Welcome back to the second installation of what has now become a three-part series on how each of the affiliations play and which models you should focus on for them. I’m going to add a disclaimer now that I probably should have done in the first part – these are all obviously just my opinion, and there is a focus on how well they function in game (if you want my opinion on which models you should buy because they’re cool, it’s all of them except Deadpool). Anyways – back to the opinion mines, and as before I will describe every affiliation’s style of play on the table to assist with that decision. I’ll also give the “core characters” – the three or four characters that most affiliated lists start with (including their threat cost), as well as some interesting tactics cards and preferred crises for them. I’ll be using the shorthand crisis names I set up in my first article, so pull up the reference chart at the end if you need a reminder.
Dark Dimension (Dormammu)
While the Affiliation list for Dark Dimension is the shortest in the game, don’t be fooled. Because Dormammu always takes over as the leader, no matter what characters are chosen, it’s effectively like all characters are affiliated with Dark Dimension. Dormammu gives out a ton of power, and his unique card Dark Restoration lets him bring a KO’d 3 threat character back onto the table. Because of that, and because your characters end up taking damage if they have too much power, Dormammu really loves 3 threat characters with powerful 2 cost superpowers and superpowers you can use out of turn – such as Ghost Spider and Heimdall.
- Core Characters: Dormammu (8), Nick Fury, Sr (3), Shuri (3)
- Tactics Cards: Dark Restoration lets you bring back a KO’d 3-threat character, which paired with his leadership and defensive superpowers makes a real damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation when your opponent is choosing who to attack. Smash should also be considered affiliated – destroying a size 4 piece of terrain and then making 10 or 12 dice attacks with Dormammu is an excellent use of a Tactics Card.
- Preferred Crises: Dark Dimension is 100% an attrition affiliation (since so many of your points are tied up in Dormammu who doesn’t have any offensive ways to move enemies), so take the standard attrition crises: Demons, Meteors and Intrusions and Research Station, Alien Ships, Skrulls.
Defenders (Doctor Strange)
As my first doomed prophecy (they got nerfed out of nowhere as soon as I finished collecting them…) I’m still too frustrated to think seriously about this affiliation. My local has been having some good success with a ranged attrition list that leverages a turn 2 portal to let them control both sides in a B or C secure – so maybe try that?
- Core Characters: Doctor Strange (5), Winter Soldier (3), Hawkeye (3)
- Tactics Cards: Pentagram of Farallah – no, you can’t use it on the first round anymore, but now you can use it to make your long range characters cover almost the entire board with their attacks.
- Preferred Crises: To take advantage of their portal and long range attacks, they want really spread out scenarios like Terrigen, Spider Portals and Mutant Madmen. I would recommend playing your other affiliation if you get their extracts, they don’t really bring much unique to the table for those.
Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord)
Guardians of the Galaxy are my current nemesis Affiliation. They are a fantastic attrition faction thanks to the rerolls from the leadership and Rocket Raccoon being simply an excellent character. They can also field many more characters than other Affiliations simply because they can have their leader and 2 other affiliated models for a minimum of 8 threat (the lowest in the game).
- Core Characters: Star-Lord (3), Rocket Raccoon (2), Groot (3)
- Tactics Cards: Deadly Duo is definitely the strongest of their Team Cards since it allows Rocket to make a ton of attacks, but none of their affiliated Tactics Cards are actually bad.
- Preferred Crises: With their high number of characters and decent range attacks from their core characters, they prefer B secures such as Mutant Madman and Infinity Formula, plus they don’t mind incinerating Rocket since Groot will protect him, so Demons is a good choice as well. They are also one of the few factions that love Hammers, for a similar reason.
Hydra (Red Skull, Master of Hydra and Baron Strucker)
Ok, time for some wild speculation on an affiliation that isn’t even released yet. All three of the previewed characters (Red Skull2, Arnim Zola and Strucker) are decently strong just by themselves, but with two strong leaderships and 4 insane (if not necessarily good) Tactics Cards, there just has to be something to this faction. I’m especially excited to play Strucker and Zemo together on a split scenario to cover both parts of it in their Strategic Genius reroll bubbles, and Red Skull’s grunts seem incredibly powerful on Flip Secures and Extremis.
- Core Characters?: Strucker (3), Arnim Zola (3), Bob, Agent of Hydra (2)
- Tactics Cards: All of their affiliated tactics cards are utter insanity, with Occult Research and The High Council doing their best to be “Difficult to Pull Off, but win the game if they occur early enough” impressions, Scientific Method giving a unique permanent bonus to a character and Inevitable Betrayal massively swinging a secure (can you imagine this on Gamma Wave?).
- Preferred Crises: ???, but see my guesses above
Inhumans (Black Bolt)
This affiliation is highly underrated because of its tiny hiring pool, expensive leader and nerfs to its most important character (Medusa), but this remains a decent affiliation. It is difficult to overstate how powerful and flexible the leadership is, allowing important turn 1 plays, and getting difficult to power up superpowers in play nearly every turn. Medusa is still the foundation of the list, but Ms. Marvel is an excellent addition to the affiliation, giving them another long range character who always seems to be 1 power short of what she needs. The affiliation tends to play attrition (for similar reasons as Dark Dimension), but there’s no reason they can’t take Doctor Voodoo or Black Cat as their unaffiliated characters, both of whom love the leadership, to cover scenario play.
- Core Characters: Black Bolt (5), Medusa (4), Lockjaw (3)
- Tactics Cards: I am not a huge fan of any of their affiliated cards, but Lockjaw’s Last-Minute Save is amazing. I would also strongly consider Escort to Safety simply because Black Bolt is such a juicy target for Helios Laser, and it can completely negate the Laser and all the power spent on it.
- Preferred Crises: Their crisis choice is fairly open, but definitely don’t miss Terrigen Mists – there’s a reason every affiliated character is immune to poison.
Midnight Sons (Blade)
This affiliation is quite a mixed bag; a strong leadership, but a lack of power to use it; 2 of the best scenario characters in the game, but a leader 100% focused on attrition: lots of good affiliated characters, but very few cheap and good ones. With this affiliation, you want to focus on characters who generate a lot of power, have long range 0 cost attacks with bonus effects, and preferably have a large base. Doctor voodoo and Doctor Strange are both excellent fits for those requirements, but that forces you to pay 13 (or sometimes 14) points to get 3 affiliated characters, which is…. Less than ideal.
- Core Characters: Blade (4), Doctor Voodoo (4), Doctor Strange (5)
- Tactics Cards: Siege of Midnight is the main reason to play the affiliation (beyond the excellent leadership), so put all your effort into getting a huge payoff when playing the card. Bats the Ghost Hound is not nearly as bad as it seems, especially since you can use it on Doctor Strange’s Spender to make the “Add an Activated token” trigger way more likely
- Preferred Crises: This affiliation wants the classic attrition crises (Research Station and Demons, especially with two affiliated characters immune to Incinerate), but definitely consider Infinity Formula and Cubes as ways to get the power you so desperately need for your leadership.
S.H.I.E.L.D. (Nick Fury, Jr)
Despite their affiliation having an annoying-to-type name, Shield is one of my favorite factions currently (which is probably why we did our first podcast on them). Shield has a huge advantage over other Affiliations that are trying to play an attrition based game because their leadership makes it safe to fall behind a point or two while you’re wasting actions on attacking. The affiliation roster contains some of the best characters in the game (especially Winter Soldier and Iron Man), a decent 2 threat, and tactics cards that are unbelievably powerful. Also, don’t overlook Venom as a non-affiliated character, if you’re ahead on points it’s almost impossible to avoid his retaliation attacks which can occasionally win a game by itself.
- Core Characters: Nick Fury, Jr (4), Iron Man (3), Winter Soldier (3)
- Tactics Cards: Despite the rotation of Medpack and Tactical analysis, Shield can still take their faction specific versions of those cards (Battlefield Medicine and Sitrep, respectively). Eye in the Sky can win games when it’s used just once, let alone every round. Amusingly, this affiliation also runs the Helios Laser card very well since most of their characters tend to build up a ton of power and not really spend it.
- Preferred Crises: Shield really wants to play with high extract count crises, including Hammers (you haven’t lived until a free grunt makes four 6 dice reroll 1 attacks in a single turn), and with such a long range core, really likes B secures as well.
Ok, I can hear my editor breathing down my neck over the word count (did you know there’s a lot of affiliations in this game?) so it looks like my two-parter just turned into a three-parter, so stay tuned next week for when I break down the remaining affiliations, and try to figure out what the new Winter Guard affiliation is all about.