Friday, 6 March 2015

Marvel: Rollin' Through the Ages

Well, I'm back. I got locked out of Google for a few days and so could not update the blog. A few sugary bribes and things are easily sorted though, but it was looking dicey for awhile. It is appropriate then that I am here today to discuss a new craze sweeping the gaming world, or is it an old one? I am talking about a game of dice, appropriately named Dice Masters. Now Dice Masters has a rake of different IPs it works under, including DC, Yu-Gi-Oh and D&D, but the one I will be focusing on, as it is the one I play, is Marvel Dice Masters.

Dice Masters runs on simple mechanics that do surprisingly complicated things. The ideas seem fine; draw dice from your bag, roll them, roll them again if you want, use what you get. It's later on when you deal with a Magic style combat mechanic and dice management system that dictates different dice are moved to different areas based on what they were used for that gets interesting, and within those two things lies the trick to the game (I think). But let me explain.

Players take it in turns to draw four dice from their bag and roll them. Your bag starts with 8 Sidekick dice in it; generic dice with varying kinds of energy (mana) and very small minions called Sidekicks. On front of you, you will have 6-8 cards of some of your favourite Marvel heroes and villains. Each of them have their own effects and abilities to make the team work, and on each of them is a number of dice which need to be bought with energy. There are also various action cards with their own effects that both players can buy dice from. In either case, once bought they go into you bag and join the fray. The aim is to roll 'character faces' on your dice, which are then fielded and work almost exactly like creatures in Magic do. Each one has a cost, an attack value, and a defense value. At the end of your turn, you may assign attackers, and the opponent blockers. The trick in the game comes from what happens next.

Any characters that get knocked out go to a Prep Area, and get rolled in the player's next turn along with the four dice they draw, leaving inconsistency in what characters they had fielded, but giving much bigger opportunities on their dice and what they can buy, so not all is in vain. Characters that are blocked and not killed stay fielded. However, any characters that are not blocked attack the opposing player themself, who will have 15-20 life to begin with. As you may guess at this point, the aim of the game is to reduce your opponent to 0 life. The crux of the matter however is any unblocked heroes go to your Used Pile after dealing damage, where they lie dormant until your bag empties. What this creates is a power dynamic in the combat system where every action has a balancing consequence, and it develops a complexity in the game that you would not expect from a game of dice. If you can get your head around this element, you are good to go.

It is fast paced (most of the time), ever changing, and very cheap. It takes time to master (I'm still getting there), but anyone can pick it up and have fun with it.


My question for today is simple; what is your favourite dice game?


Also, if you are in the Limerick area and are interested in trying Dice Masters out, it will be running at both upcoming events BrOccasion and Knavecon, so why not come down and have a go to see what you think?

Stay tuned.

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