AFFILIATION DISCUSSION: Avengers

Now that Thor and Vision are upon us we can get a good idea of what the Avengers affiliation as a whole can do. Given how huge a team The Avengers are it is entirely possible that the team card will be updated in the future to include such characters as Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Ant/Giant Man, The Wasp, Quicksilver and Black Knight. But for now, we have a total of 8 characters and 32 points worth of threat to play with.

So, how does the team work together, what are the strengths of the affiliation, and what other characters work well within the team? Let’s see.

AFFILIATION LEADERSHIP ABILITY

The Avengers affiliation leadership ability is on the Captain America character card and is called A Day Unlike Any Other. The ability states that each turn you may reduce the power cost of the first superpower used by each allied character by 1 to a minimum of 1.

I am sure that most reading this article will have played this ability at some point since the games release (either that or you are reading a blog about a game you don’t play), and have seen just how powerful it is. Getting a 1 power cost reduction on the first superpower used by each character each turn opens up access to superpowers that you just wouldn’t be able to trigger in your opening turns. For example you can now trigger a turn 1 Pounce or Mantle of the Black Panther on Black Panther, or a Counter-Strike on Black Widow, to name just a few.

It is easy to forget that this ability can be applied on each turn, not just your turn, so this superpower can be used even on your opponents activations to reduce the cost of any reactive superpowers which you may wish to trigger., of which there are many.

Power is the fundamental resource of this game, it being used to pay for most superpowers and big attacks. Therefore, anything that reduces the amount of power which you need to trigger something is a fantastic ability to have access to.

CHARACTERS

As mentioned before, the Avengers team list contains a whopping 8 characters. Let’s take a very brief look at each characters main points, and then briefly discuss.

Captain America – The team leader and a defensive powerhouse. Cap has solid defences, can boost his defence pool with his shield, and even redirect an attack to himself if within range 2 of an allied character targeted by an attack. He keeps other characters alive, which is a big, big deal.

Black Widow – The lowest threat cost in the team at a mere 2. This, coupled with a long movement, makes her a great character for fitting into rosters and running objectives. Widow is also tricky in that she cannot be hit with an attack outside of range 3, and if attacked from within range 2 she gets a defence boost. She also has quite low stamina making her a bit easier to take out than some of her colleagues.

Iron Man – Has a range 5 attack that ignores line of sight and cover, and causes extra damage to characters within range 2 of the target. Can add extra dice to his attack rolls, reduce incoming damage by 1 and has a mega range 5 beam attack on his injured side.

Captain Marvel – An excellent energy attacker with an ability to add dice to her defence and attack dice pools, albeit at quite a high power cost. Also great at taking energy attacks and turning them into power, and has a great size 3 terrain/character throw.

Hulk – Has a whopping 20 stamina but no injured side. Gains 3 power per round rather than the usual 1. Only a short move but this is supplemented by a range 2 leap. Gets an extra die added to his attack dice pool for every 3 damage on him. Also has a superb throw and a huge attack that can give the target special conditions.

Thor, Prince of Asgard – Solid defences, the ability to throw size 4 terrain and characters, a strong standard Strike and a range 5 physical attack that can deal out the shock special condition. Also has a stripped-down version of Charge and an innate ability to gain 2 power per round rather than 1. As well he has a short range but powerful area attack and great stamina.

Black Panther – Also the leader of the Wakanda affiliation. An excellent all-rounder who has a long move, can throw himself at things without taking damage, has access to rerolls, and has good defence capabilities.

Vision – Has a beam attack as standard, can cripple enemy defences with his big attack and can swap between a stronger energy or physical defence which can stop him being moved from his location or from taking any collision damage. Can also spend an action to generate 2 power.

Each one of these characters is appealing to me for different reasons. Captain America is just such a good defender and can be so very frustrating to play against. Having a way to keep your other characters alive and doing their thing is a fantastic ability and can really impact the game in a big way.

I like Black Widow as an objective runner and as someone to occasionally put out some damage. She is tricky to hit, but once she gets hit she can go down hard and fast.

I haven’t played with Iron Man a great deal, but in the games I have used him in he has been excellent at sitting back on an objective and firing off attacks from a long range. Plus, his ability to reduce incoming damage is always nice to have on tap when an attack comes his way.

Captain Marvel is another chatacter who I haven’t used much, and there is some debate as to whether Vision more or less replaces her. I am not getting into that debate here, and I will be playing both characters depending on what mood I am in. Still, Captain Marvel makes her presence on the battlefield known and is great against any energy attackers.

Hulk is an attacking powerhouse, and when teamed up with Captain America is very hard to take down before he gets some big damage out. I have had games where I have played against Hulk and been absolutely wrecked. Although he can only move short, once he gets there he can cause some serious pain.

I am a big fan of Thor from my comic-reading, and really like how he has been translated into the game. I haven’t played with him at all so this is all theory (my Asgardians should be arriving today, yay), but I can see him being in my roster for a long time. Perhaps my favourite thing about him is his size 4 throws, meaning at long last I can get rid of an enemy Hulk. His range 5 hammer attack too, sheesh. Thor can do up close and ranged damage, which makes him great in my book and a valuable addition to the team.

I have used Black Panther a lot in my lists and he always does work. He is just so well-rounded with his Pounce and his defences. He is a great objective runner to can zip in and do damage whilst passing by. It will take a lot for him to be shifted off my roster for sure.

Lastly, Vision is another character which I have not yet played with, but I really like his adaptability in defending and his beam attack. He will be interesting to play against for sure, it will take some clever thinking as to how to go about taking him down.

For more in depth discussions of the individual characters click on the links in the characters page in the menu (or here).

TEAM TACTICS CARDS

There are a number of Avengers-specific team tactics cards which we have to discuss, as well as a few character-specific cards.

Avengers Assemble is the core card for the team, allowing any number of allied Avengers characters to spend 1 power, and each one that does gets to advance short. When you consider just how much characters are pushed and thrown in this game, this card is invaluable. It can be used to get characters back into position, or to get them into an even better position than they already are in order to setup your next turn. And it is so cheap, only 1 power per character!

Second Wind is what we will talk about next. Again, allied Avengers may spend 1 power each, and for each one that does they can remove the stun special condition and 1 damage. As the character pool increases there are inevitably going to be more and more ways of getting special conditions onto characters, so having this card in hand is nice, and will become more valuable as time progresses. Healing is always welcome, after all there is a lot of damage that flies around in this game. It is only 1 damage, but that can sometimes make all the difference can’t it? This could even be combined with cards like Patch Up or the upcoming Field Dressing for bonus healing.

Anger Management is Avengers affiliated and Hulk-specific, and basically allows an allied Avenger character within range 3 of Hulk to pay up to 5 power to put up to 5 damage and power onto Hulk. This is a good way of powering-up Hulk so that he is getting extra dice and has the power available to fire off multiple superpowers, and is certainly a card to consider if you are running Hulk in an Avengers team.

Again on the Hulk front we have Gamma Launch which allows Hulk to spend 3 power (available from turn 1) to place an allied character within range 2 of him to within range 5 of it’s current position. I have seen this card used effectively on turn 1 to get a character close to/onto an objective and still have 2 actions left to do their thing. This is a superb card, and used at the right time, can have a serious effect on the battlefield.

Ricochet Blast is a card specific to Iron Man and Captain America. If, on Iron Man’s turn, he is within range 4 of an allied Cap then they can spend 2 power each to play this card. This gives Iron Man access to the Ricochet Blast energy attack which has a range of 4, strength of 7 and power cost of 0. Best of all, range and line of sight are measured from Cap for potential extra distance, and Iron Man gets to reroll any number of attack dice during this attack. Wow. This is a super-cool attack to see get played, even when played against you, it is just so darn thematic!

In a similar vein to Ricochet Blast we also have Thunderwave, however this is specific to Thor and Captain America. When it is Thor’s activation and if he is within range 1 of Cap then he and Cap may spend 2 power each to play this card, which gives access to the Thunderwave energy attack which has a range of B5, strength of 6 and power cost of 0. Line of sight is measure from Cap. Personally, I prefer Richochet Blast as it does not require the activating character to be within range 1 of Cap, has a higher strength, and allows the activating character to reroll attack dice. Still, if there is space in your list for a card why not slot this card in and try it out? If you can manage to combo Ricochet Blast and Thunderwave in back to back activations then respect to you, you win the ultimate thematic play award!

Last of all let’s talk about Till the End of the Line which comes in the Vision/Winter Soldier box. When within range 1 of each other, Cap and Winter Soldier may spend 2 power each to play this card. For this round they cannot be moved by enemy effects (so no throws or pushes), and combine their dice when defending against physical and energy attacks, meaning they would be rolling 7 dice each as standard. An amazing card. The biggest restriction would be getting them into range 1 of each other, but Cap is normally up in the thick of it anyway, and Winter Soldier has the ability to place himself near to allied characters, so this should be a bit easier to trigger than you may think. This is beautifully thematic and I am really looking forward to trying it out when my Vision/Winter Soldier box arrives.

DISCUSSION

The Avengers team is super-versatile and really has all the bases covered. They have a mix of threat values so team building is relatively straightforward (although a few more 2’s and 3’s would be nice), and a great mix of abilities. Cap is the core character of the team, and many of the team tactics cards are justifiably centred around him. The team is really fun to play and the interactions between them are really thematic and enjoyable.

There is a good mix of flying characters and long movers, so getting to objectives and scoring points is achievable. They don’t have much in the way of rerolls, unlike Wakanda, which can be a downside when big attacks whiff, and damage output isn’t tremendous when compared to some Cabal characters. Still, they can get the work done and win you the game if played well.

CHARACTER PAIRINGS

When it comes to non-Avengers characters to pair with the team it obviously depends on the crisis being played. Still, there are a few characters that stand out as running well in an Avengers affiliated team.

Shuri comes to mind straight away. She is an excellent control piece and her Panther Gauntlets have a long range and an automatic push which can be used to shift enemies around the battlefield and setup for your next activation. She also gives the team access to rerolls using her Upgrades ability, and she can use the Advanced R&D team tactics card to shift her power onto her allies.

Whilst we’re on Wakandans, Killmonger could be good. He has really high damage output, and his Usurp the Throne team tactics card can get you non-objective victory points. With Cap’s affiliation discount he can afford to trigger at least 1 of his superpowers each activation. He has quite average defences, and so having Cap around to bodyguard him can ensure that he sticks around and keeps throwing out damage.

Baron Zemo is a good 3 point option, as Cap’s discount will let him trigger any of his superpowers each turn, meaning you can do a Charge for action economy, or Counter-Strike for potential extra enemy damage, or even Master Swordsman for attack/defence rerolls. Valkyrie is also another good 3 point option with Charge, and the fact she gets 2 power per turn means she is going to be able to afford more abilities.

On the topic of Asgardians, Loki could work too. The superpower discount provided by Cap can go a long way to getting Loki out of troublesome situations, which are not things he likes to be in.

M.O.D.O.K is an interesting choice, and gives access to mystic attacks, something which the Avengers team is lacking. M.O.D.O.K will get to have cheap access to a size 3 medium throw and an enemy short advance suite of superpowers each turn. Plus, M.O.D.O.K’s Doomsday Chair attack is just soooooooo goooooooood.

Both Spider-Man and Venom are good options too as they both have good battlefield control in the forms of pushes and throws. Plus, who here hasn’t enjoyed taking an attack eith Venom and then hitting back with the combo of So Many Snack and We Are Venom?!

Lastly, Winter Soldier makes sense too, as you will be running Cap in the team anyway, and the Till the End of the Line team tactics card is made for them both.

SPLASH CHARACTERS

Obviously, Thor is the keystone of the Asgard affiliation, as is Black Panther with the Wakanda affiliation.

Cap would work well in any team where you want a good defender who can take hits to preserve your other characters. If that is what you are after then it would be good to consider Okoye too as, although she is weaker, she is only 2 threat.

Black Widow fits in well anywhere as she is only 2 threat. As previously mentioned, she won’t be throwing out loads of damage, but when she does the Cabal ability will net her extra power which is always nice. I also like her in Wakanda for rerolls, and Asgard for damage/condition removal.

Iron Man is another character who fits in well everywhere. As he will be firing off ranged attacks then Cabal makes sense, but so does Wakanda for rerolls. Iron Man can tend to be a bit out of the battle so Asgard probably isn’t as good as Cabal and Wakanda, although still a perfectly viable option.

Captain Marvel also works well in all other affiliations, as does Hulk. Hulk is great in Cabal because if there is one thing he will be doing it is dealing out damage, and his power can really ramp up when getting the Cabal bonus. Asgard will give him some control over his damage levels/special conditions which is also nice.

Along these lines, Thor works well in Cabal too because he will definitely be throwing out damage, and any power he can get his hands on is great. Vision also works anywhere I think, but Cabal would be good as his beam attack will be hitting multiple targets and thereby getting you lots of tasty power.

And that’s it for the Avengers team. How have you been finding them? And what characters have you enjoyed teaming up with them? Comment below!

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