Marvel Crisis Protocol is a miniatures skirmish game from Atomic Mass Games It features iconic characters from the Marvel universe. The Core Set releases on the 15 November 2019 and in this article, we’re going to look at what you get in the Core Set, along without initial impressions of how it plays and who the product is for.
As a miniatures skirmish game, it means that players will control small teams of individual heroes, rather than the mass ranks of units that traditional wargames have. Specifically, in Marvel Crisis Protocol, players bring a maximum of 10 characters to a game, and once the game setup is completed, they pick their squad roster from those 10 heroes for that game. We’ll look deeper at this element later in the article.
The Marvel Crisis Protocol Core Set contains everything 2 players need to play a game. This includes enough miniatures for 2 forces for intro games, some scenery, a learn to play rulebook and all the dice, counters and tokens you need to play.
The dice, measuring tools and the scenery set are available separately. The only way to get the tokens, various cards that are needed to play and the heroes in the Core Set is currently only through the Core Set. This isn’t to say that they won’t be available individually later, but on release, the cleanest way into the game is through the Core Set.
The Core Set contains 10 characters, 5 heroes, 5 villains and these are:
- Captain American
- Iron Man
- Captain Marvel
- Black Widow
- Red Skull
- Doctor Octopus
- Baron Zemo
The miniatures and scenery are hard plastic and come on sprues, which they need to be removed from, cleaned up and then glued together. There are some very small bits of detail and care needs to be taken with them (one of Baron Zemo’s elbow pads is particularly small).
All of the characters are in fixed poses once together and most connecting parts have grooves or shaped ends so that they can only fit in correctly. This makes them very beginner-friendly for those looking to get into the hobby. The miniatures aren’t as beginner-friendly as Star Wars Legion, which are made out of a softer plastic and most slot together easily. Marvel Crisis Protocol does require some effort, but every attempt has been made by Atomic Mass Games to make the hobby side as accessible as possible.
Games of Marvel Crisis Protocol are reasonably straight-forward. The rulebook in the Core Set is a learn to play book, made for learning the rules with the miniatures from the set. Once you’ve played a few introductory games, you can start to put together your own roster of characters and play the game using the full rules, which are available for free on Atomic Mass Games’ website.
The main addition to the full rules from those in the Core Set is game setup. Players need access to 10 of their own characters, and a couple of sets of cards to draw from for each game, and the Core Set contains a shared set for both players. Once 2 players have their own Core Set or enough miniatures and cards, they will be able to play games using the full rules.
The rules of Marvel Crisis Protocol are designed to be easily played, with the focus being on the action and the characters, rather than the minute details of specific line of sight and movement. An example of this is when a character is standing on top of some scenery. As they are touching the scenery, it doesn’t block sight to them, or from them. This means that they could be standing on top of one side of a building, and they can see another character standing on the ground on the other side of the building.
This rules style speeds up games, and breezes through rules complexity. It also drives home the focus that you are playing with a squad of characters with incredible skills and abilities, and even the less superpowered characters, like Black Widow as an example, are still elite soldiers who can track an enemy as they run through a building and hit them on the way past a window. If you are looking for some serious depth and tactics in your game, that’s still here with the skills and abilities of the characters, along with your roster selection.
The core system for tests is opposed dice pools, where players create their pools of custom Marvel Crisis Protocol, 8-sided dice (D8s) from their attack or defense stats. There are 3 types of attacks, physical, energy and mystic and associated defense stats to match. Players roll off and the player with the most hits, or blocks successfully hits or blocks the attack.
Marvel Crisis Protocol also uses custom range rulers for movement and measuring attack and ability ranges. These are a collection of 3 fixed-sized movement tools and 4 range tools. Each character has a movement of Short, Medium or Long, and they can move any distance along the length of the range ruler that matches their stat. Similarly, with the range rulers, all attacks and abilities have a range 1 through 5, which is used to distinguish which range ruler to use (There are 4 range rulers, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Range 1 is the edge of any of the range rulers). To measure range, players just need to touch the base of their character with the specified range ruler and if their target is anywhere under it, then they’re in range.
Tape measures can be used, and some players will prefer to use them, but for beginner miniature gamers, the measuring tools offer a simple and straight-forward way to measure. They also come in the same hard plastic as the miniatures and scenery, so they can be painted in a unique style to match your roster.
The most important question for Marvel Crisis Protocol, does it feel like a Marvel skirmish game? Do the characters feel like the heroes and villains they represent? Fans need not worry, because they do. Iron Man, for example, feels uniquely different from the other characters in the Core Set and comes with his own set of abilities and attacks that make him feel like the character we know and love. Captain America is resilient and has a shield throw that ignores line of sight as it ricochets around corners. Doctor Octopus has a flurry of arms attack, making them especially dangerous in physical combat.
All the characters in the Core Set are roughly balanced against each other, with Threat Levels (points values) for squad construction between 2 and 4 for the 10 characters.
Players are also allowed to mix and match heroes and villains in their rosters, but doing so means that you might not benefit from Squad Affiliation and Leadership abilities. In order to get access to these abilities, more than 50% of your squad needs to be made up of character from a Squad Affiliation card. The narrative behind why certain characters are working together is up to each player. Maybe they’re all Skrulls, maybe there is a great threat that sees normal enemies teaming up.
Games of Marvel Crisis Protocol are very enjoyable, for Marvel fans and miniature gamers alike. The rules are straight-forward, and there’s a depth to the team selection that will only increase as more characters are added. The Core Set alone has a lot of replayability, even if you’re not looking to expand outside of it and offers a lot of variety for 2 players.
The hobby side of putting the miniatures together will be a stretch for anyone who has never done it before, but if you’re looking for a great way in, then this is your chance. Take your time, and work through the multitude of tutorials that Atomic Mass Games are putting out to assist with the hobby side. With getting into the hobby side of miniature games, the first step is the hardest. Once you’ve put a few together, the focus can move to painting and developing and learning skills there.
We’re going to have lots more coverage of Marvel Crisis Protocol, including looking in detail at teams, characters and new releases. If there’s anything you’d like us to cover, let us know in the comments below.
Who's your favorite Marvel hero? What's do you think your initial roster for Marvel Crisis Protocol is going to be? Let us know in the comments below.
This copy of the Marvel Crisis Protocol Core Set was provided by Atomic Mass Games.