Feature article no.2 – Jon Harris
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Today we have the second feature article by Jon Harris – In his first article he talked about the X-Men and the Mutants! You can find that article here, but today Jon is going to be talking about his thoughts on whether he wants to be playing Casually or Competitively, and the different aspects of both!
Casual or Competitive
My journey in Marvel Crisis Protocol started with the core box, and to be honest a hope that I could find some players and a group to throw dice with. It has now developed into weekly gaming with some friends and regular attendance at tournaments/events. Yet lately I’ve been really having a good think about MCP and how I enjoy playing the game; is it more casual or more competitive?
Atomic Mass Games have always stated that MCP is not a competitive or tournament game, and as such MCP has no current tournament support – there are no qualifiers or national events like there was with X-Wing and there are no AMG officially organised events like there are with Warhammer. However despite this, I seem to have found myself in a very competitive focused mindset for the game and in a group of fellow players who are all active (way more than me) in the tournament scene and keen to be doing well. I guess what I’m trying to figure out, and have been for some time – is this really the way I want to play?
The first event I attended for MCP was within a month of the games release, and was my first real event without any friends tagging along at one of my local gaming stores – Board in Brum. Due to the fact that everyone who played- only six players- was just as totally new to the game as me this was a complete joy. Everyone here was looking at the game with fresh eyes, there was only the core box and Hulk/MODOK released at the time. The fact that we were all figuring this out together and having some huge thematic moments on the table top completely sold me on the game moving forward, and it introduced me to some of the gaming friends I still meet up with today to play the glorious MCP.
Yet the more and more I attend tournaments the less I’m finding myself yo be capturing that original magic – yes there are still some really thematic moments and yes there are still some amazing moments on the table top; but there’s also a feeling of having to be prepared to face the ‘Meta’. You sort of have to be expecting at least one game to be horrific – As you face Black Order or Brotherhood with a combination of Bitter rivals and All you’ve got.
List building is a huge part of MCP, as it is with any table top game- but in MCP it feels at a competitive level that you can really get punished for not trying to take the ‘top unaffiliated’ characters in each threat. You know full well there are times where you are going to be coming across MODOK, Baron Zemo, Enchantress, Valkyrie and Medusa and you can almost guarantee you’re going to run into them out of their own affiliations as they only strengthen an already solid list. Now this in itself isn’t a problem, as every game has a meta and those top tiers characters are expected to be seen but for someone, like myself, who likes to try and stay thematic in my list building it can really punch hard to see them across the table just because they are hard to deal with and meta.
From a competitive standpoint you only need to look at the latest TTS season submissions to see the issues. There are only 5% of players taking Inhumans and Asgardians – yet Enchantress has made 35% of all rosters with Medusa making 28% respectively. Now I know everyone is free to pick and choose, and to add in characters that they like from the comics or the movies – But if we’re being honest in the competitive scene it’s because these characters are strong! And I’ve even found myself contemplating adding them into lists for this reason, but I have always managed to stay away from this unless it thematically fits and I plan to stay strong on this point.
Crisis selection alongside Team Tactic card selection also feels like it has started to become a little stale in competitive events, whether this is due to the amount of games I’ve been playing or just the way the competitive scene is building lists I’m not sure. But it feels right now like there are some staple cards you see across the table all the time – I’m talking about you Bitter Rivals, All you’ve Got and Field Dressing. Now these cards are solid options and help build some real redundancy into plans and the untimely Daze of a character, or can be used in combination for some real nasty shenanigans that if an opponent isn’t aware of can really mess up a game plan. To regularly see Bitter Rivals and one other of these cards, two affiliation or character specific cards and then Medpack or Brace for Impact feels like it hurts that original magic I had on the table top. I mean way back at the start, or just after, we would see Thunder Wave in an Avengers list or One-Two punch as these seemed to really help lists out and the amount of cards that seemed to strong to not take was much smaller.
The same is almost happening with Crisis, as the same Crisis seem to pop up all the time and having said that I can’t remember the last time I played Skrulls infiltrate or Panic grips as these are just less and less chosen due to the randomness of success or in the case of Panic Grips it having hit the restricted list – And having to compete with the auto take Tactics cards. The TTS season 6 stats from Xavier Protocols show us just how many people are taking these unaffiliated cards – Even though All You’ve Got is restricted, it makes over half of the rosters.
Over the past month I have been fortunate enough to secure a spot at my local FLGS to play both the Vibranium Heist and the Separation Anxiety Organised Play kits – and I have to say that playing these has really brought back that magic from the early days of the game for me. The way these require a team to be built, especially Separation Anxiety, and the way it’s designed makes it feel like the comic books with four player madness – and it was honestly the most fun game of MCP I’ve ever had! Some of this was down to the group I was with and the fact we all ran new and weird lists at eleven threat that we weren’t familiar with. We also all agreed to only run character/affiliation specific cards for this and holy hell the first time Dormammu shoots you with the range 5 beam from the symbiote deck is absolutely mental! I’ve also had the pleasure of running some new players through games, and helping them build lists from what they’ve got and this has only helped to rekindle my love for a pretty thematic list and for the actual fun that can be had from this game with just throwing some dice and playing some character specific cards
This weekend just past I attended a ‘First event’ style tournament at Asgard Games Walsall, which comprised of seven people from my regular gaming group and three people with limited experience of MCP in comparison. For this I decided it was time to put away my X-Men (It was tough) and take a much more thematic and lesser played list, so I went in on Guardians of the Galaxy and only took affiliation cards or character specific cards to try and really have some fun with dice. How did it go? Well… I had a krutakin blast!
The process of talking through moves, and my opponent equally playing to just have a blast and see what they could do was super engaging and overall enjoyable. The final game I played a close friend of mine (I hope he feels the same!) Chris Tapper who was running Midnight Sons and is a solid player. He had a solidly thematic list that was missing any of the meta characters and we had an absolute blast on the table top! This game, just like all the other casual games over the day, felt more like my first event than any other- and I loved it!
My experience over the last month of no competitive play has really rekindled the original feeling that got me into MCP and being able to share some games with newer players and some more experienced players alike has been superb and totally refreshing.
All is not doom and gloom for me competitively – despite how I may make it sound. I do still enjoy the competitive scene, as it’s an easy way for me to get three or four games in a day which otherwise isn’t going to happen with my desire to spend time with my family and my need to work – these plastic models aren’t free folks! On top of that the tournament days give me a chance to meet new people and forge new friendships, alongside really geeking out over the Marvel universe in all its formats – and AMG seem to be making some changes that could shake-up the competitive scene without them really planning for it.
My MCP journey is still ongoing and my love for the X-Men on the table top is only growing and growing – hello Fast ball special. I have come to a consensus on how I plan to move forward in this wonderful table top game space. I plan to continue to create a thematic list that snubs characters that don’t fit, despite their power potential, while continuing to add as many thematic cards as possible to keep things interesting. On top of this I’m hoping to continue to find times and people to play that follow my love for thematic lists, with a little bit of helping the community to grow on top.
Does this mean I’m avoiding tournaments? Well, no. I’m still going to jump into the competitive scene but with the emphasis on having a great series of games, getting multiple games in a day and the whole win to loss ratio coming much further behind in the priority list. I feel MCP is in such a good place within the table top community, due to the solid job AMG have done creating a balanced game and trying to keep it so, alongside the great people in my local community that right now are playing it both way. A slight mind set change can only be good for me and I look forward to seeing how I get on with the themed yet deadly X-Men!
It’s always great to hear from Jon and his perspective on things, and I’m sure we will be hearing from him again soon. Original this article included how all of his games at Asgard went, and the breakdown of the new changes from AMG, but I think I’ll be able to talk Jon around into doing articles for both of them individually!
As always please leave a thumbs up if you enjoyed reading, or a thumbs down if you didn’t! If you’re looking to expand your roster with some new Heroes for Hire, or take the dive into Marvel Crisis Protocol – Check out Board in Brums Marvel section here, for all the MCP goodness you need! Thanks again for reading!
Jon, that was a brilliant article!! It’s good to see that there are other people who think like I do with creating thematic lists, especially from what I, a humble noob, consider to be top tier players (I’m sure you’ll argue you’re not, but from my lowly viewpoint, you are!) and that it’s not *all about the meta* which is so refreshing!! With games like 40k, whether you want to or not, eventually you will end up meta-chasing, but not so with MCP, as the option to play at events and just have a laff and roll dem bones is abundantly rich!
I shall leave you with this – I *need* to play you at some point!! I think we’ll have a great a game or nine!!