MCP players spend a lot of time talking about whether a character is “good” or “bad”, and while a lot of factors go into that I find that a useful framework for making that evaluation is to compare them to a baseline of characters for their threat cost. While this ignores many “hidden” stats (like affiliation, power economy and tactics cards) and requires some judgement for intangibles like places, throws and invulnerability (the passive superpower that reduces incoming damage by 1), I think it is still a useful exercise to see how good those special rules have to be to make up for poor base stats. Please note that I will be ignoring infinity stones (though you can use the difference between threat levels to estimate how much value you need to take one) and characters of 6 threat and above (since there aren’t enough of them to establish a real baseline).
|Threat Cost||Total Health (Healthy + Injured)|
The first, and simplest stat on a character is their total health between their healthy and injured side. This is part of why 2 threats are so valuable – a pair of 2 threats has 4 more total health than a 4 threat, and generally aren’t that much easier to damage than a 4 threat. Some characters with poor defenses or attacks will get a couple of extra health, but interestingly the presence of the invulnerability rule (or other variants that reduce incoming damage by 1) seems to have no effect on total health. In fact, Luke Cage has an extra point of health despite having invulnerability which makes that health even more valuable – part of what makes him an excellent character. Also pay attention to the distribution of health, Toad and MODOK have the standard amount of health for their threat level, but they are heavily front loaded (with more health on their healthy side) which I believe makes them significantly better.
|Threat Cost||Best Defense||Middle Defense||Worst Defense|
The next baseline is a character’s total defensive stats. You’ll notice that each threat tends to add about 1 defense, which does seem to correlate with health and defensive rerolls (i.e. lower defenses tend to have higher health or more rerolls – but certainly not enough to make up for being able to apply that reroll to all three defenses), but again does not correlate with invulnerability. Defense distributions vary wildly, but I think having an even spread of defenses, with physical being your best stat is the most advantageous one. These are more reasons why Iron <an is so excellent, since he gets the invulnerability rule while still having the defenses of a 4 threat character, and it’s focused on physical.
|Threat Cost||0 Cost Attack Range||0 Cost Attack Dice|
Next, let’s talk about attacks. In a previous article, I talked about the value of spender attacks relative to the builder/gainer attack on the character so I’m going to use the 0 cost attacks as a baseline to compare characters, and leave comparing spenders as an exercise for the reader. There does seem to be a tradeoff between range and attack dice, which becomes very noticeable between 3 and 4 threat characters, but notably AMG seems to undervalue offensive rerolls and pierce triggers, despite them having nearly the same effect as a full extra die. This is why I often describe the Shield grunts as having a “3 threat attack”, since range 3/4 die/reroll 1 is much better than the standard 2 threat attack, and also why core box Spider-Man is so disappointing for a 4 threat – he has the attacks (and health) of a 3 threat character. Rapid fire attacks are also severely undervalued by the developers since they tend to have decent range and do much more damage than the loss of a single damage die would cost. Attack type seems to have little effect on threat cost, but bear in mind that physical attacks are the least valuable (since they’re both common and many characters have better defenses against them) and energy attacks are the most valuable (for mirrored reasons). Since using these 0 cost attacks will make up the majority of your characters’ actions, it is important to pay a lot of attention to the small differences in attack stats when choosing characters.
|Threat Cost||Number of Superpower Throws, Pushed and Extract Steals|
Last, but certainly not least, are the superpowers the character has access to. The most valuable of these abilities are ones that; move a friendly character (including charges), push (and especially throw) an enemy character, and steal/drop scenario elements. Abilities such as these can be extremely valuable because, unlike attacks with these abilities, they automatically work without caring about the die result (which would also include attacks like Shuri’s Panther Gauntlets which push regardless of the die roll) and often do not require an action, leaving you free to move or attack more afterwards. As you can see, even having one of these abilities is considered sufficient for a 5 threat character – so definitely pay attention to characters that have two or more of these types of superpowers.
Now, you just need to think about how all of your favorite characters compare to these rough baselines – Do they have a 5 die attack on a 5 threat? 3/3/3 defenses on a 4 threat? 12 health on a 3 threat? – and you too can make snap judgements about new models and argue about them endlessly on the internet. Or, make better choices on what models to take in your rosters, I guess (if that’s your thing).