I wrote last week about how using Pentagrams of Farallah on herbs was probably more cute than good. Then Toad got spoiled…
This idea came to me originally from Brian (ONEnONLY1 on Discord), but has had input from Charles from Omnus Protocol, Pat from Across the Bifrost and Mark (GDNerd) from Roster Doctor.
Toad is unique in the game that he can interact with scenario elements from range 2.
Edit – the below play still works as explained, but there is an even cheaper way to do it, pointed out by Mark (GDNerd) from Roster Doctor. Here’s his prescription:
You need Doctor Strange, Soul Gem, Valkyrie and Toad. You also need a way to move one power on to Toad: either Wong or Advanced R&D spring to mind.
Valkyrie double moves, grabs the Herb, and then jumps through the portal. Toad, with his two power, uses Finders Keepers to take the Herb off Valkyrie and walks to the vessel. Unlike the below, there is a chance of disruption between activations, but as you can see, Valkyrie is very safe. She is also one of the better characters to hold a Herb, as it increases her only physical attacks. This 11-13 threat base can be played at any current threat level.
That allows the following play to unfold using Strange with a Soul Gem, Pentagram of Farallah, Hulk, Gamma Launch and either Wong or Advanced R&D.
During the power phase, Strange puts down the Pentagram of Farallah, one near the vessel, the other toward the herb. At some point in your turn you need to get an extra power on to Toad. Wong can easily do that and still have an action to move on to a secure. Alternatively Valkyrie is a great option to advanced R&D as she can hand out a power and still have one to interact with a crisis element.
Once he has two power, at any point on you turn, Hulk Gamma launches toad up range 5. That puts him in range to interact with Herb without having to move. He can then move to the portal and use the second power he was given to jump through it, ending up in range of the altar.
The team above is 16 threat, or 17 if you swap Wong for Valkyrie and Advanced R&D. As you build higher, there are other variants that also work, but this needs to be at least 16 threat.
That only works at 16+ threat, but there is still a good play if you are forced to play at 15.
Hulk launches Valkyrie to the herb, she steps through the portal and then moves towards the Vessel. She loves having a Herb if anyone comes near her, and can use a throw to protect herself. As we will see, she’s pretty safe here, and could be sitting on a secure at the end of Round 1, depending on the crisis. Round two, she has an easy move to the vessel. This isn’t as good as there is much more counter play, but there is a decent play to be had here.
Typically, turn one herbs plays can be countered by moving the herb carrier with someone like Valkyrie, double move, throwing them, Ghost Spider Impact Webbing then Web Lining or maybe Shuri moving forward and pushing them off the vessel. Sadly, Toad can be out of range of all of these:
There are some options that will work:
- Any additional moves like Tactical Analysis, Avengers Assemble, or Thanos’s Cosmic Portal in Avengers or with a Gem.
- Mothershiping in a black order member – this also probably requires R&D.
- Shuri can use Wakanda Forever after double moving
- Using your own portal to do this yourself, or to get a ranged attacker or disruptor where they get to Toad.
- Mind Gem or Space Gem on a character that double moves
- An M mover with a ranged ability and enough power to move a character (sounds Enchanting…)
- A L mover, with a 50mm+ base and range 4+ attack (sounds Angelic…), playing Battle Lust and probably Advance R&D
- Forcing play at 15 by selecting Gamma Shelters as the Secure.
I’m sure there are some more that will occur to people, but all of these have issues. The Toad play can happen at any point in the Defenders player’s turn. If they have the last activation, they can do it with no ability to respond. Of the above, the Wakandan response seems the most likely to be able to outnumber the Toad team to deny him the last activation. Using up what is widely regarded as the best tactics card in the game to prevent this play is a relatively high cost. Plus Shuri is not very tough, so having her so far up the board and away from any plans you might have had for her might bring it’s own problems. Finally, you have a 1-in-3 chance to discard Gamma Shelters.
Does it matter?
This one play doesn’t instantly win you the game. The folks I’ve spoken to about this expressed a healthy scepticism that the rest of the team is up to snuff, especially when you are dedicating two tactics cards and all that power to this one play. I can see where they are coming from. I want to get some more testing in to this to see how the games pan out in later turns, but a 4VP advantage in a crisis known for its low scoring is a Big Deal. Add in that even if you daze him, normally the herb carrier has to move to grab the herb so they can’t move back on the vessel. Toad can pick it right up with his tongue, and doesn’t even need to move at all. Field Dressing a 2 threat model to score 4VPs seems legit.
But surely, you can just dodge Herbs? Sometimes they’ll discard it. Sometimes I’ll be able to choose extracts and play something else. The wider issue comes when you consider the rest of the roster. It’s already playing Pentagrams, Strange, Soul Gem, Hulk, Wong and Valkyrie. Add in M.O.D.O.K. for the oppressive round one double tap from the centre of the board on narrow crises like Gamma Wave, Deadly Meteors or Demons. Add in Cubes to have the Hulk running around with two cubes on him round one. Add in another extract, maybe Spider Infected or Citizens/Evacuees. Maybe add Hired Muscle to help Hulk do cool things on those extracts. You’ve got a really strong game plan, not just on Herbs, but on any Extract or Secure in your roster. I don’t know which I think is their best.
This is the core of a list I’ve taken calling the Pentathletes. I really like the way it has good plans on both Extracts and Secures. It’s one I’ll be testing and refining, but my initial impressions are it is a really, really strong roster.