Marvel Crisis Protocol – Professor X and Shadow King Review

Who is Professor X?

Professor Charles Xavier is the founder of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, a boarding school that also serves as a training ground for a paramilitary group of heroic mutant fighters. The world’s most powerful telepath, Professor X strives to create a world where mutants and humans coexist peacefully as true equals. 

Character Card:

Professor X Character Card – courtesy of Atomic Mass Games

Professor X’s basic stats start with Physical and Energy defenses of 2 and a Mystic defense of 6. This is a major issue, but he’s got a superpower to help mitigate it. He’s got 6 health on his healthy side and 5 on his injured side, which isn’t great but it’ll be rare for him to be taken out in one attack. With a medium move on a 50mm base, he’s surprisingly fast when moving around the field, but you’re only going to want to use that speed to rotate between spots on your side of the map.

Professor X has a suite of mystic attacks that I rate highly. Psychic Dart, at Range 4 and Strength 5, is a good builder. Xavier doesn’t need a ton of power to be effective, so the 5 strength should be good enough, and Root is a great condition to apply to enemy characters as it forces them to spend an extra power anytime they would like to use an active or reactive superpower. It’s also a rare enough condition that you’re not going to have a bunch of other characters applying it as well, so it’ll never feel “wasted” by not stacking.

Mental Suggestion is fantastic, and an attack I will be using any time I have the power. It’s a Range 3, Strength 6 attack that costs one power to use, and if it does damage, you can Advance the target their speed. Moving a character their speed instead of just Short is huge, as there are a ton of powers that can place an ally a short range but moving a character their full move is much harder to negate.

Astral Duel is his worst attack, but it’s still a great option to have if you just absolutely need to drop some damage on someone. It starts as a Range 3, Strength 4 attack that costs three power, but it adds an attack die for each Mystic defense the target has. Always being three dice ahead of your target is nice, but the real key to the attack is that the target cannot reroll or modify dice. This makes it so much more likely that some damage will get through that if you really need to daze or KO someone with two or three health left, Xavier should be able to spend his power and get the job done. 

Professor’s Guidance is a major source of support for the team built around Professor X. Once per turn, if an allied character is within Range 4 and attacking or defending, Xavier can spend 1-3 power during the modify dice step of the attack to let them roll 1-3 dice, one for each power spent. This not only helps everyone smooth out their dice rolls, it also activates Xavier’s leadership, letting you put a power on someone who can use it.

Telepathic Lock is the superpower that’s supposed to mitigate Professor X’s low Physical and Energy defense stats. Whenever he’s targeted with an attack, it allows Professor X to use his Mystic defense, unless the attacker pays two power. While this should stop most small builder attacks from targeting Xavier in favor of softer targets, if someone really wants to target him with a big attack they’re just going to pay the extra power to make it hurt. It also only triggers on an attack, so someone throwing terrain at him doesn’t need to spend extra power. These two factors make it hard to rely on this power to keep Xavier out of danger, so try to keep him out of the fray.

Finally, Omega-Level Telepath prevents Professor X from being pushed or advanced by Mystic attacks or enemy superpowers. This is nice to have; it’ll make it easier for him to sit still on a point close to your deployment zone and run the battle from there.


Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is Professor X’s leadership, and it’s the main reason to take him as a part of your roster. With this ability, once per turn when one of your characters spends power to use an active or reactive superpower, another character on your team can gain a power. There are no range requirements, you don’t have to do damage or succeed at anything, it just happens automatically, and that reliability makes this leadership very powerful. There are enough plays this enables to fill a whole article, so just pay attention to your activation orders and remember that you can also trigger this ability on enemy turns with reactive powers and you’ll do well.

Professor X
Credit: Raf Cordero


With the Uncanny X-Men leadership, he has no other affiliations. I don’t see him being much of a splash character. If you want a 4-threat mystic attacker with a huge upside, Dr. Voodoo is still the gold standard and will do more for your team overall.

Tactics Cards

Cerebro is a card that isn’t Professor X-specific, but it needs a powerful affiliated psychic to play, requiring a character to have both a mystic attack and a mystic defense of 5 or better. These characters (currently Emma Frost, Jean Grey, and Professor X) can play Cerebro to increase the range of attacks by 1, add one die to mystic attack and defense rolls against mystic attacks, and allow all attacks to ignore both line of sight and stealth. This is a card to play if you really want to reach out and touch someone, but it’s incredibly narrow. I’d only play it if I was going all in on Professor X’s Mental Suggestion attacks, as there just aren’t great targets for it aside from maybe Jean’s Psionic Bolt attack.

Mind Wipe is a reactive card that allows Professor X to spend three power to play it whenever any of your characters are Dazed or KO’d. He then gets to make an immediate mystic attack, ignoring range and line of sight (but NOT stealth for some reason) against the enemy who took out your team member. The attack starts at Strength 3, but you get to add a die to your roll for each damage the enemy character did to your character. If you do damage to the target, they get an Activated token, and if they were active, their turn immediately ends. 

That’s a lot of text for a pretty simple concept: If a bad guy does something to your team, you do something back. This is a weird card, and my initial instinct is to dislike it. It costs three power, you don’t really control when you use it or who you use it against, and your dice can just whiff, making you spend all those resources for nothing. BUT, but, that one time in a million that your character gets Dazed by Sinister Traps going off and you get to take someone else out in return it’s going to feel really good.

The Verdict

Professor X is a character you’re going to take for his leadership so you can focus on keeping him out of harm’s way and moving power around. He’s great at sitting on a back point and staying in Range 4 of the heavy hitters on his team so he can keep them doing their best. A key to playing Professor X will be remembering that his Telepathic Lock doesn’t work on throws, so you either need to have a Brace for Impact ready to go or keep him away from big terrain, or he’ll just get smashed.

Who is Shadow King?

The Shadow King is an ancient semi-demonic entity from the Astral Plane who currently lives on Earth by possessing the body of Amahl Farouk, an Egyptian mutant born sometime in the 1800’s. He is a powerful psychic, second only to Professor X, and is pivotal to the origins of both Xavier and the weather-controlling mutant Storm.

Character Card: 

Shadow King Character Card – courtesy of Atomic Mass Games

Shadow King’s basic stats start with a 3/4/5 spread across his physical, energy and mental defenses. This isn’t terrible, but he could really stand to have a 4 physical defense as a 5 threat character. He has 6 health on both sides, which is again a bit low for a 5 threat, and he moves short. These stats put him in a bit of a hole to climb out of, but we’ll see how his superpowers and attacks help.

Mental Shackle is Shadow King’s first attack, and it’s pretty good. A Range 3, Strength 6 mystic attack that gives out the Root condition on a wild and advances the target short if it deals damage. None of these qualities are great on their own, but put them all together and you get a good attack, albeit with a shorter range than you’d like.

Speaking of having a shorter range than you’d like, Astral Disintegration is a Range 2, Strength 5 attack that costs a whopping four power. For that power, you get to add dice to your attack equal to the amount of power your target has, and they can’t reroll or modify dice. This is a tricky attack to use. Ideally you’d want to use it on a target that was just dazed and is sitting on a bunch of power, but they’ll have to be pretty close to Shadow King to pull that off without him having to at least take a move action. 

Astral Fiend is Shadow King’s superpower that is meant to fix the range issues on his attacks. For the cost of an action and three power, you can place a token within Range 3 of Shadow King. You can then measure the range of Shadow King’s attacks and superpowers from that token. The token then goes away at the beginning on the cleanup face. On the face of it, this sounds good, you get a token that can sit in the middle of the board and keep Shadow King relatively safe while letting him extend his threat range pretty significantly. The problem is with the cost. You’re spending three power to use this, making it really unlikely that you’re going to have the power to use Astral Disintegration or Nightmare Visions afterward. Is paying three power to avoid moving to take a Mental Shackle shot worth it? I have a hard time thinking so.

Immortal Essence lets you spend three power to heal three damage off Shadow King. Good ability, and helps him deal with a low starting health value, but he’s power starved enough that it will be a really hard choice to decide if you want to spend that power on a heal or one of his damaging powers.

Nightmare Visions is a control ability that discourages enemy characters from moving near Shadow King (or his Astral Fiend token). When an enemy character ends an advance within Range 3 of Shadow King, he can pay three power to roll three dice. For each crit and wild result in that roll, the enemy suffers one damage and if they took any damage, they can be advanced short. Doing the dice math, you’ll average one result on this roll, and I can only imagine using this power if the short advance is really, really important.

Omega Level Multi-Versal Entity lets Shadow King gain an additional power each power phase. This still isn’t enough to turn any of his kit on turn one without outside help, but every little bit helps when all of a character’s powers are as expensive as his are. 

Shadow King
Credit: Raf Cordero


Brotherhood of Evil Mutants only. Shadow King will likely see the most play in-affiliation under Mystique’s leadership. The threat math works out better than it does with Magneto, and he’s got a repeatable mini-deception to lean even further into that style of Brotherhood play and keep pulling enemy characters into the rest of your team while also doing a good amount of damage..

Tactics Cards

Astral Plane is Shadow King’s bespoke tactics card, and it’s a slightly complex one. Shadow King can pay 1 power to play the card during the power phase. This lets you create an “Astral Incursion” token that can sit on any secure objective token. You don’t have to worry about range, you can pick any secure on the table. While the token is on the secure objective, enemy characters suffer 1 damage for ending an activation within Range 1 of it, and 1 damage for interacting with the secure objective itself. It’s hard to say that this card will entirely stop someone from trying to take a secure, but it’s definitely a deterrent. I would combine it with Mystique’s leadership to try to keep the objective held with her ability longer.

The Verdict

Shadow King is an interesting character. Root is an ability you don’t see very often, and he’s got some good powers to control enemy characters on the board, moving them off of points and into the waiting arms of your team. Unfortunately, everything he wants to do except his builder costs a ton of power, an action, or both, making it really hard for him to actually use those powers. I just don’t think he does enough for your team as a 5 threat. Someone who costs that much really needs to anchor your team, and even in a Brotherhood team I can’t see much reason to take him over, say, a Pyro and Toad combo unless you just really love the character.

Picked up this box and need to get them on the table? — check out our How to Paint Everything: Professor X and Shadow King feature to learn how to get your heroes into battle quickly.

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