Marvel Crisis Protocol – King_Ghidra’s Journey Into Mystery!

This week King Ghidra is stepping in to revisit one of our favorite games, Marvel Crisis Protocol, and talking about how now’s a great time to get into the game and what you can find in the starter box.

Amazing Fantasy

Greetings true believers!  I’m sure you all know that wonderful time when you find a new game that really excites you, and for me that game right now is Marvel Crisis Protocol.  What better way to share that feeling than by inviting you into my secret base and revealing my experiences as a fresh player on my journey into a new hobby?

My local wargaming group (The wonderful London Wargaming Guild) recently had an open gaming participation day, and MCP was the game I was most keen to try out, both as lifelong superhero comics fan, and with some strong recommendations from fellow hobbyists.  I was instantly sold on the simplicity and tactical depth of the game, as well as the obvious pleasures of hitting opponents with cars and blasting them with energy beams.

Goonhammer of course already has a ton of great MCP content including a Getting Started guide, and I have been devouring it all over the last couple of weeks.  The consensus view was that the Core set was an absolute must-buy and great value, so with this fresh in my hands, I’ll start with the joy of unboxing!

Behold!  My Stuff!

Marvel Crisis Protocol Core Set contents

Well we got a lot of stuff in the box!  10 characters, a bunch of terrain, dice, rulers, tokens and the rules themselves.  The box effectively allows you to jump straight into playing the full game with a five-on-five heroes vs villains battle.

Sadly, some of the boxed character cards have since been updated but it doesn’t seem like Atomic Mass Games have got round to including the updated versions in the core box yet.  Also the core bundled rules are very focused on learning to play with the bundled heroes and don’t cover the full experience of playing the game outside of the set.  It’s great that AMG have a digital rulespack freely available, but a bit of a shame that what you get in the box doesn’t really help you step beyond the learning experience.

Anyway, to get you into the Marvel heroic mood, you literally have to assemble your Avengers.  The minis are mostly very easy and intuitive to build, but each one seems to have one or two randomly tiny and fiddly pieces to attach.  Captain America’s belt pouches spent a lot of time bouncing off the floor before I finally got them in place and I actually lost half of one of Captain marvel’s arms between the floorboards.  The miniatures are lovely though, and with their slightly larger scale than many tabletop games, easier and more enjoyable to paint too!

Crossbones and Cap slug it out over who saw the Taxi first

The terrain is fun and evocative of a big city rumble, with cars, traffic lights, and, god help me, I am genuinely looking forward to painting these trashcans and dumpsters.  Even the proprietary range rulers are paintable, which is a nice touch.

There are quite a lot of tokens and cards to manage, with power and damage tokens particularly needed in quantity, and I can see I’ll need to come up with some kind of transportation and sorting mechanism.  Card sleeves are also probably a must-purchase.


You’ve Taken Your Best Shot, Now It’s My Turn!

The two modern games I have most experience with coming into MCP are Blood Bowl and Warhammer 40k.  The mission types and objective-holding nature of MCP will certainly be familiar to 40k players, which is a proven way to make a skirmish game about more than who can do the most damage.  In terms of the tactical approach, Blood Bowl is a game where the order of your actions is very important, and the same is certainly true of MCP, with its alternating activations and the ability to limit your opponent’s options by moving or dazing their characters meaning that the decision of who you perform your actions with, and when, seems (even to my untrained eye) to be one of the more important skills.

Fundamentally though the game is ridiculously easy to pick up at the basic level.  After one introductory game I was well placed to run on my own, with everything after that being a question of understanding individual character rules, specific interactions, edge cases, and What Ifs.

MCP is relentlessly and joyfully dynamic, from the different combinations of missions and objectives (Secures and Extracts) you will see each game, to the characters’ powers pushing and throwing other characters around the board, and the players’ ability to react to their opponent’s powers and the game state with powers or tactics cards.

Throw in the ever-increasing cast of characters – shortly passing 125 – and the flexibility of roster building, and you can be confident in having a varied and fresh challenge each game.

Villains assemble!

Welcome to the X-Men, Hope You Survive the Experience!

The essence of moving on from the core game into more structured and competitive play is assembling a roster.  This is a group of ten characters that you bring to battle, from whom you ultimately assemble your squad for any given game.  Most rosters are driven by two core goals: having characters of varying Threat levels so that you can assemble a squad that meets the Mission Threat Limit; and having enough specific characters to form an Affiliation.  Affiliations are the ‘factions’ of MCP, and Goonhammer already has some great guides to them all.  As affiliations don’t require all members of the squad to activate, you don’t have to go all in on particular ones, but because they are generally strong and synergistic, you will tend to lean in to them quite hard.

So that’s the next big decision I have to make, and probably the next MCP content you will be seeing from us here on Goonhammer.  MCP’s publisher Atomic Mass has a ton of new characters and releases coming for the game in the next few months (Hail Hydra!) and we’ll be running our eyes over all of that too.  I hope you’ve enjoyed walking alongside me as I start this journey with this wonderfully accessible and fun game.  Until next issue, Excelsior!

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