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Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Destined to succeed, Marvel Dice Masters is here, and a very big deal! rss

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Neomaxim Noefaith
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Before I begin, let me just thank my FLGS, Dragon's Den/Gamers Gambit (http://www.gamersgambit.com/) in Poughkeepsie NY for providing me with review materials, and likewise, for being a wonderful hangout for gamers, and a real supporter of the board-game/table-top gaming hobby.

It is my aforementioned friends at the Den who showed me an incredible mercy recently.  You see, my lust for Marvel Dice Masters (a Wizkids game, by Mike Elliot and Erik Lang, Avengers vs. X-men being its initial set) had reached a fevered pitch.  Watching great videos such as Rodney Smith's always incredible "Watch it Played" had elevated me from merely curious, to ravenous, and to be frank, I was starting to walk around acting like Gary Busey, talking to dice, and being generally manic.

Seeing the state I was in, my FLGS provided me with enough Marvel Dice Masters (MDM here-on-out) to dive deeply... so here are my thoughts.

MDM is a game destined to succeed.  If you read nothing else of this review, know this;  MDM is a weird perfect storm (pun not intended) of the collectible, price-point, tactical depth, simple accessibility, and aesthetics.  It isn't a question of if you'll want to go in for this game, but instead a matter of how much you want to own.

The game has been described as Quarriors meets Magic: The Gathering, and honestly this is fairly apt.  Players will (generally) show up to a game with a pre-made crew, ideally synergistic in the way a smart deck will be in Magic.  Players might have 2-8 heroes or objects of note (ranging from the tutorial game through the full sized tournament format) and if you have chosen wisely many, many a cool interaction can be found.  Players also share a pool of four "common" abilities of which each player with contribute a pair, but which both players will have access to.

During a typical turn players will roll dice which directly convert into either resources with which to buy new dice or field characters, or the characters themselves.  Characters will essentially have resource value on sides 1-3, with 4-6 being various power levels with which to attack/defend, etc...  After players spend resources it is on to a combat phase where "fielded" units can attack, often use neat abilities (like bypassing defenses, doing direct damage, blocking specific actions an opponent can use....)  Undefended dice will go to your used pool, while blocking or defeated dice live another day, either returning to the field, or being sent to "prep" where they will become a guaranteed dice draw for your next turn.

Without going terribly in depth, I don't think I can convey just how simple and elegant a game this is.  Turns move quickly, and a game typically takes a mere twenty minutes.  That said, it is a very intensely focused experience in those twenty minutes.  Your dice/cards, brought to the game in advance may dictate a macro strategy, but in the mix you'll need to be agile, anticipate your opponents play-style, and so forth.  Also, for fans of the mechanic, the inactive player still has plenty of meaningful choices to make based on their powers so there is no real down-time.

All that comes in a deceptively quick to learn, easy to understand game which I am comfortable saying children through adults would love, while also rewarding the quick witted for lateral thinking and strategy.

The package ties itself with a bow in how aesthetically pleasing it is.  I come from a table-top mini game background, having worked with many of those companies as a writer.  For me a touch of the physical, beyond a card or chit, really amplifies the over-all look of a game.  In MDM beautiful card art is matched by some beautiful dice which, while abstract, can never be confused.  That green/purple die HAS to be Hulk, and soon you'll dread seeing that one come out of the bag, or worse, into the "attack" area.   The die look great, and smart icon/color choices make them oddly characterful for how simple they are at a glance.

The included components are all well made, with a couple small notes I feel need to be addressed.  

When dice this pretty exist, you'll feel remiss to put them into the included dice-bags.  This game has a lot of blind drawing of dice, and the two freebie bags, while functional, neither match the aesthetic quality, nor quality level the rest of the game brings.  

This leads me to my only other minor caveat, which is just how beneficial a play-mat is, which is not included.  MDM features quite a few states a die can be in (reserve, used, fielded, attacking, knocked out, prepping, just to name a few).  Unlike a game such as Magic where rotating a card is a powerfully telling gesture, no such option exists here.  As such you will want a way to designate what, is where.  The diagrams in the rule book serve this purpose, but you WILL want a proper play-mat to avoid hard-feelings/confusion with opponents.

That said, this is a game you will want to "swag" out.  Considering the dirt cheap price of the game (I'll speak more to that in a moment), throwing a few bucks at your personal dice-bag, or a nice play-mat (official ones WILL be available around launch) isn't a bad investment, and is also another way to personalize your experience. My wife is actually making us dice-bags to match our favorite character's colored dice, for example.

Ok, so now to address the 800lbs gorilla in the room.  Yes, this game is a collectible, blind-booster, format game.  I have inevitably sent a few folks running with no hope of them hearing the rest out, but for those on the fence, I have two considerations of the value proposition of the game.

At $15msrp, the starter set is NOT a blind buy, and has set components.  These components alone will get you many a fun (albeit smaller "size") game, with tons of diversity.  We played ten games out of this starter alone and could see going in for more before a single booster pack was even a factor.

Those booster packs are also an amazing $1.00 a pop, for two characters and two dice.  Those are ready to play, and every addition adds longevity to your experience.

To further the value proposition it should be said that an unscientific run through of a booster box (60 x $1.00 at full price) nets you every common, every uncommon, the large majority of the rares, and even one super-rare card.  And keep in mind, that hypothetical $60 investment has ballooned your collection to 180+ dice and character cards, meaning the cost investment of one typical "big box" board-game, just secured you years of highly diverse playability that will easily support you and your family running several games concurrently.

And one last note for those worried about "Pay to Win" nature in these sorts of games...  For you, an anecdote.  After getting a ton of play in, I surveyed friends and colleagues who have likewise been lucky enough to score early release product.  Almost unanimously the most universally agreed upon "best" character was Beast "Mutant 666" a character from the starter set.  Some voices would make much to condemn this game for its very nature, which is fine as these things are subjective, but it must be said that compared to any other collectible game out there this is far and away the cheapest to collect and most value rich at every level of investment. And despite a vocal minority saying otherwise, meaningful amounts of play-testing has shown that character's of every rarity level seem to have rough parity when the actual game begins.

A starter set will provide more comparative value than any CCG starter-deck I’ve picked up, and boosters are utterly impulse priced and add instant playability to a game where you will only EVER need one of any given card.

For what it is worth, one of the methods of organized play being prepared is the Booster Draft.  Participating stores will generally hold tournaments with a $10 buy in, but where those $10 also results in you being handed nine booster-packs.  In essence, attending a couple events and having fun will also do a lot toward giving you a wealth of options for fun, casual play.

Now, I could go on about this one all day.  I honestly love this game, and am soooo pleased that it is a rare case of a game living up to my own internalized hype.  It isn't just me though.  This bad boy is sold our at the distributor level (and has already been announced as having a reprint coming, BEFORE THE GAME HAS EVEN LAUNCHED!).  

I am not one to provide review scores, as life is rarely so easy to fit into little boxes.  What I will simply leave on is this.  The game is the real deal.  There WILL be a thriving community of players, and this is just the beginning for a very hot, very well made, and most of all, very worth-your-time, game.  The value is there, the components are great (largely), the theme is strong, the mechanics are elegant and efficient.

Also, what can I say...? There IS a simple joy in popping a pack open, seeing something you don't own, and going, “Oh cool! I wonder how this one works?!” In an increasingly disposable culture where a cup of coffee, gone in a flash, costs $3.00, I find this game to be the most fun kind of impulse buy, and something my gaming group and family will revisit for years to come.

Me?  I'm off to count the days till the 23rd, and its official release, because I need my own booster-box urgently.
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Mark Beazer
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Thanks for this.
Any chance you could give us more specifics on the numbers of common/uncommon/rare/superrare you found in your box of 60 boosters?

I'm very curious about the distribution frequencies.

I too am counting down the days...
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Neomaxim Noefaith
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I don't have everything in front of me, nor my notes, but I want to say a rare appeared in roughly one of three packs, and I think we saw three duplicates or so amongst them. So of twenty-five or so rares in the first "series" I think we got 19 of them.

Commons tended to occupy one of the two slots in EVERY single pack.
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Mark Beazer
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That is helpful.

So, Common are solid 50%, since it is one per pack.
It sounds like rare is about 16%.
Super rare at 1 per 120, is less than 1%
Which leaves us with about 37% Uncommon.

Thank you!
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Neomaxim Noefaith
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My pleasure, but again, grain of salt... as it was just the one box.
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Mark Beazer
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Sure.

But it is all the frequency data I have seen so far. And I am just really dreaming at this point. I've already ordered 60 boosters, and they will have what they have, when they get here
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Daniel Devine
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Thank you for this well written and insightful write up. I especially agree with you on your views about the collectable side of it. I think it is very reasonably priced and is built for new players to join in quickly without getting left behind like other CCGs. I have never been into CCGs before, but I cannot wait for this one!
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Neomaxim Noefaith
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Here is my thought...

I was deeply frustrated when I heard how much grief Tom Vassel was getting for his glowing adoration of a game that dared to be collectible.

Thing is, his enthusiasm is totally mirrored by me. I LOVE the feeling of seeing what new card was coming. I even see this translating into blind-booster tournaments etc, to a lesser extent.

I, personally don't see why anyone should be so cynical, and so jaded as to deny a company a shot at making money with a sustainable game, which ALSO lets players amass a collection that adds so much longevity to a great game.

Must it really offend one's sensibilities if a $75 investment ONLY net them 95% of the available cards, when that same number provides as much entertainment value, and mechanical depth as any boxed game of Dominion plus several of its expansions?
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Duncan Idaho
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Newtruthneomaxim wrote:

Must it really offend one's sensibilities if a $75 investment ONLY net them 95% of the available cards, when that same number provides as much entertainment value, and mechanical depth as any boxed game of Dominion plus several of its expansions?


It does. Which is a reasonable stance. But the issue is most of the anti-collectible people on this site view it as the only reasonable stance.

I have no issue if someone doesn't like the model, or finds it exploitative. There's a case to be made for both. However, I do have an issue with the people on this site who, because they feel that way, believe that anyone disagreeing with them is an idiot for buying into the model; is a cheater because they just want to pay to win; or is amoral because they're allowing the exploitation of children/addictive personalities/idiots.

These people tend to be extremely vocal about it, which is fine - they don't like the model, and the louder they are, the less likely companies are to adopt the model (because they'll think the majority have an issue with it). The problem is, they're absolutely unwilling to believe that they are, actually, in a pretty small minority who feel that way (not on this site, but in the market), so they keep getting louder in an attempt to sound like a bigger chunk of the market.
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Neomaxim Noefaith
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Idaho11 wrote:
Newtruthneomaxim wrote:

Must it really offend one's sensibilities if a $75 investment ONLY net them 95% of the available cards, when that same number provides as much entertainment value, and mechanical depth as any boxed game of Dominion plus several of its expansions?


It does. Which is a reasonable stance. But the issue is most of the anti-collectible people on this site view it as the only reasonable stance.

I have no issue if someone doesn't like the model, or finds it exploitative. There's a case to be made for both. However, I do have an issue with the people on this site who, because they feel that way, believe that anyone disagreeing with them is an idiot for buying into the model; is a cheater because they just want to pay to win; or is amoral because they're allowing the exploitation of children/addictive personalities/idiots.

These people tend to be extremely vocal about it, which is fine - they don't like the model, and the louder they are, the less likely companies are to adopt the model (because they'll think the majority have an issue with it). The problem is, they're absolutely unwilling to believe that they are, actually, in a pretty small minority who feel that way (not on this site, but in the market), so they keep getting louder in an attempt to sound like a bigger chunk of the market.


Makes sense. As I say, I just find the aggressive vitriol ironic in this case, because seeing the cards first hand, the rarity really, genuinely does not have correlation to power-level.
 
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C. E. Freeman
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Newtruthneomaxim wrote:
Idaho11 wrote:
Newtruthneomaxim wrote:

Must it really offend one's sensibilities if a $75 investment ONLY net them 95% of the available cards, when that same number provides as much entertainment value, and mechanical depth as any boxed game of Dominion plus several of its expansions?


It does. Which is a reasonable stance. But the issue is most of the anti-collectible people on this site view it as the only reasonable stance.

I have no issue if someone doesn't like the model, or finds it exploitative. There's a case to be made for both. However, I do have an issue with the people on this site who, because they feel that way, believe that anyone disagreeing with them is an idiot for buying into the model; is a cheater because they just want to pay to win; or is amoral because they're allowing the exploitation of children/addictive personalities/idiots.

These people tend to be extremely vocal about it, which is fine - they don't like the model, and the louder they are, the less likely companies are to adopt the model (because they'll think the majority have an issue with it). The problem is, they're absolutely unwilling to believe that they are, actually, in a pretty small minority who feel that way (not on this site, but in the market), so they keep getting louder in an attempt to sound like a bigger chunk of the market.


Makes sense. As I say, I just find the aggressive vitriol ironic in this case, because seeing the cards first hand, the rarity really, genuinely does not have correlation to power-level.


I think there is a simpler explanation than this.

It's an emotional issue for the anti-collectible group. It doesn't matter that they can present logical arguments against the collectible model and sometimes do. They are emotionally attached to their point of view and have a hard time accepting other views as legitimate.
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Neomaxim Noefaith
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Incidentally, a tiny note. I actually mistakenly called the green/purple die Hulk, when he is in fact green with black/grey "text".

My OCD was demanding I make the correction. I blame my error on being up essentially all night, playing.
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Ad Astra Per Aspera
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The usurpers of others happiness will always chime in. Sometimes they just want to be the center of attention.

As for the original post, eloquently written and exceptionally articulate. I think you just put into words what most of us have been feeling for quite some time.

All of my hopes for MDM with regards to playability, and the possibility of creativity in the game have been happily confirmed by you.

Nice to hear the breakdown of the booster box rarity. Won't hold you to it, but I had assumed it was something along those lines.

Of course, you just made me want it even more! I pre-ordered a ways back so I'm hoping my stuff comes. When I pre-ordered I ordered 6 boosters and two starters since I wasn't sure the breakdown of cards/dice would work. At worst I have enough to get my friends into it. I don't need to convince them to spend a penny, I did it for 'em.

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john withers
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I'm happy to have stopped by and put mine on pre-order with my local FLGS. He had held off officially taking pre-orders to make sure the date was set, so I made mine official and paid tonight. See him next week!

First Thursday in every month will be the organized play with promos. Sweet. Readjusting my schedule now.
 
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fightcitymayor
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"Destined to succeed,"
"a very big deal!"
I'm glad this review wasn't grounded in personal obsession and hyperbole or anything.

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Duncan Idaho
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fightcitymayor wrote:
"Destined to succeed,"
"a very big deal!"
I'm glad this review wasn't grounded in personal obsession and hyperbole or anything.



Those statements are mere puffery. Plus, review = opinion.
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Adam Bishop
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How many extra dice did you end up with? As in what you didn't need and could trade with friends?
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Neomaxim Noefaith
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fightcitymayor wrote:
"Destined to succeed,"
"a very big deal!"
I'm glad this review wasn't grounded in personal obsession and hyperbole or anything.



Enthusiasm aside, I don't believe this is as much hyperbole as you suspect.

By "destined to succeed" I was more referring to the fact that stores have already made this a "chosen one" kind of game. From what i've gathered many a FLGS has organized play planned before they've even gauged sales, and as mentioned this game sold out at the distributor level immediately.

Regardless of whether it was good or not, it would indeed be a big deal.

Luckily, the game itself happens to be awesome.


Also, re: extras. Its hard to say, but I don't feel like I had as many extra dice as you would suspect. In a couple cases I don't even have four die to assign to a given character (frequently the "max"), ending up with only three. This tended to be the case with a character not represented in the starter in any way, but who had cards exclusively in boosters. Its probably dumb luck though, as I am guessing I have six or seven Iron-Man die. The die are essentially all "common" though as they're universal to a character. Those won't have rarity and will probably be $0.25 in a bin at most game stores.
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Matthew McFarland
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Nice review! Glad that it finally releases this week for all us plebes. If I can just throw in something on the collectible front: it might not mean much to some on these boards who primarily buy from online shops, but a new, affordable, collectible game is lifeblood for FLGS's. That benefits everyone.
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Newtruthneomaxim wrote:
Here is my thought...

I was deeply frustrated when I heard how much grief Tom Vassel was getting for his glowing adoration of a game that dared to be collectible.

Thing is, his enthusiasm is totally mirrored by me. I LOVE the feeling of seeing what new card was coming. I even see this translating into blind-booster tournaments etc, to a lesser extent.

I, personally don't see why anyone should be so cynical, and so jaded as to deny a company a shot at making money with a sustainable game, which ALSO lets players amass a collection that adds so much longevity to a great game.

Must it really offend one's sensibilities if a $75 investment ONLY net them 95% of the available cards, when that same number provides as much entertainment value, and mechanical depth as any boxed game of Dominion plus several of its expansions?


Ohhh, man. I can't wait for RogMcK to make 20 consecutive posts in this thread. You dun goofed, brother. : popcorn :
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Larry Kruger
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I've typically avoided collectable games, but this one has me intrigued as I do love me some dice. I'm expecting (and hoping) that a 'generalist' gamer can enjoy this game with the base set and a few boosters.
 
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Neomaxim Noefaith
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LarryKruger wrote:
I've typically avoided collectable games, but this one has me intrigued as I do love me some dice. I'm expecting (and hoping) that a 'generalist' gamer can enjoy this game with the base set and a few boosters.


Well, based on what people are getting at retail, it seems current booster boxes have a significantly distribution than pre-release ones, which kinda sucks as it was a GREAT distribution which let me feel "done" at one booster box + starter (IE, $60 at online prices, a very reasonable amount).

Its looking like getting the same depth/breadth now requires twice that in booster boxes, which isn't an unheard of price (at $105), but is already getting spendy.

That said, the game itself is still incredible, and I would buy it in any release model, as its just so fun and addictive.
 
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Alexander Kuprijanow
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Thanks for the great review! thumbsup

Minor nagging: I just wish it would have offered more detailed infos on MDM's actual gameplay and its flow, without emphasizing/comparing the relation to M:tG or Quarriors. On the other hand, the extensive section about what you get for your buck and why you should get MDM was is the argument which convinced me of buying the game and now, I'm waiting eagerly

 
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carrion wrote:
That is helpful.

So, Common are solid 50%, since it is one per pack.
It sounds like rare is about 16%.
Super rare at 1 per 120, is less than 1%
Which leaves us with about 37% Uncommon.

Thank you!


Super rare is about 1.67% (1 rare die per 60 booster packs). That is no official number, just based on some of the information being posted about what kind of distribution folks are seeing from their gravity feed. Right around 10 rares per 60 (so about 16%) - 10 rares per 60 booster packs, not per 120 dice you get (though that is also true, you pull 1 pack, not two dice).

in my GF, I netted: two each of the commons and about a 1/3 again as triples. Almost a full set of uncommons (I missed two and duped two). 9 rares and 1 super rare.
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Crensh3000ad wrote:
Thanks for the great review! thumbsup

Minor nagging: I just wish it would have offered more detailed infos on MDM's actual gameplay and its flow, without emphasizing/comparing the relation to M:tG or Quarriors. On the other hand, the extensive section about what you get for your buck and why you should get MDM was is the argument which convinced me of buying the game and now, I'm waiting eagerly


Gameplay is :
* Draw and roll your dice (4 each turn)
* Purchase new dice and/or recruit any of the dice you rolled that were not an energy symbol by paying energy.
* Decided to attack or not. If you attack, the defender can assign dice to block (assuming they have some). For each attack/block, you compare attack and defense numbers and are either KO'd or survive to fight another round. KO'd dice will get added to your drawn dice next turn. Any unblocked attack reduces the PLAYER's life (the goal of the game). Any die that reduced the player down with an attack go to the used pile.

Rinse and repeat. Like Quarriors, you recruit dice and there are multiple cards to go with each die that change the powers of the dice. Unlike Quarriors, each player has a team that only they can recruit dice from. Like Quarriors, there are a few common dice that everyone can recruit. Unlike Quarriors, you never cull dice and your dice don't "score". Like Magic, the goal is to get past the opponents blockers and hit the life out of them.
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