As part of talking his new podcast Morgan Reid mentioned a fun gambit he sometimes uses to get a big lead in games. He calls it the Hammer Heist.
Gambits are scripted sequences of plays that are designed to help you get ahead. They are common in chess, and I’ve written about a few in M:CP, like the Hulk Missile, Hela’s Herb gambit and Thanos’ Herb gambit.
This one is designed for Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight to get you an early advantage on the Fear Grips World As “Worthy” Terrorize Cities crisis. The main aim for Proxima to pick up one wide hammer and Corvus the other. If they survive, you are likely to score three hammers to your opponent’s one. That asymmetry in scoring can get you ahead quickly, plus Proxima and Corvus are great characters to have an extra attack dice on.
How to do it
As well as Corvus and Proxima, you need to have the Rocket Boots?! Drop Off combo and Advanced R&D in your tactics cards selection. If Corvus doesn’t have an Infinity Gem on him, you will also need another character that starts with two or more power.
Deploy Proxima centrally, with Corvus next to her. As your first activation, activate Proxima. Use Advanced R&D to make sure both Proxima and Corvus have 2 power each.
Play Rocket Boots?! on Proxima. Pay one from Proxima and Corvus to have Proxima drop off Corvus.
Positioning is important here. Corvus should be slightly off centre, closer to the hammer you want Proxima to pick up: he needs to be within range 4 of where she will end up.
For her second action, Proxima moves over to one hammer and picks it up. She then triggers Wife of Corvus Glaive:
Corvus now activates, moves twice and interacts with the other wide hammer.
You have claimed both of the wide hammers that are ‘up for grabs’. This breaks the symmetry you normally get on hammers, where each player typically controls two hammers by the end of round one. This early VP advantage can become entrenched, as the extra die on attacks can lead to and attrition advantage, as well as a VP advantage.
Looking at it one way, there is no counterplay to this gambit. It can be the very first activation of the game to grab both of them so there isn’t time to counterplay before it goes off.
Which brings me on to why you might not be too worried by this play. It costs three tactics cards. Not only that, but Corvus is limited to his Atom Splitter attack on the Drop Off. This is a huge commitment of resources by the Hammer Heist player. The longer the game goes, the more the lack of tactics cards will bear a toll.
Of course, there is also counterplay after the play has gone off. Corvus and Proxima are higher in the survivability stakes for their threat thanks to their damage reducing powers, but if you see this coming (Advanced R&D and Rocket Boots?! are the key indicators) deploying characters to counter these wider threats will help you recover at least one hammer. With the flexibility of a central deployment and mobility given by flight on Rocket Boots?!, the Hammer Heist player will be able to decide which side the slightly more fragile Proxima Midnight ends up on, so you need to load up both flanks with characters that can not only get in range but have high damage output. The survivability combined with the range does make this a daunting task, but if you have been forced in to this situation by losing priority, this can be a necessary risk to not have the game run away from you.
Drop Off can form the basis of a counterplay strategy, especially if the dropper has a 50mm base – see here for details.
Miles Morales presents another interesting option. His Venom Blast can force one of them to drop a hammer. Getting it off round one is harder though, as it costs 3 power.
One option is No Matter the Cost. This allows him to do it at the cost of damage, but he can keep the power to grab the hammer. He does need help getting there though: unless the hammer holding character has been put nearly as far forward as they can be, they will be out of a move and attack range for Miles. Some sort of movement of either Miles (Master of the Cube from Red Skull, Cosmic Portal from Thanos or Tactical Analysis all spring to mind) or the hammer bearer (such as an Impact Line play) is required to make this happen.
It does put Miles at considerable risk in round 2, however. Probably some sort of healing might be in order to keep him going a bit longer.
The games dice variance means that this gambit is unlikely to result in auto-win, but it can make the game an uphill struggle for the opponent. As with all of these sorts of plays, knowing it exists is half the battle. Forming a decent plan to counter it is the other half.