In skirmish games, every choice matters. Let’s discuss action economy, and Marvel: Crisis Protocol.
It is turn six, the game is tied, and a dozen tempting options call to you as your activation begins. This is a fairly common situation in Marvel: Crisis Protocol, when two evenly matched players are fighting a competitive game. So what do you do when the inevitable analysis-paralysis sets in? Obviously the specific answer depends on the situation, but here are some general thoughts to help start you on your path.
When you strip out the cool super-hero theme, the terrain (already pretty abstract even by traditional tabletop standards), and even the models in a sense, Crisis Protocol is a game of strict action-economy. What that means is, aside from super-powers, a model will generally get two and only two “actions” per turn. In a game with so few models this means you have VERY limited opportunities to dictate the outcome of a game, and every choice really matters.
Keeping this in mind as your main driving force, how can it be applied to game winning strategies?
-Exert board-control EARLY. Due to Crisis Protocol’s unique daze/KO mechanic, there will be a certain ebb and flow to the game. At some point the game will see players start trading activations/models, but if you exert control of the board early, it is you dictating where that will take place, and ideally when.
-Speaking of activations, denial of actions can be absolutely debilitating in a game such as MCP. Let’s be honest, you will not have the bodies necessary to take every objective in a game. Every body downed or outright removed dramatically shifts the ability for one player to win a game. In practice, this means that taking out several 2pt characters does more for one’s ability to win a scenario than wasting time on a single opposing model, no matter how troublesome that model may be. Several characters like Black Panther, Daredevil, and even Ant-Man love to waste your actions as you try to punch through their defenses. Meanwhile it is often the less frustrating parts of the enemy team doing the actual winning. Where to use precious actions should always be considered.
-Watch out for the red-haze. I will raise my hand and admit that like many, I sometimes focus on removing models over winning. Hell, these are games about super-hero fights, so sometimes the impulse to do that is strong. In reality, running off with assets is often the smarter choice. An opponent wasting actions getting you into range or line-of-sight is one that isn’t fighting you, or scoring elsewhere. It isn’t always the sexy play, but it is often the competitive one.
-Hand in hand with the above, this is a game where 95% of victory points are going to come from playing the scenarios. To that end, dedicated objective playing heroes are incredibly valuable. Consider the number of scenarios where an asset slows a model’s movement, or limits you to one advance per turn. In these instances characters who “move” by way of super-powers have dramatically greater value. Even a modest mover like Hawkeye can suddenly Hook-Arrow his way to significant further movement, all while potentially slowing pursuers with his attack if his actions restrict him to a single advance action. The new Crime Syndicate affiliation likewise has de-facto objective movement tricks available to them. If this allows you to be scoring half of the scenario while fighting over the rest of the game, action-economy makes it that much harder for opponents to both catch up, and then exceed your scoring.
-What turn is it? As the game goes on, some of these rules start outpacing others. The earlier you can deny activations through dropping models, the more valuable, as it “costs” the opponent more. If it is turn five or six, and the model doesn’t immediately contest or secure objectives, the value of combat actions drop off dramatically. Seeing if moves can secure you points, or deny your opponent through contesting are much more meaningful in the final turns, especially if early aggression has you in the lead.
Next time, we transition to looking at some of the faces you can expect to see at a tournament, and answers you will want in your back pocket for when they appear.
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