Doomed Prophecy 2: Evaluating Attacks

Now that we’ve covered the basics of scenario, it’s time to look at the other way to win – punching stuff. Marvel Crisis Protocol has a wide variety of attacks available to characters, and often requires players to choose between several of them. I will propose some loose categories of attacks, and then talk about how to choose the right attack and what attacks make a character exciting.

The easiest categorization is whether the attack is physical, energy or mystic. In general, physical attacks are the most common and also the most likely to have defensive rules that affect them – and are therefore the least valuable. Mystic attacks are currently highly variable – some characters are weak to them, but many (especially in convocation) are very strong against them. Energy attacks are easily the most valuable, especially those that are range 3 or higher – there are very few characters with defenses that work against energy, and many that are weak to it.

The next category is range and, like many wargames, bigger ranges are always better (since if it is a disadvantage you can just use the shorter range as well). In the future I will do an article describing which ranges are important for each scenario setup, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Now let’s get into the jargon. Most characters have an attack which increases their power and an attack that costs power to use. If the attack costs 0 and gives power equal to the damage done, it is often referred to as a “builder“. These are the most commonly used attacks, and while it is possible for them to not actually get any power, they are very valuable in that they maintain power parity (you’ll usually gain just as much power as the target gets). If the attack costs 0 and gives exactly one power, it is often referred to as a “gainer“. These are often found on attacks that can repeat themselves (such as rapid fire and beams) and are very consistent, but a good roll means that your opponent will gain much more power than you. Be sure not to complain about that in the moment, “I did way too much damage” will rarely get your opponent’s sympathy. All attacks that cost power are referred to as “spenders” and will usually not return power to the person using them. This means that you need to be absolutely sure you need the extra dice and/or special effects before using them, since they both drain your power, give power to your opponent and don’t replace power on your own character. 

I would argue that the baseline attack for a 3 threat character is a range 2, 5 die builder, so I will use that as a baseline for comparison. Adding an additional die to the attack adds an expected value of 9/16 of a hit. A single reroll has slightly less value than that because its critical effects do not “explode” (roll an extra die) and it is possible that you rolled all successes or non-rerollable skulls and don’t get to use it. I would put the expected value somewhere around 7/16 of a hit for a reroll, though it is a bit higher if you have more dice to start with. Similarly, the Pierce (or wild throw) special rule is worth about 5/16 of a hit (for a 5 die attack) depending on how many dice both sides have. With that in mind, here are the expected values of many common attacks (ignoring defensive rules).

Number of DiceReroll?Pierce?Expected Damage (ratio)Expected Damage (decimal)

Some takeaways from this chart:

  1. Never use a spender that is only one die better than the builder (unless you need the special effects). Half a damage isn’t worth spending effectively 4 power on.
  2. A reroll or pierce are almost as good as another die, but don’t seem to be undervalued by AMG’s threat values. Don’t discount characters with 4 die + reroll attacks.

Finally, a note. Because of the way that marvel dice work (both sets of dice can spike high or low, sometimes simultaneously, with no cap on damage), multiple attacks are much more valuable than they appear. They’re easy to discount because they usually have lower dice (such as rapid fire or beams), but they give more chances for those spikes to happen – so it doesn’t matter that their expected damage is ~0 against most defenses if you get 5 damage through on one of them anyways. Pay even more to cheap spenders that allow you to make an attack that gives power back, since they have the advantages of multiple attacks and mitigate some of the disadvantages of spenders. However, think very carefully before using an area attack, AMG seems to massively overvalue these – giving them high power costs, few special rules and modest dice bonuses. Unless you can hit 4 or more enemy characters, area attacks are often a mistake.

I hope this gives you a framework to decide which attack to use in a given situation (from a damage point of view), and will hopefully explain why some of the most powerful characters simply use their 0 cost attacks over and over again.

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