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 the Brotherhood of Mutants!
Updates 02/03/2022 to add Colossus, Gambit, Juggernaut, and Rogue
The Brotherhood of Mutants, formerly known as The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, battled the X-Men from almost the very beginning. Magneto debuted in issue #1, and his Brotherhood in issue #4. Magneto was a prisoner in Auschwitz in World War II and the inhumanity he saw there shaped how he would see the struggles between humans and mutants. Under Magneto’s leadership the Brotherhood tended to be more militant and separatist in their pursuit of mutant rights in contrast to the X-Men’s stance of inclusion and assimilation with humans. It’s not too hard to look at the competing voices of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and see where Stan Lee got his inspiration.
Over time Magneto moved away from the whole “evil” vibe and Mystique formed a new incarnation of the Brotherhood. Mystique’s group continued the war against the human world, until they saw an opportunity to be pardoned and work for the United States government as “Freedom Force.” That went predictably awry shortly and after forming a couple other incarnations of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Mystique herself eventually joined the X-Men.
Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were members of Magneto’s first Brotherhood for a hot minute but noped out pretty quickly on the whole evil thing to join the Avengers. They may or may not be Magneto’s children – the truth of the matter keeps changing – and may or may not even be mutants. I’m seriously not getting into all of that here, comics everybody!
Toad is for the most part Magneto’s flunky. He led his own group of the Brotherhood at one time, but you can probably guess how that turned out. He’s got kind of an outsized popularity/cultural significance thanks to being one of the voiced characters in the old “Pryde of the X-Men” cartoon that was a failed pilot for an X-Men animated series and later being a character played by Ray Park in the first X-Men film.
Sabertooth is an assassin and a mercenary. He’s what Wolverine would be if Logan didn’t have a moral compass. He’s so despicable that on the unified mutant island of Krakoa, where all mutants are welcomed whether they were heroes or villains, Sabertooth just got stuffed down a hole so nobody had to deal with him.
Juggernaut’s power is that he’s an “unstoppable force.” He’s not a mutant himself, rather getting his powers from the mystical “Crimson Gem of Cyttorak” whatever that means. Juggernaut isn’t solely an X-Men villain; he’s fought Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor…basically he’ll fight anybody. Juggernaut is also Professor Charles Xavier’s step-brother, and is smart enough to wear a helmet that blocks psychic powers. Comes in handy at family reunions.
For Magneto’s original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants your best place to start is way back in X-Men volume 1 (1963) issues 4-7 for some Lee & Kirby action. For Magneto’s face-turn check out the classic X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, Uncanny X-Men volume 1 issues 150, 199 and 200 where he undergoes a big morality crisis and faces trial for his past crimes. He also had a very good self-titled series starting in 2014.
Days of Future Past (X-Men volume 1 (1963) # 141-142) is one of the seminal X-Men stories and also introduces Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Mystique also had a solo series starting in 2003 in which she works as a secret agent for Professor X.
Jump for My Love, or Spring is in the Air (The Amazing Spider-Man volume 1 (1963) #266). This is a Toad spotlight issue. He’s not so much a villain here as a sad sack. Toad decides Spider-Man is his best friend and new partner, but Spidey isn’t as into the idea. The whole issue is played for laughs as Frog-Man and Spider-Kid join in all vying for Spidey’s affection and to be honest it’s kind of punching down in a way that’s uncomfortable to this loner outcast nerd (and something you’d think Peter Parker would relate to). But a) it’s about the only Toad story I could find and b) I’ve never cared for Peter David’s writing anyway.
Avengers Origins: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (2011) attempted to sort out the backstory of the twins once and for all, establishing them as Magneto’s kids and experimented on by the High Evolutionary. And then comes…
Counter-Evolutionary (Uncanny Avengers volume 2 (2015) #1-5), which says “just kidding, they were really regular kids that the High Evolutionary experimented on,” just in time for the twins to be in a big Marvel movie.
Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut (The Amazing Spider-Man volume 1 (1963) #229-230). Turns out Spidey can. This is a good intro to the villainous side of Juggernaut, his semi-redemption comes much later on.
The Brotherhood of Mutants in Marvel Crisis Protocol
The Brotherhood is a versatile affiliation that supports different playstyles, mainly depending on which leader you select. They started off fairly small, but the releases of Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Juggernaut have given them a real boost.
Magneto’s leadership ability centers on his interaction with terrain. When a piece of terrain is destroyed a number of allied characters not greater than its Size gain a Power. There’s a limit of no more than 1 Power per turn but no Range limits or restrictions that the terrain has to be destroyed by an ally, so it’s pretty flexible. Considering Magneto can generate new Metal Constructs each round on top of the already existing 12-20 pieces on the board you shouldn’t be worried about running out. The value of this ability does depend somewhat on having taken lots of characters with throws or other terrain-destroying abilities. And the biggest problem is those abilities usually cost Power to use so this may actually end up being a net loss. It does let you redistribute the Power around though, and you hopefully did some damage with the throwing. Grade: B
Mystique, on the other hand, plays to the scenario with her leadership. Allies gain a Power for interacting with Extract tokens (which cost 1 Power to interact with, so again a wash). It also allows an ally to call “dibs” (or “gools” as we called them in New England back in the Stone Age) on a Secure Objective so that it remains secured even if your characters move away from it. If an enemy contests the objective the dibs goes away, but this is useful if you can tag an objective and tie up your opponent’s characters elsewhere. It’s only one objective at a time though. It’s a nice package but somewhat uninspiring. Grade: B-
Asteroid M is a must-include for Brotherhood, especially now with Quicksilver in play. It’s a teleport anywhere on the board to within Range 1 of an ally, and it only costs 2 Power for each of the characters. You can easily get Magneto wherever you want him in round 1 if the second character makes an attack or destroys terrain. Incredibly versatile and useful. Grade: A
The Books of Truth gives a Brotherhood member a total reroll, including Fails, for only 2 Power. Also very useful for that roll you really need to make but your dice just hate you. The only problem here is you’re just rerolling so you have a chance of not doing much better. Is it worth taking up one of your five for a chance? You may have this card and never use it, but if you don’t have it you’ll probably wish you did. Grade: B+
Gambit can’t use his Dark Past tactics card if he’s on an X-Men team, but he can here. Everybody within Range 3 of Gambit gets Stealth for the round. Pretty sweet if you are staring down Rocket, Hawkeye, or other long range shooters. Grade: A-
Do You Know Who I Am? Gives Juggernaut an amazing throw – up to Size 4 and Long! – for 3 Power. Terrain or a character! This is so flavorful and so useful. Long range throws aren’t all that common – I think Agents of SMASH may be the only other one and that costs 6 Power (if I’m wrong I know one of you will let me know in the comments). Grade: A
Makin’ A Rukus lets Juggernaut reach out and touch you if you attack one of his nearby allies. This won’t trigger his Unstoppable Momentum since it’s not Juggy’s activation but you’ll need to ask yourself if you really want to eat an attack and have Juggernaut in your face. Maybe attack somebody over there instead. Keep the three Power in youtube pocket – you may never actually have to spend it but it’s a great way to have some control over who your opponent attacks. Grade: B+
Magneto’s Magnetic Crush can be an insanely powerful attack if the stars align just right. It starts off as a Strength 6 and adds in the size of any terrain within Range 2 of the target before destroying that terrain (and triggering Magneto’s leadership if applicable). And why look at this, Magneto can place his Metal Constructs down during the Power phase to line everything up nicely. It costs 5 Power to pull it off but has the potential to wreck one of the enemy’s heavy hitters. Grade: B+
Magneto also has Magnetic Refraction which lets him provide cover to allies within Range 3. And if you’re playing Brotherhood you take the card back instead of discarding it. Giving one auto-success on defense rolls is pretty nice, and being able to do it nearly every turn is quite good but I’m not sure how much you want to bunch up when playing Brotherhood. Grade: B
Lastly, Magneto can play Difficult to Please if he is on a squad with both his children (if that’s what they are this week and not robots or holograms or Scott and Jean’s kids from the future or something) Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. It will take some planning to meet the criteria to play this card but it’s well worth it. Scarlet Witch needs to Daze or KO an opponent and Quicksilver needs to pick up or interact with an objective, both in the same round. If this happens you remove Magneto’s Activation token, allowing him to take another activation. That’s really good, and it doesn’t cost anybody any Power. If you’re planning to take these three (and why wouldn’t you?) you should probably have this card in hand just in case. Grade: A-
Mystique brings Deception, which provides some outstanding board control. Making an enemy advance its Speed toward Mystique, on any activation not just Mystique’s, and for zero Power? Everything about that is great. I have no idea why you wouldn’t take this card. Plus it has Gambit looking like an idiot on it, so that’s always good! Grade: A+
Quicksilver can use Can I Borrow That? to yoink away an Asset token from someone he’s just damaged. Objective shenanigans are never bad.The only real hurdle may be causing the damage needed to trigger the card. His builder is only Strength 4, and if you use his Cyclonic Vortex attack will you have the 2 Power left that the card requires? It’s kind of a risk and why did you let somebody else get an Asset before Quicksilver anyway? Consider what life choices led you here. Grade: B
Charming Thief allows Gambit to gain Power every time an enemy within Range 4 uses an Active or Reactive superpower this round. That’s a good range that your opponent may have trouble staying outside of, and a decent way to build up Gambit’s Power pool. Grade: B+
Mind If I Cut In? lets Rogue tank an attack if she is within range and line of sight of the attacker. Rogue isn’t the beefiest defender but she can probably take a hit better than some others, so this is situational based on your roster. Grade: B
Scarlet Witch’s cry of No More Mutants is basically a Counterspell against an enemy superpower. The enemy has to be within Range 5 and the superpower has to be one that the enemy spends at least 1 Power for, it can’t be a freebie. The enemy character’s Power is spent and the superpower is considered to have been used (in case it has a “once per round” limit or something). Your opponent is going to have to be very careful using superpowers if you have this card in your hand, so even its very existence is worthwhile, and actually using it at the right moment could save your bacon. Grade: A-
Pardon Me, Sugah is Rogue’s superpower duplication ability. It has different effects depending on whether Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Deadpool, or Magneto is nearby (and you can only choose one). It doesn’t have to be a friendly character, which is good because it also deals 1 damage to the target. Some of the abilities are better than others – for my money Storm’s adding two dice to the next attack or Wolverine’s Healing Factor are the best options. Grade: A-
The Whims of Chaos is Scarlet Witch’s other card. It lets Wanda heal allies or remove special conditions from them as well as putting Hex, Root, or Incinerate on enemies. She can do both with one play of the card, spending Power for each character within Range 3 she wants to tag. A great utility card, and keep in mind those enemies within Range 3 can’t shake that Hex condition. Grade: B+
Sabertooth has Weapon X Program which throws him Short and prevents him from taking damage. Adding Pounce to Sabertooth gives him even more movement and can drop an automatic Wound on a target from the collision. The 3 Power cost is a lot on a character who may be fairly Power strapped already, and between his Long move and Aggressive Sabertooth may not need the extra damage. Not sure if this would make my eight given all the other great cards the Brotherhood has available. Grade: B-
Sabertooth can also use X-Ceptional Healing to spend 3 Power to reduce any one attack to 1 damage. He’s fairly resilient as it is, but this is a great card to have in your back pocket, as it may dissuade your opponent from even throwing big attacks at Sabertooth in the first place. Just be sure you’ve got 3 Power in that back pocket too. Grade: B
Building Your Roster
The Brotherhood of Mutants
Let’s start with Magneto, possibly one of the strongest characters in the game. And the 6 Threat price tag that goes along with that. Offensively he has a Strength 6 builder attack that gives free rerolls or a push depending on how far away the target it. Magneto’s spender, Shrapnel Blast is pretty expensive but being able to use a Metal Construct as the center point instead of Magneto himself is super cool, and handing out Stuns to everybody in Range 2 of himself/the Construct is sweet too. He also has a throw that I think may be the only one in the game to throw Long. Defensively he has average Physical and Energy stats but 6 Mystical defense, and can spend Power to use that against any attack.
But where is Magneto getting all this Power from? He creates up to 2 Metal Constructs and gets an additional Power for each of them in play. Plus, if he’s your leader, he can get Power for destroying terrain, which he and his team are going to be doing a LOT.
Lastly, Magneto is pretty slow with only a Short move. He has that 50mm base but if you really want to get him into the fun you’ll want that Asteroid M Team Tactics card in your hand. Grade: A-
Your other leader, Mystique, plays a very different game. She’s not likely to be dishing out damage, but will be tough to pin down. Mystique has Stealth and Martial Artist to keep her safe from attacks, and her Shapeshifter prevents your opponent from using reactive superpowers or Team Tactics cards. She’s great at grabbing an Asset or Civilian and keeping mobile. And even though her attacks may not be the strongest her Expert Sabotage lets her blow up a terrain feature and cause 2 automatic wounds to enemy characters within Range 1 of it. Getting those wounds past high-defense characters or around a Bodyguard is huge. And don’t miss that her Espionage area attack inflicts Stun before damage is dealt – that means the targets aren’t going to be swimming in Power after they take the damage. Mystique has a lot going on for a more subtle gameplay approach, and with a cost of only 3 Threat you can bring along a pretty wide squad. Grade: B+
Colossus is a decent 4 Threat tank – he can bodyguard a nearby character and add 2 dice to his defense against Physical or Energy (which switches to counting blanks as successes when Injured, and doesn’t cost any Power), and he reduces damage by 1. Colossus may have some trouble having enough Power to do all that with only his Strength 5 builder so be careful not to get too ambitious with his tanking. Grade: B+
I was not a child of the ‘90s so I’ve never understood the fascination of Gambit. That may color my review a little bit, I will admit. Gambit has two builder attacks, one of them only Strength 4, and a decent Beam 3 Strength 5 spender that counts Wilds as two successes. Not terrific damage output but he can spend 3 Power to add 2 dice to his next attack, making them pretty solid. And he can spend another Power to change a hit to a Wild, very useful since all his attacks have abilities triggered on Wild. But that’s about all he has going on. He has a defensive ability that does 1 damage to the attacker and lets him move Short, but that’s after the attack is resolved so Remy’s taking the hit one way or the other. It may act as a deterrent but it costs 2 Power so it means fewer powered-up 52 Card Pickup attacks, which are really the only notable thing on this card. Sorry buddy but you’re right, it Gambit. Grade: C+
Colossus and to a lesser degree Sabertooth can handle some light tanking duties, but Juggernaut is pure top shelf certified 100% beefcake. He’s very resilient, especially against Mystic attacks, and has a boatload of Stamina. He can also use his Nice Punch… superpower to reduce damage by 1, even to zero. It does cost 1 Power so it’s not always as good as Iron man or Luke Cage or others, but if he can take no damage instead of one it’s a win. And Juggernaut is going to have enough Power to use that because he gains two whenever he finishes a move action on his activation, plus his next attack adds three dice! That’s enough that he’s going to be able to use his spender attack, possibly at 10 dice, fairly frequently. A Wild on that spender attack also gives a free use of the Nothing Stops the Juggernaut ability which normally costs 3, pushing him Short, smashing up terrain, and doing an autodamage to a character.
On his Injured side, Juggernaut loses his helmet that provides him with that sweet Mystic defense, so that might not be great for him. He gains a decent throw on that side though. Between the throwand stomping his way through terrain, Juggernaut should be able to reap a fair amount of Power under Magneto’s leadership. Grade: A-
AMG did a great job of bringing Quicksilver’s superspeed into the game. Long move, yeah, that’s expected. Can take another Long move for 2 Power? Nice. But wait, there’s more! Both of his attacks allow additional moves (his Supersonic Strike gives a Short on a Crit and a Block, his Cyclonic Vortex an automatic Medium move). And when targeted he can spend 3 Power to move Short, possibly getting out of Range or line of sight. His speed also lets him reroll up to 2 defense dice. Quicksilver is always going to be moving. And always out of Power if you’re not careful. Grade: B+
Rogue is really going to ruin someone’s day, and you will laugh and laugh. Between her Absorbing Strike builder which has Sap Power and her Mutant Absorption power you can really drain an enemy’s Power supply down before they get a chance to do something cool with it. Rogue has to get up within Range 2 to use both of these, but fortunately her Kree-Mutant Physiology reduces damage and she has a little better than average Physical defense. To spend all the Power she Saps, Rogue has an okay spender, a good throw, and a Charge to help her get up close. Rogue is more of a utility/threat piece than a damage dealer, fitting well with either leader in the Brotherhood. Grade: B+
While Mystique and Quicksilver aren’t your most offensive or tanky characters, Sabretooth can handle those roles for the Brotherhood. Drop him onto a secure objective and he will a) take a lot to shift him off that and b) shred anybody who comes near him. But he’s also surprisingly mobile, especially withWeapon X Program so don’t be afraid to take advantage of that and have him hunt down enemies instead of sitting still. You can always bring someone from out of affiliation to babysit objectives. Grade: B+
Scarlet Witch has a whole lot going on. Maybe one of the most complex characters in the game to date. First off, she adds Fail results to all attacks, defense rolls, and dodges so that’s increasing her basic effectiveness by ⅛ or so (I’m not the math guy!). Beyond that a defender doesn’t count Crits or get to roll additional dice against her Cruel Twist attack, and for each Failure she rolls she can change a defender’s die to blank. Cruel Twist may cost 6 Power, but with those three boosts factored in the Strength 8 is going to hit like a truck. Her builder attack inflicts special conditions for each Failure on her roll, and she can drop the Judgment condition on an enemy who damages her. And then enemies can’t shake Hex, Judgment, or Poison when within Range 3 of her (add Crystal into your squad with Scarlet Witch and your opponent will be very sad!). When the least exciting thing on a character’s card is a throw that can pitch Size 4 terrain, you have a very interesting character indeed. Adding the Fails to her successes will hopefully net her enough power to be effective. Grade: A-
And lastly, Toad. Poor Mortimer may be a laughing stock of a character, and honestly that tongue thing is really gross, but he’s a really solid 2 Threat model. He’s super mobile between his Medium speed, a Range 2 Hop, and a free Medium move if he is damaged. Plus his Prehensile Tongue (don’t think about it) lets him interact with objectives from Range 2. Toad can be very useful but he’s pretty fragile. Grade: B
Depending on which leader you’ve chosen and which direction you’re going with your roster you may need to fill some missing roles. If you have Magneto as your leader, and especially if he’s joined by Scarlet Witch, you’re going to need some low-Threat characters as you’re already up to a minimum of 13 Threat for just them and Toad. Okoye can keep Toad and Wanda fairly safe, original Black Widow can get out there and grab objectives. Or Wong can help keep everybody fueled up.
If you’re leaving more into a Mystique-led team focusing on objectives you could either lean into it with Miles Morales, Black Cat, or Enchantress. But you probably want someone tanky who can squat on secure objectives and not be moved, like Luke Cage or maybe even Kingpin.
So Are They Any Good?
The Brotherhood, like the growing number of affiliations with more than one leader, are a land of contrasts. They are good at two very different styles of play, and there aren’t really any stinkers in the whole affiliation. Which is good because both leadership abilities are pretty good and synergistic but they’re not the top of the heap so you’ll be relying on those characters for most of your effectiveness.
For a multi-affiliation roster you can cross over into Avengers (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) or Cabal (Magneto, Mystique, and Sabertooth) on top of the two flavors of Brotherhood.
There are a lot of moving parts, particularly if you bring Scarlet Witch, but the Brotherhood is overall a medium-high complexity affiliation that can be a lot of fun to play and fairly difficult to play against.
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