Marvel Crisis Protocol – Rules Update Extravaganza

While most of us start to wind down toward year’s end and gather our thoughts on the year gone, Atomic Mass Games decided instead to drop some of the biggest changes to Marvel Crisis Protocol that have taken place all year, and leave players in a state of feverish festive excitement!

Malekith Tastes The Nerf-Mjolnir

The Tiger can handle this on his own. Picture by King_Ghidra

Like a surprise attack over the Black Bifrost, there were a couple of unexpected changes for resident meta-monster Malekith in the end of November FAQ and Errata.

Firstly, Malekith got a change to his Conqueror Of The Ten Realms Superpower, with the removal of the additional text that said “characters cannot modify their attack dice when targeting this character with attacks”.  This is a very straightforward nerf to Mal’s survivability.

Secondly, Malekith’s Ferocity Superpower, which is a Charge by any other name, was increased in cost from 2 to 3.  This means without any additional source of power, Malekith can no longer use this Turn 1.

Between these two changes Big M has taken a couple of big hits.  His ability to Alpha Strike has been reduced, and his ability to shrug hits has been lessened.  Considering he was probably the definitive MCP boogeyman, it’s no surprise that many in the community have warmly received these changes; while others seem to think these were too harsh on a 7-Threat model and make him too risky to take now.

How To Make A Drama Out Of A Crisis

Ultron points the way to victory. Picture by King_Ghidra

Then out of nowhere, AMG released a comprehensive rework of two of the most fundamental aspects of the game: The Crisis Cards that make up the game’s missions and objectives, and the Maps that they are played on.

AMG released their own commentary on their philosophy and reasons behind the changes, and let’s pick out a few key quotes from that for some context before we look at the cards themselves:

“Most updates adjust timing or wording to make the Crisis rules more streamlined and easier to reference quickly.”

“We have also made quality-of-life balance tweaks, the largest of which is the elimination of so-called “single-point extracts” […]  there will be no more Crises that feature a lone objective token, able to be smuggled off by the first player to grab it. This and all our other changes exist to encourage a higher rate of character engagement during each game.”

“[…] a single new Crisis is included with the updates to your old favorites. Paranoia Pummels Populace is a completely new Extraction Crisis to strategize around. At 16 Threat, this Crisis rewards tight-knit Squads for sticking together to face their fears.”

So the new set is now made up of 10 Extracts and 12 Secures, played across 11 different Maps, and as we have just read, we have a brand new Extract among them.

Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you.

Paranoia uses Map K, which features a tightly bunched 4 objectives in a horizontal arrangement.  With each only able to be held by one character, and both pickup and scoring mechanics that reward being near allies, this seems likely to lead to a serious bunfight in the middle of the map, with both players being incentivised to throw bodies in (and their opponents’ out).

And seemingly, taking AMG’s comments about single extracts and the gameplay they encouraged, this is more of a model of how AMG want and hope the game to be played.  Several of the new maps also seem to lean into this idea, with a number featuring objectives in close proximity in the centre of the map, including the slightly terrifying Map L, which is now used for Senators.

Six Senators walk into a bar…

Yes, you now have six senators to play with (insert topical US-based political joke).  This is one of the more dramatically altered cards; not only going from 3 extracts to 6, but also rising from 14 Threat to 19.  

In fact one of the bigger meta changes is that both our former Threat 14 cards were increased in value (SWORD is now 15), meaning the minimum Threat value any game can be played at has now risen to 15.  This is going to be a big deal for some affiliations who really didn’t want to be playing at lower Threat.

We also lost Terrigen Mists, a 20 Threat Secure.  This was a fairly complex Crisis that could also result in the action being pushed to the extremes of the board as the clouds moved; and so probably doesn’t align with AMG’s Crisis philosophy.

Though Terrigen’s removal also lost us a 20 Threat, Skrulls was raised from 17 to 20, but all in all, there are currently only two 20 threat Crises in the game now, one Secure, and one Extract.  That said, despite all of the Threat value changes and removal of the 14’s, the average Crisis Threat value of the pack has only gone up slightly from 17.3 to 17.4, meaning the typical game will not look much different in terms of what you can put on the table.

Anyone could be a Skrull – even you!

With so many changes, who are likely to be the winners and losers?  Well the cautious consensus so far seems to be that the Crises now probably favour wider rather than taller teams, and with the Malekith changes, perhaps AMG are trying to prevent the game trending toward “kill-lists”. But with so much of the action funneled into the centre now, clearly mayhem of one sort or the other is going to be the order of the day.

As we all dive into the new cards over the next few weeks we’ll soon have some real evidence of what the 2023 MCP meta is going to look like, and you can bet you will hear more about it here at Goonhammer!

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