Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 30 August 2018

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Thanos Rising

Game: Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War

Publisher: USAopoly

Designer: Andrew Wolf

Year: 2018

Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War is published by USAopoly. Previous games they have published with licensed themes have been exclusive to North America, so it was a nice surprise when Thanos Rising because available in the UK in the last few weeks, along with a few more questionable titles from the publisher.

USAopoly typically publish mass market games, but, although Thanos Rising may look like a bit of a cash grab for a recent box office hit, its box also looks like one for a hobby game. Given that the cooperative dice allocation mechanics reminded me of one of our favourites - Flatline, as well as the positive early reviews coming out of the USA that indicated this was a tough co-op, Thanos Rising was definitely one we wanted to check out!

Thanos Rising is a cooperative game for 2-4 players in which you recruit heroes to your team to defeat a series of Marvel villains before Thanos gains power and adds all 6 gems to his Infinity Gauntlet. Players take turns to select an area of the board and then roll the Thanos dice to see where Thanos will attack. In addition the 'bad stuff' phase includes rolling a dice to see which gems you'll add cubes to - 5 cubes and the gem is added to the Gauntlet. Then the player rolls their hero dice and asigns them either to do hits on villains in their region, or to gain additional heroes that complement those the player already has on their team. This is done by matching the symbols you roll to symbols on the cards. If ten villains are defeated (or seven in 'easy' mode) before the Gauntlet is fully powered then the heroes win, but if ten heroes die or the Gaunlet is fully powered then Thanos wins.

The Infinity Gauntlet. Once there are 5 cubes on a gem, not only does this get closer to the end game, but when you roll that colour again an additional bad effect will happen.
Dice rolling is not my favourite mechanic, but we typically find it to be OK in cooperative games where dice luck is the thing you are fighting. In Thanos Rising, you are stuck with whatever you roll on Thanos' turn, but on the hero turns you get lots of opportunity to mitigate your luck. Each zone of the board has three cards so there is more chance that you'll have a use for the dice you roll. In addition, you only need to place one dice in each roll, so there is plenty of opportunity to re-roll your dice.

The most satisfying element of the game is adding to your team of heroes and creating combos. By selecting specific heroes that complement each other, you'll gain extra dice to roll each turn, and likely become more specialised in certain dice faces, which will lead your decisions about which sector of the board to enter each turn. Unfortunately these combos can also be a weakness of the game. If there are no opportunities to start building a team early, either because of the factions available, or the difficulty of getting the cards you need with just the four dice you start with. We have had a couple of games where one player gets powerful early on, and then with more dice there is just more you can do with your turn. In some ways it doesn't matter because it's a cooperative game, but for us, it felt like one player just had the chance to have more and more fun whilst another does very little on their turn.
Thanos is a huge mini, pre-painted to awful quality. I can imagine fans of the game will re-paint this guy.

As a cooperative game, Thanos Rising doesn't feel particularly interactive. There are very few actions that allow you to support another player, only removing one damage from a hero. There are a few opportunities to discuss who is best suited to try and recruit a particular hero or take on a particular villain, but I do prefer to see a little more interaction and communication in cooperative games.

Overall, Thanos Rising has been a pleasant surprise. We've had two really close games where we've won by defeating 7 villains - the idea of beating 10 feels beyond us right now. On the other hand, we've had a couple of games that have ended in under 5 minutes due to bad deals at the start of the game and some bad dice rolls. The game feels very fragile! When we've had good games, the dice allocation and yahtzee style mechanics have been really good fun and specialising your team gives you a fun sense of engine building. The game is perhaps a bit long for its depth, but it would make a great introduction to cooperative gaming for people who are interested in the theme, and it's a good lightweight game for gamers too.

For the Yellow Meeple, Thanos Rising is a 6.5/10.

Thanos Rising was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £46.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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