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C3G Strategy - June 2018

Posted June 16th, 2018 at 05:54 AM by HS Codex
Updated June 17th, 2018 at 01:35 PM by HS Codex

C3G Strategy Guide
Black Mask (Roman Sionis) (I)
By: Lazy Orang

Ranked as a D in the power rankings, Black Mask is often considered one of the worst figures in C3G. While I can certainly see why people would be of this opinion, I myself strongly disagree—he may not set the world on fire, but he’s cheap, solid and perfectly effective. Let me demonstrate.

Analyzed Statistics

Left Box Breakdown
Species – Human (slight synergy and a few weaknesses, but nothing major or relevant here)
Uniqueness – Unique Hero
Class – Crime Lord (significant synergy in several places, most notably allowing him to bond with the Street Thugs)
Personality – Ruthless (irrelevant unless you’re a mastermind)
Size/Height – Medium 5 (manoeuverable, can use ladders, and can be affected by a number of beneficial powers such as Carry, but also vulnerable to a number of enemy powers, like Magneto’s throws)

The major relevance here is his status as a crime lord, mostly for the sake of bonding with the Street Thugs.

Statistics Breakdown
Life – 4 (average, especially for a human)
Move – 5 (average)
Range – 5 (avegage)
Attack – 4 (average)
Defence – 4 (average)
Points – 100 (pretty damn cheap for a unique hero in Superscape)

His stats are pretty average, with nothing marking him out as too special, but, at this price, just having solid stats across the board (including a range of 5—an attack of 4 at that range is actually pretty good for this price) is enough to make you sit up and take note, especially given his status as a bonding hero.

Powers Breakdown

Criminal Motivation
All Criminals you control adjacent to Black Mask add 1 die to their normal attack. If a Criminal figure you control adjacent to Black Mask does not inflict at least 1 wound when attacking with a normal attack, that Criminal figure receives a wound.

This is Black Mask’s one power, and the primary argument for him being as bad as he’s generally considered; the ability to hurt or execute his own men is regarded as a considerable disadvantage, and yes, it is. That being said, you can position to avoid using it fairly easily much of the time, and there are occasions where using it is worthwhile, as I will explain. In the hands of a reckless or thoughtless commander, however, using this power excessively can be more of a hindrance than a help.

Tactical Advantage – Moderate (negative if used recklessly)

In Depth Analysis

For the purposes of this strategy article, I will be using a slight variation on Agatagary’s chess-based unit evaluation system; for those unfamiliar, it can be found in a previous article.

Black Mask is, through and through, a Bishop—he’s nothing special, but he’s useful enough that you’re not going to want him to die immediately.

Remaining Unmotivated: The Key to Victory
The main issue Black Mask’s detractors see with him lies in his single power, Criminal Motivation—namely, that it’s just as likely, if not more likely, to harm your side as it is to harm your opponent. They’d be right, too—plonking your criminals (generally Street Thugs, since they bond with him and they have the same range of 5) adjacent to Black Mask in order to milk the attack bonus for all it’s worth will end in tears as Black Mask blows their brains across the hexes for their failure. It’s horrible to watch your front line collapse on your own turn, and a bloody nuisance to get brain matter out of plastic. However, there’s a cunning little way to avoid this issue with Criminal Motivationdon’t use it.

Well, not recklessly, anyway—there are times where its use is tactically worthwhile, as I will explain later, but you should not use it like a standard attack boost, i.e. using it as often as possible to make the most out of the extra attack dice. Unless your opponent’s drafted nothing but 1 defence Moloids or you’ve weighted your dice to show nothing but skulls all the time ever, this will go badly. Wait for the right opportunities to deliver the pain with this power, and the rest of the time, for the love of everything, keep Black Mask away from his minions to keep him from killing them.

Now, you might be thinking, why am I taking Black Mask if I can’t make full use of his one power? The thing is, at 100 Points, even if his power text was blank, he’d be worth drafting, with a solid ranged stat and bonding with a 4-man common ranged squad. If you’re playing on a city map, where the Street Thugs can make use of their Rule the Streets power, things get even better.

Why not take another crime lord instead? Well, let’s have a quick run through the presently released ones, shall we? Two-Face I is another, in my opinion, underrated figure, but costs 30 points more than Black Mask and is wildly more erratic—he has much higher potential, but also a 50% chance of just deciding he won’t attack this turn. Fun, but not exactly reliable. The second versions of Black Mask and Two-Face, along with The Hood, directly snub Street Thug bonding with leadership powers that require the order markers to go on their card. Kingpin II exists to sit in your start zone and direct things, not to take turns. Penguin I and II steal your turns or sit at the back providing support, respectively. Black Tarantula is good, but triple Black Mask’s cost. Red Mist is basically just a 50 point counterdraft filler, and Ventriloquist is, not to put too fine a point on it, Hatamoto Taro levels of worthless. If you want a useful, reliable bonding option for the Street Thugs at a budget price, or even one who won’t break the bank, you’ve got Black Mask.

Really, you can almost think of playing Black Mask in similar terms to playing Marro Stingers in Classic ’Scape. Of course, he’s not on the Stingers’ level, but like them he’s useful primarily for his solid stats (and, in his case, synergies) rather than his powers, but has the potential to—at a risk—increase your attack output when you really feel you need it. Feels solid to me.

What Not to Do
Before we talk about when best to use Criminal Motivation, let’s talk about when not to use it. First off, you might be thinking about pairing him with some stronger criminals than mere Street Thugs to make the most of it. Banish those thoughts right this minute! Tempting as it may be to pair him with strong multi-attacking criminals like Hired Guns or Doctor Octopus, it’s not worth the risk, pretty much ever. Though the Hired Guns can each attack twice, they cannot do so when they’re dead, so pairing them with Black Mask is more likely to reduce the strength of their volley than increase it, and they’re too dangerous to waste in this way. Similarly, though Doc Ock can hit many times, none of these blows is guaranteed to land a wound, and each one that doesn’t while next to Black Mask will result in a wound on this very strong and valuable hero with only 4 life. That’s 53.75 points of tentacled supervillain wasted per failed attack ... not worth the risk.

The criminals with the stronger melee attacks don’t carry so much of a risk, but getting them next to Black Mask when attacking is tricky and not worth the effort for the small boost you get from it—if you can achieve it by chance as a happy accident, it’s worth going for, but trying to use this as a core strategy is just inefficient. Street Thugs, on the other hand, are pretty much ideal for Black Mask—they bond with him, their range is the same as his, the fact that they’re a 4-man common squad allows you to get multiple attacks, and they’re eminently expendible. It’s better to just use these guys than trying to be clever only to lose.

Then, there’s the targets that you should never attack while using Criminal Motivation, which come in three main flavours. First, you have the figures with a ludicrously god-level defence, like Superman or Thor—trying to open fire on these guys with Street Thugs next to Black Mask will result in them achieving nothing and Black Mask executing them for a failure that was always going to happen because, man, Black Mask has issues. Then, you have the figures with a more average defence—say 5 or 6, rather than 7 or 8—who have an excellent defensive power, such as Captain America with his Vibranium Alloy Shield, or the LexCorps Security with their Kryptonian Armor. This is a bad idea for pretty much the same reasons as before. Even hitting figures with 5 or 6 defence anyway is risky, but it’s worth doing if they’re a valuable enough target, or just doing so with one or two Thugs if you’re feeling like taking a gamble.

The third variety is the dodgers, figures who can just ignore attacks such as Spider-Man, Flash and Harley Quinn I—it doesn’t matter how many dice you’re rolling, if the dodge kicks in, the attack fails and your thug gets a bullet in his brain. Note that I don’t count Batman among these—Evasive/Shadow Strike has a high enough roll and will take out the thug anyway, so the penalty of Criminal Motivation is irrelevant. Nor do I count figures using, for example, an order marker or battery marker to block the attack—though your thug will be killed if they do so, it’s likely worth the trade for you because your opponent is sacrificing something, be it future protection (à la Professor X) or general strength (as with Lanterns).

Motivated Murder
So, since using Criminal Motivation to crack through high defences is a poor plan, who do you use it on? The answer is potentially counter-intuitive, but quite logical—figures with a lower defence. While this may seem strange—after all, you can probably damage those anyway—the point is not just being able to kill them, it’s being able to do so with alacrity, to pump as much lead into them as possible, as quickly as possible, so that they won’t be moving any time soon.

Before we go into more detail, though, let’s talk about the other key factor in making Criminal Motivation worth using—the terrain. On a flat plain, Black Mask is bringing your Street Thugs’ attack up from 2 to a colossal 3—yeah, not exactly exciting, is it? They key is to pair it with other attack boosts to bring the Street Thugs to a level where they’re genuinely dangerous. Get them up to height, and suddenly we’re looking at 4 attack ... actually quite solid now. It’s on a city map, however, where they really shine: with your Thugs on asphalt or concrete, their attack goes up to 4 on flat ground with Criminal Motivation, and a genuinely amazing 5 when you add height. If you can manage it, five attacks of 5 (including Black Mask himself on height) is pretty bloody terrifying.

Now, to look at the best targets for Criminal Motivation in more detail:
  • Other squads: not one of the best ones, actually, as, having only one life per squad member, inflicting multiple wounds with a single attack is meaningless, and the attack boost results in diminishing returns without diminished risk. That being said, there are times when you’ll be facing a squad that, for whatever reason, needs to be taken down ASAP (S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents moving into position for a Killbox, Hired Guns all the bloody time, etc.). On these occasions, the extra firepower to make sure they die is worthwhile, and any Thugs you lose will be worth it to avoid the damage your opponent could do on their turn.
  • Sidekicks or other bonding heroes: though not too much of a threat in the great scheme of things, sidekicks can still provide your opponent extra activations and be a thorn in your side, but are also quite fragile mostly. Gunning down the likes of a Robin, Bucky or Jubilee in a single turn can be quite an effective way of reducing your opponent’s effectiveness (though avoid Dick Grayson and Armor, as they’re dodge-y and particularly tough, respectively). Targeting bonding heroes also works well for similar reasons, as long as their threat exceeds their toughness—C3G’s Red Skull, in particular, is a somewhat risky target, but is dangerous enough that taking him down quickly is worth sacrificing a few Thugs.
  • Front line support: as long as they aren’t too tough (Captain America) or too hard to reach (Invisible Woman), targeting these sorts of support figures (Vertigo, Karolina Dean, Bane, even Star-Lord) for early extermination can help you a lot in the long run.
  • Glass cannons: dangerous but fragile figures, such as Gorilla-Man or an engaged Huntress, make for excellent targets. Even someone like Black Bat is worth shooting—if Defensive Premonition doesn’t trigger, she’s fragile and any wounds inflicted are valuable, and if it does, your thug was probably going to die anyway. It’s generally a good rule of thumb that, if a figure’s going to Counter Strike you, you may as well go for Criminal Motivation—you have nothing to lose.
  • Fast healers: I not only count Healing Factor-style healers here, but also the more idiosyncratic ones like Lizard and Spawn. These are some of the most frustrating figures to fight, since if you don’t finish them off, they can just keep healing again and again—Black Mask and his Thugs can make sure you kill them quickly. The ones with 4 or less defence, like Wolverine and Spawn, are particularly good targets, and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a properly set up pod can kill Wolverine in one or two turns. Deadpool’s a riskier prospect, but it’s worth losing Thugs to make sure he goes down before he can heal. Wild Child, as a 4 life, 4 defence mutant sidekick with Healing Factor X, practically has a bullseye on his forehead.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this analysis has shed some light on what is generally considered one of C3G’s worst units, and shown him to not be half as bad as he seems at first glance. Whatever the case, until next time, may the dice gods bless you with victory!
Total Comments 3


L0B5T3R's Avatar
If anyone has any advice on getting brain matter stains off the hexes let me know.

Great article @Lazy Orang !
Posted June 18th, 2018 at 11:18 AM by L0B5T3R L0B5T3R is offline
Tornado's Avatar
Nice L_O!
Posted June 18th, 2018 at 11:02 PM by Tornado Tornado is offline
IAmBatman's Avatar
I laughed, I cried, I really enjoyed the read. Good stuff. I'm impressed!
Posted July 16th, 2018 at 10:25 PM by IAmBatman IAmBatman is offline
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