Why I’m Playing Marvel: Crisis Protocol and You Should Too

Marvel: Crisis Protocol. Atomic Mass Games, 2019. Will Pagani & Will Shick, designers.

Our Meeple Overlords welcomes guest meeple Eric back to the site to discuss Marvel: Crisis Protocol. the skirmish minis game by Atomic Mass Games. Take it away, Eric!

I’ve been playing miniatures games for over 20 years now, and Marvel: Crisis Protocol is easily the best one I’ve ever played.  There.  That was easy.  Oh? I’m not done?  Fine. MCP is an objective-based, squad level minis game in which you assemble a team of Marvel Comics heroes and villains to battle over a set of objectives.

Why do I love this game so much?  Well, to begin with, I’m a bit of a comics nerd, and the ability to field a team-up of Captain America, Storm, MODOK, and She-Hulk hits me in all the right spots.  But more importantly, the miniatures are some of the most dynamic and detailed I’ve ever seen, and the gameplay is innovative, fast, strategic, and flavorful. 

The strategy begins when you first create your roster.  You’ll bring a list of 10 characters, 10 single-use Tactics cards, and 3 each of the two different types of crisis: Secure and Extract.  You and your opponent roll-off for “priority”, both to determine who goes first in the first round, and who gets their choice of crisis type.  They randomly select one of their crises of the chosen type, and the other player (who gets to choose board edges) randomly selects one of their crises of the other type.  Each of the two chosen crises has a threat value printed on it, ranging (currently) from 14-20, and the priority player chooses which of the two threat values this scenario will be.  Then, each player selects that many threat worth of models from the 10 on their roster, as well as 5 of their 10 Tactics cards, to use during the game.  If more than half of the models you selected for your squad share an affiliation, such as Avengers, Spider-Foes, Asgard, or X-Men, you can use tactics cards and leaders for that affiliation. 

Crises are the only way to score victory points – in general, Secure crises require that your characters contesting an objective outnumber an opponent’s to score its points, and Extract crises require your characters to pick up objective tokens and keep them to score.  On your turn in a round, you’ll choose one of your characters and activate them, allowing them to take two actions.  Most commonly, these are some combination of moving and attacking.  Movement takes place along one of 3 different-sized tools.  Attacks each have a range, a strength, a type, and a power cost – most attacks either generate power for you to use, or cost, it.  Attack types are physical, energy, or mystic, and cause you to roll against the target’s matching defense.

One of the things I really like about this game is that, with few exceptions, you can’t lose a character in one round.  If a healthy character takes damage equal to their stamina, they become “dazed”, and are essentially out for the round.  At the end of the round, you remove damage and flip their character card to its Injured side. Additionally, taking damage from enemy effects causes a character to gain power, so if you daze a character, prepare for it to come back stronger than ever.  However, once an Injured character takes damage equal to its stamina, it gets KO’d and removed from the game.  Another really nice element of the game is that some characters, like Wolverine and the Green Goblin, get a tad…perturbed…when they get injured, and the flip side of their card reflects this.

Additionally, it wouldn’t be much of a superhero game if you couldn’t throw, smash, or otherwise destroy the terrain on the table.  Characters and terrain all have size values, ranging (so far) from 1-5, with streetlights and barrels at size 1, all the way up to skyscrapers at size 5.  Many characters can throw terrain or opponents (or both) at each other, and collision damage is an everpresent threat.  Unless, of course, you’re Built to Take It…

The Core Set for Marvel: Crisis Protocol makes for a fantastic jumping-off point, with 10 heroes and villains, all of the measurement and movement tools you need, and a slew of terrain.  Be forewarned that these are not preassembled models, and putting them together will require tools, time, and patience. 

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