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Dave

Is Marvel Dice Masters for you?

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So you've heard the hype, you've watched the videos (actually, if you haven't, I recommend this preview from Rodney Smith of Watch It Played). Now you're trying to decide if the game is worth the effort to even find through the early supply shortages or the money that collectable games can be.

The easy answer is "yes." It's worth the effort.

But don't take my word for it - I won't just tell you, I'll show you. With words. Ok, so I guess that's still taking my word for itů

Click below and I'll explain what you need to know.

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Collectable Model:

There are some alarming notes from completionists out there decrying the distribution of some of the rarer cards here. I say don't buy into that worry.

For one, there are commons that are just killer cards, I mean cards that could be centerpieces of a team. Are the rare cards good? Yes, certainly. But the "good" is spread out across all rarities.

For two, you don't need more than one copy of a rare card. All a character's dice are the same, so they're usable with every version of that character, from common to super rare. This also means that getting duplicates is a GOOD thing - perhaps you don't need that 2nd copy of the common Gambit card, but you likely need the die that belongs to him!

And finally, the price point is great. Spending just $0.99 for a booster is fantastic. Now, a booster contains just two cards and their corresponding dice, but that's still quite a lot for a buck. Spend four or five dollars, the price of your average CCG booster, and you've got 8-10 cards and dice. Not too shabby considering that there are just 132 cards in this set and you already get 34 of them in the starting pack. This is just not the same kind of money sink as other collectible games.

Quarriors + MTG? More like Hearthstone:

Lots of people say that this is Quarriors gameplay (more on that in a sec) with M:TG-style attacking. I disagree slightly - the attacking is more like Hearthstone. I say this because of how streamlined it is. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of options and plenty of interesting decisions to make. Still, combat rules are just a bit more sensible without a lot of extra mechanisms interacting with them and making them unnecessarily complex - at this point, anyway.

The Quarriors Factor:

Speaking of Quarriors, a concern that a lot of people have is that Marvel Dice Masters is very similar to Quarriors, and they wonder how their feelings toward or ownership of that game would impact their enjoyment of this one. If you're unfamiliar with Quarriors, imagine a deck building game like Dominion but using dice instead of cards.

While I have limited experience with Quarriors, I can say with confidence that while the engine is similar, the car is very different. Many things are handled differently in MDM, most especially attacking rules. Quarriors is a bit of a defensive game, encouraging players to hold back in order to score points. Not so here. This game is based on attacking your opponent, not garnering victory points.

In Quarriors, characters are forced to attack and block - but here, you choose who attacks and who does not, who blocks whom or if anyone blocks at all. Characters that are defeated, or KO'd in the terms of the game, are not put in your "used" area (think like a discard pile or the graveyard in Magic) but rather are moved to the KO zone and you get to re-roll them next turn in addition to the regular amount of dice that you'd already be rolling. That also means that there is sometimes a benefit to blocking even when you know it will knock your character out.

There are several other nuances that are different which I will not go into for the sake of brevity.

It's Fun:

The game works. It passes the eye test. MDM is easy to learn and games can go pretty quickly, even with a full compliment of heroes.

There are a lot of choices that you get to contend with every turn and they're meaningful ones. Despite that, the game is short enough that it never overstays its welcome. You're not slogging through a loss, so instead of getting bogged down and feeling stuck in a bad round, you can consider what you might want to do differently for the next time because you know that you'll be done soon. The game keeps you thinking; there are push-your-luck elements; there is a lot of risk-reward balancing.

A Caveat on the boosters:

Some folks have an issue with the booster packs. As I said, these are two cards and two dice for a dollar. The issue is that the cards bend around the dice a bit. I have had this issue at least slightly with every single booster that I opened, but if you looked at my cards now you'd never know it - just look at the picture above if you don't believe me. They flattened out very easily after spending the night with a couple of board games stacked on top of them.

You will like this if you...
...like chucking lots of dice.
...don't like pay-to-win collectible games - this isn't one of those, not at this point.
...dig superheroes - even if Marvel isn't your favorite, a DC version is coming!
...enjoy Magic but want something lighter
...enjoy Hearthstone
...enjoy Quarriors and want something more confrontational
...want a collectable, competitive game that doesn't require the same kind of time and/or money investment as the others.

You will not like this if you...
...hate dealing with randomness of any kind.
...hate collectible games on principal alone.
...can't deal well with confrontation in games.
...aren't OK with some small packaging issues on the boosters.
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