- Publisher: WizKids
- Ages: 14+
- Release Date: April 2014
- Rating: ★★★★★
It feels like every year brings us copious amounts of new collectible card games all vying for our money. Some have lasting power and remain around for years. Some never find a large enough audience and quickly die out. WizKids, most well-known for putting a unique spin on our collectible card games with Heroclix, now brings us a collectible dice game, Dice Masters. The first series, Avengers vs. X-Men has been out for less than a year, the second series The Uncanny X-Men has been out only for a few months, so it is hard to say how long much lasting power Dice Masters will eventually have. Considering how much fun you will have will have with Dice Masters, are bets are on this sticking around for quite some time.
Dice Masters has several variations you can play to cut down on how many characters, dice, and life you use, mostly depending on who you are playing and how stocked your collections are. In a typical tournament game, you have 20 life and start off by choosing 8 different character cards you want to use. Between those 8 characters, you can split up 20 corresponding character dice between them with the limitation each character has.
Each character has several variations you can choose from of them, all with different texts that can offer them different abilities. Their actual character dice will have three sides that you can use as energy, and then three different levels of the actual characters that have different energy costs to field and different attack and defense stats.
You also pick two basic action cards that you will assign action dice to which can give you extra effects during the game. To keep track of you actions, you will want to use a play mat that will guide you through the phases of the game while also keeping everything organized on the table.
A standard turn in Dice Masters includes four phases: Clear and Draw Step where you draw four dice our of your bag, Roll and Reroll Step where you roll your four dice and then decide whether you want to reroll any or all of them once, Main Step where you can purchase character dice from off of your character cards, purchase action dice off your action cards, field a character, or use action your action dice, and finally the Attack step where you choose to attack your opponent or not.
Once you and your opponent are ready, you put 8 sidekick dice in your dice bag. The sidekick dice will serve as your basic characters you can use as well as your energy that allows you to bring out your actual character dice. At the beginning of the game, you will draw four dice from your bag for the Clear and Draw Step and then roll them from your Roll and Reroll Step. If you do not like what you rolled, you can choose any of them to reroll. You may want to try to go just for energy so you can use them to purchase a more powerful character die that you can eventually use. You may want to get one of your sidekick die on its actual sidekick side so you can use them as a basic character for attacking or blocking.
Once your four dice are set, it is on the Action Step where you will possibly field a sidekick for the moment, buy a character die, or possibly do both. In the first round if you decide to field one sidekick, the next step is the Attack Step. You can choose to do nothing or you can choose to attack. If you attack, this early, your character is used up and you will hurt your opponent, but then you will have no one to block for you on your opponent’s turn. Sometimes you will want to go all in, some times you will want to be conservative; these are all heavy decisions you will have to carefully decide as you play the game.
When your turn is over, your opponent goes through the same steps. As the game progresses, you will want to try to continue to purchase more powerful character dice to take down your opponents life. Once you use all the dice in your bag, you put all used sidekick dice, and any character dice you purchased back in the bag and draw from them.
The game features so many different strategies you will need to consider. First you will want to start by looking at what characters you want to use. Are there abilities on the card version you chose useful to you. Is the cost to purchase their dice to high? How are their attack and defense stats? These are all things to consider when building your team.
Something we love about the game is the mixture of skill, critical thinking, and luck. Knowing when to attack, who to attack with, and when to hold back for defending are all critical decisions. You could have several characters and your opponent has no one to block. While you could use everyone to attack, your opponent could go through their turn and get out several characters to hurt you for even more damage.
Sometimes even having the best cards and dice, using the best strategy, and being far ahead of your opponent might not matter in the end. You are rolling dice, so sometimes you could just get very unlucky about which dice you draw from your bag or how you roll them. Having a oppurtunity to reroll a die helps occasionally, but does not guarantee you will get a better result. In the end a more experienced player will have the edge, but it certainly does not guarantee victory by any means.
As for the point of entry into Dice Masters, it is very easy to get into. You most likely will want to start with a starter set which will give you plenty of characters and dice to get you started right away. Once you have that, the game has enough depth that it will keep you craving to play more. What will keep you going back to your local shop for extra foil packs are the character cards and their respective dice. The character cards have different rarities, common, uncommon, rare, and super rare for the collectability aspect. The art is always top-notch, as from the two current series, Avengers vs. X-Men and the Uncanny X-Men, they have pulled the character art straight from the comics themselves. Not to be outdone, the dice are extremely well done. Each characters dice come in a specific color, some solid, some clear, and have an etched in logo for them. The dice are stylized enough to have you pining over them as well as the actual character card.
While Dice Masters is still a fairly new game, it is one you definitely do not have to worry about dying out if you get into it. There are currently two series to choose from already with the Marvel offerings. Already planned for later this year are upcoming Yu-Gi-Oh, Justice League, Dungeons and Dragons, and Age of Ultron series. That means you should be prepared to deal with a lot of dice, but also since all of the series are playable together, you could have all sorts of dream teams that just add to the fun and excitement. While not every new collectible game are worthy of our money, WizKids has done it once again with Dice Masters that certainly deserves it.