A-force is a really powerful affiliation. It has a number of strong opening plays to help get an early advantage in a range of crises. In this series of articles I’ll be looking at some to understand how they work and give some suggestions for how to play against them. First up, Fear grips world as “Worthy” terrorise cities; AKA hammers.
A lot of what gets discussed in these articles will involve Angela. There are a lot of very powerful round one plays that she can do that nobody else can do. We will touch on these, but the fact she has two power each round and a long move on a 50mm base really matters.
Committing 11 threat to two characters might feel a bit steep at first, but the combination of those two can set up your early game in a way that gives you such a big advantage that it can make the rest of the game a much easier prospect.
You will also notice nearly all of these articles will revolve around extracts. It feels like A-force normally wants to be choosing the extracts to run one these plays. Winning priority and choosing one of your extracts instead is a probably good idea in to them, but half of the time you’ll be forced in to this situations described below. For each, I’ve considered lines of counter-play, all assuming you don’t have priority. I can see there may be matchups where you might still want to force a secure (Criminal Syndicate springs to mind), but most often I feel choosing extracts in to them is probably the right choice to deny these strong plays.
The goal on this crisis is to end round one holding three hammers. Putting a medium move character in the centre, you can get to either wide hammer. Making this a more durable character is a good idea, as you want them to not get dazed. Another character can grab your “home” hammer later. That leaves the other wide hammer.
If your opponent ignores it, you can choose a character to just walk up and go grab it. If they respond by sending someone to pick it up, Angela moves to be within range 2 of She-Hulk. She can be the character that grabs the central hammer, but you’ll need to Advanced R&D or A-force leadership an extra power on to her if you do that, as Special Delivery will now cost 2 power. Her second move Special Deliverys She-Hulk to where the other wide hammer is. She-Hulk will get three attacks into the character with the hammer, possibly with Weight Training for extra dice.
That’s very like to daze most characters, for example, three seven dice attacks has a 77% chance to daze a 6 stamina 3 defense character. Even a super-tanky character like Black Panther (6 stamina, 4 defense, counts blanks) has a 32% chance to get dazed by those three attacks, and that’s ignoring that two of them could be 10 dice attacks, and She-Hulk also has an up to size 4 throw to add in to the mix!
This works especially well on D shaped secures as your characters are in the right spots to score those too, but even on other shapes, the character grabbing the home hammer can get to a secure easily, so it’s likely that the score in round one will be 4-4, with hammer sin the hands of the A-force player and they can then start focussing on winning – or even just contesting – more secures to get ahead.
This is a very effective strategy and a 3-1 extract advantage can be crippling. You need to have a plan for this. Luckily, there are many different ways to try to prevent it: some options are discussed here, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Firstly, you can target the character who grabbed the other wide hammer. Using your own tech (Web Line and Deception spring to mind) to get early attacks, or someone like Enchantress (needs a power or a discount) or Miles (probably with No Matter the Cost) who can steal their hammer or make them drop it. You could try getting the hammer back off She-Hulk, but chances are they are going to punch you really hard next round, so targeting the side of the board without 11 threat of beatsticks seems like a solid plan.
Another option is to protect your hammer holder. Healing them (medpack, Asgardian leadership) in between Angela and She-Hulk’s activation really helps skew the maths, as would a bodyguard (additional power or discount probably required) or a way to move them (Avengers Assemble, Rainbow Bridge, Lifesaver, Trickster etc) as that reduces She-Hulks attacks by one – though they probably have climbing gear to get her back in range if she generated two power on the first hit; less if A-force leadership gives some power. Throwing She-Hulk away would also work, but her size 3 makes it harder to do that, however advancing or placing her further away would also work. Brace for Impact is also strongly advised if you plan on this way to mitigate their play, but this requires the character to still have a power on them after grabbing the hammer, else they may find something thrown at them before taking any other damage.
Some characters can innately get further back with a hammer: Angela, Hawkeye or Miles in Avengers (needs another power, probably from advanced R&D), or a pretty much any character under Storm’s leadership. Those who can move back after grabbing a hammer are a lot safer from the Special Delivery. A smart A-force player, however, will put She Hulk and Angela opposite a wide hammer, grab the other wide hammer first, and really extend the range of She Hulk’s threat. Only Angela is actually able to get fully out of reach to this deployment.
Toad is another character that might survive. If he takes two damage he can slippery away, reducing the attacks by one, but that would also mean She-Hulk has gained two power so can now Climbing Gear back towards him.
A cute play you can consider is sending a fast but cheap character (Core Black Widow is ideal) to grab their home hammer. The resources they will devote to dealing with that character prevents them from effectively threatening the wide hammer – this works particularly well in response to a wide deployment of She-Hulk as mentioned above. You also need to be careful choosing table edge and deploying that character, as terrain can easily stop this from being possible – there is very little tolerance on an L mover getting to the far hammer. The character that does this will almost certainly get taken out, but you may consider that a good use of threat to tie up their big threats for a few rounds, and often those characters have good spender attacks that inflict nasty statuses (Stagger on Widow, Stun on Mystique). Centralising their big attackers may allow you to not only keep parity on extracts, but maybe also get ahead on secures. That character really benefits from having an extra power to be able to use Brace for Impact, as both Angela and She-Hulk have good terrain throws that could free up their actions.