Game Title: Marvel Dice Masters – Age of Ultron Starter Set
Designer: Mike Elliot & Eric Lang
Manufacturer: WizKids Games
For today's story please watch the movie Avengers Age of ultron, something that I really should get round to. Alternatively read some Ultron-based Marvel comics, another thing that I haven't done. Look the whole truth is I bought the Ultron starter set because I couldn't get hold of x-men vs Avengers!
Dice masters is a 2 player deck building game where your deck is a bag and your cards are dice. Dice masters combines the best of deck building games and collectible games like magic the gathering to create a unique new experience. There are several themes available including Yu-gi-oh, DC, Marvel and D&D, we have the Marvel edition, but you can combine all of them, so if you want to fight D&D monsters against Yu-Gi-Oh ones then knock yourself out! This review is for the marvel version, to be precise the Age of Ultron starter set.
The game starts with you selecting cards to use for your team, the cards represent heros and villains from the marvel universe. There are 3 cards and 2 dice for each character, when you pick one of the cards you take 1 or 2 of the dice for that character and this forms part of your team. You can only put 1 card of each character on your team, as otherwise you wouldn’t know what abilities each dice had. The cards have different powers so while the dice might have the same faces you might end up paying more for a version of the hulk which can attack at the same time as your allies or be a cheapskate and get a weakened version, but hey it’s easier for you to buy those hulk dice!
When you have both selected your teams you select 2 basic action cards each which get 3 dice and go into the middle of the playing area. Action card dice be bought by either player, unlike your team which is only available to you. You start the game with 8 sidekick dice, these are the basic dice which serve to get you off the ground early on, and clutter your bag in the late game. They have 1 face that is a basic sidekick character with both 1 offence and defence, 1 face which features a ? which can be used for any kind of energy and then 4 faces which show the 4 different energy types. You can use this energy to power abilities, ready character dice and most of all to buy new dice for your bag. To buy a dice you need to pay the same energy as the cost indicated on the card, at least 1 of which has to match the energy type of the character. You then place the dice in your used pile until it’s time to refill your bag. Each turn you pick 4 dice at random from your bag and roll them, you then have a re-roll step where you can re-roll any and all of the dice you wish to.
|A selection of cards from Lady-Thor to Ultron, some cards have a group they are associated with like Villains or the Avengers, there are teamwork abilities that get fueled by having dice with the same affiliations.|
Dice which are knocked out are instead placed into the prep pile, dice in here are rolled along with the normal 4 so knocking out a lot of dice can result in your opponent having a bumper turn. When you go to draw your 4 dice if there aren’t enough to draw then you place the used pile back into the bag and then finish drawing up. Filling a bag and giving it a quick shake is a mercifully quick way of randomising the dice which I find works a lot better than card shuffling, but then I never was very good at shuffling.
The starter set does have a few downsides, while it is a good way to get into the game you should be aware that it’s only a taste of a much bigger meal. With the starter set you will have enough basic dice for 2 players, but no-where near enough character dice for both players to fill a full team of 12, let alone give them meaningful tactical choices on what to take. The bag dice that come with the game are functional, but they are flimsy paper bags, they’ve held up well so far, but there is a constant nagging feeling that one day the dice will rip out the bottom. However this does little to detract from the fact that it’s a well-crafted game with good theming, a unique stance on the deck-building genre and just plain fun when you get to roll a big handful of dice!
Dice masters is an expandable game, so naturally they want you to buy booster packs, mercifully the boosters are cheap at only £1 each, every booster contains 2 dice and 2 matching character cards of differing rarity. I would suggest splashing out and buying ~10 in addition to the starter set if you want a collection big enough to get the most out of the game, though if you want to run competitions you’ll probably find yourself spending a lot to get the best cards!
The starter set I would give 7.5/10, however once expanded with a handful of boosters I’d give this game a very healthy 8.5/10