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Originally posted here


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I am conflicted. So much of the new Board Game Geek hotness – Marvel Dice Masters : Avengers vs X-Men should leave me cold. Firstly, its based on Quarriors (and designed by the same team), which is OK I suppose, but not exactly anything that particularly excites me. Secondarily – luck plays a major part in winning or losing, to the point that almost regardless of how carefully and skillfully developed and executed your plan may be, if the dice fail you then you’re probably going to lose. Thirdly, the game adopts the blind purchase / collectable model – something I have, for many years, been vocally against – particularly in Magic: The Gathering – decrying the system as nothing more than a money-sink for the weak of mind and heavy of pocket.

So tell me (and hopefully this review will aid me in resolving this conflict) why is Marvel Dice Masters the last thing I think of at night, the first thing in the morning, and is currently dominating many of my waking hours struggling with possible teams, combos and strategies? (Sorry Netty! my long suffering girlfriend – I do think about you too…)



Marvel Dice Masters is an game that combines the deck building with dice from Quarriors (and before that Dominion) with MTG style duels. Players draw and roll dice from a bag to generate power which they spend to recruit super heroes (represented via other dice) which go into the bag for drawing later. Those heroes are fielded (or summoned) and can then be sent out to attack, either to be blocked by other super heroes / super villians or do damage directly to the controller. If that players’ life reaches zero, then they are defeated! Sounds simple? Well, frankly it is. The fun and nuance comes in the details and the theming.

Cards on the table (PUN OF THE DAY!): I’m a modern Marvel fan, triggered by the movies rather than any love of graphic novels. That said, many of the characters here will be familiar to fans of the last 15 years of Marvel cinema. Only a few required a bit of wiki-googling to get a grip on their back story and unique powers – and its those powers that are thematically rendered into the different characters’ make up. For instance, Wolverine (represented by a classy yellow dice with familiar three bladed insignia) has special abilities when attacking alone – a lone wolf indeed. Mr Fantastic, the stretchy one from the Fantastic Four for the uninitiated, can expand himself to block several attackers at once. All very nice, clean and (most importantly) thematic.

So, lets explore my biases that should drive me from this game / lifestyle choice like Spiderman from a rolled up newspaper.

* This is just Quarriors? Well, yes and (perhaps most importantly) no. In MDM you bring your own set of heroes to the table that only you can purchase – providing a customisation that the original game lacks. Also, the combat system is much more satisfying and creates a strong sense of commanding your own destiny whereas whether your creatures lived or died in Quarriors seemed almost arbitrary.

* Are you feeling lucky? Yes, this is a niggle at the back of my mind. I have been dice screwed before and my perfect plan was foiled by my Green Goblin rolling poorly right at the end, but somehow I’m having enough fun, and the playtime (10-15 minutes once up to speed) is so fast and breezy that the wild swings of luck don’t bother me as much as other, deeper and most importantly, longer games.

* Blind purchase model? Are you mad? Well... perhaps. The low price of entry to the boosters – just £1 for two cards and two dice – is just at the right level for me not to mind getting the odd duplicate (swapsies anyone?) and instead revels in all the fun that we had as kids opening pack after pack of Panini stickers looking for Bryan Robson… Damn him and his elusive curly mop-top! Anyway… I totally understand this being a turn-off for some people, but the fact that you only the cards have a rareness (Common / Uncommon / Rare / Ultra Rare) and you only need 1 card to field that character (and typically up to 4 dice – but those are evenly distributed throughout the boosters) in addition to access to the secondary market to fill out the collections, this feels like it takes the fun of opening a pack and not knowing what you’ll get, without the grind and huge money sink needed to ‘catch ‘em all.’

So, I’ve fallen pretty hard, right down this rabbit hole. I’ve had play mats printed, special dice bags delivered, and several ‘Hobbycraft’ bead boxes to store all my dice. You don’t need to follow me on this path. A £13 investment gets you everything you need for two people to play the base game. Now, it may be the drugs talking, but I ask you to put aside the reservations and biases that you may have formed about this game from the hype and just try it. So much thematic, fast, dice rolling fun – with enough depth to warrant multiple plays means that MDM has found itself a place on my shelf, in my heart, and throughout my upper cortex…

Now… would Human Torch combo with Hulk?
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Cicimeena Almon

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Having played this highly hyped game, I can safely say that I've played Magic, and that, you sir Marvel Dice Masters, are no Magic. shake

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Andre Metelo
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ciciman wrote:
Having played this highly hyped game, I can safely say that I've played Magic, and that, you sir Marvel Dice Masters, are no Magic. shake



Couldn't agree more, specially on how Magic is so much more random than this. And, that is no small feature when you are comparing Magic to a Dice Game.

However, the combat style, is very similar to Magic, as it has a tested formula that has been reused many times in CCGs.
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trevor

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I agree this is no Magic. Magic is MUCH more random, also you need to invest much more money into Magic to be competative, just to have all those cards you just bought become obsolete/illegal by the next cycle.
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Ted Elrick
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ciciman wrote:
Having played this highly hyped game, I can safely say that I've played Magic, and that, you sir Marvel Dice Masters, are no Magic. :shake:



I completely agree, it's not Magic. Yay! :D
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Richard Dewsbery
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Bigshowfan wrote:
Secondarily – luck plays a major part in winning or losing, to the point that almost regardless of how carefully and skillfully developed and executed your plan may be, if the dice fail you then you’re probably going to lose.


Talk to Luke. He's convinced that the game is won or lost on the initial choice of teams; there's no need to roll anything, the game's outcome is already determined.

Quote:
So tell me (and hopefully this review will aid me in resolving this conflict) why is Marvel Dice Masters the last thing I think of at night, the first thing in the morning, and is currently dominating many of my waking hours struggling with possible teams, combos and strategies? Cards on the table (PUN OF THE DAY!): I’m a modern Marvel fan, triggered by the movies rather than any love of graphic novels. That said, many of the characters here will be familiar to fans of the last 15 years of Marvel cinema.


I'm not. I've seen most of the movies, and found that as they get more over-the-top, the less I like them. They're clearly made for the WWE generation, and most of them bore me to tears and/or frustrate the heck out of me. And if there are any Marvel graphic novels that I really ought to read, I've yet to do so; everything from before the 80's looks cheap and childish (whether it is or not is besides the point; my brain can't look past the visuals), and when I read comics in the late 80s/early 90s I was pretty much wedded to DC's output; Marvel never seemed to have anything to rival the nuanced "Dark Knight Returns", for example. If I'm wrong, let me know, as I'd cheerfully hunt down whatever you think are Marvel's 3 or 4 best graphic novels.

Quarriors I bought; played a bit; then realised that the game was devoid of decisions. Just buy the best dice you can, period. When the "advanced" rules were introduced, it added one small decision ("attack now, or simply prolong the agony"), but didn't rescue the game play, so I decided that I was done with it. And ignored whatever dice game they did after Quarriors but before MDM.

I have no idea how they've managed to grab my attention; I hate collectible games (having sunk far too much into Magic in the early to mid-90s), I'm not a Marvel fan, Quarriors had some good ideas but turned out to be pretty "meh", but Marvel Dice Masters has me intrigued and interested.

The blind purchase model has one important feature not often remarked upon. Quarriors expansions came with dice, cards, a rule book and a box. The last element of the four adds SIGNIFICANTLY to the cost. By sticking cards and dice in sealed boosters with MDM, Wizkids are able to sell players more dice and cards for MDM at a lower price than we paid for Quarriors expansions. So long as you don't get caught up chasing one of everything*, it's a more cost-effective way of expanding the game.

* and it is ONE of everything. Many collectible games - chief amongst them Magic - had a payoff for players who were prepared to sink enough money into the game to be able to field multiples of rare cards; there is no reason whatsoever to seek out more than one of each in MDM.

Quote:
So, I’ve fallen pretty hard, right down this rabbit hole. I’ve had play mats printed, special dice bags delivered, and several ‘Hobbycraft’ bead boxes to store all my dice.


Yeah, me too. Except that Poundland had the ideal storage boxes for the game. Last December. Whether I can find any in the shops *now* is doubtful. For me, the big advantage MDM has over both Magic and Quarriors is this - the meaningful decisions. With Magic, once you'd built your deck a lot of the time it played itself; if there were decision points during play itself, they were pivotal - but few and far between. Quarriors turned out to have even fewer decisions. Yet Marvel dice Masters packs them in: what to bring to the table; what to re-roll each turn; what to buy, each turn; when to attack; what to attack with. Many of the key decisions seem to revolve around dice-flow - and you can influence not only your own dice-flow, but your opponent's. I'm a long way from working out when it's a good idea to KO an opponent's characters and when it isn't, but it'll probably turn out to be pretty important. And I strongly suspect that this lies behind my interest in the game - that there are many decisions in the game, and I don't understand most of them!

I'm going to be toting my cards and dice along to the shop for the next few Weds at least, so if you want a game, do the same. And if you're coming to the Expo, we're having a swap & play meetup on the Friday, at 7pm.
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Andre Metelo
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RDewsbery wrote:


Talk to Luke. He's convinced that the game is won or lost on the initial choice of teams; there's no need to roll anything, the game's outcome is already determined.


Assuming players of high skill level, I can agree with that statement.

If you have a new player, than I think just having experience with game the mechanics and dice iterations, it is enough to guarantee a win most of the times. I'd say better than the 70/30 from Magic, but not as good as the 99/1 from VS System. So I am thinking about 85/15, but need more plays to actually verify that.
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Cicimeena Almon

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Snappleman wrote:
ciciman wrote:
Having played this highly hyped game, I can safely say that I've played Magic, and that, you sir Marvel Dice Masters, are no Magic. shake



I completely agree, it's not Magic. Yay!


Since you clearly missed the inference in my post - that wasn't a positive remark at all. This is a dumbed down, pale imitation of the good parts of Magic. I'll give it points for being cheaper at least (though the SRs don't lift it completely out of contempt).

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I'm not a huge fan of Magic, myself (cost and crappy community, imho, for the most part) but I'd agree with the sentiment that this game is definitely over-rated and not terribly great.

It features shaky production values (though the card graphics are nice at least) and for my money, the gameplay mechanics are clunky. Just my opinion (I realize that BGG hates negative gameplay reviews or opinions so I make this statement at the risk of enraging nerds who love the game but gotta call it like I see it).
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Richard Dewsbery
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The clearest and largest difference between this and Magic in terms if attacking, blocking and doing damage is the way that those actions affect dice flow - in terms of what remains in play, what heads back to the bag(deck), and what will be re-rolled next turn. Which are all things that you have to consider, both when attacking and blocking. Decisions absent from Magic.

The last time I tried to play Magic was more than 15 years after giving it all up, and when I tried I found it an unwieldy, and ultimately fun-free, experience. Which is quite different to how I'm finding MDM at the moment. The's not much in gaming that excites and/or engages me these days; MDM is managing both right now. Is it a perfect ten? I very much doubt it. Is it an eight? In a world where the vast majority of new games I play can only scrape a seven, I'd say that it was at least an eight. I need to lay it a heck of a lot more before I'd begin to rate it higher, though.

And I really disagree with the comment that, as between skilled players, the outcome can be determined before the dice are rolled. Even if one side overmatches the other to quite a significant degree, the dice rolling and decisions that flow therefrom are both going to play a significant part. And I'd disagree just as strongly with the idea that, once the teams are built, luck will decide the games. It seems to me that what to play when has more of an impact than it would in, say, Dominion - you do have to think about what you're doing in MDM.
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C. E. Freeman
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wytefang wrote:
I'm not a huge fan of Magic, myself (cost and crappy community, imho, for the most part) but I'd agree with the sentiment that this game is definitely over-rated and not terribly great.

It features shaky production values (though the card graphics are nice at least) and for my money, the gameplay mechanics are clunky. Just my opinion (I realize that BGG hates negative gameplay reviews or opinions so I make this statement at the risk of enraging nerds who love the game but gotta call it like I see it).


I'm not enraged, but would appreciate it if you could elaborate on what you find clunky. I find the mechanics quite elegant. The flow of the dice creates some tough decisions, and I feel like they make a huge difference in whether I win or lose. I definitely prefer this game to MtG although I enjoy it also. The difference for me is I have way more decisions to make each turn with MDM than I do with MtG.
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Jeremy Yoder
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RDewsbery wrote:
And if there are any Marvel graphic novels that I really ought to read, I've yet to do so [...] Marvel never seemed to have anything to rival the nuanced "Dark Knight Returns", for example. If I'm wrong, let me know, as I'd cheerfully hunt down whatever you think are Marvel's 3 or 4 best graphic novels.


The only one I know of is "Kraven's Last Hunt" -- an excellent read.
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ciciman wrote:
Snappleman wrote:
ciciman wrote:
Having played this highly hyped game, I can safely say that I've played Magic, and that, you sir Marvel Dice Masters, are no Magic. shake



I completely agree, it's not Magic. Yay!


Since you clearly missed the inference in my post - that wasn't a positive remark at all. This is a dumbed down, pale imitation of the good parts of Magic. I'll give it points for being cheaper at least (though the SRs don't lift it completely out of contempt).



I think you missed that everyone else got what you were saying, but disagreed and made remarks to highlight that.
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Tacullu64 wrote:
wytefang wrote:
I'm not a huge fan of Magic, myself (cost and crappy community, imho, for the most part) but I'd agree with the sentiment that this game is definitely over-rated and not terribly great.

It features shaky production values (though the card graphics are nice at least) and for my money, the gameplay mechanics are clunky. Just my opinion (I realize that BGG hates negative gameplay reviews or opinions so I make this statement at the risk of enraging nerds who love the game but gotta call it like I see it).


I'm not enraged, but would appreciate it if you could elaborate on what you find clunky. I find the mechanics quite elegant. The flow of the dice creates some tough decisions, and I feel like they make a huge difference in whether I win or lose. I definitely prefer this game to MtG although I enjoy it also. The difference for me is I have way more decisions to make each turn with MDM than I do with MtG.


The dice movement seems needlessly confusing (this goes there but then if X happens, this dice stays here, then THAT dice goes there if Y happens unless X doesn't happen, etc...) I also felt that the combat was way too simplistic and felt more like an "I take my hits on you, then you hit on me, lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseum." I never felt even remotely like any of the dice were similar or representative of their characters - so the theme might as well as be anything, for what it's worth.

Like I said, if you love it, great - my lack of appreciation for this game shouldn't affect your enjoyment at all (of course).
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Richard Dewsbery
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The final criticism - that the dice don't feel like characters - I understand. But the dynamic of dice moving here and there is precisely what stops the game from becoming "I hit you, you hit me back, rinse and repeat ad nauseam". Those dice movements are pretty important to the flow of the game; compare with Quarriors, where the dice don't move around, and you start to see why MDM is the better game.
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C. E. Freeman
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wytefang wrote:
Tacullu64 wrote:
wytefang wrote:
I'm not a huge fan of Magic, myself (cost and crappy community, imho, for the most part) but I'd agree with the sentiment that this game is definitely over-rated and not terribly great.

It features shaky production values (though the card graphics are nice at least) and for my money, the gameplay mechanics are clunky. Just my opinion (I realize that BGG hates negative gameplay reviews or opinions so I make this statement at the risk of enraging nerds who love the game but gotta call it like I see it).


I'm not enraged, but would appreciate it if you could elaborate on what you find clunky. I find the mechanics quite elegant. The flow of the dice creates some tough decisions, and I feel like they make a huge difference in whether I win or lose. I definitely prefer this game to MtG although I enjoy it also. The difference for me is I have way more decisions to make each turn with MDM than I do with MtG.


The dice movement seems needlessly confusing (this goes there but then if X happens, this dice stays here, then THAT dice goes there if Y happens unless X doesn't happen, etc...) I also felt that the combat was way too simplistic and felt more like an "I take my hits on you, then you hit on me, lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseum." I never felt even remotely like any of the dice were similar or representative of their characters - so the theme might as well as be anything, for what it's worth.

Like I said, if you love it, great - my lack of appreciation for this game shouldn't affect your enjoyment at all (of course).


You are correct, your lack of appreciation of the game does not affect my enjoyment. However, your description of the game as clunky is pretty much the polar opposite of my description of the mechanics as elegant. I thought it would be interesting to get some details from you. Thank you for responding.
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Ian Collier
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Quote:
Since you clearly missed the inference in my post - that wasn't a positive remark at all. This is a dumbed down, pale imitation of the good parts of Magic. I'll give it points for being cheaper at least (though the SRs don't lift it completely out of contempt).


No, I think everyone got it, you just invoked a wave of sarcasm and irony.

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RDewsbery wrote:
Marvel never seemed to have anything to rival the nuanced "Dark Knight Returns", for example. If I'm wrong, let me know, as I'd cheerfully hunt down whatever you think are Marvel's 3 or 4 best graphic novels.


While not a graphic novel I always point people to 'Spiderman: Kraven's Last Hunt', a trade paperback collecting 6 issues which is one of the best stories for Spidey.

If you don't like that one, then I'm afraid I'm probably unable to help you
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Cicimeena Almon

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inuitmyth909 wrote:
Quote:
Since you clearly missed the inference in my post - that wasn't a positive remark at all. This is a dumbed down, pale imitation of the good parts of Magic. I'll give it points for being cheaper at least (though the SRs don't lift it completely out of contempt).


No, I think everyone got it, you just invoked a wave of sarcasm and irony.



Misplaced as it was...
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It's been a fun ride so far. Good thing I bit the bullet and went back on my promise 20 years ago never to buy a collectible game again.....the fact that you only need 1 copy of a a hero card, that dice are easy to get, and that the price point is quite cheap also helps!
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Andy Stout
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solove wrote:
RDewsbery wrote:
Marvel never seemed to have anything to rival the nuanced "Dark Knight Returns", for example. If I'm wrong, let me know, as I'd cheerfully hunt down whatever you think are Marvel's 3 or 4 best graphic novels.


While not a graphic novel I always point people to 'Spiderman: Kraven's Last Hunt', a trade paperback collecting 6 issues which is one of the best stories for Spidey.

If you don't like that one, then I'm afraid I'm probably unable to help you

That's two people who've suggested Kraven's Last Hunt...but the thing is, Marvel isn't about grim, violent "realistic" superheroes like DC's most famous graphic novels are; Marvel's realism is more in the vein of "superheroes have girl problems too", "superheroes work at unsatisfying jobs with crappy bosses too" and "superheroes have to sew their costume up when it gets torn". For that, the best ever are the original Ditko Spider-Mans, as easiest-accessed in the Amazing Spider-Man Marvel Masterworks vols. 1-4. Fantastic Four and Thor from that era are great, too, but if you want something more modern, then Walt Simonson's Thor run is one of the most fun superhero runs ever.

Though if you really want something similar to Dark Knight Returns, then give Daredevil: Born Again a shot. Same writer; different artist, but the artist is great. Or, if it was the satirical side of DKR you liked, try Elektra: Assassin, once again by the same writer.
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Jeremy Yoder
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dragonstout wrote:
That's two people who've suggested Kraven's Last Hunt...but the thing is, Marvel isn't about grim, violent "realistic" superheroes like DC's most famous graphic novels are...

Agreed. I just thought he was looking for grim.

If not, "Marvels" is a good read, with artwork by Alex Ross, but for very different reasons, as it puts you into the awe of what it might be like to truly see superheroes when they first came on the scene. Though I prefer Ross's work in "Kingdom Come," which goes back to DC and gritty. Not that DC is always grim, with works such as Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?", etc.

Also, "Marvel 1602" is a fun/entertaining re-imagining of Marvel by the very talented Neil Gaiman, but also not grim.

It depends on what you're looking for, as even "The Infinity Gauntlet" can be a fun read if you can just run with all the colorful spandex and epic space drama. The only Marvel graphic novels I go out of my way to avoid are X-Men related, as they are kind of a mess and seem to be trying too hard.

 
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freddieyu wrote:
It's been a fun ride so far. Good thing I bit the bullet and went back on my promise 20 years ago never to buy a collectible game again.....the fact that you only need 1 copy of a a hero card, that dice are easy to get, and that the price point is quite cheap also helps!


Well except for the fact that Super Rares exist and aren't seeded very well (my buddy opened 2 full booster gravity feed things and another 20+ booster packs and only got one SR) and cost too much to buy online. Oh, and the fact that WizKids will be having Super Duper Rare cards for their OP program, much like in Star Trek: Attack Wing or HeroClix. I mean, aside from that, you'd have a reasonable point.
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