22nd Jul2021

‘Crisis Protocol: Thanos Expansion’ Board Game Review

by Matthew Smail

Thanos (much like the Incredible Hulk) is a Threat 6 character in Atomic Mass’s Crisis Protocol game. Unlike Hulk, however, Thanos is a newer release and comes with a variant designed for play in the “normal” game as well as offering players the first “Ultimate Encounter” variant, which is considerably tougher. Think of these two variants as Thanos before he assembles the Infinity Gauntlet and Thanos after he has achieved his ultimate goal. In the former variant, Thanos plays like any other character – in the latter, he is almost invincible and can only be defeated by two “Crisis Teams” with a combined total of 36 Threat among them, allowing for a special two to three player-game.

Let’s cover the Thanos model itself, before we go into detail around either of his in-play variants. This is a big-box expansion, and Thanos himself is a medium sized model on a medium base – making him smaller than Hulk, but larger than Captain America, Iron Man and other human-sized characters. Venom is also a medium sized character with a model of similar size, though the Thanos miniature (in keeping with the character) is thicker set, with more physical details on the body and face. This allows Thanos to be painted really well (in my humble opinion) and it’s really nice that the set includes both a regular gauntlet and one with the Infinity Stones fitted, which you can use magnets with to make interchangeable.

Unusually, Thanos also comes with his own piece of scenery in the form of a large throne into which his own base can be placed. The throne itself is very large – standing too high to slot into the base game box, and wider than the box is high, so for me it has to be stored on a shelf by itself. There’s a lot of nice chunky detail on the throne, with rocks surrounding it in a nice, three-dimensional way. The only real downside is that in the MCU at least, Thanos’ throne has a fairly muted colour scheme, and so there isn’t much you can do when adding paint besides bring out the detail as best as possible. Either way, Thanos and his throne together make for an impressive, imposing feature on your shelf or table.

When played in Ultimate Encounter mode, Thanos is assumed to have assembled the Infinity Gauntlet and is now on the verge of enacting his terrible, final plan. In a last-ditch attempt to stop him, characters of any affiliation have formed two Crisis Teams (each worth 18 Threat.) In this mode, the two Crisis Teams may activate characters in any order, but with each activation, the players add a token to Thanos’ tracker, and he acts after every third Crisis Team activation. Thanos also begins this mode with pretty much complete invulnerability, and the players must focus their efforts on charging up and defending a number of different objective points that allow them to put suppression tokens on him – the more suppression tokens, the fewer defence dice Thanos will roll.

There are several variants to this Ultimate Encounter, and modifications can be made through some of the Team Tactics cards. Regardless of which of these modes you choose, Thanos will always gain access to upgraded versions of the standard Stone cards, allowing him to choose one per round and then execute ridiculous abilities. As an example, one of the Stones allows him to choose which three Crisis Team members will act in the next turn, whilst another allows him to bring a member of his Black Order to assist him. Oh yes, on that note, once Thanos is injured (12 health) then on his flipside, he has 20 health and brings a member of the Black Order to the battlefield every round. Oh my!

In his “standard” mode, Thanos, the Mad Titan is assumed not to have assembled the Infinity Gauntlet, but he is nonetheless a very, very tough Threat 6 character. Thanos healthy side shows 8 hit points, medium movement and size 3 – all of which are decent enough stats. His physical and energy defence settings are three each (decent) whilst his mystical defence is four (very decent.) His most basic attack – a Strike similar but better than Hulk’s – is a huge strength 6 that throws (on a wild) the opponent a short distance, with the additional upside that Thanos gains power equal to the damage dealt. There’s no restriction on the size of model thrown – so Hulk, for example, would count.

Thanos also has a Cosmic Blast ability with range three, rolling five dice by default. I say by default because Thanos can add up to three power, adding one dice for each power spent in this way. In addition, for a wild, Thanos pushes the character up to short distance, whilst simultaneously slowing them. His next ability is a simple one – he scores one VP for every opposing team character who is KO’d during the battle – which is very nice considering the damage he can inflict. His next ability is also simple, with Cosmic Portal simply allowing Thanos to choose a character within range 4, and then move them up to 2. Yep, it’s that simple – friend or foe, they go where he wills.

For his next superpower, Thanos has the Death’s Decree ability. This simply allows Thanos to enable an allied character to roll either an extra two or an extra four dice, depending on whether they are using their healthy or injured card sides. This ability is hugely powerful, and four extra dice is no small thing. Thanos is also a Being of Immeasurable Power, which allows him to reduce any damage taken by one. Finally, he is able to hold two Infinity Stones rather than the usual one – effectively giving him access to two additional Superpowers which can be chosen by the controlling player. On his injured side, Thanos loses his ability to score points for KO’ing opponents, instead swapping it for an ability for his Black Order allies to suffer damage in order to re-roll dice. A nice, but not super powerful ability.

When combined with any two of the six abilities on the Infinity Gems, Thanos is an extremely powerful foe. Whilst Hulk (who I reviewed previously) can generate huge amounts of power and deal tons of damage, but has a high likelihood of being dropped, Thanos is perhaps slightly less capable of devastating his opponents (although not by much) but very hard to kill. Thanos can easily stride into the midst of perhaps two or three opposing characters with little chance of serious harm – ultimately focussing damage where he wants and perhaps send another to a safe distance with his Portal or Blast abilities. For 6 Threat, he feels much better value than Hulk, and again, he plays just as you would expect him to.

Crisis Protocol: Thanos Expansion is available online at 365Games.co.uk, or at your local games store. Don’t know where yours is? Try this handy games store locator

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