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 Spider-folk and their Amazing Friends: the Web Warriors!
Note: Updated 6/11/2021 to include Black Cat and revise grading on Amazing Spider-Man
Look, we all know the story, right? Teenage scientist, radioactive spider, murdered uncle, great powers, great responsibility – Spider-Man! Peter Parker is one of the major figures of American mythology. So he’s covered.
Thanks to the excellent Into the Spider-Verse film Miles Morales is fairly well known too, at least among even the tangentially nerdy. His story is that in a different universe Miles took up the spider identity after Peter died. Miles had been bitten by a spider that was modified with his Peter Parker’s blood, which gave him similar but not exactly the same powers as Parker. Then when all the universes were being destroyed and reshaped he gave Molecule Man, the godlike being doing the reshaping, a hamburger that had been in his pocket for like a week. Now I’ve seen those spider-suits and they don’t leave much to the imagination, so I don’t know where exactly he had that burger stored, but Molecule Man was hungry and remembered this act of kindness. He inserted Miles and his family into the newly created universe. Miles is notably one of the first of the new wave of more diverse high profile teen characters that Marvel developed to expand their audience toward people who may not have felt represented in the mostly white, mostly male superheroes created back in the 1960s. As such, chuds hate him because the very concept of a teen who comes from another universe and who received super-powers like strength and invisibility from a spider that had been bombarded with radiation also being Black kills their immersion or something.
Also in the team is Ghost-Spider, or Spider-Gwen, or Gwen Stacy, who was also in Into the Spider-Verse. She’s also from a different universe, and over there she got bitten by the original spider instead of her best friend Peter. Pete got really jealous and turned himself into the Lizard, and Gwen was forced to kill him to stop him although she didn’t know he was Peter at the time. So she carries around a lot of guilt there, fairly standard for spider-folk. Gwen’s alternate universe still exists and her identity is public there, but she does a lot of universe-hopping to attend college in the main Marvel Universe and be mentored by Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew). Gwen is a drummer in the band “The Mary Janes” and spent a year in a hardcore SHIELD prison for her various crimes she’d committed in the course of superheroing. Spider-Gwen was developed as part of a large Spider-Verse crossover series in the comics again as a character to give more representation to female characters, particularly those whose defining trait is not to die as character development for a male hero.
Venom, yeah, why are these spider-folks so convoluted? Spider-Man (actually Peter Parker in the regular Marvel Universe this time!) was on an alien planet at one point, his costume got wrecked, and so he got a symbiote replacement out of what he thought was some kind of alien clothing vending machine. But the symbiote turned out to be not cool so Peter had to get rid of it, which hurt the poor evil alien symbiote thing’s feelings. Eddie Brock was a reporter whose career was ruined by Spider-Man so the symbiote picked up his whole “I hate Spider-Man” vibe and bonded with Brock to form Venom. Over the years Venom has been a bad guy and then a good guy and back again, and the symbiote has been revealed to be an alien race and their king came to mess up Earth in a really terrible recent crossover event.
Daredevil has nothing to do with spiders, but he does swing from things and punch regular folks more often than fighting Galactus and stuff, so I’ll allow it.
The Night Gwen Stacy Died (Amazing Spider-Man vol 1 (1963), #121-122). Gwen’s death is one of the really pivotal stories for Peter.
The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man vol 1 (1963), #248). One of the best one-shot comics stories out there, not just Spidey stories.
All-New Ultimate Spider-Man (Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (2011) #1-5). The start of Miles’ heroic journey.
Spider-Verse (Amazing Spider-Man vol 3 (2014) #7-15, Edge of Spider-Verse #1-5, other tie-in issues). This is the first one that brings all the Spider-folks together, and introduces Spider-Gwen. The story itself, a family of super-vampires hunting Spider-People across the multiverse, is so-so but there’s a lot of great interaction between the characters here. And Peter Porker!
Most Wanted (Spider-Gwen (2015) #1-5) This is the first standalone series for Gwen, dealing with her father and the rest of the NYPD hunting for her and troubles with her bandmates.
Born Again (Daredevil vol 1 (1964) #227-231) I know Frank Miller kind of went off the deep end in the past 20 years, but this is him at his prime. Wilson Fisk absolutely takes apart Matt Murdock’s life and drives him insane. If you don’t like Miller then check out Brian Michael Bendis’ five year run (volume 2 (1998) #16-81 and follow it up with Ed Brubaker’s (volume 2 #82-93). Much more modern storytelling and phenomenal the whole way through.\
Rob: Also go watch Into the Spider-Verse. It’s possibly the best comic book movie ever made and it’s ridiculously charming. Spider-Man: Homecoming is also very solid.
Web Warriors in Marvel Crisis Protocol
Web Warriors are a small affiliation with only five characters released so far. Amazing Spider-Man is coming some time this summer, and his card has been revealed (but no Tactics cards). Odds are good Black Cat will also be included but AMG is clearly waiting until the day after this piece goes live to release her info.
Most of the characters focus on long moves or other movement tech to get around the board quickly as well as good old “Spider-Sense” to keep from getting hit. They’re not that durable once they do get tagged (other than Venom) so placement and positioning are a key part of their defense.
Web Warriors will soon have two Leaders. The first one out was Miles, which caused a lot of “that’s stupid, it should have been Peter, but no I’m not racist” reactions around the internet.
Miles’ ability is Great Responsibility, and it really defines the way the Webs play. Allowing everyone to reroll one defense die for free is great The added bonus of being able to modify and reroll Failures if they are holding or contesting an objective is possibly even better since that’s not limited to defensive rolls (although they will need something to trigger a modification or reroll if it is not defense). Right off the top, this is an affiliation that’s going to be grabbing extract objectives and swinging away, dodging fists and bullets the whole time. Very much in keeping with the characters Grade B+
Later on this summer we’ll be getting an “Amazing” version of Peter who also has a Leadership ability for Webs. It allows allies to pay 1 Power to put a Slow condition on an enemy within Range 2. If the enemy already has the Slow condition you can remove it and place them within Range 1 of its current position. This will certainly be good for moving enemies off objectives. The Slow by itself is a bit underwhelming (although it’s kind of funny against an affiliation with so much movement), and having a second character in range to drop another Slow and switch it out for the Place effect is going to be key. It’s going to take some finesse to get it this Leadership really humming but it definitely feels thematically appropriate. Grade: B
All Webbed Up can make Peter’s Leadership a bit more useful, as it allows you to put the Slow condition on all enemies within Range 3 of whoever plays the card. Although even that’s at cross purposes because the Tactics card gives a bonus for attacking enemies who are Slowed. Okay, stop trying to spin gold out of straw and just focus on how good All Webbed Up is on its own. Range 3 is a long way to be throwing out Slow, and more importantly two extra attack dice.It may take some good positioning and waiting until the best moment but this could catch a lot of characters under this. Three Power isn’t a terrible price for that, although it may feel overpriced if you don’t get as many. Grade: B+
Web Barrier is much more situationally useful, to the point where I’m usually torn on whether to take it at all. Basically setting up a Range 3-long wall can really frustrate an opponent’s plans, but making two of your characters immune to being pushed, thrown, or placed for a whole round may be the more important piece. If you see a lot of characters in your opponent’s list who like to push folks around, and if this made your eight, it could be a winner. Grade: B-
If you have Spider-Man (either Peter or Miles apparently, but not Amazing Spider-Man) and Venom in your roster, Uneasy Allies will probably make it into your eight. Suffering a Wound instead of paying Power to get 3 extra dice on an attack is very nice, especially since Venom can heal that back up. And Venom prevents the opponent from modifying the defense roll, so Yum Yum Here It Come!™ Grade: B+
Venom also has the Lethal Protector Team Tactic, which is like Bodyguard and lets him be placed within Range 1 of the ally. There aren’t any innate Bodyguards in Webs so this is very nice unless you’re planning on bringing Okoye or someone else along. Sadly it’s only once, but that’s better than nothing. Grade: B
Building Your Roster
Spider-Man (Miles Morales) is likely going to be your leader but even if not he should really be an auto include. His Web Swing lets him cover a lot of ground and turns his builder attack from mediocre to very good. Miles is one of the few characters in the game who can make an enemy drop an objective, so there’s real value in that. He’s not that durable, but he can reroll two defense dice (three under his own leadership) and has Stealth so that will keep him alive a lot longer. For 3 Threat Miles is a very solid objective grabber whether the objective is held by an enemy or not. Grade: A-
Peter Parker’s second iteration The Amazing Spider-Man is much more hard-hitting, but he still has a lot of movement tricks like all the Webs. His builder, if he gets a Crit and a Wild, lets him throw himself at a second enemy causing a collision, basically a free attack and a Place. His spender lets him move Medium after the attack, also for free. He has the same Web Swing as Miles to add more damage to his attacks. And on the defensive side Peter can reroll any number of dice, as well as reroll one of the attacker’s dice (if the attack is against him or an ally). These are all very solid abilities that make Amazing Peter incredibly tough to remove and a high damage output beast. It may be tough to save up the Power for his spender if you’re using Witty Banter a lot (and not taking much damage) – he might really shine in a different affiliation like A-Force that could give him more Power to work with. And how will he stack up against other 5 Threat characters for those precious roster slots? There’s a lot of love for him around the interwebs but I don’t quite feel it yet. He doesn’t feel like he’s in the same class as Angela or M.O.D.O.K. but we will have to see how he works out on the table. Grade: B+
Black Cat continues the theme of highly mobile, hard to hit characters. Stealth and Bad Luck will keep her safe by limiting who can attack her and how effective they can be. She moves Long natively and can use her Grappling Hook to go even farther (although it seems unfair the Hook is the same price as Web Swing which lets the spider-folk go farther and get a bonus on their attack). Getting far away is going to be key because Cat’s signature ability is Master Cat Burglar which lets her just yoink away an asset or civilian from an enemy for 3 Power. Grab and go, and stay gone, is Black Cat’s plan. Grade: B
I’ve talked about Daredevil before – I really want to like him more than I do. He works well in Webs with the defense reroll adding to his Radar Sense that lets him count blanks as successes when defending against Physical or Energy attacks. Between that and his Long move he can be good to grab an extract objective and play keep away with enemies, and he’s defensive enough to stay up. DD’s offensive abilities really fall flat unless you can line up a great Devil’s Deliverance so don’t expect him to fulfill that role. Four Threat just seems like too much for him compared to the other options in Webs. Grade: B
Ghost-Spider is a backbone of a Webs squad. She has another Long move and her builder lets her move Long again if she’s advanced or been placed so she can cover the board like nobody else in the game except maybe Quicksilver. For a little extra fun, use the Climbing Gear Team Tactics on her. But why, you may say, she already has innate Wall Crawler? It’s for the “advance short.” Play the card, move short, Spider Technique, move Long, Spider Technique again with three additional dice this time, then move Long again to get the heck out of dodge. Huge fun. Wherever she ends up though, make sure Gwen is within Range 4 of her more fragile allies so she can use Life Saver. If you have your positioning right Life Saver is even better than Bodyguard because Gwen doesn’t need to become the target. Which is good because she doesn’t have very good defensive tech for herself. She really has to use movement/distance as her main defense. Grade: B+
Original flavor Spider-Man (Peter Parker), the one from the core box, has a lot of good pieces that unfortunately don’t really add up. He has three pushes/throws that can be helpful in moving enemies around, and he’s got a Long move and the Spider-Sense to keep him fairly safe, but it seems like Miles, Gwen and Amazing Peter all do what he does better. Pete really has that “early designed model” feel where the developers got a better handle on things later on and he was left behind in the dust, like many in the core box. Grade: C+
Lastly we have Venom, who is the serious beatstick of the affiliation. His builder attack hands out the Bleed condition and his fairly low cost spender lets him heal. He can pull you toward him Short, and you can’t modify defense dice against him. If you attack Venom he can use So Many Snacks to attack you back if you are within Range 3, which is a significant disincentive to attack him (see also: the healing thing). The whole package is fairly disturbing to deal with. The only real downside is that he only has a Short move, which isn’t terrible on a 50mm base but makes it harder for him to get where he’s going. If he can get to a secure objective he’s your best shot in the affiliation of holding onto it. Amazing Spider-Man may also be decent in that role but Venom is just scarier. Grade: B
…And His Amazing Friends
Venom and ASM are both pretty tanky but if you are looking for more bodies to hold secure objectives Luke Cage or Taskmaster would fit in nicely, and any tank is going to benefit from Miles’ leadership. If you want to lean into the objective manipulation you could pair Miles and Enchantress for maximum frustration. To shore up your ranged damage maybe look at Hawkeye
Domino’s weird probability manipulation would pair very nicely with getting a defense reroll, and thematically she pairs with Black Cat nicely.
If you’re running Amazing Spidey then characters who can hand out Slow will synergize with his leadership – Crystal, Enchantress, Hawkeye or Loki can help out there.
To fill out your roster with 2 Threat characters for maximum flexibility maybe look at Toad (his speed and objective grabbing fit right in) or Original Black Widow (she’s spider themed!).
There’s not a lot of overlap with other affiliations in Web members – both Spiders-Man and Daredevil are in Defenders so you could go that way, or Black Cat into Criminal Syndicate, or Venom into Spider-Foes.
So Are They Any Good?
Even before Amazing Spider-Man expanded the play options for Web Warriors they were one of the more popular affiliations, and they’re a lot of fun to play. They excel at the wide maps (B, D, F) that few others like to play on because of their speed and flexibility. Maybe try to dodge C or E maps where you need to bunch up unless you have ASM and/or Venom. It will be interesting to see how more fighty builds fare with ASM – having both leaders in your roster will definitely make your opponent sweat over which playstyle you’re going to go with. Lean into that and make them sweat.
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