Characters in comics are always teaming up to fight/commit crime together, it’s a staple of the genre. Marvel Crisis Protocol simulates this through Affiliations, team memberships that, through the team’s leader, provide allied characters with a special thematic ability. In this week’s column we’re going to go over the Affiliations and Leadership abilities currently in the game. This article will be updated as new Affiliations are released and updated as necessary for FAQs, so be sure to come back and
give us your delicious clicks revisit this piece in the future.
Updated: 4/12/2021 to include Sin’s Leadership in Cabal.
As a reminder, in order for your squad to receive any benefit from an Affiliation, more than half the characters in your squad must share that Affiliation and the Affiliation leader themselves (or one of them if there are multiple) must be in your squad. Keep this in mind as you build out your roster. Also, if your Leader gets KO’d your squad loses the Leadership benefit. You’ll be able to identify the Leader by the helpful Affiliation cards that come with the Leader’s model.
This is intended as an overview of the Affiliations currently in the game, not an intensive deep dive. Future articles will explore each Affiliation in much greater detail.
Grades take into account the size and depth of the affiliation roster and the usefulness of the leadership ability. We did not factor in the value when combined with any specific character as that gets rapidly too complex. Affiliation – specific Team Tactics cards are not currently assessed here but will be added “soon.” Where multiple leadership abilities are available for an affiliation separate grades are assigned.
Leadership Ability: Defenders of Arcadia – When an allied character is damaged by an enemy effect, another allied character may gain 1 Power. A character may not gain more than 1 Power from this Leadership ability per turn.
A-Force was a team that debuted in an alternate reality in the 2015 Secret Wars series and…you know what, it doesn’t really matter. The schtick of this affiliation is “all the female heroes” and it does exactly what it says on the tin (with the puzzling exceptions of Ghost-Spider and Nebula). This affiliation list is very deep and has some of the best characters in the game on it. You could accidentally stumble into making an A-Force squad without realizing it.
She-Hulk’s Leadership ability is strong. You can probably expect to get one Power on all or most of your team each round from this since your opponent is more than likely going to be attacking some of your characters during the game. That’s not game-breaking, but the extra power is always welcome, especially for getting more Power-hungry characters like Captain Marvel charged up a little earlier. Grade: A-
Leader: Thor, Prince of Asgard
Leadership Ability: Prince of Asgard – At the start of each of your turns, one allied character may spend 1 Power. If they do, remove one damage or one special condition from that character. Each allied character may use this leadership once per round.
Much like with a vegan or a firefighter, there’s no need to wonder if Thor is the Prince of Asgard – he’ll tell you right on his card (twice!). The Asgardian affiliation is fairly limited (with only six members) but the characters on it are very strong. Thor, Angela, and Valkyrie are absolute beatsticks while Enchantress, Hela, and Loki have powerful control abilities. The trade off here is that these are relatively high Threat characters (Valkyrie being the only 3 Threat) so your squad may end up a bit smaller unless you pad with some 2 Threat support characters.
The “Prince of Asgard” ability would seem good in any other affiliation, but since Asgardian characters automatically gain an additional Power each round it gets even better here. This is clutch for removing a special condition that’s going to hamper your best laid plans for the turn. Removing one single damage is less useful generally but can be situationally brilliant for keeping a character on their feet, or giving you a little extra breathing room to avoid being dazed on an objective. The fact that you can do this at the start of each turn and it doesn’t have to be the activating character that uses it is just bonkers. You are not going to be shifting these characters off objectives any time soon. Grade: A
Leader: Captain America
Leadership Ability: A Day Unlike Any Other – Each turn you may reduce the Power cost of the first superpower used by each allied character by 1, to a minimum of 1.
Okay, first a beef here: Wolverine is an Avenger but Peter Parker isn’t? Weak sauce. This spider-erasure shall not stand! Other than that, this lineup hews closely to the comics/movies, and the bench is tied with A-Force for the largest in the game.
Cap’s Leadership ability will see plenty of good use but the fact that it is superpowers only and not attacks and only goes off on the first superpower used each turn is somewhat limiting – although keep in mind it’s “each turn” so defensive superpowers will gain the greatest benefit here. Grade: B+
Leader: Thanos, the Mad Titan
Leadership Ability: Death’s Agenda (Healthy) – When an enemy character is KO’d, this character’s controlling player scores 1VP.
Death’s Agenda (Injured) – During the Modify Dice step of an attack, an allied character may suffer up to 3 Wounds. For each Wound suffered, it may reroll one of its attack dice. (If an attacking character becomes Dazed or KO’d during the attack, the attack ends immediately.)
Thanos and his flunkies, whom I’m not sure even get named on screen in the films. A small roster with high cost characters, a problem made even worse if you include some Infinity Gems. And you’re probably going to want to take Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight since they have some great synergy. So that’s 13 of your Threat right there. The good news is they’re all beasts, but you may have issues against squads with a lot of activations.
The Black Order’s Leadership ability changes depending on whether Thanos is Healthy or Injured. On the Healthy side they’re scoring VPs for KO’ing enemies, which means you may be tempted to focus on beating face more than pursuing objectives, and that may be a trap. When Thanos flips to Injured, the ability changes to allow allies to take wounds to reroll attack dice. Again, this is a tasty but potentially dangerous trap and other affiliations have much better rerolls available to them. Grade: C
Brotherhood of Mutants
Leadership Ability: From the Ruins – When a terrain feature is destroyed, after the effect is resolved, choose a number of allied characters equal or less to the terrain feature’s Size. Each chosen character gets 1 Power. A character may only get 1 Power as a result of this Leadership ability per turn.
Leadership Ability: Freedom Force – Once per turn, after an allied character interacts with an Extract Objective token, after all effects are resolved the character gains 1 Power.
Additionally, allied characters may use the following Interact ability: Interact (Secure Object Token): Place a token on this objective token. While this token is in play, you are securing the objective. Remove the token if an enemy character contests the objective token. You may only have one token in play at a time as a result of this Leadership ability.
I guess legal counsel advised them to drop the “Evil” from the affiliation name because it was swaying juries, but I still don’t like it. The Brotherhood doesn’t have a lot of members just yet but Juggernaut, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch are promised on the AMG Affiliation Lists page. But for the moment you’ll be taking three of the four Brotherhood members to get this affiliation.
Magneto’s leadership ability isn’t great. On the plus side he can create terrain so there will always be stuff to destroy. On the down side it’s really going to dictate who ends up in your squad as you’re going to want to include folks who can do pushes or smash up terrain. With the right squad and the right Team Tactics cards this can be a good Power battery, but somebody is probably spending Power to destroy that terrain so maybe it ends up being a net gain, or maybe it doesn’t. Grade: B
Mystique’s leadership plays toward objectives but it doesn’t give enough benefit to make it exciting. Since you’re limited to only one Secure Object token, and it only really has value if nobody is in the neighborhood, it’s fairly underwhelming. Getting Power from Extraction Objectives is okay, but since it costs a Power to interact it’s a wash and you’re not going to be able to tag objectives to fuel up. Grade: B-
Leader: Red Skull
Leadership Ability: Master of Evil – Each time an allied character damages an enemy character with an attack, after the attack is resolved the attacking character gains 1 Power.
Leadership Ability: Red Mayhem – During the Cleanup phase after scoring VPs:
- Roll a die for each objective token contested by an allied character. If the result is a Crit, Wild or Hit push each enemy character contesting the objective token away from the objective token Short.
- Roll a die for each enemy character holding an Asset token within Range 2 of an allied character. If the result is a Crit, Wild, or Hit the enemy character drops one Asset token of your choice.
MCP’s Cabal is really a weird mish-mash of villains. In the comics it was an alliance of some of the master manipulators and leaders of the villain community – Doom, Emma Frost, Loki, Norman Osborn, Namor, and The Hood. Here we have [checks notes]…Crossbones and Sabertooth? Let’s be honest: this group was dictated by who was in the core box and it’s just kind of grown from there to include baddies who need another affiliation. Not a bad thing, and certainly not a bad collection of characters.
Red Skull’s leadership ability lends itself to administering a beat-down on your foes. It’s easy to gain an extra two Power each turn for characters that want to be fighting constantly. Support characters or characters with more action-hungry superpowers (note that this leadership ability specifies attacks) may not get the full benefits. This does force your squad building and playstyle decisions to be more aggressive, but that’s not terribly restrictive. Grade: B+
Sin’s leadership ability conversely plays to a more complicated scenario game. It’s after the VPs are scored so it’s not going to help for the current round but it can set you up nicely for the round to come, especially if you have Priority. The ability has a 50% chance of working on any given objective so you can’t rely on it consistently. It’s bound to mess up your opponent’s carefully laid out plans though. When playing Sin’s Cabal you probably want a mix of characters with good movement to grab Asset tokens and run, and board controllers to keep enemies off objectives once they’ve been pushed away. And when choosing your Crisis cards you’re going to want to focus on Extracts with Assets not Civilians. Grade: B
Leadership Ability: Illicit Network – Once per turn at any time during an allied character’s activation it may spend 2 Power to use this Leadership ability. Move one Asset or Civilian token being held by the active character to another allied character within Range 3. A character cannot hold more tokens than allowed by the Crisis due to this Leadership ability.
Additionally, each allied Healthy character contesting an objective token counts as two Healthy characters when determining who is securing the objective token.
The Criminal Syndicate consists of most of the street-level villains (plus Black Cat and Killmonger, who are kind of in a grey area) in the game, the sort of characters you can see fighting Daredevil or the Heroes for Hire. The roster is currently relatively small, but future releases of Black Cat and Mysterio promise to bring it to a decent mid-sized list of villains to choose from.
Kingpin’s Illicit Network is incredible for scenario play. Playing “keep-away” with assets and civilians is going to table-flippingly frustrating for your opponent at times. The drawbacks though are that the 2 Power cost is fairly expensive, and that your opponent will get to activate one of their characters before your token receiver gets to do anything. This is an ability with a high skill ceiling and will take some practice to make work well, but threatens to really change how the game is played.
Doubling Healthy characters on secure objectives though? Pure money. Grade: A
Leader: Doctor Strange
Leadership Ability: Mystic Empowerment – Once per turn, when an allied character declares an attack, before choosing a target it may spend 1 Power. If it does, you may choose whether this attack type is Physical, Energy, or Mystic. If this attack deals damage, the target character gains the Hex special condition.
Ah, the Defenders, the super team that’s not a team. Originally, this was a loose association between Hulk, Doctor Strange, Namor, Silver Surfer, and then Valkyrie. Eventually it grew to include, well, pretty much anybody. I mean seriously, look at this nonsense. One of their most notable members was Nighthawk! Have some standards, people! Aaaaaaanyway, the MCP version melds this with the Netflix group of street level heroes (with Luke Cage and Iron Fist on the future release list) for a very solid list of characters covering attack, control, and support options.
Doctor Strange gives his affiliation Mystic Empowerment, enabling the squad to choose which stat the defending character gets to use. Not as helpful against the many characters with all 3s or maybe one 4 for defense stats, but really valuable against someone like Magneto or Ebony Maw with one super high stat, or in getting around special defenses that only trigger based on attacks that target a specific defense. Hex is a nice bonus as well. It’s not debilitating, though, so an opponent may not bother to try to shake it if they’re short on actions or have more pressing conditions Grade: B+
Guardians of the Galaxy
Leadership Ability: Winging It – Once per round, at the start of your turn you may choose an allied character and discard a Team Tactic card to use this Leadership ability. The chosen character gains 3 Winging It tokens. After rolling attack dice, defense dice, or dodge dice it may discard one Winging It token to reroll up to 2 of its dice. Only one Winging It token may be discarded per roll. Remove all Winging It tokens from that character during the next Cleanup Phase.
The Guardians have a moderate sized lineup with a couple members (Ronan, Angela) that may make folks who have only seen the movies scratch their heads. There are a number of low Threat characters here, so it’s easy to get a five activation squad, and six isn’t entirely out of the question for high-threat Crises.
Unfortunately, Star-Lord’s ability is downright terrible. With only five Team Tactics cards available, discarding them to reroll two dice at a time (and throwing away the tokens if you don’t use them) seems like a poor trade – and it is. I suppose you could build out your Team Tactics deck with the intent of not actually using them, but why? There may be corner cases that can be justified – loading up tokens if you know a character is going to face a number of attacks in coming turns – but they can be countered by your opponent deciding not to attack that character this round or positioning to minimize attacks. This could be useful late in the game if you’ve got a Team Tactics card that you haven’t used, but you generally won’t want to use it until the end of the game. Bad ability, would not buy again. Grade: C-
Leader: Black Bolt
Leadership Ability: King of the Inhumans – During each of your turns, one allied character may spend 1 Power at any time. If it does, choose an allied character within Range 3 of it. The allied character gains 1 Power.
The Inhumans are a weird bunch, never very popular in the comics and saddled with a horrendous tv series. In addition to three members of the Inhuman Royal Family and their dog, the affiliation includes Beast (because he hung out with them for a while) and Ronan (because he married one of them. Look or Quicksilver to hopefully have this affiliation as well). Each of the actual Inhumans also has a superpower called, uh, Inhuman which allows them to reroll one die in attack or defense rolls. That’s really good!
Black Bolt (or Blackagar Boltagon if you’re being formal)’s leadership allows you to move Power around your squad. This could be especially useful if someone, say Black Bolt, had a really awesome but expensive ability, hypothetically a Beam 4 Strength 9 attack that cost 6 Power. Also good for powering up Lockjaw so he can teleport folks around. This will require some planning and is more useful than it is powerful. Grade: B
Leader: Green Goblin
Leadership Ability: OsCorp Weaponry – Once per turn, when an allied character is attacking, it can spend 1 Power when modifying opposing defense dice. If it does, it may reroll 1 opposing defense die.
The greatest of Spider-Foes, J. Jonah Jameson, is not (yet) included in the game, and this is a travesty. There are currently only four characters available for this affiliation, and one of them is Doctor Octopus, so you will probably be taking Green Goblin, Kingpin, and Venom to start off for twelve of your Threat. Not a bad combo, but you’re probably not going to have room for more than one more squad member for most Crises. The good news is you have a LOT if help coming this summer – Carnage, Mysterio, The Lizard, and Kraven the Hunter.
OsCorp Weaponry is decent, although very power hungry. And you’re betting on the reroll being worse than what they already had. Modifying an opponent’s dice happens after crits are resolved so you can’t just get rid of those, so the impact is smaller than it could be. Perhaps more importantly, I can’t help but look at this and the characters available and wonder why I’m not just playing Criminal Syndicate instead. Grade: C
Leadership Ability: X-Men Blue – Once per turn, when an allied character declares an attack action but before it chooses an attack to use, any number of allied characters within Range 3 of the attacking character may spend 1 Power. For each 1 Power spent in this way, reduce the Power cost of the attacking character’s attacks by 1, to a minimum of 1, for this attack action.
Leadership Ability: X-Men Gold – Once per round, you may use this Leadership ability during an allied character’s activation if it is not holding an objective token. If you do, choose another allied character within Range 2 of the active character. Place the active character within Range 1 of the chosen character.
Additionally, when an allied character is targeted by an attack and the attacker is not within Range 2 of the allied character, the allied character has cover.
You’re already hearing the theme in your head, aren’t you? Well, good, then you know these folks already. The weird thing about the X-Men affiliation is that there are currently as many leaders as there are non-leaders. So your options are pretty limited for now.
Cyclops and Storm provide two very different leadership abilities, in that one is good and one is merely OK. Cyclops lets his squad move Power around between members for making attacks, but it doesn’t make the abilities actually cost less like other affiliation abilities. It’s good for shuffling Power around, but that’s about it. And it has a Range limitation that most other affiliation abilities don’t have. Sorry, Slim, you just don’t quite make the cut. Grade: C+
Storm is the Goddess of Movement Shenanigans. This is great for slingshotting someone up the board or moving someone out of harm’s way. And since it’s the active character who can’t be holding an objective token you can sling an ally who isn’t holding one closer to the herb vessel or something. Extra movement – especially out of activation movement that can be non-linear – is always a good thing. As an added bonus allies get a limited version of Stealth, which is pure frosting. Grade: B+
Leader: Black Panther
Leadership Ability: King of Wakanda – After an allied character rolls attack, defense, or dodge dice, it may spend 1 Power. If it does, that character may reroll one of the dice in that roll.
The small list of characters available to the Wakanda affiliation makes sense for an isolated kingdom hidden away from the rest of the world. And honestly you’re good starting with any of these characters. They’re all really, really good and cover a variety of roles.
And what’s not to love about cheap rerolls? It’s only one die but you can use it on any kind of roll. This ability is just plain good. Grade: A-
Leader: Spider-Man (Miles Morales)
Leadership Ability: Great Responsibility – Allied characters may reroll one defense die. Additionally, they may modify and reroll Failure results when they are holding or contesting an objective token.
Leader: Amazing Spider-Man
Leadership Ability: Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man – Once per turn, on an allied character’s activation, it may pay1 Power and choose an enemy within Range 2. The chosen character gains the Slow special condition. If the chosen character already had the Slow special condition, place it within Range 1 of its current position and remove the Slow special condition.
Anybody who shoots webs or swings from things. The affiliation desperately needs more members, although like some of the other smaller ones there really aren’t many duds here. Maybe Black Cat will get the nod – she wasn’t always a villain, just like Venom wasn’t always an ally. Three or four more members would really make Web Warriors rock. (Dear AMG – give us Spider-Ham, you cowards!)
With Miles as the Leader, everybody gets rerolls! And you know what’s better than cheap rerolls? Free rerolls. These are limited to defense only, but that’s the whole Spider-Schtick. Get to objectives, refuse to get shifted off or made to drop them. It’s a good strategy. Grade: B+
Amazing Spider-Man’s Leadership is definitely more complex. Slow is fine and can really make a difference when dropped on some characters. But you’re going to need to coordinate in order to have multiple of your squad in range to get to the reposition (or the foe could already be Slowed from All Webbed Up or another attack). But that reposition is only within Range 1. Not even enough to shift someone off an objective if they were touching it. That’s disappointing (and you know your opponent is going to snuggle up to objectives when Amazing Pete is on the table). It might be enough to set up something wacky, or you could try to tag an enemy with multiple repositions in a round, but this seems more corner case than Miles’ ability. Grade: C-
Leadership Ability: Wetworks – Each allied character may reroll 1 die in their attack rolls once per turn.
The team to handle jobs extreme for the X-Men! X-Force has a very large roster in the comics but most of those folks have not come to the game yet, so for now the choices are fairly limited. The affiliation has a very aggressive stance, looking to take your opponent’s characters out of action rather than winning through some tricksy movement or board control shenanigans.
Cable’s Wetworks ability helps with the offensive nature of the affiliation, but not a lot. Characters can only reroll one die per turn, period, not per attack. Maybe someone like Daredevil, who can make retaliatory tacks on opponent turns, could take better advantage of this ability but it is fairly weak sauce, especially when compared to Web Warriors or Wakanda. But at least it’s free, I guess. Grade: B-
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