Playing Spider Foes
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Recently I did the unthinkable – Not sacrificing my first born to Bast or trying to turn everyone into Lizards – But I did step into a new affiliation for the first time. With a huge thanks to Dan and the other guys from over at Board in Brum, I’ve managed to get around thirty games in with the Spider Foes – And I’ve even taken them to an event alongside the Web Heads
On Saturday we had another Marvel Mashup at BIB, and we had a good turnout and a strong mix of players. For the first two games I used the Spider Foes, and in the third and the final I used the trusty Web Heads. For the first time ever at an event, my Web Heads got tabled and lost to some Spicy Scoundrel Avengers from Quinn at RichMid Gaming. It was the third time that Quinn and I had clashed in a finals, and this time Quinn got the upper hand.
But we aren’t here to talk about Web Heads – Lets dive into some Spider Foes!
First of all I don’t claim to be a Spider Foes expert – The same as the Web Heads. Everything I share here is just my opinions, and I’m more than happy to discuss different tactics or ideas for roster building. If anything, I’d like to hear more thoughts on roster composition for Spider Foes!
At the centre of every affiliation there is a core – three or four characters that are almost auto takes when playing that team. The first of these is always the leader, and although they might not be the shining star of the team they are what gives you access to the leadership.
For Spider Foes the only current option is the Green Goblin. Coming over from the luxury of a three threat leader, building lists around a four threat leader with no options for an affiliated two threat can be a little tricky. Luckily the affiliation has some amazing three threats, but that doesn’t stop the Goblin tax. On his healthy side Goblin has some interesting tools in his kit. His medium move on a medium base means he has quite a long reach, and with Hit and Run he can be really quite manoeuvrable. A large health pool of seven means that he can tank some hits, but make no mistake – With no Defensive tech or re-rolls he can go down very quickly. Trick or Treat can be a nasty surprise for anyone trying to move towards him, and his options to choose the attack types for his attacks can be very handy when going on the offence. His Arch Nemesis (Peter Parker) is a fluffy special rule that I’m yet to see come into play, as not many people run either of the current Peters in their Web Heads.
My main criticism for this side of his card is that Night of the Goblin just doesn’t feel like a great spender for four power. When using his builder, you’ll be able to dish out Incinerate as long as you get a Wild, regardless of damage dealt. With his spender being shorter range, the extra two dice and the guaranteed two conditions on the Spender don’t really feel worth the four power…
On his injured side this attack drops down to three power. This slight reduction makes the attack more appealing, but with Pumpkin Bombs bumping up to six dice, it’s still quite a costly attack for one extra dice and a variance on dishing out conditions. Sadly this isn’t the only change for the Green menace on his Unhealthy side. Goblins health pool drops down to five, and his defences take a bit of a dive. Going from 4/3/3 to 3/3/5 is a net gain overall in terms of the dice you’ll be rolling, but with Physical being the most common and Energy a reliable second, you feel the loss of that one dice against most attacks. I’ve found that once he’s flipped, it becomes a priority to get rid of Goblin as quickly as possible for the opponent, and it isn’t that hard to do so.
We also trade out a few superpowers. Hit and Run goes, replaced with the Unstable Psyche. This is a double edged sword, as Goblin can no longer interact with or hold Objective tokens. He can still contest ones like Infinity Formula as an Unhealthy model, but that’s about all the objective play you’ll get out of your damaged Goblin. The trade off for this is that in the power phase, you can roll five dice and Goblin will gain a power for each Crit, Wild and Hit you roll. Usually though, when coming off of the back of being Dazed, Goblin has plenty of power anyway. If you can keep him alive once he’s been flipped then this definitely can come in handy in later turns, but it isn’t amazing initially.
The second change in Superpowers is Trick or Treat for Glider Ram. Glider Ram lets the Goblin throw himself into opponents, much like Panthers Pounce. The difference here is that Goblin is size three, so that’s a chunky four damage for your opponents to Dodge. This can be used like a pseudo Hit and Run, but you will be stopping if you come into contact with anything. With his new set of powers and bonus dice on his builder, this side of Goblin definitely wants to get stuck in – But he is a little bit of a glass cannon. That Glass cannon is also what’s giving you your leadership, so you won’t want to lose him if you can help it.
Talking of Goblins leadership, Oscorp Weaponry is definitely a lot stronger than what people give it credit for. Once per turn, while an allied character is attacking, during the Modify Opponent’s Dice step, it may re-roll 1 opposing defence dice. One of the most important things to remember with this leadership ability is that it happens at stage 14b of the attack sequence, which if your a mega-nerd like me you will know happens after the Defender applies cover. So, if your opponent blanks out on their roll, once they’ve applied their cover you can then make them re-roll that. This can be a huge help for dealing with models like Rocket Raccoon who always benefit from cover, or anyone who is being shielded by Magneto’s Magnetic Refraction or Storms leadership ability.
Due to the fact that you only have a 3/8 chance of rolling a Defensive block, more often than not you will find using your leadership re-roll will be reducing the number of blocks the Defender has. It is possible that even when making your opponent re-roll, the dice gods side with them and they roll into more blocks. So it’s important to try and not bank on this as a guaranteed way to do more damage. It’s also important to make sure you are always using this leadership, as forgetting about it for even one round can have a big impact on the game.
The Spider Foes currently have eight characters available to them, or seven if you don’t include Green Goblin. If your going five wide in your team building, then your going to need three affiliated characters. If your going six wide, you’ll need four. As I mentioned earlier, the Foes still have no affiliated two threat, so going with the approach of Wider Foes can be challenging. Luckily they have some great three threats, so this helps with their Crisis team construction.
When building my roster for the Foes, there are currently two of the affiliated models that I’m not bringing along as options. The first is Kingpin, as although he is very tanky he is another four threat, so alongside Green Goblin that’s an eight threat duo. Generally I think that unless your planning to dual Crim Syndicate and Foes, you want to be leaving Kingpin behind. Kingpin himself is a more than capable character, and when being built around as an anchor for Crim Syn he can be phenomenal. However he just doesn’t fit into how I see the Foes playing.
The second affiliated character that I won’t be including in my rosters for now is Carnage. I absolutely love the Symbiotes, so not taking Carnage might be a shock to anyone that’s listened to me team up with House Party Protocols, but sadly another four threat is one to many for the roster I’m trying to create. With a lot of the current rosters and teams we are seeing recently, having both a single defence dice for his Mystic and Energy defences means that Carnage can be very hard to justify – If you accidentally take him into a match up where your opponent has splashed models like Rocket or Iron Man, then he is going to really struggle. Carnage has a very aggressive toolkit, and I’ve really enjoyed using him with my Web Heads in the past, but I don’t think he will see any table time if I put him in with the Foes.
This leaves us with five affiliated Foes. The one four threat that I will be taking – Venom, as well as the four three threats; Lizard, Kraven, Mysterio and Doctor Octopus! I’ve managed to get lots of games in with all of these characters, and I’ve found the two that I’m always stapling next to Goblin for my core are Kraven the Hunter and Doctor Octopus.
Everyone who I’ve spoken to that has played Foes doesn’t really rate Kraven, and it’s hard for me to see why not. He comes in with the fairly basic statline for a three threat, being 3/3/3 on his defences and having five health either side. The Elixir of Calypso innate superpower means that he can re-roll one die in his attack or defense re-rolls, which makes him both that little bit tankier and more consistent when doing his attacks. Rather than having a spender, Kraven has two attacks that both generate some power, as well as comboing nicely with one another.
His first attack, Kukri Strike, is a range two physical attack that throws out five dice. After the attack is resolved, Kraven gains one power and the target character gains the Bleed special condition. On the roll of a Wild, Kraven has the Elusive trigger – Which means that after the attack is resolved, he may advance Small. This attack on its own is pretty decent for a builder, and using his re-roll makes that little bit more consistent. The auto Bleed is nice and can be very annoying for an opponent who is already having to whether a Flurry of attacks from the rest of your turn.
Elusive is useful and when combined with his second attack it becomes very strong. Spear Thrust is a range three Physical attack that throws four dice, but if you’ve already attacked the target character during Kravens activation that turn you get to add three dice to the attack. This bumps it up to a nice seven dice, which is nothing to sniff at. You also gain power equal to the damage dealt, so this can be a quick way to Inject Kraven with a bunch of power. If Kraven has Advanced or been Placed during his activation that turn, after the attack is resolved you get to advance Medium – And that is why the Elusive is so good. As it is an advance, it triggers this last part of Spear Thrust, so if you managed to set up the first attack and get Elusive, you’ll of made two attacks whilst also moving Small and Medium.
It’s easy to see why Kraven would be good in that situation, but if he isn’t starting the turn within range two of the target, then he isn’t going to be able to do it. What he can do is use his actions in a slightly different way, swapping to be a harassment and support piece. I’ve had success using his first action to move medium into Spear Thrust range, doing the attack, and then skulking away with the free advance. This usually lets Kraven push through some damage, as although he’s only rolling four dice, he does get a re-roll and he can make the opponent re-roll one of their dice when playing under Spider Foes. It would be really great if there was a way to make it five dice…
Which there is! Expert Tracker is an active superpower, that costs three power but has unlimited range. It also doesn’t need Line of Sight, so you can target anyone from anywhere. Once you’ve chosen a target, Allied characters roll one additional attack dice when attacking the target character this round. This includes Kraven, which means you can pop it off at the start of his turn, boosting Kukri strike to six dice and Spear Thrust to five. If you’ve managed to set up the double tap, that’s going to be a six dice Kukri Strike followed by an eight dice Spear Thrust! He can use this Superpower to target any number of enemy characters a round, so as long as he has the power you can begin marking the whole enemy team!
His only other Active superpower is Corner the Beast. This again targets enemy models, with the caveat that they have to be within range three for this to be used. What this does is makes it so that if the enemy model Advances or Climbs, it suffers one damage. If the target has Wall crawler, they also lose that, and the effects of this superpower last until the end of the targets next activation. So, even if an enemy model has already activated that round, you can put out the Corner the Beast token and they’re still going to keep it
This opens up even more harassment plays for Kraven. Moving into range three of an enemy character, putting out a Corner the Beast on them followed by a Spear Thrust and a free advance away, means that they’re probably not in range to attack Kraven back, and if they start moving towards him they’re going to start taking damage. If you get enough power from the Spear Thrust, you can even Expert Tracker them to have everyone else get extra dice to finish them off.
So now that we’ve talked about Kraven, it’s time to talk about one of the most famous Spider Man villains of all time – Doctor Octopus! Almost anyone who plays MCP will have owned Otto Octavius from when they bought the core box, and Spider Foes is his first real chance to shine.
Doc is another three threat, but unlike Kraven he has an above average stat line. With a medium move on a medium base, the Doc is able to keep up with Green Goblin. What’s quite surprising is just how tanky the good Doctor is. With five health on his healthy side, and six on his injured, Doc has a decent pool of eleven health. His defences come in at 4/3/4, which is very nice for a three threat.
Doc has two attacks on his card, a builder and a spender. His builder, simply named Strike as a lot of early attacks were, is a range three Physical attack that throws out four dice. After the attack is resolved, Doc gains power equal to the damage dealt. The second part of this attacks special rule trigger on a Wild, and it’s called Flurry of Arms. What this does is essentially count every Wild in the attack roll as two successes. This helps to make up for the fact that the attack is only four dice, and can lead to some really spiky situations. As long as it isn’t M.O.D.O.K that your attacking, Doc can surprise you with some decent damage from this attack.
Doc’s spender is called Arm Lasers, and it’s one of the longest ranged attacks from the core box. A range four, six dice Energy attack that ignores both Line of sight and Cover means there is no where safe for your opponent to hide – And if you roll a Wild you get Pierce as well. What this does is changes one of the defending characters Blocks, Crits or Wilds to a blank, so if you pair this with the Foes re-roll suddenly your opponent can go from having two blocks to none. For only three power this attack can be really nasty, as using it twice in one activation puts serious fear into any target, especially those weak to energy!
Moving on to Docs superpowers, Ocks Clutches is one of my favourite throws in the game. For three power, Ock can throw an interactive terrain feature or enemy character – both of size two or less -small in any direction. This means that bigger models don’t need to worry about being thrown around, but the real strength of this throw is that it can target terrain and characters within range three of Ock. This gives him some huge reach, and lets him mess with enemy character positioning from afar.
Although three power for his spender and his throw isn’t that much, you might be wondering how Ock is going to afford all of those with his four dice builder. The answer isn’t with unlimited energy from the palm of his hand, but rather with Scientific Hubris. This innate superpower means that whenever Ock rolls dice, after the effect is resolved, if he rolled at least one Crit then he gains a power. You might not be rolling a Crit in every single one of his rolls, but this Superpower counts for when Ock is attacking, defending, dodging and rolling for interacts – So you can wrack up some power quite quickly! It’s always worth letting your opponent see your dice and explaining why your gaining the power, to stop any confusion for anyone who isn’t too familiar with Ock and keep it super clear.
Ock also opens up access to Well Laid Plans. Although it is an unaffiliated card, you see it most often in Foes because it requires both Doctor Octopus and Green Goblin. WLP is really great for if your opponent has managed to scoop up lots of extracts, and on missions where each model can only hold one of each, it can be really brutal. I myself have fallen afoul to some Well Laid Plans against my friend Ron before, and I wished I’d of known what it did at the time!
Overall Ock brings lots of things to the table – A tanky model that can kick out some damage and displace enemy characters. When you combine Doc Oc and Kraven, you get some great synergies. Docs builder becomes even scarier with an extra dice, and if you Corner the Beast on an enemy model, before using Ock to throw them away, they’re going to be taking damage just trying to get back into the fight. If Kraven isn’t in the best position, you can use Ocks throw to feed him a character to double tap during his activation.
So Foes so far
So overall, using these three as my core and building around them, I’ve had some really good games using Foes. They seem very strong and able to contend with other members of the current meta, and once you start splashing in other characters they really start to shine. Their leadership feels really strong, and although Goblin feels like a little bit of a tax, a line up of super strong three threats helps to deal with this. The current roster I’ve been using looks like this, although I’m sure it will change moving forward. The missions are all ones that I think suit Foes, although I’ll be looking to close the gap on threat values when I know how I prefer running them a little more
Green Goblin (L), Venom, Kraven the Hunter, Doctor Octopus, Lizard, Mysterio, Toad, Bullseye, Hood and Black Cat
Medpack, Patch Up, Sinister Traps, Well Laid Plans, Lethal Protector, Sacrifice, Advanced R&D, Climbing Gear, the Grand Illusion and Monkey Brain is Lizard Home
Gamma Waves sweep across Midwest – 15
Infinity Formula goes missing! – 17
Mutant Madman turns city centre into lethal amusement park – 18
Research station attacked – 16
Skrulls infiltrate world Leadership – 17
Spider Infected invade Manhattan – 17
When I next talk about Spider Foes, I’ll be talking about the other affiliated characters in my roster – Mysterio, Lizard and Venom, and I’ll be breaking down this article into character breakdowns for Green Goblin, Kraven and Doc Oc. Let me know what you think, and if I’ve missed any obvious tricks for Foes then let me know! I’m also using a new laptop that has a very odd auto correct, so if you catch any weird spelling or grammar mistakes, please let me know!
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