Getting Started: Marvel Crisis Protocol

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Excelsior, true believer! Goonhammer is covering Marvel Crisis Protocol. Starting this week, we’ll be doing some weekly articles on Crisis Protocol, starting with today’s guide to getting started with the game. In today’s article we’ll be introducing you to the Marvel Crisis Protocol miniatures game by Atomic Mass Games and filling you in on everything you need to get started saving and/or conquering the world with your team.

What is Marvel Crisis Protocol?

Marvel Crisis Protocol (or MCP to avoid typing the whole thing out every time) is a licensed skirmish-level miniatures game for two players. It’s produced by Atomic Mass Games, a division of Asmodee and features many popular heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe. Each player fields a roster of characters who clash over dynamically determined missions.

The characters are faces you’re likely to recognize – most of the characters available have been in either the movies or TV shows. However note that Atomic Mass’s license is for the versions of the characters from the comics rather than from the films so if your main exposure to Marvel is from the Cinematic Universe some of the costumes may look a bit odd and you may be wondering what the hell a M.O.D.O.K. is. But the differences are mainly cosmetic and you definitely don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of comics to feel at home. What’s important is…

Do They Have X-Men?

Yes. In November 2020 Atomic Mass began releasing characters from the X-Men comics/films (though again, these are modeled to resemble their comic book counterparts. Specifically from the Claremont/Lee era of designs). The original set had Magneto, Wolverine, Mystique, Cyclops, Toad, Storm, Beast, and Sabretooth.

Great. How Do I Play?

The great news here is that the rules are all available for free online so you can check it out yourself. But since you’re here already we’ll go over it for you.

To Me, My X-Men!

Each player will control a roster of usually four or five characters. These can be taken from any characters released for the game – there is no restriction that you have to take only heroes or villains, or that they have to belong to the same team canon-wise, or any of that. If you’ve read comics you know heroes and villains are forced to team up all the time to battle a greater threat, or somebody gets mind controlled, or maybe they have decided to bury the hatchet, or someone just got their movie rights optioned and now needs to appear more and in a more heroic light. Who knows. But as Wolverine famously says: “There’s no laws when you’re poppin’ claws, bub.”

The exact number of characters on each team is determined based on the missions selected. There are two kinds of missions – Secure crises(where you have to have more models on a location than the opponent) and Extract crises (where you have to get something and bring it to a location). One player selects a Secure and one selects an Extract so there’s always one of each in play in a game. The Crisis cards have a “Maximum Threat Level” on them, ranging from 14 and 20 points, and the player who has Priority (the player who goes first) chooses the value from one of the two active missions. Each character has a set Threat value that roughly translates to their power level so players can select characters that total up to not more than the Maximum Threat. For example the “Deadly Meteors Mutate Civilians!” Crisis card has a maximum Threat Level of 17. So you could bring Captain America (4 Threat), Hulk (6 Threat), Doctor Octopus (3 Threat), and Loki (4 Threat), or any combination of characters that doesn’t exceed 17 Threat. (Note – That would be a terrible team for a great number of reasons)

The game goes a maximum of six rounds, or until one player scores 16 points. You don’t get any points for taking out your opponent’s characters, just for completing the Mission objectives, although you win if you completely dumpster your opponent and you’re the only one with models left on the table. 

You know where you are? You’re in the Savage Land, baby! You’re gonna die! Credit: head58

With Great Power…

The main economy of the game is Power. Most super powers and special attacks have a Power cost to use them. Each character gets one Power at the start of each round but the real source of Power is from taking damage. Think about the times you’ve seen a character take a beating and then get up and clean house. That applies in MCP. There are other ways to generate Power, such as some basic attacks that give you Power based on the amount of damage done. But if Iron Man wants to shoot his Uni-Beam it’s going to take a lot, so he’ll probably need to take a few hits before he can get it charged up.

It’s Clobberin’ Time

Nearly all characters have a double-sided card. The front is their Healthy side and the back is their Injured side. Characters have a Stamina (hit points) value on each side. When Captain America has taken the 5 points listed on his Healthy side his card gets flipped over to the Injured side. It’s important to note that if a character’s card gets flipped this way that character can’t be targeted by attacks for the remainder of the round. This means it’s not possible to one-shot a character off the board. It also means that next round even though the character is on their Injured side they’ve probably accumulated a bunch of Power and can begin to really fight back.

Many characters have exactly the same stats and abilities on both sides, but some gain something new when they flip to Injured. Captain America gains a new defensive ability called “I Can Do This All Day” on his Injured side which makes him much harder to finish off. 

The Best There Is At What I Do

Like in many skirmish level games, players alternate activating characters until all of them on both sides have gone. This is nice because you don’t have to wait around until your opponent has done everything and then respond. It sucks because whatever plan you had at the start of the round probably won’t survive the first couple activations. 

When you activate a character they may perform two Actions: Move, Attack, Use a super power, or Shake off a status effect. There are lots of things that aren’t Actions also, like interacting with an objective, some super powers that don’t count as an Action, or playing Team Tactics cards (see below).  There’s no restriction on the order of the actions and yes, you can take any of those twice. 

It’s worth noting that many super powers allow you to throw characters and terrain around the board. As you might hope with a comic book inspired game, property damage is an integral part of the experience. 

Captain Marvel Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Captain Marvel Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Avengers Assemble! (Affiliations)

Characters belong to Affiliations, or teams. Some, like Venom, have multiple Affiliations (Spider-Foes and Web Warriors, depending on his mood). Each Affiliation has one or more Leaders and the leader grants a special ability to all the characters you control. BUT in order to gain that ability more than half your characters must possess that Affiliation. This is one of the reasons why the team mentioned above would be terrible – Captain America and Hulk both have the Avengers Affiliation, but Doc Ock and Loki do not. That’s not more than half so they wouldn’t be able to use Cap’s Leadership ability, and that would be a significant disadvantage.

The list of what characters have which Affiliations is always growing as new models are released. The most up-to-date list is on the Atomic Mass website here

Fastball Special!

The last big piece of MCP is the Team Tactics cards. These give some kind of added benefit or effect but usually require multiple characters to be within a specified range of each other. Some of them are even very specific about which characters you need to have in order to use them. For example, “Sibling Rivalry” (which really should have been called “Get Help”) requires Thor and Loki to be relatively close to each other but allows Thor to throw his brother into a foe, and when used the defending character has a penalty to dodge. Other Team tactics cards give a benefit to any characters who have a particular affiliation. Using the Team Tactics cards requires a fair amount of planning both when selecting your roster and in setting up conditions on the board to make them work, but the effects are usually worth the effort.

 

So What Do I Need to Play?

You will need the rules (see above), some models, the special dice, the special movement and range tools, a handful of different types of tokens, some terrain, and a 3 foot by 3 foot playing space.  To get all these things (except the playing space) you should really buy the Core Set. It comes with 10 characters…

Does the core set come with the X-Men?

No, the Core features five heroes (Captain America, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, and Spider-Man) and five villains (Red Skull, Ultron, Baron Zemo, Crossbones, and Doctor Octopus). That’s the only core set and they’re not planning on releasing a version with the X-Men. But even if you only like some of those characters the core set is a great value. The terrain, dice, tokens, and measurement tools are all essentials for the game. You could in fact play a full game with only what you get in that core box. We would recommend an additional set of dice though, as there aren’t quite enough for some of the more powerful abilities in the game.

If you’re splitting the box with someone or planning to play against people who don’t have core sets of their own it would also be good to pick up an extra set of the measurement tools. It’s easy enough to just share a set but each player having their own makes things smoother. 

Let’s talk about the models for a minute. The models are hard plastic and on sprues. Some of the more recent releases have included different heads or arms for varying the look but most of them are in fixed poses and maybe 80% are standing on some goddamn hero rock.

They’re a 40mm scale, a bit larger than many other games, and that allows for some incredible detail. But the trade off here is that some of the models have incredibly tiny pieces on the sprue. I’m looking at you, Baron Zemo’s elbow pads and the 15 pieces that make Shuri’s hair.

It’s an Asmodee game, so you know there’s going to be proprietary dice, measurement tools, and oh god so many tokens!

What Do I Buy From There?

A 3’x3′ mat and more terrain are great purchases to expand your experience. Atomic Mass sells these or there are lots of third party sources, or just make your own. 

But mostly you’re going to want more models. These are sold in packs of two (or solo for some of the larger models like Ghost Rider or the Green Goblin) and come with character cards and tokens needed for those models, as well as additional Team Tactics cards. Some also come with new Mission Cards.

There are no model packs that you need to buy in order to play the game. You can choose to only buy the packs for certain Affiliations or just the characters you like. But who are we kidding, you’re going to buy a crapton of these things because the characters are cool and the models are awesome and you’ve always wanted to make Daredevil and Winter Soldier kiss fight.

Do they have Deadpool?

Oy.

 

Next Time: Tactics, Painting, and Expansions

That covers getting started, but stay tuned as in the coming weeks we’ll be covering more about Crisis Protocol, including tactics, the game’s expansions, and how to paint the game’s lovely miniatures. And as always, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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