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.
NOTE: This article was updated on 12/16/2021 to include information from the November 2021 Updates.
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 the largest Affiliation in the game 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.
You have your choice of not one but two Captain Americas AND an Iron Man to lead this affiliation! Steve Rogers’ 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. Note that this Leadership only reduces the first superpower used each turn, so you can really only save one Power on your characters’ activations.
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. Grade: B+
Sam Wilson also carries the shield and the Captain America name. When he’s leading the team anytime someone gets Dazed or KO’d another character can remove a special condition, heal a wound, and advance Short. While having your characters Dazed or KO’d isn’t ideal, it happens and this gives other squaddies a benefit. Characters can only be affected by this once per round so you can’t stack the benefit on the same character. But this is a good bonus effect for something that’s probably going to happen anyway.This works even better the more characters you have on your team, and the “Sam Spam” build with six or seven on a squad is definitely a thing. Grade: B+
Hulkbuster is your third choice for a leader, but as you may know from the movies and comics Tony isn’t that much of a team player. His leadership ability allows allies to reduce damage suffered from a collision by 1. Um, yay? Sure, throwing stuff and people around is a significant part of the game but this really feels pretty lackluster compared to the Caps. Grade: C-
There are three Team Tactics cards that are specific to the Avengers Affiliation. Since the roster is so stinking large there are a ton of cards that apply to specific members as well, but I’m not getting paid by the word here.
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 Both Caps’ Leaderships aren’t specific to any particular type of play (dishing out damage, increasing defense, manipulating objectives, etc.) you can build a roster around either of them 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.
Captain America (Steve Rogers) is one of your choices for a squad leader, and he got tweaked slightly for the better in the November 20201 updates. Steve is a solid defensive character who can protect nearby allies with the Bodyguard power. His Vibranium Shield allows him to add two dice to Physical and Energy defense rolls, which means he tanks like a boss. Steve is also one of those characters who gets better on his Injured side, gaining the I Can Do This All Day power to add blanks in his defense rolls. SteveCap is okay at dealing damage and doesn’t have any special movement shenanigans, but he does have a Push and throw ability on some of his attacks to help with positioning. Park him near someone who needs some defensive support . Grade: B+
The other Cap, Captain America (Sam Wilson), plays very differently. As you might expect for a guy with wings, Sam is very mobile; he moves Long and has a Charge to combine a move and an attack. He can carry allies as well for a Range 2 teleport of sorts. Sam also has Cap’s Vibranium Shield and Shield Throw attack. The biggest challenge with Sam might be not running low on Power, as his Shield Throw only generates 1 per attack (2, if you’re lucky enough to trigger Ricochet) and that’s his only builder. Grade: B
Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor is the newest version of the character. Rather than the usual Healthy/Injured sides of the card the front side is the Hulkbuster armor, and the back is a lite version of the regular Iron Man armor. If Hulkbuster would be Dazed you remove the model and replace it with the Iron Man (Hulkbuster) model, which is kind of cool. But taking out the Hulkbuster armor may be a tough job, it has 13 Stamina, a 4 Physical defense, and can pay 1 Power to reduce damage by 1. Tony has a 6 Strength builder that generates at least 1 Power and pushes the target, and a big 8 Strength Spender that pushes, can splash damage to nearby enemies, and doesn’t generate Power for the target! Oh, he also has a Size 4 throw, Hit and Run (on a 65mm base), and generates an extra Power each round. This side of the card is awesome.
When he flips to the Iron Man (Hulkbuster) side Tony is significantly less awesome. He only has 5 Stamina and defenses of 2 against Physical and Energy. He only has a low Strength builder which has the possibility of Rapid Fire if you get a Wild. Your top priority when you are on this side should be to gather as much Power as quickly as you can without dying. Because if you can get 10 (or 9 if Steve is your leader in Avengers) you can swap back to the Hulkbuster armor and completely ruin your opponent’s day. Getting that 10 will be a trick though since Power doesn’t carry over from one side of the card to the other. Hulkbuster may be better off in A-Force or Inhumans or somewhere he can get that Power ramped up fast. Grade: B+
Ant-Man, oy, at least it’s not Hank Pym, the second worst Hank in the Marvel Universe. More weird model spawning shticks! You want to get Ant-Man into his tiny form because he has a lot of cool options there, but once you do he automatically pops up to normal size if he uses his builder attack (or can choose to for 1 Power). When tiny Scott has Stealth and can reroll any of his defense or dodge dice, which is good because his defenses are not great and he has average Stamina. Also he can’t hold objectives when tiny. He’s got a good although pricey spender when normal sized and a solid builder when small but I don’t really see what his role is. Tiny Ant-Man has a free place within Range 3 but he’s only moving Short so that’s not a super exciting trade off. I don’t know, Ant-Man, I just don’t know. Grade: C
Beast is, of course, the worst Hank in this or any universe. He’s very mobile as both his attacks provide some movement and can at least carry objectives. The best thing on Beast’s card is that he can spend Power to reroll defense or dodge dice after he sees the initial result, so let him grab an objective and run with it, and it will be pretty hard to take him down. But there are plenty of other characters in the game that fill this role without being Hank McCoy. Grade: B-
Black Panther is a very solid all-arounder. Good attacks, very mobile, great defenses, a couple pushes. The only downside is you’re paying for his Wakanda leadership that you can’t use here but he’s still a very solid 4 Threat character. Grade: A-
There are two versions of Black Widow to choose from. The original 2 Threat version has the advantages of being 2 Threat and very mobile. Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D Widow costs a little more but has slightly better stats but less movement. It mostly depends which style you’re looking for in your squad, both are decent but not mind blowing. Grade: Black Widow: B +, Black Widow, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.: B
You don’t have many options for Mystic attacks in Avengers so Blade is a decent choice to keep in your roster. One of his builders and his spender are solid Mystic attacks and both cause Bleed, which combines well with Blade’s Vampiric Immortality whereby he gains Power and heals damage for each character within Range 2 with Bleed at the end of his activation. Blade can also reroll Physical and Mystic defense dice, so he’s going to be tough to remove. Grade: A-
I still can’t get my head around Cable being an Avenger but if they let Beast in sure, why not? Cable is pricey at 5 Threat and brings a big gun (Range 5 Strength 5 builder) to the party. He has a nice AoE spender and can buff a nearby ally’s defense roll. But for 5 Threat I’d hope for a lot more flexibility and maybe some exciting frills. Grade: C
Captain Marvel is a very solid beatstick whose big gun got a ton better in the November 2021 Updates. In normal form Carol is okay, but with Binary Form she’s really good. The price drop on Binary Form from 5 to 4 (and now 3 under Steve’s leadership) means she can trigger it on round 2 (or potentially even after one attack in round 1) and possibly every subsequent activation for the whole game. A seven dice builder is definitely nothing to sneeze at for Power generation, and Energy Absorption with 6 dice will likely yield some Power as well. Grade: A-
Deadpool (again, not the first name I think of when I think Avengers) is incredibly survivable with a Healing Factor of 2 and a free reroll for every attack or defense roll. His attacks are solidly okay – Bang has a chance to trigger two follow-up attacks but with only Strength 4 and the Wild/Hit requirements that’s not going to be easy. Deadpool has some very good Team Tactics cards, which were explored in detail in the X-Force Affiliation Spotlight. Overall Deadpool is very good if you use him to squat on secure objectives but he probably doesn’t have the oomph to shift an enemy off one himself. Grade: B+
Doctor Voodoo requires some careful play but if you can manage the Brother Daniel token well he can be a very valuable and frustrating utility piece. Send Daniel out to make an enemy unable to interact with any objectives, or keep him on Doctor Voodoo to add two dice to all defense and rolls. Recalling Daniel only costs 1 Power under SteveCap so that kind of juggling is even more viable (although Steve doesn’t reduce the cost on Possession since it is variable). Voodoo’s attacks both can drain a target’s Power for maximum annoyance. Grade: B+
Hawkeye is there to throw around conditions and maybe a little damage from a long long ways away. Being able to choose between Physical and Energy defenses for his attack makes him a little nastier than he may seem on the surface. He’s not very durable so a) use his (possibly discounted down to 1 Power) Hook Arrow to hop around into a better position after double shooting, b) keep at a distance to take advantage of a 1 Power Fast Draw to dissuade your opponent from attacking Hawkeye, and c) let him live behind LoS blocking terrain since he can just shoot through it. If anyone ever gets into melee with Clint, you’ve made a mistake. Grade: A-
Used to be that Hulk wasn’t worth taking but not so much since the November 2021 Updates. He’s a terrifying powerhouse of a tank now.He’s going to absolutely punish anyone that comes within Range 2 of him and be nearly impossible to shift off an objective without extreme effort. Hulk is very much worth his 6 Threat now. Grade: A-
For 3 Threat, Iron Fist can deal out a good amount of damage and has excellent mobility, but he’s got a serious glass jaw. Danny is almost the opposite of Hawkeye, in that you want your attackers to be very close so you can count blanks in the defense rolls, but with only 3 dice that’s only going to save him so muchTaking some damage may help him get to the 8 Power to use his eponymous Strength 9 attack but he can’t take much. Iron Fist doesn’t have any powers that would benefit from Steve’s leadership, but is very helpful in SamSpam because he’ll probably get knocked down fairly easily. Grade: B (B+ under Sam)
Original flavor Iron Man is also only 3 Threat and doesn’t have the same high damage spikes as Iron Fist but he is more durable and more consistent. With Friday A.I. only costing 2 Power now (1 under Steve) you’re going to spam that as much as you can. That will bring Tony’s attacks from meh to solid, but other than Unibeam they won’t be exceptional. Iron Man is decent under either Steve or Sam and a good option if you don’t want to pay twice the Threat for Hulkbuster. Grade: B
I do wish that Luke Cage had an Avengers leadership rather than Hulkbuster so I could run the Civil War-era New Avengers, but AMG again failed to ask me. Luke isn’t very flashy – he punches things and doesn’t die. You probably don’t need a second bodyguard under Steve but in that situation his bodyguard power only costs 1. Sam can help Luke get up the board and into your opponent’s face quicker either with his leadership or the Air Lift, since he doesn’t have any extra movement tech. Grade: B (B+ under Sam)
Ms. Marvel is one of my favorite characters and at first glance her card looked pretty underwhelming. But her biggest trick is in shifting between her 65mm and 35mm bases. Because you place the new form within Range 1 of the current one, with a 65mm base that’s some very good distance. Embiggen, grab an objective from Range 2 away, slap some fools within your giant hand (Strength 5 rerolling 3 dice is pretty solid, but sadly she has nothing to spend Wilds) then transform back to normal and you’re pretty far back. Throw in a Medium move with that huge base if you need to as well. She’s going to be able to get places your opponent may not think possible. I suspect she’s going to be a fairly high skill ceiling character. Kamala’s defenses aren’t super but at least she can reroll a die from her Inhuman trait. Grade: B+
Quicksilver is also all about movement, and paying 1 less for his powers makes him amazing. With his builder only a Strength 4 he’s not exactly overflowing with Power so this is definitely helpful. Three Long movements in one activation is nuts, and save a Power to grab an extract token somewhere along the way. Don’t forget his Can I Borrow That? Tactics card. You don’t have much else in the way of yoinking tokens in-affiliation. Grade: B+
If you like putting conditions out there and keeping your opponent from shaking them, give Scarlet Witch a spin. She’s 5 Threat but has a lot of bells and whistles to make her worth it. She has a fairly potent Mystic builder and a devastating spender, especially considering that she adds Fail results as successes. Wanda can drop Judgement on an attacker who damages her and she can prevent the attacker from shaking the effect if she’s within Range 3. That’s a solid deterrent and just wonderfully mean. Grade: A-
She-Hulk may not be quite as tough as Bruce anymore, lacking the defensive tech of Puny Banner, but she’s still quite durable and maybe even more of an offensive piece. Her Strength 7 builder plus gaining an extra Power every round from Gamma Transfusion is going to give her enough juice to consistently boost her attacks with Superior Weight Training or to bodyguard attacks. Gamma Transfusion also lets her advance Short toward the attacker when she gets injured, which is very nice on a 50mm base. She-Hulk has three powers that love Steve’s cost reduction, but she could also benefit from the heal and advance under Sam to move her even farther. Be careful with bodyguarding though as she’s less resistant to Physical damage than Energy, which is a little unexpected but nice. Grade: A-
Thor is another heavy damage-dealer, but without his leadership doesn’t offer a lot that you can’t get in a 4 Threat character like Captain Marvel or Vision. He’s certainly thematic but you have better options. Grade: B
Like Vision! Vision takes a little finesse, as you definitely want to have the right kind of Phasing active to provide defense. The good news is under Steve it only costs 1 to shift to the other type, at least the first time each turn. If your opponent tries to get clever with multiple different attack types in the same turn or just piles on the attackers it could get very expensive very quickly. Vision has a great builder that is a Beam 4 – it only generates 1 Power by default but can Sap Power on a Wild, so with a little luck and a good lineup Vision can do a lot of work with it. Grade: B+
War Machine has one job: shooting things. And he’s fairly good at it, for only 3 Threat! He’s got 2 builders, and the only drawback is that the one with Barrage is only Strength 4, so it may not deal much damage (also it doesn’t generate Power). But his other is a Strength 5 Beam 3 with Bleed on a Wild, so that’s fine. Once Rhodey gets some Power built up his Empty the Clip attack is pretty darn nice – rolling two additional dice instead of one for each Crit. Buuut then War Machine takes a wound for every Crit in the attack roll, so maybe don’t roll too well. Defensively, War Machine has a 4 Physical defense and reduces any damage by 1 to a minimum of 1, so he’s pretty resilient. A decent although narrowly focused 3 Threat. Grade: B
Wasp is, overall, a just plain better version of Ant-Man. She’s much faster in tiny form and her builder doesn’t automatically embiggen her. It’s also fairly nice that the target of her Stinger Blast builder doesn’t gain any Power. Wasp has a decent throw when in normal size, and a solid spender when tiny. She still has the limitation of not being able to hold objective tokens when tiny, and other than Stealth doesn’t have great defense. Wasp has a place in a Sam Spam list, or maybe to secure a far objective if your opponent forgets to put anyone on it. Grade: B-
Wolverine also isn’t great at holding objectives, because when he flips to Injured he switches into berserker kill machine mode and can’t interact with them. But other than that, he’s a solid offensive tool and great if you’re playing for attrition. His Healing Factor and high Physical defense will keep Wolverine alive but be mindful of Mystic attacks as that’s his Achilles’ heel. Additional healing from Sam or a cheaper Best At What I Do from Steve, Logan’s fine either way. Grade: A-
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 need more mobile characters. In affiliation you really only have Black Panther and Black Widow 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 alliance.
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!