Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men Tabletop Review

Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men is an expansion for the Marvel dice-rolling game that pits superheroes and villains against each other.

Published: February 24, 2015 11:00 AM /

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Marvel Dice Masters Uncanny X-Men Box with comic-style art of verious xmen characters and several multi-colored dice visible through a plastic window at the bottom

Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men is a two-player 'dice-building' combat game from WizKids in which players will be using a team of superheroes and villains from Marvel Comic's Uncanny X-Men to battle with each other.

What is Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men?

Players build their teams using cards for each chosen character. The character cards feature a drawing of each character as well as listing the energy cost of that card's dice, a special ability, maximum number of dice as well as showing all six faces of that character's dice. Each character in the game has up to four different cards that can be chosen, each with different costs and abilities, and choosing which single version of a character to use is central to forming a player's strategy.

In addition to choosing which characters to use, each player will choose two Basic Action cards to use during the game. Like character dice, Basic Action dice can be purchased with energy, but rather than providing a hero to the field and fight with, they provide either additional energy to spend or they trigger the power listed on the Basic Action card. Basic Action cards also differ from character cards in that both players can purchase dice from any of the four Basic Action cards being used in the game.

How The Game Works

Play begins with each player having only eight sidekick dice available in their dice bag. On a turn, a player draws four dice from their bag, rolls them, and then uses the faces rolled to decide which actions to take. While sidekick dice can be fielded and used to attack your opponent, they are best used for energy to buy other, more powerful dice. As the game progresses and players buy more dice, they will be able to draw and field the dice that represent their chosen heroes. Players buy dice, field characters, and battle until one player is reduced to zero life.

The 'dice building' mechanic in Dice Masters is a ton of fun. Buying more dice and more powerful dice and thus giving yourself more choice in future turns is satisfying. It feels good to draw a hero die from your bag and have even more options available as the game progresses. The characters feel different from one another and the game is surprisingly thematic despite the abstraction of the dice representing them.

Rolling dice and using the results rolled is fun, and while you can occasionally have some bad rolls that limit your options, the game never leaves you feeling like you have nothing to do. It manages to avoid the 'mana screw' that some other similar card games can have while simultaneously giving the feeling of constantly building towards something and making progress.

Combat and Characters

Combat is interesting as well. While it may seem like an obvious strategy to attack constantly, it pays to attack and defend intelligently. Unblocked attacking characters damage your opponent but are also used up, and you won't be able to use that die again until it is shuffled back into your bag and drawn on a later turn.

Characters that get 'knocked out' go back to a player's reserve to be re-rolled on their next turn, along with the four new dice that they draw. Knocking a few of your opponent's characters out can feel satisfying one moment and terrifying the next as they roll a big handful of dice to use against you.

A Few Notes on Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men

A Note on the Collectible Aspect

Each foil pack of Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-men comes with two additional dice and a matching card for each. The cards themselves have four rarities Common, Uncommon, Rare, and Super Rare. Thankfully the power curve seems to be much more gradual than in other collectible games that I have played and the Super Rare version of a card isn't necessarily going to be a big step up in power over the other versions of that character. 

A Note on “Chrome”

The art on the cards is excellent, and the cards themselves are of good quality. Most of the dice are neat looking and easy to read, although there are a few that have color combinations or are made of clear plastic that isn't very easy to read. The quality of the dice themselves is okay. Of the 224 dice that I own, about a dozen of them are married, chipped, or have other noticeable imperfections.

The dice bags that come with the Starter Set are made of paper and do not hold up very well. I highly recommend getting cloth dice bags to replace them. Wizkids offers a play-mat for use with the game, although I found that a printed version from Boardgamegeek worked well for me. The foil packs themselves don't really do a good job of keeping the cards flat, and many of the cards that I opened were warped, although none that I bought were actually bent. I was able to flatten all of the warped cards simply by placing them under a heavy stack of books for a few days.

Is Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men Worth Your Money? 

Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men is a fun, quick, head-to-head combat game that offers quite a large variety of options and strategies. There is a full game in the Starter Set, making it a worthwhile purchase even for players who have no interest in the collectible aspect of the game. It's fun to create different teams of heroes and villains and exciting to find potent combinations of cards and dice. The game is easy to teach and plays quickly, and offers tournament-level play to players who wish to play more seriously.

The game is collectible, which will turn some gamers away, but the Starter Set has a low price point, and the foil packs are cheap. Adding to the appeal for players that enjoy collectible games is the fact that every Dice Masters set is compatible, which will add an enormous variety of options for players who wish to combine them as more sets are released.

The copy of Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men used in this review was purchased by the author. This review was originally published on 02-24-2015. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions, and for historical context.

Review Summary

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