How the X-Men Came to Marvel: Crisis Protocol

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(Photo: Atomic Mass Games/Marvel)

The X-Men are coming to Marvel: Crisis Protocol. Earlier this week, Atomic Mass Games announced that the X-Men would be coming in a future wave of the miniatures skirmish game Marvel: Crisis Protocol, with iconic mutants like Cyclops, Wolverine, and Magneto joining the game's ever-growing roster later this year. This is a big step for Marvel: Crisis Protocol as the game enters its second year, and we sat down (via email) with Atomic Mass Games' Head of Studio Will Shick to get all the details about their big announcement, how they chose a specific motif for the X-Men's costumes, and how the game plans to handle the many interconnection factions and teams within the mutant community. Why did you decide to hold off on bringing the X-Men into Marvel: Crisis Protocol until the second year of the game?

Will Shick, Atomic Mass Games Head of Studio: When we set out to create the game, the MCU was firing on all cylinders with Avengers: Infinity War setting up to take these beloved characters to the next level and Avengers: Endgame (at the time the name being a burning mystery) sure to shatter the impossible heights even Infinity War was sure to achieve. With that in mind, we knew the focus of the Marvel: Crisis Protocol Core Set was going to be based around many of the characters fans had spent the last 10 years coming to know and love both in the movies and in the comics. While we initially discussed having certain mutants make early appearances in the game, something just felt a little off with that approach. Let’s be honest, the X-Men are a cultural phenomenon all on their own and we realized very early on that whatever we did in bringing them into Marvel: Crisis Protocol had to respect and pay homage to their rich history and importance to the Marvel Universe.

So the idea quickly became to lay the groundwork of Marvel: Crisis Protocol by focusing on the Avengers and other major non-mutant characters of the Marvel Universe for the launch and first year of the game. We knew that, outside of having to weather the hurricane of “X-Men when?” questions that were sure to come from the fans, that whether it was year one, two or ten, the arrival of the X-Men would be a dramatic and huge celebratory event in the game. One that would energize the community that had formed around it and takes the narratives people were playing out with their friends on tabletops around the world to the next level. Of course, being fans ourselves, we also had no intention of waiting longer than necessary to get these incredible characters into miniature form and in the game. After several internal discussions, we landed on making their arrival tie in with the 1st anniversary of the game. This gave us space and freedom to focus our attention on bringing the X-Men and their mutant adversaries into the game with the fanfare and focus they deserved.

The X-Men, perhaps more so than the Avengers or any other team, has had so many different iterations and "iconic" rosters. Is there a particular era that you'll be modeling the characters off of? Will we be seeing multiple factions within the X-Men, as even villains like Magneto have been part of the team at various points?

One of the biggest challenges, when we began designing the X-Men for Crisis Protocol, was how to decide on what era to pull our inspiration from. While every creative team places their mark and influence on the Marvel characters they work on, the X-Men are special in that those teams don’t just define a single character for a run, they define the whole team: its look, its attitude, and even to some extent its personality. Because of this, we knew we couldn’t just cherry-pick a little from Hickman and Larraz’s run here or Claremont and Byrne’s there with a little Morrison and Quitely mixed in too. Unlike with what we had done so far with characters like Cap or the Guardians of the Galaxy where we were able to pull inspiration from multiple sources and still maintain the core feel and nature of the characters in the overall line, to do the X-Men right there had to be a unity of era and look. Through a lot of spirited debate and discussion, there was one look that kept coming up as the most defining era of these fan-favorite characters and that was none other than the Chris Claremont and Jim Lee’s X-Men of the ’90s.

As far as in-game affiliations, just like with the characters we’ve done over the last year, we will be introducing several different groups that players can base their squads around if they so choose. The first two of these will be the Uncanny X-Men and The Brotherhood. However, we wanted to throw a nod toward the many iterations even these core groups have had in the comics. That’s why players will notice that both groups are being introduced with two possible leaders instead of the typical single leader for new affiliations in the game. Now a player can choose Cyclops if they want to have their team represent X-Men Blue or they can go with Storm to represent X-Men Gold.

When it comes to seeing these characters crossing over into multiple groups, a lot of that comes down to what period the character is representing and game balance discussions as well, since each character is tested around their affiliations. So for instance the version of Magneto shown during our reveal is through and through Magneto at his most villainous. Someday, Xavier willing, a new version of Magneto may introduce him at the point in which he set aside his more sinister ways and joined up with Cyclops and the rest to atone for his, shall we say, “aggressive” campaign for mutant rights.

Will you be releasing "waves" of X-Men in between other characters, or will the X-Men be a focus for the next year or so of the game?

The initial release will be a solid drop of X-Men products. However, following that initial release players will see a steady stream of both mutant and non-mutant releases. The arrival of the X-Men doesn’t herald a new game or a second product line. It’s all part of the greater Marvel: Crisis Protocol game. And even with a year of steady releases behind us, there are still so many great characters from across the Marvel Universe that we want to do in addition to plans to revisit some of the most iconic characters at different time periods in their narrative journey.

Probably the most important thing for people to know is that we moved a lot of earth and a bit of heaven to make sure that the initial wave of X-Men launched this year despite what 2020 decided to throw at us. That said, doing so has meant that there will be a little bit of a gap between the first X-Men release and the next round of mutant characters to join the game. Despite the gap though, players can rest assured that we have a huge list of additional mutant releases, some of which I think are going to really shake up the game.

Will mutants (who have more innate superpowers than many other heroes) have any new mechanics or other surprises?

The mutant characters certainly will introduce some new abilities and playstyles to the game. However, they don’t have any kind of “new” or different design approach than a non-mutant in Marvel: Crisis Protocol. It’s important to us that every character work and feels appropriate within the game against each other. Again the arrival of the X-Men doesn’t herald a new product line or different game experience. Instead, they simply expand the scope of the stories and games that players can experience with their friends when playing on the tabletop and in their collections. Just as with the characters over the last year, we’ve poured our love of the material into designing the X-Men and I believe that players will see that effort and care reflected in both the miniatures and the rules.



Four character packs, containing Cyclops and Storm, Magneto and Toad, Beast and Mystique, and Wolverine and Sabretooth, will be released for Marvel: Crisis Protocol later this year.