Marvel is all the rage at the moment with the upcoming Civil War film, the reboot of Spiderman, and more all on the horizon as well, it seems a good time to explore ways to fill the movie void.

So roll up the Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man starter set and a few booster packs from the Uncanny X-men and Avengers VS X-Men sets. Offering a way to live the dream of having your favorite Marvel characters battle it out all in name of entertainment as you and a friend build, collect and fight for victory. With a focus on the dice though rather than the cards just how will this hold up when put through a few games to see just how much fun can be had with Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man and can it be as super as the heroes themselves?

Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man comes with everything you need for two players to start out. Packed with 44 custom dice, 38 cards, two dice bags and a core rulebook you’ll be able to jump straight in. The additional booster packs come with two cards and two dice per pack which will help you to quickly build up your collection in no time. Though the cards included in the set come with mutiple of the same card they are in fact different which can be noted by their subname. These versions of a single hero have different abilities and different energy costs but still use the same dice for each one. It means you have a nice range of options when building your team and picking which heroes to take into battle with you.

That is just about everything you’re going to get in the Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man starter set but it really is all you need. It is worth noting though that the dice bags included in the starter set are just paper bags and to honest are not the best quality. I would recommend you look at getting a felt dice bag or something similar to keep your dice in. It is a shame though as the paper bags have some cool artwork on them which is rather nice and other than them, the overall quality is great. The dice and cards feel really good and as you would expect with this sort of thing have a nice weight to them which helps. As a whole Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man starter set includes a good amount and has a good quality all round except for the paper dice bags.

When playing a game of Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man you will need to work through a number of different steps during your turn to battle against your enemy. The pregame setup is fairly straightforward and mostly involves picking your cards and dice that you will use throughout the battle. In most cases you will pick six to eight hero cards and two basic actions cards and add the respective dice within the set limit for each card. You’re only allowed one copy of each hero per battle through so no whole teams of Black Widow. When you have your cards and dice ready it’s time to set up on a play mat, or just a flat surface, and get ready to fight.

Clear and Draw Step

Every turn starts with your clear and draw step. On your first turn there will be nothing to clear but every turn afterwards you’ll be moving dice around. You see in Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man you don’t use the cards to battle but rather the dice. The cards will also stay where they are and the dice will be the ones moving around throughout the game. Now, if you have dice to clear you’ll be moving them from the reserve pool to the used pile and then drawing four dice from your dice bag, without looking of course, ready to use this turn. If your dice bag is empty or has less than four dice in it then you take all dice from your used pile and move them into your bag, mixing them up and then drawing four dice. You’ll always start a game with eight normal sidekick dice, no more no less, and then as the game progresses you’ll be adding more dice to your available dice pool.

Roll and Reroll Step

As you might guess from the name of this step you now roll your four dice and see what results you got. Each of the sidekick dice have a different type of energy on them, a question mark which can be used as any energy and a sidekick. The energy symbols allow you to perform next to every action in the game and should be your main focus. The sidekick symbol allows you to ‘summon’ as it were a no named sidekick with one attack and one defence to the battlefield. You’re also allowed to reroll up to all four dices if you want and then go with the new results. When you have the results you wanted or need you are ready to move onto the next step and the main heart of the Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man game.

Main Step

In your main step you can perform a number of actions which include paying energy to field a character, purchasing dice, use action dice and more. The thing to note here first is that if you rolled a character face on a character dice you need to use it that turn otherwise any unused dice get set to the used pile at the end of the turn. Therefore you need to think carefully about how to move forward at this point with your energy. Let’s say we rolled a character face for Cable who, at level 2 cost 2 energy to field and has three attack and defence. We then also rolled one double energy and two single energies. This means we have a total of four energy available for us to spend this turn. The logical thing to do would be to spend two energy to field Cable and the use the remaining energy to either purchase another dice or use an action. If however we spent our engey buying more dice and not fielding Cable then sadly, we would’ve lost our chance this turn to field him.

The way that Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man is set up really does push for a lot of strategy and risk reward gameplay as you manage a lot at once. It’s a fairly slow paced game so thankfully you’ll have the time you need to think about your actions and next moves but you will need to think ahead and watch your enemies moves closely. You want to get those stronger characters onto the field but at the same time you don’t want to risk leaving yourself open to an attack by not fielding any heroes or sidekicks.

Another thing both players can do during the main step is use global abilities. Some cards have global abilities which can come into effect for both players and do a range of different things. For example Cable can pay two lighting energy to deal one damage to target opposing character. Other global abilities include the Archnemesis basic action card where you can pay one shield to changes a target characters defence equal to its attack until the end of the turn. There are also brust effects that some characters have as well but generally speaking you get the idea of how to use these abilities. They can seriously help to change the tide of the first in your favour and really help you get the winning edge over your foe. If both players used a global ability at the same time, which they can, then the active player is the one who goes first.

Attack Step

Once you have feilded your characters for this turn and performed other actions it’s time to move to the attack step and resolve any combat this turn. When attacking it’s as easy as declaring who you are attacking with and then letting your opponent pick their blockers, if any and working out damage. If your attacking character is unlocked then you deal full damage to the other player and move the attacker to the used pile. A blocker can only block one attacker but multiple blockers can block the same attacker. Damage is dealt at the same time and anyone who is KO’d is moved to the KO section of the play area. Any survivors stay put for the moment until the next round.

To give you an example let’s say I’m attacking with Ghost Rider and Kingpin and my opponent has a White Tiger and Silver Sable on the field. My Ghost Rider has five attack and five defense with Kingpin having five attack and seven defence. My oppen goes to block Ghost Rider with their Silver Sable who has an attack and defense of four. However, they also choose to block Ghost Rider with White Tiger as well who has an attack of four and a defence of five. Kingpin is unblocked and deals the five damage and is moved to the used pile and Ghost Rider, having taken a total of eight damage is KO’d and moved to the KO area of play. The five damage he dealt however is then divided between White Tiger and Silver Sable by the blocking player who chooses to split it between them both so that each character remains in play.

Clean up

After resolving all combat that takes place it’s time to move to the final step of the turn which is the clean up step. Here all unblocked attackers are moved to the use pile if not already and all effects end and damage, if any, is cleared. Lastly, any remaining dice from out of play or other areas of the play area, unless stated otherwise, are moved to the used pile and the next player takes their turn. That is in a nutshell the core rules of how to play Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man.

I would like to point out when trying to learn how to play Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man I found myself struggling to get my head around the core rules. Now this might of just been me or it may have been the rule book but regardless I found myself learning how to play after watching a short series of videos by Watch It Played who seriously helped me get to grips with the game’s core rules. I highly recommend checking out the videos if you can as they will help answer a lot of questions you might have with Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man.

Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man Starter Set Review - n3rdabl3

Though the learning curve for Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man is a tough one at first once you play a few games and get use to the movement of the dice and the rules it becomes rather enjoyable. The game began as a somewhat disappointing experience but quickly was turned around into something I found myself hooked on. The rules soon become a lot clear and building your dream team of Marvel characters keep the game moving forward. Something about using the dice over the cards and the control of what to dice to pick up and when really adds a new level of depth and enjoyment to the game over a card game. As a matter of fact I think I would like to see more games using dice more as it really adds a new layer of engagement to the experience.

As a whole, the Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man starter set and the booster packs I had were a solid table top experience that I can’t wait to play more of. Yes the learning curve was a tough to overcome which resulted in me watching a series of videos but once I had it under control I was fully embraced in the game. If you’re a fan of tabletop games and looking to try something new or a fan of Marvel then I would recommend checking out the Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man starter set and a few booster packs to as your find a solid experience with enjoyable dice mechanics. The dice bags are a let down but overall it doesn’t take away from the experience. Besides, who doesn’t want to make their own Civil War.

The Marvel Dice Masters: The Amazing Spider-Man starter set is available for the RRP of £16.99 and if you’re looking to pick it up then check out the Esdevium Games store locator here to find your nearest retail store.

This review is based on a copy of the product provided by Esdevium Games.

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Freelancer | Ex-Producer | Writer & reviewer | Final Fantasy & Metal Gear nerd | All views & opinions are my own