Designer: Mike Elliott and Eric M. Lang
Publisher: WizKids Games
Date Released: 2014
Number of Players: 2
Age Range: 14 and up
Setup Time: less than 5 minutes
Play Time: about 15 minutes
Take the popular dice pool building mechanic of Quarriors! and marry it with a collectible game. I won’t go into too much detail with the game flow as Marvel Dice Masters reimplements the game mechanics of Quarriors!. If you want to read more about Quarriors!, here’s our review.
In short, players start off with a small pool of basic dice which begin the game in their dice bag. On your turn, you blindly pull six dice from your dice bag and roll the dice you pulled. Some die faces give you energy (currency), while others allow you to play heroes or perform heroic actions. Your heroes deal damage to your opponent’s heroes on your turn (there are variable attack and health numbers for each hero), and then you can purchase a new hero from a group of heroes at your disposal (in the case of Marvel Dice Masters, these unique heroes are ones you pull from expansion packs).
But Marvel Dice Masters differs from Quarriors! because each player has a health of ten. You can block attacks with your in-play heroes (hero dice), but if you don’t have in-play heroes, you accept any damage your opponent throws at you. You win if you get your opponent to zero health.
I’m on the fence with Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs X-Men. It uses the game mechanics of Quarriors! well. In fact, I enjoy the small tweaks they made so the game would work as a collectible game, but I’m not sure if I’m up for a collectible dice experience when Quarriors! delivers the same game for a set cost. Quarriors! costs you twenty to thirty dollars once or twice a year. Collectible games cost a lot more than that if you want to be competitive.
You also use the same dice for each version of a hero, so if you picked up one rare Wolverine and four common Wolverines, you can use the one rare card that came with the rare Wolverine for all five dice regardless of dice’s rarity. While I see the practicality in having all the dice of a character look alike, it defeats the purpose of a collectible game. With a collectible card game, you’d have to pull five copies of the rare Wolverine.
Then there’s a small issue of some heroes having abilities that don’t match their comic book counterparts. Mr. Fantastic has mad defensive skills, but it’s Invisible Woman who can project force fields. I can see Stretcho as a defensive hero, but he’d work better as a tactician who gets you more dice draw, mimicking his high intelligence.
And it’s the Fantastic Four who prove the most problematic team. There are four teams that dice belong to: Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Villains. Currently, there’s no bonus for playing with members of the same team, but I could see that as an upcoming feature. Why would you assign heroes and villains to groups if you didn’t have bonuses for having teammate heroes and villains in your dice pool? The first release focuses on the Avengers and X-Men, so there aren’t a lot of Fantastic Four dice. Fair enough. But the next release is called “X-Men” and the one after that is “Age of Ultron.” At this pace, there won’t be any significant Fantastic Four dice until November or December of 2015.
Verdict: A shaky start to a fun game that’s a happy marriage of Magic and Quarriors!.