We had a game this weekend where it seemed like every attack was either 0 strikes or 3+. We had a whole team eliminated by 1st strike penetration attack ulster kills. This is a fine time to mention the benefits of having your ulster in your hand, protected from penetrating attacks by a low impulse (going last). The only way to hit your hand is via spending an action on the reflex substitute ability.
From the Battlebook:
Neither penetration nor Multicard attacks may be enhanced with any powerup, be it from a zGear or Mode card.
For example, if you use a Supercharge!! card to add a target card to your T-Laser’s attack, you may use the T-Laser’s Scan powerup vs. only one, not both, of your target cards.
Likewise, if your T-Laser scores 3 strikes vs. a target card you don’t get to use your Scan powerup vs. the penetrating attack target.
If you use a powerup like Knockback (whose effects depend on the number of matches you make) Penetrating or Multicard matches don’t add to the effects of the powerup. If you use a Knockback attack and score 3 strikes and then score only 1 match on the additional target card, you knock the foe back only 3 cards from the original target card.
Now lets assume you are hit by a penetrating attack. Once the 3 strikes, maneuvers, retests, etc are resolved and you still suffer a penetration, if you want to use your hero ability from your drive to undo that attack and save your gear you need to do it BEFORE you draw the next target card. Once you draw that second card (and it's your ulster, doh! you are allowed to look at the target card in all circumstances unless it is a sneak attack) you can't do anything to stop or modify the attack. Once you draw your target card the next attack has started. This is when the "no modifications" rule is in effect.
That's the power of 3 strikes!