Of all four of the chases in What If…, Venom Thor is my absolute favorite and has some potential for mayhem. How can we abuse this character and what strategy should you take with him?
Although we only had 4 chases in both the recent What If… and Elseworlds sets, their themes were very strong. From the former, we got 4 heroes possessed by Venom and in the later, we got the much-desired Dark Knight Returns series. While I don’t like digging into chases too much as they have a high cost to acquire, the Venom heroes aren’t particularly brutal or highly sought-after like their DC counterparts, so I’ll mostly be focusing on them for team builds (although I want to build around that Chase Batman to prove he’s actually pretty damn good).
Of the four Venom chases, I’m under the impression that Venom Thor has the most potential to do fun things/shenanigans. Let’s break Thor down and see why I think he’s the best and what is unique about him, as he’s actually a unique piece.
Venom Thor comes in at 90 points, has 6 clicks of health, 5 range with a single target, and no team abilities. He has standard combat symbols with the exception of Flight, and has just two Keywords with Asgardian and Monster. All 4 of these chases have rough Keywords which makes them a bit harder to fit onto teams. He has two traits, one of which is a returning trait from Superior Foes of Spider-Man, and a single special attack power.
His dial is extremely potent with high values pretty much all around. For movement, we have a pair system with 8 Running Shot for two clicks, 8 Sidestep which goes to a 7 for two clicks, and finally 7 Flurry which goes to a 6 for his last two clicks. Attack values are his strongest feature with an 11 Special up front, upping to a 12, then back to an 11. This swaps over to 10 Steal Energy (which lasts through the end of the dial), and his attack climbs back up to an 11 and ends on another big 12. TWO 12 attack values for 90 points. Ouch. His defense is probably his worst feature with 18 Toughness for two clicks, which isn’t bad, but that declines to a 17 on click three, swaps to Combat Reflexes on click four, and ends the dial on an abysmal 15. Damage is mediocre with a 4 up front, but drops to a 3 through click four, which is where he gets Battle Fury. His last two clicks jump back up to a 4, so I suppose half a dial of 4 damage is actually pretty good. It’s just those mid-dial 3’s that are a little bit of a bummer.
Regarding his traits and special, you’re probably very familiar with the first showing:
ALIEN SYMBIOTE: Venom Thor can use Plasticity, Shape Change, and automatically breaks away.
We saw this a bunch a year ago, and it’s a very strong trait. Giving a ranged-focus piece the ability to automatically break away is a big deal, and the Plasticity makes you cautious of basing him to turn off his ranged attacks. Shape Change makes him a bit more reliable as now we’re working with 18 Toughness along with a dodge.
His second trait is part of this combo that pairs with his special attack:
TENDRILS: When Venom Thor hits with a range attack, hits characters are given a Tendril token if they don’t have one already.
This is the setup, so without the punchline there isn’t much to be said. You hit a character from range, you put a token on them. Easy. So why is this good?
CONSTRICTING TENDRILS: Venom Thor can use Poison. When he does, characters with Tendril tokens are placed adjacent to him before he deals damage and, after actions resolve, those characters remove all Tendril tokens.
Poison. Okay, that’s nice with Plasticity. Woah, that second part is huge. Before the Poison resolves and damage is dealt, Venom Thor ‘ports everyone with a Tendril token adjacent to him. This is what makes the character worth while as you can build a pseudo killbox team with just a 90 point piece.
The combination of his Tendrils trait and his special attack power make Venom Thor a very nasty adversary and can completely change the landscape of the battle. Yanking pieces is one of the best strategies in the game because the game itself relies so much on positioning and how exposed you are. Venom Thor throws all that out the window and over the course of two turns, he can just take who he wants (after hitting them for a decent damage) and basically give him to his allies to pretty much destroy.
Now that we know what VT does in-depth, let’s do an analysis to see what his strengths and weaknesses are.
Positives: Massive disruption. Great attack values. Full-dial of good damage (end-dial Flurry). Alien Symbiote trait. Flight.
Negatives: Shallow dial. Fairly squishy. Low range. Low movement. Poor Keywords.
There isn’t a lot to cover with him because his dial is pretty easy to comprehend. I like it when the Positive VS. Negative analysis is short and sweet.
If you can get around the big short comings on Thor (his low threat radius), he can really be a nasty piece that can flat out destroy your opponent’s plan. The key to playing Thor effectively is keeping him alive as he has some wonderful offense throughout his very short dial. While a lack of Keywords does hose him and practically guarantees you aren’t getting an initiative bonus, his Flight will keep him a threat on anything but a map with lots of walls.
Before we dive into the builds, what does Venom Thor need in order to win the day? As I just mentioned, mobility and range are his Achilles heal, so that’s what we want to focus on. Since he’s a flyer, a taxi doesn’t really help us, and diminishes our element of surprise. Instead, TK seems like an absolute must with him. Other characters that can dish out a lot of damage are also very good so that when he yanks people back, you have something to follow-up with and actually either KO them or make them useless. Since he has great values, Prob probably isn’t that necessary, although Perplex could be great as you can either boost his damage to hit harder, his range to swing farther out, or his movement to up his Running Shot to a 5. Outwit is also a good power to bring with him so you can really gimp whomever you bring over to pain town.
For the builds today, I want to keep things simple with just 300 Modern with no resources. Since we’re utilizing a chase, I want to try and keep everything else a little light (although you’re going to ask why I said this with the first build). Venom Thor might be good, but he certainly isn’t that big of a deal once you start adding in competitive items. These builds will absolutely be focused on LGS play or home games.
300 Modern Venom Thor Build – No Resources (You’re Gonna Hate Me)
- WI 049 Venom Thor | 90 Points
- TMNT3 032 Claw Shredder | 90 Points
- WI 043 Peace Machine | 50 Points
- DXF 005 Masacre | 50 Points
- NFAoS Right Arm (Hulkbuster) | 10 Points
- Wonder Woman ID | 5 Points
- Doctor Strange ID | 5 Points
- Sideline: EW 044 Diana Prince, ADW 035 Dr. Strange
- Build Total: 300 Points
I know, I know, there’s two chases on this team, but hear me out!
I talked about how secondary attackers are a must for Venom Thor, so I immediately started looking for pieces with Flurry. Probably the best one of these is Claw Shredder. While he doesn’t have Flurry on his first click, he does on his second, which means you can easily push him on turn two while you’re setting everything up. He’s also got the Shredder Elite trait which gives him Sidestep and free damage when he gets next to someone. That’s a lot of damage from one piece. The real kicker though is that he can choose a character that he hit with an attack and it stops them from making an attack until your next turn. That means that when you cheat someone over, if for some reason they don’t die, you can completely turn them off, allowing you more time to KO them. Oh, and he also has the Mystical Worms trait which allows him to resurrect on a Flurry + 11 attack click. That’s why I included a second chase.
Up next is Peach Machine. Wait, if Venom Thor has 4 damage on half his dial, why do I want someone who reduces all damage to 3? Easy. Remember when I said that Thor has a pretty shallow dial? Peace Machine ensures that Thor will stick around long enough to pull his shenanigans off at least once, which is pretty much all you need. It gives you the option to be more risky with Thor, as you can push him to run back to your team and be safe before he chooses to pull someone to him. Peace Machine also has TK which will either let us throw VT out for a long-range snipe, or pull him back once he’s done his job so we don’t need to push. Lastly, PM has Outwit so whomever we pull back, we can just counter out their defense or a pesky Shape Change so we’re almost guaranteed to KO them in a single turn.
I knew I wanted some support, but I didn’t want to sacrifice firepower, so I opted for Masacre. While his attack value isn’t great, you can’t argue with a piece that has Charge and Flurry with Precision Strike, and Support too. Masacre serves as our multi-tool because he can either help to take someone down when they’re on their lower clicks, or he can keep any of our other pieces healthy as a dedicated medic. Oh, and his damage is 3, just like Claw Shredder, meaning that Peace Machine doesn’t gimp him.
I added the Hulkbuster Arm because it grants Energy Explosion, and Venom Thor’s power says that all he needs to do is hit people in order to give them Tendril tokens. This is effectively our Bizarro Green Arrow/Overdrive team counter as now we can pull all the important parts of an enemy team over and drop whichever one we need gone the most while Claw Shredder hits the other for one attack and says “nah, you aren’t doing anything next turn). Sure, the splash damage is only 1 (will be 2 with the new rules), but again, all we care about is that Venom Thor will now be assigning multiple Tendrils in one attack, making his one attack more valuable.
For the final 10 points, I wanted to use two ID cards, and both are very clutch on this team. First, you’ll notice that both characters are 50 points or under, meaning Peace Machine or Masacre can call people in rather than our two heavy lifters. On Diana, you get a really nice melee piece that can be a secondary medic if for some reason Masacre isn’t on his top click anymore. Her inspiration also gives +1 to attack on melee strikes, so Claw Shredder and Masacre can hit more easily. Strange is also a buff to our team as he has Empower and Enhancement, but also gives +1 to attack when either is used, and he’s a decent attacker as well. His inspiration isn’t as good as Diana’s, but he’s more of the dog-pile piece.
This team focuses on doing one thing and doing it extremely well, but it does have two chases, so I can see how folks might not want to go with this team. Because of that, I’ve built a second team that utilizes probably the best pal Venom Thor could hope for.
300 Modern Venom Thor Build – I Lied, Resources Okay
- WI 049 Venom Thor | 90 Points
- Supreme Intelligence Assigned | 12 Points
- UXM FF 002 Jean Grey | 50 Points
- WKDP16-003 Ace the Bathound | 50 Points
- ADW 034 Elektra | 50 Points
- TMNT 007 Foot Soldier (Nanchaku) | 30 Points
- WKM17-B002 Serpent Punisher | 15 Points
- Sideline: ADW 017 Elektra, a handful of Foot Soldiers
- Build Total: 297 Points
You probably noticed that I suspended the ‘no resources’ rule for this build and that’s the first time I violated what I said I would do, but for good reason. Resources have taken a big hit as of late with just three that are legal. Supreme Intelligence is supremely good with Venom Thor because for 12 points, it gives him Stealth and Willpower, adding more protection for him, and speeds up our clock on what our team does 10-fold. Unfortunately it doesn’t give out Energy Explosion, so we do sacrifice that on this build.
I mentioned probably the best pal VT could hope for and that special somebody is none other than Jean Grey. TK is the best option for Thor, and Jean can do it twice in one turn, or continually every single turn if you never give her an action token. This can make our combo move incredibly fast as we can throw Thor out on one turn, have him attack, and then bring him back the same turn so that we’re pulling someone on the second turn, OR throwing him out, letting him attack someone, let him attack someone again on the next turn, and then bring him back so that we’re getting two people on the third turn. It’s all about options. What’s terrific is that Supreme Intelligence grants Sidestep on turn 1, so Thor can Sidestep up with Jean, and then she can free action TK him out. There’s so many possibilities for this setup.
While I know Ace is the second convention LE on the team, he serves so many rolls for this setup. Does Thor need a medic? 11 attack; boom you’re healed. Need to shoot farther? Grab Perplex. Need to attack someone you pulled in? Grab Exploit Weakness. Not feeling confident about your values? Prob. Need to buff everyone once you pull someone in? Empower. It goes on and on. There’s so much utility in this 50 point doggo that I couldn’t help but add him. Since he’s tiny, he’s also a great piece for Jean to cart around if she ever needs to move (which Ace can also heal back up to her dumb free TK clicks).
I knew I wanted at least one great melee piece, and Elektra fits the bill quite nicely. While she doesn’t have Flurry, she can attack everyone that’s adjacent to her, and she has Blades, which means she can potentially gut an entire team in one action. Since this build is focusing more on pulling multiple people strategically thanks to Willpower + Jean, you’ll probably get a decent chunk of use out of Elektra. What’s great is that if you don’t like the route of risking all your damage on Blades, you can easily swap her since 50 points is so common these days. If you like someone with more consistent and reliable damage, go with ADW Iron Fist. Still, the damage potential is insane with her. Oh yeah, and you can Marvel Knights her to be a wild card and take Ace’s Batman Ally team ability so she gets Stealth.
I really liked the tech of locking someone down once they’re brought into our killbox, so why not trim all the fat and pick someone who can just do that alone? Hello, Foot Soldier! 30 points for Flurry that tokens when he hits? How can I say no to that! 10 attack is pretty darn good for the points, and remember that we have Ace to Perplex if we really need it. If he manages to get picked off, you have a 33% chance to summon another one, or choose a different foot soldier to do more work.
The last part of the build is one of the new bystander Serpent Punishers. These things are nuts for 15 points. 11 attack, 6 range, 2 damage with Ranged Combat Expert and Indom. There’s simply no better use of 15 points unless you want retaliation. With this guy on our team, we have so many different options once we pull someone in, whether it be from melee damage with Elektra or ranged damage with Serpent Frank.
If you’re really not feeling the pog, swap him out for the Boxing Ring and a couple of ID cards. The Ring will allow all your pieces to get a +1 to their attack value if you yank your opponents into it, make it much harder to snipe your pieces, and can make terrain worthless. Jean + ID cards is also very brutal, and can turn Thor into a 90 point summoner twice during the game, calling in something like the new chase Green Arrow if you like.
Regardless, this team is really fun and if I had to pick one of the two to play, I would probably opt for this build. While Elektra is a little more of a gamble than the other force, you can easily switch her, and the damage she can provide is just tops for 50 points.
I hope you liked these two team builds for our symbiote-possessed thunder god. I think they do a pretty good job of really cranking his mechanic up and they end up as nasty team compositions with lots of damage. What are your thoughts on these? Do you think there’s a better option with him? How have you successfully used him? I would love to know!
That will do it for Clix Fix this week. Another mention that I’ll be at DJ’s Collectibles in California this Saturday for ROC States, and I would love to see and meet any of you that are attending. Make sure you’re stopping by Two Clicks From KO on Thursdays as more great content is up on Thursdays. Take care everyone!