Crisis Response: Criminal Syndicate The Match Ups

By Ryan Young

This week in Crisis Response, let’s look at two of the match-ups and the strategies to maximize the available characters in Criminal Syndicate. Check out the list here.

Basic Strategies

Criminal Syndicate is able to score VP at will with Fisk’s leadership and can move Extract tokens to and fro, so selecting scenarios that help with these are key. Even though the list is single-affiliation, its flexibility in going Big Healthy or Wide is great for keeping the opponent guessing on what’s coming.

Generally speaking, against big hitters, like Asgardians, Cabal, and Black Order, the Big Healthy characters make the list. Against more control focused affiliations, like Web Warriors, Wakanda, and Defenders, the wide characters come into play. Team Tactic cards vary depending on which of the two list options is taken. If you’re running M.O.D.O.K., AIM Lackeys provides the extra movement needed to counteract the Slow Movement of Kingpin and Crossbones. Extreme Conditioning fills the same role if M.O.D.O.K isn’t active. Killmonger warrants Usurp the Throne and, usually, All You’ve Got to maximize his lethal prowess.


Wakanda is one of the toughest matchups for any list, but CS can handle the matchup better than most due to Kingpin’s leadership bonus. The key for playing against Wakanda is running at least as many activations as the Wakanda player, hopefully, more. At 15 points in Gamma Shelters, that means I need 5 activations: Kingpin, Killmonger, Crossbones, Okoye, and Black Widow. The tactic cards taken are Usurp, All You’ve Got, Extreme Conditioning, Medpack, and Brace for Impact.

Crossbones needs to get to the far 3-point Secure as soon as possible. Turn one, he needs to end at the mid-point. His Aggressive superpower allows him to return to the original point if he takes damage from both Black Panther’s and Shuri’s push. Remember, if Crossbones uses Inured to Pain, and doesn’t take any damage, he cannot trigger Aggressive.

Black Widow should be the last activation of the first round, especially if you do not have priority. If the opponent leaves only one character on the 3-point secure, her long move allows her to score that Secure easily. Round two, she can maneuver back to the 1-point Secure as Kingpin moves up to the 2-point secure. Her stealth protects her from Shuri and if Black Panther is attacking her, he isn’t pushing another character.

Okoye should be positioned to bodyguard as often as possible for Kingpin and Killmonger while securing the mid-point. Most of her actions will be moving back into position and an occasional spear throw to gain the much-needed power to bodyguard.

Kingpin secures the back secure point as far forward as possible on turn one. Turn 2, moving Widow behind Kingpin to stop some pushes while keeping the 1-point Secure. Kingpin has a great throw, so use it often. His Hail to the King attack is devastating with a throw and an auto Stagger. Taking away one of Panther’s pushes is huge.

Killmonger gets on the mid point so he can start mongering on turn 2. Picking a softer target for him initially and gaining Kill Count tokens, and once he has a Kill Count token, going after Black Panther for the Usurp the Throne VPs. Don’t hesitate to use All You’ve Got to finish Panther off, those 2 VPs are enormous.

As the point values increase for different threat levels, it is imperative to match or exceed the number of activations of the Wakandan squad.

Regardless of the Extract scenario, make sure you gather as many of those tokens as possible. At least splitting the Extract token is enough as CS should be scoring 3 out of 4 Secure and in Gamma Shelters 6 points per turn is brutal.

Black Order

Black Order is a hard-hitting, fast-moving, durable affiliation that gains VPs for KO-ing enemy characters. Usually, due to their high threat values, they will have a low model count. Thanos’ 6 base plus any Gems taken, Corvus’ 4 maybe with the Time Gem, Proxima’s 3, Black Dwarf’s 4, and Ebony Maw’s 5 mean they can’t run everyone. With the opponents’ lower model count and VPs for KO-ing models, it’s time for you to bring out some Big Healthy boys.

If my opponent wins initiative, I expect them to take as high a threat value as possible and I will generally do the opposite, probably skipping Gamma Shelter as that Secure plays into the Black Order game plan of KO-ing characters because everyone is so bunched up. Extremis Consoles becomes my go-to Secure and Struggle for the Cube for Extract as I want as many points available as possible to score quickly.

Kingpin and M.O.D.O.K become the core of a matchup against the Black Order. M.O.D.O.K has range 4 attacks, a terrain throw and an enemy placement, plus 10 health and is a battery for Power making All According to Plan easier to play. He will control the near Secure point on map D or one of the 2 near Secure points on map B.

Building up to 17 threat is about bringing survivable, durable characters. Taskmaster, Crossbones and Okoye fit that bill. Taskmaster counts blanks as blocks while within Range 2 and his Intuitive Pattern Recognition adds 2 dice to his defense rolls if it is the second attack from the same character. Crossbones Inured to Pain helps slow the ability to daze and KO him. Okoye, like Taskmaster, counts blanks for blocks when close enough and gets one reroll.

Killmonger is an exciting choice here, with Thanos being the target for Usurp+All You’ve Got for 2 VPs. Remember Thanos is not going down very easily as he reduces all damage by 1, even to zero if the dice rolls work in his favor. With that being said, I try to focus on the scenario against Black Order as they are just so hardy and difficult to daze/KO.

Team Tactic cards taken against Black Order are to increase mobility and stay alive. All According to Plan, Disarm, Medpack, Brace for Impact, and A.I.M. Lackeys make the cut. Medpack, Brace, and Disarm prolong the survivability of my team. Disarm is brutal against either Corvus or Proxima.

Proxima is the softest target and breaking the Husband/Wife chain activations is hugely important to staying alive longer, so she should be the priority target. I try to get M.O.D.O.K. on the same side of the table as her, but her L movement makes that difficult. The turn after Proxima is dazed is the best time to use All According to Plan to go for the KO and break up the marriage chain.

Kingpin getting a Hail to the King attack off on any Black Order character is huge, as a Stagger limits an already small activation pool. He is a great target for A.I.M. Lackeys to get him into position for the attack or on the opponents’ table side secures.

The other character’s role is to score Secures and stay alive. Moving off of a Secure early in the round to keep them from getting Dazed/KOed is often a good play especially if you can get to another point. Making Black Order characters spend actions to move instead of attack is painful for them.

While I’ve only discussed the Wakanda and Black Order match ups, the same strategies are employed against other factions with the same play style.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on Criminal Syndicate. Check back with Crisis Response next week as we look at an Avengers list.