Well, GenCon weekend has been and gone. AMG did a very fine job in pumping out the spoilers/reveals and getting us all hyped up for the second year of Crisis Protocol. As a fan of Doctor Strange I was more than a little excited when on the last day the character card for the Master of the Mystic Arts himself was released on social media. The miniature of the good doctor is wondrous, but do his abilties match? Let’s see!
STAMINA – At 6 stamina Stephen is no slouch in the health department.
MOVEMENT – A medium move is entirely average, but remember that Doctor Strange is on a 50mm base, so he will be a bit quicker than a 35mm base medium mover.
SIZE – 2, were we really expecting anything different?
THREAT – At 5 threat Doctor Strange is on the high end, up there with Ebony Maw, M.O.D.O.K and Thor, so we can expect Stephen (I think I will henceforth refer to him as DS to save myself additional typing – these articles take long enough already!) to do some serious work on the battlefield.
DEFENCES – DS has a decent defensive lineup, with 3 dice for physical, and 4 for energy and mystic respectively. I was expecting something a little higher for mystic but hey ho, no complaints from me at 4. The 3 physical is worrying though as there are no shortage of physical attacks in the game, but perhaps DS’s abilities will make up for it somehow.
ATTACKS – 2 attacks are on offer on DS’s character card, the first of which is an energy attack called Bolts of Bedevilment. This attack has a range of 4, strength of 5 and power cost of 0. After the attack is resolved power equal to the damage dealt is gained, and if the attack deals damage then after it resolves the target character may be pushed short. Everything on this attack is solid, great range, decent strength, power gain and an optional push. Very good for a basic free attack. Range 4 pushes are not too common at all.
DS’s second attack is, somewhat unsurprisingly, a mystic attack, and is called Crimson Bands of Cyttorak. This attack has a range of 3, strength of 6 and power cost of 4. After this attack is resolved the target character automatically gains the Stagger special condition. All fair enough, although a bit on the weaker side for a big attack. But wait, there’s more, and prepare yourself for a trip to flavour-town! Roll a critical hit, a wild and a hit and you can trigger Mystic Binding. This effect states that after the attack is resolved instead of inflicting the stagger special condition if the target character does not have an activated token, DS may give it an ativated token. GAME CHANGER ALERT! First off, I love the theme on this. Just like with the double wild required to trigger Mesmerise on Loki’s Illusions, you need exactly the right die roll to pull this off, just like DS crafting a spell. But aside from theme, although tricky to pull off, this is yet another way to go about crippling your opponent. And what fun! Imagine how poised you and your opponent will be as you let go of the dice, one hoping for the right roll and one hoping for a fumble! I’m sure Xavier Protocols will have calculated how often this ability would statistically trigger, and it’s not something which im going to discuss here as dice maths is not my thing, but when you do finally pull this off, how glorious a time that will truly be! Also, regardless of Mystic Binding, sticking an automatic Stagger on an opponent after a big attack is not something to look down ones nose at.
LEADERSHIP ABILITY – DS has a leadership ability called Mystic Empowerment, which is the ability for the Defenders affiliation (which currently comprises DS himself, Peter Parker Spider-Man, Hulk, Valkyrie, Wong, Hawkeye, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Ghost Rider). This ability states that once per turn, when an allied character declares an attack, before choosing a target it may spend 1 power. If it does then you may choose whether the attack type is physical, energy or mystic. Then if the attack deals damage the target character gains the Hex special condition. As a reminder the Hex special condition states that the character with the condition doesn’t roll aditional dice for its critical results during attack, defence or dodge rolls. Well, that’s insane. 1 power to be able to make 1 attack per turn target a characters weakest defence stat, then deny them the ability to explode their critical hits until they shake the Hex special condition?! This is surely one of the strongest and most flexible affiliations in the game?! Amazing, and I am really looking forward to seeing how it actually plays on the table. Can you imagine doing a powered up Hulk Smash! attack and deciding to make it mystic or energy?! Or how about making Valkyrie’s attacks energy? This is a nice way of getting around the vibranium powers of Captain America and Black Panther too, as they only apply to physical and energy attacks. A really interesting and powerful affiliation ability indeed.
SUPERPOWERS – Superpower number 1 is active, has a power cost of 3 and is called Oshtur’s Refuge. This superpower states that DS or an allied character within range 2 of him can remove up to 3 damage. You only get to use this superpower once per turn, but removing 3 damage is pretty mega. This is basically a team tactics card which can be used once per turn for the whole game, pretty darn nifty.
DS’s second superpower is reactive, has a power cost of 2 and is called Hoggoth’s Hoary Wisdom. This superpower states that when DS or an allied character witin range 3 of him is targeted by an attack then you can add 2 dice to the target characters defence roll against this attack. This is a really nice superpower to have access to, and not only because of its wonerful name. Parking DS up in a central location and throwing out additional defence dice is looking to be a viable strategy. An allied Hulk suddenly became pretty robust! And best of all there is no limit to how often this superpower can be used.
The next superpower is innate and is called Eye of Agamotto. This superpower states that DS may modify and reroll critical failure dice results, and he may reroll all of his attack or defence dice once per attack. Being able to modify and reroll critical failures is huge, and is reminiscent of the Web Warriors affiliation ability, but then on top of that being able to reroll all attack or defence dice is great. Got a dodgy roll? Reroll all the dice and then set to getting them modified. Lovely.
Next up is Shield of the Seraphim which is another innate superpower. This superpower states that whenever DS rolls dice, after the effect is resolved he gains 1 power if he rolled at least 1 block (shield). This is very reminiscent of Shuri’s Head of Wakanda R&D which allows Shuri to gain 1 power whenever she rolls a critical failure, and possibly you have seen how often that triggers. This is a nice way for DS to get a little extra power which can fuel his healing and defence dice superpowers, and team tactics cards too of course.
Last up we have a final hit of innate superpowers – Flight which is always nice to see on a character, and Gem Bearer [Soul, Time]. As a reminder, the Soul Gem costs 1 threat and allows its bearer to gain 1 power whenever an enemy character within range 4 uses an active or reactive superpower; and the Time Gem costs 2 threat and allows its bearer to perform an additional action during its activation, for the cost of 1 power. It’s a tough decision to choose between the 2, but being able to fire off 3 Crimson Bands of Cyttorak is no bad thing… But then again using the Soul Gem to get DS loaded up with power to provide healing and defence dice for his allies is pretty amazing too.
INJURED SIDE – Nothing to report here i’m afraid.
SUMMARY – I really love what I am seeing on Doctor Strange’s card. Pulling off Mystic Binding is going to feel brilliant, I love the Defenders affiliation ability, and I love the ability of being able to pump out healing and additional defence dice for my allies. I think Doctor Strange won’t be moving off my tabletop for a good long while once he releases.
AFFILIATIONS – Well, as the leader of The Defenders he slots right into a Defenders affiliation. DS is likely going to be pretty flush with power, especially if running a Gem, so paying for the ability is not going to be a problem. Turning any of his attacks into any attack type to ensure damage gets through is lovely.
A Web Warriors affilaition doesn’t make a tremendous amount of sense, as DS can already modify or reroll critical failures anyway, but the access to additional defence dice is nice. But hey, maybe you just want to see DS on the table with some spider folk, and that’s just fine by me.
Spider-Foes is an interesting affiliation to run DS in. Not only does he get to mess around with his own dice, but now he is changing the opposing defence dice too. Very nice for getting damage through.
Avengers makes for some nicely discounted healing, and DS would get to give allies 2 additional defence dice for a mere 1 power. Remember there is no limit to the times this superpower can be used, DS just has to be able to pay for it. Mega.
Cabal could be interesting, as DS has access to decent rerolls and modification of critical failures, meaning that his attacks will be quite consistent, playing nicely into a Cabal gameplan.
Wakandan/Guardians of the Galaxy would add more consistency to DS’s attacks and defences, but really he already has access to added consistency so this may not be the best tactical choice, but fun to run nonetheless.
An Asgardian affiliation would double down on the healing aspect, but at 5 threat running him alongside Thor makes for 10 threat already on the team, and Asgardians are already costly.
Black Order are also already pushed for space threat-wise, but adding healing and additional defences into the team would make them unbelievably tough, meaning they can stick around longer to do some K.O’ing.
TEAM TACTICS CARDS – There are 3 team tactics cards which come with Doctor Strange and Wong which are very Strange-specific. Pentagram of Farallah is a Defenders affiliated reactive card which either Wong or Doctor Strange can play if they pay 2 power. If either does so then they place a Mystic Portal token within range 1 of them, and a second token within range 5 of them. Then, at any time during a characters activation they can spend 1 power once per turn whilst within range 1 of a Mystic Portal to be placed within range 1 of the other mystic portal. Pretty amazing – it’s like Black Order’s Mothership, but not quite as epic in terms of distance travelled. Note that there is no restriction on the characters that can use the portals, so your opponents characters can take advantage of them too. Still, in the right situation this is a powerful play – it’ll get you across to your opponents gamma shelter nicely. Plus, you’ll feel like a badass jumping your characters acros the board.
Seven Suns of Cinnibus is our next team tactics card and is unaffiliated and active. If it is Doctor Strange’s activation and there are 2 other non-dazed allied within range 2 of him then he can spend 3 power to avail himself of the Seven Suns of Cinnibus attack. This is an energy attack with a range of B5, strength of 8 and power cost of 0. Epic length, epic strength – what more can be said! It is a pretty amazing attack for 3 power. Plus, after each attack is resolved the target enemy character gains the Incinerate special condition (remove 1 die from defence rolls). This is a mega attack, and truly worth of the Sorcerer Supreme. The restriction is that Strange needs 2 other non-dazed allies within range 2 of him, which can be tricky depending on the crises being played – careful crisis selection required.
Lastly, Vapors of Valtorr is an unaffiliated active card which also requires 2 other non-daze allies to be within range 2 of Doctor Strange, and costs him 3 power to use. Strange chooses a character within range 3 of him and that character gains 3 Obscuring Mist Tokens. Each time the character with the tokens is targeted by an attack you shuffle the tokens and reveal 1 at random. If the token is blank on the back you get to reroll any number of the attackers dice, but if the token has a silhouette the attack continues as normal. At the end of the round you remove all Obscuring Mist tokens from the character. There is a 1 in 3 chance that you will pull the token with a silhouette on each time you attack, but as the tokens last all round you can focus fire on the “vapored” character and shuffle the tokens each time, hopefully getting more mists than silhouettes over the course of the round. Out of the 3 Strange-centric team tactics cards this is probably the one I will use the least, but that is more because the other 2 are so darn amazing rather than this being super-weak. When you think about it, this is a heck of a lot of rerolls over the course of a round, I think I need to run this in a few more games to get to grips with it a bit more.
As for more generic team tactics cards Advanced R&D could be a good shout, as DS is likely to be sat on a bit of power, which he could share around his allies with this card.
You all knew it was coming, I am going to talk about Battle Lust now, so just deal with it. When using DS’s Crimson Bands of Cyttorak you want Mystic Binding to trigger so you can give an activated token to the target character. Battle Lust and other cards that grant additional attack dice such as Heavy Firepower, One-Two Punch and Unearthly Rage will give you additioanl chances to get the dice roll you need.
If you are running an allied Groot and Rocket Raccoon then running Deadly Duo in a Defenders affilaition is going to be pretty mega – Rocket gets 3 attacks and you get to choose the attack type for each, as well as potentially dole out the Hex special condition. And that is all on top of Rocket’s standard 2 attacks.
Running Doomed Prophecy to play on an allied character could make for interesting fun if in a Defenders affiliation – use it to play a physical attack and then swap ot the attack type using the leadership ability. Powerful.
Lastly, No Matter the Cost has an interesting synergy with DS. DS can take 3 damage to reduce the cost of Crimson Bands of Cyttorak to a measly 1 power, then later on use his Oshtur’s Revenge to heal it right back.
So what do you make of Doctor Strange? And what think you of the Defenders affiliation ability? Comment below!