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 look at a bunch of people that really hate Peter Parker – the Spider-Foes!
Spider-Man has always attracted the wackiest rogues gallery in the Marvel Universe. Lots of science experiments gone wrong, strange people with animal powers, science experiments gone wrong resulting in strange animal powers, etc. Being a completely unhinged psychopath who has disconnected from reality seems to be a requirement too.
The Green Goblin is Parker’s long-term archnemesis and maybe the best known. Norman Osborne was a genius inventor and businessman who went nuts and developed an alternate persona of the Green Goblin after taking a serum that increased his physical prowess at the cost of his sanity. Being the father of Peter Parker’s best friend Harry added to the whole soap operatic/teen angst angle of the early Spider-Man comics and made a deeply personal connection between Parker and Osborne. The Goblin had unmasked Parker fairly early on and there was always that tension of “does Norman remember or not?” Over years of seeking to destroy Spider-Man and being dead for a long while, Osborn eventually seemed to recover his sanity and put away the Goblin persona. As a captain of industry he was tapped to lead the Thunderbolts (a government sponsored team of villains) and became a worldwide celebrity when he killed the leader of an alien invasion. This led to Osborn becoming the leader of a S.H.I.E.L.D.-like military organization and establishing his own Avengers (again with villains dressed up as Avengers, like Bullseye as Hawkeye), with Osborn himself wearing a suit of Iron man armor under the name “Iron Patriot.” But of course, Norman is crazy as a three-legged mule in a toaster oven so it all falls apart and he starts screaming about destroying Spider-Man again. A classic American rags to riches story.
Doctor Octopus, same song, different key. Genius inventor, fuses metal arms to his spine, goes insane, tries to kill Spider-Man, almost marries Peter’s Aunt May, dies and projects his consciousness into Spider-Man completely taking over his life and identity for like an entire year. You know, like you do.
The Lizard, gee I wonder if we’re going to move on from a science experiment gone wrong and turning someone into a psychopath with a hate-on for Spider-Man. NOPE! Curt Connors was experimenting with a regeneration formula based on reptilian DNA and like all responsible scientists tried out the formula on himself. Whoops, now you’re a six foot tall anthropomorphic lizard with animalistic intelligence who really loves killing and eating stuff! It’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with scales and claws.
Venom is a symbiote that Spider-Man found on an alien world and wore as a costume for a while, but it got its fee-fees hurt when Parker found out it was a living creature and rejected it. The symbiote initially bonded with a reporter who also hated Peter Parker for a match made in Spider-Foe heaven, although it’s had a couple of different hosts over the years. Depending on who it’s bonded to and whether there’s a movie where they’re trying to promote him as a main character sometimes Venom is more an anti-hero than a villain.
Cletus Kasady, the host for Carnage, was already a murderous sociopath before he joined with an offspring of the Venom symbiote. He has the powers of being over the top violent and EXTREME! which apparently allows him to always come back from being killed or something, I don’t know, frankly Carnage is way too annoying and one note for me to care about.
Kraven the Hunter is just a dude that likes to hunt big game and is the pinnacle of toxic masculinity. Of course he gets bored with hunting animals and decides he wants to pursue the most dangerous game and sets his eyes on Spider-Man (because even a supervillain knows that a regular guy with an elephant gun hunting the Hulk is a really, really bad idea).
Mysterio is a master of illusions (they’re not tricks, Michael) and uses them to warp his enemies’ sense of reality or disguise himself as other people. It’s not a magical ability or anything, he’s just a really accomplished stage magician. Once you know that the jig is up for Mysterio so a lot of his thing is keeping heroes from figuring out he’s involved at all.
We’ve covered Kingpin elsewhere, he’s
the head of all organized crime in New York a legitimate businessman. His super powers are his great wealth and all his criminal connections. Fisk has butted heads with the various Spider-folks many times, most notably in the Into the Spider-verse movie.
How Green Was My Goblin/Spidey Saves the Day (Amazing Spider-Man, volume 1 (1963) #39-40). For almost two years this Green Goblin fellow had been around and readers didn’t know his who he really was (a theme that would be repeated with the Hobgoblin in the 1980s). In this story the Goblin unmasked Spider-Man and revealed his own identity and origin story. A classic.
Thin Air (The Pulse (2004) #1-5). This is not primarily a Spider-family story, but a Jessica Jones story where she is hired to find a reporter who has gone missing, and there’s some suspicion that businessman Norman Osborn might have been involved.
Dark Reign (lots of books, 2008-2009) This is the arc where Osborn becomes the leader of H.A.M.M.E.R., launches his own Avengers, and forms the first Cabal. Busy boy. It’s not a series so much as a company-wide event for about two years.
The Arms of Doctor Octopus/Doc Ock Lives!/And Death Shall Come (Amazing Spider-Man, volume 1 (1963) #88-90). A classic throwdown between Spider-Man and Doc Ock, ending in the death of George Stacy (Gwen’s dad). And of course Spider-Man gets blamed for the death.
Superior Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man, volume 1 (1963) #700, Superior Spider-Man (2013) #1-33) As Otto Octavius dies he moves his brain into Peter Parker’s body and then spends the next year living as Parker/Spider-Man. Otto uses his intellect to build a bunch of spider-themed robots and to create a very successful company and also is a creepy jerk. Spoiler: Parker regains control of his body in the end.
Kraven’s Last Hunt (Web of Spider-Man, volume 1 (1985) #31-32, Amazing Spider-Man, volume 1 (1963) #293-294, Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man, volume 1 (1976) #131-132) Kraven defeats Spider-Man, kills him, takes his costume, and impersonates him to prove himself the superior Spider-Man (what is it with these guys?).
The Spider-Foes in Marvel Crisis Protocol
Green Goblin is the leader of the Spider-Foes. His leadership ability allows his allies to spend a Power to reroll one of their enemy’s defense dice. This is a decent power but you have no control over the outcome. Maybe the reroll will be worse, maybe it will be better. Clearly you’ll use it on a successful block and hope to turn it into blank or a fail. The timing of the attack sequence is key here – modifying opposing dice happens after Criticals are resolved, so you can force a reroll of a Crit trying to remove that success but the extra die from the Crit will have already been rolled. You can only use this once per each character’s activation so it may not have much of impact, and as noted above you don’t even have a guarantee that it’s going to help you out in the end. This leadership is better than nothing, but just barely. Grade: C
There aren’t many Team tactics cards for the Spider-Foes just yet, but we will update this article in a few weeks when the cards packed with Mysterio/Carnage and Lizard/Kraven are known.
Well Laid Plans can be used by Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus working together. They each need to spend 3 Power, and then they can roll five dice for each enemy holding an objective. That enemy takes a point of damage for each Wild or Crit rolled, and if they take damage they drop the objective. This is pretty pricey but can have a huge impact on the direction of the game if you get lucky with rolls. Grade: B+
Venom can play the Lethal Protector card which lets him do a heroic intervention if an ally within Range 3 is targeted. Venom moves to within Range 1 of the ally and becomes the target of the attack, as with bodyguard. This tactic only costs 2 Power and can really save a weaker character’s bacon in addition to giving Venom some decent movement. Without any native bodyguards in the affiliation this is definitely a good card to bring along. Grade: A-
Kraven has what might be the fluffiest card in the game and don’t listen to the haters, it is awesome! Remember what I said about Kraven’s Last Stand up there in the Recommended Reading? Well with his Fearful Symmetry card, when Kraven KOs a Peter Parker, he puts on the costume and becomes Spider-Man! You actually remove Kraven’s model and card and replace them with Spider-Man (Peter Parker) – the core box one not Amazing. I mean sure, it’s a very specific set of circumstances that need to line up in order for it to come together, and sure 4 Threat Peter is pretty mediocre but if you don’t see why this is awesome I’m not sure how you got to this site but may I be the first to welcome you to Goonhammer! Grade: A+ (narratively, D competitively)
Lizard’s Healing Factor qualifies him for X-Ceptional Healing, which is pricey but to be able to reduce any amount of damage from any effect down to 1 for 3 Power can be the difference between winning and losing a game. And honestly, Lizard doesn’t have a lot else to be spending Power on other than his throw, so why not grab this one just in case? Grade: B+ (with Lizard)
Building Your Roster
Green Goblin is required as he’s the only affiliation leader currently (and who else are they going to make a leader, The Spot?), and I just wish he were a little better. His builder attack is only Strength 4, although you can choose whether to target Physical or Energy defense and it’s Range 4 so it’s not worthless. He may still have trouble generating a lot of Power from it though. And unfortunately the Goblin wants a lot of Power for his spender and his super powers. He can use Hit and Run to make an attack and a move action for 2 Power, and with Trick or Treat if an enemy ends their movement within Range 4 of the Goblin he can blow up a piece of terrain up to Size 3 to damage the enemy (basically the same as throwing it at them). Both of these are useful, the second more for the deterrence factor in keeping enemies from getting close, so you want to have that Power on hand to back up the threat.
When Green Goblin flips to his Injured side he loses both those superpowers but gains a Pounce-like Glider Ram (a Medium throw, very good with a 50mm base) and he can no longer interact with or hold objectives. But the good news is you roll five dice during the Power phase and he gains a Power for each Hit, Wild, or Crit. Might have been more useful on the Healthy side but this may solve some of his Power issues. Goblin’s defenses change on his Injured side as well, going from 4/3/3 to 3/3/5 and from 7 Stamina on Healthy to only 5 on Injured. So depending on the opponents Goblin might actually fare better when flipped.
Maybe one of the best uses for Green Goblin is his Archnemesis (Peter Parker) ability, which lets him reroll any number of attack dice including Fails. Also if Goblin is within Range 3 of Peter at the start of his activation he has to attack Peter. So if I’m looking across the table at a roster that includes Green Goblin, I’m probably not going to drop Web Warriors with Amazing Spider-Man as leader, or include him in my squad at all. So Goblin gives you some element of control over your opponent’s squad building, and if you can angle that into forcing them to take a less than ideal team into a particular crisis even better. Grade: B
Carnage is basically a killing machine. His builder and his spender both automatically inflict the Bleed special condition, and his Strength 7 Area 2 spender gets a Wild and a Crit he does an additional point of damage to enemies in that Range 2 bubble around him. Carnage can also spend 2 Power for Sadistic Glee which lets him add 2 dice to his next attack action, although Canage himself suffers a point of damage if his roll contains any Fails. Lastly enemies don’t gain extra defense dice if they roll Crits against Carnage’s attacks. Oh, and if he manages to Daze or KO an enemy carnage can spend 3 Power to remove all damage tokens on him, move Short, and use his Symbiote Strike builder attack. Killmonger is looking at his Kill Count and being very jealous right now.
Carnage also has Archnemesis (Eddie Brock) which can have the same deterrent influence for an opponent bringing Venom as Goblin does for Parker.
The downside for Carnage is his defensive profile, and it’s a significant downside. He has 7 Stamina on each side but he’s only 5/1/1. He’s going to stand up very well against physical attacks but your opponent is definitely going to be throwing anyone with an Energy or Mystical attack against him, especially from a safe distance away. And you really don’t want to drop Carnage against defenders or a squad with Hawkeye in it. Treat Carnage like a glass missile and keep him far away from those threats that will take him down so easily. Grade: B+
Doctor Octopus wasn’t the laughing stock of the core set only because Crossbones was there. He has a fairly lackluster builder, although he does get two successes for each Wild rolled (note: you will never, ever roll any Wilds with Ock. That’s how it goes). His Spender has Pierce so if you get enough Wilds (see above) it could be good. And he gains a Power every time he rolls a Crit. Doc Ock also has a pretty sad throw, and I’m surprised he was actually able to kill George Stacy with a chimney. There’s just not a lot here to recommend including Doc Ock in a roster. Grade: C-
Kingpin, on the other hand, is tough as hell. His physical defense is a little better than average Physical defense, 7 Stamina on each side of his card, and can spend Power to reduce damage with no “to a minimum of 1” clause. So he can spend a Power to just ignore the first point of damage you do to him, and if you roll a wild to trigger special effects Kingpin can make use of the affiliation ability to make you reroll it. It might take some Power to keep Fisk on his feet but it’s going to take a lot of effort to remove him. Grade: A-
Kraven’s whole thing is hunting, and AMG transferred that to his card very nicely. First he has Expert Tracker that he can use to mark an enemy, giving his allies an extra attack die against them. Keep in mind how clutch that is as I prattle on about all the 4 Strength builder attacks in this affiliation. Kraven himself has two of those, and a great combo ability on one of them that adds 3 dice to one if the other has already been used this turn. Both attacks give some movement as well, so Kraven is fairly mobile. His last hunter-esque ability, Corner The Beast, does damage to a selected enemy every time that character advances or climbs. This kind of ability, forcing your opponent to make tough choices and take consequences, is great and very in keeping with Kraven’s character. Also keep in mind the wording on various attacks and powers – some like Loki and Mysterio can force an enemy to advance, triggering the damage.
Kraven’s defenses are straight-up average, but he does have a superpower that lets him reroll one attack or defense die for free, every time, so that is certainly helpful. His attacks aren’t super high damage but he should be able to generate enough Power to keep Expert Tracker going every round, and maybe an occasional Corner the Beast or a use of the Spider-Foes ability too. Kraven is a decent 3 Threat character in an affiliation that’s heavy on the 4s. Grade: B
The Lizard is going to see a lot of use as the team tank. He’s got a 4 Physical defense (3s in the other), 11 total Stamina, his Thick Hide automatically reduces damage by 1 (to a minimum of 1) without even spending Power, and he’s got a Healing Factor (1). So yes, you’re going to get him onto a secure objective and he’s going to stay there. Lizard’s builder attack is only Strength 4, so there might be some issues generating Power, but his spender Cold Blooded is reasonably cheap at 3 Power for a Strength 7 attack that gives out Bleed and Slow if it causes any damage. Goblin’s leadership may also help that builder get through. Lastly, Lizard has a decent throw, up to Size 3 but only Short range. I’m not sure I’d rather spend the Power on that throw than use it for Cold Blooded or save it for X-Ceptional Healing. Grade: B+
Mysterio is our second Spider-Foe with 1s for two defense stats (Physical and Energy) and a 5 in the third. I’m not saying you want to pull a fire alarm and run away if your opponent shows up with Defenders but I’m not not saying it either. Mysterio at least has some good defensive tech, like Stealth and his Smoke and Mirrors which shifts attacks to his extremely good Mystic defense unless the attacker pays 2 Power. Tricks and Traps will also dissuade enemies from getting close enough to get around Stealth – again it’s choices and punishments like with Kraven. Mysterio’s attacks allow you to advance or throw enemies so hopefully he will be the one dictating who goes where and not your opponent. Those attacks also target Mystic defense, which is usually the lower of the set, so that’s helpful but don’t expect Mysterio to be dishing out damage. It says “board control” right on the fishbowl. He’s a big risk but may be worth it if you can keep him alive. Grade: B
Venom is a serious bruiser and unlike Carnage he’s fairly beefy as well, although not great against Energy. But that’s okay, he can smack you with his We Are Venom spender and heal up damage equal to what he dealt out. And Venom’s So Many Snacks counterstrike may have your opponent looking to attack elsewhere instead, just to be safe. An activation with Venom will usually go Web Snare (if needed to pull an enemy into range) -> Symbiote Tendrils -> We Are Venom (or a second Tendrils if Venom doesn’t need to heal up). The delicious thing here is Symbiotic Instincts prevents the defender from modifying their defense dice at all, but you still can force a reroll with OsCorp Weaponry. That’s certain to burn your opponent’s biscuit! Grade: B+
Spider-Foes have a lot of bases covered already, but there’s always room for a solid damage dealer, and particularly one with a long range. Hawkeye might be good here since he’s only 3 Threat. Wong can help fix some of the Power woes that a number of Spider-Foes seem to have going on. Might not be a bad idea to have a couple 2 Threat characters in your roster, since the affiliation leans heavily toward the 4s. Original Black Widow or Toad can help out with objective grabbing.
If you’re looking for a dual affiliation Roster, and aren’t already lining up Criminal Syndicate, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for. Three Foes work in Syndicate as well, although Goblin isn’t as great over there. Cabal and Web Warriors have one overlap each (Kingpin and Venom respectively).
So Are They Any Good?
The Spider-Foes are…okay. They have a fair amount of movement, and everyone except Kingpin and Kraven have either Flight or Wall Crawler for getting around. Kingpin, Lizard, and Venom can hold down your secure objectives against most threats. Mysterio provides some good board control but he’s in trouble if someone like Wolverine gets to him. Carnage is a great damage dealer, but he’s in trouble if someone like Wolverine gets to him. Kraven is going to be a lynchpin with his Expert Tracker turning many allies’ fairly weak builder attacks into a respectable Strength 5, which should also help with Power generation. But again, Kraven only has about average defensive stats and abilities so he’s in trouble if, yeah, that.
Overall the Spider Foes are fairly high risk with medium reward. There doesn’t seem to be any one thing they do exceptionally well – three of the characters are very tanky but Goblin’s leadership only works offensively. Many of the characters are individually fairly solid but aside from Kraven’s Tracker there’s not a lot of synergy going on here (and even Tracker is only fixing a deficiency rather than providing additional benefit). It’s hard to get behind an affiliation that is so all over the place. Sadly, having just gotten an infusion of four new characters it’s doubtful they’ll be getting any more attention any time soon.
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