Now that we have a much fuller picture of the Guardians of the Galaxy affiliation – we are only missing Angela – here are some thoughts on how I’m planning to build to their strengths.
I’m gonna die, surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.
The big draw is the cost of the affiliated characters. They have the cheapest leader in Star-Lord at three threat, and two affiliated characters at two threat in Rocket and Nebula. That means you could field a five character team using only 7 threat up in affiliated characters, leaving 10+ threat for some big cost characters.
Hulk, Thor and M.O.D.O.K. immediately spring to mind. Thanos is likely to be a big cost too. Having space to include these bigger characters and still another 4-5 threat piece to synergise with them is very appealing.
Thor in particular is very appealing – more on that shortly.
Something that is possible, but doesn’t appeal that much to me is a 7 character team. Using all four 2-threat characters and Star-Lord comes to 11 threat. Add in two more three threats (one has to be Groot or Drax to keep affialtion) and you’ve got seven characters.
I can see maybe that swarming secures with more characters than your opponent can deal with quickly could work to get an early lead. But only for one turn. They lack the survivability to keep at it, and their higher numbers won’t count for enough once some of them are flipped to injured side.
The other issue I have with this list is that the horde of two threat characters aren’t particularly effective. Rocket can do decent damage and Nebula can do decent damage, but what are Black Widow and Okoye bringing to further your game plan? You will always get the last activation in the round, but what are you using that for. Maybe that last 3 threat is Shuri, and pushing two off a turn at the end of the round is very strong, but that gives you a very fragile team.
I’m prepared to be proved wrong in this, but I don’t think a 7 activation team is going to perform particularly well. Maybe a crisis comes out in the future that makes me re-evaluate, but as things stand, I can’t see it. It does force your opponent to make make good choices as to when to pass, but that’s a low bar to reach in terms of skill level.
The other draw to the affiliation is the leadership. It isn’t as big a deal as Avengers or Cabal, but there are some ways of maximising it.
The main thing to notice is there are three rerolls. To get the most out of them you’d like to use them all on attacks as an opponent can mitigate how much use you can get out of it by not attacking a character with a winging it reroll left over. That can be win in itself, but I’d rather try to maximise use of it, and typically attack rolls roll more dice than defense: rerolls are better on more dice as you reduce the risk of not being able to use them.
So characters that can make three attacks a turn are great Winging It targets. Valkyrie springs first to mind, as her throw is largely absent from the affiliation. There are others as well, but leveraging this ability to get maximum benefit is something on my mind when building rosters and lists.
This is the first time I’ll refer back to Thor: the one thing he is missing in his card is rerolls. Adding a bit of smoothing to his dice curve really makes him much more reliable. It also can increase odds of hitting the wild throw on his Strike.
Only one official team tactics cards: Crew of the Milano. That plays nicely with the leadership, as some games it will be clutch, and other can be happily burned to Winging It. It’s a nice card, but not of the level of some other affiliation cards.
There are other cards that lend themselves in the affialtion: especially with Gem-laden Star Lord. You will always have a flier on your team, so drop off becomes close to an affiliation card: very powerful and with one of the major costs – a flier – already accounted for. Again, Thor is a great character to have dropped off, so he fits nicely here.
Having three power on turn one on a 4 threat character you are including anyway turns on a number of turn one plays. Tactical Analysis, Advanced R&D and Inspiring Monologue can all be part of some unexpected round one plays. That’s a significant feature of the affiliation.
Other cards that are powerful, but situational, like Battle Lust can find a much better home as you always have an option to cash them in for rerolls. Age of Ultron is another great example: if your opponent plays around it, you benefit from an ignored Ultron and still using his card for some benefit.
It feels that this affiliation wants to focus more on extracts – a lack of in-affiliation pushes and throws outside of Drax is a bit lacking when it comes to secure-play. Evacuees, Spider infected and Cosmic cubes, and to an extent Hammers all seem good for them. Having character advantage can be exploited on these multi-extract crises. But I do think there are some good builds on Infinity Formula. It’s easy for them to take two good blasters (Star Lord and Rocket) to sit on defensive secures, impacting out.
A number of the characters can hand out status effects: not least Star-Lord. Whilst inflicting statuses isn’t a direct route to victory, it can help tip action economy or power economy or positioning to help support another strategy. I can see a list emerging that relies heavily on inflicting statuses, taking advantage of abilities/attacks like on Agent Widow. I don’t know if it will become a staple list, but I’m keen to experiment in that space.