Gareth and I took the train across to Stirling for another Marvel Crisis Protocol event at Common Ground Games. This was an especially exciting event for me as my thirteen-year-old son Scott came to join us. I was a bit nervous on his behalf as he’d only played a couple of games to get the rules down, but the community here is very welcoming to new players and furthermore there were some other brand new people coming along for the first time including another two thirteen-year-olds. We spent the train ride running through Scott’s cards to try to give him a good chance to remember his rules and tactics.
—Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) Threat: 4
Black Cat (Felica Hardy) Threat: 3
Bullseye (Benjamin Poindexter) Threat: 2
Hood (Parker Robbins) Threat: 3
Modok (George Tarleton) Threat: 5
Mysterio (Quentin Beck) Threat: 3
Ant-Man (Scott Lang) Threat: 3
Lizard (Curtis Connors) Threat: 3
—Crimson Dynamo (Dimitri Bukharin) Threat: 4
Doctor Voodoo (Jericho Drumm) Threat: 4
All According To Plan
The Grand Illusion
Monkey Brain Is Lizard Home
Marked for Death
Secure Crisis: (3)
Super-Powered Scoundrels Form Sinister Syndicate! (Threat: 20)
Riots Spark Over Extremis 3.0 (Threat: 17)
Gamma Wave Sweeps Across Midwest (Threat: 15)
Extract Crisis: (3)
Deadly Legacy Virus Cured? (Threat: 19)
Research Station Attacked! (Threat: 16)
Struggle for the Cube Continues (Threat: 17)
I had decided to go back to Criminal Syndicate for this event as I’ve always had a lot of fun with them. I took Lizard this time as he’s a perfect fit for Kingpin’s leadership being mobile, hard to kill and having a nice character throw to get people off objectives. I brought Ant-Man to synergise with the Gamma Wave crisis as his mobility allows a very cheeky play to get an early lead on the scoring when played with Kingpin. I’ve also been trying out Crimson Dynamo as he loves the tight brawls that Criminal Syndicate want to play; he has a beam attack which can hand out Shock (making it harder for me to get damaged in return) and can use his Disruption Field to really stymie incoming attacks. Not only that but he’s quite tough to damage with his good defences and armour; he has been a great splash character.
Game 1: Kai playing X-Force
For the first game I got paired up with Kai. Kai is new to MCP but I’ve seen them around before playing Warmachine; I was looking forward to finally getting to play together. I knew that this was going to be a good one when I put down Crimson Dynamo and Kai shared some cool fluff about the character from his comic appearances. Kai won priority and sensibly picked his Secures but I drew Research Station which is as good as a Secure for me and so I knew that I could draw this into a central brawl.
Extraction: Research Station Attacked!
Secure: Riots Spark Over Extremis 2.0
My team: Kingpin, Bullseye, Hood, Mysterio, Crimson Dynamo
My cards: All According To Plan, Hood’s Gang, Indomitable, Patch Up, The Grand Illusion
Kai’s team: Cable, Colossus, Wolverine, X-23
Kai’s cards: Dirty Work, Fastball Special, Pretty Sneaky Sis, Wolverines, X-Ceptional Healing
Round 1: I’ve got a pretty simple plan here – march down the middle escorting the Researcher to the far extraction point and not die in the process. I’m hoping that X-23 will be esnt off to deal with one of the side objectives to keep her out of my hair while I control the other three off the scoring points in the middle. We end up having the most sedate round 1 ever, in that everyone walks to various objectives and no-one attacks. I was a little surprised to see Kai put Wolverine on duty sitting on the right flank objective; 4 threat is a lot to dedicate to a single point per turn when your attacks are short ranged enough that you can’t contribute to the main business. The score is 4 – 2 to me.
Round 2: Cable opens fire on Crimson Dynamo and Incinerates him. Hood plays Hood’s Gang but fails to do even a single point of damage to Colossus; he didn’t even roll any hits to trigger Rapid Fire. X-23 also tears into Crimson Dynamo but can’t bring him down so Hood pays for Patch Up. Kingpin pushes Colossus away from the fray and throws X-23 to make sure that the Researcher is mine. Colossus tickles Crimson Dynamo before Mysterio moves him away. Wolverine and Bullseye twiddle their thumbs out on the edges and Crimson Dynamo beams some of Kai’s team to apply Shock but not a lot else. The score goes to 9 – 3 in my favour.
Round 3: Cable plays Dirty Work on Crimson Dynamo but doesn’t manage to get him. In return he beams through most of the X-Force team, dazing Cable and leaving Colossus on a single wound. X-23 claws Crimson Dynamo also down to one wound before Bullseye does what he does best, plinking Colossus’s final wound to daze him. The rest of my team push X-23 around a bit but can’t daze her, however it doesn’t actually matter as I get over the line at 16 – 4.
Kai was a lovely opponent but unfortunately this ended up being a bit of a mismatch in terms of how much experience we had in the game. Hopefully they’ve learned well and this will give some food for thought as to how to approach roster building and team building. For example, Kai could have taken Honey Badger and set the Jonathan The Unstoppable token on that objective on the right rather than paying to have Wolverine twiddle his thumbs on it. I look forward to another game when Kai has played a few more matches and has a better feel for the game.
Game 2: Liam playing Cabal
It was inevitable that I’d get matched up with Liam as we’d joked about this before the event. Liam is surely the strongest player in our country and I would have to be on top of my game to stand a chance. He won priority and picked Secures; I went for the lower threat option to limit Liam’s choices if he wanted to lead with Malekith. I think that I have decent game on these crises as Kingpin’s leadership benefits me well on both Extraction and Secure, plus having Black Cat affiliated gives me some fun options to steal the Syringes.
Extraction: Deadly Legacy Virus Cured?
Secure: Mayor Fisk Vows to Find Missing Witnesses
My team: Kingpin, Black Cat, Bullseye, Hood, Crimson Dynamo
My cards: All According To Plan, Hood’s Gang, Indomitable, Mission Objective, Patch Up
Liam’s team: Malekith, Baron Zemo, Mystique, Black Cat
Liam’s cards: Brace For Impact, Dark Reign, Deception, Follow Me, The Black Bifrost
Round 1: I want to try to keep two of the Syringes and at least one of the Witness each turn to try to rack up a points lead here against Liam as I’m not well suited to out brawl him. I decide to commit Kingpin over on the right knowing that if Liam focuses on the left then I’ll be playing down four points. I think that this is probably worth it for 3 points a turn (if he can hold a Syringe too). Liam passes to start with so Bullseye collects the Syringe on the left. Mystique pulls him in with Deception and guns him down to the box, collecting the Syringe; Zemo moves from the leadership. Hood takes the central Syringe. Malekith comes in and hurts him so Hood transforms to try to stay in the game a bit longer. Zemo, having got the power from Malekith’s leadership in Mystique’s turn, is able to Charge Hood and drop him. Everyone else moves onto the Witnesses; the score is 3 – 2 to me.
Round 2: The attrition is already going very much the wrong way for me here. My plan with Kingpin is OK but I need to find a way to score over on the left which might be easier said that done, especially since two of my characters are already on their injured side. I need to control Malekith somehow and then either daze or displace enough of Liam’s team that I can score the Witness on the left. Mystique hurts Bullseye but can’t finish him this time.. Hood puts a very disappointing Empowered Dark Lightning into Zemo and then plays Hood’s Gang before Malekith KOs him. Mystique pays for Dark Reign on Crimson Dynamo. Bullseye dazes Zemo after very narrowly surviving a counterstrike before Black Cat KOs him. My Black Cat puts Stagger on Malekith with her Troublemaker attack, gets the Elusive trigger to move to Liam’s Black Cat and then improbably one-shots her. That was extraordinarily fortunate for me and allows her to collect the dropped Syringe and also means the Crimson Dynamo has uncontested control over the Witness on the left. We go to 9 – 3 in my favour.
Round 3: If I can keep Black Cat alive then she can basically win the game for me in one go. Otherwise I’ll need to work on attrition and hope to defend my lead while racking up points on the right with Kingpin. Malekith charges into Black Cat and doesn’t finish her off; she plays Indomitable to avoid taking damage from the throw. Then my hopes are dashed as he plays Follow Me into Mystique who makes no mistake, dazing Black Cat with the exact number of remaining wounds. Crimson Dynamo lets fly with a couple of beams across Black Cat and Malekith but it has depressingly little effect. Zemo does little more than scratch his red armour but Liam’s Black Cat finishes the job and dazes him. The score moves to 12 – 7 to me.
Round 4: Malekith plays Black Bifrost. I have two choices here – either set about Zemo, Black Cat and Malekith with Crimson Dynamo with decent odds to drop at least one of them as they’re all quite beaten up already; alternatively I can go with Black Cat to steal both of Mystique’s Syringes and run away. I don’t think that I can get her to safety if I do that so opt for the attrition plan. Crimson Dynamo lights up three of Liam’s team with two attacks each, needing to only do three or four damage to any of them for the daze (or KO). Needless to say, I manage a total of two damage across the six attacks, though at least all three now have the Shock condition. Malekith polishes off Black Cat. Zemo also does nothing useful back to Crimson Dynamo but Black Cat gives him Stagger, triggers Elusive and bounces through the Bifrost and steal Kingpin’s Syringe. She finishes this with one wound left so if Crimson Dynamo had managed to do just a single damage to her then this wouldn’t have been possible as using the Bifrost causes one damage. The score is now 14 – 12 in my favour.
Round 5: Kingpin KOs Black Cat and picks up her Syringe again, the Malekith comes through the Bifrost (also with a single wound on him when he arrives) and dazes Kingpin. My only hope now is for Crimson Dynamo to drop both Mystique and Zemo (the former from full health) with a single attack which, not surprisingly, he fails to do. Mystique hops through the Bifrost and collects the third Syringe, immediately ending the game. Liam wins by 20 – 14.
What. A. Game! That could perhaps have been my favourite game ever of MCP; we both had opportunities to win it. I will forever wonder if I would have been able to keep Black Cat alive had I opted to use her first in round 4 as the dice told me in no uncertain terms that Crimson Dynamo was the wrong choice. I certainly had a few moments of good fortune – notably the highly improbable one-shotting of Liam’s Black Cat in round 2 – but these were also balanced by rolling low on other occasions such as Crimson Dynamo’s torrid attempts to beam the Cabal on round 4. So overall I can’t say that luck was the decider here, and rather I’m glad to have been beaten so narrowly by a player of Liam’s skill.
Game 3: Gavin playing Brotherhood of Mutants
I got paired up here with Gavin; funnily enough he’d beaten Scott in game 1 so it was a bit of an opportunity for ‘avenge me, father!’ style banter. I did win priority this time but oddly our crisis cards were remarkably similar so I decided to take a chance on my Extraction cards as I felt that mine suited me a bit better. In the end we did manage to draw the Secure that I don’t have in my roster so at least it turned out to be a relevant decision. Gavin chose 16 threat (my third game in a row, though in fairness I chose it the last two times!) so I was going to pick the same team as in game one until I realised that most of the Brotherhood picks I expected to see here were quite resistant to Mysterio’s shenanigans and opted instead for the straightforward tankiness of Lizard.
Extraction: Research Station Attacked!
Secure: Demons Downtown! Has Our Comeuppance Come Due?
My team: Kingpin, Bullseye, Hood, Crimson Dynamo, Lizard
My cards: All According To Plan, Hood’s Gang, Indomitable, Monkey Brain Is Lizard Home, Patch Up
Gavin’s team: Magneto, Juggernaut, Scarlet Witch
Gavin’s cards: Asteroid M, Do You Know Who I Am?, Magnetic Refraction, Makin’ A Ruckuss, Patch Up
Round 1: Well, that’s quite a team. Luckily for me Research Station is quite fast scoring and I don’t think that Gavin can daze my team quickly enough to stop me getting the Research onto the Evac point, so my plan here is just to control Magneto and Scarlet Witch by throwing them away from the scoring points and then just do my best to keep the damage from Juggernaut in check. This scenario is likely to end up looking like a group of five-year-olds playing football so if I’m careful I might possibly be able to simply body block Juggernaut off the points. Crimson Dynamo moves onto the Researcher and Juggernaut strolls up and slaps a beefy five damage into him. Scarlet Witch stands on the back point and dazes him easily. Magneto uses Asteroid M to get to the middle and throw some damage out there but ultimately I’m happy to just sit my characters on the Researcher and bank the points. The score is 4 – 1 to me.
Round 2: Magneto throws everything he has at Lizard and leaves him on one wound. Crimson Dynamo applies Shock to Magneto and Scarlet Witch, pays for Patch Up on Lizard and uses his Propulsion Thrusters to get onto the Researcher again. Scarlet Witch does some more damage to Lizard who survives and throws Magneto away from the action; he follows this up by gently tickling Scarlet Witch and Juggernaut. Juggernaut plays Do You Know Who I Am? to get rid of the annoying Lizard, but he plays Indomitable to stay in the same awkward position. One swing with Juggernaut’s meaty fists is not enough to drop him either; of course, this kind of toughness is exactly why I have Lizard in my roster. Kingpin dazes Scarlet Witch and Hood moves to the far point so the score moves now to 9 – 1 to me.
Round 3: If I can hold on to the Researcher this turn then the game will be over so I need to either be able to throw Gavin’s models off it or outnumber them there; the other Portals are not really important any more. Magneto goes first and makes short work of dazing Hood. Crimson Dynamo activates and puts Shock on Juggernaut and Scarlet Witch, this also lets him power up nicely to use Disruption Field. Apparently it’s not as helpful as I’d hoped as the pair of them daze Kingpin. Meanwhile Lizard moves up to score the far point including the Researcher and Bullseye comes into the middle to join in the party. The score goes to 15 – 1 to me. Since there is no way for Gavin to stop me scoring at least two points next turn and he’d need to find at least 16, we call it a day there.
Thanks to Gavin for a really fun game. I liked this one as it showcased two very different styles of team – mine was all about not dying and instead scoring the points whereas Gavin had gone for a really tall, really attrition focussed team. Ultimately this worked out the way I predicted – Gavin spent the game blending my villains (even through the defensive tech that I was using) but I spent the game racking up points. I think that if he can find a way to mix the attrition play while keeping the score in sight then Gavin will become a force to be reckoned with and I hope to play him again soon.
Game 4: Stu playing Defenders
For the final game I got another opportunity to joke about family vengeance as Stu had also beaten Scott in an earlier round. We chatted once the crises were decided and decided between us to have a gentleman’s agreement not to use Doctor Voodoo since he was very much the obvious play here; it just seemed more fun to avoid similarities in our teams. I won priority and chose my Secure this time (which is basically the default plan as Criminal Syndicate) as I didn’t really mind any of Stu’s Extract cards, however I think that Alien Ship was probably the one I wanted least of his. Since there was a single Extract it was easy to pick Black Cat, and I also like Mysterio for this Secure crisis as he only needs to get one damage on his victims to move them off the scoring points. I don’t know that Crimson Dynamo is especially good in this scenario but I’d been having a great time using him all day and just wanted to carry on.
Extraction: Alien Ship Crashes In Downtown!
Secure: Super-Powered Scoundrels Form Sinister Syndicate
My team: Kingpin, Black Cat, Hood, Mysterio, Crimson Dynamo, Lizard
My cards: All According To Plan, Hood’s Gang, Indomitable, Mission Objective, Patch Up
Stu’s team: Doctor Strange, Hulk, Luke Cage, Valkyrie, Lockjaw
Stu’s cards: Brace For Impact, Heroes For Hire, Last Minute Save, Patch Up, Pentagram of Farallah
Round 1: I’m not really interested in getting the Core here unless it happens to be in the centre; instead my plan is to sit on as many of the Secures as possible and score this out quickly before Hulk flattens my whole team. If (or, more likely, when) Stu finds the Core I’ll try and get it off him with Black Cat; otherwise she’ll mainly be on duty to Stagger Hulk. Mysterio starts us off in the middle but doesn’t find the Core; Valkyrie similarly fails to find it on the left. Lockjaw teleports Hulk forward (which is rather scary) and Crimson Dynamo is able to Shock Hulk before he comes in for a surprisingly anaemic attack on Mysterio which is followed by a Gamma Leap to the unoccupied back left point. Lizard strolls onto that point to make sure it’s now mine. Over on the right, Doctor Strange finds the Core on his first try. I’m not getting it off him any time soon but I will get all the Secure points as Luke Cage, Kingpin and Black Cat take up position. The score is 5 -2 in my favour.
Round 2: My priorities this turn are to relieve Doctor Strange of the Core and to keep control of as many Secure points as possible. I also need to mitigate how much damage Hulk can do. Black Cat doesn’t have enough power to steal the Core yet so I need to either hope she takes a small amount of damage from Luke Cage or somehow do a bit herself which is not something to rely upon with 4 attack dice. We start out with Valkyrie and Hood bouncing off each other on the left though the latter does put up Hood’s Gang. Luke Cage attacks Black Cat which would be good as I want some power on her but is actually really bad as he one-shots her. Today has not been kind to Black Cats! At least he doesn’t have anything useful to do with his second action. Lizard pushes Lockjaw away from Hulk and Mysterio uses Tricks and Traps for a little damage and so he can slightly reposition further from Hulk. Lockjaw throws some terrain at Mysterio before he in turn uses Hypnosis Gas to walk Hulk away twice. It doesn’t help though, as Hulk just comes steaming back in and easily dazes Mysterio. I guess he had that coming. Crimson Dynamo dazes Lockjaw in return, then Doctor Strange has the least effective turn ever, failing to damage Kingpin (and therefore move him) on either attack. Kingpin is too far away to attack anything and I’m quite happy with him scoring his point so he just moves up and throws Cage off the back right point. The score goes to 9 – 4.
Round 3: I steal Priority with All According To Plan since Mysterio has enough power to pay for it on his own after the beating the he received from Hulk. Since Black Cat is similarly powered up I can go with her to steal the Core from Doctor Strange. She starts off with a Troublemaker into him since I can hope for a cheeky wild Elusive too but Stu cleverly plays Heroes for Hire and so it’s Cage who takes the hit and then throws her away. I didn’t even get Elusive! Luckily she still has enough speed with her Long move to get close enough to steal the Core, Grappling Hook back to the Secure and then use Kingpin’s leadership to pass the Core to him. Good work Black Cat! This shows one of the cool things about MCP – once your character gets dazed they usually have enough power to get a turn of doing their Cool Stuff afterwards. On the other side of the board, Valkyrie is sick of Hood’s nonsense and dazes him easily, though she’s too far away from Lizard to attack him too (and he’s too big to throw anywhere). Crimson Dynamo beams through Lockjaw and Hulk for a rather disappointing amount of damage, though he is putting Shock out all over the place which is handy, plus he’s swimming in power for Disruption Fields later in the turn. Lockjaw puts Interdimensional Blood Hound on Mysterio and Crimson Dynamo; Mysterio moves Hulk and Lockjaw away until the former comes back in and dazes Crimson Dynamo even through all the defensive tech. Lizard throws Valkyrie off her point and Doctor Strange follows up his total failure last turn with more of the same by failing to hurt Black Cat. Kingpin just ends up passing since Cage can’t get to him, though he can get to Black Cat and KOs her in revenge. The score moves to 14 – 5, apparently it was so exciting that I forgot to take a photo.
Round 4: All I need to do here is either keep hold of the Core (easier said than done when Hulk is jumping about the place) or hold two of the objectives. I decide to try to drop Lockjaw first to limit Stu’s options so Crimson Dynamo sets about him and Hulk with the beam but again doesn’t achieve a lot apart from powering himself up. Hulk tries to throw Crimson Dynamo away and I play Indomitable to stay there; he goes for a Hulk Smash but Disruption Field gets me out of jail by making him reroll the wilds for the throw. Eventually Hulk just has to Gamma Leap to Kingpin but he doesn’t get much work done through Disruption Field and Intense Physical Conditioning. Hood dazes Valkyrie on the left which more or less guarantees me the game (in retrospect I’m not really sure why I didn’t do that first) and Doctor Strange continues to roll terribly in his attempts to down Kingpin. Mysterio KOs Lockjaw and moves Hulk further away. We end it there at 19 – 6 to me; no photo again because for some reason everyone was desperate to get the board tidied away.
I really enjoyed playing Stu again, and I also have to thank him for the loan of some crisis cards for the day. Superpowered Scoundrels is a Secure where Criminal Syndicate really excels and Stuart spread himself too thinly to hold back my scoring options. I like the way that he used Hulk to bully the centre; even with all the nonsense that Crimson Dynamo and Mysterio can apply they weren’t really doing much more than keeping him busy. Stu didn’t make much use of the very-annoying Defenders leadership ability and I think that would have been worth looking into a bit more, but I think that he’s quite new to playing the affiliation. My heart also goes out to him for the dice he got from Doctor Strange; even with rerolls from the Eye of Agamoto (except against Black Cat, of course) I don’t think that he did any damage at all this game; that said he did also spend the whole game just sitting in the middle of nowhere, not scoring and allowing me to use the crisis special rule to get cover for free.
When the dust settles I somehow come in second place, presumably because of the Strength of Schedule boost that comes from only losing to Liam who, perhaps not surprisingly, came out as the overall victor. More importantly Scott had a terrific day out and finished in a highly respectable 12th place with 2 wins and 2 losses; actually the same record as Gareth except that the latter was top of the 2-2 bracket with a ridiculous Strength of Schedule after two brutal games in the end with Grant and Adam. Thanks to Kai, Liam, Gavin and Stu for four really enjoyable games of Crisis Protocol, and of course thanks to Allan for running the event. We’ll be back!