In this series for newer or casual players we introduce the various Affiliations in Marvel Crisis Protocol, dip into their comic book history, and talk about building a roster around them. This week we’re covering the warriors of Asgard.
If you were to go back in time to the olden days of 2005 and tell us that not only would Marvel make several Thor movies but that they’d include the entirety of Asgard and the character would be a breakout star of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’d have laughed at you, then beaten you up and stolen your time machine. It’s weird to think back on a time when Thor and the warriors of Asgard were considered to be “unfilmably weird” and Thor and Loki weren’t household names, but here we are – Asgard (albeit as a place and not so much her people) have been firmly cemented in the popular mindset and most people are thoroughly familiar with Thor, Loki, and to a lesser extent, Valkyrie and Hela. The Marvel Crisis Protocol faction includes all of these and adds one more that movie fans won’t be familiar with, Angela.
The Asgardians of the Marvel Universe – except Angela, more on her in a bit – are loosely based on the characters of the same names from Norse mythology. And by “loosely based” I mean that in the same sense that “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” was based on the Lincoln presidency. Asgard in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is more of a science fiction paradise than its comics counterpart, which trades more heavily on the mythological aspects, but both take heavy liberties with the setting. In the comics, Asgard is a small planetoid that sits in a pocket dimension with eight other realms that largely make up the locales from Norse mythology, such as Vanaheim and Jotunheim.
The Norse gods as we think of them are the Aesir, who live on Asgard. This includes Thor, god of thunder and son of Odin, Loki, his adopted brother and god of mischief, and Hela, who in the comics and mythology is Loki’s daughter and the queen of Hel. Along with them are Valkyrie, leader of the warriors of the same name, and Angela, an angel/bounty hunter who used to be a villain in the Spawn comics and is now Thor’s long-lost older sister.
I’m sorry, what?
Yeah soooo Angela is the odd one out here in that she started life as a Spawn villain, created by writer Neil Gaiman and designed by illustrator Todd MacFarlane. Angela was an angel working for the forces of heaven that worked to destroy Hellspawn but also had a romance with one back in medieval times. She was pretty popular and became a recurring character. But there was a high-level dispute between Gaiman and MacFarlane over ownership of the character, with the latter arguing that they co-owned her. Eventually Gaiman won full ownership of the character when they settled the dispute and when Gaiman returned to work with Marvel Comics in 2013, he brought Angela with him. In the Marvel timeline, Angela was Thor’s older sister and the first of Odin’s children, kidnapped by Heven and raised as an Angel after Odin cut them off the World Tree. Then she was in the Guardians of the Galaxy for a while. Also she hung out with Blade for a bit.
There’s a lot to pore over if you’re looking for the backstory on these characters. We’d obviously recommend the Thor and Avengers movies, though The Dark World is pretty bad overall. On the comics front, consider checking out:
- The classic piece for Thor is the Surtur Saga, told in Thor #340-353. Walter Simonson’s finale for his work on the series is considered some of the Odinson’s best.
- Also check out Thor #337-340, why not? The Ballad of Beta-Ray Bill introduces the horse-faced alien imbued with Thor’s powers and leads directly into the Surtur saga stuff.
- In fact, read all of Simonson’s run on Thor. There’s an Omnibus you can pick up that covers all of this, from Frog Thor to Asgard’s origins. Good Hela and Enchantress content in there too.
- The 2012 Thor: God of Thunder series should be painted on the side of a line of 1970s panel vans and you read it as they race past you blasting prog rock about Mordor and Snow Dogs and such.
- If you’re looking for Angela’s debut into the Marvel universe, that happens in the Age of Ultron event. There’s also the more recent Asgardians of the Galaxy series, which includes Valkyrie and a bunch of other B-squadders from Asgard.
- There’s also a ton of stuff around Loki, if you’re so inclined – he’s gotten much more popular (and significantly hotter) following his Hiddleston-turn in the movies. Aside from being a major player in the Simonson run on Thor, The Trials of Loki, Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers, Vote Loki, and Loki: Agent of Asgard are all well regarded looks at the god of mischief. The Kieron Gillan Journey Into Mystery run features a resurrected teenage Loki just trying to be a good person, but he’s Loki so I think we all know how that works out.
- Hela shows up in Simonson’s run on Thor and it’s also worth checking out the 2017 Loki: Journey into Mystery Omnibus for more on her and Loki.
Asgard in Marvel Crisis Protocol
Playing Asgard in MCP means you have three of the biggest bruisers in the game available to you right out of the gate: Thor, Valkyrie, and Angela. And you also have two great control characters in Loki and Enchantress. All Asgardians get an extra Power during the Power phase so that’s great too.
Thor’s Prince of Asgard leadership ability allows his squad to each spend 1 Power once per round to remove one damage or special condition. With that extra Power everybody is getting this pretty much balances out to be free, and who doesn’t like free healing/shaking conditions?
The condition clearing piece seems more significant than the healing, and really can be depending on who you’re up against, but on paper this ends up being an extra 6 stamina for each character in your squad. Wow. Grade: A
Let’s start with Odin’s Blessing to get that out of the way. Pay 3 Power to reduce damage from an enemy effect to 1. What’s the cap on how much damage I can reduce? There isn’t one. The look on your opponent’s face when they line up the perfect combo and roll a bunch of crits and then you drop this card? That moment, friends, is why we play these games. Grade: A+
Rainbow Bridge is also phenomenal. Any number of Asgardians pay 3 each for a range 3 teleport. This card has incredible potential to be a game changer, moving extra characters onto objectives, or getting an objective-carrier to safety, or even just getting a character out of impending danger. Range 3 teleports are fairly rare so that really makes this card stand out and justifies the slightly higher than I’d prefer price tag, although that’s the only thing I can even marginally complain about here. Grade: A
I suspect there are complicated legal reasons why Sibling Rivalry wasn’t called “Get Help” but five seconds with a sharpie can fix that problem. This card is more fun than it is good although an auto-Stagger is pretty nice. But it then leaves Loki right up next to an enemy which isn’t ideal for him. If I’m playing Asgard this card probably goes into my 8 just because it’s dumb fun. Grade: B
Thunderwave is probably more applicable in Avengers than in Asgard. I can’t really think of a reason why you’d bring Cap into an Asgard affiliation squad unless maybe your drafting in a Battle-Realm game kind of went sideways. But if it ever does happen a Beam 5 Str 6 attack is nothing to sneeze at. Grade: B
Building Your Roster
Thor is a very solid start for your roster. He has a great builder, a cheap long range spender, and an expensive AoE spender that might sometimes be useful but isn’t the best. He has very good mobility with For Asgard! and can even move enemies around a bit with his throw and his Strike. Thor is a very solid, straightforward character, if a bit unexciting. I get why he’s 5 Threat but I’d be much happier with him if he were 4. He pales more than a little in comparison to Angela or MODOK. Grade: B
Valkyrie is also fairly straightforward and has a single role (beating the stuffing out of enemies) but she excels in that role, maybe because she is so focused. The possibility of proccing Flurry on Dragon Fang, plus Warrior of Legend means she is capable of some really solid damage spikes. And even without spiking she’s perfectly fine. Valkyrie does love to have a bodyguard nearby since she’s going to be right up in the scrum and only has straight 3s for defense with no additional defensive tech. Valkyrie sees play in a lot of rosters because for only 3 Threat she’s really good, and with Thor’s leadership and Odin’s Blessing in her back pocket she’s even better in affiliation. Grade: A
Loki is definitely more complicated as he has a ton of tricks up his sleeve. Positioning him is key so he can take advantage of Trickster and maybe most importantly God of Mischief, which can really mess with your opponent’s well laid plans. Illusions tends to be Loki’s most impactful attack but needing two Wilds makes it unreliable. The Mind Gem, if you can fit it in, can help Loki have a lot more board control. It makes him expensive though and if he’s paying for using both Illusions and the Gem, even with the extra Power, he’s going to have budgeting issues. Grade: B-
Hela has a neat soul token mechanic (which definitely harkens back to the designers’ Warmahordes roots) that allows her to boost attacks or to simply not be KO’d. She’s definitely going to want to keep those on hand after she flips to her Injured side since she only has 4 Stamina there. That will mean she’s going to sit on an objective and never go away. Beyond that she has some okay attacks which become very good if she boosts, and there’s some nice synergy with Rain of Hel ignoring the defender’s Wild results if they have Bleed, which she can nicely dish out. She has a Medium move on a 50mm base which lets her get around nicely. An interesting character, but overall not super impressive. Grade: B
Hoo boy, Angela. I’m not one to say a character is “broken” or “OP” but I don’t care at all about the character, don’t think I’ve ever read a comic with her in it, had no intention of picking her up, but I went out and bought her after reviewing her for the GotG column. Incredible damage output and a good bubble of board control, the two elements that Asgard really likes. The only strike against her here is that you’re already paying 5 Threat for Thor so if you add her in (sorry, that should say “when”) you’re already at 10 Threat, and you’re going to have to make some hard decisions about the rest of your squad. Grade: A-
Enchantress seems custom made for messing with your opponent’s plans. Between her Sap Power effect on her builder and the Enchanting superpower enemies are going to be running short on Power. If she gets a Stun condition off from her Enthrall and if Loki is nearby things are going to get even worse. She can reposition enemies with Siren’s Call or steal away their objective tokens, although she doesn’t have anything particularly helpful to let her move away with a stolen token or to keep her safe (other than a 5 mystic defense and Enchanting, which is very good unless the opponent can counter it). So maybe keep that Rainbow Bridge card handy. Overall she’s a very good toolbox who sees play in a lot of affiliations, and can be maddening to play against. Grade: A
At this point we should just assume Shuri and Okoye are suggested every week, yes? Okay, good. Because everybody in Asgard other than Thor really wants some dice manipulation to help them get Wilds for those special effects or conditions. And Loki or Enchantress could really use a bodyguard hanging around. Baron Zemo can help with dice fixing too. Maybe Lockjaw to give some additional movement shenanigans. Miles Morales could also be good to grab extract objective tokens.
Whichever way you lean you’re going to be looking at 2 or 3 Threat characters since the affiliated Asgardians are already fairly expensive. If you like to have a dual affiliation roster, both Loki and Enchantress are also in Cabal so that’s a natural pairing. Similarly both Angela and Valkyrie are affiliated with and really good in A-Force.
So Are they any good?
They really are. They don’t natively have the mobility for very spread out crises but they have some tools like Rainbow Bridge to help them get there. And once they do get there they are going to beat face and move your opponent off objectives and generally be a bear to deal with.
And because everyone except maybe Enchantress is pretty uncomplicated Asgard is a good affiliation for people who are just learning to play the game or new to miniatures games overall.
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