This has been a busy weekend of gaming! After Saturday’s excursion to Common Ground Games in Stirling, Allan kindly gave me lift down to Protech Games in Stockton so we could get another 4 rounds of Marvel Crisis Protocol in their monthly tournament. The attendees this time seemed to include a lot more travellers and fewer locals and it was clear from the people registered that there was going to be a bit of a shark tank at the top tables. In general I suppose that the people who care enough about a game to travel across the country playing it are probably better than average, but in this case there were people I’d actually heard of coming along to show us lesser mortals how it’s done.
—Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) Threat: 4
—Shadowland Daredevil (Matt Murdock) Threat: 4
Rhino (Aleksei Sytsevich) Threat: 4
Ulik (Ulik) Threat: 5
Black Cat (Felica Hardy) Threat: 3
Hood (Parker Robbins) Threat: 3
Bullseye (Benjamin Poindexter) Threat: 2
Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) Threat: 2
Toad (Mortimer Toynbee) Threat: 2
Juggernaut (Cain Marko) Threat: 5
All According To Plan
Brace for Impact
Do You Know Who I Am?
This Is A Robbery
Eyes on the Prize
Secure Crisis: (3)
Cosmic Invasion! Black Order Descends on Earth (Threat: 16)
Super-Powered Scoundrels Form Sinister Syndicate! (Threat: 20)
Riots Spark Over Extremis 3.0 (Threat: 17)
Extract Crisis: (3)
Deadly Legacy Virus Cured? (Threat: 19)
Struggle for the Cube Continues (Threat: 17)
Spider-Infected Invade Manhattan (Threat: 17)
I made no changes at all to my roster from the Saturday. Admittedly some of this was because I’d been out on the Saturday night and so didn’t want to mess about and risk bringing the wrong miniatures, but I’d been quite happy with the way the roster played anyway. I’d quite like to get Pyro in the roster somehow but I’m not sure who’d remove to fit him – maybe Black Widow as she’s tended not to make the teams but I think that she does have a place.
Game 1: James playing X-Force
As it happens I do get a round one match-up with one of the local players; I think that James and I played the last time I visited Stockton too. He wins priority and wisely chooses his own Secures; both cards are the same threat value so we’re playing at 19 threat either way. I have Black Cat in my roster for specifically this Extraction so she went in, and in fact that obliges me to play Hood as the final piece if I’m sticking my main game plan of Kingpin, Ulik and Rhino as my core.
Extraction: Deadly Legacy Virus Cured?
Secure: Intrusions Open Across City As Seals Collapse
My team: Kingpin, Black Cat, Hood, Rhino, Ulik
My cards: All According To Plan, Brace For Impact, Mission Objective, Patch Up, This Is A Robbery
James’s team: Cable, Domino, Honey Badger, Psylocke, X-23, Winter Soldier
James’s cards: Brace For Impact, Cat and Mouse, Mission Objective, Psionic Constructs, X-Ceptional Healing
Round 1: James plays Cat and Mouse on X-23 which pretty much ensures that she’s going to attack whoever I push forward on the right. On the other hand, that might also tempt James not to ‘waste’ the attack by collecting the token on the right with her so I may be able to exploit that. Domino takes the central token and Black Cat goes on the left to make Winter Soldier’s life a bit more annoying trying to work around her stealth. James does send in Psylocke on the left which gives me the chance to take the right token with Hood; now I just have to hope that X-23 can’t one-shot him. Honey Badger come in to drop Hood’s already pitiful defences and X-23 slaps him but doesn’t get the daze; I think that this is the likely outcome but dice can sometimes make a mockery of all of our plans. Meanwhile Winter Soldier and Kingpin go in the left, Ulik in the middle and Rhino on the right. Cable starts shooting Ulik but doesn’t bother to contest the centre. The score is 5 – 1 to me.
Round 2: I’m looking here at ways to get all the Legacy Virus tokens onto Black Cat but my main priority is not to get everyone dazed this turn so I can ride out the damage from James’s team for another round. I’m unlikely to out-fight X-Force here so I’m really just trading my characters’ hit points for time in which to (hopefully) score enough points to finish the game. Hood starts us out by gunning down Honey Badger who takes the hits I would much rather have gone onto X-23; X-23 herself takes only trivial damage from him. In return she dazes Hood who pays to Mission Objective the token onto Rhino. In the middle Ulik throws some terrain at Domino which draws out Brace For Impact and also saves me from having Cable throw it at me later. He also pushes Domino off the point but can’t daze her to steal that token. Psylocke does some nice damage into Kingpin who does depressingly little to Winter Soldier in return but does throw him off the point and into Psylocke. Winter Soldier leaves Black Cat on a single hit point; her reply gives Psylocke Stagger but she also has to clear her Bleed before she dazes. Cable continues to shoot Ulik. Rhino bounces off Domino and then plays This Is A Robbery to throw her away; sadly he (again) doesn’t have the power to collect the fallen token. Slightly to my surprise Domino moves over to the right Portal rather than just collecting the fallen token. The score moves to 9 – 2 to me.
Round 3: I can definitely get all the Legacy Virus tokens onto Black Cat here, I just need Rhino not to go down in one go to anyone. Otherwise I think I can afford to abandon one of the Portals which hopefully will strand one of James’s characters to score it. Black Cat moves to collect the fallen token in the middle, gets a Patch Up from Ulik and then gets as far away from all the scary X-Force folks as possible. Winter Soldier easily dazes Kingpin. Hood has a great activation, dazing Domino with the splash damage off his Empowered Dark Lightning into Honey Badger then KOing the latter with the follow-up shots which she again takes on behalf of X-23. X-23 KOs Hood and goes after Black Cat with the combination of free moves off Claw Rush and Frenzy but can’t quite bring her down. Rhino passes the final token to Black Cat with Kingpin’s leadership. Psylocke uses some of her cool movement shenanigans to get over to the Portal on the right, not bad for having Stagger and being all the way over on the left at the start of her activation; sadly the attack she made in the process was quite anaemic. Ulik leaps over to the left Portal and pushes Winter Soldier away. Cable decides to go after Rhino but can’t drop him; I think it wasn’t impossible for him to go after Black Cat but I guess James either missed it or decided that he’s seen enough. Black Cat gets KOed by the Legacy Virus Cures and we finish up at 17 – 3.
Thanks to James for another fun game of Crisis Protocol. He’s definitely getting better as he gets more experience, and this game was probably a lot closer than the scoreline suggests. If I didn’t get over the finish line I’d start to hurt badly for attrition and it’s possible that James could have overhauled me if we went the full number of rounds. I made a bit of a mistake with Kingpin in round two; throwing Winter Soldier into Psylocke didn’t really do anything useful and I’ve have been better off just throwing him as far away as possible.
Game 2: James playing S.H.I.E.L.D
I finally get a pairing I’ve been looking forward to for ages. James and I played many great games of Malifaux together back in the day and it warmed my heart to find that he’d also taken up MCP. I knew that he’d be a really strong player here, just as he had been at Malifaux. So this was going to be a very interesting test but also I expected a highly enjoyable game with an old friend. He wins the priority roll and picks his own Secures, I choose the slightly lower threat value as I think that Bullseye and Toad are probably my best bets here. That said, I think that there is probably also an argument to play at 19 threat and swap in Daredevil for Toad, but of course that would give James another two threat of cool stuff available.
Extraction: Spider-Infected Invade Manhattan
Secure: Demons Downtown! Has Our Comeuppance Come Due?
My team: Kingpin, Bullseye, Rhino, Ulik, Toad
My cards: All According To Plan, Brace For Impact, Mission Objective, Patch Up, This Is A Robbery [James pointed out that this should really have been called ‘This Is A Rhin-obbery’ and I wholeheartedly agree)
James’s team: Nick Fury Jr, Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Crimson Dynamo (proxied here with a really cool Ironheart print), Pyro
James’s cards: Battlefield Medicine, Eye In The Sky, Helios Laser Bombardment, Pyrotechnics, Sacrifice
Round 1: Iron Man starts us out by collecting the far right Spider-Infected. I decide to go for a cheeky play and send Toad right across to collect the far left Spider-Infected on the basis that if James attacks him he only needs two power (and to survive, of course) to Slippery back to relative safety. The Agents go in the middle and Fury fails to hurt Toad. Bullseye sits on my back point and fails to hurt the Agents. Winter Soldier shoots at Toad who gains enough power to Slippery back toward my lines. Ulik takes my rear left Spider-Infected and Rhino takes my right. Meanwhile Pyro decides to swap sides (presumably to deal with Rhino?) while Kingpin and Crimson Dynamo sit in the middle. The is 5 – 3 to me which is not bad, but I’ve left a really grim beam for Crimson Dynamo.
Round 2: I should just retreat now and look after my lead so I can force James to come to me, but of course I won’t be smart enough for that. Instead I decide to take the game to him. Crimson Dynamo beams through Bullseye, Kingpin and Ulik; Bullseye uses Parting Shot to break the line up so the second beam doesn’t include Ulik. Shock is applied all round though, and Kingpin is left on one wound. Kingpin gives Crimson Dynamo the Stagger condition, kills the Agents by throwing Crimson Dynamo into them and retreats to my back point. Fury opens fire on Toad but he survives on a single wound. Rhino bounces off first Iron Man and then Crimson Dynamo; the latter case was a Sacrifice from Pyro (who I really want to deal with) but I didn’t do any damage anyway. James takes advantage of my poor play by having Pyro Incinerate Rhino and relieve him of the Spider-Infected. Winter Soldier comes forward and finishes Kingpin, then Ulik jumps forward twice, dropping Winter Soldier first and then Pyro. Iron Man pushes him off the rear point and sits himself in the middle and Toad decides to join him after clearing Bleed. The latter was risky but I felt that a two point swing was probably worth it, and anyway Toad’s defence dice had kept him alive far longer than he had any right. The score is 9 – 6 to me, not a bad score but I’ve left myself in an awkward position.
Round 3: This is the All According To Plan turn. If I can get a decent attrition play off this I can possibly ride it to victory. Otherwise I need Rhino to do some good work with This Is A Robbery and just cling on as best I can. Ulik can only muster a single point of damage on Winter Soldier, though he does at least jump to the rear point again. It doesn’t help as the Agents make short work of him (collecting the Spider-Infected in the process) but unbelievably Fury can’t get the final point of damage onto an Incinerated Toad. My defence dice were crazy! Toad pushes Fury away and then books it for the corner of the board. Iron Man pushes Rhino around then unleashes a 24-dice Helios Laser Bombardment which, not surprisingly, dazes the big chap. Pyro and Winter Soldier have little to do apart from collect the many fallen Spider-Infected. The score now goes to 12 – 11 in James’s favour.
Round 4: It’s almost certain that this will be the final turn so I need to relieve James of most of his Spider-Infected somehow. I do have This Is A Robbery in hand still, but I don’t have a great deal else going for me apart from Priority. Rhino starts us out since he’s flush with power. He KOs Pyro, collects his Spider-Infected and then plays This Is A Robbery to make Iron Man drop his and send him flying. I get the positioning wrong and he’s able to walk back and collect it in a single move (I was trying to keep it also in range for Ulik to collect) and then just park himself on the rear Portal. Ulik does daze him but I need to use a throw to put the last point of damage on which means that Ulik doesn’t have the power to collect the fallen Spider-Infected; Fury needs no second invitation to take it. That’s game, but we have a bit of time so Kingpin dazes Crimson Dynamo purely out of spite. James takes the win 16 – 14.
What a fun game! James is such a lovely chap, I could play against him all day every day and be happy with it, and probably learn something clever in every game. I made several big mistakes. Firstly, Bullseye should have collected the back right Spider-Infected instead of Rhino. Firstly and most importantly that would have freed up Rhino to use his tactics card and then actually pick up any fallen token. Secondarily because Bullseye was likely to be an less appealing target as he would be further back than Rhino who has to close with the other team if he is going to do any work. I could have placed Iron Man’s token (dropped from This Is A Robbery) somewhere that would have required him to walk twice to collect it, and just attacked the Agents instead with Ulik to take their token. The biggest error was probably the strategic choice not to just drop back and cede the centre point after round 1 and force James to do the proactive plays while I held onto my tokens. Toad’s defence dice did their best to keep me in the game but James capitalised on my errors and took the deserved victory.
Game 3: David playing Asgard
I thought I might get a bit of an easier ride after a defeat but instead against paired against David who I think I’ve never met before but seems to be very highly regarded. He wins priority and picks Secures which is quite annoying for my game plan as he has a hand full of pay-to-flips that Kingpin hates. Still, this is what I have Daredevil in the roster for. I did consider sticking with basically the same plan as in game 1 (i.e. Black Cat and friends) but with Kingpin’s leadership off the table that makes the Legacy Virus stuff a bit more awkward. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I’m expecting a full beatdown list coming into me with Thor and Hulk and I don’t fancy my chances of playing keep away for long enough to matter. Instead I bring in my own big boy on the basis that Juggernaut can at least throw Hulk away with his tactics card and keep him out of my hair for a turn. This also has the advantage of bringing in another character I haven’t played today which is definitely a relevant consideration now that I’ve dropped a game.
Extraction: Deadly Legacy Virus Cured?
Secure: Mutant Madman Turns City Centre Into Lethal Amusement Park
My team: Shadowland Daredevil, Rhino, Ulik, Juggernaut
My cards: All According To Plan, Brace For Impact, Do You Know Who I Am?, Patch Up, This Is A Robbery
David’s team: Thor, Beta Ray Bill, Hulk, Winter Soldier
David’s cards: Brace For Impact, Eyes On The Prize, Mission Objective, Odin’s Blessing, Patch Up
Round 1: To no-one’s surprise, Bill plays Eyes On The Prize to collect the central token and retreat back to the left. Daredevil takes the one on the left, trusting to Stealth to keep himself safe from Winter Soldier. Winter Soldier flips the back left Trap and, in a move that foreshadowed David’s dice for the entire game, failed to drop the Ninjas. I’m a bit torn on the right – on the one hand I don’t want to just give the token to Hulk, but on the other hand if I’m holding it then This Is A Robbery isn’t going to be much use. I decide to collect it with Juggernaut, and flip the near right point in the process. Hulk flips the far right Trap and throws something at Juggernaut. Thor comes in and finishes off the Ninjas and Ulik flips the last point to me. The score is 4 – 3 to me, not the expected result here to be honest as I didn’t think that I’d get two Legacy Virus Cures with David having priority.
Round 2: Now that I have the token advantage, just need to keep even on the Traps. Hulk is unlikely to one-round Juggernaut but it’s not out of the question, and I’m not sure how best to deal with him from here. Winter Soldier fails to do any damage to Daredevil and Juggernaut returns the pillow-fisted favour on Hulk. Hulk throws Juggernaut away and flips my near right Trap then Rhino goes into him and fails to flip it back. Now that Thor is revved up he goes into Daredevil with For Asgard but Daredevil’s defence dice are hot and I’m basically going to roll 4+ successes with him every time for the whole game which helps. Daredevil dazes him in return. Bill continues David’s awful dice, failing to finish off the Ninjas and we finish up with Ulik leaping to the back left Trap, pushing Winter Soldier off it and flipping it to be mine. The score moves to 8 – 6 to me.
Round 3: I need to tidy up Hulk on the left so that I can free up Rhino to head across the board and steal Bill’s token, so I need to survive his attacks then throw him away somewhere with Do You Know Who I Am?, which is easier said than done. On the left my main priority is to finish off Thor as that will take the Asgard leadership off the table and make the rest of the game a bit more manageable. Thor comes storming into Daredevil but again my defence dice are absolutely on fire; there are various throws here which do hurt and I end up playing Brace For Impact on the last one (Ninjas being thrown into Daredevil) just to be sure he’ll survive, though I’d rather have saved it for the inevitable throwing Rhino and Juggernaut into each other. To add insult to injury, the Ninjas rolls like gods on Thor, drawing out Odin’s Blessing on the second attack and Daredevil finishes off the Asgardian leader, teleporting back to the point with the place from Demon’s Devastation. Daredevil also flips back my rear left Trap which had been Thor’s final act on that side. Hulk dazes Rhino, probably wondering why Thor was making such a meal of the little enemies on the far side of the table. Ulik leaves Bill on one wound, drawing out Brace For Impact, and flips the back left point to be mine. Winter Soldier heals Bill with Patch Up and hurts Ulik with a couple of good attacks. Juggernaut pushes Hulk off the Traps but is only able to make the roll to flip one of them back to me. I guess I can’t exactly complain about the dice. Finally Bill throws Ulik into the Ninjas (killing them again) and successfully flips both of the left Traps. The score is 11 – 10 in my favour.
Round 4: So the Hulk plan remains the same, at least if Rhino actually lives long enough for it to matter. Otherwise I need to bring down either Bill or Winter Soldier on the left and start to mop up those Traps; fortunately I do have priority after Rhino was dazed early last round. Daredevil dazes Bill but doesn’t have enough power to either flip the Trap back or pick up the token so I have to hope that Ulik lives through Winter Soldier’s activation to deal with that. He doesn’t, he is gunned down easily by Bucky. Juggernaut hurts Hulk and throws him with his tactics card. I end up throwing him toward the melee on the left, partly because that was probably the best angle for distance and partly because I wanted to be able to lock down the tokens on the right. However, I’m not sure if this was playing more into David’s hands by giving him a chance to do some good work over on the left side of the board with Hulk. Anyway, Juggernaut also manages to flip the remaining Trap on the right so at least some good came of it. Hulk double walks and Gamma Leaps over, dazes Daredevil with a throw (diceless, which is sensible after the way things have gone this game) and collects both the fallen tokens. Rhino shows off his good mobility by Stampeding over to the left and hurts Winter Soldier, flipping the back left point in the process. The score is a very tight 15 – 13 to me now.
Round 5: Hulk has hardly any wounds left after the pastings he’s received from Rhino and Juggernaut so if I can drop him with Ulik I’m pretty sure that I can see out the game. Even if not, I can probably get Juggernaut over there to have a say in things and he can be my last activation if needed. I play All According To Plan and Ulik lets rip on Hulk, dropping him in two attacks and picking up both Legacy Virus Cures. Winter Soldier drops Rhino with a rather rude double Red Fury and flips back that point. Bill and Daredevil wrestle ineffectually with each other and we finish up at 21 – 14.
David was a nice chap to play against but I’m not sure that there is a lot to learn from this game as the dice were so hopelessly one-sided. Thor in particular just couldn’t get to do anything cool; I think he made four attacks into Daredevil for a total of zero damage (plus a trivial amount of throw damage) while the return attacks one-turned him twice. Full credit to David for taking it in his stride and nearly winning anyway; I suspect that I would have been a lot more moany about it than he was. If you’re reading this David, I’m so sorry! I look forward to playing again at some point in the future and getting a richly deserved kicking.
Game 4: Joe playing X-Force
My final game is against Joe, who turns out to have just won a major TTS tournament this weekend and is clearly an extraordinary player. I finally get priority and, of course, choose my own Secures as Joe’s would all be awful for me; Joe picks the slightly higher threat value. There are probably lots of really clever teams I could have made here but I was quite tired after all this gaming so I just went with the team full of big chunky villains and figured I’d have a fun time throwing the cool cosmic terrain about the place. It became clear quickly that I wasn’t going to get much use out of All According To Plan or, as Joe put it: ‘if you need that card you’ve probably already won’.
Extraction: Fear Grips World As ‘Worthy’ Terrorise Cities
Secure: Cosmic Invasion! Black Order Descends On Earth
My team: Kingpin, Rhino, Ulik, Juggernaut
My cards: All According To Plan, Brace For Impact, Do You Know Who I Am?, Patch Up, This Is A Robbery
Joe’s team: Domino, Honey Badger, Psylocke, X-23, Ghost Spider (proxied by a very nice Nightcrawler print), Storm
Joe’s cards: Brace For Impact, Fall Back, Mission Objective, Sacrifice, X-Ceptional Healing
Round 1: Joe has massively stacked the left side, so my plan is to take the Hammer over there and hope that Kingpin can survive enough attacks that I can run away with it next turn, then just fight over the near and right Cosmic Portals. So Kingpin starts us off by going to take the left Hammer. To my even greater surprise, X-23 abandons the right side and moves to the middle to take the rear Hammer. Honey Badger goes to annoy Kingpin and then Domino hits him with a Grenade Bounce to apply Incinerate. The rest of the X-Force lay into the big man but he’s left standing on one wound after judicious use of Intense Physical Conditioning. I send Ulik to the right mainly just to keep some of Joe’s team busy over there. The score is 6 – 2 to me.
Round 2: I think that I can just see this out by doing little more than moving Kingpin back to me home Portal and handing the Hammer to Juggernaut (i.e. the approach I should have taken in game 2) and playing keep away. Kingpin throws Honey Badger into Psylocke, though in retrospect I’m not sure why I didn’t just throw Psylocke away instead. He then moves back to Juggernaut and passes him the Hammer. Domino puts Incinerate on Juggernaut and Ulik dazes Storm because at this point I still thought that Joe was playing X-Men as mentioned below. Psylocke and Honey Badger do a bit of damage to Ulik. Juggernaut walks out to hit Domino and slides back to the Portal, then uses the gained power to Patch Up Kingpin. Ghost Spider pulls Ulik off his point and bounces off Juggernaut, the score is 11 – 5 to me.
Round 3: This is basically over unless I let Juggernaut go down, which is pretty unlikely considering the board state here. Ulik KOs Storm and Domino starts shooting Juggernaut. Juggernaut goes to hit Honey Badger and Ghost Spider uses Life Saver to pull her out of reach so he just strolls back. X-23 attacks him but it’s too little, too late and everyone else just sits on various objectives. We finish up at 16 – 8 to me.
Many thanks to Joe for a fun game, but it was probably least interactive, most passive game of MCP I’ve ever played. It was also quite clear that he’d run out of steam after his heroics the previous night and three tough prior rounds. At some point in round 2 I think that he also realised that I could probably just run Juggernaut to the back right corner and pretty much score the game out if needed and the light kind of went out in his eyes so the round 3 actions were a bit half-hearted. I hope that we get to play again in the future so he can show me some very cool tricks.
Note that I misheard Joe at the start as I thought that he was playing X-Men rather than leaderless X-Force. When we had finished I asked him about this choice, expecting to hear some really novel tech handed down, but the answer was basically ‘I’m really tired after my big game last night and I wanted something where I could just roll a bunch of dice and not have too many complex decisions to make’. I’ve got to respect that kind of attitude!
When the dust settles I come in a highly respectable 4th place so I can’t argue with that. Beautifully, my 7 – 1 record over the weekend contrasts perfectly with Allan’s 1 – 7 nightmare run; I think that we even had our only reverse in the same round! Many thanks to James, James, David and Joe for four fun games of Crisis Protocol, and to Anth for running the show as usual. I’ll be back, probably in a team event in Common Ground Games next time.