Welcome back to the TURN ZER0 GAMING blog. Atomic Mass Games has been pumping out the hype for the Criminal Syndicate. Our newest spoiled character is Taskmaster, and his card is a doozy.
On the TZG podcast, we have been championing the term #flexthree due to the power of characters who cost three threat. Three threat is the sweet spot to find your way into most rosters, and two of the best characters in the game (in our opinion) are three threat. Three threat is also the most contested spot for characters, which means to stand out, your card needs to have some good abilities or attacks.
Enter Taskmaster. This character's kit is full of a lot of cool powers, attacks, and stats, so let's dive in.
Taskmaster has three attacks on his card that give him a lot of options for engaging the enemy.
First off, we have Sword Strike. That is your standard battery attack. Deal X damage and gain X power. Range two and five dice are pretty standard. What makes this attack unique is that a Wild gives out a Bleed token (The character suffers one damage at the end of each of its activations).
The second attack is Shield Throw. This Range four, four dice attack mimics Captain America's Shield Throw. Both thematic and practical, Taskmaster has a "long-range" attack if he needs to use it. You also have the opportunity to roll and Wild and Ricochet to another enemy model.
The final attack, Mnemonic Technique, is probably the most dangerous offensive weapon for Taskmaster. The range is only two, and you start at four dice base. But for two power, you add dice equal the target's Physical Defense, AND the target cannot modify or reroll defense dice during this attack. I want to unpack a few details about this attack.
- The average/standard Physical defense is three. That means two power for a six dice attack on average.
- Characters in the meta like Captain America, Black Panther, and the soon to be released Kingpin have four Physical defense. That means he can punch up into more staunch characters if he wants to.
- Rerolling or modifying dice is BIG for affiliations like Spider Friends, Wakanda, or models like Dr. Strange. Turning off abilities like Shuri's Upgrades or Peter Parker's Spider-Sense can lead to dazed/KO'd characters fast. Attacks that invalidate defensive abilities are always powerful, but two power PLUS additional dice makes for one scary Taskmaster.
- In a game where Physical defense is usually the higher stat, Taskmaster can lean into models without being punished. Mnemonic Technique makes him a very potent assassin who can pick his targets at will.
Do You Have Any Idea Who I Am?
Taskmaster is a powerful attacker. But he needs strong defenses to survive the onslaught of attacks each round. Taskmaster's defense stat line is the standard 3/3/3 however, his Superpower kit shines in keeping him alive.
Photographic Reflexes allow you to spend two power to roll four dice after taking an attack from range three or less. You deal one damage per Wild or Critical result, and if the attacker is hitting you a second time, you roll six dice instead of four. Here are some percentages on the potential damage output based on rolling four or six dice:
- Rolling four dice, you have approximately:
- 68% chance to deal one or more damage
- 26% chance to deal two or more damage
- 5% chance to deal three or more damage
- Rolling six dice, you have approximately:
- 82% chance to deal one or more damage
- 47% chance to deal two or more damage
- 17% chance to deal three or more damage
Taskmaster being able to essentially counterattack sets up some interesting decision points. If the attacker has low health, they might not want to attack a second time as Taskmaster adds two defense dice on the next attack and two dice to Photographic Reflexes. If he survives the second attack, he might be able to daze/KO the attacker. Depending on the type of attack and range, Taskmaster might also be able to count blanks as successes on defense. Attacking into Taskmaster at close range, multiple times, with low health, can prove to be a disaster if you're not prepared for how sturdy his defensive kit can be.
Intuitive Pattern Recognition gives Taskmaster some incredible sustainability when being attacked a second time in a row. His superpower allows him to add two dice to any of his defenses if he is on the receiving end of attack number two from the same attacker. Paying no power to add a guaranteed two dice is incredible. Characters and affiliation abilities, like Defenders, cannot use their ability to switch damage types against Taskmaster for an offensive advantage. Although Mystic attacks can ignore Taskmaster's Martial Artist, he will always gain two additional defense dice when being attacked two times in a row from the same target. The additional defense dice can keep Taskmaster in the fight longer, which means more pressure to either remove him from battle or avoid him.
Martial Artist is the second defensive superpower that gives Taskmaster the tools to pick targets and stick with them. When Taskmaster is defending against a Physical or Energy attack at range two or less, he counts blanks as a success. That means he can add a Shield, Wild, Crit, and Blank result when taking close-range attacks as successes (5 out of 8 sides count as success on defense with blanks).
Running the math on these powers gets pretty spicy. There are quite a few factors to consider:
- Three dice base defense without counting blanks. (The first attack at a range greater than two)
- Three dice base defense while counting blanks. (The first attack at a range less than two)
- Five dice base defense without counting blanks (The second attack at a range greater than two)
- Five dice base defense while counting blanks (The second attack at a range less than two)
- A Mystic attack that denies counting blanks as successes from Martial Artist
- The attacker and/or the defender rolling in additional dice due to critical results
- Rerolls from abilities or outside sources. Aka Shuri, Dr. Strange, Web Warriors, Wakanda, etc...
Taskmaster wants to soak attacks within range two that are Physical and Energy based. Being able to add blanks as successful results vastly increase his presence on the board, similar to Captain America. He also wants to avoid Mystic attacks and Incinerate tokens as much as possible. Rolling less defense dice or not being able to count blanks reduces Taskmaster's ability to survive multiple attacks each round.
The last superpower available to Taskmaster is Rogue Agent. We have seen this ability on the Winter Soldier, and it is potent when used strategically. Taskmaster counts as any affiliated character during squad building. That means he is a part of Defenders, Cabal, Wakanda, you name it. A #flexthree model with these offensive and defensive abilities should see significant play in many player's rosters.
I Can Counter Anything You Throw At Me
Taskmaster is one powerhouse of a character. But, he does sport some noticeable flaws that smart opponents can use against him.
- Taskmaster, like the Criminal Syndicate, has no special movement tools. He cannot charge, and he has no superpower to move him in closer. That means he has to either move himself with actions or his team has to allocate resources to get him into combat (Drop Off, Gamma Launch, Pentagram of Farallah)
- Mystic attacks are the bane of Taskmaster's existence. He cannot add blanks to his successes, and that makes him much less staunch. With Defenders being popular at the time of this writing, Taskmaster may find some hard matchups with Mystic attacks being more prevalent.
- Long-range attacks at ranges three-five also invalidate Taskmaster's ability to count blanks. He has to avoid range based attackers in the meta like Dr. Strange, Ghost Rider, MODOK, and Hawkeye while trying to get in range for close combat.
- Control models or affiliations can keep Taskmaster out of position. Taskmaster needs to be in range two of a target for both of his best offensive and defensive abilities to be online. Pushes, throws, and advances can keep him out of his sweet spot and make him much less effective during a game.
Overall I think Taskmaster is a fantastic character. He has a lot of incredible tools built into his kit, and he can splash into any affiliation. If Taskmaster can get into combat and stick to his target, he is one of the toughest to remove assassins you could as for at three threat. However, if the opponent finds ways to kite Taskmaster, he can have some trouble making an impact on the battlefield.
I believe Taskmaster will become a popular character in the Criminal Syndicate affiliation and as a splash character for any roster. He brings a lot to the table, and a smart pilot can push him to the limit for maximum impact every round.
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Keep on rollin'