Whether it is The Dread Dormammu or The Dreaded Stark, there’s no character in the Marvel Crisis Protocol Universe which fails to send a shiver down the spine of their enemies… at least some of the time. Today let’s look at The Dreaded… Ms. Marvel
I will admit that it is impossible for me to assess Ms. Marvel objectively. Kamala Khan and her struggles to balance home, school and superheroism were the comics that drew me back in after more than a decade away. If it wasn’t for those fantastic stories my love for Marvel would be nowhere near as high and I probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near as interested in Crisis Protocol when it dropped. Luckily, Ms. Marvel is a character who has a lot of things to offer and whose card is a little deceptive at first glance, making her perfect for me to talk about and offering a thin veneer of plausibility for my fangushing, so let’s jump in!
When I first saw this character spoiled I was, honestly, disappointed. There are a few elements of design which seem to run against her depiction in the comics; electricity is her canonical weakness, and she doesn’t have the healing factor or disguises which were vital in her early days. However, after putting her down on the table quite a few times, she still feels enough like the Kamala I know and love that these minor quibbles no longer trouble me.
It is important to note that a lot of her powers change depending on whether she is in her normal or Embiggened form. She can’t throw characters or terrain when she is Embiggened (which does, again, feel a little odd) but she maintains access to her Inhuman reroll and poison immunity whether she is big or small.
The fact that her medium move also remains in place across both forms gives her a shocking amount of speed, too. The transform, her massive base, two move actions, and then a transform at the end of her activation can cover ground very fast!
With her Morpho-Punch she can gain consistent power and her reroll helps make the wild trigger hit relatively often. This can catch people by surprise as there aren’t many characters who push characters towards them.
When she goes big, she gains the ability to reroll a further 2 dice against any character of size 3 or less. The Danger Room did an awesome bit of maths on this (thanks for that!) which shows that Ms. Marvel’s High Five is the equivalent of a 7.5 die attack when this is in play – and she gains power for damage dealt.
When I first saw this attack I was underwhelmed – 5 die physical as her biggest shot for damage does not sound great on paper. In practice, however, she is often in position to use this twice if she can embiggen, and the consistency of that damage output has been incredibly high for me on the table. I am comfortable putting her down and expecting her to daze almost any other three or four cost character in the game in two hits – with only a few exceptions like Kingpin, Carnage or Medusa where the health pools and defence are uncommonly high or her rerolls don’t work.
Once she’s done that, her power economy becomes incredible. Three power for two big attacks is hard to argue with– and it is very difficult to stay out of her range. Between the place from transform and range 3 from the bigger base, she is almost at range 5, and it is rare she doesn’t gain more than 3 power from the transformation if there is more than 3 damage to be dealt to targets.
Finally, Polymorph lets her pick up at range 2 – which makes it much easier for her to grab an objective from a character that was a very long way from her at the start of her turn, after she has dazed them.
All of this combines to help her feel a lot like her character in the comics despite the bits of her kit I feel she’s missing. She is easy to underestimate; no one part of card jumps out as being absolutely incredible, but in practice she can easily catch opponents off guard in expected ways; either by spiking high on damage, moving people in strange ways, or transforming and sprinting across the map interacting with objectives at long distances.
In terms of affiliations, Ms. Marvel is an Avenger and an Inhuman. She has great synergy with these teams. Under Sam Wilson’s leadership she is a three-threat character who really enjoys the move to get into a better position. Steve Rogers brings her initial Embiggen down to 2 power meaning that she can get it earlier and more often if she does run out of power, or making it more likely she can throw and transform in the later game, and Hulkbuster provides some protection from collisions – which are one of the better ways to take her out as her Inhuman reroll doesn’t count.
Under Black Bolt, Kamala can make great use of extra power early on to enable a transform but also makes a good battery for handing off power later in the game as she only needs 6 to do everything she can turn to turn. Her loyal hound Lockjaw also combos nicely with her, providing a battery of power she can use to reach the 3 power point she wants and being able to move her up the board for an even bigger threat range.
Ms. Marvel makes a generically solid character in almost any affiliation though. When using her, I tend to decide early on if I need to focus on control or damage with her based on the gameplan of the opposing team. If she needs to control, she can contribute an awful lot simply by using Morpho Punch twice in a turn to displace size 2 characters and generate the power needed for a size 2 throw as well. If she needs to be doing damage she just needs to get to that 3 power sweet spot to transform and then she is likely to be doing that every round – with some turns where she is able to get a size 2 throw in before transforming for extra damage on top.
I don’t think there is any affiliation in the game which dislikes a 3 threat which can displace 3 models in a turn or throw out 2 big attacks at almost range 5. There are some affiliations where she shines more than others, though, and my favourite home for her is in the Web Warriors.
Under Miles’ leadership she gains an additional defensive reroll – meaning that her weakest defense is 3 with two rerolls which is surprisingly tanky. She also gains the ability to reroll skulls when she is contesting or holding an objective token. Combined with her natural rerolls this can really tip her over the edge and let her get another shot if she rolls a couple of skulls in her High Five.
As well as all that, Miles and Ms. Marvel have a tactics card which is a lot of fun and really plays to Ms. Marvel’s mobility. A Better Tomorrow allows both Miles and Ms. Marvel to spend 2 power each. Ms. Marvel then transforms but places at range 3 instead of range 1, and Miles places range 1 from Ms. Marvel’s base.
Then remember that she can potentially spend her actions moving from that enormous new base.
It is difficult to envision how much movement this amounts to, but these photos should help.
As you can see, this means that Ms. Marvel can go from securing a side point on a D, to bring Miles back very close to securing the home point, and then if she wants to she can move twice to finish on the opposite side D.
It can also – as I’ve used it many times – let Ms. Marvel suddenly be within range 3 to attack twice in her embiggened form and threaten a key objective holder. Range 3 place + her base + range 3 attack is significantly longer than range 5! If the opponent was relying on stealth to keep their extract runner safe this can be a rude surprise.
Or, just as importantly, it can let you pull Miles back and out of danger after he has stolen an objective. The card doesn’t need to be played on Ms. Marvel’s activation; so long as Miles is within 2 of Ms. Marvel, he can be placed 3 and then 1 from Ms. Marvel’s current position, with his own stealth helping keep him safe.
Ms. Marvel’s other card – Fan Club – provides a range of options. If you are running both Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel, Kamala can pay 3 power when Captain Marvel uses her throw (and then makes a size 3 throw herself), when Captain Marvel transforms (to transform and push away all enemy characters within 2 short) or when Captain Marvel uses her rocket punch (to advance M towards the attacked character).
The movement is something I rarely use, but the ability to push even characters like Juggernaut and Dormammu off a point can be key, and the size 3 throw out of activation can also catch people by surprise.
It is worth noting that both these cards allow Ms. Marvel to transform outside of her turn. Sometimes, that can be something you really want – becoming size 4 means that there are far fewer throws and pushes which can move her and sometimes you just want her to be unmovable. However, it also means that she won’t be able to use her throw during her next activation as she can’t transform back until after she is done.
Captain Marvel has synergy with Ms. Marvel beyond just her tactics card. They are both 4 energy defence characters, which can be great on a secure like Deadly Meteors (and Ms. Marvel’s mobility allows her to easily move between meteors in later rounds). They are also both immune to poison, helping them on Terrigen Mists or when facing off against Omega Red.
As well as Miles’ leadership making Ms. Marvel’s rerolls that much more valuable, she also performs well under Amazing Spider-Man’s leadership. Here, I generally find it more useful to focus on her as a control piece rather than a damage dealer. Her ability to push people towards her with her morpho-punch is very useful in a gameplan which revolves around slowing characters and keeping them out of position, and her throw at range three can double down on that. If she is targeted, she will usually have the power to transform and then hit back hard if she needs to defend herself, and if she wins that exchange she’ll have the power to consistently fuel her throw and the leadership each round from then on.
The last piece of advice I have for using Ms. Marvel is a bit sneaky and table dependent. However, if you have a piece of size 3, 4 or 5 terrain near a secure point, Ms. Marvel can suddenly become much more frustrating to deal with.
This opens up a line of play where Ms. Marvel can transform, place her embiggened model on top of the piece of terrain, and shoot out range 3 from there. When her activation is over, she then transforms back behind the piece of terrain and the opponent no longer has line of sight to her. This can dictate the line of approach your opponent has to take and make it difficult to dig her out from the terrain – often meaning that if it is a piece of size 3 or 4 terrain, the opponent has to throw that at her rather than at one of your other pieces just to stop you repeating the process turn on turn. Ms. Marvel doesn’t like having things thrown at her, but if this saves one of your more valuable pieces it often feels like a win regardless!
If you leave her on her own to just do her thing, she will perform reliably and well. If she has her friends with her though – if she can get that combo with Miles or with Captain Marvel – and if she can turn the terrain to her advantage, she will shine and often have more impact on the table than characters who cost more than she does.
There are always more synergies than just the ones I’ve explored here. I know a lot of A-Force players are considering Ms. Marvel as a core part of their team even though she isn’t affiliated with them because once she reaches 3 power she can start to generate her own power very reliably and let other hungry team members become the focus (like Captain Marvel).
As I mentioned at the start, though, I don’t think there’s any team where she feels bad. I’ve used her to great effect in Cabal, where Red Skull helps her just explode with power, and in Asgard to help her deal with status effects that can otherwise slow her down – shock, incinerate and stun all feel especially bad with her.
In conclusion, your opponent should dread Ms. Marvel if:
- The board is spread out so she can leverage her strong one on one skills.
- You’re playing her alongside Miles or Captain Marvel.
- You have a lot of expensive tactics cards she can fuel like Follow Me or Patch Up.
- Your table has the opportunity for sneaky terrain shenanigans.
- You are playing Terrigen Mists, Spider Portals or Deadly Meteors where her poison immunity and 4 energy defence are highly relevant.
But perhaps Ms. Marvel should dread if:
- You’re expecting to face multiple size 4 characters and/or characters that shut off her rerolls.
- Your opponent has a lot of terrain throws to hit her with.
- She’s going to be a priority target in a list that will keep priority with high damage characters (Black Order, Brotherhood, Cabal).
- Your opponent is bringing a lot of status effects and you have few ways of clearing them.
So that’s Ms. Marvel! An excellent all-round character with some tactics cards that can push her over the top in some situations and a great home out of affiliation as well as with her affiliated teams.
Do you have a character you’d like to understand why your opponents should dread? Please feel free to send an email over to ADreadedGoose@gmail.com and perhaps I can help!