Marvel Crisis Protocol tournament report: Not Quite Halloween Heist 16Oct2021

It’s been a long time since I was at any kind of wargaming tournament, but this weekend Gareth and I had the opportunity to join in a Marvel Crisis Protocol event put on by my good friend Allan at Common Ground Games in Stirling. The scene for this game, which is currently my favourite, is still growing locally but we got 10 players joining in which is more than enough for a fun time.

My roster is a combined Black Order and Web Warriors option. The idea is that I can switch between primarily control options with the Web Warriors or straight-up brawling with the Black Order as dictated by the crises chosen. I have competent (if not actually good) options at all threat levels from 14 to 20 but my preference is going to be either to force Gamma Waves at 15 and just beat people up with Thanos et al, or go wider at 18 threat under the leadership of Miles Morales Spider-Man (just Spider-Man from here on in for my teams as Peter Parker doesn’t feature at the moment).

[Characters]
– Black Cat: 3
– Corvus Glaive: 4
– Ghost-Spider: 3
– Infinity Gem: Mind: 1
– Infinity Gem: Reality: 1
– Nebula: 2
– Proxima Midnight: 3
– Spider-Man (Miles Morales): 3
– Thanos, the Mad Titan: 6
– Venom: 4

[Team Tactics]
– Advanced R&D
– All Webbed Up
– Brace for Impact
– Execute
– Field Dressing
– Lethal Protector
– Mothership
– Uneasy Allies

[Extract Crises]
– Fear Grips World as “Worthy” Terrorize Cities [D]: 18
– Skrulls Infiltrate World Leadership [C]: 17
– The Montesi Formula Found [E]: 17

[Secure Crises]
– Gamma Wave Sweeps Across Midwest [E]: 15
– Mutant Madman Turns City Center Into Lethal Amusement Park [B]: 18
– Portals Overrun City with Spider-People [D]: 18

Game 1 – Callum playing Avengers

I’m drawn against an old friend I know from playing Malifaux, Callum. Callum is new to Crisis Protocol but is always a good player of wargames and I will have to be on my toes if I’m going to beat him here. Callum wins Priority and opts to choose Secures.

Extraction: Infinity Formula Goes Missing!
Secure: The Montesi Formula Found
Threat: 17
My team: Thanos (Mind Gem), Corvus Glaive (Reality Gem) Proxima Midnight, Nebula
My cards: Advanced R&D, Brace For Impact, Execute, Field Dressing, Mothership
Callum’s team: Captain America (Sam Wilson), Black Widow, Valkyrie, Warmachine, Baron Zemo, Winter Soldier
Callum’s cards: Avengers Assemble, Field Dressing, Mission Objective, Odin’s Blessing, Patch Up

I just wanted to play a straightforward brawl here; I don’t think that my chosen team is especially good at this combination. My idea was to send Thanos up the middle to collect a book and then split either left or right depending on how well Corvus and Proxima were doing on the left, while Nebula did annoying Nebula things on the right. Callum’s team is pretty well set here to collect some books and play keep-away with their greater numbers while just picking up points from the Secures that I couldn’t stand on.

Round 1: Captain America moves to take the central book and Nebula takes a random pot shot at him; this turns out to roll like crazy and drop four points of damage onto the poor hero. Black Widow picks up a second book and the uses Avengers Assemble to try to get Captain America back to safety. I scent blood here so after Thanos picks up a book he rolls into the centre and Mind Gems Sam back into the middle. Annoyingly Proxima fails to put the last damage point on him with a thrown spear but it works out fair as Valkyrie has similar luck with a speculative move and charge into Thanos. Everyone else just saunters onto scoring positions. The score is 5 – 2 to Callum.

Round 2: Proxima dazes Sam who uses Mission Objective to hand his book to Valkyrie. A clever play, but Proxima and Corvus daze her too and Corvus one-shots Warmachine for good measure with a little help from Thanos in the form of Death’s Decree. In a bit of a misplay from me, I make the book drop into a place where the lamp post stops Corvus from picking it up and scoring the Secure on Callum’s side so it’ll just sit there for a turn; still, I guess I can’t complain about the way the dice fell there. Over on the other side, Zemo leaves Nebula on a single hit point but then she doesn’t deal with him in one go (I guess we can’t all be Corvus Glaive!) and Zemo finishes the job with a Counter Strike. Thanos Portals Proxima onto my left Extraction point since she was a bit shy of scoring it after she was done with Sam and Valkyrie though this does require the use of my Advanced R&D card. He then walks to my right Extraction point and Mind Gems Zemo out of the way. The score moves 7 – 6 in Callum’s favour.

Round 3: Proxima hurts both Warmachine and Valkyrie, then Corvus KOs both Captain America and Warmachine; only Odin’s Blessing saves Valkyrie from the same fate. Valkyrie throws everything she has at Corvus but in the end he stands on one hit point. Winter Soldier takes one look at Thanos and high-tails it across the board to stand on the back left Infinity Formula; Thanos dazes Black Widow and Nebula dazes Zemo. The score is now 12 – 8 to me, though the swathe I’m cutting through Callum’s team means that he now has Priority.

Round 4: Valkyrie doesn’t make a mess this time, dazing Corvus and throwing Proxima off her point. Proxima gets back in place with a spear throw that KOs Valkyrie and uses Field Dressing to get Corvus running again; not surprisingly considering how my dice have been this game, he easily dazes Winter Soldier. Zemo applies a lot of damage to Thanos who embarrassingly fails to finish off Black Widow before dazing from Bleed damage. Black Widow puts Stagger on Nebula but the latter only needs one action to KO Nat. The game finishes 17 – 8 to me.

That was a very fun game, but I was helped both by Callum’s inexperience and my hot dice whenever Corvus was rolling. I’m not sure that Montesi Formula is particularly good here for me and I’m thinking about swapping it out; I think that Black Order probably want Secures in the middle to force victims to brawl with them, rather than Extractions where the other team can pick up the goodies and run away. Demons Downtown is pretty appealing in terms of objective placement but I’m not sure I want my elite crew to be easier to drop with all the Incinerate there; maybe having Incinerate on the other team is overall a benefit if my game plan is primarily to stay in the game on objectives and win by KOing stuff and scoring for doing it with Thanos’s leadership.

Game 2 – Adam playing Web Warriors

This time I’m drawn with Adam, a nice chap I’ve played against in a recent Crisis Protocol open play day. I consider him to be a strong player who know how to focus on winning the game rather than being distracted by brawling so I need to make sure that I have a plan to keep on top of the scoring. Adam wins Priority and decides to choose Extraction.

Secure: Portals Overrun City With Spider-People
Extraction: Spider-Infected Invade Manhattan
Threat: 18
My team: Spider-Man, Ghost-Spider, Venom, Corvus Glaive (Reality Gem) Proxima Midnight
My cards: Advanced R&D, All Webbed Up, Brace For Impact, Execute, Lethal Protector
Adam’s team: Spider-Man (Miles Morales; leader), Ghost-Spider, Black Cat, Amazing Spider-Man, Medusa
Adam’s cards: Advanced R&D, All Webbed Up, Brace For Impact, Medpack, Spider-Tracker

I have to admit that I was a bit surprised that Adam selected 18 threat here (17 was also available) as we’d played a match-up previously with similar rosters and he noted that 18 threat was a bit awkward for him; presumably he’d tweaked things in the interim to cover that weakness. I need to go wide here as I can’t just allow the Spider-Infected to be left lying around and each hero can only carry one at a time, so that indicates Web-Warriors. I like this particular team at 18 threat and have played it several times so it has the advantage of being comfortable and familiar. The particular layout will allow me to gain priority by moving with Corvus to collect a Spider-Infected, flip a Portal (which he’s amazing at, thanks to the Reality Gem) and still be in range to chain activate Proxima. I will also note that we’re playing a Web Warriors mirror match using a Spider-related Secure and Extraction; how thematic could we get?

Round 1: To no-one’s surprise, Amazing Spider-Man races out to pick-up the center Spider-Infected and then moves back to safety. Black Cat uses Advanced R&D to give him her power so that he can also flip the nearby Portal. I use Corvus on the left to collect the nearby Spider-Infected and flip the left Portal before using the Husband and Wife combo to activate Proxima who flips the central Portal. Adam hesitates over on the right and this allows me to send in Ghost-Spider to stand next to the Portal there having picked up a Spider-Infected on the way. My Spider-Man eventually flips the Portal over there, getting placed forward by it, and I back him up with Venom; meanwhile Adam’s team seem a bit unsure and don’t commit at all on that side. The score is 5 – 4 to me, then both Corvus and Amazing Spider-Man get moved away from the action by their Spider-Infected while Adam’s Ghost-Spider is moved towards my team.

Round 2: Venom helpfully dazes Medusa, so that is one thing out of my hair. Adam’s Spider-Miles takes my home Portal so my Ghost-Spider takes his. Black Cat attacks Ghost-Spider rather too effectively for my liking which gains her the power to steal her Spider-Infected before running to the right Portal and failing to flip it thanks to Venom’s hulking presence. Adam’s Ghost-Spider and Proxima take our respective home Portals back over and the latter also pokes Spider-Miles a bit; Adam then cleverly uses the Spider-Tracker card to move Miles to safety when Corvus comes after him scenting blood. Amazing Spider-Man decides that scoring points is more useful that punching a few of my heroes and heads out on his own to the left and flips my Portal over. The score evens up nicely at 9 – 9; Corvus gets pushed around again by his Spider-Infected.

Round 3: Venom continues his good run by KOing Medusa even after she uses Brace For Impact to avoid an ambulance being thown at her; it doesn’t help me with points but it’s a huge relief not to have her messing up all my plans by pushing my heroes out of position. Adam’s Ghost-Spider dazes mine and uses Medpack on Black Cat and pushes my Spider Man back. He gets revenge by dazing Black Cat anyway, picking up her Spider-Infected, then hitting Ghost-Spider with Venom Blast to make her drop her own Spider-Infected. It doesn’t lie there for long as Adam’s Spider-Miles rushes over to pick it up before Corvus comes over and dazes him to drop it again. Amazing Spider Man puts some damage onto Proxima but doesn’t have enough power to web swing to my Portal and also flip it. Proxima walks to the Spider-Infected that’s just lying on the ground, uses her spear throw to daze Ghost-Spider and place near the newly uncontested Portal on Adam’s side of the board and flips it to me. The game ends at 16 – 10 to me.

Wow, what a great game. The sheer mobility of both teams just meant that none of the Secures were ever safe from a cheeky switch and any Spider-Infected on the ground would be snapped up in the next activation. I had to be very careful with Venom and Medusa as they both counter each other very effectively; here I was able to use Corvus and Proxima to guarantee turn 2 priority to make sure that Venom got the drop on Medusa and I was lucky enough that I got to put her down both times.

Game 3 – Grant playing Avengers

For my final game I’m drawn against Grant, a new face to me. I really like the way that these tournaments match me up with new and old friends and I hope to get many more games with Grant. He’s also on two wins here so clearly no pushover. This time I win priority and choose secures; I was hoping to force a 15 threat Gamma Portals but it gets discarded.

Secure: Mutant Madman Turns City Centre Into Lethal Amusement Park
Extraction: Struggle For The Cube Continues
Threat: 18
My team: Spider-Man, Ghost-Spider, Venom, Corvus Glaive (Reality Gem) Proxima Midnight
My cards: Advanced R&D, All Webbed Up, Brace For Impact, Execute, Lethal Protector
Grant’s team: Captain America (Steve Rogers), Deadpool, Baron Zemo, Hawkeye, Amazing Spider-Man
Grant’s cards: Avengers Assemble, Brace For Impact, Disarm, Escort To Safety, Eyes On The Prize

I picked 18 threat here pretty much purely to play this team again as I felt happy that it could do what I needed here; pick up a bunch of Cubes and then run around with the fast elements and pick off unattended Secures. I made a mistake during set-up by putting down Venom early which let Grant counter-deploy Hawkeye.

Round 1: Proxima takes the centre Cube, then Deadpool and Corvus take the ones nearest them; the latter also switches the right trap to me. I don’t need to chain activate this pair this time as I will already have Priority going into round 2. Zemo fails to roll any successes on his right trap so I zoom Ghost-Spider over there and take it myself. Spider-Man also fails to take my left Secure and so strolls forward, sadly I misplay here and put him too far forward so Hawkeye shoots him; no damage but does cause Shock which (spoiler alert!) will be annoyingly relevant for much of the game. Venom and Captain America take the Cubes on the left and finally Amazing Spider-Man punches Ghost-Spider a bit and fails to switch the trap over to me. The score is 5 – 3 in my favour and Amazing Spider-Man takes a bit of damage from the nearby trap.

Round 2: Ghost-Spider plays All Webbed Up to slow Amazing Spider-Man, Deadpool and Zemo, but it’s at this point that my dice just start to say ‘no’ as two attacks into Deadpool get me a single point of damage. Captain America and Hawkeye get Venom down to a single wound left; return attacks from him and Spider-Man achieve nothing except throwing Captain America backwards into the shipping container with Klyntar Rage. Corvus and Proxima both go into Zemo but can’t drop him; Zemo’s return attacks daze Corvus and he picks up the Cube while Deadpool dazes Ghost-Spider. Amazing Spider-Man plays Eyes On The Prize to take the Secure back, then dazes Proxima and takes the Secure on my side of the board too. The score moves to 10 – 7 in Grant’s favour.

Round 3: In the power phase, the Cube dazes Venom which is awkward timing. Well, at least I have Priority and Corvus and Proxima are all revved up. It doesn’t help much; Proxima does daze Deadpool (taking his cube) and flip the back right trap but Corvus just can’t take the needed two wounds off Amazing Spider-Man. Zemo KOs Ghost-Spider, but at least Amazing Spider-Man fails to repeat the performance of last turn and largely bounces off Corvus while failing to take back that trap. Over on the right, I try a desperation play to deal with Captain America and Hawkeye; Spider-Man Web Swings over and fails to damage on one attack, then gets the wild throw on the second which of course Grant sensibly uses Brace For Impact to ignore. In fairness, Captain America was able to use his Vibranium Shield and Bodyguard to great effect here so I would have to have been very lucky to do anything substantial to either of them with Spider-Man. He does at least pick up Venom’s dropped Cube before Captain America Shield Bashes him away and Hawkeye takes some shots to little effect. The turn ends 15 – 10 to Grant and Zemo suffers a damage from the trap in that corner.

Round 4: Well, I’m up against it now as I either need to stop Grant scoring at all or somehow ourscore him by six points, both of which seem a bit improbable. Helpfully both Captain America and Baron Zemo suffer the same fate as Venom did last time, taking their last point of damage and dazing in the power phase. Corvus and Proxima do team up to finally put down Amazing Spider-Man; the latter uses Spear Throw very effectively to cover the ground needed to swap the near right trap back to me and the former ends up holding both Cubes on that side of the board. On the left, Hawkeye picks up the cube that Captain America dropped and runs for the corner, even using Avengers Assemble to get further away from Spider-Man. Venom takes the back left trap for me and then Deadpool gets stuck into Corvus Glaive. After using a huge amount of the power he’d accumulated, Deadpool couldn’t quite put down Corvus who stands on a single wound but proudly still clutching both Cube fragments and also causing Deadpool to fail to switch back that trap. Finally, Miles Web Swings and walks toward Hawkeye who has just a single remaining wound but can’t drop him. This is super tight but when we add up the points I get the win 18 – 17.

That was as close and as fun a game as I’m ever going to get. I genuinely thought that I was out of it after Corvus and Proxima’s continued failure on the right during rounds 2 and 3 combined with the ease with which Zemo, Deadpool and Amazing Spider-Man were able to deal with me on that side. In the end I was able to make more of the board positioning due to my high mobility; on Grant’s side only Amazing Spider-Man and Baron Zemo were likely to push through to the Secures on my side and they were both on the same flank. This meant that Venom and Spider-Man could leave the near left Secure and ensure that their fight with Hawkeye and Captain America was always threatening the trap on Grant’s side of the board rather than mine. Grant was a very fun opponent and I look forward to getting more games in with him.

When the final scores were counted up, I was the overall winner with three wins. I had a great time and I’m already looking forward to the next event. Many thanks to Callum, Adam and Grant for three very fun games of Crisis Protocol, and of course especially thanks to Allan for running the whole thing. I’m not sure if I’ll stick with (some variation on) this roster for the next one; there are so many heroes that I’m keen to put on the tabletop it might be interesting to switch around for a while. In the meantime, here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • Montesi Formula isn’t particularly useful for Black Order so I either need to make a plan to do that one with Web Warriors or swap it out.
  • I’ve been consistently terrible at remembering to use my Tactics Cards; I must make a concerted effort to use them in my games as it feels like a wasted resource at this point. I think I always ended up with at least two cards left over. I’m also not finding that I want to use Uneasy Allies so I might try to find something else to put in for that.
  • Web Warriors have a lot of pulls and pushes that I’m using as a second thought after attacking people with them. Perhaps I should aim to make that part of their game play be ‘plan A’ to starve the other team of power.
Categories: Battle reports, Marvel Crisis Protocol, Tournaments | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Marvel Crisis Protocol tournament report: Not Quite Halloween Heist 16Oct2021

  1. Congrats on the win. It’s always interesting to read your reports on games I have no knowledge on. It may be your style of write up but the game seems to have some similarities to Malifaux. Am I just reading things into this? Am I also guessing right that your favourite characters to take are the husband and wife team: Corvus and Proxima? (If I remembered the names right!). They seemed to be the one consistent in your ‘squads’. Is this for a particular reason? (Output, synergy, consistency, play style?) cheers

    • Thanks, I’m glad that I can make it comprehensible even to those who don’t play the game.

      You’re very astute, MCP shares a lot of what I love about Malifaux. Critically, victory points are scored by doing specific things on the tabletop which generally don’t revolve around fighting each other. Of course, fighting is still part of the game, but the difference with (eg) the times when I’ve played Warhammer is that for MCP the fighting is done on the path to victory whereas in Warhammer fighting gets the victory directly. To put it another way, I love that in a MCP my team can be getting battered but I could still win if my heroes are holding onto the magical doohickeys.

      Corvus and Proxima make the team for many reasons; I like their aggressive playstyle, their rules support what I want them to do, they’re fun characters in the comics. The (almost) unique draw is that they have the rare ability to chain-activate which allows me to have two uninterrupted character activations and also gives some options to mess with Priority. But although it’s true that I used them more than anyone else in my roster, I actually put everyone except Black Cat on the table at some point.

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