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Subject: Convince me to play Agent Mercury rss

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Skaak
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Okay, folks, I'm just going to say it:

I don't get why anyone would use Agent Mercury.

* She's mainly useful as a melee character, but her health is so low that she is unable to go face-to-face with even a couple of lowly Spine Critters and have a reasonable chance of survival
* Her Stealth ability has the potential to be amazing, except that the two bottom-ranked melee characters in the game explicitly ignore it, resulting in her very quickly getting locked down and fair game for anything with a gun and a grudge
* Her class-specific device has some of the highest damage output in the game (and a method to potentially destroy some signals!), except it triggers so late in the turn that there's no way to guarantee there will even be anything in the target area to be damaged

I love the idea of a stealthy, ninja blade-wielding assassin, but every time I've tried to field Mercury she has accomplished little and then died soon afterward. She must have been crazily overpowered in the original game testing, since no other agent is as explicitly gimped (imagine an alien ignoring Chromium's guard ability, or Titanium's passive damage blocking; brutal!), but I'm having a very difficult time figuring out how to play her (or even why I would want to field her).

Maybe later missions will reveal her utility (I've only played through Mission 5 so far), but thus far I'm stumped. Am I simply playing her poorly? Is there some aspect of her abilities that I'm overlooking? Enlighten me!
 
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Patrick Leacock
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A friend is playing her in the campaign and has the same issues. But we are only at Mission 3. There is a special vest, GD Shield, that might help her out.
 
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Byron Campbell
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Her Escape Artist skill (roll 3 dice to evade), and having a decoy agent in the open to draw enemy fire, make Stealth a lot more viable, but it means she won't be attacking much. I think she holds her own in melee combat, though, thanks to her defense ability.
 
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Kevin Erskine
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Her good attack without having to worry about ammo is the only significant positive that I can see. Maybe her stealth ability will come in handy with different aliens
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Skaak
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kittenhoarder wrote:
Her Escape Artist skill (roll 3 dice to evade)


I admittedly have never been able to keep Mercury alive long enough to gain more than a basic tactic; I really need to try single mission-style play one of these days.

I'm not sure if this is enough to redeem her for me, though, because it basically means that I have to sacrifice two turns for a single attack and a pretty good chance to get away. Not much of a hit and run.

kittenhoarder wrote:
having a decoy agent in the open to draw enemy fire, make Stealth a lot more viable, but it means she won't be attacking much.


I think that's possibly my biggest beef with Mercury, right there. You basically have to run Chromium or Hulk out to draw the initial enemy fire and gain at least 1 wound, but those two characters have one and two less movement than Mercury (respectively). So she has to hang around in the background (effectively wasting the first few turns of movement, and relying on her admittedly decent secondary for combat support), then try to sneak around the sides if you want to do anything tricky with her. Yet as soon as she's closer to a Spine Critter or Aracnos who just spawned in than her team-mates, BAM! She's a sitting duck for everything that's spawning behind the front lines.

Additionally, she has one of the highest attack basic weapons in the game, so you really want her to be engaged with the enemies your team mates are trying to kill. But that negates what little benefit Stealth provides, and is likely a death sentence since she has such low health.

The melee defense is nice, but of course a blue Spine Critter can easily remove more than a quarter of her health (with non-melee damage, so normal defense chances) when she kills it.

kerskine wrote:
Maybe her stealth ability will come in handy with different aliens


I hope so; I really want to use Mercury (she and the Biotech were the first two I tried in my first game, because they hands down seemed the most awesome).
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Karl
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One more Mercury hater here. IMHO Infiltrators are the worst class to begin with, but Mercury really tops it by having contradictory abilities. So far I always took nano barrier instead of her innate passive to at least give her a consistent power set as stealth seems to be quite useless so far or at least very very situational. Maybe give her area damage with the blades or give her one free disengage (no action or attack lost) attempt each turn or something like that.
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Purple Paladin

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We just did a 4 player game, with one friend taking Mercury (our first time using her in the game). It' was awful. He tried to sneak her about to be stealthy; impossible with the critters.

Once engaged, she was near death in 2 attacks, and when she finally did kill he critter enemy, it's explosion finished her.

Her usefulness seems situational at best. I just can't figure out how exactly to use her to help the team, except to stand in back and then rush forward to melee enemies already in melee with us.

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Yeah...I have not seen Mercury fielded in any of my games. I have the KS stuff and that infiltrator is really strong. Satellite Strike looks like it should be a really powerful weapon, and if you consider the total amount of damage that it can do, it is. But, when you look at the damage per alien, the potential is high, the average is...lacking. I'd much rather have 3-4 dice on Satellite Strike and no defense dice for the targets.

I'm thinking that Mercury needs to played more like Solid Snake. You need to come around corners and pick the enemy off one by one and out of view from the rest of the aliens.
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Skaak
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Hero_guy wrote:
I have the KS stuff and that infiltrator is really strong.


I'm planning to try the KS heroes after I finish the first run-through of the campaign. Agent N and Agent S look like they'd offer some very interesting synergy (particularly since Agent N has access to Infiltrator devices but is kitted out more like the Biotech...and I love me the shotgun!), and the Xeno-hunter's camouflage looks so ridiculously much better than Stealth, it's not even funny.
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Dustin Crenshaw
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I think the biggest problem is she doesn't roll enough dice in combat. why take all that risk when I can just play a sniper that can do the same thing 1/2 across the map.
 
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Jason Gifford
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Personally I find her really useful in a full group. She's fast and can run around grabbing objectives while the rest of the team focuses on the aliens.

As for the comment about needing an injured hulk? You should ALWAYS have your hulk out there sucking up damage. Don't heal him to full, you want the aliens focused on him with Thorium glued to his ass keeping him up but still injured.

As for the Orbital Strike just make sure you chose your Alpha Agent in such as a way that Mercury goes last. That will let her move into position and fire with only a single alien activation phase allowing targets to move out of the area.

Do I think she's great in a small 3 person team? No not really, but in a 4-5 person squad she can really shine.
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Skaak
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Sielle wrote:
As for the comment about needing an injured hulk? You should ALWAYS have your hulk out there sucking up damage.


The problem here is that the Hulk starts the game without any injuries. So you basically have to have your whole team (other than the sniper) waste their first turn or two trying to maneuver Hulk into a position where he'll soak up some damage. Mostly this isn't a huge deal (he only has one less movement than most of the agents, which is easily made up with tactical redeployment or Charge), but since Mercury has to be close to aliens to deal any damage at all and has such a high movement, she basically just has to twiddle her thumbs. I'd rather have an agent in there who's going to deal actual damage instead (Chromium with guard is great for this, Thorium at least has his shotgun, and Iridium obviously likes it better when aliens are way down the map).

If after wasting her first few turns I could get her into a position to either accomplish objectives stealthily or make up for her initial lack of damage output somehow I could overlook this, but as things stand sending her out to scavenge up some alien fragments or try to find some scientists or whatever just ends up with her bleeding out several areas away from the only medic on the team because an Aracnos jumps up out of nowhere and pins her for the Betas to finish off.

Sielle wrote:
No not really, but in a 4-5 person squad she can really shine.


Admittedly, she was useful in Mission 5 for me (despite being the only death--by a hair; Titanium and Thorium were both bleeding out and only made it thanks to a single lucky roll of the dice) since she was able to lock a Nexus down and prevent his ranged attack from triggering for a couple turns. But I'd really prefer her to be useful for more than sacrificing herself so that others might live if I'm going to ever choose her for a mission instead of being stuck with her thanks to the number of agents required.
 
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Byron Campbell
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Skaak wrote:
The problem here is that the Hulk starts the game without any injuries. So you basically have to have your whole team (other than the sniper) waste their first turn or two trying to maneuver Hulk into a position where he'll soak up some damage. Mostly this isn't a huge deal (he only has one less movement than most of the agents, which is easily made up with tactical redeployment or Charge), but since Mercury has to be close to aliens to deal any damage at all and has such a high movement, she basically just has to twiddle her thumbs.


Since she has such high movement, send her the roundabout route, as far away as possible from all alien and teleport points. In Mission 1, for example, have her hug the right side of the map. As long as there are other agents closer to the aliens, even those that ignore stealth will tend to target them, leaving her free to sneak up on those objectives. You are right that she is not a damage-dealer except when she has to be. She's the one who gets the job done while the other agents are out there fighting.

I haven't played the game enough to say whether she is truly underpowered, but I do think she has a few peculiar strengths (blown out of the water by the Xeno-Hunter and the KS infiltrator, though...but all of the KS agents are a bit overpowered).
 
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kittenhoarder wrote:
I haven't played the game enough to say whether she is truly underpowered, but I do think she has a few peculiar strengths (blown out of the water by the Xeno-Hunter and the KS infiltrator, though...but all of the KS agents are a bit overpowered).


Well, the KS Biotech is, imo, not clearly superior to the base set one. I know there have been times where I really wished I had that Shotgun and a bad role for Thorium, still gives 1 healing. The KS biotech doesn't really start being clearly better until you have the improved weapon, or until you get the GD209 skill.

I'm not sure about the marine either. Chromium is actually pretty good. Silver is good too, but the follow up attack with the Flamethrower isn't as great as it sounds because it only ever does 2 hits and is pretty easily defended. The guard ability plus his area damage ability make Chromium the better choice, imo. I haven't looked much at the alt Chromium card though, so I can't speak on that.

Titanium, imo, is actually the better tank. His armor special and his passive gives him the ability to take much more punishment than the KS hulk.

The KS sniper and infiltrator both outclass the base set ones though. But there is something to be said about how good a reroll (instead of a movement) can be. The Infiltrator though....no contest there, unfortunately.
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Ryan
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Sielle wrote:
Personally I find her really useful in a full group. She's fast and can run around grabbing objectives while the rest of the team focuses on the aliens.

As for the comment about needing an injured hulk? You should ALWAYS have your hulk out there sucking up damage. Don't heal him to full, you want the aliens focused on him with Thorium glued to his ass keeping him up but still injured.

As for the Orbital Strike just make sure you chose your Alpha Agent in such as a way that Mercury goes last. That will let her move into position and fire with only a single alien activation phase allowing targets to move out of the area.

Do I think she's great in a small 3 person team? No not really, but in a 4-5 person squad she can really shine.


I completely agree. She was used in a 5 person game.
Sniper Agent
Xeno-Hunter
Agent Mercury
G-Droid
Ripley

Mercury was very useful and kept destroying the beacons and was used as to finish off the weaker aliens in melee. Most of the group only took a few points of damage because of the Xeno-Hunter and Sniper. Once G-Droid got his "pet" out, we really owned. Ripley was great for the AOE.
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Jason Gifford
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Hero_guy wrote:

Titanium, imo, is actually the better tank. His armor special and his passive gives him the ability to take much more punishment than the KS hulk.


If you have the KS Hulk, then you most likely have the Nano-barrier ability to replace his trap skill. Combined with the additional HP and a 20% chance to ignore any damage that gets through and you have a better tank IMO. But that it kind of putting him on easy mode at that point.
 
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Sielle wrote:
Hero_guy wrote:

Titanium, imo, is actually the better tank. His armor special and his passive gives him the ability to take much more punishment than the KS hulk.


If you have the KS Hulk, then you most likely have the Nano-barrier ability to replace his trap skill. Combined with the additional HP and a 20% chance to ignore any damage that gets through and you have a better tank IMO. But that it kind of putting him on easy mode at that point.


If you need to add something to him to make him better than Titanium, then I would say that Titanium is better by default. I forget the exact wording on Nano Barrier, though. I remember it potentially stop hits? Damage? I also don't remember if Iron's armor's bolt ability is a 'once' or 'each' ability. I do know that Titanium's armor is an 'each' which is why he tanks attacks so well.
 
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Jason Gifford
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Iron = 1 Bolt = shield
Titanium = Each Bold = Shield

Iron = 15 HP
Titanium = 12 HP

Iron Ability = Trap that can keep Aliens from activating
Titanium Ability = 1 automatic shield when defending against 3 or more hits

Nano Barrier Ability = For each wound suffered (wound not hit) roll a blue die and negate it with a bolt result. (20% chance to ignore each wound you suffered)



So we need to decide which is better, 1 automatic shield if you take 3+ hits or a 20% chance to negate every hit.

If you decide that the 20% for every hit is worth more, than you need to decide if 3 HP is worth more than the each bolt ability.

I haven't run the numbers myself but a quick look tells me that 20% for every wound is better than 1 shield if hit 3+ times.

And 3 HP would be better than the ever bolt ability assuming you kept a biotech near him. If you don't keep a healer near by then the bolt ability would come out a bit better.

It comes down to how you're going to play and what your tactics are going to be. But keep in mind that the more HP you have the more wounded you can keep the hulk without risking his death, in order to draw fire.
 
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Sielle wrote:
Iron = 1 Bolt = shield
Titanium = Each Bold = Shield

Iron = 15 HP
Titanium = 12 HP

Iron Ability = Trap that can keep Aliens from activating
Titanium Ability = 1 automatic shield when defending against 3 or more hits

Nano Barrier Ability = For each wound suffered (wound not hit) roll a blue die and negate it with a bolt result. (20% chance to ignore each wound you suffered)



So we need to decide which is better, 1 automatic shield if you take 3+ hits or a 20% chance to negate every hit.

If you decide that the 20% for every hit is worth more, than you need to decide if 3 HP is worth more than the each bolt ability.

I haven't run the numbers myself but a quick look tells me that 20% for every wound is better than 1 shield if hit 3+ times.

And 3 HP would be better than the ever bolt ability assuming you kept a biotech near him. If you don't keep a healer near by then the bolt ability would come out a bit better.

It comes down to how you're going to play and what your tactics are going to be. But keep in mind that the more HP you have the more wounded you can keep the hulk without risking his death, in order to draw fire.


Well, Nano Barrier is a 20% chance per damage as you say, so if you take 5 damage, it should trigger once. Titanium does basically the same except his is guaranteed and only needs 3 hits to trigger. At anything over 5 damage, Nano Barrier will have a slight advantage. Otherwise the flat +1 shield is better.

Here's the average of damage taken based on a fixed number of hits and an average 40% shield result:
10 hits- 6.0 damage
9 hits - 5.4 damage
8 hits - 4.8
7 hits - 4.2
6 hits - 3.6 ...etc.

So the only time we have 5+ damage is when 9-10 hits are rolled. At most, I've seen an attack with 5 red dice which means that 4 out of 5 need to land on the '2 hit' side and the last one needs to land on a hit (0.007% chance). Aliens that have a bolt = +1 hit have only a slightly better chance. So Titanium's ability will be better.

Now let's take the same chart and figure out how the armor bolt effects would average:
# of hits - average damage - average bolts
10 hits- 6.0 - 2.0
9 hits - 5.4 - 1.8
8 hits - 4.8 - 1.6
7 hits - 4.2 - 1.4
6 hits - 3.6 - 1.2 ...etc.

Factoring the .2 damage reduction of NB and the +1 shield of Titanium:
# of hits - average damage - average bolts - Titanium's total dmg - NB's total dmg

10 hits- 6.0 - 2.0 - [6 - 2 - 1=]3.0 - [6- 1 -1.2=]3.8
9 hits - 5.4 - 1.8 - [5.4-1.8-1=]2.6 - [5.4-1-1.1=]3.3
8 hits - 4.8 - 1.6 - [4.8-1.6-1=]2.2 - [4.8-1-1 =]2.8
7 hits - 4.2 - 1.4 - [4.2-1.4-1=]1.8 - [4.2-1-.8 =]2.4
6 hits - 3.6 - 1.2 - [3.6-1.2-1=]1.4 - [3.6-1-.7 =]1.9
5 hits - 3.0 - 1.0 - [3.0-1.0-1=]1.0 - [3.0-1-.6 =]1.4
4 hits - 2.4 - 0.8 - [2.4-0.8-1=]0.6 - [2.4-.8-.5 =]1.1
3 hits - 1.8 - 0.6 - [1.8-0.6-1=]0.2 - [1.8-.6-.4 =]0.8
2 hits - 1.2 - 0.4 - [1.2-0.4-0=]0.8 - [1.2-0.4-.2 =]0.4
1 hits - 0.6 - 0.2 - [0.6-0.2-0=]0.4 - [0.6-0.2-.1 =]0.3

So at
 
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Dustin Crenshaw
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especially with the alpha who brings more than 1 alien with him.
 
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Leandro Ferreira
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I agree that the trap is clutch.

but we are going way off topic here. Regarding Mercury, the rework she needs is to only have her stealth be bypassed by targets actually engaged with her.

this way she can melee the target she desires without being subjected to random fire from ranged aliens.

A nice skill that allowed her to "sidestep" as an action once per round could be a very nice addition. (action: move 1 square, can be used to disengage)

that being said, she is only useful in a full group, and the KS alternatives are better. Xeno hunter stealth+ranged attack combo is great and allows him to attack things while remaining camouflaged.

Mercury needs to be able to do a similar thing to be viable.
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Yeah. I did drift a bit far. Apologies.

In any case, I don't think she quite needs to only be 'seen' by engaged aliens. If that were the case, she would almost never be engaged because she would never be targeted by anything unless/until she chose to. I think simply adding that she can use the evade special action without sacrificing her attack should be enough. That way, she can spend just her action to disengage, and if she fails she can still make an attack vs. her not being able to attack on the same round she evades. That way, being engaged is still a serious enough threat, but not so dooming as it is now.

Edit: Forgot to add that the last time I played, we had finished the campaign and restarted using the elite alien army. For mission 1, we used Chromium, G-Droid, Agent N, Xeno-Hunter, and Mercury. Full success and we managed to do it in about 7-8 rounds. Granted Xeno-hunter is pretty nasty so that may have had something to do with it. And we had quite a bit of experience. But interestingly enough, we had no Hulk and we still succeeded without anyone ever going into 'bleeding' status'.
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Max Maloney
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Back to the original topic, I'm thinking it might be worth a house rule that Mercury's armor boost also works on the acid blood from Spine Critter deaths. We found that blood to be one of the biggest issues with her long-term survivability (I've only played twice thus far and she was bleeding out both games).
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Gene Chiu
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I do find that Mercury is more of a challenge to play than any of the others. In my group, it has been played twice. Once we all died due to an error on my part playing the marine. I take the blame for that one.

The other time, I played Mercury with the sniper and tank on Mission 1. I was solitaire on this and controlled all 3. My first decision was picking the item. I chose the medical kit as I did not have a biotech. I did end up having to use it. My sniper also had a med kit, but was not used.

The types of enemies also determine how effective Mercury is. I found that what really worked is to keep Mercury away from the spine critters. The splash damage was pretty dangerous to Mercury. I didn't like the fact that the melee aliens trump the best melee agent. However, against the xeno-betas that suck at melee, Mercury was able to really control them and deal damage without facing any counter attack. I would close in on one and attack. When the beta activates all it can do is run away. I'm not sure I like this design. I tend to dislike hoser mechanics. spine critters hose Mercury, but then Mercury hoses the betas. I guess it sort of works. Against a mission where there are too many spine critters, her effectiveness is lessened.

Her stealth and faster movement does help in reaching objectives. You have to really pick your spots. She was able to grab the extra weapon fairly quickly in Mission 1 and she was able to reach the final teleporter to finish the mission while the sniper had to hang back and the tank was too slow.

Personally, I rather enjoyed using her. It's definitely not for everyone. If you want to feel you can do something every single turn, then Mercury is not for you. I feel it brings an interesting challenge to the game. I've only played it about half a dozen times. I've had a chance to play them all. I would play Mercury again.

Skaak wrote:
The problem here is that the Hulk starts the game without any injuries. So you basically have to have your whole team (other than the sniper) waste their first turn or two trying to maneuver Hulk into a position where he'll soak up some damage. Mostly this isn't a huge deal (he only has one less movement than most of the agents, which is easily made up with tactical redeployment or Charge), but since Mercury has to be close to aliens to deal any damage at all and has such a high movement, she basically just has to twiddle her thumbs. I'd rather have an agent in there who's going to deal actual damage instead (Chromium with guard is great for this, Thorium at least has his shotgun, and Iridium obviously likes it better when aliens are way down the map).


I thought of an interesting tactic to make sure the enemy targets the hulk from the beginning. If anyone doesn't have a decent target on the first turn, he can always just shoot the hulk so he is the most damaged agent from the beginning. devil This only works if you are using the friendly fire option.
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Anybody try the variant where Mercury uses movement/action to disengage, instead of movement/combat?

That seems like it would balance things out perfectly with her.
 
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