In case you missed it, the lads released a fantastic pod (S2EP19: https://strikebetterpodcast.com) on how to deal with the 6+threat “Big Boys (and She-Hulk)”. In that cast, the team discussed some strategies and tactics that you can apply to your game to try to deal with the high threat characters that we are seeing across our games both casually and competitively. This discussion was brought about by AMG’s Ministravaganza reveal that a new and improved Hulk is destined for our tables at the end of this year! And spoiler alert…he is amazing!
Hulk 2.0 is now a serious contender for the best 6 threat character in the game, and no longer can he be ignored, or simply dealt with by a punchy attacking character. This not so puny Banner now needs some more consideration when list building if you are going to contain this green monster.
While the podcast dealt with the broad strategies and tactics to subdue these beasts, this article aims to show some of the tech you can place into your roster to help deal with some of these big characters. Given that the roster change is coming at the end of this week for the online TTS league, you might find some of these counter-picks useful if you are finding yourself being bullied by some Black Order shenanigans, or are struggling to deal with a Dormammu or two. We will go over some character considerations, crises selections, and some tactics cards that all could help when facing the big boys!
When looking to add some characters to your roster there are a few things to consider for building some counter big boy squads. The first consideration is conditions. And more importantly – auto-conditions.
It’s no secret that conditions can have a huge impact on a characters effectiveness. But, when some of these higher threat characters rely on things such as a strategy of attrition, or an ability to generate power in your opponent’s game plan, having characters who can directly counter this can significantly reduce their flexibility.
The first condition we will look at is Shock. Big-hitting Characters like Corvus Glaive who thrive on throwing dice absolutely hate this condition. So does anyone else really! But, if you invest a lot of threat value into a single character to deal extensive damage, taking just one die away can sometimes be as good as a stagger. Looking at characters that can throw this condition out at will can go a long way to countering a powerful punching roster. Thor is a great pick, with one of the best first round plays against someone like Corvus – a Medium move, followed by a hammer throw.
Not only does it hurt like hell, it can immediately cause a dilemma for you opponent. Do they ride the rest of the game out rolling one less die? Or do they choose to shake it, immediately reducing their attack by one. If they shake it, then you just do it again! If it’s done to someone like Corvus, then he are going to have to stay near Thanos to bump up his dice to a respectable amount. This leads to more power being spent by Thanos, which leads to less control, and a sad Black Order player. Others that can dish out this annoying condition are characters such as Ronan, Nebula and Storm. Whilst their ability to apply this condition are not automatic, they are a serious consideration during roster construction.
The next condition is Stun and Judgment. When the high threat characters are on the table, the use of power is a huge consideration. Denying your opponent the ability to generate power can swing the game hugely in your favour. Like the Shock condition, having Stun on a high threat character can also feel like a stagger, as your opponent may have to shake that condition and waste an action if they want to maintain their power-generating game plan. Any time you can cause your opponent to make these decisions is a benefit to you. The ability to give out Stun is on quite a few characters, however, make sure you check your opponents roster. Some heavy hitters, such as Thanos and Hulk are immune. But Corvus isn’t! Mystique has a fantastic ability to dish out auto-stun on her spender attack before she deals damage, like a double negative attack. Pushing this onto a big boy can be a clutch play at the right time.
Finally, the Hail Mary! The Stagger is the ultimate middle finger to a high threat beater. Throwing out the Stagger is a fantastic ability and when it’s played at the right time, it can negate a Big Boy for an entire round. For example, push MODOK away and hand him a stagger to see the Big-Head get a very sad face. Even though most characters that can hand out staggers demand a large power cost, the investment in them can be worth it. Usually when you have this power to spend, it is at a period in the game where these big plays can decide matches.
Dr Strange has a fantastic spender attack that deals out the auto-stagger, however, it also has the potential to give your opponent an activated token. What’s better than giving your opponent one less action this turn? Skipping it all together!! Since Dr Strange can re-roll all his dice getting this attack off occurs more often than you would think. Iron Fist’s spender attack has this activated token ability as an auto-effect! At a whopping 8 power it might only ever be done once per game, but it is more than achievable with his power generation abilities. King Pin and Black Cat also can auto-stagger for very cheap cost! Other characters like Black Dwarf can also give out this ability on a wild die result. Have a look for this condition when building your next roster, it just might subdue the big boys!
Another piece of character tech to counter the Big-Boys is via control. Big beaters sometimes look to win their games through double-attack activations, relying on large dice pools and accurate attacks to obliterate smaller threat characters at will. By denying these characters the ability to double-attack, you can significantly reduce their damage output potential. Pushing them or throwing them away at every opportunity means they must struggle back to the front-line before they can roll dice again, giving you the opportunity to survive their onslaught. This also means they are potentially not considering contesting objectives if they are just coming back into range to attack, again giving you an advantage to win through VPs. We all know that Wakanda do this best, and with Shuri about to be hit with the nerf bat at the end of the year, using her at full strength is a viable option this league. Medusa also has huge pushing potential. With the ability to stack her pushes if you roll a wild on her builder, Medusa can move a size 3 character a significant distance across the board, and in any direction. The other consideration when looking for characters that can handle the chonky boys, are those with throws that can displace size 4 characters. I keep mentioning him in this article, but Black Dwarf can support in this area…maybe I should put him in my roster…
The last character tech consideration is the Bodyguard ability. As a Black Order player myself, nothing frustrates the big hitters more than a 2 threat character absorbing large power cost and high dice pool attacks (I’m looking at you Okoye!). Keeping characters like Okoye, OG Captain America and even the Big Girl She-Hulk near your key pieces can completely unravel an attrition list’s strategy. With their high survivability and decent range of their abilities, having these characters on-hand is never a poor option. Not only can they actually prevent other characters from wearing large dice pools to the face, but just the thought that they might be used is enough to cause doubt in your opponents big plays. This could lead to misplay of large attacks, using up control actions to get the bodyguard out of range, and poor character placement to deny a bodyguard’s effectiveness. Okoye is the obvious choice here, and with her popularity soaring to the top of the ranks in the latest online league, you don’t need to be reminded of her. Other characters that are great here include OG Cap, She-Hulk, Luke Cage and Iron Fist with their Heroes for Hire tactics Card, Venom with Lethal Protector, and Black Dwarf (again?? I really need to add him).
The lads covered this well during the podcast last week, but some detail on specific crises is still worth exploring. The first point to consider in Crisis Card selection is threat value. While Lower threat obviously means fewer characters available to support the Big Boys, there are a few crises that the high threat beaters particularly hate. We will have a look at some of these for you to consider adding to your roster in the upcoming change.
SWORD at 14 threat is particularly difficult for low model count squads. Not only can they be overwhelmed by 5 model squads that can control more consoles, but if they cannot control them all, a character of theirs is going to be displaced! Pushing a big hitter away during the power phase is like beating someone when they are down. Not only do they have a points dis-advantage, but now they must find their way back to do anything about it. Slow characters have enough trouble getting to each flank as it is, and giving them additional nudge is just something they want to avoid. Thow this in as a third crisis if you are looking to play low threat, high model count squads.
The D shape is not often friendly to the slow moving high threat pieces. Having to pick a flank rather than hang in the middle does not make characters like Thanos or Magneto very happy. Despite having cards that support mobility, such as Mothership and Asteroid M, they still often find themselves stuck in pockets on the table, unable to influence the entire board. With missions like Spider Portals punishing pieces for rolling failures, this again looks at displacing characters potentially out of activation. Look for crises like this in your roster if your game plan uses more control, and you want to limit the reach of the high threat beaters.
Another crisis selection that is often not enjoyed by the big boys is the Spider Infected Extracts. Not only can you hold just one extract per character, but there is a very good chance that your opponent will enforce a S advance on you during the Power Phase. Again, disposition out of activation is terrible for a big hitter to deal with going into the start of a round, and if they are doing well, many of their pieces could start out of position. For an attrition squad, this requires some serious re-adjustment to the game-plan. Control rosters don’t mind as much, as they are all about positioning rather than attacking. Moving back is not as big a deal as not being allowed to punch someone in the face twice. Moreover, the uneven extracts favour those with priority, as you are more likely to grab the most round 1. Just be careful not to over-extend yourself when going for that middle extract! Throw this one into your roster at the end of the week change if you want to give MODOK nightmares!!
The statistics of tactics cards taken show that people are aware of the best tech in the game, and most of the popular cards this online season can support your quest to take down the heavy hitters. Card like Bitter Rivals, and All You’ve Got combined with Field Dressing, are great for any roster. Having your big hitter take two swipes at a high threat character, plus an All You’ve Got Attack could be enough to see them dazed, although in prime position to beat you down upon their return. There are some other tactics cards to consider if you are looking for some counter-tech that could support you in the roster change window.
Battle Lust is a great card for some Gotcha moments. There are not too many characters that can displace a size 4, or even a Dormammu sized opponent, so your opponent may not see this one coming. After you move a character, you can pay the price of their size to not only add some dice to their next attack, but if they deal damage, they can push the target character away S. Displacement of the big boys is always highly sought after, and having this ability on any character in your lineup is a real positive. Brining this card into your 8 adds some great flexibility and can be clutch when used at the right time.
Follow me is starting to see a cult following (pardon the pun) amongst the Australian player base. But it’s easy to see why. Giving your squad the Black Order husband and wife style activation with any combination of characters in your roster is always welcome! Not only can you set up a major beat down on your opponent’s key piece with a double activation, but it also brings the potential to manipulate priority in your favour – something a high attrition list that the 6+threat characters usually enjoy. Whilst the cost to use this might look high, having characters that gain some extra power like Iron Fist, or any Asgardian, means you will get this card off in more situations than you think.
Whilst this card is by no means secret tech, it still has enough presence to make the Corvus Glaive’s of the world shiver in their capes. What’s worse than Corvus rolling one less die after receiving a Hammer to the face from Thor? Rolling another two less die thanks to this little beauty. If your meta is showing a high amount of big threat characters, it may be time to consider this card in your 8 at the end of the week.
The final card we will look at in this article is Blind Obsession. Again, this is not a new card, but we believe it is a little under-represented. When played at the right moments, such as when a high-threat piece is isolated to a flank, this card can become amazing. Not only does it bump up your dice to help chip away at their armour, but it can give you that edge on survivability to weather the storm. Whilst everyone loves throwing extra dice, its the time this card could hang around that makes it so enticing. Not leaving the field of play until the target character is KO’d could mean this card is in effect for a good portion of the game. Have a look at it this week and consider adding it to your 8.
As Farmer rightly said on the cast, the Big Boy’s are here to stay. And by the looks of Hulk 2.0 they are only getting bigger and better! No longer can some of these pieces be ignored, and the hope that one well timed AYG attack could see them dealt with is now too optimistic. Counter-picking during your roster creation must now consider these big guys more than ever. If you are having trouble with high threat characters in your games so far, consider some of these characters during this weeks roster change window. And if you are playing some of these big characters, then be on the lookout for the counter’s in your opponents squads.