Marvel Dice Throne: A Strategic Adventure Game to Unleash Your Inner Superhero
By: BJ Brown
Get ready to be blown away, Marvel board game enthusiasts, because Marvel Dice Throne has arrived to outshine them all! This board game is an official Marvel product that employs the well-established Dice Throne system to showcase 8 beloved superheroes. With card play and dice, Marvel Dice Throne offers an exciting, fiercely competitive battle game that can be enjoyed by 2 or more players in a variety of ways.
Marvel Dice Throne is an aesthetically pleasing game that offers a familiar gameplay experience to fans of the Dice Throne game. It showcases 8 superheroes that were thoughtfully selected from the Marvel universe. Marvel Dice Throne is a card and dice-based game that is both easy to learn and challenging to master.
In comparison to the Dice Masters system, Dice Throne is a simpler game. The mechanics of Dice Masters, such as the use of dice, cards, and playscapes with defined zones, can be overwhelming for players, and the need to continuously buy new packs of dice, cards, and characters may not be appealing to casual players.
On the other hand, the Dice Throne system is self-contained and easy to understand. Each hero has their own character board, cards, and dice, and each power is explained clearly, with no need for further explanation. Players can do damage, prevent damage, and spend points to upgrade their powers in between.
One of the most attractive features of Marvel Dice Throne is that each hero can battle against other Dice Throne characters. The system is well-balanced, providing players with a range of different experiences each time they play. In addition, there are team play and other additional modes available, adding even more excitement and variety to the game.
How to Play
Setting up Marvel Dice Throne is a breeze. For a standard 1v1 game, each player selects their character, which is contained in a plastic tray with everything needed to play. This includes the hero board, leaflet, 5 hero-specific dice, a health dial, a Combat Points dial, and a stack of hero cards specific to that hero. The hero board and leaflet are then laid out on the table with the dials, and the cards are shuffled and placed nearby. Nothing needs to be hidden from the opponent, except for the cards that each player will eventually hold. At the start of the game, each player draws 5 cards and allocates 2 CP (Combat Points) to their CP dial.
Combat Points activate actions on the cards. Every card has 3 areas to pay attention to. The left side of the card has a CP cost to activate the effect, and below that is a symbol that determines which phase the card can be used in. The blue M means it can be used in either of the Main Phases, the orange dice symbol means it can be used in one of the various Roll Action Phases, and the red exclamation mark means it can be used at any time if the player has the CP to activate the card's effect.
The turn structure of Marvel Dice Throne may seem a bit intimidating at first, but it's actually quite simple. Think of it like a turn-based RPG: I attack you, and then you attack me. The turns start with card play and then use dice to try to attack.
There are technically 8 different phases in a player's turn, but it's not difficult once you get into the flow. The phases, in order, are the Upkeep Phase, Income Phase, Main Phase, Offensive Roll Phase, Targeting Phase (only if there are more than two players), Defensive Roll Phase, another Main Phase, and Discard Phase.
In Marvel Dice Throne, each character has unique powers that can apply status effects to their opponents. For example, Miles Morales can throw webbing at his foes that make the next attack undefendable. These special status effects are resolved either immediately after an attack or once the player activates them. Sometimes they may last for an entire round. In this phase, any lasting effects from previous rounds are added or removed. If there are no effects to resolve, this phase quickly ends. At the beginning of the game, this phase is not required.
Once a player has completed their first turn, they enter the Income phase where they earn 1 Combat Point (CP) and draw 1 card from their deck. However, during a player's initial turn, this phase is skipped.
During the first of the two Main Phases in Marvel Dice Throne, players can play cards from their hand as long as they have enough Combat Points to do so. While some cards can be used at any time, many power upgrades and other action cards are designed to be used in this phase.
Offensive Roll Phase
During the Offensive Roll Phase in Marvel Dice Throne, the player gets to roll all their dice up to three times, and each time they can choose to keep or reroll any number of dice. The result of these rolls can be used to activate one ability, usually an attack or a buff, by matching the symbols or numbers on the ability to the faces on the dice. Some abilities require specific combinations, such as a 'Small Straight' or a 'Large Straight' which require sequential numbers on the dice.
Once the player selects an ability and the final dice result meets the ability’s requirements, they identify their target and perform the actions described by the ability. Depending on the specific card or status effect, some damage may be defendable or not, and there may be different types of damage. However, if the damage is defendable, the game proceeds to the next phase.
Targeting Roll Phase
If multiple targets are available in a game, the "Targeting Roll Phase" is utilized to randomly select the target of the player's attack.
Defensive Roll Phase
During this phase, the defender rolls a number of dice equal to their defensive ability, shown in green on their character card, in order to prevent the damage done to them by the offensive roll phase. If the defender is successful, they follow the instructions shown for their defensive ability, which may include preventing some of the damage or even dealing damage back to the attacker, depending on the character. In short, this phase allows the defender to avoid taking damage.
Main Phase (2)
During this second Main Phase, the active player has the opportunity to resolve any cards in their hand that they haven't yet used, following the previous roll phases.
In this phase, players get the opportunity to sell any unwanted cards from their hand to the discard pile, earning 1 CP per card sold. This is an important step, as there is a limit to the number of cards a player can hold in their hand. After completing this phase, the next player will start their turn.
Tips And Strategies
Before the game starts, it's helpful to note that each hero has an explanation of their powers and a complexity rating on the back of their leaflet. The more complex heroes usually have abilities that build up status effects and require strategic use. Let's take a quick look at each hero.
Loki is the trickster god, and his abilities revolve around making opponents miss otherwise devastating attacks. Illusion and Bag of Tricks are his main tricks, and the latter can either help or harm Loki. He's complex in that without his status effects, his defensive capability is low, but Spellbound prevents opponents from using offensive abilities, making it his best ability.
Thor deals a lot of damage and is easy to use. Mjolnir, his hammer, deals damage and can be thrown at almost any time, and his ability to summon lightning amplifies damage, making him a powerful foe.
Captain Marvel is a massive threat whenever she's on the field, and her status effects build up her power. She can do extra damage to attacks and damage all other players with one burst. She's a powerhouse with good defensive abilities and powerful, easy-to-use status effects.
Scarlet Witch has the ability to affect dice rolls with her status effects, which includes forcing opponents to use one of her dice, making it hard to use certain offensive abilities. She can even steal positive status effects from opponents.
Miles Morales is great for beginners. His combo ability allows for an additional attack, and his Webbed status effect can make an attack undefendable. He's hard to hit with his Invisibility effect, and he can hit very hard in one round!
Black Panther makes opponents think twice about striking him too often. His abilities build up kinetic energy, which enhances future strikes and builds up into one powerful blast that does a lot of damage. His Vibranium suit can even negate all damage done if used correctly, although his default defensive ability only deals counter damage.
Black Widow has supreme usage of her card deck, meaning that ability upgrades, cards that change dice rolls, and more are at her fingertips almost all the time. Her defensive capabilities are formidable, as she can negate some damage and deal counter damage with her Agility status effect or her generic defensive ability.
Doctor Strange is a powerful hero with a ton of spells at his disposal. He can deal more damage, steal CP from foes, and even prevent opponents from using cards, among other things. Timing is key with him, as his spells must be "prepared" as passive abilities and changed according to the opponent. Mastery of his spells is crucial to overcoming his foes.
When I played Marvel Dice Throne for the first time, I couldn't wait to try out other heroes. Each character is well-balanced, making it easy to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Heroes like Captain Marvel and Thor are powerhouses that can deal massive damage, but they can also inflict status effects that you need to watch out for. On the other hand, characters like Black Panther and Miles Morales rely on counter attacks to deal damage, but they don't have many defensive moves to protect themselves.
Whenever I play Marvel Dice Throne, I find myself wishing for more heroes and even villains to fight against. I hope that Dice Throne will introduce new modes and characters, such as solo play against an AI or one overpowered villain. The beautifully designed trays and character boards are a treat to set up, especially for younger players who are excited about superheroes. I can easily imagine kids asking for heroes like the Incredible Hulk, Wolverine, and Iron Man, as well as for popular crossovers like X-Men vs. Avengers.
The Dice Throne system is so well-designed that it could be adapted to other properties, such as video games and movies. Imagine playing Dice Throne with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Dragonball Z, or even Rocky Balboa franchise characters! The possibilities are endless, and the casual gameplay would be perfect for these franchises.
The creators of Dice Throne have also developed Dice Throne Adventures, which takes the characters through a dungeon-like setting to battle foes, bosses, and collect loot. While I haven't had a chance to play this expansion yet, it's exciting to see how the well-designed combat system could evolve into new and exciting gameplay modes.
Dice Throne is an exciting and enjoyable competitive game, with a diverse range of heroes including Marvel characters. Each hero has unique strengths, weaknesses and status effects, making every game feel different. Using these effects adds a layer of strategy beyond just hitting your opponent with your ultimate ability.
Although the number of phases, cards and dice can seem intimidating, the game flows smoothly and status effects become clearer with practice. Even when playing with more than two players, the feeling of upgrading abilities and debuffing your foes is still satisfying.
However, games with more than two players can run long and younger players may need help understanding the rules and status effects. Despite these minor drawbacks, players are left wanting to try different heroes or even purchase additional characters.
Furthermore, the game's well-designed combat system makes it versatile enough to be adapted to other properties like video games and movies. The creators have also developed Dice Throne Adventures, where players battle foes and bosses and pick up loot, adding a new dimension to the game. The possibilities for this system are endless and its potential for casual gameplay is impressive.