Cardboard Children – Marvel Dicemasters

By Robert Florence on May 27th, 2014 at 9:00 pm.

Hello youse.

I’m taking a short one-week break from my incredible Top 50 list to bring you a REVIEW of a brand new game. Time is of the essence with this game, because the first print run is sold out, and if any of you freaks want it you’ll have to get your orders for the new print sorted out ASAP. And hey – I wouldn’t be interrupting my Top 50 if the game wasn’t worth telling you about. So READ ON.

MARVEL DICEMASTERS

Marvel license. Cool. Okay.

Dicemasters is a dice game that sees two players go head-to-head in a straight fight. Each player starts with 20 life points, and you have to reduce your opponent to zero. Y’know – just like in Magic: The Gathering.

Let me TRY to explain how it works. Each player starts with 8 “sidekick” dice. These dice have energy symbols of different types on their faces. There’s a SHIELD and a BOLT and a MASK and a FIST. And then there’s a QUESTION MARK too. That side is wild, and can be used as any type of energy. The last face on the sidekick die is the sidekick itself. A low-power character face, with a strength and defence of 1.

The player puts these 8 dice into a bag, draws 4, and rolls them. (They also have the chance to perform one re-roll.) If the character facing pops up on any of the dice, these characters can be FIELDED. There’s a fielding cost for every character in the top left of the die facing. In the case of the sidekick, the cost is 0. If the fielding cost is more than zero, the cost needs to be paid for with energy. So you’d need to spend energy dice to field the character die. You feel me?

Now, what else can you spend energy on? Well – here’s where it gets cool. You can buy new dice. In the middle of the table there will be Basic Action Cards shared by both players. Sitting on these cards will be the appropriate dice. These dice have a cost, paid using any energy you’ve rolled, and will come into your dice bag. Once drawn and rolled, they will allow you to activate one of the basic actions, or allow you to generate even MORE energy. (See, these dice that you buy throughout the game are stronger than the sidekick dice. As well as having facings that activate special powers, they spit out far more energy – facings that generate two energy instead of one.

Why do you want to generate lots of energy? To buy the hero dice, obviously. AW YEAH. Each player will bring to the game a team of heroes. Cards, with unique hero abilities printed on them, and the appropriate dice sitting on top. Let’s talk about an example.

Spider-Man. You have his card beside you. There are 4 Spider-Man dice sitting on the card. And hey, these dice are cool. Red dice, with Spider-Man’s logo printed on it. Some of the facings generate energy, as ever. But some of the faces are Spider-Man himself. Three different levels of Spider-Man, with 3 different fielding costs, and 3 different sets of attributes. Now, you have the card and the dice beside you, but you don’t actually HAVE the dice yet. You need to buy the dice – paying energy to do it – and with the heroes you need to make sure to spend at least one energy of a certain type. Spidey makes his way into your dice bag. Then you can start hoping that you’ll draw him when you need him, and that you’ll roll his character facing when you do draw him. And that you have enough energy to field him when you do roll him.

So why do you field characters? So they can attack or defend, obviously. You choose which characters attack, and their strength is converted into damage against the opposing player. Unless that opposing player blocks with characters of their own. Assign blockers to attackers, and any unblocked attacks get through to the player. Y’know – just like in Magic: The Gathering.

So – think about it. You roll, field some weak sidekicks, spend a little energy to buy a basic action die. Once you manage to get that dice rolling, your energy pool starts to build. Hey, now you can afford to buy BEAST out of X-MEN. His die eventually makes it into your bag. Once he’s fielded, you start making some bigger hits. Nice. And more energy gets generated. Better buy another action die or two. After all, it takes a LOT of energy to buy THE HULK.

The characters are great. Just great. One of the Spider-Man cards allows you to web up your opponent’s dice, so that all your opponent’s characters need to block Spider-Man’s attack. This helps you get some hits through. STORM is probably my favourite character at this point. When you field her, she creates a storm, and you get to re-roll the characters that your opponent has sent to the field. If they don’t land character side up, they get dismissed. It’s FUN to re-roll your opponent’s dice.

I’m hugely excited by this game. In the starter pack, there’s 8 different superheroes, a bunch of basic action cards, and a shitload of dice. There’s enough there to learn the game, and enough there to enjoy the game for a fair old time. New characters will come in booster packs – two random character cards and dice in each. And take this as a warning – you will WANT to pick up some new characters. Each character in the starter pack is so unique (IRON MAN blasts power bolts off everywhere, CAPTAIN AMERICA rallies your troops, THOR hits really really hard) that you’ll want to see what the others do. You’ll want to put together your own team – one that suits your play style.

Let’s talk about that booster pack thing. It worried you when I said that, right? OH NO, COLLECTABLE GAME MONEY SINK NIGHTMARE. Well, the great thing about Dicemasters is how affordable it is. The starter pack cost me 13 quid. That’s loads of fun for two players for THIRTEEN QUID. And the boosters will be retailing for about a quid. That means that every time you visit your board game shop to buy something, you can fling a booster or two on top without thinking too much about it. Cool, right? I mean, it’s not like you have to buy the entire box of boosters or anything. I mean, it’s not like you have to do what all these annoying people are doing and BUY ALL THE FUCKING BOOSTERS.

It’s a great game. I think it might be HUGE.

NEXT WEEK

The Top 20 begins! See you soon!

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15 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Cardinal says:

    Impossible to get hold of at the moment I think (UK). Has anyone played it and can comment on whether or not a 7 year old might be able to cope? Looks a bit tricksy in parts.

    • Oiler says:

      I’ve played the game four times with my 8 year old son. While he’s got the die purchasing and lifecycle down he’s still trying to figure out the combat when there’s many dice in play. A few more games and he should have that down but I can’t see him playing competitively any time soon. Good for a casual game which is still very fun.
      That said it’s not a hard game to teach. I find it easier to just start playing the game than to teach as the first couple of turns are just dice purchasing so you can introduce rules as you go.

      Great game if you’re into Marvel, pretty good if you’re not.

      • Premium User Badge

        Cardinal says:

        Cheers m’dear! Sounds like it’s worth a punt at that price then.

  2. Phendron says:

    How strange, over the weekend my boardgame enthusiast friend introduced me to a game I’d never heard of but found splendid, Quarriors. This marvel dicemasters looks exactly the same, down to the character cards.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cardinal says:

      Made by the same folk.

    • Scurra says:

      Yeah, my first thought was “this is either a direct rip-off from Quarriors, or they’ve done well enough to be able to afford a big license.” Looks like the latter might be true. (And good for them, although it’s a shame that innovation ends up taking a back seat to franchises these days.)

      • shadowmarth says:

        Yep, good to see that scrappy up-and-comer Wizards of the Coast is doing well.

        • sabrstryk says:

          Just a note, WizKids is not Wizards of the Coast. WizKids was the company that produced the Clix-type collectible miniatures; I’m pretty sure that their HeroClix lines were quite profitable for them and the licensors, so it’s not too surprising to see them leverage Quarriors into another comic-based game.

          Another title folks should look at from them is the retooled Mage Knight board game; it merges a deckbuilder with a Talisman-type adventure game, and works quite well.

  3. Phinor says:

    That particular card, Spider-Man Webslinger is pretty powerful in our games so far. Pretty powerful as in it decides the match if it activates. But still, it’s a fantastic game and you won’t be able to resist buying boosters. I was lucky enough to find a starter set few weeks ago and last week I managed to order some boosters from the other side of the world. Should be arriving tomorrow.

    One thing worth mentioning is that the (starter) game doesn’t come with a game mat/game board at all. The official play mats should be arriving into stores soon but they are very pricey for what they are (and why weren’t they available on release day?!). Many players have printed their own game mats on paper, cardboard, plastic, mouse mats, whatever happens to be convenient. I’m waiting for two mouse mats to arrive, cost me $4 shipped. There’s tons of options for game mat graphics on Boardgamegeek.com should you want to print/create your own. The game mat isn’t necessary to play but it does add to the game.

  4. Steven Hutton says:

    Are the boosters for this game random like in Magic or can I buy the specific cards and dice that I actually want for my set?

    • Steven Hutton says:

      Yeah, ok, I checked, they’re random boosters. I can disregard this.

      • Premium User Badge

        Martel says:

        Thanks for checking into that, puts it on my disregard list as well. Too bad, looked fun, but no random boosters for me.

  5. YohnTheViking says:

    Just a quick comment on the price. Yes, the starter set is £13, but because you will probably want to get a better storage solution (the box the game comes in is practically useless) and maybe get slightly nicer dice bags. The actual cost will be around £20-25.

  6. Pangalaktichki says:

    You’re tearing me apart, Rab! I love your reviews but, seriously, my wallet cannot withstand all these recommendations.

  7. repairmanjack says:

    If you’re canny (uncanny?) you’ll keep an eye on http://www.chaoscards.co.uk as they seem to be the only ace in the UK that gets new starter sets with any consistency. And they’re not bumping the prices up – at all – which is something I’m likely to remember when I next want to spend some cash. Anyway, not meaning to shill, I picked this up last week, along with fifteen boosters. As someone who cooled on Quarriors quickly, and I’m not even that fussed about the Marvel licence, I’m really quite enjoying the game.

    Better yet, if you head over to cowcow online, they have an amazing deal for two mouse mats, printed as player mats, for the grand total of four dollars. Mine arrived today. There a code you need, for the free shipping, but if you dive onto BGG you can’t miss the thread with the details.

    Doing my best to resist buying a sixty-pack gravity feed, although I could see this game getting compulsive fast. Mind you, having just shelled out for Cave Evil, this morning, I don’t think I dare buy anything else for a month.