Roll ‘em if you got ‘em.
- Innovative dice-building system is easy to learn.
- Live out your geek fantasies with dream comic-book matchups.
- Boosters (2 cards, 2 dice) only cost a dollar!
- Some matches can drag.
- Text-heavy cards could have been better streamlined.
Dice Masters is an unequivocal hit. Designed by Eric Lang (Arcadia Quest, Chaos in the Old World), Dice Masters is a “dice builder” similar to a deck builder. But with dice, see? You draw dice from your bag like drawing cards from a deck, roll ‘em, then either field characters into battle or earn energy to buy better dice from the marketplace.
It is a smart, efficient, and altogether cool game that enables geeks like me to live out their comic book fantasies. Lex Luthor and Superman teaming up to take on Batman? The Flash and Green Arrow meeting for a TV-inspired showdown? Sure, why not? Any combination of DC heroes and villains can be created with some simple team-building rules that have few restrictions.
You start by selecting eight characters (there are also a couple of “items” you can select, such as the Batarang), and placing character-specific custom dice on their cards. You start the game with eight agents, who are like pawns in chess. They are weak in combat, but can provide the energy necessary to purchase dice off the character cards.
Each die represents the character. Some sides provide two energy and some have their icon. When you roll the icon, you’ve just brought out the character himself. Each character has three power levels (on three different faces of the die), with a different energy cost to place in the field and attack/defense ratings. Most characters also have some sort of special ability. And these vary depending on which version of the character card you chose at the start. Yes, there are multiple Batman cards, each representing a different ability. And you get one for a match, so chose wisely.
Combat is light on strategy, but you do need to think things out in order to win. When you send characters to attack your opponent, those same characters can’t block that turn. That might leave you exposed to a counter-attack. Leaving characters behind to block is critical to surviving, but it also makes for one of Dice Masters most frustrating flaws.
Smart players will keep their agents (those really weak, nameless pawns) only to block. Unless a character has an ability to negate this, you can use pawns as frontline fodder. In combat, you compare the attack and defense ratings of both characters and they deal damage to one another. An agent is just about guaranteed to be knocked out (which sends them to your dice pool to roll again next turn), but none of the excess damage goes through to the player.
As long as you can field agents and don’t use them to attack, you can often prevent most if not all damage from reaching you. And if two players employ this strategy well, games of Dice Masters can drag. If you have a character with an ability to directly target the player or remove agents from the battlefield, that can be mitigated. But this isn’t always the case. I’ve had some real slogfests that were a test of patience, not epic superhero brawls.
Aside from that, though, Dice Masters is a great game. And the DC Comics version is identical in every way to Marvel Dice Masters, just with DC characters. That means you can easily mix and match. Spider-Man and Batman can take on The Flash and Magneto, if you want. It’s pretty cool.