Unboxing: Marvel Crisis Protocol Core Set

Anyone who attended GenCon this past August had the opportunity to get swept up in the buzz about Atomic Mass Games’ debut into the miniature gaming world, slinging one of the hottest IP’s in the world right now – Marvel.  The team set up their booth in direct line with one of the main entry doors, and suffice to say, the buzz was intense as gamers crowded around the gorgeous demo tables, ogled the display models, and (in one case at least), temporarily mixed up sculpting director Dallas Kemp and I. It was good times.

Today we take our first peek at the contents of the Core Set, which is – quite frankly – one of the best starter sets I’ve seen, in terms of equipping a new player to get the best possible experience out of their new gaming endeavor.

The Core Set comes with your rules and your models. The Core Set also comes with your dice and a good selection of tokens. Add in your measuring tools, and most starters end there. Given that the dice and measuring tools are specific to Crisis Protocol and absolutely required to play the game, their inclusion is a given, but Atomic Mass have also recognized the importance of interactive terrain, and included a newstand, two cards, and some other features that you can beat the opposing team up with.

Let’s start with the rulebook.

The rules that come with the Core Set are the Learn To Play rules, not the actual core rules themselves. The Core Rules can be downloaded from the official website, but space in the Learn To Play rules is dedicated to covering core concepts, providing an introductory scenario, character backgrounds, and assembly guides. Given that some of the models can be a little finicky (I’m looking at you, Zemo’s elbow pads) this is a good thing.

The tokens are on generously thick, punchable cardstock, and there’s plenty of each. The character cards are more lightweight, but no less pretty. There’s a lot of information on each in terms of stats and powers, and each is double-sided to represent when your character has taken damage. I’ll admit my old man eyes wish there was a little more contrast for the Mystic Defense stat – darker blue ink on a black background – but it’s my only gripe.

Crisis Cards set the scenarios for the game – one Extraction and one Secure – so you know how you’re going to score all of those delicious victory points. Team Tactics cards will provide depth and customizability beyond your roster, providing opportunities to turn the tables or capitalize on opposing errors depending on which cards you bring along. Map cards will show you where your objectives are to be placed on the 3×3 board, and team cards give you a roster to show team affiliations, which further plays into the Team Tactics cards and some powers.

Dice show hits, blocks, criticals, wilds, blanks and failures. I’ve taken to adding the word “abject” to that last one. Abject failure just seems more crushing.

And then there’s the enormous pile of plastic sprues that took pal Brandon and I a couple of hours worth of clipping and assembly to get through.

In no particular order, let’s look at our characters. Each comes on their own sprue, so no worries about mixing parts up. Unless you clip them all at once and then stare at a pile of components with a bewildered expression. That’s totally on you.

Iron Man comes in sixteen pieces. Yes, in his upper arms and lower arms are separate components, something you’ll see through a bunch of these. Nifty thing is, the engineering of the components means that almost all joins are beautifully smooth, or hidden by overlapping components.

Black Widow comes with an extra fist among her otherwise ten piece sprue. Extra pieces appear on a number of the sprues, either as a means to fill space or in recognition that I’m clumsy and there’s a risk I’ll drop a smaller component and may lose it in the carpet. Most likely the latter.

Crossbones comes in eleven pieces, with a spare belt pouch. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’m particularly keen to paint him up. Everything about this model telegraphs what a bruiser he is.

Even moreso than Crossbones, I’m keen to paint up the Cabal’s glass cannon, Baron Zemo. You only need twelve of the 14 components on the sprue, it comes with a spare of each of the quilted elbow pads.

Brandon took on the assembly chores for Ultron. At over twenty pieces I have no objections. Ultron’s one of the two Core Set models that goes on a larger base, and his stature justifies it.

Doctor Octopus in the other large base model, and Brandon assembled this one too (ain’t he sweet?). Unless I’m mistaken he only needs 18 of the 20 pieces on the sprue, and the first person who paints that belt up as a WWE champion’s belt gets a mental high five.

Captain American comes with spare belt pouches, and is a twelve piece model. Everything fits *just so*, as with the rest of the models. While these aren’t push-fit, very little glue is needed, and components are nicely secured in their sockets.

Okay, Carol gave me grief if only because my old man fingers had difficulty getting her upper arms and forearms together at the right angles. There are no spare parts on this sprue, Captain Marvel needs all the bits to come together as one of Marvel’s most powerful characters.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can. Like his sandwich, on white bread, on the sprue, an extra head. I was tempted to put it in the garbage can that comes with the set, for a “Spider-Man No More” cover.

Spidey may come with an extra head, but the Red Skull comes with an extra Cosmic Cube. Discussion was had about attaching the two with a small length of wire, and through the judicious use of obnoxious paint, having the Red Skull wield the Cosmic Fuzzy Dice.

There are two of each of the smaller bases, and the two different larger bases. Astute eyes may also notice that each sprue also comes with a small bottle and coffee cup, to decorate your bases. Or maybe to replace Red Skull’s cube. Hmmm, ideas…

In what is possibly some of the coolest weaponizable scatter terrain I’ve seen, the starter comes with two of this sprue, allowing you to make two traffic lights and two lamp posts.

These are tall components, with sweet detail, and they’ve made a friend in the garbage can that comes with the Newstand sprue.

Each of the dumpsters is on its own sprue, complete with numbering beneath to identify the size of the component when it comes to interacting with it. Spider-Man, for example, can use his webbing to sling anything of size 2 or lower at an opponent. Dumpsters are fair game, at size 2.

Each is happily emblazoned with the logo of Damage Control, the engineering and clean-up firm that helps rebuild New York after the bad guys have laid waste to the area.

The Newstand sprue  – well, sprues – gives you a piece of size 3 terrain. In the terrain pack (available separately) you’ll have the opportunity to build a small coffee shop instead of a stand for the Daily Bugle, but first things first – Get me pictures of Spider-Man!

It’s a simple rectangle building, bit it’s lovely in its own way.

Each car is a two-sprue endeavor, complete with side mirrors, and the opportunity to make one a taxi cab should the whim take you.

These are size 2 terrain pieces, so yes, you can expect them to be flung around the table.

Finally, there are four range sticks and three movement tools. The sticks measure from range 2 to 5, with range 1 being the width of any of the four. Range 2 seems to be the standard for melee punchiness. The movement tools pivot in the center to allow for movement around terrain, and also to let them double as arc indicators when set at a 45 degree angle.

We’ll be showcasing the assembled heroes individually as they get painted, and looking at their stats and capabilities. Brandon and I did squeeze in the introductory scenario, where he learned much to his annoyance that all three of the faster characters were on my side of the board. WHOOSH!

Baron Zemo put down his Starbucks before challenging Iron Man to a stabbing contest. Iron Man did not like being stabbed much.

Stay tuned for more Marvel Crisis Protocol posts. We’re only a couple of weeks away from the Core Set hitting stores. Have you pre-ordered yours yet?!?