In this series we look at the various Affiliations in Marvel Crisis Protocol and dip into their comic book history. These are intended to be introductory discussions for newer or more casual players to the game rather than a deep competitive analysis. For a more competitive focus we recommend checking out some of the articles being written on Across the Bifrost.
And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born—to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand! Through the years, their roster has prospered, changing many times, their glory has never been denied! Heed the call, then—for now, the Avengers Assemble!
The Avengers are THE big superteam of the Marvel Universe and have existed in one version or another since 1963. The original members were Ant-Man (Hank Pym), The Wasp (Janet Van Dyne), The Hulk (Bruce Banner), Iron Man (Tony Stark), and Thor (Thor). Four issues in they found Captain America frozen in a block of ice and decided he’d probably be a better member than a screaming green rage monster. From there the roster has changed up a lot over the years including some of the biggest name heroes but almost always containing at least one of those founding members.
But it’s a big, inclusive team and from time to time they’ve been known to add some… let’s say “B listers” to their ranks from time to time. Friends, I lived through the Swordsman/Mantis/Moondragon era and it was not pretty. And I’m literally begging you not to ask me about Starfox. Editor’s Note: Please ask Head58 about Starfox.
The team has also had offshoots of the West Coast, Great Lakes, New, and Mighty varieties. The biggest shakeup of the Avengers roster was after the “Disassembled” arc in 2005 when the team was reborn as the New Avengers, bringing Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, and Wolverine onto the team along with veterans Captain America and Iron Man. This version of the team would splinter during the Civil War arc, reform, and then splinter again leading up to the 2015 Secret War.
Over the decades the Avengers have fought countless heavy-hitting foes around the globe, in space, and across time. Ultron, Kang the Conqueror, Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil, Thanos, the Serpent Society, and multiple alien races. They’ve frequently had to deal with disputes or threats from within the team, with doubt and crises of confidence. There have been romances, marriages, and many, many breakups.
What I’m getting at here is that like all comics teams it’s kind of a soap opera (although nowhere near as much as the X-Men).
The Coming of the Avengers (Avengers, vol 1 (1963), #1-6) This is where it all starts. It’s pretty darned dated reading it today but it’s great as a historical artifact.
Behold, the Vision!/Even an Android Can Cry (Avengers, vol 1 (1963), #57-58) The introduction of the Vision and, for its time, some pretty emotional stuff (although he’s still just a ripoff of DC’s Red Tornado).
The Kree/Skrull War (Avengers, vol 1 (1963). #89-97) Avengers! In! Spaaaaaace! The stakes get big as the team gets caught up in the middle of a galactic war. It’s got Mar-Vell, Inhumans, Super-Skrull, and yes, Skrulls who had been hypnotized into thinking they were cows by Reed Richards, history’s second greatest monster.
Under Siege (Avengers, vol 1 (1963). #273-277) Baron Zemo and his MASTERS OF EEEEVIL! Attack Avengers Mansion. This is during one of those times when the team roster isn’t exactly stellar and the Avengers have to come to terms with having their lunch eaten by a bunch of B-list villains.
Avengers Forever (#1-12) This limited series is FULL ON BONKERS as a group of Avengers snatched from different points in time fight the schemes of Kang/Immortus/The Scarlet Centurion. This series is super heavy with easter eggs and references to various bits of Avengers history, and it tries to tidy up a lot of continuity issues from over the decades.
Ultron Unlimited (Avengers, vol 3 (1998) #19-22) Ultron murders an eastern European country. A lot of the Age of Ultron movie was taken from this story, but this is much better.
Breakout (New Avengers, v1 (2005) #1-6) After Disassembled, the Avengers have broken up. A bunch of random heroes try to stop a massive jailbreak at a superhuman prison and end up naked in the Savage Land. As one does.
Infinity (Avengers, v5 (2013) #14-23, New Avengers, v3 (2013) #8-12, Infinity 1-6) A huge crossover event! The Avengers leave Earth to keep a bunch of ancient robots from conquering the galaxy. While they’re gone Thanos decides to invade Earth. Oopsie doopsie! Note: this is in the middle of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers run so it might be a little confusing. You should probably put everything down and read Hickman’s entire run of Fantastic Four and Avengers/New Avengers start to finish, plus the 2015 Secret Wars. I’ll wait.
Captain America and the Mighty Avengers: Last Days (2015, #8-9) The world is ending, for reals this time. Cap (Sam Wilson aka The Falcon) and his team do what they can to help people. An incredibly moving story with some really gut wrenching personal moments of average citizens facing the end of everything.
The Avengers in Marvel Crisis Protocol
The Avengers have the claim of being one of the largest Affiliations in the game (currently at 15 members) and one of the oldest. These factors give the team a very deep bench but it isn’t as flashy and exciting (or possibly as well developed) as some of the newer affiliations. My decades-long love for the comics may be coloring my perception of the team in game, but I really like them and the flexibility they bring to the table.
The only leader available for the Avengers at this time is Captain America. His Leadership Ability is “A Day Unlike Any Other,” which states that “each turn you may reduce the Power cost of the first superpower used by each allied character by 1, to a minimum of 1.” This can save you a fair amount of Power over the course of the round if used with the right characters. Someone like Black Panther with a 2 cost superpower that allows for rerolls on attacks loves this affiliation, as they can control when and whether it gets used. Same with Panther’s Pounce superpower, discounted cost on extra movement is always good.
But using those powers can really only save you one Power per round. The Leadership only provides the discount on the first superpower used each turn. So you save one Power on Panther’s reroll but if you want to use it again, or also use Pounce, you’re paying the full cost. And then he’s done gaining benefit for the entire round.
Where this ability really shines is for characters with defensive superpowers, like Cap himself. On each turn – meaning every time an enemy character activates – Cap can reduce either his Bodyguard or Vibranium Shield to a cost of 1. In an ideal situation that’s four or five Power per round depending on the number of enemy characters. That theoretical may not translate to the practical very often as your opponent may not be gracious enough to only attack Cap or characters within 2 of him, but it’s likely to yield more benefit than characters who only have Active superpowers. And characters with both Active and Reactive superpowers, like Ghost Rider or Vision, really love this Leadership.
There are three Team Tactics cards that are specific to the Avengers Affiliation.
Anger Management: This allows Avengers within range 3 of Hulk to shift Power to him, but at the cost of also doing damage to Hulk. It requires that you have Hulk in your squad, so if you’re taking him already that’s okay. Damaging a character is usually not a good trade off but Hulk gets an extra attack die for every 3 damage he’s suffered. Maybe that math works out for a desperate Hulk Smash! Attack (or two), throwing a truly disgusting number of dice in a last ditch play that would win you the game, but planning your eight TT cards around that seems like a bad idea. Grade: C-
Avengers Assemble: Any Avengers characters can spend 1 Power to move Short? Yes please. Giving free moves to a lot of characters is terrific, and the cost is super cheap. Just remember that even though your squad has the Avengers affiliation this only allows characters who are actually specified on the affiliation card as Avengers to use it. Still darn good. Grade: B+
Second Wind: Avengers may spend 1 Power to remove the Stun special condition and heal one damage. Again, super cheap and useful for at least half your squad. Everybody loves getting rid of damage. The Stun piece is more situational but can be a life saver in the right circumstances. Grade: B+
Building Your Roster
Since Captain America’s Leadership isn’t specific to any particular type of play (dishing out damage, increasing defense, manipulating objectives, etc.) you can build a roster around him that’s not skewed toward one function. A generalist roster will allow you to adapt to whatever Crises are being played, although it may not be as strong as affiliations that are designed to do one thing very well.
You know you need to take Captain America since he’s (currently) the only Leader for the affiliation. He’s a solid tank who is going to be in all your squads so get used to him sticking close to allies for his bodyguard ability.
For damage-dealers Iron Fist, Thor, She-Hulk, Vision, and Wolverine are all strong options. Their high Threat value means you probably won’t be fielding Thor and She-Hulk together so you may be better off just choosing one of them. I would lean toward Shulkie since she has both Active and Reactive superpowers that can benefit from Cap’s Leadership. Vision and Wolverine are both tanky and blendery (one at range, the other up close), if you want to have someone sit on Secure objectives and punish anyone who comes near. Deadpool too, since he’s pretty hard to kill and resistant to getting pushed off the objective. Scarlet Witch is just really darn good overall and will pass out lots of special conditions that your opponent can’t shake.
You always need someone to zip around the board and grab extract objectives. Black Widow (original flavor) is a natural here, and having a 2 Threat character in your roster is always a great idea. For 3 Threat you can get Quicksilver, who also comes with a Tactics card to yoink away objectives from enemies.
Hawkeye loves paying only 1 Power to use Hook Arrow for extra movement, and is a great damage dealer who can drop incredibly useful (and annoying) Conditions on opponents. Black Panther is definitely worth a look as well, as he’s a general utility player and I think has a place in nearly every roster.
The rest of the affiliated Avengers are all okay, and certainly play them if they’re your favorite characters, but they don’t really shine here. Ant-Man and Wasp are decent but don’t really benefit at all from Cap’s Leadership. Beast is moderately tanky, moderately mobile, and moderately damaging but others do it better. Captain Marvel and Hulk are just too pricey for what they deliver. You can only play one Black Widow, and the 2 Threat option is better overall. Iron Man is sadly Iron Man. Cable – man what the hell are he and Deadpool even doing in Avengers? – is just too pricey to justify using outside of X-Force.
As stated above, characters with multiple (or expensive) superpowers really benefit from the Avengers leadership. You could easily fill out most of a ten character roster with strong Avengers but bringing in characters who aren’t in the affiliation (often referred to as “splash” characters) can help shore up some weak spots, especially when the crises and maps may be looking for you to skew in one direction. You should also ask yourself what things are missing or not as strong in the affiliated characters you’ve picked.
Shuri has a place in any roster. Very few other characters can project the kind of control she can and move enemies off key positions. Playing Gamma Shelters? I bet your opponent will hate getting pushed out of the shelters all the time. Shuri can’t discount her Super Genius superpower.
But she can give out cheaper rerolls to allies within Range 4 and that’s fantastic. [NOTE: Nope! Variable cost superpowers can’t be discounted. Don’t be an idiot like me, check the FAQ] Medusa also brings great board control between her Living Strands and her attacks, and can help allies move around the board.
Spider-Man (Miles Morales) is also a great choice for crises where you want to really load up on mobile characters. In affiliation you have Black Panther, Black Widow, and Quicksilver so Miles can help fill that gap. He doesn’t have a lot of superpowers to take advantage of the leadership but paying only one Power for a Web Swing is great. He also can make enemies drop objectives, something you can’t get in affiliation outside of one tactics card..
Doctor Strange has one of the few healing superpowers in the game and can hand out defensive dice to allies. Both those abilities can be incredibly useful but he’s another 5 Threat character so think carefully about the squads you’re going to be able to fit him into, especially if you’re already looking at Thor or She-Hulk. The same goes for Ebony Maw, M.O.D.O.K., or Magneto. They’d be great in Avengers but you’re not overflowing with low Threat folks.
If you don’t like having friends, take a look at Ronan for your Avengers roster. Dropping Judgement special conditions (“the character does not gain Power from suffering damage from enemy attacks) for 1 Power is just mean, especially if he has the Power stone (I know, I know, I just warned against Threat 5 characters…).
My personal janky favorite in Avengers though is Toad. He’s only 2 Threat so you can fit him into squads fairly easily. He’s very mobile and has a bunch of really annoying and unpredictable superpowers that will only cost him 1 Power. He will play keep-away with your extraction objectives all day long. Just keep him safe (or near Cap), as he’s pretty fragile.
Lastly, consider if you want to have a multi-affiliation roster. That can let you change playstyles pretty significantly to match whatever crises are picked. This may be less of a consideration with the Avengers since they’re a fairly generalist team. But if you do want to pair them up with another affiliation, say Asgardians or A-Force, you may already have the Leader for the other affiliation in your lineup. Rogue Agents can help bridge that gap – Winter Soldier is great when using “Till the End of the Line” with Captain America but doesn’t have much more to recommend him, while Taskmaster can be an absolute bear to shift off an objective.
That’s our look at the Avengers. Do you have an Avengers roster that you really like? Have any questions or feedback? Share it with us in the comments below or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org!