THEME TEAM: Mystical Machine Gun

As regular readers of this blog (I know you’re out there – thanks for your support) may have noticed, my output has dropped off a lot over the past few months (life reasons, let’s not get into it here), and I may be ever so slightly, the teeniest smidge behind on character summary articles. To be frank, having 12 character summaries to write just to get caught up is somewhat of a daunting task after a poor nights sleep and an early rise this day, so instead let us turn our attention to a new series of articles which it has been in my mind to write for a while.

This new series is called “Theme Team”. As an MCP player with his foot firmly in the casual play camp I am going to do the unthinkable and actually build some rosters. HOWEVER, the rosters I will will have a twist – they will all have a specific theme. Will these rosters be competitively viable? Probably not. Will they be fun to play? Hopefully, but who knows. Will they at least make for a few moments of fun theory-crafting? Oh most certainly.

With that said let’s get into the first theme team which is entitled “Mystical Machine Gun” (after a song of course, but can you guess which one without using the internet – first to answer wins sweet sweet kudos). This roster is going to be all about everything mystical – I want to pile on the blue attacks and have some mind control of some type in there too. So, the basis or this team is established – let’s start with looking at our character options.

CHARACTERS

Of all the characters currently available in the game the following have mystic attacks:

CharacterThreat Level
Doctor Strange5
Ebony Maw5
Enchantress4
Ghost Rider5
Hela, Queen of Hel4
Loki, God of Mischief4
M.O.D.O.K5

Straight away I can see a problem – there are no 2 or 3 threat characters with mystic attacks. There are, however, 2 solutions to this problem that present themselves. Firstly, Infinity Gems. Doctor Strange can bear the Soul and Time Gems, and both Ebony Maw and Loki can bear the Mind and Space gems. This gives us a nice bit of 1 and 2 threat filler for our roster, and helps out with some additional power generation. The second solution that presents itself is Doctor Strange’s leadership ability for the Defenders team:

What this means is that now anyone in the roster can do a mystic attack, as long as they have the power to do so. This seems like a good basis for our roster so let’s choose the good doctor as our team leader and go for a Defenders affiliation, pick a few 2 and 3 threat characters to fill out the roster and then take a look at some cards.

According to the latest information from AMG the Defenders affiliation comprises the following characters:

CharacterThreat Level
Doctor Strange5
Daredevil4
Ghost Rider5
Hawkeye3
Hulk6
Iron Fist (not yet released)?
Luke Cage (not yet released)?
Spider-Man (Peter Parker)4
Valkyrie3
Wolverine4
Wong2

Straight away I know I want to choose Doctor Strange and Ghost-Rider, Strange for the leadership ability and, well, everything else that is written on his card because he is just awesome, and Ghost Rider for his speed, his ability to resurrect, and that glorious Penance Stare mystic attack which strips the target character of power. Iron Fist and Luke Cage haven’t been released yet (so why they are on the affiliation document I don’t know) so they are out, and that leaves us with Daredevil, Hawkeye, Hulk, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Valkyrie, Wolverine and Wong. Hulk is a 6 threat character, and we are already pushed for space with high threat characters so he is out, same with Daredevil, Spider-Man and Wolverine who are all 4’s. This leaves us with Hawkeye and Valkyrie at 3 and Wong at 2. I like Hawkeye for the roster as he has a good ranged attack that can throw out some helpful special conditions, and even though he is a bit squishy he can hopefully sit at the back somewhere and be annoying. Valkyrie is also great as she has good attacks that can chain, a throw and a charge, as well as gaining additional power for being an Asgardian. Wong has nice ties to Doctor Strange which would be thematically on point, and does provide a good bit of support to his allies. Like Hawkeye though he can be quite squishy. Let’s pull together our other characters and gems first and then we will see if there is space for Wong on this list.

So, we have 4 affiliated characters so far – Strange, Ghost Rider, Hawkeye and Valkyrie. Who do we want to pull in from our initial list of mystic characters? First up for consideration we have Ebony Maw. This guy has 2 mystic attacks, both at range 4, a long throw, additional power generation, flexible defences and decent stamina. He also has access to gems, but that puts the threat level up which could cause us problems when building a team. Another issue is that in my limited experience to date playing with Maw I haven’t totally sussed him out yet. Still, this is a theme team and not a team for competitive play so, for me, I think he is still in the running to make the roster.

Next let’s consider Enchantress. 4 threat makes her a bit more appealing than Maw. Her basic attack is beam attack that has a nice theme tie-in with Ghost Rider as it robs the target character of power. Her big attack is powerful indeed and has the potential to throw out some nasty special conditions, just like Hawkeye. She can use her mystical powers to move asset and civilian tokens from enemy characters, as well as advance enemy characters and throw some terrain. Plus, she can fly and gains additional power for being a Asgardian. I think we have to include her in the list!

Next is Hela, Queen of Hel. I have always loved playing with Hela – collecting captured soul tokens and using them to add dice to her attacks and also to resurrect. She has good attacks which vary in rage from 2 to 4 which is helpful, and turning her Rain of Hel attack into a mystic rather than physical attack would be very nice indeed. Hela is a solid character and the temptation to put her on the roster is strong.

Next is Loki, God of Mischief. As mentioned earlier Loki can bear the same gems and Ebony Maw, so that adds to some flexibility when pulling the roster together. I do also like the idea of the “Loki Bubble” which causes enemy characters within range 4 of him to have to spend 1 power before using an active or reactive superpower. His attacks are pretty decent too, especially if you can pull off the double wild for Mesmerize on his Illusions attack which will let you advance the target character its speed after the attack resolves, and then do a little damage to nearby enemies.

Lastly we have M.O.D.O.K. At threat 5 I am reluctant to include him on the list, but then again he is just so good, even now over a year on from the core set days. A free 6 strength mystic attack is not to be balked at, especially as it also steal power from your opponents character. He can also move characters around with his mind and has a really superb throw.

It’s tough to choose – these are all good characters in their own way. At the moment I am leaning towards Enchantress and Loki and forerunners, which forms a little sub-theme of characters who can move enemy characters about, which I like very much and ties in nicely to our overall theme of mystic powers at work. Put them into the roster and we get the following:

CharacterThreat
Doctor Strange5
Enchantress4
Ghost Rider5
Hawkeye3
Loki, God of Mischief4
Valkyrie3

That’s 4 affiliated characters and 2 unaffiliated characters. We haven’t chosen any Infinity Gems yet, and I think it would be a good idea to include some as Doctor Strange and Loki are certainly improved when wielding these powerful bits of rock. For Doctor Strange I think the Soul Gem, as it synergises with the Loki Bubble nicely – enemy characters have to pay 1 power to use a reactive or active superpower, and in return Strange will get to gain 1 power. He will be able to use this additional power for all manner of wonderful things(not to mention the additional power he gets just for bearing the gem), so I think the added 1 threat is well worth it. For Loki it is a bit of a trickier decision – one the one hand the Mind Gem only costs 1 threat and lets you advance an enemy character short, whereas on the other hand the Space Gem cost an additional threat but lets you move allied characters to within range 2. On weighing it up I think the Mind Gem is the way to go. Fielding Loki at 6 threat with the Space Gem seems a bit extreme when we are already likely to have 6 threat Doctor Strange on the board.

So, this brings our total of filled character slots up to 8- congratulations Wong, you made it! Having a 2 threat character to fill in a gap when fielding a team is no bad thing, and he adds to the support that Doctor Strange brings, i’m happy to include Wong in this team.

This leaves us now with 1 open space. If you have read this article thus far and are thinking of ways you could adapt this list to actually be useful in a game you could consider having Thor as your 10th character. We already have 3 Asgard characters on our list, and including Thor would get you a nice Asgard/Defenders double affiliation roster without too much difficulty. As much as I would love to include Thor I think we can go more thematic and choose a character with less than 5 threat. Out of Ebony Maw, Hela and M.O.D.O.K I think I will have to go for Hela. She is the lowest threat of the 3 and can stand on her own quite nicely.

So, put it all together and we get the following:

Doctor Strange5
Enchantress4
Ghost Rider5
Hawkeye3
Hela, Queen of Hel4
Loki, God of Mischief4
Valkyrie3
Wong2
Infinity Gem: Soul1
Infinity Gem: Mind1
Wong2

I think this gives us a good spread of threat levels to build a team from. The next best thing to do would probably to take a look at which 6 crisis cards we want to include in the roster, as this could have a bearing on what team tactics cards we decide to choose.

CRISES

Choosing crisis cards can be tricky – I find myself more often drawn to ones I haven’t played in a while rather than ones which would work best with my team. Still, let’s see if we can find a balance that keeps us on theme and, most importantly of all, keeps it fun (this is, after all, a game).

First let’s take a look at extract crises and see if any jump out as being particularly “mystic.” Fear Grips World as “Worthy” Terrorize Cities is somewhat mystic as you get to travel around the map picking up empowered Asgardian hammers. We have a few Asgardians in our list so that could work. Mystic Wakandan Herbs: Fact or Fiction? has the word mystic in its title, so that alone makes it a valid candidate. And lastly The Montesi Formula Found has your characters wielding spellbooks – way mystic! Ideally we would just pick these as our 3 and be done with it, but there is an issue. I think that the team we have pulled together would rather be bunched up than spread out. Of course, there is going to have to be some separation otherwise we wouldn’t really get much done in the game, but I think that, for example, the Wakandan Herbs extract might be a bit much for the Defenders to handle. I think I will keep “Hammers” in as Map D should allow for the nearside central hammer to be picked up turn 1 and at least 1 of the hammers on the flank. The Montesi Formula I think should stay too, as it is just a straight line down the middle which hopefully our intrepid Defenders can just push down. That leaves us 1 open spot, and really, as we shuffle our deck of 3 and draw 2 it doesn’t matter what we choose as we are at least guaranteed to either draw “Hammers” or “Montesi.” I think I will throw in Struggle for the Cube Continues as the objectives aren’t too horrendously spread out, it involves taking damage which the Defenders team can easily heal off and (hopefully) the opposing team won’t, and cosmic cubes have a fairly mystical air about them. That gives us 2 17 threat crises and an 18 – we should be able to build around that alright. Onto secures!

The first secure that jumps out to me from the list is Demons Downtown! Has Our Comeuppance Come Due? Flaming portals appearing throughout the city?! MYSTIC! This is the only secure crisis which is mystic on the surface, and is a nice 19 threat crises which should make for some fun team building. Best of all it is a Map E setup just like the Montesi Formula, woohoo! Let’s pick another 2 to round out our 3. We want to continue looking for more clumped up objectives rather than spread out ones. Cosmic Invasion! Black Order Descends on Earth is one I haven’t played in a while and is Map D like “Hammers”, but it is only 16 threat. Still, our roster is pretty flexible threat-wise and could accommodate. I think for our third and final secure it will have to be Gamma Wave Sweeps Across Midwest as it lines the objectives up nicely down the middle of the board and means we can keep our characters close together for some Loki Bubble/Soul Gem Strange fun, and also means we can hurt enemy characters by continually moving them away, out of range of the gamma shelters.

That’s our characters and crises sorted, let’s finally look at some team tactics cards to round out our roster.

TEAM TACTICS CARDS

I suppose that the first thing that we should look at is affiliated and character-specific team tactics cards. Straight away I am drawn to Ghost Rider’s Deal With the Devil. This basically lets you kill off another character to let Ghost Ready re-enter the game once K.O’d – pretty much a reason to run Wong in a game. It’s a great card, and I really like to play Ghost Rider, so this seems like pretty much an auto-include.

I don’t think Ghost Rider’s Highway to Hell would be a necessary inclusion in our roster. We already have character like Loki and Enchantress who can move enemy characters around, so I think we are best off keeping a slot open for another card.

As we are running the Defenders affiliation we have access to Pentagram of Farallah via both Doctor Strange and Wong, and this lets us open up a mystic portal across a pretty significant distance on the board, the disadvantage being that enemy characters can use it to. It’s a mystic portal, we HAVE to include in the roster, plus it’s very handy for zipping to the other side of the board to score, say, an opponents gamma shelter…

One the topic of Doctor Strange, as we are looking to keep our characters (for the most part) grouped up rather than spread out I think the Seven Suns of Cinnibus card would be a good one to include. This gives access to a whopping 8 strength attack with a range of B5 that also doles out the Incinerate special condition. No slouch.

I haven’t used Vapors of Valtorr much – a Doctor Strange card that shuffles 3 tokens and has a 2 out of 3 chance of letting you reroll attack dice. This can be used when attacking or when being attacked, and I think that we have to include it just to try it out and because it is up there on the mystic scale.

That’s 4 sorted, so let’s pick out 4 unaffiliated/generic cards that we think will work with our team. As we have a few Gem Bearer characters who will be gaining extra power, as well as Ghost Rider who tends to find himself flush with the green I think a card that redistributes power could be a good one to include. This would let us shift power over the where it is needed at the right time – Advanced R&D it is!

To help partially neuter an enemy characters attacks for a round I like Disarm. As our characters plan on being fairly close together we should be able to meet the conditions and spend the 1 power each to play this card and cause them to roll 2 fewer dice on their attacks this round. This would stack nicely with any Shock that someone like Hawkeye may be doling out.

Grievous Wounds feels like a mystic card to me. Target an enemy with an attack then pay 1 power. Deal damage and the character can’t heal for the round. Sounds mystic to me! Included.

Lastly, I like abilities that take power off an opponents characters. It may be that (shock, horror) we don’t run Ghost Rider in every game, but it would be nice to have access to part of the abilities that his Penance Stare attack brings to the table. Sucker will meet this need nicely – 2 characters spend any amount of power and the target character loses an equal amount of power. Nice.

Card
Advanced R&D
Deal With the Devil
Disarm
Grievous Wounds
Pentagram of Farallah
Seven Suns of Cinnibus
Sucker
Vapors of Valtorr

And that’s our 8! Put it all together and we get this:

That’ll do nicely methinks.

Next would come building a team for each threat level on the selected crises, but I think I have written enough for now. Plus, I would much rather see what you do with the selected characters, crises and team tactics cards. Feel free to get in touch by email, on Facebook, Discord or by leaving a comment on this post – let me know what team you would build. Also, if you enjoyed this article and want to see more of this type of thing, or didn’t and don’t, then let me know, feedback is always appreciated.

Before I head off to rest my wrists from the epic amount of typing that I have just undertaken I want to leave a little plug for the U’s very own Black Gate Games. You want MCP, they stock MCP. You want MCP as cheaply as possible because you’ve got mouths to feed and bills to pay, they stock MCP as cheap as you can get it.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

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