Who Are The Criminal Syndicate?
Hello, and welcome back friends and foes to TURN ZER0 GAMING! Today we are going to unpack the upcoming villainous affiliation Criminal Syndicate and break down who and what they are.
Who Are The Criminal Syndicate?
I am excited to talk about this new affiliation and all the potential lists you can build once Kingpin goes on sale. But I am pleased to tag-team this article with my friend UtilityCookie (Breaker of the Meta) from our Discord channel.
The first thing I want to tackle is who these villains are. We are being introduced to an affiliation that operates outside of the standard rules of Marvel Crisis Protocol. So far, we have seen affiliations reduce superpowers, re-roll offense/defense dice, change attack types, and so on. The Criminal Syndicate allows players to pass Asset and Civilian tokens around for two power at range three. They also count Healthy models as two bodies when contesting objectives.
The Criminal Syndicate is the affiliation focused on scoring victory points and not sharing with the opponent. They can grab a red extract objective and then pass it around the field. Or they can stand on a blue objective and bully enemy models around while they remain on their healthy side.
Either way you cut it, the Criminal Syndicate is all about controlling the field of play.
What I find to be fascinating about the Criminal Syndicate is how flexible their team composition can be and how they have some of the best options to pivot playstyles mid-game.
What Is The Criminal Syndicate?
Let's take a look at some of the stats the characters inside the affiliation bring to the table.
- Kingpin: 7+7 HP | S move | Size 3 | 4 threat | 4/3/3 Defenses
- Bullseye 5+5 HP | M move | Size 2 | 3 threat | 3/3/3/ Defenses
- Crossbones 6+5 HP | S move | Size 2 | 3 threat | 4/2/2 Defenses
- MODOK 10+4 HP | S move | Size 4 | 5 threat | 2/3/3 Defenses
- Killmonger 6+5 HP | M move | Size 2 | 4 threat | 4/3/3/ Defenses
- Green Goblin 7+5 HP | M move | Size 3 | 4 threat | 4/3/3 Healthy Defense 3/3/5 Dazed Defense
- Taskmaster 6+5 HP | M move | Size 2 | 3 threat | 3/3/3/ Defenses
- Black Cat TBD
- Mysterio TBD
Right off the bat, we can pick up on a few commonplace abilities with the characters we have available. The Criminal Syndicate isn't very mobile using strictly move actions, sporting no Long movers, and only Green Goblin as a Flyer. Their models have damage reduction superpowers like Inured To Pain, Intense Physical Conditioning, and Psionic Force Field to stay on the field longer. Additionally, Bullseye and Green Goblin have the Hit And Run superpower that allows the models to make an attack action followed by a move action. Killmonger can charge into combat, and Crossbones can slowly move down the field when he takes damage.
These abilities begin to showcase some Criminal Syndicate's strengths and weaknesses.
- The CS characters are designed to get to an objective and score it as long as they can. With their ability to count as two bodies when contesting objectives, the CS wants to bully opponents into overcommitting to score victory points.
- Pass and play objectives. Syndicate models can spend two power to pass off an objective to another allied model within range three of the currently activated character. This ability allows you to keep scoring victory points and move tokens off models that may get dazed or need to move into combat.
- High health pool. Kingpin and MODOK have 14 total health. Green Goblin has 12 health. Crossbones and Killmonger have 11 health. Kingpin, MODOK, and Crossbones have ways to mitigate/reduce incoming damage which means staying alive longer.
- Efficient Tactic card options. We already wrote a full article about All According To Plan here (https://totalaccessgames.com/blogs/turn-zer0-gaming/all-according-to-plan). Other viable Tactic cards the Syndicate can utilize include: Drop Off, Medpack, Patch Up, Field Dressing, We Are Groot, No Matter The Cost, All You've Got, Usurp The Throne, Brace For Impact, and Doomed Prophecy.
- Control options in affiliation. Kingpin can throw ANY size target Short and give out a Stagger condition for three power (Hail To The King). He also has an M throw superpower targeting size three or smaller characters/terrain for two power (Street-Level Negotiations). MODOK can do MODOK things with advancing enemy characters S for two power or throwing size three or smaller terrain L for two power.
- Aggressive options in affiliation. Killmonger has the Charge superpower to get into combat as fast as possible. Green Goblin is a size three Flyer who can Drop Off everyone except MODOK downfield. Bullseye can pressure low health targets with I Never Miss and Parting Shot to deal guaranteed ping damage. And Kingpin can throw out five physical dice or a beam three, four dice attack if anyone dares to get in range of him. Including combo cards like Doomed Prophecy for +4 dice on Kingpin, Killmonger, Green Goblin, and Crossbones. Or, one last huzzah with All You've Got for a back-to-back activation attack.
- Out of affiliation synergy. The Criminal Syndicate has a lot of models that can easily slot into the roster to help enhance your favorite playstyle. Groot brings 7+7 HP to the table with healing and the Root condition for three threat. Thor brings 6+8 HP with a charge, throws built into his attacks, and throw superpowers for five threat. If you want more control in your roster, you can bring Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Eddie Brock, or Gwen Stacy to fill whatever space you need. Ant-Man is another fantastic addition for his strong movement options to secure objectives late in the round. Don't forget! All of these out of affiliation characters still benefit from Kingpin's "Illicit Network" bonus. This means handing off tokens and counting as two bodies when contesting objectives.
- Vulnerable to control. The Criminal Syndicate wants to find a secure objective and score it for six rounds. Affiliations like Web Warriors or control models like MODOK have the tools to move the Syndicate off points. Unfortunately, without Vision, the Syndicate has no real way to deal with pushes and throws naturally. Criminal Syndicate players will have to allocate resources to either assassinate control models or find creative ways to avoid being moved off secure objectives.
- Mobility issues. The Criminal Syndicate models are not a high mobility affiliation. With a majority of Short movers, the Syndicate player needs to use Tactics like Drop Off to position their attackers to threaten the opponent early game. Otherwise, the Syndicate player needs the early game to set up on the board properly or bring out-of-affiliation models with better movement options.
- High skill ceiling. The Criminal Syndicate is a very fluid affiliation with a lot of options for playing the game, building the roster, and choice of tactics cards. The thing that makes them unique is how they interact with the game mechanics, unlike any other affiliation we have seen. They can build into a tanky/control/aggro list early game and pivot mid-game into another playstyle if the situation demands it. They also seem to synergize with more out of affiliation models than the average team. All these intersections lead to more and more complex decision points where players can make errors.
- Early game pressure. Due to minimal movement options and Short or Medium movement, the Criminal Syndicate needs time to get established on the board. This downside allows other affiliations with high mobility to pressure an early lead in victory points if played correctly.
Where Is The Criminal Syndicate?
Now that we have opened up how the Syndicate functions as an affiliation, we need to discuss what battlefields they want to fight on.
Working with UtilityCookie, we have discussed what we believe to be some of the more favorable Secure (Blue) and Extract (Red) Crisis cards that a Syndicate player may gravitate to selecting.
Extract Crisis Cards (Red)
- Struggle For The Cube Continues - 17 points - Map F
- Skrulls Infiltrate World Leadership - 17 points - Map C
- Panic Grips City As Evacuation Efforts Continue! - 19 points - Map B
Secure Crisis Cards (Blue)
- Gamma Wave Sweeps Across Midwest - 15 points - Map E
- Infinity Formula Goes Missing! - 17 points - Map B
- Riots Spark Over Extremis 3.0 - 17 points - Map D
Here are some thoughts from UtilityCookie on the Crisis cards and why we believe they are the best fit for the Criminal Syndicate player.
"For Crisis cards, I feel the following are the ones the Criminal Syndicate would prefer:
- Gamma Waves: CS are the king of secures with their models counting for 2 when healthy. Gamma Waves rewards the most points for holding a secure. And a quick sneaky play late in the round, like Ant-Man or another fast model grabbing the back shelter, suddenly requires 2 models to contest and 3 to score from your opponent.
- Extremis Consoles: Playing this wide brings the benefit of not facing a focused attack from the opponent like you would face on Gamma Waves. This in turn keeps your models healthy for longer. (Fewer attacks) Extremis also allows you to heal up, keeping you even more healthy! With such a spread out scenario an opponent needs 3 models on a flank where you have one to even score there. This forces some heavy telegraphing on your opponent's end where they want to commit their forces. Letting you set up a counterplay.
- Infinity Formula: Although I feel you want either one of the above depending on your opponent's force. Infinity Formula is a nice middle ground between a bunched up and a spread scenario and is a solid third pick to have in your hand with one of the other secures. The added benefit is that this scenario helps you set up All According To Plan, giving you an earlier opportunity to play this card if needed.
- Cosmic Cubes: Having two models in affiliation that can shrug off all the damage of the cubes (Kingpin and Crossbones), this seems like a natural fit. The higher health pools also mitigate the downside of this objective. While your opponent does not share the same benefits. (Except the mirror match of course!)
- Citizens: This Crisis brings a higher point value to the table while you can also pass along the civilians. You could have a civilian holder go after one of your opponent's holders that are near death. Pass along your own civvie and take the one the dazed enemy dropped.
- Skrulls: Although a bit random. The downside of moving S does not hurt your many slow movers. And being able to pass the Skrull along also makes it really hard for your opponent to grab. With the powerhouses CS brings in affiliation, taking a Skrull from your opponent should be in the cards at some point. Finding one however...
Why Is The Criminal Syndicate?
All of these sections are covering the different aspects of what makes the Criminal Syndicate so fascinating. And we are going to wrap up this package with potential lists a Syndicate Player might bring to the table.
UtilityCookie has these thoughts to share with us:
"Every healthy model in your lists requires 2 more from your opponent to score the same objective."
"I think they want a bit higher threat value. So I can see a swarm variant for D scenarios and a more beefy one on E and Infinity Formula.
And since you have MODOK in affiliation the model count suffers a bit. But the leadership makes up for it. I honestly do not know if they want to swarm and have them sit at secures, or attrition. I do like Strange though when you go beefy or sturdy. Five models at 17 points are where I would start with them.
Your opponent needs 15 models to your 5 if you have a model on each secure to score there. So you want to leverage that I think. On wider scenarios at 17 you could drop MODOK and have:
- Green Goblin
Okoye/Wong gives you the option to use Okoye offensively to bodyguard damage away from your assassins. Wong lets you defensively sit on points and charge up your power battery to play Tactics or heal the team. This list gives you Green Goblin (size 3) and Vision (Size 2) as flyers to pressure Drop Off plays with any model in your team.
Some auto-include models include Kingpin, Taskmaster, MODOK except on Map D potentially. If you are playing on Map D you should consider these models:
- Black Panther"
With so many different combinations of models and affiliations, we feel these are some of the best affiliations that synergize with Criminal Syndicate:
- Cabal (MODOK/Zemo/Crossbones)
- Wakanda (Black Panther/Shuri/Okoye)
How Is The Criminal Syndicate?
How good is the Criminal Syndicate? Probably pretty good. They are not perfect by any means, but they have some of the more unique ways to affect the game state compared to the other affiliations. They sport some of the sturdiest models in the game with some incredibly potent attack/damage options. They also have excellent tools to pressure the opponent using their Tactic cards for explosive combos. They synergize well with out-of-affiliation models and look like a lot of fun to play.
Overall, the Criminal Syndicate is one of the most exciting affiliations I have ever seen printed. With so many different tools, options, abilities, and ways to shift strategies during a game, I believe the Syndicate will be a fan favorite for many players.
UtilityCookie and I do agree they have some noticeable gaps you want to avoid. Blue Secure Crisis Cards like Demons Downtown and Portals Overrun City are not optimal for a Syndicate player. Demons give models within range one an Incinerate token. Decreasing defense rolls by -1 is bad for models with the standard 3/3/3 defense stat line. Even with extra HP and some damage reducing abilities, rolling two defense dice is oppressive. Portals are not as bad, but being moved away from an objective range two matters. Models who only move Short are suffering because they have to spend an action to get back into position. This effect decreases the Syndicate player's action efficiency, and that matters throughout six rounds.
The Syndicate also suffers from the same issues Spider Friends (love you Todd) do. Taking Hex and Incinerate tokens significantly slow down the pressure during a game. Syndicate players need to be able to use criticals and roll all their defense dice. Defenders being able to use Mystic attacks into Criminal Syndicate hurts models that have strong Physical/Energy defenses, or abilities that re-roll those defense dice.
The Criminal Syndicate also sufferers when their models are no longer Healthy. High aggression lists like Cabal and Black Order can mess with your plans when they run around the field with Corvus + Proxima and flip your character cards every round.
I still believe the Criminal Syndicate will be a force to reckon with. They have a lot of options, great models, and classic villains to play on the tabletop. I am excited to see how players take these models and find unique and fun ways to flesh out the Criminal Syndicate.
A big thanks to UtilityCookie for his help on this article! Make sure to show him some love when you see him on Discord.
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Keep on rollin'
-Sugi and UtilityCookie <3