Marvel Crisis Protocol – Bishop and Nightcrawler Review

Who is Bishop?

Bishop (Lucas Bishop) is a time-traveling mutant from one of the many dystopian futures seen over the years in X-Men comics. He first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #238, with his first major storyline being the X-Cutioner’s Song storyline. Before traveling to the past, he was the commander of a mutant police force, instilling him with a keen sense of justice and great tactical acumen. Bishop’s mutant power allows him to absorb energy attacks and use it to fortify his strength and toughness or to generate powerful energy blasts of his own.

Character Card

The healthy side of Bishop's character card
Bishop Character Card – courtesy of Atomic Mass Games

Bishop is a 4-Threat character with an Energy Defense of 4 and Physical/Mystic Defenses of 3. These defenses aren’t great, but they’re a bit misleading as Bishop has an innate defensive power that buffs them significantly. His healthy side has 6 health but it drops to 5 on his injured side, which is the only change between the two sides of his card. A medium move rounds out his basic stats, which opens up a bunch of safe turn one plays for him when combined with his medium base. 

Bishop’s first attack, XSE Blaster, is fantastic. In terms of raw numbers, Range 4 and Strength 5 isn’t anything notable, but the extra effect where any enemy targeted within Range 3 gains the Incinerate condition, regardless of the dice outcome, is a huge boost to an attrition-based strategy. Incinerating two characters a turn so that allies like Wolverine and X-23 can go finish them off will be a staple Bishop strategy.

Return With Interest, Bishop’s second attack, lets him put out a lot of damage all by himself when he’s flush with power. A 5 cost spender with Strength 7 and a Range 2 area of effect, it’s designed to target multiple enemies and hit at least one of them in their weakest defense. When you decide to use the attack, you can choose where it has the Physical, Energy, or Mystic type, allowing you to target low defense numbers or turn off defensive superpowers that only trigger on certain attack types. In addition, you can put any extra power you have into the attack, increasing the number of dice you roll in each attack by 1 for each power spent. If you’ve been saving up power from XSE Blaster and gotten lucky with some defense rolls, it’s not outlandish to target characters with 9 dice attacks and have a great chance of pushing and slowing them with the attack’s wild trigger.

Absorbed Energy Conversion, Bishop’s first superpower, is a good throw. We’ve seen this exact same power on characters like Rogue and Beta Ray Bill and it’s great here too. Size 4 terrain is really big and can do a ton of damage to a character, and throwing someone medium is always fantastic. 

Mutant Energy Absorption is Bishop’s defining superpower. For every wild you roll in your defense roll, it lets you change a hit, a critical result or a wild your opponent has rolled to a blank. Not only does this mean that you’re effectively counting wilds as successes on your defense dice, you can also turn off an opponent’s attack triggers if you flip their only wild to a blank or something similar. Bishop gains one power for each die he changes that way, which can give him a small boost but also leads into his next power and his main drawback as a character. 

Overload says that at the end of the power phase, if Bishop has 8 or more power he suffers 1 damage. While you’re not going to have to worry about this in every game, it can have catastrophically bad effects if things go exactly wrong. It’s possible for Bishop to be left on 1 health with 8+ power, and since Overload happens during the power phase, he can be dazed and lose his chance at activating at all that turn, and then start the next turn at 4 health since there’s no real way to pull power off of him between power phases. 

Bishop’s power suite is rounded out by immunities to Incinerate, Poison, and Stun, which are nice to have but not super notable. 

Bishop Credit: Raf Cordero


Uncanny X-Men and X-Force. Both teams are pretty stacked at the 4-threat slot so there’s a lot of competition, but Bishop can contribute to both rosters, especially if you lean into a more aggressive version of X-Men. 

Tactics Cards

The box has one card that’s Bishop-specific and one card that’s X-Force affiliated.

Mutant Traitor is a free tactics card you can use if you’re playing both Bishop and Gambit. On Gambit’s activation, if he’s within Range 3 of Bishop he can play the card which gives Bishop an immediate Strength 6, Range 3 beam attack that has a ton of triggers. The most common outcome will be a short push on a wild result. If your luck is hot and you can roll 2 wilds, each wild result counts as two successes and you’ll put some serious hurt on your opponent. This card is cute, and I like the reference to Bishop’s history with Gambit, but it’s hard to imagine many scenarios where I’m playing this card unless I’ve decided to build a fun roster just to enable it.

Preserving the Dream is an X-Force affiliated card that I think has high potential to be a staple for the faction. Whenever an enemy character attacks one of your characters, if it has a higher threat value than your character (for example a 5 threat Ultron attacking a 2 threat Honey Badger), any number of allied characters can pay 1 power to play Preserving the Dream. Each character that pays that power immediately advances short towards the attacker. Getting a short advance for 1 power per character is extremely powerful, and the card combos particularly well with Honey Badger, X-Force’s staple 2-threat character, because of her ability to force any enemy within Range 2 to attack her. After playing this card, everyone on your team that you want to be in the enemy’s face will be one step closer.

The Verdict

As a 4-threat character that’s solid but not amazing, I don’t see Bishop making many competitive X-Men rosters. His throw is nice but he doesn’t play the objective game better than other affiliated 4-threats or bring as much utility to the team as a Colossus or Rogue does. He’ll shine more in X-Force where his throw is unique among affiliated pieces and Cable can let him roll two extra defense dice, making Mutant Energy Absorption more likely to go off.

Who is Nightcrawler?

Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner) was born in Germany covered in blue fur, with yellow eyes, a prehensile tail, pointy ears, and fewer fingers and toes than a person is generally born with. Shunned due to his appearance, Kurt lived with a circus for years and traveled Europe as an acrobat until a misunderstanding led to him falling victim to mob violence and being saved by Professor Xavier. He would join the X-Men as part of the team’s relaunch in All-New X-Men #1 and remain a mainstay of the franchise until today. Nightcrawler’s mutant power is the ability to teleport, and his extensive training in acrobatics and fencing have made him a deft combatant.

Character Card

The healthy side of NIghtcrawler's Card
Nightcrawler Character Card – courtesy of Atomic Mass Games

Nightcrawler is a 4-threat character with 4 Physical Defense and 3 in each of his Energy and Mystic Defenses. He has a medium move on a small base, 6 health on his healthy side and 5 health on his dazed side, which is the only change between the sides. He’s not a character you’re going to take for his stat line, but he should still be able to take a punch or two.

Teleporting Strike is Nightcrawler’s first attack, and it’s a great enabler for his whole kit. The basic numbers, Range 3 and Strength 5, aren’t fantastic, but Ha-HA! handing out the Stun condition for free as long as you stay outside of Range 2 is a very good way to slow your opponent down. Throwing this attack at someone you plan to hit with the spender afterwards will, with a bit of luck, let you hurt them significantly and deny them power at the same time.

Brimstone Blitz, Nightcrawler’s spender, is a real feast-or-famine move. It starts as a Cost 1, Range 2, Strength 5 attack, but gains a die for every time Nightcrawler has been placed. It’s got a trigger that requires you to roll a hit and a crit result that allows you to make the same attack again, paying the cost. A typical turn for Nightcrawler could look something like BAMF! for 1 for the short teleport, Teleporting Strike to build power, stun and get another place with Puff of Smoke, and then Brimstone Blitz for 7 dice. This gives you about a 50% chance to attack again, place again, and keep the combo going. This is going to feel amazing when you pull it off, but when you don’t it’s likely a worse turn than just throwing out a second Teleporting Strike. Keep in mind, if you run out of power but still have another attack action left from the Flurry of Blows trigger, you can use Teleporting Strike again.

BAMF! and Puff of Smoke are Nightcrawler’s teleport abilities. BAMF! lets you spend 1-3 power for a 1-3 distance place once per turn. The variable cost is nice, as it lets you be very efficient with your power and only spend a bit if you don’t need to move very far. Puff of Smoke lets you place Nightcrawler within Range 2 of an opponent he’s targeted with an attack. Keep in mind that you don’t just have to move in a straight line to Range 2 to your target, you can place anywhere in a circle around them, so pick an advantageous spot.

Unglaublich Acrobatics is an reactive superpower that lets Nightcrawler spend 2 power to add 2 dice to a dodge roll or a defense roll when targeted by a physical or energy attack. The dice will likely add another success to your defense roll, but I’d save it for dire circumstances as Nightcrawler’s power is better spent teleporting and flurrying.

Invisible in Shadow is Nightcrawler’s innate defensive superpower, making it so he can’t be targeted by attacks at Range 3 or further as long as he’s close to a piece of terrain that’s size 2 or larger. This is worse than traditional stealth, which just keeps a character safe at Range 3 with no other conditions, but Nightcrawler has enough movement in his kit that you should be able to find some piece of terrain to keep him safe. Wall-Crawler, which rounds out his kit, will help you move around and through that terrain by making it so that Nightcrawler is considered to be size 5 when moving, making it so there’s very little terrain that can hinder him. Keep mobile, keep safe.

BAMF! Credit: Raf Cordero


Uncanny X-Men only. We’ll have to wait for the Age of Apocalypse version of the character to get the X-Force affiliation.

Tactics Cards

Nightcrawler has one exclusive card, Mass Transit. For the cost of 3 power and an action, Nightcrawler can teleport himself and up to three other allied characters a huge distance. The characters need to be within Range 2 of Nightcrawler, then you can move Nightcrawler Range 3 and place the allied characters within Range 1 of him. If an allied character starts the furthest away it can, you could end up teleporting them a Range 6 distance plus base sizes, which is pretty mind boggling. 

In addition to the high cost to play the card, Nightcrawler gains the stagger condition after the effect resolves. This is the biggest drawback to the card, as it effectively gives you two turns where Nightcrawler is only taking one attack action at most. The other major thing you have to plan around is that your opponent will be able to activate before your newly upfield characters can, so you might be leaving them vulnerable if you haven’t planned things out super well. 

The Verdict

When your dice are hot, Nightcrawler is going to feel like one of the best characters in the game as you hit someone with Brimstone Blitz over and over again until they’re dazed or removed from the game entirely. When they’re cold, he’s still pretty good! A BAMF! for 1 power on the first turn can put him in range 3 of anyone who’s extended themselves a bit too far towards the centerline of the map, so you’ll almost always have a target to stun and get Nightcrawler’s kit online. I’m looking forward to trying him in an X-Men team, and I think he has enough utility to see play out of affiliation as well, but in both cases I’ll be leaving Mass Transit at home.

Interested in playing these characters but not sure how to get started with them? — check out our How to Paint Everything: Marvel Crisis Protocol in 60 Minutes feature to learn how to get your heroes into battle quickly.

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