Fantasy Fightclub: Re-review Marvel Crisis Protocol

Several months and almost a dozen releases later, how has Marvel’s skirmish miniatures game developed? Let’s re-discuss!

I am going to do something I feel doesn’t happen nearly enough among game reviewers, or players in general. I am going to admit that I can be wrong, and that things change.

Upon release, I consumed to excess Atomic Mass Game’s “Marvel: Crisis Protocol”. In an effort to really delve into the system for review I played dozens of games using its Core-Set and Hulk/MODOK expansions. For those who may remember that review, I came away from the experience fairly underwhelmed, and having left a caveat that the game could improve with further releases. The last two weeks I decided to put that to the test and have played countless additional games with releases all the way through the most recent, Rocket and Groot.

I think it is important, and far too uncommon for people to allow for the possibilities that their minds can be changed, and yet here I am doing precisely that. With a far greater diversity of characters, arguably with more nuanced and complex abilities, MCP is now a drastically different and better experience at the table.

My intent is not to explain the fundamentals of the game anew. As the core mechanics have gone unchanged, readers looking for the absolute basics are encouraged to just check out my initial review found here…

What I would like to do is target a few points of my initial review, and speak to some areas where it has won me over.

First among these was my assertion that as game sizes wouldn’t be changing, the fundamental feel of the game was present, and thus all I needed to review it thoroughly.

A terrific pack which really helped me appreciate the character designs.

This was objectively wrong. While game size has not changed, the pool of scenarios (remember two types combine to create the actual mission) has grown which already changes the experience, but which compounds dramatically with a much deeper pool of characters. I did not expect that characters would become hard counters for others, making the pre-match pool of characters much more nuanced a part of a competitive game, and that “list building” would find subtleties in one’s preferred mission objectives, team affiliations, etc…

A second failing of mine was purely one of imagination. With the core rules being incredibly simple (and yes, I would prefer a slightly more robust future edition), I failed to see how many design spaces existed for creative characters. Pure control/manipulation characters like Loki evoke the character in a way I felt exceeded the sometimes “plain” core-set heroes/villains. Others, like Hela introduce a fluffy, characterful resource all their own. That the designers have already improved characters so much even within the confines of lean rules, speaks better of them than I had given credit for, and for that I apologize.

That is not to say I feel the game is without flaws. Verticality is still particularly irksome, with horizontal measuring meaning objectives can sometimes magically be claimed from street-level, to the heights of a multi-story building. Among all of its rules, this is one that can still truly be re-evaluated for the better of the game.

Thor might be a little too good… just saying.

Also, one does need to still accept the game for what it is. It is developing into an excellent competitive skirmish affair, but is does still feel much more concerned with being a Warmahordes-esque game of subtle positioning and high level play, than it does with really feeling like a simulation of the comics/films. That is entirely fine, but some part of me will still yearn for something versatile enough to both be competitive, but also flexible enough to have campaigns with.

One last minor gripe persists, which is that characters would benefit from more granular costs. The gulf between 2, 3, 4, 5, etc point characters is just too vast, and future rebalancing would benefit immensely from those characters costing 20, 30, etc… points. Should Thor continue to be as insanely excellent as my numerous test games have implied, it would be nice to tweak him by degrees, rather than in jarring 20% increments.

In any case, file this one somewhere between “I dun goofed”, and a solid game matured nicely with post-launch support. I am really pleased to see how much more I already enjoy this game, and am now eager to see where it continues to go.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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About Mark Gottlieb

Writer, Game Designer, and owner of Fortunate Sun Studios, I have always tried to lead a life in some way built around paying back to gaming, and the gaming community. This hobby, and everyone in it, saved my life on more than a few occasions, and now I get to put my heart into helping it thrive for everyone!

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