you will face.

2. Discord. The MCP community on Discord is amazing. There are channels for everything ranging from faction specific discussion, list options, to a plethora of creator content. Get onboard and ask some questions, especially if it relates to the online league itself. The Accusers are well informed and will help you quickly!

3. Ask for Help! Like the Discord, the MCP community is large and welcoming for newcomers. Check out our Facebook and ask some questions, or even reach out to well-known players, they are always willing to provide advice. During our encounters with the community, everyone has always been happy to discuss the intricate aspects to the game, and often there will be many people with the same question as you.

Conclusion

Before signing off, I just want to reiterate a few key points. The fewer decisions you need to make on game day, the calmer and less mistakes you will make in the game. You cannot plan for everything, but at least having a plan is better than not having one at all.

Hopefully, the above tips and tricks will help some players better prepare themselves during the upcoming sixth season of the online league. A lot of these are time consuming, but they can also be very enjoyable. If you are looking at doing a little better this season, or want to make the cut, give some of these techniques a try. Perhaps there are other ways that you prepare for your games. We would love to hear about them on the Strike Better Facebook Page!

Preparation Checklist:

Review the lists
-Yours
-Your opponents
-Build the squads at the threat possibilities
-What is their strategy (attrition or control)?
-What piece do they need to do this?
-What have they played in the past?

Review the map
-Check terrain sizes
-Flip it around a couple of times
-Visualise the Crisis tokens for all map sides
-What side works for me if I don’t get priority?
-What side would my opponent want (probably the one you want)?
-Consider deployment for you and them
-Check ranges for triggers and note where you cannot fit your models
-Consider your round one moves

Practice
-Play your squad into the opponent with a friend
-Do the same for them
-Consider discussing the most logical moves
-Don’t be afraid to reset
-Play with your opponents squad

Research
-Rules forums
-Discord
-Ask for help!





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