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.
So, yeah, it’s been a minute, true believers. I’ve been off doing not-MCP things for the past few months, got a little burnt out on the game. I knew sooner or later Rob would notice that I’d, um, just stopped writing and demand
pictures of Spider-Man more columns. And so here we are.
I’m also drawn back in by the news you’ve likely already heard – AMG has started revising characters, some with small tweaks and some with wholesale revamps. PDFs of all characters are expected any day now, and packs of physical cards will be available some time next year. Which means some point after we Americans can buy Juggernaut. Which means don’t hold your breath.
The core rules for MCP are also getting revised. Not so completely that it will be a second edition but a few very meaningful changes. First, you can now take multiple characters with the same Alter Ego in your roster – both Peters Parker or Natashas Romanoff for example – although you can still only have one of them in your squad. Second, you can now take ten Team tactics cards in your roster, but you still only select five for each game. Third, the player without Priority now decides which Threat Value to use for the game. Fourth, Infinity Gems don’t take up roster slots, but they need to be “fixed” on a particular character and if you take that character for your squad you have to take the Gem.
The last and biggest change announced so far is that now when you select the Crisis Card that will be used for the game randomly rather than actively selecting your card. This may keep you from being 100% certain that you’re going to have the exact Crisis you want, but honestly you’re still choosing which 3 to bring with your roster so you’re still going to have one that is favorable. I expect we’ll see rosters narrowing to have a specific focus and players taking the missions that support that focus rather than rosters and Crises that could go in a couple different directions depending on what the opponent’s roster looks like. I’m not sure I love the loss of flexibility but I also didn’t love people being able to build for a specific crisis that they could auto-win on. We’ll see where things go.
Now, on with the revamped characters! In CP order as God intended.
Note: Grades listed here reflect the newly revised character overall. I’ll get to updating all the Affiliation Guides soonish. Really.
Captain America: I have a soft spot for Cap as a character and that probably led me to rate him higher than his pre-revision card deserved. I’m even more excited about him now. Shield Throw only goes up one Strength but now it yields one Power too. A tiny little change but the biggest frustration I had with Cap before was stalling out on Power because I was using Shield Throw too often. His Strike and Shield Push now affect up to Size 3, which will help with some board control in specific situations. These changes won’t make Steve a top shelf character but they definitely smooth over some of his rough spots. Grade: B+
Captain Marvel: The big change here is Binary Form going from 5 Power to 4, making it much easier to activate. Carol’s other attacks pay a “Binary Form Tax” where they are just kind of okay normally because with Binary Form they’d be stupid good if they were higher. Paying 4 Power (3 under Steve’s leadership) means you aren’t likely to activate it every round, but you’ll probably get there more than once, and that activation will be awesome. She can also throw bigger stuff now (this will be a common theme) and that’s never bad. Grade: B+
Iron Man: Same story, Tony’s attacks are limited because they get buffed by Friday AI, but it was often tough to find the Power to pay for that plus a Homing Rockets or Unibeam attack. Friday AI now only costs 2, making those extra dice much more affordable. He’s still kind of vanilla though, especially with Hulkbuster on the horizon. And yes, there’s a new cool Team Tactics card this version can use but purely based on the changes to this card I still don’t know if Tony will make the cut. Grade: B
Ultron: Ultron gets the biggest change in the core box. His basic Strike goes up to Strength 6, which is nothing to sneeze at. He throws up to Size 4 now (see?). His Energy Strike now triggers the Incinerate special condition on a Wild. But the real money is in Analyze and Annihilate, which used to cost 2 Power and let you roll extra dice for each Crit your opponent rolled in their defense. Now it’s always on, and free! No more extra dice, but you do get to reroll one of your own dice for each Crit your opponent rolls. And it’s before resolving Crits so happy Crit (or Wild) fishing! Not having to spend those 2 Power for each attack is huge. Save up for Age of Ultron, the sure way to make friends. Grade: B+
Hulk: Poor Hulk, I’ve made so many jokes about him in this column in the past. Not as many as Crossbones, mind you, but he’s kind of been a big green chump. AMG said he got the biggest changes in the revisions, and I’m glad because if everybody else changed this much I’d need a new pair of purple pants! Let’s start at the top – Physical and Energy defenses of 2 always felt weird – yes, you want Hulk taking damage to build up You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry but those were laughably low, especially when you have a character who only has one side. Taking Hulk out in one round was a distinct possibility. They’re 4/3 now, much better but not so good that you’re never going to get your extra dice. You Won’t Like Me changes to one extra die for every four Damage rather than 3, so yes you definitely won’t get them as often but Hulk may be alive on round 3, so I consider that a good trade-off. Strike goes up to Strength 7 and now generates Power, which is terrific, because there’s also a new power, Hulk Not Puny Banner which lets Hulk reroll defense dice, including Fails, for 3 Power. Lastly, Hulk is now immune to the Stun special condition. All these changes shift his focus from being an offensive tool to being a tank with a very solid offensive toolkit. I can’t wait to get him on the table, and I hope I don’t see him across from me any time soon. Grade: A-
M.O.D.O.K.: They can’t all be buffs, right? We all knew sweet, sweet M.O.D.O.K. was too good and pure for this depraved world. The changes are small but he likely won’t be the character that every new 5 Threat gets measured against any more. Maybe that’s for the best? Bow to the Will of M.O.D.O.K.! is now restricted to once per activation rather than only once per character per activation. Pea-Brain! also got changed to once per turn so it can’t be used against multiple attacks from the same character. You know what, I’m not bitter. Just more Power to use on Doomsday Chair! The wording got cleaned up a bit on Pea-Brain! while they were in there, to clarify the timing. M.O.D.O.K. remains very good, just not as broken. Grade: B+
Shuri: Shuri is another one we knew would have to be “funbalanced” sooner or later, right? Again, just a little change – her Panther Gauntlets can only push up to Size 3 now, so no shoving Dormammu around the board (which would have been hilarious). A situational nerf, as the number of size 4 or 5 characters is fairly small. Her Upgrades gets reworded to clarify at exactly which step of the whole roll dice/modify dice/resolve crits/allemande left flowchart but no real changes there. Not seeing any reason why Shuri doesn’t stay on the auto-include shortlist. Grade: A
Valkyrie: This one hurts. She was my go-to 3 Threat blender. Adding a Crit to the Wild already required to trigger Flurry is going to be tough; she’s going to want to be paired up with someone who allows for rerolls or dice fixing. She’s just not going to be seeing the awesome damage spikes as reliably as she used to. Her throw goes up to 3 Power also, which isn’t terrible since she’s generating the extra for being Asgardian, but it’s going to force some harder choices about spending Power and further reduce her overall damage output. Grade: B
Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight: Corvus also gets hit with the flurry change. His card as previewed shows Death Blow now triggers Flurry on a Wild and a Block. Not sure why that’s different from Valkyrie (and Medusa. Spoilers) so we’ll see if it’s a typo. Corvus and Proxima’s relationship seems a bit on the rocks as their Husband/Wife superpower was reduced to a Range of 3 and now costs 1 Power to activate. I still think back to back activations are worth it but this makes it a little trickier to pull off, and Corvus is a little less killy when he goes in. The new Time Gem may help him out but then he’s 5 Threat and needs to hold onto enough Power to use it. Grade: Corvus Glaive B-, Proxima Midnight B, Together B+
Gamora: The Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy got some changes that may make her hang around longer on the table. She gains one Stamina on each side of her card and the Stealth power. So you have to get up within Range 3 to attack her rather than just shooting her off the board, and oh look now you’re in easy reach of her Cosmic Assassin, or a Assassin Leap/God Slayer combo. Not a great place to be! A canny player will be sure to stay outside of Range 2 though so they can target her average defenses rather than trigger her Martial Prowess. I’m still not sure these changes make Gamora worth her 4 Threat but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Grade: B
Groot & Rocket: These Best Buds In Space deserved a buff gosh darn it. Groot’s Strike now reaches out to Range 3, same as his Tangling Vines. Hooray for synergy! His builder, I Am Groot!, is still only Range 2 but the cost goes down to 5 – still a little steep but what do you want for a Strength 8 attack that throws any size target and inflicts Stagger. Mercy! The only bummer here is that Groot can only heal himself once per turn now. He may need the healing because Rocket’s Personal Bodyguard Range has gone up from 1 to 2, giving more opportunities for the cute little murder bunny to shunt attacks to the big guy. Gaining Nimble will also help keep Rocket alive but let’s be honest I don’t think you’ll be taking him without bringing Groot along. These are small but decent tweaks to the characters, although I still don’t think they’ll be burning up the top tables any time soon. Grade: Groot B+, Rocket C (with Groot B)
Star-Lord: The biggest thing holding the Guardians back was their leader, and specifically his leadership. It’s not hyperbole to say it was a raging tire fire at the poop factory. But good news everyone! You no longer have to discard Team Tactics cards to use this leadership! That alone might be enough to take the Guardians down from the dusty shelf. But you also can now spread the love around and don’t have to give all three tokens to the same character. Great! Small nerf in that you need to reroll two dice, not “up to two,” so if you only have one bad die you have a problem. Star-Lord also gains a new power, Hit And Run, allowing him to attack and then move as a single action. There’s still not a lot exciting on his card but at least his Leadership isn’t frankly embarrassing anymore, and he can maybe do some sick drive-by attacks or something. Grade: B- (Guardians of the Galaxy Leadership: B+)
Ebony Maw: Like Hulk and Bullseye, Ebony Maw was the butt of many a joke pre-revision. But unlike Crossbones all of them actually got better (Yeah! Suck it Crossbones!! Woooo!). First off his Energy defense has gone up from 2 to 4. Maw gets 2 more Stamina on his injured side. His builder attack goes up to Strength 5, which will definitely help. Mind Over Matter used to handle both dodges and attacks with a cost of 2 Power per shot, but now only applies against attacks. But get this – it’s free for Ebony Maw and the attacking character has to pay 2 or go against Maw’s Mystic defense. He has a new power that lets him completely avoid damage from a collision for 2 Power, and that seems more than a fair tradeoff since collisions are rarer that straight up attacks. The huge Power savings from Mind Over Matter can be channeled back into one of the best throws in the game or a really solid spender attack. Or for the Space Gem, which yeah turns Maw into a 6 Threat character but maybe now it might be worth it? Hard to say if Squidward or Hulk got the best revision in the round. Grade: B+
Green Goblin: Like the Guardians, the Spider-Foes also got a much needed boost to their leadership. I still don’t love Oscorp Weaponry because rerolling one opposing defense die doesn’t guarantee a better outcome for you – in fact if your luck is anything like mine you will actually help your opponent with this every. damn. time. – but now it doesn’t cost any Power to do so. The reroll is still after crits are resolved so you can’t do anything about the extra dice but at least you have less to lose. As for good old Norman himself, he gets some stronger Pumpkin Bombs on both his Healthy and Injured sides. The damage is high enough now that he may have less trouble generating Power to fuel his spender and all his cool superpowers – the biggest problem I had with him previously. Grade: B+ (Spider-Foes Leadership: B)
Ghost Rider: Ghost Rider gains a point of Stamina on both his Healthy and Injured sides of his card as well as immunities to Bleed, Hex, Incinerate, and Poison. He also has lost the Range restriction on his Spirit of Vengeance but it now requires that damage be dealt. The smart play against Ghost Rider is attacking him directly rather than going after his allies, and the extra Stamina and immunities will go a long way to keeping him alive. He’ll likely have a little more Power to play with, which means opening up his more powerful attacks and judicious use of Wicked’s Judgment. Ghost Rider is definitely worth the 5 Threat now and will force your opponent to make hard decisions every activation. Grade: B+
Enchantress: Two big nerfs to Enchantress. First, Siren’s Call is limited to once use per turn, not one per character per turn. Seriously cuts into her ability to control the board, sad. Second, and probably worse, Amora’s Kiss now takes an Action to use. So you can’t Move up, then yoink away someone’s token, then Move away again all in the same activation. AMG really targeted the characters who got (and to be fair needed) nerfs in a way that forces hard choices. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Enchantress is still very valuable for the abilities she brings to the table but not as flexible as she once was. Grade: B+ (As of this writing I haven’t seen that Quicksilver’s Can I Borrow That? Tactic card will likewise become an Action but I suspect it will.)
Kingpin: The only change to Wilson Fisk is that the throw from his Hail to the King attack is limited to Size 3. This makes Kingpin totally unplayable trash, the designers clearly don’t understand the charac…wait, sorry, no, brain worms from spending too much time in Facebook groups. This is a completely fair change, very minor, no complaints. Kingpin still rocks. Grade: A-
Bullseye: Oh, Bullseye. The bad news is he got worse, but the good news is he’s only 2 Threat now so maybe that’s okay? Lower Mystical defense, one less Stamina on each side of his card, and his builder only generates a flat 1 Power rather than Power equal to the damage dealt. The automatic point of Power on his Throwing Knife is good because at Strength 4 he probably wasn’t going to be inflicting much damage anyway. The problem though is still that he won’t be generating enough Power to make full use of the actually fairly decent builder and superpowers he has. Maybe he’s an extra body if you’re playing a spam list. Do I finally assemble and paint his model? No. Grade: D
Medusa: Medusa was one of those “omg she’s so good” characters the day she came out so unsurprisingly she’s been toned down too. Braid Bash now requires a Wild to activate the Push, but the good news is that it doesn’t require that you do damage. The bad news is the timing of the push is changed to before damage is dealt rather than after the attack is resolved, limiting your options and allowing counterstrike abilities to ruin your day. Flurry, as we saw with Valkyrie and Corvus, now needs a Crit and a Wild. Harder to trigger, so fewer Pushes, cutting down her board control. There’s still a lot to like about Medusa’s card but she’s not the absolutely board dominating character she was. Grade B+
Okay, they’re not characters, but two of the Infinity Gems got buffed as well.
The Space Gem now only adds 1 Threat to the character who carries it. That’s a big change and makes the Space Gem much more palatable. It can add some more board control to make up for some of the characters who lost out in that department.
The Time Gem also only adds 1 Threat now, and instead of allowing an extra activation you can force both players to reroll all their dice when the bearer is attacking. Barf. You’re only ever going to use it if you roll abysmally and your opponent rolls really well, and in that situation (assuming you have the 2 Power required) it might be a life saver or it might just be meh, or it might not even be any better. You’re taking up a Threat in your squad just on the possibility that this situation might come up. Maybe on Corvus Glaive, but Thanos and Dr Strange 1 are already costly enough without adding on a maybe.
That’s all the new cards that AMG has shared (so far. I have no doubt they’ll drop a few more less than an hour after this article posts). Come back in a couple weeks when I’ll start looking at the bevvy of characters who have been released since, um, June?
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