Game Buzz: Marvel Dice Masters – Avengers vs. X-Men

I know I said I wasn’t going to do a second post this week.  But then the rulebook for this game came out:

MDM

Marvel Dice Masters is a system created by Eric M. Lang and Mike Elliott, based on their successful Quarriors system.  This one is being published by WizKids.  It’s a two-player collectible dice game that takes 15 minutes to play.  The idea is that you are commanding a team of superheroes in a battle against each other.  In this case, it’s the Avengers vs. the X-Men.  Who will come out on top?  The world will finally be able to decide.

The base set comes with 44 dice, 38 cards, and two dice bags.  Booster packs will come with two more cards and two more dice.  For the first game you play, you’ll pull out three basic action cards (Force Beam, Inner Rage, and Thrown Car) and put three basic action dice on each.  In the full game, you can use up to four.  Then, each player will choose their teams – the first game suggest Human Torch (Playing with Fire) and Spider-Man (Webhead) against Beast (Mutate #666) and Captain America (American Hero).  Two dice are placed on each hero.  In the full game, you’ll be drafting a team and determining how many dice you want to use with each hero based on their die limit and a predetermined total die limit.

Each player starts the game with a certain number of life – 10 in the first game, and between 8 and 20 in the full game.  Players alternate taking turns, following these steps in order:

Clear and Draw – In your play area, you will have a prep area, a reserve pool, a field, an attack zone, and a used pile.  You can get a mat to help organize them (not included).  In this step, any dice remaining in your reserve pool get moved to your used pile.  You’ll then draw four new dice from your bag.  If you don’t have enough in the bag to draw, draw what you can, then add all dice from your used pile.

Roll and Reroll – Roll your four dice, plus any dice in your prep area.  You have one reroll.  Once finished, all dice go in your reserve pool.  Some dice will have burst symbols (*) that will indicate something special that happens when rolled, as indicated on your card.

Main Step – You have several options during this step, and may do them multiple times and in any order.

  • Purchase: Spend energy that you rolled to purchase new dice, either one of the basic actions or one of the dice specific to you.  There are five types of energy – fist (melee), bolt (blasts), mask (wits), shield (toughness), and generic.  If the card has a specific energy cost, then you need at least one of that energy to purchase it.  If there’s no specific energy cost, you can use any type.  Once purchased, the die and the dice used to buy it go in the used pile.
  • Use a Global Ability: Some characters have global abilities.  You can pay the energy cost to use them.  Note that this can even be done on your opponent’s turn, and you can even use their global abilities (they can also use yours).
  • Play Actions: If you rolled any action symbols, you may use them.  These are indicated on the cards for the characters.
  • Field Characters: Spend energy (if required) to send your character dice into the field.  This can be paid with any type of energy. Characters in the field are available for blocking or attacking. Any character die not sent to the field will go to the used pile after the main step.

Attack – Once you have finished all your main step actions, you may attack. During this step, you can still use any actions left in the reserve, and you can still use global abilities as long as you can pay for them. Declare which of your fielded characters you will be using to attack; your opponent will then declare which of their fielded characters will be used to block. You’ll then assign damage to characters. Any character die that receives more or equal damage to its total health is knocked out and moved to the prep area. If an attacking character is unblocked, it assigns damage to the opposing player.

If a player chooses not to attack, move on to cleanup.

Cleanup – Move any blocked or blocking characters back to the field, and move any unblocked characters to the used pile. Any unused action dice in the reserve also go to the used pile – if anything is left in the reserve, it will be energy to use on global abilities later.

Players take turns until one of them reduces their opponent’s life to zero and wins.

I am not a fan of the collectible model. It seems to punish the consumer by forcing them to buy lots of stuff without really knowing what they’re getting. I like the LCG model where everyone has everything. I know it can still get very expensive, but at least you have the option of when to stop. Games like Magic: The Gathering are constantly evolving, and you have to remain invested in order to get the full experience. And I know that makes it an attractive model – Magic has probably single-handedly kept lots of FLGS’s from going extinct.

That said, I’ll be interested to see how this model of a collectible game works. The base set has an MSRP of $15, and the booster packs only cost $1 each. That seems like a really good deal to me, and will probably draw in a lot of people to check it out.

The system has its similarities to Quarriors – you get the same kind of dice building aspect with some of the same gameplay concepts, but with more of a customizable feel. I’m not the biggest fan of Quarriors as I feel that it’s way too random and has problems with people running away with it. This one seems like it might have the same issue, but with a set of dice that only you control. I’m very interested to see how it works.

Thanks for reading!

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