I was fortunate to be able to travel over to Common Ground Games in Stirling for another of Allan’s Marvel Crisis Protocol events. The scene is steadily growing here in Scotland, thanks in no small part to Allan’s own efforts, and along with a few travellers from the north of England we ended up with a nice neat 16 players.
At the end of my last event I had stated that I wanted to play Cabal for this event, mainly because I was trying to get Cassandra Nova to work for me. After many games against Gareth and others I just couldn’t get a satisfactory amount of work out of Cassandra Nova and I found that Cabal are just not really my cup of tea at the moment either. Luckily, I have no shortage of dollies available to play with so I went back to X-Men, partly because they’re a comic book favourite of mine and partly because there have been a few new releases for them which mixes up the possible rosters quite interestingly. I locked in Doctor Strange as an unaffiliated member as he synergises very nicely with Storm’s leadership, leaving me with two spaces. I wanted to include Mystique (quite an annoying scenario piece with some cute tech, plus she has the Deception card to keep the other team on their toes), Hulk (a much-needed brawler who I’ve used in X-Men previously) and Doctor Voodoo (the current meta hotness due to his scenario-based superpower but also rather hard to put down for an old wizard). After going back and forth on all of these, even on the train travelling to the event, I ended up keeping them all and taking Gambit out of my roster.
– Beast: 3
– Doctor Strange: 5
– Doctor Voodoo: 4
– Domino: 3
– Honey Badger: 2
– Hulk: 6
– Mystique: 3
– Rogue: 4
– Storm: 3
– X-23: 3
– Advanced R&D
– Brace for Impact
– Climbing Gear
– First Class
– Jonathan the Unstoppable
– Mission Objective
– To Me, My X-men!
– Fear Grips World as “Worthy” Terrorize Cities [D]: 18
– Struggle for the Cube Continues [F]: 17
– The Montesi Formula Found [E]: 17
– Deadly Meteors Mutate Civilians [C]: 17
– Mutant Madman Turns City Center Into Lethal Amusement Park [B]: 18
– Portals Overrun City with Spider-People [D]: 18
Game 1: Stephen playing Avengers
For the first round I get paired up with Stephen. By luck I’d actually met him on the train earlier and we had discussed some roster selection choices as he, like me, had 11 characters that he needed to pare down to 10 spaces. I won priority and picked Secures; none of his Extracts were looking terrible for me and I prefer to pick Secures so that I can leverage First Class.
Extraction: Skrulls Infiltrate World Leadership
Secure: Portals Overrun City With Spider-People!
My team: Storm, Rogue, Domino, Beast, Doctor Strange
My cards: Brace For Impact, First Class, Indomitable, Medpack, Mission Objective
Stephen’s team: Captain America (Steve Rogers), Hulk, Killmonger, Vision
Stephen’s cards: Avengers Assemble, Field Dressing, Indomitable, Medpack, Usurp The Throne
Round 1: I don’t think I’ve got what it takes to drop Hulk here so I’m going to use Doctor Strange to control him as much as possible and play the scenario with the hope of winning before Hulk kills all my team. I play First Class. Storm takes the left Portal and fails to find the Skrull, then Vision comes over and gets it on her side which is probably not a bad result for me – I don’t want it to end up on Hulk. Rogue flips the Portal on the right and Beast and Captain America take each of our ‘home’ Portals; Beast positions so that Doctor Strange can get as close as possible to Vision with the X-Men flip. Killmonger Charges Rogue and retakes the right Portal; I could try to take it back with Domino but I think I’m better trying to drop Killmonger while he’s not in Bodyguard range of Captain America so she puts a nice few wounds on the Wakandan. Doctor Strange gets a couple of nice shots into Vision, pushing him closer to my team to hopefully relieve him of the Skrull shortly. You can see in the photo that I’ve lined up Vision to get a perfect beam attack into Beast and Doctor Strange which was rather silly of me. Finally Hulk races over to the left Portal but fails to flip it and gets placed away due to rolling a skull. The score is 4 – 2 to Stephen.
Round 2: I need to keep Hulk out of my hair (easier said than done) and get the Skrull off Vision here. On the right I’m not too worried; if Killmonger gets a turn he’ll probably daze one or the other of Domino and Rogue but the other one ought to daze him in return. Vision zaps Doctor Strange but leaves him on a single wound remaining and I have to play Indomitable to stop him from being dazed by a throw into Beast. He also Medpacks himself, which Doctor Strange immediately follows suit. I use Strange’s spender into Vision (he’s too resistant to energy attacks at this point to feel likely to daze him) and get the stagger but leave him standing. I could attack him again and hope for a spiky roll but decide to push Hulk away instead and make him spend some effort coming back to me. Killmonger easily dazes Rogue and Beast can’t quite drop Vision which is going to be a bit of a problem for me as I’m expecting Captain America to come over and take hits as needed after that, which indeed he does after playing Avengers Assemble to get everyone into a much better position on the left. Storm zaps Hulk to apply Shock then drops Vision (this was surely an error from Stephen as he probably had the power to Bodyguard it onto Captain America). She X-Men flips over and picks up the Skrull – go Storm! Sadly her elation is short-lived as Hulk strolls over and smites her easily and for once I remember to play Mission Objective to hand the Skrull to Beast. Over on the right, Domino dazes Killmonger and reflips the Portal. The score is now 7 – 5 in my favour.
Round 3: I’m almost certain to give up the Skrull here so I need to deal with Killmonger and then get Rogue and Domino over to take Stephen’s home Portal and get involved in the brawl. To my huge surprise, Hulk can’t quite drop Beast after I have Doctor Strange use all his power on shielding him, plus Beast’s own re-rolls and the effect of Shock on Hulk; Doctor Strange does get dazed by a throw though. That changes my plans a bit so Beast high-tails it out of there as fast as he can. Stephen is obviously mindful of the situation over on the right so Killmonger KOs Rogue. Storm uses two powered-up beam attacks since Captain America, Hulk and Vision are neatly lined up; the first one is totally useless but I do get some nice damage out of the second. Captain America and Vision chase Beast but the former gets unlucky with a shield throw and the latter has to shake stagger. Meanwhile Domino KOs Killmonger, which is certainly a relief. The score moves to a rather fortunate 11 – 7 to me.
Round 4: Now that I have priority, my first plan is to somehow keep Beast alive. I could just keep moving him but I think that Doctor Strange can probably use a bit of control to reduce Stephen’s options. Over on the right, Domino is now free to start making a run for the open Portal on Stephen’s side. Doctor Strange dazes Captain America after he Bodyguards a shot targeting Vision and pushes Hulk away from Beast. Vision still somehow can’t finish off Beast and even with a throw into Strange he’s able to survive with Brace For Impact; however this does make it easier for Hulk to get to him. Beast keeps on his slow Skrull-laden jog away from the action. Hulk applies Field Dressing to Captain America and has enough movement to get within range to throw a building at Beast. I need four blocks from four dice on the dodge roll and, incredibly, I get it! At this point I’m apologising to Stephen for my crazy defence dice on Beast. Storm makes up for it by failing to push through the one point of damage she would need to daze Captain America again and retakes the left Portal; Captain America saunters over and takes it right back. The score moves to 15 – 9.
Round 5: I don’t actually need to do anything at all here as there is no way for Stephen to relieve me of the Skrull and both of my Portals, but we play it out anyway. Hulk finally smashes Beast into the ground like a tent peg and collects the Skrull. Doctor Strange dazes Captain America and KOs Vision, then Storm and Domino take the last two Portals. We finish up at 19 – 11 in my favour.
Well, that was a funny game with Beast’s defence dice. I think that I had enough board presence to keep ahead on the Spider Portals even if Hulk had taken the Skrull when he probably ought to have done in turn 3, though I would have needed to prioritise things a bit differently. Stephen was a great chap to play and credit to him for keeping himself in the game even when Beast was leading a charmed life. I think that he probably wasted Killmonger a bit as he was never going to get Usurp The Throne while he was on the opposite side of the board from Doctor Strange.
Game 2: Ewan playing X-Men
This is going to be an interesting mirror match. It’s good to finally be able to get in a game against Ewan as he’s travelled down from Aberdeen for all of these events at CGG but I’ve never actually faced him. Ewan wins priority and decides to take Secures. I go for the lower threat as I can see that he has Juggernaut and I want to make sure that he’s a big investment in such a wide scenario. I swap in Mystique as I want to be able to threaten a Deception to either pull a Hammer-holding character in for the kill early while unsupported or drag someone off a scoring point into no-man’s-land.
Extraction: Fear Grips World As ‘Worthy’ Terrorize Cities
Secure: Super-Powered Scoundrels Form Sinister Syndicate
My team: Storm, Rogue, Domino, Mystique, Doctor Strange
My cards: Brace For Impact, Deception, First Class, Indomitable, Medpack
Ewan’s team: Storm, Juggernaut, Gambit, Wolverine, X-23
Ewan’s cards: Bitter Rivals, Do You Know Who I Am?, Patch-Up, Wolverines, X-Ceptional Healing
Round 1: I want Doctor Strange to end up on the central point to push people around, then I think that we’ll probably end up with two Hammers each unless Ewan is a bit careless on Mystique’s side of the board. I play First Class. Both of our Storms collect a Hammer on the sides and Juggernaut and Rogue take the ones closest to our deployment zones. The combat is pretty uninspired, with Gambit failing to hurt Storm and Doctor Strange similarly failing against Juggernaut. The score is a neat 4 – 4.
Round 2: I need to try to break the deadlock. I’m not very likely to take Juggernaut’s Hammer off him so I’ll have to control him if possible and go for Storm; that has the advantage of possibly dislodging her from that point. Storm puts Shock on Domino but Mystique rolls very nicely to daze Gambit so I put her on the back left point to be annoying with Martial Artist. Juggernaut crashes over and drops Storm to a single hit point. She has to go and use Medpack before I lose her and she zaps Wolverine a couple of times in the (forlorn) hope of applying Shock. Doctor Strange leaves X-23 on a single hit point too and forces her to play X-Ceptional Healing and Rogue dazes her. The score goes to 8 – 6 in my favour.
Round 3: The plan remains the same here; control Juggernaut and get Storm’s Hammer. Ideally I’ll also KO Gambit but I think that I’m pretty likely to lose my Storm too. X-23 gets stuck into Storm, nearly dazing her, then plays the Wolverines card. Since I’m about to lose her, my Storm puts Shock on Juggernaut, meanwhile Ewan’s Storm does nothing useful to Domino. Mystique leaves Gambit on a single wound so he zaps her back a bit before Doctor Strange KOs him. Wolverine dazes my Storm and collects her Hammer and Rogue slaps Juggernaut a bit. The big chap dazes Mystique with a cheeky Power Slide and pushes Doctor Strange off the central point. Domino dazes Ewan’s Storm and picks up her Hammer. The score is tied again at 11 – 11.
Round 4: We’re tied again on the Hammers so I need to up my game as far as the Secures go here. Having KOed Gambit will work in my favour as it means that Ewan is even more thinly spread for board presence. Juggernaut starts us off by hurting Domino who rolls some hilariously bad attacks into Storm (no hits for Rapid Fire, not even any skulls to turn into criticals). The run of weird dice continues as Storm fails to get her back and Mystique does nothing to Wolverine, also not rolling a single hit. Wolverine makes short work of my Storm and Doctor Strange can’t quite finish off the other Storm, though he does move back to the central point. X-23 and Rogue both move to sit on Secures. The game ends at 16 – 14 in my favour.
That was a fun game, and it shows the interesting breadth of Crisis Protocol as despite this being a mirror match we only had one character and no cards the same. I think that I possibly got a bit lucky in dazing Gambit so easily in round two and it set me up to have a slight numerical advantage which turned out to be critical in the end. On the other the dice also got a bit weird in round four and I could perhaps have hoped to get a bit of an attritional advantage then if the game wasn’t about to end anyway. Juggernaut is pretty spooky under Storm’s leadership; he’s already a pain to deal with so the extra cover is a huge problem, and he loves the positioning too. Ewan played him very well and I don’t think that I had a great answer to him.
Game 3: Allan playing Brotherhood of Mutants
Allan was able to play in his own event in order to avoid needing a bye, and it was great to get to play him again. We actually got to play a few games a couple of weeks ago so I don’t think that either of us had any big surprises for each other here. I win priority and choose Extractions as I don’t really mind his Secures too much but I don’t fancy playing Alien Ship at 20 threat. I put Doctor Voodoo in as I figure that this is going to be a brawl in the middle and he is quite tough, plus I only just painted him and want to get him on the table. Allan’s team is a bit of a surprise, I was expecting to see Juggernaut instead of Toad and Magik.
Extraction: Struggle for the Cube Continues
Secure: Intrusions Open Across City as Seals Collapse
My team: Storm, Rogue, Domino, Doctor Strange, Doctor Voodoo
My cards: Brace For Impact, Climbing Gear, First Class, Indomitable, Medpack
Allan’s team: Magneto, Magik, Doctor Voodoo, Toad, Rogue
Allan’s cards: Asteroid M, Indomitable, Journey Through Limbo, Mind If I Cut In?, Patch Up
Round 1: Since we’re playing Cubes and I have priority it would feel rude not to take the central one straight away so my plan is just to be on 3 vs 2 of the Cubes and not give up anything silly on the Secures. I play First Class. Doctor Voodoo get to be the lucky bait and moves into the centre to collect the first Cube; there is actually a nice play with X-Men where a medium base medium move character can get to the centreline for an Extract and then away again but since I need to be there anyway for the Portal I don’t need to use it. Toad comes right over to my side of the board for a very cheeky play to take the near left Cube. Doctor Strange uses the X-Men flip to get in sight of him but leaves the little chap alive and he is able to Slippery away off the second attack. Magik comes over on the right, collecting a Cube en route. Domino walks up and dazes Toad which lets me collect ‘my’ Cube fragment from that side; I admire the boldness of Allan’s play there and I think that it has a pretty reasonable chance of working out for him. Magneto walks twice and throws the first of many bits of terrain at Doctor Strange and everyone else just gets settled in on the centreline for a brawl. The score is 4 – 2 to me.
Round 2: I want to KO Toad and get him out of my hair and also keep at least one of the side Portals free; the centre is going to be a huge scrum whatever we both do. Rogue gets us started by hitting Toad and Doctor Voodoo, the latter uses Indomitable to avoid the throw into the former. Allan has his Rogue play Mind If I Cut In? then Doctor Voodoo starts chewing through my Rogue’s wounds. My own Doctor Voodoo KOs Toad by throwing Rogue at him and she then uses Patch Up on his Doctor Voodoo. Doctor Strange pushes Rogue away from the action then Magneto dazes my Doctor Voodoo, collects his Cube and plays Asteroid M to bring Rogue back into the fray. Storm puts Shock on Magik and throws her off the point, and of course Magik comes right back over and uses Journey Through Limbo to send Storm away instead. Back in the centre Domino dazes Rogue and neatly leaves Magneto on a single hit point. The score moves to 8 – 6 to me.
Round 3: I need to get some attrition work done here and just keep myself in the game. We start off with Magento’s Cube dazing him which is a rather nice way to get going. Allan’s Rogue dazes Domino and my Rogue hurts Doctor Voodoo and throws him into Allan’s Rogue before his Doctor Voodoo dazes my Rogue. Hmm, quite confusing! Storm dazes Magik but can’t get back onto the Portal. My Doctor Voodoo KOs Allan’s Rogue (that ought to make things a bit simpler), picks up a pair of Cubes and strolls to the left Portal. Finally Doctor Strange dazes Allan’s Doctor Voodoo and takes his Cube. The score moves now to 15 – 6.
Round 4: Allan’s going to have his work cut out here as I only need one more point and he can’t get over the line in one turn even if he scores all the points. My best bet is going to be holding onto the left Portal so I want to keep that clear and also get Storm as far away from Magik as possible to keep her Cube in play. Magneto is full of power and angry, he drops Doctor Strange and almost polishes off Domino. Storm runs away from Magik but the scary lady catches her anyway and dazes her to take her Cube. Domino guns down Doctor Voodoo and the game finishes at 19 – 9 in my favour.
As ever, Allan was a fun opponent and I really enjoyed this game. In a sense things hinged a bit on the results of his Toad play right at the start – if I couldn’t have dazed Toad then he would be a thorn in my side for much longer, would have scored an extra point for him in round one etc, and more importantly me KOing him in turn two meant that I could really start to take advantage of the attrition in the centre using Doctor Strange’s defensive and healing superpowers to extend my team’s longevity.
Game 4: Jay playing Defenders
It’s the final game and I’m up against Jay, who has spent the day very modestly talking down his skills but is clearly a strong player. Jay wins priority and chooses Secures, and I go for a lower threat value in the hope that being locked into an expensive leader will be slightly more annoying for him. Actually that doesn’t make any difference at all as I also pick Doctor Strange, partly on the basis that he’s been doing well for me all day and partly thinking that his pushes and healing will be quite handy here. I did consider taking Hulk instead (and swapping around some of the X-Men, of course) and it would be interesting to try that match-up and see how it played out.
Extraction: Struggle for the Cube Continues
Secure: Gamma Wave Sweeps Across Midwest
My team: Storm, Rogue, Domino, Doctor Strange
My cards: Brace For Impact, Climbing Gear, First Class, Indomitable, Medpack
Jay’s team: Doctor Strange, Luke Cage, Moon Knight, Vision
Jay’s cards: Brace For Impact, Field Dressing, Follow Me, Heroes For Hire, Seven Suns of Cinnibus
Round 1: If I get the chance I’ll send Rogue up the middle for the Cube as she’s the hardest to kill but as Jay has priority I’m expecting him to pick it up with Luke Cage (also not trivial to kill!) and that I’ll end up with two Cube fragments on my side of the board. Storm will sit on my ‘home’ point and zap stuff, Rogue and Doctor Strange will be on the middle point and Domino can just float between them gunfighting… at least this is the plan. I play First Class for a little bit of power efficiency. Jay leads off by sending Moon Knight to take his right Cube and then returning to his shelter so Rogue goes up the middle to take the central Cube. Doctor Strange collects the back left Cube and pushes her off the point, applying Hex of course. I put my own Doctor Strange in the mix and push his away. Storm and Domino collect the Cubes on my side of the board and head for the shelters. I didn’t realise it at the time, but my poor positioning in the centre with Doctor Strange and Domino practically holding hands is going to cause me big problems with Jay’s beam attacks next turn; in retrospect this is even more frustrating since I made the same mistake against Stephen’s Vision in game 1. The score is 4 – 3 to me.
Round 2: We’ve picked up all the Cubes so it’s just going to be a straight up brawl from here on in. Doctor Strange uses Seven Suns of Cinnibus and zaps my Doctor Strange and Domino. I possibly should have gone with Strange here so I could heal him but instead used Rogue who hits Vision then Luke Cage Bodyguards her spender and gets thrown. Vision goes to work with his beam, dazing both Doctor Strange and Domino and forcing me to use Indomitable in the process; Storm does at least daze him in return. Cage picks up the fallen Cube fragments and Moon Knight rolls like a monster to drop Rogue to one wound. The score goes to 9 – 7 to Jay.
Round 3: I need to get some good work done here, especially as Rogue gets dazed in the power phase by her Cube fragment. I decide to go with Domino first on the basis that Doctor Strange is not likely to die in one go and therefore might be able to use his healing power. She does manage to daze Cage but leaves Vision on one wound and he doesn’t make the same mistake on Strange, KOing him in a single turn and throwing Domino away for good measure. Storm throws Vision to KO him at least and get him out of the way. Moon Knight comes up and dazes Storm and Strange stands on my shelter. Jay takes the game 17 – 9.
That was certainly a lesson! Jay was a tremendous fun opponent and I’m hopeful that I can get many more games in with him, though clearly I need to up my game considerably. Jay very charitably put this down to dice but I think I gave the chance for the dice to be against me; simply positioning Strange and Domino further apart in turn one would have made his life considerably harder as it allowed Vision and his Doctor Strange to beam through them very effectively. I also didn’t play my cards very well; I missed a couple of good opportunities to use Climbing Gear to get around the board and Medpack was never used simply because my heroes went from healthy to zero in a single activation. It also occurred to me on the train home that I could actually have played a fairly amusing Defenders list myself (using Doctor Strange, Hulk and either Rogue or Doctor Voodoo) but I’m relying on Hulk holding a lot of Cube fragments there and I suspect that he would spend a lot of time being pushed around by Jay’s Doctor Strange.
In the end I still come in second, top of the 3 – 1 players on Strength of Schedule which I’m very happy with. More importantly I had a fantastic day out gaming with fun and interesting matches. Many thanks to Stephen, Ewan, Allan and Jay for four fun games of Crisis Protocol, and especially to Allan for also doing all the work to organise everything. I’ll be back for the next event in a month or so, and I’m already thinking about what to bring!