Earth’s Mightiest Core Set is the new starter set box for Atomic Mass Games’ superhero miniature skirmish game Marvel: Crisis Protocol. It’s considered the new entry point for the tabletop game, an iteration and upgrade on the 2019 starter set that was launched when MCP first released.
Atomic Mass Games has said the set is the product of a larger team, with more experience designing minis and rules. Released in October 2023, it’s designed to provide a better launch pad for new players, intended to give a taste of the full breadth of Marvel Crisis Protocol, including newer mechanics like grunts and transforming characters.
Of course, the primary draw for new players is that the Mightiest Core Set will be the best place to get everything you need to start playing the Marvel miniature wargame – including dice, cards, measuring tools, 13 minis, and 26 bits of terrain – way cheaper than you’ll find them elsewhere. Though Marvel Crisis Protocol has a low miniature count, those minis can be rather expensive, and splashing out for official terrain too can definitely sting.
Having shopped around a little, we’re seeing this Marvel board game now selling for anywhere between $119 and $150, and £106 – £135 in the UK. Given that a pack of two minis will easily set you back $30, an affiliation pack of four will be at least $50, and small packs of terrain will cost upwards of $40, it’s fair to say there’s value for money here. If you’re happy with the characters available, and definitely want to give this game a good try, then you probably can’t go wrong with the Earth’s Mightiest Core Set.
That said, this second core set for Marvel Crisis Protocol has a challenge it must overcome. It needs to offer more than the original core set, which is still available, and a good $30 cheaper than the new box. So, with that said, let’s have a look at what’s inside.
The previous core set had 10 minis and nine pieces of terrain, and Atomic Mass Games has bumped those numbers up to 13 and 26 respectively. Not shabby at all! While there are 13 minis in the box, there are actually only 11 characters here. The other two minis include the binary form that Captain Marvel can transform into and the drones Ultron can summon forth.
The characters in Earth’s Mightiest Core Set are mostly the same A-listers from the previous box, but they come with all new sculpts and new stat cards. They are:
- Captain Marvel, Cosmic Avenger
- Captain America, First Avenger
- The Black Widow
- Invincible Iron Man
- Spectacular Spiderman
And for the baddies we have:
- Doc Ock, Sinister Scientist
- Red Skull, Master of the World
- Crossbone, Merciless Merc
- Ultron, Metal Tyrant
- Baron Helmut Zemo
Then there’s Winter Soldier, Operative who can ride with pretty much anyone.
It’s worth emphasising that these characters play very differently to their previously released counterparts – and they even come with completely different threat levels. For instance, Black Widow was previously a diddy two threat character, but this new version of her is a four threat heavy-hitter.
In terms of affiliations, you’ve got the models to build a squad for SHIELD, Hydra, Cabal, and Avengers, with a leadership ability for each one. Of the 20 team tactics cards in the box, however, the only ones with affiliations are connected to Cabal and Avengers, so that’s probably the intended experience. Doc Ock has the potential to lead a Spider-Foes team, but you’ve got no one else for him to be buds with.
It’s clear that Atomic Mass Games wanted to show off and strut its stuff a little with the models in Earth’s Mightiest Core Set. Because many of the same characters are consistent across starter sets, you can see a clear progression from the old models to the new, and the new have far more dynamic poses and interesting surroundings on the whole.
Black Widow is a good example. In the 2019 set she’s firing her wrist cuff at a foe, but the 2023 box takes this to a new action-packed level where she’s now kicking an Ultron drone in half. Similarly, Spiderman goes from just standing there to swinging above a venom symbiote. Several of the minis are flying on blasts of fire or energy, and Doc Ock is wonderfully suspended by his troublesome tentacles.
Assembling the Avengers
Building the models in the Earth’s Mightiest Core Set was for the most part an easy ride. I found the pieces were laid out very orderly on the sprues, and it was never hard to find anything. My main experience with building and painting miniatures involves chonky Warhammer 40k Orks and Space Marines, so at first I found the slender limbs of these athletic Avengers rather alarming, but everything felt fairly sturdy, even spindly supers like Spiderman on his webbing.
The instructions are easy to follow for most minis. In fact some – like Winter Soldier and Baron Zemo – were so straightforward I could almost forgo the instructions altogether. The kit starts you off with Captain America, who is super easy to construct seamlessly. This is great, considering it might be someone’s very first experience building minis.
Other figures in the box proved a bit more challenging. The energy blasts in particular can be tough to connect to the feet, with very small and subtly marked connection points required to take an awful lot of strain. (I ended up with a droopy Iron Man on the first attempt as a result of a lack of patience).
I also had a difficult time getting everything to connect with Black Widow and Doctor Octopus, some of the most complicated miniatures in this box. Both these figures have some very small and fiddly parts that require precision to connect them together (and a couple of times these were fumbled to the floor amidst much cursing).
Getting Doc Ock’s tentacles to all line up so they came out his back at the right angles to connect with the claws on the base was the only time I actually got annoyed with the building process (which is a shame because his model is my absolute favorite of the bunch.)
However, overall I had a good time building these heroes, and once complete the minis look gorgeous. They’re very high quality, with fine details in plastic, connection points that were always very well disguised, and few mold lines to speak of.
Terrain was no problem either, I blitzed through it in a couple of hours (I was eager to get playing) and had no issues fitting it together.
I had a lot of fun trying out my first few games of Marvel Crisis Protocol. While I’m here to judge the core box as a product, and not the overall quality of this miniatures game, I will give a couple of quick first impressions.
I love the push and pull and cinematic feel of combat, with your characters getting hurt helping power them up for a big attack. The complexity was at a good level for me too – I could see that there was plenty of room for tactical depth under the surface, but most effects were also quickly grokkable, without having to scour through loads of reference rules.
Crisis Protocol makes dice rolling exciting too, with particular symbols triggering your characters’ special effects, and the chance to roll extra dice on crits.
So far my least favorite thing about the game is a relatively minor quibble. It’s all the different kinds of unique tokens: having to stack these up on your stat cards is a bit of a faff.
As an onboarding tool, Marvel Crisis Protocol: Earth’s Mightiest Core Set is pretty solid, but there are definitely things it could do better. The rule book is very clear and concise. It lays information out nicely, with illustrated and written examples to help you get to grips with the rules, and box outs with handy reminders. There’s even a quick reference section at the back, to check the rules while playing.
I do think the order it gives you information is a little strange, however. There’s an obvious logic to the way it’s laid out – talking you through the game from start to finish. However, when I’m first learning a game, I probably want to read about the basic mechanics of combat and movement before I learn about roster building and affiliations. Perhaps a more expanded overview section might’ve helped here.
I also think that while the Earth’s Mightiest Core Set rulebook makes it very clear how to play Marvel Crisis Protocol, there’s almost nothing to help you figure out how to play Marvel Crisis Protocol well.
Some sort of suggestion for an easy starting scenario to try out, or better still, a one-line overview of the strengths and weaknesses of each hero in the box would’ve made it a lot easier for me to get stuck in and start enjoying myself sooner. I’m not asking for it to hold my hand the whole way, but there’s literally no guidance at all anywhere in the box.
Overall, I found Marvel Crisis Protocol: Earth’s Mightiest Core Set to be a very solid starter set. It’s well presented, has a generous amount of content for the price, and explains the game’s rules clearly. Some slightly sturdier connection points to minis and more thought given to the new player experience would’ve bumped this up to full marks, but I can still heartily recommend this mighty box.
The Earth’s Mightiest Core Set provides a good entry point for Marvel Crisis Protocol, and a great way for existing players to expand their collection.