Marvel Crisis Protocol – Affiliation Spotlight: Sentinels

The Sentinels need little introduction.  Whether it’s the Marvel Comics Universe, the Sony Cinematic Universe, or the Saturday morning cartoon universe, they are the biggest of the X-Men baddies, the ultimate recurring adversary of mutantkind, and the ultimate expression of Homo Sapien’s seemingly endless attempts to wipe Homo Superior out.

And now striding their way onto the tabletop in MCP, they remain the biggest baddies in at least one sense, because they are absolutely huge!  These are the biggest minis in the MCP range by some margin, making Malekith and Dormammu look like positively cute.


Sentinel by @mikes_miniature_painting on Instagram

The Sentinels were one of the very earliest X-Men foes, appearing way back in X-Men #14 in 1965.  

Most famously they appeared as the brutal oppressors of a possible dystopian future in the seminal Days of Future Past (Uncanny X-Men issues #141–142), which was the basis of the film of the same name.  This sowed the seed for many Marvel stories in which it was speculated that Sentinel-based extermination was an inevitable end for mutantkind.

Their most notorious appearance was as the Wild Sentinels under the control of Cassandra Nova (more on her later) in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men (#114–116).  Their surprise attack on the fledgling mutant nation of Genosha resulted in the genocide of 16 million mutants, an attack that has cast an appropriately long shadow over the Marvel Universe ever since.

Fast-forwarding to the present, the Jonathan Hickman-penned X-Men reboot of 2019 (House of X and Powers of X) again heavily featured the Sentinels, the super-sentinel Nimrod, and the forces of humankind who have attempted to mobilise them against mutants once more.


The Sentinels in MCP

Sentinels (and friend) by @alfred_pharius on Instagram

On release, the Sentinels Affiliation numbers only three models:  Sentinel Mk4, Sentinel Prime Mk 4, and Cassandra Nova.  We’ll get round to how that works in practice in a moment, but first let’s look at the Affiliation Leadership and Tactics.  


Leadership: Mutant Hunters

The Sentinel Leadership ability Mutant Hunters sits on the Prime Mk4.  Whenever an affiliated character dazes an opponent, the Sentinels player may assign 1 Power to a number of other affiliated characters up to the Threat value of the Dazed character.  This is capped at a maximum of one power per allied character per turn.

Now this has obvious value in rewarding damage, but the rewards are maybe not that huge.  Also it only triggers on dazes, and not KO’s, meaning you won’t see it trigger too often, and especially if your opponent has few or tanky characters.  But against wider lists it certainly has the potential to help the Sentinels out with extra power in the earlier part of the game when it is often most sparse.


Team Tactics

The Sentinels currently have four dedicated Tactics Cards, with two of those being unique to Cassandra Nova and Prime Mk4 respectively.

Directive One can be played during the Power Phase if two or more Sentinels spend 1 Power each.  It disables the Stealth superpower and prevents enemy models from modifying or rerolling Defense dice this round.  It also negates the need for Sentinels to have LOS for their attacks.

This effect seems quite good, but Sentinels don’t have a huge number of requirements for it.  Mostly they need to be in Stealth range for their attacks anyway, and LOS is not really a problem for them as they are so big.  The reroll- and modify-stifling effect could certainly be excellent at certain times and against certain characters.

Grade: C

Efficient Machines is a card unique to Cassandra Nova.  During the Power phase she may play this and for the rest of the Round allied Sentinels within Range 3 treat all Skulls as Wilds.  This is a great effect for an affiliation that can find itself rolling a lot of attack dice, and that has some strong effects on its Wild results.

Grade: B

Scrap Metal is a card specific to characters with the Sentinel Programming superpower.  It allows the character to play this card when they would be KO’ed for 2 power, and then inflict 1 damage to all characters within Range 2 for every Crit, Wild or Hit rolled on 5 dice.  All characters within Range 2 also get the Stun condition.  This is card allows a sentinel to dish out a nasty parting shot, but the main drawbacks are that it doesn’t have huge range and it deals damage to friend and foe alike.

Grade: C

Online and Operational is unique to Sentinel Prime.  For 8 power it allows the Prime to select an Injured Sentinel Mk4 within Range 3 and heal it of all damage, remove all conditions, and flip its card to the Healthy side.  Obviously 8 power is nothing to sniff at, but as we shall see, Prime has strong power generation, and certainly this has great utility to keep other Sentinels in the game and on the superior healthy side of their card.

Grade: B


Building Your Roster

Cassandra Nova

First up we have the Sentinel MK4, which has a unique property that makes it key to how this affiliation can be built.  That is Master Mold, which means two models with this Character Card may be included in your Squad and Roster.  What this means is we can put both the Sentinels we get in the box on the table, (and with our Sentinel Prime have three mega-robots in play).

Sentinels have some other interesting properties; they are Size 5, they cannot be Pushed or Advanced by Mystic Attacks or Powers, they count Wilds as two successes when defending against Mystic attacks, they can Fly, and they are immune to Poison and Bleeds.  Finally, they gain 2 Power at the end of every activation!  This is a pretty wild package of abilities that looks strong on paper.

They have unspectacular defenses, particularly (and maybe strangely) against Physical, but 7/6 Stamina, and they have a Short Move.  Their two attacks are a Range-3 4-Dice Energy builder that they can power up by spending power; and a Range-3 8-Dice Physical spender that can inflict any of Incinerate, Slow, or Shock for each Wild rolled.  Their final superpower is a 2-power Range-4 Short Push towards the Sentinel.  

On their Injured side, their end-of-activation power gain drops to only one; and their energy builder drops to Range 2, generates two successes for each Crit, but also causes the sentinel to suffer one damage for each Crit.

So it seems there is a lot going on here, but reductively this is a big, fairly tough character, with a good spender, but limited movement and threat range.  It seems very fairly priced at Threat 4 as a piece with strong upsides and clear downsides.

Grade: C+


The Sentinel Prime MK4 has many of the same properties as the common MK4, but it has some powered-up attacks and extra abilities.  Its Stamina increases to a whopping 10/8, and it gains one dice on both its builder and spender.

Its key ability is Pattern Analysis.  This lets itself or allied characters in Range 4, when Attacking or Defending, spend up to 3 Power and reroll one dice for each power spent.  This is obviously a huge ability as rerolls are a valuable commodity in MCP; and with a large range and no restrictions on its use, this is an extremely good one.

At 5 Threat, with the Sentinels Leadership ability, its rerolls, and tactics card options, this is really a must-take and a very strong character.

Grade: A


Our final affiliated Character is Cassandra Nova.  She will be familiar to many players as she has been around for a while now, and she acts as a very interesting foil and complement to the kind of threats the Sentinels pose.

Cassandra is primarily a mystic attacker with many tricks and abilities.  She has Power Sap on her builder, a self-advance on her 1-power attack, an AOE push on her physical spender, a Range 3 Root and Slow, a punish for characters that move within Range 3 of her, Stealth, Healing Factor…

Clearly Cassandra has loads of utility and control, and potentially many ways to bring opponents into range of her Sentinels, or punish those who want to be close, especially with the Efficient Machines Tactic.  She is a great affiliated character to have in the Roster.

Grade: A



And Friends…

Luke Cage Marvel Crisis Protocol
Luke Cage. Credit: head58

With such limited core affiliation options, Sentinel Rosters will be calling heavily on other characters, even if they don’t always make the Squad.

Healing is certainly helpful, and one of the best at that is Hood.  The Bleed he applies through his Heal is also negated by your Sentinel MK4 Characters.  Wong is another cheap option who also acts as a Power battery.

Sentinels do not natively play faster Crises particularly well, so low-cost Crises experts like Toad and Black Cat can be very useful.

Bodyguards are an option, especially ones that help out with the Physical Attacks that Sentinels struggle with.  Luke Cage and Venom are great choices here.

Finally, Sentinel movement is very limited, so characters who can help them get around and move enemies closer like Lockjaw are worth a look.


So Are They Any Good?

The Sentinels seem to be positioned as a bit of rock-paper-scissors affiliation.  A low model count, high damage, huge size (mostly unthrowable) squad is clearly going to have matchups where it presents major problems for opponents, but equally it seems like it has matchups where those same attributes, and the Sentinels slow movement and mediocre range can be worked around or capitalised on by opponents.

The extent to which your particular roster leans hard into the MK4 Sentinels or is based around Prime, Nova, and some diverse friends is probably going to determine how binary that experience is.  Evidence from the tabletop and TTS leagues so far suggests they are a competitive but not a meta-altering force, which means in MCP terms at least, we won’t need to send a crack team of mutants back in time to wipe out the AMG developers.

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