• Age of Mathtron

    We've got a new set on the (very near) horizon. We have full spoilers for that set. That means...time for some Age of Ultron statistics!

    The questions we have going into this are pretty straightforward, and most of them are various facets of one thing - where are we going trendwise after Justice League? Are we going to see more purchase deflation and fielding inflation? Are stat totals continuing to drop? Which energy type is going to be the lowball this time? We'll answer those, but we're looking to expand what these math reviews do as well, and for the first time, we're going to take a look at each character's die and make a statement - by comparing that die to its TFC peers - as to whether or not it has good stats. Hopefully that'll help let you, dear readers, have a little better idea when to take which character.

    Without further ado...

    Purchase Costs Flatter, Still Low



    It's pretty much right there in the title; the average purchase cost for this set is about 4.26 (4.27 if you include the non-basic actions). We're up a little bit; I would pin a little of this on the SR Thanos, who has a printed cost of a whopping 10 which you will realistically never pay thanks to his ability, but really it comes down to having a few more 7+ characters than that set. Overall we've got more on the low and high ends, and not quite so many on that central four-cost this time - a much smoother curve.

    After the 'well everyone likes fours, so have some fours' of JL, I'm not entirely sure why there was this pull back. I'd theorize that they wanted to mix it up a bit again, or perhaps they found that the relatively limited cheaper bottom, plus less diverse top, led to more homogenized games. Hopefully, I'll be able to ask the designers about this (and other things) should I run into them at Gen Con.

    Energy types are still relatively balanced, with 11 dice per. Bolt is again cheapest, though much more commandingly than in JL, with a 3.61 this time around. Fist is next with an even 4, and Mask and Shield are the expensive flavors this set with 4.39 and a hefty 4.85 respectively. Shield is pretty understandably heavy given that it only has Phil Coulson and Maria Hill to counterbalance all its other very expensive characters, but it's a little odd seeing it backslide so much after it'd been doing much better for several sets. AoU Shields end up more expensive on average than even in AvX! Mask was saddled with Thanos, so it's not at all surprising it's riding high - outside of him, Enchantress, and Kang, it's actually very cheap. As for the riot of cheap Bolts...I guess they wanted to give ramp options to a type that hasn't had many, but have they gone overboard? Time will tell.

    Fielding Costs: Blastier From The Pastier



    Maybe they took all the ribbing about there being no fives in D&D personally? Because there's a lot of them here. Also, tons of fours (still), and our requisite ton of sixes...though I'll note that if you ignore the zombies, you love three TFC6 dice (and a three), so that makes the curve a little more curvelike. Still, we're very heavily weighted towards the high end, even moreso than with JL - our average is a crazy 4.02, only a hair lower than AvX's. We have the same number of TFC 1 characters - we are intended to have cheap options, clearly - but we've traded in a lot of those twos and some threes for more 5s, mostly.

    We are very clearly exiting the age of being able to count on fielding a fist full of characters with only a couple of sidekicks or an action die. JL was the start of this, but AoU just hammers it home: the savings you get on cheap character purchase costs are going to be made up by having to pay to field them. You need to consider price fixing or have some other way of making sure you can pay for the increasingly expensive price tag of getting your guys in the field; using globals heavily will require planning and maybe not fielding some characters.

    Bolt also wins Cheapest Average TFC with 3.5 this time, partially thanks to the entirely free Pepper Potts. Mask was next with a 3.8, followed by Fist with a 4.09, and Shield bringing up the rear with a sky-high 4.64. That's actually the highest average TFC for an energy type we've seen so far. Shield, you were doing so well, but now you're binging on donuts and high-fructose corn syrup and your costs are all bloated again. As for Bolt's meteoric fall - clearly Pepper helps, but it's really gotten a lion's share of cheap characters this time, possibly to just give it some options there, and it shows very hard.

    Stats: We Get What We Pay For

    JL stats saw a significant drop from D&D. Where are we now?



    We are entering the Age of You Get What You Pay For, apparently. Free fields have lost a good three or four tenths of a point to both their stats, FC1 is about the same, FC2 has seen some defensive gains, and FC3 is up a good half-point on both stats. Can you hear what the dice are saying? 'Use expensive characters, their stats are worth it!' Getting to be so more and more, dice. We'll keep that in mind.

    What about ASV vs. TFC?



    Mostly the same story, though you can see it a little more pronounced here. The TFC1 characters are about three-tenths of a point weaker on both stats; TFC2 are offensively the same but much weaker defensively, almost 1.3 points. We do only have three of them this time around, and two - Black Widow and Rocket Raccoon - skew offensively, so that sort of explains it, TFC 3 has a similar issue, though it's a little more populated - with Groot and Nick Fury (plus Giant Man), that we're down almost half a point in offense and up almost a point in defense doesn't seem too odd. TFC4 is about the same offensively, and down about four-tenths of a point defensively. We've got a number of characters that skew offensively harder (Iron Man, Enchantress), but nothing too pronounced; I think JL just had stronger TFC4 options. TFC 5 is down a full point offensively and up half a point defensively, but it wasn't very heavily populated in JL and had Martian Manhunter skewing it, so this probably points to some general gains in AoU. TFC6, though - we're up half a point offensively and eight-tenths of a point defensively from JL. 'Really', the dice say, 'use those expensive characters. They're so good. Thanks for letting us know, dice.

    I think that's really the angle they're pushing - don't be afraid to spend for the bigger guys. I know there's something of a stigma against them because maybe you won't be able to field them if things go poorly, but they're trying to make it more and more worthwhile to do so...which is good! Not to say we were seeing total weeniefests with JL, but it's a far cry from AvX, aka Age of TFC1/2 Or Bust.

    But speaking of things being worthwhile...

    Die Evaluations

    I'll explain my process for this before we get into it. Basically, I took each die, and compared the stats on each of its faces to the average stat value for that TFC. For each standard deviation (for that TFC - it's a measure of how large the variability between elements of a set is, in case you were curious!) from the average that face is for each of offense and defense, it would gain or lose a point depending on whether it is over or under the average. I sum up the totals for offense and defense, and then sum those together for a final verdict: anything -3 or lower I rate as 'weak', anything 3 or higher rates as 'strong', and anything from -2 to 2 is 'average' (or, in some cases, 'mixed' - this is for guys like Groot who have terrible offense but stellar defense, and wind up with a close-to-zero because they balance out).

    For example - let's look at Bucky. He's a TFC 4, with stats 3 2 / 3 3 / 4 3. The average A/D for TFC 4 is 3.6 and 3.83, respectively, and their standard deviations are 1.40 and 1.18. Let's do offense first. 3 at level 1 is under the average, by less than one standard deviation, so he gets -1 here. Same thing at level 2, so he's rocking the -2 total so far. Level 3, though, is a 4, so he's ahead by less than one standard deviation, for a +1. This sums to a -1 total - Bucky's a bit behind the curve offense-wise. Defensively, that 2 at level 1 is over one but less than two standard deviations from the average, so he gets a -2 for that; his 3 at levels 2 and 3 both get -1s, for a defensive total of -4. Bucky is not so good at dishing it out, and even worse at taking it. His total is -5, which makes him a weak character.

    So, the rankings! I've split out the mixed characters from average, despite similar scores, just to note that they excel in one area but are terrible in another which may be relevant if you really want that area for your team. Also, keep in mind this is among their TFC, so 'strong' is relative in that sense. Don't compare Daredevil and Thanos directly!

    Strong: Captain America, Daredevil, Electro, Enchantress, Giant Man, Hawkeye, Hulk, Hyperion, Iron Man, Loki, Thanos

    Average: Beast, Captain Marvel, Captain Universe, Gamora, Maria Hill, Rocket Raccoon, SHIELD Agent, Starhawk, Thor, Ultron, Ultron Drone, Vision, Wonder Man

    Mixed: Groot, Jocasta, Kang, Moondragon, Odin, Spider-Woman, Star-Lord

    Weak: Baron Zemo, Black Widow, Bucky, Gladiator, Magneto, Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, Red Skull (both normal and Zombie), Wasp

    A few notes: Giant Man is quite good, at a total of +6. Hyperion is +8, and a very strong offensive buy for his TFC (though this could be that we otherwise have weak fives, offensively!). Thanos is, obviously, gravy. Rocket got a bit of an unfair shake because his class was pretty small and Daredevil is pretty good for his cost, but was net positive and is probably a better buy than this would indicate; in particular, many of his scores were just on the cusp of gaining him another point. He's practically a +3, so do consider him! Hawkeye also has good stats for his TFC.

    Conclusion

    I think the theme of AoU mathwise is 'what happened in JL, intensified'. We're getting more when we're spending more, and we're being increasingly pressured to spend more because our choices - especially for fielding - are increasingly moving in that direction. Does this mean more interesting choices, or harder play? Maybe! We certainly managed to cope in JL, so I imagine we will here as well. Let's see how it goes when we have the set in our hands.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. pk2317's Avatar
      pk2317 -
      @TRPEvan I just wanted to let you know that I really like reading these articles. Hard to get a lot of commentary on them but it's really good info. Thanks for crunching the numbers!