This last month’s releases continue to add new and interesting options, but will either Frank or Anthony be showing up on competitive tables?
First, my stock preface. For those wondering if these characters are a fun, and fluffy addition to Crisis Protocol, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Punisher evokes a style of play that you would hope for as a fan of the War Journal, or Garth Ennis Punisher, and Taskmaster fights (broadly) in the way you hope the master mimic would.
Both continue the run of highly playable 3pt characters, but what follows is a big more analysis into their viability as tournament-tier options for competitive play.
Certain snap-shots in time make characters tricky to review. Currently a member of no affiliations (maybe we’ll get Thunderbolts down the road?), Frank Castle needs to be evaluated exclusively on his loner merits. Luckily the Punisher brings plenty to the table, and is a solid choice for competitive play, even if his abilities are a touch confused.
With his 0-cost builder being a modest range-3, Punisher will spend a surprising amount of the game as a mid-field fighter. Thankfully Spec-Ops Training generates a bonus short move for the character, which may in fact be his saving grace competitively. Popping of shots in early rounds only to retreat to range-5 using Spec Ops keeps Punisher contributing throughout the game, with a weirdly unique cadence.
Expect modest use from Punisher early as you build a small stock-pile of energy. As the game progresses though, and friendly models are Dazed/KO’d , you amass up to three Punishment tokens which can be spent to add dice to an attack. Around turn three you can expect Punisher to go from adequate, to being a proper character assassin from a safe distance.
Adding to his competitive viability is the excellent “War Zone”. Though situational, its ability to simply cause unavoidable damage is undeniable. In dice-games, probability mitigation is a huge part of being a top player, so predictably causing damage really elevates this character.
Of interesting note is Punisher’s included “Blood Red and Personal” tactics card, which for one round causes knocked out enemies to score you a VP. If finessed and in a Black Order list, this can result in a single-turn with a really large VP swing.
Ironically, I suspect we may see Punisher in many Crime Syndicate lists. As they thrive on objective passing and movement, this model’s tendency to shift battle-field position and role mid-game should actually work really well together.
Taskmaster is a very quirky addition to the game. Whereas Punisher brings a new feel to game through a subtly designed pacing, Taskmaster just brings the weird. First, let’s get the bad out of the way. Offensively, Taskmaster is a pretty mediocre model. His Shield-Toss is situational, but not in his ideal range, and his Mnemonic Technique is a math-hammer nightmare that really only serves to bypass characters like Doctor Strange, with copious, readily available re-rolls, or those with any of the family of turning-blanks-to-blocks defensive powers. He can, and will supplement his damage with Photographic Reflexes, which mathematically elevates his offense to “fine”.
That said, this character is a remarkably flexible tank for 3pts. Others do it better, but not at the price. Played aggressively as one would expect, Tasky gets in close where the combination of Martial Artist and Intuitive Pattern Recognition make him surprisingly hard to shift. He is, as are many, highly susceptible to Mystic attacks, but again, at 3pts he can tank roughly as well as several 4pt options.
This alone leaves him on the fence of competitive options, but Rogue Agent is a strangely value rich ability. Counting as any affiliation for list building (and notably without Winter Soldier’s built in downside) creates some oddly new possibilities in high point affiliations. With Taskmaster, Thanos, and Proxima Midnight, suddenly Black Order affiliated lists are a touch less starved for points.
It is hard to say how Taskmaster will shake out. I suspect he will prove viable, but perhaps just outside of the truly excellent pool of 3pt models regularly played. In a week’s worth of heavy testing he distinctly felt good, but not great, in a multitude of lists. It is worth adding that he did test particularly well as a member of Web-Warriors.
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