Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is your friendly neighborhood Mike here. I'd like to take a break from talking about Venom and how Venomenal he is, and talk with you all about something just as phenomenal, Throws!!
If you've played or looked into Marvel Crisis Protocol at all then one thing you would have noticed as an interesting game mechanic is throwing terrain and characters. Now, this is not a new mechanic for wargames by any means. But AMG has taken the Marvel hero/villain theme and mixed it with wargaming rules. This creates a game of Marvel Crisis Protocol with very flashy attacks, superpowers and of course throwing stuff around the table throughout a game. In this game though, throws have very practical and strategic uses on top of being super thematic and flashy. Without further delay, let's dive on in.
First, what do I mean by "throws"? Well, throws refer to a character's ability to take a piece of terrain or an enemy character and "throw" them (see what is did there?). This is not the same as the "push" mechanic. When you "push" a character, damage is never taken while the character is still moved to a new location. As useful as pushing an enemy character can be, we are not talking about that. This article is focusing on "throwing" because of the damage that can be inflicted while being thrown or having terrain thrown at you.
Second, the types of throws. You have characters that have superpowers that can strictly throw terrain (i.e. Ultron and MODOK). You also have characters that can strictly throw characters after resolving an attack (i.e. Cap America). And of course, you have characters that can throw both characters and terrain (i.e. Vision, Doc Ock). So, which of these are useful? And why am I blabbering about it?
Let's look at the question: which throws are useful? In short, all are. Being able to throw a piece of terrain and change the battlefield and/or being able to position your opponent's characters in less the optimal positions can be game-changing. Let's say a piece of terrain is blocking line of sight for your long-range attacks. Well, Ultron can simply remove that piece of terrain so that you now have a clear shot. Or, you have moved your Vision onto a Gamma Shelter objective to score it, but your opponent has Groot sitting there contesting the point. At this point, Vision can simply pick up Groot and throw him off the objective allowing you to score much-needed victory points. The possibilities go on and on as to why throws are useful.
But, the main reason I'm blabbering about them is the amount of damage that can be dealt to an enemy character with a throw. To clear that up, the rules state that when an object is thrown and comes into contact with a character, that character suffers hits equal to the object's size +1. So, a size 2 car thrown into Red Skull would cause 3 automatic hits. Red Skull has to roll his physical defense dice to attempt to block the incoming damage. But the main benefit is how a throw can create automatic hits you don't have to roll onto the table.
That's pretty good. How so? Well, imagine a base attack is an average of 5 dice. You have to roll your attack dice and are at the mercy of whatever they decide to give you. However, a throw is an automatic hit, and the bigger the object, the more the hits (nothing is more fun than throwing a size 4 truck into a MODOK for 5 hits). What this does is give that character another opportunity to attack with guaranteed hits. The option to pay power in trade for guaranteed hits means a more reliable way to deal damage to enemy characters throughout the course fo the game. And in a game that relies on rolling dice, being able to remove that aspect means more consistent results. This is a powerful tool players can utilize to secure daze/KO's on threat characters.
Where this gets nasty is when you are throwing opponent's characters. Yes, throwing terrain is fun and cool but throwing characters wins games. Let me explain. When you throw terrain, it gets destroyed and is gone for good. When you throw characters they take more damage. For example, Captain Marvel moves up to contest an objective and attacks Ultron who is contesting the same objective. She doesn't daze him, so she then uses her ability to throw him off the objective and into Red Skull. Well, not only does Red Skull take 4 automatic hits (size 3 Ultron plus 1) but Ultron also takes an automatic 1 damage for the collision.
Let's break that down. In one character activation Captain Marvel was able to:
- move onto an objective (1 action)
- attack Ultron (1 action)
- move Ultron off the objective and deal another point of damage (seems like another action)
- deal Red Skull 4 hits from the throw (seems like another action).
This play is not a "perfect scenario", but it happens all the time if you build throws into your team.
One of the biggest takeaways here is how throws can be used both on offense and defense. On offense, you can use terrain and enemy characters as sources of damage. If you throw terrain into a character, they have to roll defense dice while you didn't have to roll any dice. Being able to trade power for automatic incoming damage is a HUGE trade of resources. Even if you do not account for Captain America's Leadership ability, you can on average spend 2-3 power to throw a size 2 piece of terrain. This translates 2-3 power into 3 incoming damage. Without going into the math, this showcases the offensive strength of a throw versus a strike/attack coming from a character. The ability to remove a dice roll that you cannot control by spending power is a fantastic option. It reduces the probability of rolling the attack values you need and sends a fixed value of hits at the enemy character.
The other option is throwing a character into terrain or another character. The character you throw will take guaranteed 1 damage upon collision with something else. If you throw say Ultron into Red Skull, the Red Skull character also has to roll defense dice to dodge the incoming Ultron. Once again, showcasing how a throw can deal damage to multiple targets and you didn't have to roll any dice. Having this level of consistency available removes some of the random aspects of the game and reliably puts pressure on the opponent. In turn, this means being able to control some aspects of damage instead of the entire game relying on dice rolls.
However, throws are also very useful on defense as well. Although defensive throws are not as impactful for damage output, they can be used for strong control plays. Throwing a character off of an objective means scoring victory points and/or denying the opponent the same opportunity. When throwing characters/terrain you deal damage and feed power into the damaged characters. Defensive throws focus more on repositioning enemy models so they are unable to reach friendly models with attacks and/or cannot score objectives. This also denies power to your enemy and forces them to spend actions to get back into the fight.
Either way you look at the throw mechanic, there is a use for it depending on your playstyle. But the beauty is how flexible a throw can be in a given situation. If you need to pressure damage you can throw both terrain and characters. Or if you need to score objectives you can move your opponent's characters into terrible board positions.
So in short, throws allow for your characters to get off extra attacks that automatically hit. They also allow you to manipulate the battlefield and move your opponent's characters around. In a dice and movement game, when you're able to guarantee hits and force characters in bad positions, that usually adds up to a better chance at winning the game. Does that mean you cannot win without throws? No. But if you want to step up your play and suck and dice rolls, this is a way to deal more consistent damage and control your opponent's movements.
I hope everyone stays safe during this crazy time and as always, may the force be with... Oh wait, wrong universe.