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Avengers vs. Cabal - 13 Aug 20

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

Welcome to the first of hopefully many battle reports for Marvel Crisis Protocol delivered in that Old School style of the written word and blocky overhead graphics! My hope is to be able to produce reports of a range of games, both casual game night events as well as some competitive reports once the tournament scene gets going post-Covid.


If you have any requests or feature ideas, then fire them to me at oldschoolprotocol@gmail.com


Set-up


This was a casual weeknight game where both players were testing some new characters who had just received a coat of paint.


The Avengers won priority and the crisis selection was 'Cosmic Invasion!' (Avengers) and 'Struggle for the cube continues' (Cabal). 17 was selected as the starting threat.


The rosters were revealed as:


Avengers


Captain America

Hawkeye

Agent Widow

Black Panther

Baron Zemo


Avengers Assemble

Field Dressing

Medpack

Face Me

Blind obsession


Cabal


Red Skull

Baron Zemo

Crossbones

Doc Ock

Venom


Cosmic Invigoration

Face Me

Tactical Analysis

Medpack

Field Dressing


There unfortunately wasn't much terrain available so the setup was quite odd, more what you'd expect for Warhammer, with only size 2, 3 and 4 pieces. But rather than hunt down some scatter terrain for the 1s, we decided to just order a couple of beers and get on with it.







Round One


Nothing interesting in the Power Phase, so on to the action!


Avengers 1: Hawkeye was first up, he hook-shot himself onto the nearby building, grabbed the back-right cube and ran to secure the Avenger's closest vault.


Cabal 1: Red Skull opens for Cabal with a pretty clumsy Cosmic Cube, generating 3 power but taking 2 damage in the process. Using his Master of the Cube he pushed Crossbones forward, before taking a short advance forwards to hold his closest vault. First blood goes to Cabal, thought they would have preferred it hadn't given the circumstances.


Avengers 2: Agent Widow takes a double advance to contest the left-hand vault, grabbing the back-left cube fragment on the way there.


Cabal 2: A double advance for Crossbones who thanks to the first advance from Red Skull has enough legs to grab the top-right cube and get into position to secure the right-hand vault. Map update!



Avengers 3: Baron Zemo looks to do something about Crossbones with a move and a Charge keeping as far back as he can while still contesting the right-hand vault, dealing 3 damage and giving a bleed counter. First intended blood.


Cabal 3: Venom moves up to grab the top-left cube, tries to hit Agent Widow with his tendrils but comes up short on the range, so settles for a second advance to contest the vault, just getting there thanks to that medium base.


Avengers 4: Cap runs straight up the middle to grab the centre cube. All the cubes are claimed, time to fight for them.


Cabal 4: Dock Ock mirrors Venom's turn with a move, checking and failing for range to strike Zemo, and instead advancing again to contest the right-hand vault. Map!



Avengers 5: Black Panther closes for the Avengers by starting with a long advance then a pounce, throwing himself at Venom but causes no damage thanks to a solid dodge roll. He then strikes at Venom, the dice come up 4 hits and 4 blocks, so Venom avoids any damage again, but the guaranteed push from Panther's strike does its job and gets Venom off the vault.


Cabal 5: Baron Zemo ends the round by joining the battle on the left. Without the power to charge like his Avengers counterpart though he settles for just running up to the vault in the hope of generating some bonus power next round.



In the clean-up phase, the Avengers are holding 3 Cubes to the Cabal's 2, and it's 2 vaults each, so after round one it's 5-4 to the Avengers.


Round 2


In the power phase, damage and power are given out for cube fragments (but Crossbones decides to use his immune to pain ability to ignore the damage) and everyone on a vault rolls for its effect, but it's only Crossbones who is hit with a blast from a vault, picking up 2 bonus power and getting pushed away. Priority stays with the Avengers: onto the action phase!



Avengers 1 - Baron Zemo stays on target and again charges after Crossbones, but only manages a single point of damage. With Crossbones on 2 remaining health Zemo strikes again hoping to daze him but manages nothing at all on his second swing, leaving Zemo stood next to a powered-up Crossbones and no doubt questioning some life choices.



Cabal 1 - With Captain America and Hawkeye both capable of raining shields and arrows down on Crossbones, he wastes no time activating. He uses an overpowered haymaker on Zemo, and the dice come up as 5 hits to 0 blocks; Baron Zemo goes down, but not before Crossbones triggers his wild throw. With his remaining action Crossbones removes his bleed token to ensure his cube doesn't daze him.


Avengers 2- Seeing his allied Baron Zemo go down, Black Panther steps up for revenge unleashing a strike - pounce - strike combo on the Cabal team's Zemo. The 3 attack flurry does the job and that's two Zemo's dazed in two activations. The Avengers are pleased to take out Zemo before he activates this round, but it wasn't the most efficient - Venom 'backstopped' Zemo on the second push from Panther's attack so he didn't get the maximum push available, and even worse was the pounce left him unable to contest the vault. The players spend the next 5 minutes musing over the intricacies of when to attack and when to run the scenario. Hopefully, Widow can hold the flank...



(Dazing is nice, but it won't win a game on its own. Yes, we know those are not the correct tokens for the vaults)


Cabal 2 - It's a thinker! The Cabal player spends some time deliberating between using Red Skull to get Zemo back up with a field dressing at the end of the round or letting him stay down to take the priority token. Ultimately, he decides priority is better so the medics stay off the battlefield and Red Skull activates now, starting with his second use of Cosmic Cube, this time taking no damage. Again, he uses the power to target Crossbones with Master of the Cube, getting Crossbones back onto the right-hand vault. With his second action he aims a Cosmic Blast at Captain America. Cap pays for his Vibranium Shield to roll 6 defence dice, and somehow rolls zero successes to Red Skulls two. The cover he's behind makes up for it slightly and Cap takes a single point of damage.



Avengers 3 - Hawkeye doesn't mess around and achieves what Baron Zemo has spent two rounds trying to do and puts Crossbones down. He hook shots forwards, fires an energy arrow at Crossbones, gets a wild for a status effect and rolls enough damage with a few to spare ensuring Crossbones' immune to pain ability won't help him. Crossbones drop his cube; gains a dazed and a shock token; and Hawkeye walks back to secure the bottom vault.


Cabal 3 - A quick and easy Doc Ock activation sees him take a few steps left to scoop up the cube Crossbones just dropped, and then heads back to his vault.


(Ock won't pick up any points for style for this play - but he does pick up a point from his extract, which may be better).


Avengers 4 - A decision point for Cap - he can double move to the right-hand vault that Ock is securing to contest it and ensure the Cabal don't pick up a point, or advance once and strike hoping to trigger the wild throw so that no one is on it. He decides to go with the attack option, knowing the 'Avengers Assemble' in his back pocket will get him onto the vault afterwards. Cap rolls a single wild, Ock rolls nothing and Octavius suffers a point of damage and a decent push with that larger base.


Cabal 4 - Venom is last up for the Cabal. He takes an advance to get back onto the left-hand vault and hits Agent Widow with his Symbiote tendrils dealing 2 damage and inflicting the bleed effect. The power Venom gains from this attack is enough for his Klyntar Rage throw. Venom himself is blocking throwing Widow into Panther, so instead he scoops up Widow and tosses her into the nearby building for a third point of damage. The Cabal player admits to being relieved she wasn't dazed by the attack as with her being the last remaining Avengers activation he would have failed to steal the priority token. Busy few turns, time for a map!



Avengers 5 - With 1 health left, and a cube fragment and a bleed token both threatening to daze her, Widow spends the power from Venom's attack to use a Medpack on herself. She then takes a double move to get into a position that will allow her to both contest the left-hand vault as well stand in interrogation range of the dazed Baron Zemo. And that's it for the second Activation Phase.



The first thing that happens in the Clean-up Phase is the Avengers player realises he forgot to use Avengers Assemble which cost 2 points as he would have taken the right-hand vault with Cap which currently only has a dazed Crossbones on it, as well as the left-hand vault which isn't being scored either with both Venom and Agent Widow there, but Panther could have taken a step backwards to break the tie. Don't forget your cards!


So the points for the round are firstly 1 point each for a vault with Red Skull and Hawkeye holding down each players closest one. The only change to a cube carrier was Ock scooping up Crossbones' dropped cube so it is again 3-2 to the avengers on cube points, and Widow's interrogation of Baron Zemo's plans for round 3 yields the Avengers one more point. That makes it 5-3 for the round and moves the overall score to 10-7 to the Avengers.


On the Avengers side, Baron Zemo flips to his Dazed side, the Cabal's Zemo also flips along with Crossbones. Priority passes to the Cabal and it's on to Round 3.


Round 3


The vaults are clearly switched off in the power phase as no one get the power and push from them, so it's just cube damage and power for the extract holders that happens in this phase.


Cabal 1 - Zemo looks to take control the left-side of the board for the Cabal. He opens with a Master Swordsman strike against Agent Widow but doesn't manage any damage. He tries again, this time with a Master Swordsman Steel Rush, and finds his mark dazing Widow with a 6v2 roll. Zemo uses his free advance to run onto the vault, and then scoops up the cube that widow had just dropped there.


(Hindsight play call - A 'Parting Shot' from Widow to hit Zemo for a point of damage and advance herself out of range of his second attack, would probably have been a good idea here).


Avengers 1 - Black Panther pumps every point of power he is storing into a massive Kinetic Burst against Venom knowing how much Venom loves big energy attacks**. The dive are 8 hits to 2 blocks and Venom is dazed, dropping his cube. After the attack, Black Panther triggers the wild ability for 'Explosive Force'. Widow and Zemo are both in range, but with Widow freshly dazed it's only Zemo who suffers. He takes a point of damage and is pushed to the table edge, back off the vault he had just secured. Panther uses his second action to advance himself onto the vault, staying as far away from Red Skull as he can noting he is now the nearest shark. Venom's former cube fragment remains on the floor as that big attack has left Panther without any power to pick it up.


**not at all.


Cabal 2 - Over to the opposite flank where Crossbones looks to deal with Captain America. A Strikes attack is met with a Vibranium Shield and deals one damage, but one power for Crossbones is exactly enough for what he actually wanted to do and he readies and Overpowered Haymaker. Cap pays for his shield again, but its 6 hits to 3 blocks - Cap takes 3 damage which along with the attritional damage he's been taking from his cube is enough for the daze. Crossbones resolves his throw before (as opposed after) damage, so before Cap hits the floor, he is thrown at the Avengers' Baron Zemo who has only just stood back up. Zemo whiffs on his dodge roll and takes 3 more damage (but moves onto 10 power). Crossbones ends his turn exactly as Panther just did; by looking at the cube fragment on the floor that he lacks the power to pick up.


Those last two activations were an interesting mirror of each other on opposite flanks.


Avengers 2 - Baron Zemo looks to invest his power in some helpful way before he is KO'd. He confidentially announces his plan as being to charge and put down Doc Ock and then take out Crossbones**. He charges into a position that lets him target both characters as well as contest the vault, but the first steel rush only deals one damage to Ock, so that's the plan out of the window. Ock has two health left so he tries again, paying for both Master Swordsman and Steel Rush, but Ock is rolling fire on defence and 5 hits are met by 5 blocks. Zemo quickly scoops up the cube in case he can hold on to it, but doesn't fancy his chances.


**You've gotta dream, haven't you?



Cabal 3 - Doc Ock activates despite Zemo's best efforts to keep him out for the round. His arm lasers yield the game's first fatality and Zemo is quietly retuned to the box. Ock finishes his activation by advancing back on the vault and picking up the cube fragment. Ock is now on two cubes. He ends his turn with a Medpack on himself otherwise those cubes will daze him.


Avengers 3 - Hawkeye dazzles everyone with his mobility and range. A Hook Shot and an advance sees him join his fellow Avengers on the left-flank. He quickly grabs the cube Venom dropped (Hawkeye and Doc Ock are both now carrying two extracts each) and then applies a Field Dressing to Black Widow getting her back on her feet. He finishes by firing an arrow at Red Skull, almost dropping the Cabal leader and leaving him with one health left.


Cabal 4 - It's another thinker for the Cabal and Red Skull's controller muses aloud about all of his options: He could Master of the Cube forwards and attack either Black Widow or Hawkeye, but with both characters possessing a counter-attack that idea is quickly dismissed. There's also the option of just running over the left and using a field dressing to get Venom up or using Master of the Cube to get Zemo back onto the vault - but as he is one power short of doing both and doing either on its own means abandoning his current vault reducing any net gain sees that idea also shelved. He also gives thought to just activating the cube again to load up on power for Round 4, but opts against that as it will likely daze him (though an argument is made that that could actually be a good thing, as he will start the next round on full health, albeit it dazed, rather than healthy but likely to go down to stern look from Hawkeye. Ultimately though, the Cabal decides that this is one of those moments where 'no action is the beast course of action', and Red Skulls just sits back on his vault.




Avengers 5 - Agent Widow looks for a big play, as getting back up this round means the Avengers won't take back the priority token; she's on one health and has a bleed token from Venom's earlier hit though. She starts with signalling for an 'Avengers Assemble', and advanced herself to get within striking range of Red Skull, looking to stop him scoring his vault; Cap can't take advance of it as he is dazed; Panther stays where he is to score his vault and Hawkeye used the opportunity to run straight back towards his deployment table edge and the burden of carrying two cubes will shortly daze him. For her first action she fires her semi-automatic pistols at Red Skull, but doesn't manage to take his final point of health with either shot. She then weight sup her options; there is walking back to interrogate Venom for another point in clean-up; staying on target to try daze Red Skull; or removing her bleed token so that she doesn't become dazed herself. The best option of those is decided to be stopping the Cabal scoring that vault and she fires her pistols again, this time striking home. Red Skull is dazed, Widow takes bleed damage and hits the ground shortly after him, and with that Round 3's Activation Phase ends. Here's how the board is looking after all that:



In the Clean-up Phase, the Avengers score 3 points with the left-hand vault and two extracts secured, while the Cabal score 4 points having the right-hand vault and 3 of the extracts. So the Cabal close the gap slightly and the score after 3 rounds is 13-11 to the Avengers.


Round 4


In the power phase the vaults once again have no effect on anyone, leaving the players musing about how much safer a Black Order invasion is than carrying a spider-infected person. Useful info indeed should you ever find yourself caught in the MCU. Cube carriers get their power and damage, at which point Hawkeye succumbs to carrying two cubes and is dazed. The Avengers will only have a maximum of three activation this round to the Cabal's five. It's now or never for the Cabal to steal the game.


Cabal 1- Venom gets the round started with an attempt to daze a currently unscratched Black Panther before he does anything. A 'We are Venom' does 2 damage with a 6v4 roll and that's followed-up with a Symbiote Tendrils that doesn't manage any damage but does at least give Panther a bleed token. Venom takes one last crack at getting the daze by spending the last of his power on a Klyntar Rage to drop the nearby Size 3 building on Panther, which causes another 2 points of damage. So it's 4 total damage and a bleed to Panther's 6 health and the Cabal player states that it was probably a better play to simply grab the two tokens Hawkeye had just dropped rather than spend Venom's last power on the throw.


Avengers 1 - Black Panther reminds people why he's the King with another massive Kinetic Burst, this time targeting Baron Zemo. Zemo whiffs his defence, Panther rolls big and that's both Zemo's back in the box. The wild blast effect hits Venom for a point of damage and shoves him off the vault. Panther picks up the cube Zemo dropped and removes his bleed counter with his second action.


Cabal 2 - Doc Ock tries to deal with Captain America to keep his vault secure, but Cap is a defensive powerhouse on his wounded side with both his vibranium shield and now counting blank rolls as successes on defence. Ock fires his Arm Lasers and hits Cap with his Strike, but can't manage a single point of damage from either. He ends his activation by using 'Ock's Clutches' to simply throw Cap away.


(Score projection update! With the Cabal having one more vault and cube secured right at this moment, if the round had ended here it would have been Avengers 15 v Cabal 15. Close!)


Avengers 2 - Agent Widow, who is Blindly Obsessed with Venom, unleashes her Automatic Pistols at him, The second attack is never rolled, as the first is 7 hits to 0 blocks and Venom is the third fatality. She then moves back to pick up the two available cube fragments. That's all 5 extracts being carried again.


Cabal 3 - With two activations remaining to the Avengers' one; the Cabal decide to Pass and see what happens....


Avengers 3 - Captain America throws his shield at Ock for one point of damage, he doesn't get the wild to ricochet it into Crossbones (probably for the best - ed), and then walks back to secure the south vault.


Cabal 4 - It's time for that late-game math. Ignoring Agent Widow - Black Panther and Captain America with their one cube and two vaults will get the Avengers to a game-ending 16 points while the Cabal are currently set to score 15 - so the two cubes Widow is holding is just overkill. It's time for the Hail Mary play. Red Skulls intention is to; Advance towards Widow; use Master of the Cube to pull Crossbones back towards the top Vault so that he doesn't lose that point and Crossbones can secure it on his turn; Kill Agent Widow with a blast from the cube; and then play 'Face Me' to pull Panther of his Vault denying a point there. If it all works, then the Avengers would pick up two points, the Cabal 4 and they would take the game back and win it 15 - 17. So, he starts. Red Skull Advances, Crossbones runs back to the vault, Red Skull Unleashes the Cube, but its 3 hits to 3 blocks and the dream ends there. Skull can still use Face Me to get Black Panther of the left-hand vault, but Cap's vault and the Avengers 3 cubes will move the Avengers to 17 points, while all the Cabal has left is a double advance with Crossbones to take the top vault again, netting 4 total points for the round.


Final score: Avengers 17** v Cabal 15

** 18 if you count the fact that after 'mathing out' how the game would end the Face Me wasn't actually played.



Post-Match banter, or, After the credits analysis


A few snippets of chat after the game that may interest you:


The Cabal identified two main factors for why he felt he lost: Firstly, Red Skull was the wrong person to keep back. You need to secure your back objective for points, but on a D map whoever does it probably can't interact with the characters on the other points. So rather than keeping his 4-point leader back who has abilities and cards that support teammates, it probably should have been someone else like Crossbones or Ock who stayed back given the lack of a 2-pointer available. Red skull was a stark contrast to Hawkeye in that game who was more impactful while camping a vault, despite being a point cheaper.


Secondly, as mentioned in the report, Venom's big play against Panther was greedy, he should have picked up both extracts and walked away, saving that power for a big 'So Many Snack/We are Venom' when someone came for his cubes.


For the Avengers, the missed Avengers Assemble was the main gripe with the gameplay. There were certainly missed opportunities with Agent Widow, but some of that is to be expected when using a new hero for the first time.


Finally, everyone agreed that the cafes bacon cheesy chips were amazing, but if the portion was too much** remains open to debate.


**It wasn't



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